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Hot Sun By Day, Hot Water By Night

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Hot Sun by Day, Hot Water by Night
Any astute fan of early American Cowboys and Indians films would bet their Winchester that No Morning Sun, and Hot Water, must be the names of the Big Indian and the Little Indian of the tribe now circling the white man’s wagons.
But they would be quite wrong.
No Morning Sun, and Hot Water, are a pair of mantras that sang in my ears all through the ’80s like some top of the pops on Decca Records’ list.
As you may already know — unless you indeed travelled with me — I conducted package tours in my before life.
Droves of Singaporeans and Malaysians bundled into a 52-seater bus and barrelled along the highways of Europe (with the odd piss-stop).
The average numbers were 28 to 39 passengers for 14 to 21 days across seven countries at least. You do the Maths. No amount of carbolic acid shampoo could ever wash out all that went into my head, aimed by people who left Singapore on the mindset:
When In Rome, Do Like Home.
Reminder, this was the ’80s, peak of group travel, many first-timers.
As travel roars back into life, what with bolts on borders sprung and us simply itching to fly and sail and train and drive anywhere, somewhere, I look back in hanker. To that time of herd travel, when the single device we held was the camera. The ones that were fed with film.
The typical assembly at the airport check-in counter — families, honeymoon couple, church friends, single ladies, colleagues, men who hold their women’s handbags, a bachelor or two.
And then we were off!
Unfailingly, invariably, indubitably, some passenger would fetch up at my elbow to announce, “No morning sun.”
This while I am drawing hotel reception’s attention to the peculiarity of Chinese names. How the last syllable is not the family name. “No, not Miss Choo, but Miss Toh.”
The passenger continued to bleat his Dracula-syndromed “Ah Choo ah, no morning sun ah.”
The passenger continued to bleat his Dracula-syndromed “No morning sun.”
If that does not clearly defy science and nature…morning sure got sun, lah.
“No, no morning sun.”
I subsequently found out he’d mistaken me for the architect of the hotel. He and his wife cannot sleep in any room with windows that capture the rising sun’s glorious rays.
Oh. If close curtains, then no morning sun?
“We cannot stay in hotel room with closed curtains.”
There goes the Dracula theory.
Sun by day, water by night.
We’d sit to dinner and the restaurant waiter would seek me out.
Pointing towards a table (us tour managers mercifully ate solo) he puzzled, “Excuse me, the lady, she want the hot water, I explain tonight no the soup. But she want the hot water. Is it to take the bath?”
As it turned out, the lady wanted hot water to chiak eyok (“take medicine”).
It was as if the group had rostered the chants of No Morning Sun and Hot Water because it was a daily ritual, different hotels, different restaurants.
And then there were those who made their own hot water. The instant noodle numbnuts. I never travel without a Good Morning towel, they never leave home without that heating device which you plug and plunge into a vessel containing tap water. Boils in an instant and voila! cup noodle heaven to combat homesickness.
Said instrument since banned in European hotels. I’d been greeted by front desk with such exclamation you’d have thought I was a celebrity. “Signorina!” He held up a hand towel with a symmetrical gaping hole. I could not guess which province’s flag it was.
It transpired, guests in one of our rooms had cooked a meal, rested the heating iron on the hotel towel, burned a hole right through and even seared the table.
They had to cough up US$20 for the experience.
What could I do? I said, “Alamak, you all have party in your room, never call me!”
Famous last words. They called me, all the time, about no morning hot water and everything else under the sun.
“Sylvia, Sylvia, there’s a caterpillar in my salad.”
Don’t worry, tomorrow you’ll have a butterfly in your stomach.
I’m not sure that went down well.
My travel tales are many, but more of those another month.
You do have to regard folk likely have saved up to buy a package tour, and are looking to get value for money. We have only the one multi-job to do. Give them a holiday to remember. Landmark sights, good bargains, food on time (hungry people are angry people).
And of course correct immediate answers to the holy trinity of:
Where can I change money?
Here got toilet or not?
Can give discount?

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