Monday, November 30, 2009

Well done RC.

The Ritz-Carlton Beijing was immaculate throughout the property. Which naturally I adored. What I loved most this hotel and the city itself was the people -- the pride they take in everything they do. When they respond to a request with, "My pleasure."  you know they mean it. Not that I had many requests. Hit.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Some insects are cool.

I don’t have an issue with insects as long as they’re not in my bed, hair or salad. These giant stainless steel ants are a creation of artist Chen Zhiguang and were on display at Mook The Gallery of Contemporary Art in the 798 art zone of Beijing. Hit. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Brooms with a past.

On a Hutong tour (an ecosystem of lanes and alleys) I met this mop and broom. I stopped to talk to this couple as I made my way through one of the few old remaining neighborhoods that are an homage to Beijing's past. The conversation I had with them was more fascinating than any of the ones I've had with a Swiffer. Hit.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

70 kilometres outside Beijing.

The sky was a brilliant blue and the air clean the day I climbed three stairs at the Great Wall of China. Take my advice, don't wear skinny jeans if you want to conquer this piece of history. Hit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Not all days were like this.

Truth be told I didn't run a marathon in Beijing because it's difficult to run more than six city blocks in heels. Plus, my friends who had previously visited this city frightened me with their personal horror stories of burning eyes, sore throats and flaming lungs. As a precaution I limited my outdoor time. I was fortunate because the sky only looked like this on one day of my week-long visit. FYI, I didn't experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms and believe it or not I didn't even wear a mask. Although I did bring one with me. Hit & Miss.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Whimsical and clean.

Red stall? Blue stall? Not all toilets in Beijing are squatters. The one pictured here is in one of my all-time favorite restaurants anywhere. The Whampoa Club is located in the Financial District in a courtyard house. I divided my time equally between the washroom complete with mood lighting that you can still see yourself in (and the surroundings) and an attendant who would turn the water faucets on and off for me and the dining area where food served included secret ingredients my waiter told me, "Would keep woman young."

I was so excited by this restaurant I asked for a tour of the kitchen which the chef was more than happy to take me on. The area was pristine. A truly fantastic feature of the Whampoa Club was the see-through ceiling pool with fish. You could point to your entree of choice and they would kill it for you upon order. Now I can say I've been fishing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Worse than a doorknob.

I never thought I would say this, but yes, these fringed toilet doors in Beijing caused me more grief than a doorknob. At least with a doorknob you know where the concentration of germs are. With this fringed business it was a crapshoot. I chose to kick my way out. I still got slapped in the face. Miss.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I thought I was a master squatter.

Until this. Try as I did I just couldn't hit my mark in this public squat toilet at the Great Wall of China in Beijing. It was as if I had an invisible penis with a mind of its own. I guess quite like having a real penis. As I hovered above the ground, my urine sprayed left, right, frontwards, backwards, on the ceiling, on my shoes, on someone else's shoes. It was hideous. I tried to run away as fast as I could, but my feet kept sticking to the ground. This is why you should never place your handbag, man bag or shopping bag on the floor in a restroom or on any floor for that matter. Being the Hygiene Hunter I was able to clean my hands because I always carry wet wipes or hand sani with me. This facility had no soap or paper towels. FYI, this is not my urine. I prefer taking pictures of other people's urine. Miss.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A sad picture.

First the IKEA lamp, now this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Not as innocent as it looks.

You may have heard by now that the TV remote is one of the dirtiest things in a hotel room. I don't understand. You're really into a particular program and then all of a sudden you just have this urge to change channels to Sesame Street?

The TV remote aside, have you ever thought about the hotel blow dryer as a germ-toting appliance? There is the obvious reason that not all people wash their hands after private matters like watching television or visiting the water closet. Just as the doorknob, light switch and faucet are vulnerable, so is the blow dryer.

Here's a more obscure reason. I was injured while having a Brazilian in London. Unfortunately a waxing, not a man. The esthetician split me open like a banana. For a moment I thought I was in the Tower of London and I had inadvertently signed up for a unique torture experience. The on-call hotel doctor said he has seen this before and it was a telltale sign of poor technique on the esthetician's part.

