We’re impressed. On one side, Hong Kong Island’s shore is lined with sky scrapers loom tall over the harbor. On the other bank, Kowloon, with its modern buildings and shopping streets. Miraculously, this is our home, the place where the cheapest night’s stay in Hong Kong can be found.
The building is called Chungking Mansions, however, it is not as glamorous as it sounds. The building is a legend in and of itself. Part shopping mall, part hangout for poor immigrants, it is a fourteen story building filled with apartments, home-restaurants, and tiny bootleg hostels. This is where backpackers come to stay in Hong Kong.
At HK$200, about US$26, our hotel was as cheap as it comes in this town. It is an apartment converted into tiny hotel rooms. There are numerous other hotels like this. Latest estimates say there are over 1800 hotel spaces in the Chungking Mansions complex. Our room had a bed in which I could not fully stretch out, as above my head was one wall while my feet hit the other one. The floor area was smaller than our bed, and the bathroom was a full square meter in size. It had amenities such as aircon, TV, fan, hot water, and free WiFi. However, my pillow smelled bad enough that I instead used my dirty laundry bag to get a good night’s sleep.
Hong Kong is lively, full of people running around shopping, going to work, coming from work, eating, letting loose at night after work, or just hanging out in the streets on a Sunday afternoon. It is generally clean, very modern on Hong Kong Island, and the public transportation is superb.
Weronika and I have spent the first day just strolling around town. It got dark, and went to the harbor to see the Hong Kong harbor at night. It was a fantastic sight, with all the skyscrapers lit up. Every hour, lasers and search lights come on and the whole city pulsates to the sound of Disneyesque music.
Later on, we met Weronika’s friend for some drinks. While most of the city is quiet, the Lang Kwai Fong area is a bustling party. People come out and crowd in the bars, pouring out onto the streets. Bars, pubs, and trendy lounges are everywhere and everyone in general is having a good time.
Weronika’s brother Kamil and his wife Edyta flew in the following day. We met up with them and spent another day walking around the city. In the afternoon, we took an improbably steep tram ride up to “The Peak” and saw the city from a whole new angle. It is really a breathtaking sight to see the whole of Hong Kong from the sky.