Note to self. Next time you go to Hong Kong for new years, book a room in advance. After hours of walking I finally found a hotel with a vacancy. The owner called his wife to show me to my room. We took a lift to the ground floor and OUT OF THE HOTEL. As I traipsed after her I begin to think that maybe I should have asked to see the room first.
We walked away from the city centre for about thirty minutes and arrived in an industrial estate. The woman led me through a metal door into a dank corridor. The walls were decorated with snapshots of cracked ceilings, burst water-pipes and tangled fuses. It looked like the findings of a hotel inspector and his report was unfavourable.
The lift didn't have a door so we walked to the fifth floor.
My room was so small the bed had been built rather than maneuvered into it. The walls were covered in graffiti, the bathroom was a toilet, and the hot shower I had been promised was a hose. The woman pointed to the front door, "No lock." Then she was gone.
I looked at the writing on the walls. “Blowjobs rock.” "Never go back." “Raymond had sex here, alone.”
I was still reading when a dumpy woman with chin hair appeared at the door. "No!” she yelled. “You number two. Not one!"
I gratefully gathered my belongings and followed her to my new room.
There was no getting round it, it was even smaller than the last. Again the walls had been lovingly decorated with lipstick and biro. The woman pointed to the door, "No lock." She pointed to the bathroom, "No shower." Then she was gone.
I closed the door behind her. There was no window so it soon became unbearably hot.
I got into bed and switched off the light.
I switched on the light.
In the corridor someone hurled themself against a door. “What!” yelled an American man. A distraught woman screamed obscenities in reply. "Oh go home," the American shouted back at her.
I don't remember making the decision, but seconds later I found myself on the floor building a blockade against the door. I pushed my backpack against the rotting wood and was in the process of wedging a flip-flop into the doorframe when I realised I looked ridiculous. I was behaving like a child. I was overreacting. I felt embarrassed even though I was the only one in the room.
Abandoning the blockade I climbed back into bed, stared up at the ceiling and noticed some graffitti: “One word of Buddhist wisdom to my boss, if you pay peanuts…you get monkeys.”
Like all of the previous guests who had been stranded in this god-awful room, I reached for a pen. Then I stood on the bed and wrote below the scrawl: “That's seven words…monkey.”