The HOSTILE HOSTEL in Hong Kong: "ChungKing Mansion" and Opposition in All Things

Updated: Aug 19

8th August 2014

2014 年 8 月 8 日


The ChungKing "Mansion" sounds good on paper. In real life, it was actually a sham.



My son Kevan was returning from his mission in Nebraska, US, to come and live with us in mainland China, the City of ChongQing, and I had to meet him in Hong Kong because the Church of Jesus Christ would fly him there. The next plane ticket was on me, from Hong Kong to ChongQing. But first, we needed a VISA for Kevan to get "in" to China.


VIDEO of this BLOG story here:


So I booked a reservation online at Travelocity.com, at the so-called LUCKY Hotel in Hong Kong using Travelocity, but it turns it wasn't lucky, unless you want to say I was lucky I made it out of there the next morning with my stuff, alive, with our safety. What a scary place. It was called a HOSTEL. I learned for the first time how awful a hostel can be compared to a real hotel. There is no comparison, especially at this place, the almost haunted but certainly run-down and dodgy "ChungKing Mansion."


I was trying to have a nice temporary stay for my son returning to home with us in China, and it turned out to be a disaster, an unsafe condition in the slums of Hong Kong. Who knew?? Travelocity certainly didn't tell us, which is why I will never trust Travelocity again.

My meeting Kevan at the airport started out nice enough, International standards Hong Kong Airport, among the best, and a state of the art high speed rail trip from the airport to the Hong Kong island in only 20 some odd minutes.

We were smiling and happy. Kevan had just returned to us after serving his mission in Nebraska for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, and because our family now lives in China, we had to meet in Hong Kong to get him released officially by church leaders, and to secure a residence permit VISA for him so he could get into mainland China to stay with us for month or so before he gets on with the next phase of his life (turns out it was 7 months and some college in China). Our Hong Kong visit was going to take a few days to work it all out.


Subway Connections under cities, under oceans

So we rode this high speed train under the bay and eventually came up in Hong Kong Island at the subway Metro transfer station, which was near to the "ChungKing Mansion", as well as the "red light district" which we did not know (so dodgy).


It was a very full car on the subway ride.

Kevan is closer to pretty women now on a subway than he ever was on his mission LOL (much less than 3 feet away).

But I am watching out for him, because technically he is still a full time missionary under my protection during the transfer to meet with a General Authority in Hong Kong who would release him from full time missionary service.

This General Authority took the time to meet with us in the church administrative building in downtown Hong Kong, and officially released Kevan from his duties as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But for now, he was still an ambassador for the Lord.




Back to the Subway (en route to hostel)

We walked and walked underground to get to the subway's RED LINE to take it north across the bay waters again, to where I had booked a little hotel room for super budget savings lol. I mean hostel, not hotel. Little did we know what awaited us at 12:05 in the morning, in the darkness of the belly of the "ChungKing Mansion."


We found the RED LINE to north bay in subway!

The "ChungKing Mansion."

It was technically called a HOSTEL, and I always wondered why these things were given a slightly different name. Hostel sounds a lot like the word HOSTILE, and there is probably a reason for that. Not sure what a HOSTEL was like in real life but...


We were about to find out.

So after we ride a few subway trains underground, finding our way to the Tsim Sha Tsui Station , and, that's on the north side of the bay, along Nathan Road near Mody Road, we got off the subway and studied the map for a moment.


We finally surface to the street level on the north side of the bay, first stop on the RED LINE.


Its 12:05 am after midnight.


But there are many people on the street on the darkened sidewalks. It turns out its like a slum area, or a red light district, I am not sure, and one man approaches Kevan by walking alongside him talking, now in front of him, walking backwards and facing him, grabbing at his suitcase handle with a "let me help you" schtick.


I am not even sure what nationality he was, it was very dark on the street, but I could see that the area was super cosmopolitan, and although this was China, it looked more like San Francisco with its diverse representation of people from many many different countries, and races, and cultures.


This was HOSTEL territory and we were about to be SCHOOLED.


The hallways on the ground floor INSIDE this strange building

strangely named the "CHUNGKING MANSION" Um, no!


The hallways of this 30 story industrial building that was like a "neighborhood" inside this huge building, actually had garage doors inside! The building was called CHUNGKING MANSION but it was anything but.


