China

Believe it or not? Some creepy practice in most of Asian countries

My colleague and I arrived at Shanghai on Sun after a 10-hours direct flight from London. The flight was delayed 3 hours but it was grand from my point of view, as I could stayed another 3 hours at home. Upon arrival, our Chinese colleague came to pick us up and we hit the road straight away to Shaoxing. Shaoxing is in Jiangxi province and accordingly is one of the richest provinces in China.

We were sent to Xianheng Hotel, a local 5-star hotel, at a charge rate of only £45 per night! This includes free breakfasts, internet,  laundries and pressings. Most of Asian hotels have big spacious rooms and luxurious service.

We stayed at this hotel last year and was quite satisfied with the conditions. However as we arrived on Sun, we found out that level 13 to 15 are undergoing renovation and therefore both my colleague and I were offered a room each on the 17th floor. As I don’t smoke and my colleague does, so I have asked for another floor that is smoke-free. They dare not offer me the 16th floor in case the drilling and hammering noise will be too loud for me. There are only 18 floors in this hotel (or may 16 since any number with number “4” will be omitted as this number is viewed as not auspicious from Chinese point of view).  The higher it is, the bigger the rooms are I presume and so I didn’t bother to ask for lower levels.

The front-desk customer service offered to show me both rooms and let me decide which one I prefer to take. So she took me to both rooms. While I was busy chatting with her, I barely paid any attention to what she was doing before we entered the room. Well, I did thought about it, but I was distracted and forgot to ask her, which I am glad that I didn’t ask her. In fact, I am writing this in the room that I finally settled on. It was more spacious and during when I checked both rooms, the noise from the renovation was quite faint whilst the other one looks more damp and smelly, not cigarette but more of poor fragrance to mask the smell.

This sounds a bit creepy, even more so that I am actually typing this from the room in the hotel. But I just couldn’t keep quite anymore and would like to find out if there are similar practice in other culture or beliefs.

Now, after I have settled down in the hotel room, I somehow recollected what the front desk customer service did. We stood outside of the hotel rooms, twice, for good one minute. While she was explaining the renovation or something else, she first knocked the door, and waited for few seconds, and then rang the door bell. We waited for another few seconds, before she opened the door using the hotel card. The first time she did that, I wanted to ask her, but somehow I didn’t, as I was too tired after more than 10 hours journey.  What I wanted to ask was “were there other guests in the room??!!”  

Then slowly I recalled a conversation with my university mate when I was back to Malaysia in May. She shared her recent hotel-related experience.  She had to do some survey for her company’s functions and for some reasons, she’d like to see the type of rooms available in the hotels. So she has requested the hotel staff to show her different type of rooms.

Now, this is where she noticed something strange when the same actions taken by the employee of the different hotels she went to. The employees also knocked and rang the bells before entering into the rooms. She too asked the same question that I wanted to ask. “Why did she show her the room where guests are still staying in it?”

Apparently, everyone work works in hotels have a practice and belief to do that, especially if entering the room for the first time. “It is better to knock and ring the bell before entering into the hotel room, even though you know that there should not be any guests in the room. This is to alert “the others” that you are going into the room”. 

I was doubtful initially,  so I did a quick survey by asking people I met on that few days in Malaysia. It seemed that everyone has this knowledge or have heard of this before. I on the other hand, a frequent traveler, have not heard about this before. I did not practice this since I learnt about this even though I continue to travel frequently. I do occasionally share with other friends I met, whenever we talk about something similar.

Now that I am in the room, even though I finally manage to relate the experience with my university mate’s experience, I still do not knock or ring the bell before entering into the room. I only started doing this after another strange practice.

On the first day after work, a minute or so after  I entered into the room, I suddenly realised that the kettle was plugged and turned on automatically. I remember clearly that I unplugged the kettle after I used it the night before as a safety measure. So I was confused why the kettle was plugged and turned on by itself. I unplugged the kettle again that night, however the next night the same thing happened again.

As I pondered about this, I recalled other conversations I had subsequent to my friend’s sharing. Few friends told me that aside from knocking and ringing the bell, they also suggest to boil water. Can’t quite recall the reasons behind it but some believes that will “force the others to leave the room”. 

So, I wonder if there are other practice and beliefs from other culture or countries! And did some internet search and found an article about this.

If you have heard or have such knowledge, please feel free to share!

Advertisements
Categories: China, Life, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Next trip to China: Shaoxing and Shanghai

I am not intending to write a travel blog that introduce places to go and must visit. I am just merely recounting my experience, and perhaps rekindle the feeling at  that point of time. Be warned that it will not always be  a pleasant ones.

