Frequent travellers in Asia (i.e.,
this columnist and his readers) are outraged that staff at the
Hans Brinker Hotel of Amsterdam are now marketing their hostelry
as "the world's worst hotel". How dare they? Hotels in Asia are
Look at the facts. The Hans Brinker is running a cutesy campaign
admitting that it has no pool or spa. Well, in Asia, I've stayed
in hotels where the rooms didn't have WALLS.
The Hans Brinker says its air-conditioning system has only two
choices: "window open" and "window closed". In some Japanese
hotels, you have to pay extra for air, as the only breathable
stuff is US$10 a portion at the nearby oxygen store (not a joke).
Debate triggered by the "worst hotel" marketing campaign reminded
this columnist of memorable inns in Asia. I once spent a night at
a hotel in Delhi where they didn't change the sheets between
guests unless you asked.
While staying in a hotel known as the Old Astor in Shanghai about
20 years ago, I read a news announcement about a new tourist
attraction in China called "The Park of Giant Insects". In the
breakfast room, all inmates made the same joke: "So they've
re-classified this hotel as a theme park now?"
Then there was the hostelry in which I stayed in Macau which had
real live gangsters having a gun battle at the entrance, after
which one of the real live gangsters became a real dead gangster.
Or the hotel in Singapore which boasted "a karaoke set in every
room", as if that would attract visitors rather than send us away
Asia: when it comes to bad hotels, we're number one.
Two thousand volunteers gathered in Seoul last week to soak 140
tonnes of cabbage in sour fish sauce and chilli. The smelly,
pungent, eye-watering material will be fired by giant cannons into
North Korea to cause widespread panic. No, wait. It's being
distributed to poor people in South Korea as a dinnertime treat.
Nothing surprises me these days.
This columnist recently discovered the undulating escalator at the
international airport in Bangkok. Instead of separate stairs, the
moving track takes you on a wavy downward slope. I stepped on to
it and marvelled at the creative design. Then my bag took off.
Whoever designed the thing clearly had forgotten that suitcases
these days have wheels on them.
The woman behind me laughed to see my bag making a bid for
freedom, and then hers did the same. Next time you visit Bangkok,
BE PREPARED. Bring a super-heavy metal suitcase with oiled wheels
which will fly down the escalator scattering other passengers like
A thought: What did Lady Gaga wear on Halloween? Normal t-shirt
Two of the world's biggest publishing houses are merging. I reckon
Random Penguin will release combined versions of their top-selling
1) The Lion, the Witch and the Da Vinci Code.
2) 50 Shades of Black Beauty.
3) The Wind in the Women's Room.
4) Gone with the Mockingbird.
5) The Seven Habits of Harry Potter.
Can you think of any more?
One of China's new leaders appointed last week is a man "who
studied Economics at a university in North Korea", according to
the press. This does not fill me with confidence. North Korean
economics appears to have only three rules. 1) Grab the money. 2)
Let everyone else starve. 3) Muahahahaha.
Thought for the day: Every time God says: "How stupid can humans
be?" humanity takes it as a challenge.
Humans can turn off their ears, scientists at University College
London discovered. Tests led by Professor Nilli Lavie concluded
that humans can opt to deflect unwanted sounds, just like they can
close their eyes if they don't want to see something.
This news was passed on to me by reader Harry Blixer, who said:
"CLEARLY this professor is not married." I had to agree. If
Professor Lavie was married, she would know that ALL husbands turn
their ears on and off several times a day, depending on (a)
whether conversations are interrupting sport on TV; (b) whether
the subject being discussed is beneficial ("Have you fixed the
toilet yet?" being an example of a non-beneficial topic), or (c)
whether the question is one of those unsafe-to-answer female ones,
such as "Tell me honestly, am I sexier than Megan Fox frolicking
on a beach with Jessica Alba?"
Once again, scientists have wasted millions discovering what the
rest of us already know.
One in 25 corporate executives has the personality of a
psychopath, or serial killer, researchers in the UK reported.
Shocking! Only one in 25? Clearly they missed the famously vicious
commodity broker Glencore off the survey. Or perhaps they left off
the word "not"? One in 25 corporate executives does NOT have the
personality of a serial killer. That I could believe.
An Ultra-Cute theme park is being built in the small town of Anji,
near Shanghai, devoted to Hello Kitty. The design theme throughout
the US$200m park is "sweetness". Meanwhile, an explosion of
diabetes has started to radiate across China, the news media
Mice have a powerful sense of smell and can be used in airport
searches, scientists said. Great. That should put an end to the
biggest problem facing humanity at the moment, the international
A mother and three kids lived in a railway station in Russia for
nine years, according to a UK tabloid report shown to me by
shocked reader Jaya Wickrama. Have you ever been on the railways
in Russia, Jaya? They were probably just waiting for their train.
Nine years wait? I can believe that.
A few days ago, the Facebook computer stopped working for
literally 60 seconds and several thousand people got on to their
Twitter accounts to express their disappointment and outrage. Life
can be really, really hard. The people eating tree bark in North
Korea know just how you feel.
(Nury Vittachi is an
Asia-based frequent traveller. Send comments and ideas via