Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Hong Kong Slumming....

I arrived in Hong Kong without a hitch, took the free transit bus from the MTR to the Holiday Inn and then went to find my hostel... The porter at the Holiday Inn had to point it out to me 3 times... on paper "New Garden Hostel, Mirador Mansions" sounds romantic, exotic, comfortable... the pictures on the website and the comments from previous guests all showed a modern, clean, comfortable place to rest my head... oh how NAIEVE!


The hostel actually looked more like a high- rise SLUM in the middle of Hong Kong. With trepidation, I entered and confronted the rabbitwarren within to try to find my way to the elevator. I was accosted 5 times before I even got into the elevator - men asking me if I was looking for a guest house, one even tried to block my way so I elbowed him and dragged my 29kg bag over his foot... Once I got to the reception on the 13th floor (a window in a wall) I realised it wasn't a great stretch to think that they have a separate hourly rate as well as the nightly fee...


They didn't have the room I booked (explanation: we're fixing the aircon, you move tomorrow morning), so they put me in a "twin room", which they explained was much larger and more luxurious than the one I had actually booked... so the new-and-relaxed-Marisa gave them the benefit of the doubt and followed down to the 10th floor to the "Kowloon Hotel"...







I just LAUGHED AND LAUGHED AND LAUGHED when I first entered the room. It's a coffin - no window, 2 bunks, dodgy bedding, a shower CLOSET with the showerhead halfway suspended over the toilet seat... Hey, why waste time if you accomplish 2 for the energy of 1?! The doorknob to the outside door was kept in place with SELLOTAPE,so the chain quickly became my favourite thing in the coffin.




I ventured outside just long enough to get a drink and something to eat, when I saw the sign "elevator hours: 6am - 10pm". As I was on the 10th floor, the prospect of trying to find the stairs, navigating 10 flights, and trying to avoid the many dodgy men in partial darkness just didn't appeal. So I went to bed really early... 8pm early :P Although I was kept entertained during the night as the walls were clearly not much more than paper and sellotape either!



They were supposed to move me the next morning to the single room with window that I booked according to the website. So I got up early (had a 11:30 lunch appointment) and asked to be moved. They didn't have my room (people not checked out yet -- ehm, yesterday you said you're fixing the aircon?) so they told me to bring my luggage and leave it in the hallway and they would move it later. Yeah, funny, I don't think so. I told them they could either move me in the next 30 minutes or I was leaving with my key and keeping my stuff chained to the bed in my current room.



Lo and behold, they suddenly had a room available and told me to get my luggage... Having been born 30 years ago - not yesterday - and dealt with many a dodgy vendor, I asked to see it first. I am grateful for my scepticism! The new room was another twin, but half the size if that. The bed were maybe 50cm wide and 1.30 long, if you could have moved them together they would not one single bed make! I could've slept sideways in the foetal position - or stretched out and hung my feet out the door. The "bathroom" was more like a cupboard (even worse than the one I had) with the shower LITERALLY over the toilet and seemingly running from the same tank. So I declined graciously (thanks, but no thanks) and once more resumed the argument: give me my room or give me my money. As there were at least 8 other people waiting, watching and in some cases having the same issue, I guess they decided to get rid of the loudest protestor (me!) and told me to stay in the room I had to be moved the next day....

Of course, I went back to the room, removed all my valuables to take with me and chained my luggage with 2 steel cables and 4 locks (thank you 29kg bag!!!) to the desk. Ain't no one moving nothin' !

I left to meet James for lunch, taking 3 bags with all my valuables with me! James came to the rescue and had a travel agent look for a respectable but affordable hotel for me and I moved the same day. Needless to say, getting my money back involved 2 more visits, threatening, calls to my creditcard company and a whole lot of agro. At one point I just came at check-out time and blocked the desk for everyone coming and going with lots of shouting of words like fraud, illegal, want money back, call police, speak to my lawyer, not leaving until you do what I agreed yesterday... she tried EVERYTHING, and supplied lie after lie after lie, contradicting herself from one second to the next. I finally left with a supposed fax from the bank saying it's cancelled.... I'll keep a watch on my CC statement like a HAWK! I have a feeling this isn't over...

My new hotel is much nicer - it has a separate shower stall NEXT to the toilet :P Broadband access, mini fridge, and even roomservice (though ordering the steak got me a porkchop... hmmm) :)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your helpful Post, I hope you have a good day!. :)

Anonymous said...

Good evening

This post was interesting, how long did it take you to write?

Marisa said...

Thank you for your comment! It took an hour - its amazing what you can accomplish with true MOTIVATION... I hope it helps future travellers navigate and avoid the same pitfalls. Although its a funny story now!