Friday, January 04, 2008

Hello Taiwan Pt 6 - The Room

Our trip would be nothing if I didn’t take at least a post to tickle you with our lodging. And I do mean tickle. From the get go when LB told me about it, I held it with as much doubt as a eunuch would if his wife got pregnant.

NT4500 (S$210) for a 13 nights stay. If you paid enough attention during mathematics lessons, you would know that that went down to about $16 a night. And, if you went through bible study like I did, you would know that this is what you call, a miracle.

This was a room with attached bathroom and a bed, right in the city of Taipei and at the heart of Taipei’s infamous, 林森北路. The room was recommended by Queenie, who’s friend actually owned the place. It came with several caution stickers, which lit up my MSN screen like an early Christmas.

1. The room is above a KTV.
2. The area is infamous for it’s congregation of shady KTV and other trajectories of vice.
3. Very cheap price and situated in close proximity to the MRTs.
4. The room is small and has the lingering odor of cigarettes.

I don’t know about you, but I was sold at the second point and I hardly paid any attention thereafter.

When we actually got to the place, everything that she had warned us of was true. The room was indeed small, but ample for decent maneuverability. The bathroom was decent and came equipped with heater. There was cable TV, which boasted a vast array of channels to keep even a control trigger-happy couch slouch such as myself satisfied.

The only problem was the bed. Or the lack of it..

Sure, there was a mattress, but there was neither a bed sheet nor a comforter. Needless to say, blankets were not standard issues for the price we were paying, but they did throw in about 3 complimentary mosquitoes. Our room had sufficiently defined, spartan living.

Despite consuming a full bottle of vodka in under 2 hours between us, the bed still posed a challenge to even catch a quick wink. It was hard, like it was built from a slab of marble. The last time I slept on anything this hard, it turned out to be silicon breast.

We got up the next morning and got right down to bitching about the bed. Everything from a lack of bed sheets to the how hard the mattress was to even the dull beige fade colour. It was like the bed makers had entirely left out the cushion and merely wrapped the springs.

Then it hit me. Could it be? No.. we couldn't possibly be that stupid? Could we?

Me: “Help me flip the mattress.”

LB and I quickly flipped it over like a Saturday morning pancake and suddenly, we had gone from wild partiers to complete idiots. The mattress had been flipped down. We had been sleeping on the springs for the entire day. Yes, I can’t believe I actually have an IQ, which qualifies for Mensa.

Not like it thrilled us to find that we actually had cushioning for the night because the sheets were grossly dusty and we were visibly going to be a human buffet to the millions of bed bugs that were probably tucked between the sheets.

It was good that LB suggested stealing the blankets on board the plane. Without it, I might have woken up to see my leg chewed off by bugs at the kneecap, and seeing how Taiwanese cooks everything, they might have probably used it for soup.

The great thing about the place however, was the vibrancy of night that sprung to life under the cover of darkness. The quiet lanes had transfigured into neon lit pubs with the occasional bar fights. The cue was simple. All we needed was someone to shout,

Kan ni nia eh!” (For the uninitiated, ‘Fuck your mother’)

And the response drill was to drop our television remote, grab a cigarette and a jacket, and watch the fight from the window.


That's Angel, sitting at the stairs leading to our room. It took her like half an hour before she eventually made it down to the bottom.

That's Queenie, the girl that hooked us up with the room.

And this is the street we live on.
Sure, it looks dull now, but wait till the sun goes down, and the cars parked along the streets will turn into 4 inch heeled transvestites.


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