Sunday, February 5, 2012

First Night in Taipei

12/31/11 6:00am

I’m going to continue about our night in Taipei (which was actually an outlaying city by the name of Taoyuan).

So, we were driven off to the hotel in a taxi by a man we could barely communicate with in a town we thought was Taipei but wasn’t to a hotel that was recommended by a person we obviously did not know. We drove for about 15 minutes but it felt twice that. We drove past a few lovely, tall, what appeared to be, 5-star hotels. The neighborhood quickly deteriorated into shacks and factories. However, we arrived safe and sound to our destination…the Beverly Motel.

The word “motel” immediately caused me to remember something I had read in the ABC Taiwan book: motels are for “hooking up,” not families. I had read that “motels” provide privacy for the clients by having separate outdoor entrances for the rooms with a garage below, thus walking up into the motel room from the individual garage area. Also I read that they have no lobby area, only a security gate where the guard is the one you pay. Well, the bright lights over this place flashed “The Beverly Motel” along with hearts in neon.

We drove up to a guard shack where we paid NT$1,500 ($50) after having Don’s passport copied and returned to him. The taxi driver drove us to our room where we paid him NT$300 ($10) and entered through a garage. I couldn’t help thinking that I knew exactly what kind of place this is! Truthfully, at this point, if it had a bed and a shower we didn’t care. We walked up a very clean narrow staircase down a very short inside hall, more like an extended landing, into our room. It was not a scary place at all. We thought it was going to be just fine…and it was.

However, when we got in the room, we could not find a single light switch that worked! We had absolutely no electricity. There were lights and a TV. Certainly there had to be a way of getting power. There was a device on the nightstand that had touch buttons for all the various lights, TV, and radio, but it did nothing when we pressed them. Don turned on the flashlight app on his iPhone to search the room with a better light source than what was filtering through the curtains from the neon sign outside. He shone that thing all over, went out in the hall and came back in as if he were entering for the first time to make some logical sense of coming into a darkened room and, lo and behold, there was a “thing” on the wall just inside the door to the left that said something in Chinese and underneath in tiny print it said in English, “Insert key for power”! Don inserted the plastic tag that had the room number on it, a regular old-fashioned hotel key, and ta-da! We had light! The key had to stay inserted in order to have power. Apparently, it is a handy way to have no lights left on wasting electricity when people leave the room. Whatever…it worked!

With the lights on, we could see it was a perfectly nice, clean room. The only evidence that it might be used for other purposes than spending the night was a little package of “supplies” on the nightstand and a list of hourly rates on the desk (that was in Mandarin along with a lot of other instruction but it was obvious there were increasing rates according to how long one stayed). This was the first time that night that we were perfectly happy to be illiterate.

We appreciated a room for the night no matter what it might be as long as it was clean, safe and we could recoup some kind of energy for the next day with a shower and sleep. It served our purpose. We woke up refreshed.

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