Finding Nemo

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sleeping among Rats and Pee

The mansion might collapse tomorrow.  Hopefully

When traveling the world as a budget backpacker, there are those days when you happily discover that the hostel you booked is clean, cozy, and fun.  Surprisingly, this happens pretty often if you do your homework.  And then... there are the hostels in Chun King Mansion in Hong Kong.  Perhaps the funniest part about these hostels is the name of their building: Chun King Mansion is about as close to a mansion as a chihuahua is to a pit bull.

The stairwells are filled with the pleasant aroma of sewage, urine, and mold, and you might have the serendipity to stumble upon a homeless man sleeping on the steps or using the bathroom on your shoes.  The mansion, and I use that word with a hysterical smile on my face, is 14 stories tall, and most of the hostels are on floors 10 and up.  Which means you are required to queue up for the "elevators."  A closer analogy though, to be honest, would be tiny aluminum coffins designed for pygmies.  Let take a moment to ponder the the elevators... ommmm.  No, that's not the sound of the universe.  That's the sound of the live electric cables hanging down near your eyeballs while riding this sweet baby.   A poor elevator "conductor" tries vainly to stem the flow off Chinese, Indians, Africans, and backpackers on and off these death-traps but he is usually swarmed over, around, and sometimes on.  I do give him credit, even when he is lying on his back with an Indian sandal in his eye he still manages to yell so loud in Chinese that it temporarily drowns out the Indian disco beating from all the money-changers at the entrance.  Respect.

Imagine a 2'x2' square of floor.  Encase it in a metal cage.  Then pack it full of 30 sweating people of all races and smells and body odor types.  If you are lucky you will have remembered to bring your hands up to your waist, otherwise let's just say you might accidentally cop a feel on a 6'6" Nigerian taxi driver.  Then hold in your breathe for the 6 or 7 minutes it takes for this United Nations of floral incense to stop at each and every floor to deposit people ... and sometimes pick up the ones who are so desperate they are willing to ride up to ensure a ride down.

Chun King Mansion, I will not miss you.  May you crumble from termites or fall over in the next typhoon, and may a clean shopping mall filled with fake Rolex's rise from the ashes.

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