To delineate the rigid parameter between that which is civilized and uncivilized in China, of all the most important requirements for daily living it is the access to hot water facilities which ranks among a Chinese person’s most primary needs. These facilities are completely mandatory in public spaces, on trains, work environments. Hot water is required to live.
Hot drinking water means so many things to a Chinese person: water is meant to be imbibed at lukewarm temperature in accordance with maintain a person’s proper “Qi” energy; boiled water is hygienic and cleaner than unboiled water; and it is with boiled water that one can make the important cultural sustenance of tea – and instant noodles.
So when a 5-star resort in the Maldives confiscates the ability to make hot water for themselves as a way to stop the making of instant noodles, this is a matter of great consternation for all Chinese. ”No hot water? But how will we live?” (*translated from Chinese)
It doesn’t matter than some Chinese have taken advantage of the situation to live out their dream: to be able to afford a trip to the Maldives so they can spend as little as possible once they get there, all thanks to cooking instant noodles in their own rooms. What matters is that denying hot water to Chinese is an affront to a fundamental human right.
And that’s what behind another scandal which has willfully offended Chinese sensibilities. Much in common with the past story regarding the Chinese outrage against the decision by Vera Wang to only charge clients in China with a fitting fee, Chinese nationalistic tendencies take the reins of rationality to run its own course: universal anger among Chinese netizens ring in unison with the (few, rich) Chinese that ruin it for everyone.
So it goes: it doesn’t matter if there are calls for a boycott by indignant netizens who will never be able to afford that which they disdain. It doesn’t matter if the richest of Chinese are also the stingiest of Chinese, and act no different at a five-star resort like the Beach House at Iruveli Maldives than they would at a line-up for jianbing (“flatcakes”) at the side of the road. It doesn’t matter if these few have have lost face for all of China by propagating the terrible stereotype of the prototypically ignorant and ill-mannered Chinese nouveau-riche – all of China is angry at you.
In this case the idle needs of the few are conflated with the essential needs of the many, but China persists in spite of itself. Nothing matters except the anger – “if you deny hot water to one of us, you deny hot water to us all!”
Instant noodles (ramen) are undeniably a tasty treat for Chinese and poor college students alike; it is the great denominator of the masses, available to all with lips to slurp and hot water to apply the Anthony Bourdain-treatment to your own personal entree. But there is a context for them to be enjoyed, just as there is a context for Chinese culture to make sense to everyone – within China.
By going on vacation, one leaves their home for a new destination. Tourists will bring along remnants of their lifestyles in their luggage. When this luggage is comprised of instant noodles to feed a family throughout their entire stay, this tourist isn’t just packing a free meal – they’re packing along an old mentality that is inharmonious with much of the modern world. When they leave their noodle wrappers and impromptu noodle pots behind, they also leave behind a cultural footprint that can only be interpreted out of context.
So if you ever wanted to know what success tastes like, it’s rather salty and leaves you thirsting for more. Success, I guess.
The Sinopathic spin:
- After working there for only a couple of months, that former hospitality manager wouldn’t possibly be holding a grudge, would he?
- If you’re wondering about room rates at the Beach House at Iruveli: the rates start from 396 USD and stop at 1,375 USD for the Grand Beach Pavillion. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, it used to be called the Waldorf Astoria Maldives.
- If you’re wondering about how it rates online: Agoda gives it an 8.5/10 based upon 66 reviews. Chinese reviewer Dong X gives it a 5.3/10 and says that while some staff have a bad professional attitude, some don’t; meanwhile, reviewer Hu C. gave it a rating of 9.7/10 and stated in the last line: “There is an adequate supply of drinking water.”
- Equality for Chinese has finally come. A day of reckoning will occur in which a million Chinese will show up on the shores of the Maldives and angrily protest their right to inalienable Chinese culture. To which a million “cup of noodles” will be brandished and eaten. In defiance of all that would subvert the Chinese way.
- Think “The Beverly Hillbillies”, but with Chinese characteristics. Have Tyler Perry star/direct/present and it will make its own weight in gold.
- I guess you can eat ramen noodles with a silver spoon.
- Please, will someone in the China media refute these accusations that Chinese are cheap misers who would be willing to eat instant noodles at a five-star resort? That’s like saying a Chinese is willing to eat noodles everyday just to buy a LV bag or a sports cars just to for “face” ——- ah.
[Because of Chinese Tourists That] Only Eat Instant Noodles and Don’t Frequent its Restaurants, A Holiday Resort in the Maldives Confiscates its Kettles
Originally published in the Chinese Economic Network on March 11th, 2013
The Hong Kong media states that according to information from many Chinese travel agencies, people wanting to eat instant noodles in their reserved rooms at resorts in the Maldives should reconsider. Some upper-establishment travel resorts have stopped providing Chinese tourists with access to hot water as a way to prevent them from eating instant noodles in their rooms and not going out to eat in local restaurants.
A report on the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) website on March 8th published a statement from Zhao Jianke, a former hospitality manager for the five-star beach resort in the northern end of the Maldives called the Beach House at Iruveli Maldives. In this statement Zhao alleges that someone said the abbreviation “CN” for “China” instead stands for “cup [of] noodle”. Zhao Jianke was employed at this specific resort from October 2012 until February 2013.
