Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chungking Mansions

Tonight is our last night in Hong Kong. Last night we were told by our various Indian hotel managers that we would need to move rooms in the morning because they were doing some "remodeling" today. So we woke up, packed up, and went with them to the fourteenth floor to see their other rooms, but it turns out the person presently in that room was still sleeping. The Indian guy recommended we check out another Indian guy's guesthouse on the seventh floor, which was HK$40 more, but also alot nicer. Our first room was about the size of a normal hotel room's bathroom with barely a full bed on a homemade wooden platform that sort of snapped when both of us sat on it, an air conditioner that made fire alarm-type sounds when it shut off and on, a TV that only showed fuzz on a homemade shelf that was also breaking, and a bathroom the size of a broom closet with a shower over the toilet. The luggage went under this sketchily lofted bed. When we told another Indian guy that our tv did not work, he offered to lend us a dvd, then left and never came back. This is what $13 gets you for accomodation in Hong Kong.

As we collected our stuff from our old room to move to our new room, the "remodelling" had already commenced. An African man was questioning our Indian "hotel managers" concerning the whereabouts of his wife's tv. The Indian guy told him they threw it out, which lead to alot of yelling, while other Indian guys moved stuff out into the hall, and saw us getting the heck out of there. Apparently "remodelling" is code word for tenant dispute around the Chungking Mansions.

Our new room is about the same size. The tv gets one channel (an improvement!). I expect that the air conditioner will not make alarming noises. The bed is not lofted so there is no room for luggage, but the bathroom is slightly larger. This is what $18 gets you in Hong Kong.

This entire labrythine 15-story complex reeks of sketchiness. People from around the world mill about downstairs: Indians offer you expensive naan, Africans loiter in groups, scantily clad ladies make you wonder about your ability to identify prostitutes, signs advertise visa services, merchants sell fake iPods and shoes and saris, and money changers occupy every corner.

Apparently Chungking Mansions was featured in Wong Kar-Wai's film, Chungking Express. I feel mislead now by the actor in his other film, In the Mood for Love, because I thought he said Hong Kong was not as steamy as Singapore, but he and I may be mistaken because it is really really hot here. Obviously I have some films to watch and re-watch when I get home.

To celebrate our last night in Hong Kong, and Asia in general, John and I saw, Lauging Gor-Turning Point, which is a local movie in Cantonese with English and Chinese subtitles. Two box office employees at the theater got a fit of the giggles when two white tourists said they wanted to see this movie. They said, 'But it's Chinese!' and we said, 'We know, but there are English subtitles'... it's like tourists have never before wanted to see local movies or something. The movie was a little confusing, mostly because the subtitles went really fast, and it may or may not have been Part two, but it was still awesome to see the actors drinking the Blue Girl Beer and the green-topped water they sell here and using HK currency and car-chasing through Hong Kong's streets. A good way to end our last night in Hong Kong, but we still have to find a way to occupy ourselves until our 10pm flight tomorrow. The question is: Can we afford Hong Kong Disneyland?

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