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For the mainland via Chung King Mansion vol.1

How many times have I heard the name of "Chung King Mansion"? When I was student, Hong Kong was wonderland for young back packers. Kai Tak Air Port, Kowloon walled city ..... My friends who knew Hong Kong told me their experience with lot of fun. Although I had never been to Hong Kong, it sounded so interesting.
Of course, the Chung King Mansion was always told in the story. It's known as the name of the cheapest guest house in Hong Kong. But in exact, it' s not name of guest house. It's a big apartments which located in Tsim Sha Tsui, down town of Kowloon. "There are many guest houses with affordable price in it.
In Chung King Mansion, you have to be on the waiting line for taking elevator." The stories which I heard from my friend was too fragmentary to image the apartment. But it's enough to stimulate my curiosity.
Kai Tak Air port and Kowloon Apartment have been already pulled down. So Chung King Mansion is one of few living heritage of "good old Hong Kong".

I was always listener of Hong Kong experience in my youth. However recently, my long dreams came true. I finally visited Chunk King Mansion. 10 nights 11 days. All Chung King stay. I changed guest house every couple of days for refreshment. "Seeing is believing" That's true. There are many things which could understood with actually seeing it. I had imaged residential apartment from the name of "mansion". But when I entered the apartment, first I saw were the tenants which were run by Indian, Nepal or Pakistani people. On the first and second floors, there were variety of shops... electronic shop, ethnic restaurant, boutique and music shop. And this is beyond my prestudy Chung King Mansion was crowded by African people. "Why?" The reason will be shown later.

"The waiting line for elevator" thing also could not make sense when I heard it long time ago. Think about it. Generally, an elevator should be designed for convenience, not for traffic jam. However, as passing days at Chung King Mansion, I was gradually understanding what the waiting line for elevator was.
From the 3rd to 17th floor, Chun King Mansion was divided in 5 blocks. In the blocks, there were nearly 100 guest houses and ordinary residences. And each block was not connected each other with hall way. That means you can't go home without using exact elevator or stairs on your block. Each block has only 2 elevators. (More worse, one of them was often stopped for repair) Therefore, the elevator on the block which had many guest houses and guests had extremely heavy traffic.
I'm very impatient person. So when I saw the long line for the elevator, I just ran up the stairs for the 15 or 16th floor. And usually around the 7th floor, I regretted I had better to be on the waiting line.

Fortunately, my 2nd guest house was in the less crowded block. The simple room with ceiling fan was so comfortable although I had only narrow view between the buildings through the tiny window. Philippine employees were friendly enough. And add to that, all guests were African except me. Let's say, if you are suddenly brought up there and asked "Do you think where you are now?" I'm sure that you would never answer "China".

Next to the guest house was tailor. The master ran side job of making documents for Chinese visa. There was a back room surrounded by glass. I saw the master was busy typing in it. The sign board "Visa will be issued in 5hours minimum"were placed near the door of the tailor.
There was a lobby at entrance of the guest house. And chairs were lined from the entrance. Always African people lined up there. I had to pass in front of them like a fashion model on run way.
They watched TV news in French quietly and interrupted the silence with talking each other in non French language.

May 2006

Today's piece
"Chung King People" Hong Kong, China 2006

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