Friday, January 31, 2014

Random Observations and Thoughts

  • Thresholds, they're everywhere. The thresholds I'm accustomed to relate to a level of tolerance above or below which some thing or some one can not function optimally. In Buddhist dominated cultures thresholds are a raised barrier anywhere from 1/2" to 9" between rooms. I believe they symbolically (or literally??) keep the evil spirits from entering. What I know to be true is that you better learn where the thresholds are in your hotel room or you'll stub your toe, or worse, when trying to find your way to the john in the middle of the night.
  • Toilet paper and paper towels for hand drying are not standard issue. Don't expect public restrooms in restaurants, or squat pots to provide toilet paper, and expect to dry your hands on your pants, hair, or in the ambient air.
  • Spray hoses ARE standard issue in public restrooms and squat pot rooms to wash your nether regions since TP is not to be put in toilets. Wipe and drop is a hard habit for me to break.
  • Restrooms are typically called toilets. That just sounds way to banal to me. Some kind of a euphemism might be in order.
  • Cow milk alternatives are non-existent, e.g. soy or other nut milks.
  • Don't expect your server to bring you your bill automatically. It's considered rude to rush the customer. When you're ready to go, you gotta ask for your bill.
  • Hotel rooms have door bells.
  • Electric outlets in your hotel room are powered by your room key inserted into a slot in your room. To assure you don't leave the lights on in your room upon exiting, you're issued only one room key despite the number of people in your room.
  • Hotels of new construction are outfitted with motion sensor lights upon entry and in the bathroom, a nice idea but there is no way to override the default. So, middle of the night trips to the john your circadian rhythms will be rudely awakened by the bathroom light brightly greeting you. The good news is you can easily see the threshold and not stub your toe.
  • Asiana Airline flight attendants are striking in that they look vintage 1950's: all Asian women, all the same height, all with only a weight variance of no more than 5 pounds, all with the same hair style: long, severely pulled back into a bun, all wearing the same uniform: a cafe au lait colored business suit, skirt knee length, a conservatively colored neck scarf, and a stupid looking hat.
  • Gender-based roles also appear to be vintage 1950's, at least on Asiana Airlines. We watched our Asiana flight crew stand at our gate waiting for the plane to be ready for their boarding. Male pilot crew on the left, female attendant crew on the right, no cross-gender/cross-function conversation.
  • In Hoi An we saw myriad shops selling silk sleeping bags. I simply couldn't imagine why anyone would want to buy such a thing. If I were to buy a sleeping bag it would be down rated for polar conditions, not a fine silk work of art. Took me a couple of hotel stays in Vietnam to catch on. They do not use a top sheet. Presumably they change the bottom sheet between customers, but you sleep directly under a New England weight comforter. Your choice is to cover up with the comforter, snugging it up around your face sharing skin with all the previous users, or sleep uncovered. Kind wish I'd bought a silk sleeping bag.
  • Hospitality in all restaurants, commercial venues, airports, everywhere we traveled far exceeded our expectations AND the standards set in US. US Americans have much we can learn for our global neighbors.

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