Friday, May 22, 2009

Gotham City and my Hong Kong alley, part two

Image of an anti-rat poster in Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Dear Gentle Reader,

Back to the alley.

The Heroine couldn't believe that, on Monday, I didn't start by telling you how, when you enter the alley, you get doused with a fine mist from the exhaust vent of a greasy spoon Chinese kitchen.

I thought that that information was on a need to know basis.

She thought that if I was offering to take people to the places that I think are interesting, then people need to know the hazards of my company...

So... complementary hair care treatment, deep fry facial cleansers, and aromatic clothing misters are installed in the opening of the alley.

And, if you missed that complementary bit, they are free.

That refreshing scent of high calorie cooking oil might be why rats are, apparently, found here too.

Which is why, presumably, the government has this anti-rat poster up.

To make the rats feel less welcome.

If institutional xenophobia does not deter the rats, then the city uses more extreme measures...

Image of a sign in a Kowloon, Hong Kong, alley warning people not to touch the poisoned food. It's for the rats. Hopefully they cannot read. The rats, that is.

Hong Kong takes rats seriously. (Remember that Bubonic Plague outbreak?)

Of course, once you are well into the alley, it is hard to see much of anything, even rats or roaches.

The alleys are kept dim due to the height of the surrounding buildings.

If today is full disclosure day, my dank alley is not only cooled by the shade, it is also kept cool by mist.

It is misted by the hundreds of overhanging old air conditioners dropping their spray onto the men who toil and trudge in the heat.

Image of air conditioners stacked on top of each other, outside Chungking Mansion's walls, and above the people walking through my alley.

I just always make a little prayer on behalf of all the screwing that has hopefully gone on here. 

(With regard to the installation of the air conditioners, obviously.)

Porters run, or walk quickly, down the bulk of the alley, quickly carting boxed bundles from the unlicensed, gray-market factories illicitly built and run from within Chungking Mansion's groaning walls. 

Did I mention that Chungking Mansions abuts half of the alley?

Chungking Mansion's floors hold more than just notoriously cheap hostels and dormitories. It also holds numerous grey and black market factories. And, supposedly, the majority of the Nepalese community in Hong Kong.

Chungking Mansion's floors struggle to support heavy equipment stamping out things for commerce. 

These shivering floors were built to withstand the patter of feet and the blood-filled echoes of loves lost, loves found, and love made. These floors were not built to withstand the relentless pounding of metal on metal or plastic or paper. But they do.

Chungking Mansions was also not built to cope with the waste generated by all the factories and the hostels, and stores, and the restaurants, and the takeaways for the guests and the workers. So, there is a fair bit of detritus, which is quite helpful for the cockroaches and for the rats.

When the sun is directly overhead of the alley, briefly, it illuminates the alley, causing the vermin to scuttle for cover. 

This also makes it easier to see and photograph the porters carrying loads to and from the factories and businesses located inside Chungking Mansions.

Image of a porter carrying cartons from Chungking Mansions to the quasi-legal moving trucks on the back street.
These porters are not fast because they are worried about the sky falling, or an air-con unit falling, or even the rats and gigantic cockroaches of Hong Kong...

These porters move quickly because they are paid by the piece or by the pound. Whichever is less.

What are those cartons for?

Where do these cartons go?

Stay tuned, Monday...



Cloudia said...


murat11 said...

Good to have you back at your Boswellian best - the yin yang of opulence and vermin, capitalism and scuttle...

Candace said...

Mmm. Well, perhaps they are condos for our furry {not) friends. Traps? Hey, no, I don't remember the Bubonic Plague. Say, how old do you think I am? LOL.
Spring is springing here but what's going on over there? Obviously, great photos and rapscallion adventures in good living!

Please tell the Heroine that should I show for this phantasmagoric tour of the Far East, nothing but the best for me... onward, ever onward to the complementary shenanigans listed!

Your Pal,
Candace in Athens

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Clouda,


Dear Murat,

Boswellian. I'm speechless.

Dear Candace,

I think you are as young as tomorrow by outlook and as old as last year in perspective.

Come for the visit and we can search out craft stuff; although I have no clue where to look. Right now I am looking for a foundry for a bust I am starting.


debra said...

The human commodities are as plentiful as the packages they tote in your fair city. Interesting contrasts. But please, do watch where you put your apples...

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Debra,

Shall do... shall do...

and they are... they are...