First hour on the job and before my brain can adjust to the Chinese language again, I am climbing on hands and knees through a crawl space in a bat and spider infested cave, bat dung glistening green like small gem stones hidden within the blackest browns of mud. It reminded me of this rock from the Studio Ghibli movie, Whisper of the Heart, the brilliant green below peaking it’s way out, struggling to reveal it’s true self.
It was really pretty–I almost forgot it was poop.
Just another day at the hotel.
[insert goofy sitcom theme music here]
I’m back in Yilan, in case I forgot to catch you all up my adventures abroad. I’ve come back as an intern again with plans to work at the Yilan Country International Children’s Folklore and Folkgame Festival (童玩節) again. 童玩節 officially starts in July, and so to pass the time while I am here, I am currently interning at the Evergreen Resort Hotel (長榮鳳凰礁溪酒店）in Jiaoxi. A five star hotel which I just found out is a subsidiary of the company that owns EVA Airlines. Woah.
Me and my other intern buddies kept wondering why the logo looked so familiar…
I work on the third floor of this thirteen or so story building (I don’t actually know how many floors there are, as per superstition there isn’t a fourth or thirteenth floor). I am stationed in the Recreation Department (休憩部）: which is why my uniform is a tracksuit.
Technically speaking I work on the fourth floor…so…
Moving along: What are my job duties?
Well… the first day I got taken to the Bat Cave.
Before we left, my coworker kept asking me if I was afraid of “zi zu” which is what I heard. It wasn’t until I got to the bat cave in the middle of nowhere that I realized she had been saying “zhi zhu” or 蜘蛛 “spiders” the whole time.
By this point it was too late to go back. And let me tell you: the spiders in Taiwan are HUGE.
So are the snails.
And the cockroach. And the butterflies. And cicadas, and bees, and everything.
For the most part I have a pretty 輕鬆 (or relaxed) attitude about most things, I figured this was the path my life was on and so I might as well just ride it out. As we walked through the first bat cave, me trying to keep my cool, my coworker started tickling my back mimicking the prickly feelings of insects crawling up my spine. I screamed.
It was dank in there. Dark and Dank. As to be expected of a bat cave.
And yes. There were bats. It was too dark to take any good pictures.
Truthfully speaking, I have a fear of dark underground spaces. Especially if they are enclosed.
But I conquered that fear as we made our way safety back out of the bat cave.
Little did I know we had to crawl through two more before we were done. One of which was half way through the jungle. Sweet god.
And that was only the first three hours.
When I got back I was covered in poop and had to change clothes.
Then I stood around at the front desk helping people to check out pool balls, ping pong paddles, video games, and toys.
In the afternoon we went on to do the fishing activity in the hotel lobby.
A big hit with the little ones. I learned how to say phrases like “don’t pull on that,” “don’t use your hand to grab the fish,” and “yes it doesn’t make sense that there are strawberries, dogs, and chicken eggs in the ocean — yes you are quite smart.”
MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE THING TO DO EVERYDAY
THE THING WHICH HAS BEEN A LIFELONG DREAM OF MINE
DUN DUN DUN: 剉冰~~~ (shaved ice)
When I was a kid, I always wanted to work in an ice cream shop. Who knew that one day I would do something somewhat similar: work at a shaved ice stand, in a five star hotel, in Taiwan, speaking Chinese????
Like I’m pretty sure I could apply for a job at a bubble tea place back in SF that requires bilingual Chinese-English speakers now. Sweet!
I help customers shave the ice, ask what flavors they want added (passion fruit, strawberry, condensed milk, or some combination therein) . I always feel so accomplished when they give me a 謝謝 and tell their kids to say 謝謝姐姐 (thank you big sister) or 謝謝阿姨 (think you auntie).
As the days went on and my time at the hotel became routine, I felt like I had been working there five years instead of five days. As my confidence and language proficiency in regards to doing these tasks grew, I got small job upgrades.
One of which was leading morning DIY.
All in Chinese.
My task was to teach groups of parents and children how to make a fan. At first I didn’t know how to describe anything so I just sat around and observed my coworkers doing it, I copied what they were saying for about a week until they had enough confidence in my speaking ability to leave me alone to teach three DIY sessions by myself.
A little girl even called me 老師 (teacher) . A granny said I was cute.
It’s not all rainbow colored balloons and shaved ice at the hotel though….
like any sitcom, their are the occasional hijinks
Sometimes, I have to do the mascot dance.
I suck at the mascot dance.
I lack basic coordination skills when it comes to dancing. Plus I am clumsier than usual in Taiwan given how nervous I sometimes get talking to important people in Chinese. My first day wearing the garb I could not remember the dance and no matter how many times I asked people what we were supposed to do after the “butt bump” I just had to say screw it and flail around to the music like one of the fake plastic fish from the kiddie pool we went fishing in earlier.
There are two mascots: Domo-chan (girl, younger sister) and I-La Sha (boy, older brother). Sometimes I am I-La Sha because I am taller than whoever is supposed to be Domo. Sometimes I am Domo because I am shorter than whoever is I-La Sha. Both are extremely hot inside, the head is heavy, and it is hard to see well.
They are cute though.
Filled with equally cute tall boys in their mid twenties.
Sweating like pigs.
[cue sitcom ending theme]