Friday, December 26, 2003

The Happiness of Hotels

The Happiness of Hotels

I can vegetate forever in my hotel room. For some reason, I feel very at home and happy in hotels. Some of my friends have problems sleeping the first few nights everytime they check into a hotel. I've never had that problem. Hotels--even the cheap ones--are always cozy and comfortable to me. I always sleep like a log.

I also know some people, especially women, who are afraid to stay in a hotel alone. I can understand that: hotel rooms are so impersonal, so claustrophobic--at times, one could feel a bit isolated from the rest of the world staying in one. The loneliness and fear can be quite unbearable.

Sometimes you also hear weird tales of unseen "forces" disturbing guests in hotel rooms. A male colleague of mind in Singapore who had such experiences before now never leaves home without his religious amulets. Even hotel workers at the hotel where I'm staying at tells me tales of noises in unoccupied rooms or water taps that open by itself. I find them amusing.

I've never had any such supernatural encounters before. Such things never even cross my mind whenever I check into a hotel. I only think of hotels as being abodes of privacy and comfort. Throughout my working life, I've stayed in many hotels before. Among the luxury ones, I love the Regent group of hotels the most. I've stayed in every one of their establishments in South East Asia--Bangkok, Jakarta, Singapore and even KL. The ones in Jakarta and Bangkok are my favourites.

To me a hotel room is my sanctuary in a strange foreign place. I remember staying in a motel in California for more than a month during my first trip to the States. I can't think of a happier time in my life. I spent a lot of time there reading, watching HBO and eating Chinese takeouts.

I've been calling a hotel my home here in Jakarta for the past two years. Leaving the place will be sad for me. But I am a nomad--I shouldn't be too attached to a place. Nomads always have to move on...

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