Whenever I am on an overseas assignment, I have always preferred staying in a proper hotel than in some apartment.
I have stayed in 5-star hotels on one end and I have also stayed in “rumah tumpangan” like cheap hotels on the other. It all depends on the country, budget and time frame of my stay.
Staying in a hotel has its perks – tight security, room service at the touch of the phone, regular housekeeping, 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 restaurants and pubs, it is a blessing in disguise – we don’t have to walk far for food or a cold mug of beer and if we get so drunk, the bed is just a couple of steps away.
However, staying in Iran proved to be a challenge in itself – they do have good hotels (so I was made to believe) but we decided to rent an apartment instead. It was cheaper for a long term stay and it was big enough to accommodate 6 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 a normal apartment instead of a hotel or serviced apartment proved to be a big challenge and the main three ones are:-
That’s right – no room service to turn up your bed or to vacuum the carpet or clean the bathroom. We have to do it ourselves or we could always hire someone to do the cleaning for us.
In Iran, it cost about IRR200,000 but after looking at the quality of the cleaning (the cleaner who do not speak any English just do the ‘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 unmarried guys in the apartment, doing housework is something alien to them. Some of them have not lifted a finger to do housework when we are back in Malaysia.
(I am always fond of warm coloured lights for the hotel rooms instead of the bright white lights whenever we come back from a hard day of work)
Here in Iran, we not only have to vacuum the carpet but we also have to mop the floor, wash the bathroom, clean the tabletops 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 of housework but this is Iran where the only beer that we get is non-alcoholic beer.
So house cleaning is one chore that we wish to put off for next week or the week thereafter.
In Iran, thankfully we have a very modern laundrette nearby so that it was a big relief when it comes to washing our clothes (the owner can speak English).
It is not cheap as they charge us, foreigners in US currency but we rather get our shirts and pants washed at this 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). Besides, the apartment does not have any modern washing machine and we can claim for laundry.
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 our clothes is not an issue. The air in Iran is so dry that a fully wet towel will be bone dry within several hours.
We have a fully furnished but a bit broken kitchen in the apartment. I say broken because the utensils and the refrigerator seem second hand. The walls are greasy and seem a health hazard. 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 in Iran has its own challenges namely:-
- There is not much choice (almost every restaurant has the same menu – sandwich, pizza, fried chicken, sandwich, pizza, sandwich, pizza…you get the idea) and
- Sometimes it is too cold to venture out – we can hardly walk out a couple of meters without freezing our “…toot…” off.
(One of the best things about a serviced apartment is that you get the best of both worlds – hotel services with proper house facilities like a well-equipped kitchen)
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 come 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