Whenever I am on an overseas assignment, I have always stayed in a hotel.
(The service apartment that I stayed in Bangkok, overseeing the Chao Praya river – so far one of the best of all the ‘hotels’ that I have stayed)
I have stayed in 4 star hotels and I have also stayed in “rumah tumpangan” alike cheap hotels. It all depends on the country, budget and time frame of my stay.
Staying in a hotel has its perks – security, room service, regular house keeping, in-house laundry service, cable TV and concierge services. Nothing beats the comfort of having someone to do some work for you with a smile after a long day at work. For some hotels which have restaurant and pubs, it is blessing in disguise – we don’t have to walk far for food or beer and if we get so drunk, bed is just couple of steps away.
However Iran proved to be a challenge on itself – they do have good hotels (so I was made to believe) but we decided to rent an apartment instead. It was cheaper and big enough to accommodate all of us. Besides, it is a good place to stay in especially on cold nights and we have a fully furnished kitchen to do our cooking when it is just too cold to venture out especially for dinner.
However, staying in an apartment proved to be a challenge and the main three ones are:-
1. Own Housekeeping
That’s right – no room service to turn up your bed or to vacuum the carpet or to clean the bathroom. We have to do it ourselves.
We could always hire someone to do the cleaning for us. It cost about R200,000 but after looking at the quality of cleaning (the cleaner just do ‘touch and go’ kind of cleaning and asks us to provide meals for them), we decided to do it ourselves. It is cheaper and much cleaner if we do it ourselves. However for all the guys in the apartment, doing housework is something alien to them. Some of us have not lifted a finger to do housework when we are back in Malaysia.
But here in Iran, we not only have to vacuum the carpet but we also have to mop the floor, wash the bathroom, clean the table tops and chairs, clean the windows and kitchen. That itself takes at least 3 – 4 hours to complete and by the time we finished, we are almost dropping death from tiredness (salute our wives and moms to be doing the housework on daily basis!). Of course, we wished to have cold beers after a hard day house work but this is Iran where the only beer that we get is the non-alcoholic beer.
So house cleaning is one chore that we wish to put off for next week or the week thereafter.
(Here is another room from my stay in Bangkok – 2 separate beds for one person and this even nearer to a large supermarket and a famous red light area)
2. Own washing
Thankfully we have laundrette nearby so that it was a big relieve when it comes to washing our clothes. It is not cheap but we rather get our shirts and pants washed at the laundrette than trying to do it on our own and get crumpled shirts and pants (not mentioning, not properly washed clothes – sorry but we simply don’t have the patience).
However, we decided to wash smaller items like our undies, handkerchiefs and socks on our own (perhaps to save some money or to get some exercise or to avoid the lady at the local laundrette from freaking out seeing our “rainbow” coloured undies, I don’t really know).
For that very reason, I brought extra, extra undies, socks and handkerchiefs for this trip but there is always a day in the week where I need to soak them in soap water and wash them (we don’t have a washing machine since we have laundry service). Washing is the difficult part but drying is not. The air in Iran is so dry that a fully wet towel will be bone dry within several hours.
3. Own cooking
We have a fully furnished kitchen so we do try our hands on some bachelor alike messy cooking (in other words, plenty of frying foodstuffs like eggs, sausages, nuggets, etc). As much as possible, we try to eat out but eating out is a big problem here – 1. There is not much choice (almost every restaurants has the same menu – sandwich, pizza, fried chicken, sandwich, pizza, sandwich, pizza…you get the idea) and 2. Sometimes it is too cold to venture out – we can hardly walk out couple of meters without freezing our “…toot…” off.
If it has been a hotel, we just need to pick up the phone and call for room service but in this apartment, we need to pick up the frying pan and decide what to fry for dinner. Once in a while we try to be creative and quite often the taste becomes unbearable. We have to swallow our pride and eat as if it is very tasty when fellow colleagues comes over, look at our messed up creation and asked “how’s the taste?” in a “fear factor” look in their eyes.
Staying in a hotel is good but so does staying in an apartment when one needs to do their own washing, cooking and cleaning. Damn, what I am saying here? I miss hotel life….sob