To aid healing he recommended a saline wash followed with a thorough blow dry. Twice a day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I've never been a fan of sharing.

In the Sex and the City movie, Miranda gets chastised for her prolific growth down under. Maybe she didn't let herself go, but rather knew something you haven't thought of. The Double Dip. Yes, this happens. No, not in every spa, but in more spas than you may think. The esthetician will use the same spatula again and again as she makes you over into a Peruvian Inca Orchid. Some estheticians say, "Oh, I replace the stick if I notice someone starting to bleed." That's one dip too late. Ask before you assume the Crow Posture on the table. When I've enquired about waxing policies, some estheticians will promise to use clean sticks just for you. They're missing the point. I don't want to share salsa with anyone.

Friday, November 13, 2009

How I get through life.

Or at least this is how I get through doors. If the survival rate of the H1N1 virus on public surfaces isn't enough to turn you off doorknobs, consider mucus, feces and mayonnaise. That's why I never open a door without protection. FYI, mayo is fattening. For me, protection comes in the form of tissues, plastic baggies or in moments of desperation -- VISA receipts. Sacrificial door openers (family, friends, chivalrous strangers, unwitting strangers who I follow through doors with my perfected door slip) are my preferred methods of getting around the issue altogether.

I would only open a door with my gloved hand in case of emergency. No, a sale at Barney's doesn't qualify. Being chased by a perfume demonstrator almost qualifies. Mainly, I enjoy wearing gloves because they finish off an outfit so nicely. Gloves for the novice offer a false sense of security. Conjure a mental picture of the gloved food worker making a sandwich for you who thinks just because he/she is wearing disposable gloves that it's okay to wipe his/her nose with their gloved hand. Bon Appétit.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

You dared me.

An anonymous commenter dared me to touch a urinal in NYC. A well-visited one I presumed. I thought, "What a charmingly bad idea." As in any good brainstorm one so-so idea leads to a brilliant one. So as not to disappoint my challenger, I decided my husband would step into a dirty puddle on my behalf. My husband didn't know about my delicious idea. A little dipsy-doodle on my part as we walked to Omen for dinner and his left foot, sock, shoe and pant leg became unwilling participants. He walked back to the hotel to soak his foot in boiling water while I enjoyed sake at the restaurant. In my opinion, a successfully executed dare. I have the drycleaning receipt to prove it. Hit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We'll never know.

The Mercer Hotel corporate policy dictates they can't divulge the name of the cleaning products they use to keep their tiles and grout so Hollywood white. I understand. Every industry has their trade secrets. And, as I've been saying, clean is an advantage. In addition to their enviable whites, this walk-in-shower that you could go for a jog in didn't smell. My sense of smell is so acute I could be a member of a police canine unit. When you check into a hotel I recommend you smell it in addition to conducting a visual inspection. This doesn't mean you have to get down on all fours unless of course that's your thing. A moldy odor in a shower is usually an indication of a clogged drain with hair being the culprit. Other people's hair. And likely lots of it. If I encounter unpleasant smells in a hotel or anywhere for that matter, I high tail it. Hit.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Better than a star sighting.

There are two things I love about the lobby lounge at The Mercer in NYC -- three if you count the Ginger Margarita. Every time someone walks through the door every head in the lounge turns to see who it is. Yes, The Mercer does attract a celebrity clientele. Personally, I crank my neck to watch the staff clean the lounge meticulously late at night. (They even wipe down the backs of the seat cushions!) I'm usually the only one there to witness this ritual. That's because my good friend Ginger just won't let me go to bed. Hit.

Friday, November 6, 2009

To quote Cher.

If I could turn back time it would be October 31, 2009. This past Saturday was my first Halloween in New York and it was infuckingcredible. Yes, I will wash my mouth out. Not with soap though. Warm salt water is more effective and according to an Intensivist and Thyroid Specialist can prevent proliferation of H1N1 in a healthy person  (more on that in an upcoming post). Moby agrees with me. Not about the salt water, but about Halloween. All Saints Day made this trip to NYC my most favorite to date.

