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Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong

Busy Hong Kong
The busy streets of Hong Kong

“You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” (Star Wars) than the Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong. I’d seen the film “Chungking Express” years prior and thought maybe the Chungking Mansions had an allure of charm, a sense of the city, a multicultural Mecca utopia perhaps? The first floor is all cell phone charging stands and ethnic food I couldn’t place. We’d first arrived at the “mansion” after a long flight past maybe 2am, all we wanted was to sleep. Finding our “hotel” or “hostel” took what I remember feeling like hours. The mansion is basically a rubex cube of a building; eventually we ran into other backpackers and followed their lead. I remember going through steam rooms, being stopped by locked, fenced dead ends, closed hallways, and small claustrophobic rooms until finding our way to our part of the hive. Finally we found our floor. I remember thinking “I could never find my way back here, and in I fire I could never find my way out, I’m going to die in here”. The mansion is mostly interior the rooms and different business operate internally, meaning that most of the space in the building have no access to the outside, no windows, no exit doors. You’re in a box, in a box, in a box.

“You looking for hotel?” a small woman said. We had reservations, “yes are you so and so?” “Yes, I your hotel” she quipped, I’m quite confident that she was in fact not our hotel but I cannot imagine any experience would have been better. The interior of the mansion was without central air, circulation or windows and must have been around 100% humidity and high desert heat. She took us to our room; I would say 10ft by 10ft, flicking on the lights the roaches scattered, no joke, GOD DAMN roaches ran off my bed. I looked to my buddy and without saying a word we said “fuck it”. The owner grabbed a cockroach off the bed, smashed it in her hand and smiled. Exhausted and not drunk, we tried to go to sleep, we agreed that sleeping with the lights on was the best bet to keep the roaches at bay and I slept with a hoodie on backwards, pulled over my face. Even with the bed behind about 4inches too short to facilitate me, I’m not tall, I managed to eventually fall asleep. The following morning we did in fact find our way out of the mansions inner sanctum and to freedom, fresh air and a Hyatt or Hilton or something. The Chungking Mansions is most likely the worst location to spend the night in the world, but without staying there for one night you’d never know that.

Chungking Mansions Map

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