When we arrived, it was dark inside, with minimal lighting, but LOTS of loitering by MEN, of all nationalities. Nothing like the China I had come to know back up in ChongQing mainland China.

So this "helpful," but pushy man, still grabbing our suitcase, would not take no for an answer, led us to an elevator. The wrong elevator! I finally said "I don't even know you, and I'm not going in there." I put my foot down. He finally LISTENED to us, and I told him I had a reservation! He said "with who?" and I said "The LUCKY HOSTEL" and he said "uh, ok. Follow me."


He took us to the entrance to the HOSTEL in "BLOCK C" of the building, this huge industrial building!!

...and he took us down another corridor with more loiterers watching us, to this elevator.

The BLOCK C elevator.


I thought "Is this what "BLOCK C" means? an elevator??" because I remembered the Travelocity address!! and we trust Travelocity, right? Believe me, this was no "address." There is no possible way we would have found it without our unsolicited helper, who was not our helper, but actually was a con artist who lied that he had spoke to me on the phone. Um, nope. A sign for "LUCKY HOSTEL" was nowhere to be seen! on any wall, in any place there.


The ELEVATOR for the BLOCK C building, which contained the HOSTEL upstairs, among other things and various businesses? There was no index board or anything. Just word of mouth apparently. This was "Elevator B" which covered odd floors. There was an "Elevator A" next to it was for even floors. Strange. The elevator held only about 4 people at a time before a buzzer went off, so it didn't move very many people and you had to wait until it came back down.

So it took a long time to get on...


...and so we got in line to go up to the 15th floor. This was like out of some kind of movie, ha! It was like a Jason Borne movie, except we were not Jason Borne. We were trusting that we were being protected by a higher power, and had faith it would be alright. So many questions, and the stares.


Still, back at the elevator, I put away my iPhone now, as while I was looking up info on it like my booking info, I noticed too many serious looking people just watching me use it, and I feared maybe a mugging or robbery for that little device might be forthcoming. So I shoved it away into my pocket, took a deep breath, and tried to blend in a bit better. Stare back lol.


It was dark inside there.


We went to the 15th floor as instructed.


When we got up there, as the elevator doors opened, there were construction materials and cement bags all over the hallway floor in front of us. In fact, this construction mess was on all floors. The place was an absolute mess. Including the cement stairwells. Not a hotel or anything like it. It was a HOSTEL. A hostile hostel.


Looking around the hallway there, I noticed there was ONE door down the hall to the right, and it said Lodging, but I could not see a LUCKY HOSTEL sign anywhere. So went in the door that said Lodging, and asked a man sitting at a little desk counter in this mall room, he was on his phone, if this was the Lucky Hostel? He seemed to nod but said nothing. I mentioned my name, and he made some phone calls.


He had a paper with a pencil written LIST that had names on it. Maybe mine was on there? I don't know. As he was pressing buttons on his Android phone, I was asking him questions that he never answered. I did not know it, but he was calling someone else. He was calling, apparently, Mr. LUCKY himself, and so when this new guy comes in wearing a T Shirt at the door there, and says to follow him, I was like "to our room??"


No smiles, no greeting, no reassurance. And NO answer. So we just followed him. We went out the door and he led us to the stairwell, and we went down several floors. Apparently our "room" was on the 12th floor? I was confused and tired, and this seemed like a maze of confusion.


It was now 12:15 am.


The "room" was not even wide enough for Kevan to stretch out. OK. These places are not only scary on the outside in the halls, but inside they are woefully inadequate to be sold up as hotel type accommodations on Travelocity to the unsuspecting.


We are on a 12th floor of some strange warehouse type building, in a back room that has been subdivided into the extremely small and ill equipped rooms. We shared the bed. The room is not as wide as Kevan is tall. The person who showed us the room and gave us the key looked like anything but what a hotel person would look like. It was like someone showed us to our storage cubicle. But it was MIDNIGHT. We had no choices now. Kevan and I talked for 2 hours and then crashed.


I checked us out the next morning after getting on Travelocity and booking a REAL hotel, that had more than two stars. Honestly? One star is too much rating for "LUCKY." Negative 5 stars maybe?

