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...
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.
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.
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...