Keeping with the slightly seedy theme of our other posts so far this week (if you missed them, here’s our interview with a Linsen Bei Lu Jiǔdiàn Xiǎojiě, and our story about a massive wooden, er, wang which is popping up in wedding photos down in Nantou), today’s news is all about Taiwan’s love motels as they go through their busiest week of the year. In fact, today is by far the busiest single day of the entire year for the industry, with motels at full capacity and customers lining up outside in cars and on scooters waiting for their turn.
The reason is, of course, that today (Aug 20) is the 7th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar, which means it’s the Qixi Festival (七夕節). This auspicious occasion goes under several names, but I’ve most commonly heard it referred to as Chinese Valentine’s Day. So if you’ve gone all out with the flowers and chocs on Feb 14 you’ll probably have to make sure you follow up with something today again to stay in the good books (although it is nice that many people in Taiwan observe ‘White Day’, which falls on Mar 14 and often involves ladies presenting their partners with chocs or some other treat). But anyway, back to the original point of this post: the impact of this event on Taiwan’s love motels.
The Apple Daily had a fascinating (and somewhat disgusting, so don’t open the link at work or while you’re eating lunch) account of just what goes on in these businesses, using the example of a famous Taichung motel. In the week of each year that the Qixi Festival occurs, business is up about 30% over a regular week, and the cleaning staff have between 10-20 minutes to complete their duties in each room between couples – if there ever was a time to use the phrase ‘辛苦了’, I think it’s now!
Interviews with the cleaning staff revealed, as you might expect, that it’s far from the most pleasant job in Taiwan. In particular is the awful way in which some couples decide to dispose of used condoms after they’ve done the deed. In the article, it’s mentioned that while some respectfully toss them into the trash can, others are more reckless and throw them away carelessly (in some cases, underneath the pillow; eww). One cleaner who was interviewed mentioned one of his coworkers stepped on one as they were cleaning the room… I do hope these guys get hazard pay! Despite the tough conditions, the staff are still able to joke about such things; as the article mentions, whenever a cleaner finds a used condom in an odd location, they all laugh and say “Be careful with other people’s kids!”
From my own experience, a love motel is actually a fun place to stay for an extended period of time; on one trip to Taiwan before I moved here I rented a room at a Taoyuan motel for a week. It was far larger than a conventional hotel room and had a bunch of wacky props, and also a huge spa bath with a TV right next to it. I’d have to suggest if you’re planning a trip or are living here and haven’t visited one before that it’s worth a try (although probably not this week, and also be very careful where you step. And whatever you do, don’t look under the bed 😛 )