After three days staying in the Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong, I've learned a single Cantonese phrase:
"Khappy wachan bahgroll ex?"
From what I gather, it roughly translates to "Welcome to Kowloon, rather pale person!" It was often uttered to me, sometimes shouted at me, and one time surreptitiously whispered in my ear no less than 237 times a day as I walked up and down Nathan Road. Often outside of Rolex stores (local ordinances stipulate no more than 15 meters between Rolex stores) and designer couture boutiques. Maybe there's a connection I'm missing.
But back to the Chungking Mansions, the premise of this short post. It was certainly an... experience. Not necessarily a bad one, and certainly not a great one, but an experience all the same. Jam-packed with Indian and Halal food places on the ground floor, then studded with a dozen or more hotels, hostels, and guest houses on the remaining 14, it's a microcosm of international business. We didn't test this hypothesis, but I bet you could stay here for a week, eat out three meals a day, rent movies, get a massage or other forms of entertainment, buy a SIM card, and have a complete tourist experience without ever leaving the building. It's kinda nuts.
It's also not for everyone. The rooms are tiny. Like crawl-over-the-bed-to-get-to-the-toilet tiny. Like don't-hit-your-shin-on-the-commode-or-hip-on-the-sink-as-you-shower tiny. Like only-two-power-outlets-and-only-one-works-tiny. You know: Tiny. But comfortable enough for a good night's sleep. And clean enough (at least in the room we rented from the Canada hotel) to forgoe bathing in hand sanitizer the next day. And a heck of a lot cheaper than traditional hotels. Sure, it was a little odd that housekeeping's washer and dryer were out in the hallway, right next to the luggage of guests in even smaller rooms than ours. Hey, at least no one was sleeping in the hallway. Well... not that we saw, at least.
As they say in Kowloon, Khappy wachan bahgroll ex!