This online post by Zhao Jianke regarding the discriminatory practices of the Beach House at Iruveli Maldives has attracted a lot of anger upon Chinese social media outlets with some netizens even calling for a boycott. Many potential clients have said that they will not go to this resort in the Indian Ocean until a formal apology is issued.
Zhao states that in December 2012 when a new general manager assumed control over the resort, workers were directed to treat Chinese clients with discriminatory practices.
In his statement, Zhao says that the new general manager ordered hot water kettles to be taken away from the rooms of all Chinese clients; conversely, the kettles for European clients would not be removed. This post has already been forwarded tens of thousands of times on Weibo.
Zhao Jianke says that even though many Chinese clients repeatedly complained about the lack of hot water facilities including elderly clients as well as parents who have brought along young children, the general manager was steadfast in his decision.
Zhao says that this general manager once publicly stated that the abbreviation for China, “CN”, actually stands for “cup [of] noodle”. This general manager would refuse to come to the dock and greet Chinese guests but would always be receptive to welcoming clients from Europe.
Zhao says that after a Chinese chef was fired, Zhao himself was forcibly let go from his position along with other workers.
The SCMP states that the Beach House at Iruveli Maldives has released an official statement that calls the accusations by Zhao Jianke as “malicious slander” and denies any discriminating treatment of Chinese guests. This statements says in part, “The Chinese market is extremely important to us; we warmly welcome all Chinese clients to stay at our resort.”
On March the 8th, spokesperson [for the Beach House at Iruveli Maldives] Linda Peterlin stated, “Due to the damage caused by some clients using water kettles to cook food in, the resort has taken away kettles from some of the rooms because they are broken; this is just routine operating procedure.”
The report states that some netizens have expressed their shock and disappointment.
A professional Beijing travel agent that specializes in trips to the Maldives named Jenny says that some clients have already cancelled their travel plans. Jenny states that this type of discriminatory behavior shown by travel resorts in the Maldives is “extremely rare”.
After this exposé was revealed by Zhao Jianke, many [Chinese] travel agencies have stopped recommending the Beach House at Iruveli Maldives to their clients. Jenny says, “After this happened, when my clients are reserving a resort to stay in they all have a new requirement: no discrimination.”
From QQ News:
Holiday Resort in Maldives Criticized for Discriminating Against Chinese
The newest statistics released by the Department of Tourism for the Maldives states that the country received approximately 230,000 visitors from China in 2012, an increase from the previous year by 15.6%. For the third year in a row, China continues to be the top country of origin for visitors to the Maldives.
Though Chinese tourists have become one of the pillars to the tourism trade to the Maldives, a post made on the internet has upset the feelings of many people planning on traveling there. “Worried that Chinese tourists will sequester themselves in their rooms to eat instant noodles and not pay for dinner at a restaurant, a hotel has taken away the hot water kettles belonging to the rooms of Chinese clients.” This post was made by 28 year-old Zhao Jianke. Zhao was employed at the hotel “the Beach House at Iruveli Maldives” from October 2012 to March 2013.
“This hotel ranks as ‘above average’ for this area.” At first, Zhao Jianke enjoyed his new job. However, last year at the end of December the hotel began to give Chinese tourists “special treatment”. The one point that was hardest for Zhao to accept was that the hotel removed the hot water kettles from the rooms of Chinese guests. The reason provided for this was “If given access to water kettles, Chinese tourists will not go out to eat in restaurants; instead, they will spend all day in their rooms eating instant noodles.”
For any Chinese tourist that have previously visited the Maldives, whether many times or few, eating there on any given day will give them a head ache: if it isn’t something they aren’t used to eating, then it is something which is too expensive.
Last year, Qin Hai and his newlywed bride went to Paradise Island in the Maldives for their honeymoon. The blue skies, white sand and clear ocean were all a wondrous sight; however, upon returning to civilization after their romantic sojourn in the natural environment, the two began to get worried and stressed. “The prices there are too expensive. A poached egg is 15 USD, while a seafood dinner is at least 200 USD to begin with,” Qin said. As well, they were not accustomed to eating a Western meal on a daily basis. Fortunately, they had managed to bring along a few packets of instant noodles [that happened to be in their luggage]. Says Qin, “[If it weren't for these instant noodles,] we’d have to spend upwards of a thousand dollars a day. Why bother?”
Famous playwright Ning Caishen posted a supportive Weibo post that stated, “Every time I go to the Maldives, I am sure to bring along these quintessential items that will save your life: instant noodles, hot pickled mustard tuber, and ‘Ah Xiangpo’ condiment sauce”. Netizen “Little Bird Sings hip-hop” says that it is difficult to find hot water kettles in hotels located in Europe or the United States; however, one can approach the front desk to borrow such an appliance even though there is a coffee maker in every room.
Furthermore, many holiday resorts in the Maldives have a “restriction” towards Chinese tourists wanting to partake in the islands’ diving activities.
At the Diveoceans diving center on Paradise Island, a rule is in place whereby that any Chinese partaking in diving activities are only allowed to dive to a depth of 3 meters for a total time of half an hour. The price for this activity is still the normal rate of 188 USD. At Club Med Kani, it is only Chinese tourists that are required to pass a test in order to go diving; those that don’t pass this test are prevented from participating. Workers at the holiday resort say that this is a precaution for the tourist’s own safety.
[First published in the Oriental Guardian]