Tuesday, March 18, 2008


When you're at the Waldorf have a "smile" and charge it up to me;
Mention my name ev'ry place you go, as 'round the town you roam'
Wish you'd call on my gal, now remember, old pal, when you get back home ...

Last Christmas, my husband wanted to stay one night at the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel during our visit to New York City. In 1993, my former boss (RJS) in Michigan sent me on a business trip attending a conference sponsored by the New York Times on developing new ventures in Viet Nam. The company paid for an overnight accomodation at the Waldorf-Astoria where the conference was held. So this would be my second time and the first time for my husband staying at the Waldorf. We checked into the hotel in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, then walked over to Radio City for a wonderful performance of the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and after the show, slowly moved thru the sea of people at Rockefeller Center to get back to the Waldorf. We enjoyed a nice dinner at Oscar's. The next morning we again had breakfast (a very expensive meal) at Oscar's. Good thing we had reservation as there was a long line of people willing to pay $20 for an omelet! After Mass at St. Patrick's Catheral, we went back to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn to celebrate Christmas with the family.
This is the Waldorf Towers, the other side where we would never be able to afford a suite, where most rooms are bigger than most New York City apartments (information from a book I read about New York City Landmarks). The Towers include butler service, kitchenette and your every needs would be fulfilled at a touch of a button. This is where kings and queens and presidents stay and where poor people like us could only dream of a taste of a very tiny drop of life of the wealthy class.
This is the view from hotel windows in our room. Actually the windows were very dirty that we could not take good clear photos. The above photo was taken after we were able to open one of the windows. The other window was stuck. We wondered how often the hotel clean these windows.
Guests of the Waldorf Astoria, beware! The cabinet (above) shows the television on the left side and a small refrigerator (below) on the right side. When checking in, guests are given a key to open the mini-bar. Above the refrigerator is a row of four packages of nuts and cookies. Unless you are starving or dying of thirst, you should not consume these items as the small packages are $15-20 each and the drinks (even a can of soda) would cost you $5-15. A 75 cents candy bar from a newspaper stand around the corner will be $3.00 on your bill. Of course, if you are the rich and famous people, please feel free to ignore the pricing as you have plenty of money to spend.
Here I was sleeping in this supposedly fancy comfortable linens and bed, even for just one night, thinking about the hut where my family lived in for a few months in the refugee camp. My brother, Qaptain Qwerty wrote about the bed in Berhala Hut where we did not even have pillows, just some luggage bags stuffed with clothes for use as pillows. There was only one bed, probablly the size of a twin bed. Actually the bed was made of pieces of plywood on sturdy tree logs, very primitive but practical. I remembered differently from what QQ wrote. I remembered Mom, my sister CH, QQ and I shared the bed. Dad, an Uncle and the other brother TL slept on some tarp on the hard dirt floor.
I also thought of the time when we arrived in Singapore by bus from the last refugee location in Indonesia. It was midnight when we finally found an unoccupied place, in front of someone's house. We were trying to arrange for sleeping space in such tight area. A person from the top floor got upset at us for making too much noise, he/she decided to throw a bucket of water down. The water hit the ground and made a splash at us. I never forgot the looks in my Dad's eyes. I saw the pains, I saw my own sorrow drowning in hopelessness. It was as if we began to doubt what we gave up and the horrid journey we encountered to be homeless and endured the humiliation. The ironic thing was it was New Year Eve when people were celebrating and there we were, people without country, without a home. All we had was a piece of paper telling us that we would be in America soon. We were too tired and knew that the best thing was to try to get some sleep. We dreamed of being in America where life would be so much better.

There was already a shower stall with door when Grandma Luck gave us the hut in Berhala Island. The water was stored in a metal drum inside the stall with a scooper to use for getting the water. I don't remember how the water was drained or where the water ran off to, probably a ditch in the back of the hut as QQ stated in his blog. I do remember the well which was very convenient. Later the people in the hut next to us became careless when washing clothes near the well that we had to have a discussion with them.
Below photo shows the spacious marble bathroom with all the normal amenities, soaps, hand lotions, shoe shine kit and some Q-tips! It sure was a long way from the little shower stall in Berhala!

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