The next trip is a good example. China is again not a by choice trip, but a business trip. China is my ancestral origin however born and raised in Malaysia, I do not have much love for China. However, I thought by tracing my ancestral roots in China, it will be a better way to ignite the love of my ancestry motherland.

I like ancient Chinese histories. China long histories, not only just about the dynasties, kings, and wars, but the scholars, beautiful costumes, Chinese musical instruments, Chinese art of cooking, Chinese traditional medicines and healing methods, etc. I learnt about Chinese culture, aside from at home, which I suspect have assimilated with Malaysian Chinese culture, but also through TV. There was once  a yearn to visit this country to explore it in person.

Finally in 2005 this dream finally came true. My family decided to go during Chinese New Year to Harbin, north of China for its ice sculptures. Those who live in 4 seasons country, will wonder why we chose to have our holidays during winter and in sub-zero degree. Malaysia is hot and humid throughout the year, and no season. So winter will always be a hearsay and never an experience. That is why we braved ourselves during this time of the year to visit the country. Besides, we thought holidaying in China during Chinese New Year will somehow or rather let us have more atmospheric festive season. Furthermore, Harbin is famous for its ice sculptures, so if it is not a winter holiday, when can we see the ice sculpture?

We departed 2-3 days before Chinese New Year to Guangzhou with an escorted tour group. I wouldn’t go into the details but this trip had not only didn’t manage to ignite the love for my ancestral motherland, it had in fact made me feel of not wanting to return to the country again. Not because it was cold, but we unfortunately encountered unpleasant experience. My father’s friend lost his luggage in a train that we took between the cities/ towns, caught in a heated argument, which almost turn from verbal to physical fight. We were also have to be fully alert when walking on the streets, not only for pick pockets, but for the locals who spit like no other people’s business!

Despite the histories, I am afraid that since that trip, I have never planned my trip to China again, for holidays. However, with China as the emerging market, everyone is flocking to the country and my company as one of the multinational, have started its business in the country too.

Last year, as my second trip in the Company and my life, I went to China again. This time to Shaoxing and Shanghai. I was assured by my colleagues that I will like it and our Chinese colleagues are very hospitable and easy to deal with. And China has changed a lot since my last visit, which was almost  10 years ago.

Whilst travelling in winter was difficult, travelling during summer was not pleasant neither. Last year, we went in July and it was not only humid, the air and noise pollution had made the journey even more dreadful. Smoking indoor is still not prohibited in China and so, anywhere I went, I was struggling for more oxygen!

Shaoxing is still up and coming and incomparable to big cities like Shanghai. I know that it will be unfair for me to compare these two places, but these are the places that I went last year and this year too.

People in Shaoxing are more down to earth and they are hospitable, with all sorts of food. We literally are fed every single day, for dinner and lunch. I almost suspect that my colleagues in China were using this as a tactic to stop us from digging in too much into their business. I felt stressed as with all these invites to lunches and dinners, that shortened our working time tremendously. Unfortunately in this kind of situation, extensive hospitability is not really what I will appreciate for.

Before I stepped my foot into Shaoxing, my only knowledge about Shaoxing is its wine, which is used in cooking. Now after having been to the city, I’d say its stinky tofu should overtake its wine. Simply because nothing beats the smell from feet apart than gulping down a cuppa or two of its yellow wine (黃酒, pronounced as “huang jiu” in mandarin or “wong jau” in cantonese). What surprises me more was that stinky tofu is also served as a dish in a high class restaurant. Now, out of courtesy, I had to down one piece, but that last in my mouth.. till tomorrow! And that is the stinkiest tofu I have eaten.

After a week in Shaoxing, we left the place to Shanghai and on the way, we managed to stop over at West Lake in Hangzhou. It is a beautiful place, however due to the heat and humid, I didn’t manage to enjoy it too much. So our stop over was only for an hour or so.

In Shanghai it was a different city. Cosmopolitan, a mixture of past histories and modern facade. I haven’t been to Hong Kong then, but now that I have, I can’t stop to compare both places.

Perhaps the highlight of this trip was the water village, Wuzhen that we spent a day at. Image

The tilt houses are built by the river and built during dynasty era, which majority have been converted to eateries and hotels or hostels nowadays. The water town is not big but adequate for a day trip.

Image

A traditional barber still in operations.

Image

A week before I left to China, I watched a documentary on BBC that highlight this unique fishing method, by using birds! Unfortunately all we saw was just the fisherman resting with his birds by his side. But we were told that is the method that he uses to catch fishes everyday!

Image

Chinese all times favourite – mahjong!

Now, I am not too sure what to expect in the next trip!

Categories: China, Life, Travel | 5 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.