Hong Kong is an expensive place. There's no escaping it, and it's particularly painful after recently being in Vietnam, where AUD$20 will keep you well satisfied for the day. Here, that amount will barely pay for dinner. Without dessert.
The first challenge after arriving on Wednesday was to find a place to stay. Like most budget travellers, I headed straight for the southern part of Kowloon, where guest houses proliferate on Nathan Road. There are two buildings in particular, Chungking Mansion and Mirador, which dominate. Both of these large, public-housing vibe concrete buildings are packed floor after floor with different guesthouses, each with a few rooms and each in very direct competition with one another. Some quick arithmatic will tell you that with 15 stories each, and an average of 3 guest houses per floor... there are guaranteed to be some bargains.
And so the price shopping began, as I weaved my way up through the stairs of Mirador. The early couple of floors yielded little, and it wasn't until I got to floor 6 that the fun started. The cheap dorm beds were available in abundance, and with this being the middle of winter and most places struggling to fill their beds, some careful bargaining was the order of the day. After much haggling and shopping around, I ended up paying HK$60 a night (about AUD$13) for a dormatory bed at the 'Oriental Pearl Inn' (according to it's craggy, fourth-generation photocopied business card).
The OPI - my home for the week - is one of the most run-down, decrepid places I have stayed at in my many months of travelling. Desperately needing a make over from Queer-Eye, the bunks at OPI are about 6 inches shorter in length than I am, privacy is a torn bedsheet held up my butchered coat-hangers, and the shower-toilet is the sort of thing that people at Guantanamo get hot and bothered about. In short, the place is a dump... and I love it. There's something satisfying about waking up in the morning, knowing that you've lived in true Hong Kong style. In spite of the run-down facitilies, the ma-and-pop owners and the friendliest and most approachable people in Hong Kong. And the best part - because of just how run-down the OPI is, every other dorm bed is empty, meaning that I have my cosy little room to myself!
Jeez I'm a tightarse. And proud of it.