Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chungking Mansions

I bought the DVD for Chungking Express recently. It is a 1994 HK movie directed by Wong Kar-wai and starts Tony Leung, Faye Wong, and Takeshi Kaneshiro. Last night, as I was ripping the DVD to my iPod, I found out that the "Chunking" part of the title referred to Chunking Mansions in Hong Kong. In the movie, they shot many scenes inside the building but I don't think there were any external shots. When I saw a picture of the building on Wikipedia (above), I thought it looked familiar. It turns out that the hotel we stayed at in 2005, Holiday Inn Golden MIle, was right next door to Chunking Mansions on Nathan Road. I remember as we were walking back to our hotel each night, there would be lots of people hanging around on the sidewalk outside the MTR station, our hotel, and especially Chunking Mansions; it was probably much cooler outside than inside the building. Since we were in Hong Kong, I expected to see mostly Chinese people but surprisingly, most of them looked like they were from SE Asia, India, or Africa, and there were some white people too. From the WIki article, there seems to be lots of cheap "hotel" rooms in Chunking Mansions. We paid ~HK$4,000 for 3 nights, or about US$160/night, at the Holiday Inn. If you look closely at the picture above (not sure when it was taken), you can get rooms from HK$100-300/night or something on the 3rd floor for HK$68/hour!

Building outside our window, opposite side from Chunking Mansions. Looks about the same. I've always wondered why they don't put in central A/C since the summers are crazy hot/humid in Hong Kong and everyone puts in a window/wall A/C unit anyway.

Oh, if anyone wants to see the movie, I can let you borrow the DVD or give you the 715MB AVI file. The only audio available is Mandarin Chinese but it has both traditional Chinese and English subtitles.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Was googling Chungking Mansions and came across your blog. I work for...well I wont state but will say an NGO that deals with the SE Asian community that takes up a large percentage of Chunking's inhabitants.

The large majority are either HK residents with an ID card or 'overstayers' (those whose visa have run out). A lot of the latter have asylum claims ongoing with the UNHCR office in HK or CAT (Convention against Torture) claims lodged with the HK govt that has recently started processing, tho processing is a somwhat laughable term unfortunately.

The place itself is a rabbit warren, its massive and a lot of illiegal and legal conversions have occurred, especially in the upper floors. The bottom floors are a mall and the upper floors contain cheap hotels, restaurents and also NGO's have contact points there. There can be a lot of crime (for hong kong which has much less random violence then say the UK, but generally crime is of the fighting or mugging variety and worse stuff is rarer) but it is mainly contained within the communities and foreigners will rarely face trouble other than pestering to purchase something etc.

As to the AC question, the building is old. Its layout is everchanging, the whole premise is not owned straight out but rather each small section or property is owned by someone different. Central AC would be impractical and ridiculouly expensive for profit generated.

I will bookmark this page and come back to post if you have any further questions.

Oh I grwew up in HK and have returned to work here after education in the UK fyi.

Hope that is somewhat interesting to you.