Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One does not simply walk into Mirador

Given the choice of staying in Chungking Mansions or Mirador Mansion, the clear winner was Mirador due to it not popping up as often in the "something horrible has happened" news report stakes.

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Mirador is a huge slab of apartments all looped around a building that's seen better days. Slap bang in the most interesting part of Tsim Sha Tsui, dodging people selling fake watches and working out where the lifts are is your first port of call. Going inside, you'll see security guards everywhere and about three floors worth of shops selling electronics and slightly terrible clothing.

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Of course, all of that pales in insignificance when placed next to posters telling you a window fell out.

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Enjoy reenacting The Omen, kids!

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You're probably bored of looking at storefronts now, so here's a picture of the security screens for the elevators.

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If you ever watched Chungking Express - and HOW COULD YOU NOT HAVE - the little monitor thing will be instantly reconisable (unless you went out for a drink at the bit they came on, in which case Christopher Doyle would like a word in your ear).

You line up for an age, watch old people who have lived here for years but still don't understand how to let people off before barging on then ride up - very slowly - to your floor.

Top tip, get a room at least above floor 8 or you'll need some earplugs for the noise below.

Now take in the, er, scenic views from inside once you step out of the lift. Looking over the balcony is rather vertigo inducing, although I'd rather be up here than down there touching it.

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Just out of shot is a window that looks like a football went through it, totally blackened by what I can only assume is fire damage. Always make sure the apartment set you stay in has working fire alarms, because if it all kicks off and there's no early warning system in place you'd better have a parachute handy.

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I think there are about 16 floors, and each one is packed with multiple "hotels" (just small collections of tiny rooms behind a single door, operated by little old ladies who stick around until about 11PM then clear off for the night) and workplaces that look a bit like they make "almost genuine" footwear and clothing.

There's also the Yip Man Kung Fu school, with Time Travel thrown in for good measure.

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Clothing often litters the walkways, corridors and balconies because the chosen method of drying clothes here is "stick them on a pole which may or may not be hanging over something that doesn't get in your way". Again: fire alarms.

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If you arrive during the day you won't have any problems getting into the "hotel" that contains your room because the owner will be there. If you turn up at night like we did? You may have problems.

Our introduction to the wonderful world of Mirador was knocking on the door at 11PM wondering why nobody was letting us in (as it turns out, it seems illegal immigrant raids are common but not very popular so perhaps that's why). At any rate, make sure you have the phone number of the hotel owner or make them understand in no uncertain terms that you'll be getting there late (a lot of the owners don't speak any English).

Eventually someone materialised out of the floor and let us in, but I did have visions of sleeping on my suitcase for that authentic "I'm an idiot" experience.

Oh yeah, the room. Don't expect anything fancy - you'll get about ten inches of floor space, a bed and the SMALLEST BATHROOM YOU'LL EVER SEE IN YOUR LIFE. I mean, you have to face sideways to sit on the toilet because the wall is in the way.

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You get a "Rasonic" TV with four channels, although typically what was on wasn't very good.

There was a Ben Stiller movie this one time though.

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If your room comes with wifi - and it probably does (the main power supply in the corridor which had about a hundred plugs stuffed into it had a poor battered router danging from three wires over a TV set), you may forget to ask for the wifi password seeing as how you're completely knackered. Some of the hotel owners use their mobile number as the password, so that may come in handy if you absolutely have to Tweet "OMG I'm in Mirador, someone sold me a rolex lol" at 3AM.

Final word of warning - if you like to strut around nude, about a zillion people in rooms about twenty feet away will be posting your sorry ass to Failblog quicker than you can blink.

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Maybe you'd like that, I don't know.

You have reached the end of my guided tour of Mirador Mansion. Please do not barge into me on your way out of the lift, do not touch my stuff, do not try to sell me a Rolex, no I do not want your cheap Hashish thank you please and stop sounding like you're making a German scheisse movie at two in the morning.

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