I rolled over trying to work out where the alarm was. I’d only got into Hong Kong late the night before so what moron had set the alarm for 5:30 in the morning? Startled from my deep slumber, I suddenly realised it wasn’t the alarm but a phone. I flapped about the table in the semi-dark slowly coming into mild consciousness and finally answering this obtrusive device. I scrambled open a curtain to allow a sliver of light to escape into my room.
It was home and it was bad news. It normally is at that time of the morning. I decided there was little I could do about it right at that moment and thought I’d go back to sleep. Sure enough I couldn’t sleep, my mind going a million miles an hour. My eyes flashed around the room to get my bearings when I stared transfixed at a small goldfish bowl in the centre of the decorative table – the only room furnishing in the tiny room apart from two rickety wooden chairs. The sole goldfish lay upside-down floating on the surface.
This must be bad karma. And bad things happen in threes…
I decided to get up and go in search of food. Compared with the bustle of the night before, Hong Kong is surprisingly serene at this early hour. The weak sunlight paints the harbour in a dull yellowish glow as it tries to penetrate the heavy haze. I stagger into a small cafe and grab some food and a steaming black tea. I have never trusted the coffee in Asian countries and their tea is always excellent. Both the breakfast and hot drink are surprisingly refreshing and I head back to my room a little better in spirit, ready to face the day. I still have to handle the issue back home but the body feels much better than its shock awakening an hour and a half earlier.
I fidgeted for my room key to find the door ajar to the sound of vacuuming. I stepped in to the fully lit room, curtains drawn open with the bed made. To my surprise, I discovered that Bubbles had miraculously revived, swimming contentedly around his bowl and circumnavigating the single black rock and sad wilted water plant. Do goldfish really sleep and was Bubbles simply resting?
The cleaner whispered to have a good day as she rolled her trolley out the door. And the truth stood before me. Among the little bars of soap and mini-shampoo bottles was a large bowl with two dozen or more of Bubble’s relations gliding around. A plain over-sized white ashtray sat next to the bowl with not one but two dead goldfish. They were planning for a goldfish pandemic.
Along with the bed-making and cleaning, it seems that goldfish replacement is part of the standard service at this hotel.
Bad karma or clinical indifference? During the day I couldn’t get the goldfish out of my mind. It gave me an eerie feeling. The third bad thing never did occur that day but I have never faced the discomfort of a goldfish in a hotel room ever again.
Do you have your own story of animals and hotel rooms?