Entering a filthy hallway lit by a bare bulb and guarded by an ancient Chinese man asleep at his post, we found the elevator. The up button was easy to hit, removing our finger from it's stickiness was another matter. But we were OK, we were on an adventure, we were at the doorway to Asia--so what if in our case the doorway to Asia was best illustrated by a beat in, ill-closing elevator door.
The elevator was just large enough for us, our packs and our individual thoughts about which of us was responsible for getting us into this nightmare--all of this piled in vertical layers that strained the elevator cables and made the car miss it's appointed floor by about 12 inches, 11 floors up.
The door opened out on to a dark, open air shelf. I'd seen shelves like this back in my days of high altitude climbing. Those too were sloped and treacherous, but unlike this hallway they had ice along the edges rather than slime crawling with rapidly moving six-legged living things.
Beneath us sprawled the dark, teaming streets of Hong Kong. Cars, motorbikes, rickshaws, push carts and much of the human race on foot streamed in every direction imaginable and available. But from our high altitude ledge, above the 747's glide path, we found the hand lettered sign that signified our new home. A simple buzzer next to the bomb-proof iron grating was our way of signally we were there. Within minutes the grating slid back with the same ease and melodious clank as the rusty prison doors of Alcatraz, and we were greeted by our guest house host.
"How much money you got? Not enough. Rent is twice that. Get more money. Come back morning...." Clank. The grate shut and Asia began to fade on us.
We were desperate. Our backs ached from carrying our worldly goods across the street (oh, have I mentioned before about how much stuff we were hauling?) and we wanted to sleep, to kick back and get our bearings. We rang the buzzer again.
"We got Master Card. Rich parents. We write for Internet, and can smear you across the planet. Plus, we got young child (pointing to Cassidy), we think she's sick, maybe elaphantitus she picked up in Africa--no, no, not contagious, she just needs warm bed and love to be cured--and I voted for Clinton. We think he's our new president, but we haven't heard any news in two weeks. We don't snore, at least very loud, and we'll do the dishes. Please?"
Our pathetic pleas seemed to work, along with emptying our wallets and providing the landlord with our many PIN numbers. We were in the door and shown to our guest house room. And what a room.
Think of your house. Now think of your bathroom. Now think of that moist, dank, dark space beneath your bathroom sink. That's about the size and condition of our guest house room, a luxury room we had agreed to pay about $100 a night for. In fact, it was large enough for one double bed, space to place your slippers, a shelf for the TV, and a bathroom that could also be used to extract confessions from political prisoners, if you didn't give a hoot about Geneva Conventions and American Human Rights obsessions.
But heh! We were the Mason-Slaughters (although given that night dangerously close to being the Masons and maybe the Slaughters). And we were on an adventure, plus we had most of our shots (which one were we supposed to get and forgot?), and we were exhausted, desperate, a pathetic quivering mass of American family flesh just wanting to sleep.
We piled into our rooms, yanked off our shoes and promptly fell asleep to the roar of the outside Hong Kong traffic.
(Salli's addendum) Ok guys, in all honesty, the first proprieter was pretty nice. His first place was a flea bag, and the description of the building was accurate, but he took us to his new place, the New Lucky Guest House on the first floor. It was clean, if small and spartan, and he and his night manger were very nice. He was Indonesian, spoke very good English, and was interested in Alaska and our travels. We didn't run into the snarling dog-proprieters and dirty linens until we returned to find New Lucky filled on our return from China. But George has a penchant for story telling!