I honestly HAD NO IDEA!!! I apologized to Kevan because the pictures and description on the internet on Travelocity made it look like this would be OK. I am not a snob, but I did not feel safe here. There were many noises and voices coming in through the little window which exposed a crazy alley area below.


I certainly was not going to leave my bags and valuables in this kind of "loose" room while we went out. No, we were getting OUT and getting a real hotel room that at least had a safe for my computer and valuables. That night I literally wedged my suitcase between the door and the little sliding shower door to prevent anyone from maybe entering our room while we slept, such was the worry, the lock was like a 5 dollar doorknob from Home Depot that was loose and rattled and wiggled. A lot. The "shower" was right on top of the toilet. 2 feet wide space.This room did not even have toilet paper or a towel!!! and the shower was combined with the toilet space, a 2 foot wide room with a wet floor... and a wet toilet, and you had to turn on a switch outside the bathroom to make hot water and it took 10 minutes before that was ready. Travelocity, your deceptive descriptions!


LESSON LEARNED. If a hotel room is called a HOSTEL, then it is generally HOSTILE to your idea of what a hotel room is. This was $37 a night, and I lost 4 nights because we did not use them. We got a more costly hotel that had 4 stars and some safety.


We got out of that place!

The subway back to the Island, to a REAL hotel.So we got on the subway and headed back to the main Hong Kong Island to go find the Garden City Hotel I had just booked.


We also had to make it to the Chinese Consulate to get Kevan's VISA that morning, so we really had to hurry and get our room at the new hotel!


This hotel said they could get us a room in the morning.


It was 9 am.


They could watch my camera, because the Consulate will not allow you to bring it in! SO we HAD to find a place to store my valuables.


Making our call for directions.


Next after the subway ride, I wanted to find this hotel using my iPhone but my SIM CARD for Hong Kong ran out of data and so my MAPS did not work anymore. I could not find the place using my phone apps.


So I studied the map on the wall in the subway. Looking for Garden City hotel. Not found. Why???


I tried my phone for a regular call and called the Hotel. It worked! They said I was in the wrong subway station and had to go onward two more stops to Fortress Hill station. Whew! Onward.


We surfaced from the subway, wandered around a bit and started to look for the Garden City Hotel. Looking across the street I saw it, we were finally outside the Garden City Hotel now. Hotel is FOUND!!



And a more happy ending, and short lived relaxation, because we were late for the Chinese Consulate, and we had to get back out there and go downtown and find the Consulate and get a VISA!


No rest for the wicked, eh?


Relieved, and a happier set of campers, and a more deserving welcome for Kevan, who having returned with honor,

was honored a little better. I love you Kevan!!


Contrast this bright and beautiful lobby at the Garden City Hotel in HK, with the warehouse corridor entrance to the "ChungKing Mansion" complete with garage doors and clutter gracing the hallway, and we can see the the final outcome is a much much more fitting welcome mat for Kevan! Problem solved, and counting our blessings that it was possible. But not without much opposition in all things along the way.


UPDATE ON TRAVELOCITY.COM REFUND:

We asked for a refund on this, since we didn't use it. Travelocity put me on hold for an hour, but finally told me that they would talk to the "manager" of this place (newsflash: there wasn't one, ha!), and let me know how it went. They said I would have to call back in to find out. I thought, do I have another hour to waste on this runaround phone call like this? I didn't call back, and Travelocity didn't call me, and they didn't refund my money. Lesson learned. And what was that lesson?? First of all, knowledge can be power, and I certainly had no knowledge of this place in 2014. I have seen a LOT of detailed blogs about other's experiences at this place which were just as scary, if not more, and written in 2016 and 2017, etc. So this problem continues, but the Travelocities that allow this place to advertise on their site have tainted the process, because this place, the ChungKing Mansion is a ghetto and a haven for drug addicts, fire hazards, and worse. No police. No security. No cry for help will help you. Even phone service is blocked from all the concrete walls. What was the lesson? Well, see the scripture below. I think it is just that this like so many other things are life's experiences in general, served up with "opposition in all things" once in a while to make it interesting!

2 Nephi 2:11

11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.


#hongkong, #chungkingmansion, #ghetto, #slum, #firehazard

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