Saturday, December 25, 2004

chungking express

i had a three day rampage across hongkong. shopping. art (not too much ). shopping...looky-looking.

to get the proper metropolitan ambience i stayed in chungking mansions, 17 storey mother of all sleazy flophouses. backdrop to wong kar wai's chungking express. As you approach the building, walking down the thoroughfare of nathan road you hear voices coming from doorways and behind lampposts;
...rrrolexx,goodcopy... youneedsuitsir? Itakeyoutotailor, verygoodtailor...caarteeay,rrollexx...haasheesssh..
excuse me sir, sir you are handsome man, very lucky man, have lucky face, i tell you why...
and shifty indian men appear, offering cards and trying to drag you down side streets to be suited.

Inside the building itself there is an extremely shabby two level shopping arcade with curry houses, travel agents and clothes stalls. there also many africans and indians loitering and getting hassled by the lift security guards:
What are you doing here?
waiting for my friend.
You wait very long time, your friend is not coming, i think you have no friend.
yes, he is here soon.
no, no, not coming, you leave...
When i arrived only the lift to the even numbered floors was working and there was a long queue, which was policed by the security guards. When the lift arrived as many people as possible would scuttle in, until the overload alarm sounded and the lift wouldn't move. Everyone in the lift would then shuffle around, trying to spread the weight evenly, sometimes this would work, other times someone would have to be evicted.

the building is a conglomeration of 5 apartment towerblocks that have been converted into scores of guesthouses; the room i stayed in was 1 1/2 times the size of my very short single bed (it did have a hello kitty mattress, probably the only one short enough...), so they make very economical use of the available space. However, in spite of the filth and sleaziness of the public areas, piles of rubbish in the stairwells, shady deals going on in the lobbies, vicious flying cockroaches, the guesthouse was very clean and pleasant (but cramped). One of the good things about the dodginess is that it seems to have frightened off most of the backpackers and now it is mostly long term accommodation for indian and african workers, I got many of amused looks and didn't see any other whiteys during my stay there. Plenty of out on the streets though...saw some young australian travellers getting ripped off in the dodgy tsim sha tsiu camera shops. thought about intervening. thought they maybe should work these things out for themselves, who am i to stick spanners in the wheels of commerce? incur the wrath of triad-backed camera shop owners etc...

Mandi was buying some cloth and the chinese owner said; You speak very good english for an australian, normally i can't understand a word they are saying...

4 Comments:

Blogger hell said...

good to have a holiday simon. & lovely to talk to you xmas day. we're all good here, same same... but not for long. making serious removals decisions. went to the forest with miss matthews. nice to get outta the city. love.

7:24 PM  
Blogger fleischmann said...

simey happy christmas newyear its my first blogreading ive done vitti rony dell you because theres nothing on tv love fleischi

7:39 AM  
Blogger hell said...

and i'm back looky looking for some new comment though i know you work too hard to have time for these silly pursuits. has anyone ever told you you're working to hard..? hope you're looky looking after yourself. love ya.

8:41 PM  
Blogger rhymes with pony said...

we is betta than tv?

6:35 AM  

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