Saturday, December 5, 2015


I am far removed from Starbucks in this hotel, far from the Filipinas in their Sunday clusters on pieces of cardboard in public spaces, far from the monkeys and the people who are trying out sofas at Ikea. I am lightyears from the shop that sells portions of roast pig's head, complete with eye. All of these things are minutes away and in another universe.

A screen of bamboo shields the hotel's smoking area from the street. A high wall separates lounging bodies near the swimming pool from alien eyes, although I can see them from my window above. Not for long though; they aren't very interesting.

I went out this morning to buy a paper (thank you 7-Eleven, because this hotel has no newsstand), to have coffee at Starbucks as I did every morning for three weeks (this is the first time that I didn't use the free wifi), viewed the Swedish grocery store at Ikea (yes, they sell Swedish fish, in bulk), and looked for neighborhoods that were on the ground (there was a little winding lane that looked promising but also private.)

I thought about taking the train back to Tai Nan Street and spending the afternoon there, but I am in this hotel, in this town, and this is the experience I'm living today. I doubt I will ever do it again. I'm no more a denizen of a semi-posh hotel than I will ever be the Queen of the Jungle. (I say semi-posh because the minibar contains four cans--one Coke, one 7-Up, one Carlsberg, and one San Miguel. Emptying it would set me back less than twelve USD.)

If I were this kind of traveler, I would never know where I had been once I came back home from my trips. Viva low-end hotels in quirky neighborhoods.

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