Home | Photo of the Week | Photo of the Week #15: Welcome to Chungking Mansions

Photo of the Week #15: Welcome to Chungking Mansions

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Nathan Road seen from the 13/F of Chungking Mansions

Four and a half years and done

So after four and a half years, I’m leaving Hong Kong. Maybe I’m leaving too hastily. Maybe there’s more to be done. But as another summer of my being here approaches, it seems the time to be moving on has come. This time next week I’ll be Shanghai-bound, so it’s hardly a change of pace. There was just one more thing I to do before I left.

As I noted on Google+ recently, I began my Hong Kong life in Chungking Mansions and it’s long been my intention to end it there too. Not literally of course. But as I know from experience, the place has a tendency to drive even the strongest-willed visitor a little stir crazy. So I’ll be making sure I’m well and truly moved out before it does.

I spent way too long in there when I first arrived in Hong Kong, seeing out the days and nights before I started work. I know what it can do to people – woken as I was most mornings by a guy I nicknamed Screamer for his howling rants about the CIA and how they were out to get him. It was like some kind of Chungking Express meets Shutter Island nightmare as his wails echoed up from somewhere down below. It’s an experience that’s acted as a warning to get out while the going’s good ever since. And that’s what I intend to do.

Back on the 13th floor

I’m in here for a week, maybe a little more, back on the thirteenth floor sharing a very cozy room with a guy from Guangzhou I met in the lift up to the hostel. Rhine Guesthouse is the name. It’s actually the next place over from the one I stayed last time and seems likely owned by the same guy. The room is not very much bigger than a phone booth. And as you can see from the pictures, with two beds inside, there’s barely enough room to open the door. But there’s a bathroom (outside), and a fridge and hot water (outside), and our window looks down onto Nathan Road below. So while it’s hardly five star, it could always be worse.

Whereas last time I was able simply to turn up with my bags confident that with all the touts trying to fill up their rooms I could bargain down as low as $100 for a room of my own, four years later, it was a slog to find anything below $150. The increase in Chinese tourists over the past few years is probably the biggest factor in pushing up the prices. While previously it was those in search of rooms that held the upper hand in the bargaining stakes, it seems the shift in balance between rooms available and those that need them, has seen prices rise some way above the price I was expecting to pay.

Nevertheless, between myself and my new best friend Leo, we are now sharing the $200 per night cost of our “deluxe twin” room between us, and the budget accommodation good times can roll once more. I’ll be moving again in a couple of days when he goes back to China. But while the room is clean and the price is nice, let’s see how long those good times last.

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It’s good to share: $200/night for a “deluxe twin” room between me and my New Best Friend

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