New Yorkers of all ages paid homage to the holiday. The weather was beautiful during the day and then it poured kittens, fairies and ghouls at night. Most people were drenched which added to the fun. Fun for me because I had an umbrella. The shopkeeps at Diptyque in the West Village told me this was the best time of year to window-snoop inside some truly gorgeous homes. That's because occupants of brownstones turn on their lights and open their curtains to make their homes inviting to children.

I was supposed to be a rabbit, but the Louis Vuitton ready-to-wear bunny ears I wore -- although fantastic -- were not as dramatic as the runway version Madonna debuted at the Met Ball so I think I looked more like a rat. A fabulous rat mind you.

Truth be shared, I did experience two disappointments. The first: I didn't find any rats (read my "Rats? What rats?" post.). The second: the egg-bomb dropped by a dude at the Submercer. If it was part of your costume, I forgive you. If it wasn't, you need to pass on sulphur-rich foods when you know you're going to be in a small, enclosed space with others who very likely didn't check their sense of smell along with their coat. Hit.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The benefits of hardwood.

I so wish more hotels had hardwood floors like my room in The Mercer. On the plus side, hardwood doesn't harbor fugitives like carpet does. Think about that next time you're standing sockless on a hotel carpet. The negative? Misspell the product as two words instead of one and you can bring out the juvenile in most of us.  Hit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To quote Britney Spears.

"Oops. I did it again." Step one. I admit I can't control my addiction to excessive amounts of toilet paper. I also have a fondness for tissue and paper towels. Oh, and plastic bags. Liquid hand soap. Dish soap. Vinegar. And bleach. Just never together. Grapefruits. Magazines. Always from the middle; never from the front. Lipstick. Garbageless garbage cans. Champagne. Gloves. End of steps. I don't want to lead a new life with a new code of behavior. And the only sponsor I want is Bounty. Or Glad. Does anyone remember the name of the radical who suggested using only one square of paper per visit to the basin? I love the planet to a point. Seriously, that presents an entirely separate set of problems. Namely, sticky fingers. Public stall handles are tragic enough.

I prefer to hide from my mistakes. Which is exactly what I did when the plumbing engineer came to resuscitate the toilet in my room at the Mercer Hotel. I hid in the courtyard of my scrumptious suite for one minute and thirty-five seconds. The time it took him to make the world right again and me to pose for a photo. I never said I was proud of my habit. Shameful. I know. I promise to never quote Britney again. Miss.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My new favorite bar in NYC.

This bar on the lower east side impresses for a number reasons. It's discreet -- some may say, hard to find. The bartenders are true mixologists. There is no Cosmo on the cocktail list. When they say fresh lime juice, they mean squeezed upon order as opposed to poured out of faux lime. The cocktails are inexpensive -- averaging about $13. And best of all, when one of the bartenders had to cough (a dry cough; not a sick cough; I know my coughs), he coughed into his sleeve as opposed to all over the martini glasses. Hit. 

Monday, November 2, 2009

To quote K.C. & The Sunshine Band.

That's the way, "Uh huh, uh huh, I like it." The Mercer Hotel knows how to read a rider (read "My hotel room rider." post). This is my beautiful, pristine mattress as requested. Hit.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Does this count as a sighting?

Rats aren't hideous when they're plastic and pink. Thank you Tommy Hilfiger. Your West Village shop window had what I was looking for. Not exactly what I was looking for, but much cleaner. Hit.

Rats? What rats?

When you're looking for rats, you find Jude Law. When you're looking for Jude Law, you find rats. I'm terrified of mice. To face my fear I decided to go rat hunting in New York on Halloween Night. I could have rented a scary movie or gone to a haunted house, but this was freakier -- on many levels. Odi, the doorman working the night shift at The Mercer, told me where some of the best hiding spots for rats are in SoHo. I peered into piles of garbage. I poked around sewers. I looked behind grates. I circled the block. No sign. Jude Law, who's starring in Hamlet on Broadway, asked me if there was a deli up the street. I asked him if there were rats down the street. I think the rodents were wary of the revelers and didn't want to leave their nests. Miss.