Friday, March 20, 2009

Living In Hostels

I have so many fond memories of Hong Kong.

Although I have been to Hong Kong in the past, it was during my 7-month stay in this amazing city in 2007 as a visiting scholar that I got to see a whole lot more of it. That Hong Kong is more than just shopping and skyscrapers, hawkers and sales. A whole lot more.

I would have called it my second home, but like so many things that I want and desire that easily slip from my hands like sand, Hong Kong can never be truly mine.

First five photos: Sincere House at Argyle St., Hkg. Next two: Mirador Mansions, TST, Hkg

(Repost from Multiply, September 13, 2007)

I only had the slightest idea of how it is to live in a hostel in Hong Kong until a few weeks ago when I flew back to stay for a few days. During the first part of the year I stayed in a roomy flat provided by my employer. Since arrangements for my return to work are still underway, the nice flat was no longer available and I had to find temporary shelter.

Probably the most popular guesthouses are located in Chung King Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, but I elected to go to Sincere House in Argyle St. in Mong Kok, then to Mirador Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui.

It was a rather cosmic experience. I was entering a rather old building, around 15 storeys high, and nearly each floor houses a guesthouse or two. It is a wonder how a building as old as Sincere can house so many rooms. Most hallways are lined with clothes and bedsheets hanging by the nylon clotheslines. In the middle of the building is a space which provides some illumination to the hallways; unfortunately, the stairways can get to be really dim and dirty.

Rates for a standard room range from HKD150 to 250 (around PHP850 to 1250, or US$20). The rooms in the guesthouse where I stayed for a day are quite decent, there was tv, aircon, and phone. No windows though. I transferred after deciding that the toilet was way too small for me and that drainage was rather sluggish (oh, learning experience). I moved to Mirador Mansions where there are hostels with bedspace for HKD80, with roomier baths. The demands for bedspace are rather great, since most foreigners (Westerners and Asians alike) prefer to stay in budget hostels, so I found myself transferring (again, cause I did not reserve in advance) to a single room the following day. By the time I left Mirador to fly back to Manila, I had rashes all over my face and arms.

What can I say? That was the most amazing few days of my life in Hong Kong. I wish somebody could sponsor my stay at The Peninsula by the time I get back, which is a few months from now.

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