Hong Kong Diaries: PART I

I had a hard time sleeping the night before I came. I get nervous about everything working out. It seems that a lot of things have to fall together for everything to go smoothly; I had to wake up a little before five, catch a taxi to the train station where a bus leaves to go to the airport. You need to be early to make sure there is enough room on the bus. The airport in Nanjing is small but effective. The flight was a little over two hours.

When I got to the Hong Kong airport I bought an “octopus card,” a credit card that can be used for public transportation of any kind, shopping, and who knows what else. I found the subway stop I was looking for after an hour of riding. I went to a nearby 7/11, bought a phone card, and arranged to meet Trevor. We went back to his place and talked while I tried to fight off the headaches I often get from travel. That night we went downtown. China has four classical works of literature. One of them, Journey to the West, chronicles the journey of a monkey king as he fights evil. I went to a show about the monkey king at the Hong Kong Cultural Arts Center.

By night I realized I had eaten something awful and was in for a long night. And it was a very long night. Surprisingly, it was cold—one of the coldest nights I have had in a long time. I didn’t have any blankets and slept in all my clothes on a dirty and small couch. The morning brought reprieve from the cold only because I had stomach problems to worry about. Fortunately his bathroom was small enough to allow me to throw up in the sink at the same time as being stuck on the toilet.

I decided to go find a hostel or a hotel to get a good night’s rest. After some deliberation I checked into a hostel belonging to the famed Chungking Mansions. This place is like a concrete rabbit warren full of Indian shops, shady characters, and cheap hostels. Parts of the inside are quite clean, but the outside looks like it hasn’t been cleaned since the 1960’s. An Indian took me to my room on the seventh floor. It is incredibly small, measuring just 8×4 feet. The whole thing has a peculiar smell to it. If you don’t know what Indians smell like, just imagine a person who leaked curry through every pore of their body. And not just any curry. Indian curry, of the strongest type. I think there is a restaurant above me. They wash the dishes every half an hour. They take about seven seconds per plate, average. The water dripping on the floor (my ceiling) drips about every 1.5 seconds. My room isn’t exactly soundproof.

But it is surprisingly relaxing. It is a single room for 100 HKD per night. You can’t ask for much more than that in Hong Kong. The hotel rooms are almost just as small at 10x the price. So my room gets the job done. I want to spend a lot of time out in the city anyways—after all I didn’t exactly come to Hong Kong to spend time in a hostel—but if my stomach keeps acting up I might be stuck here for awhile.

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4 thoughts on “Hong Kong Diaries: PART I

  1. I hope you are able to enjoy your trip to Hong Kong. I’m envious (except for the part about food poisoning). I might try to take a trip out there this summer (or I might just take a trip to Toronto instead).

  2. Ha ha, sorry I didn’t get around to cleaning and disinfecting the couch until after you left, but I’m glad that the smallness of the bathroom served you well (and that I didn’t know about the sink until now–though it was cleaned, too, frequently, again, after you left). You should have mentioned the cold: two unused quilts–one very thick–were just sitting in the closet wishing to be used… and I should have thought about it–sorry that night was more awful than it should have been.

    The smell of Chunking mansions isn’t just Indian curry; it’s mold. I think that’s the predominant undercurrent of smell there. I thought it was something Indian, too, at first, because even the restaurants I’ve been to in there smell like it, but the bathroom at my new apartment (which, like mine when you stayed, hasn’t yet gone through its newly-move-in deep cleaning) has the smell (and there certainly is nothing Indian in my apartment), and I’ve come to recognize it in older buildings. Pretty disgusting.

    Oh, also, they’re well into renovating the outside of Chunking Mansions now. The outside is totally covered. When I went there a for the first time in a while a while ago, I didn’t recognize it (it used to stick out) and got turned around for a while until I recognized the entrance.

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