Hong Kong: Murder, in Our Chungking Mansions Hotel

Mar 30, 2011

Check it out before you check into it. That seems to be the moral of this traveller's tale.

So mum and I are sitting in our tiny hostel room in Tsim Sha Tsui (Hong Kong), unpacking our bags as the news plays on the TV in the background. We’ve just spent the afternoon wandering around Kowloon district happily rummaging through markets and sipping milk tea like wide-eyed school girls.

Then we hear this strange news bulletin on the telly. There’s been a brutal murder in Kowloon, on our street.

I look up at the TV. Police officers. Crime scene tape. A flashing ambulance. There’s something familiar about the images… The reporter tells us that a man has been found stabbed to death in Chungking Mansions.

Ah, hang on a second, did he say Chungking Mansions? Chungking Mansions where we are staying? Chungking Mansions, the place in the whole of Hong Kong that we happen to be sitting in that very moment?

Mum and I look at each other in disbelief.

A body was found slumped over in a cubicle but the police haven’t yet found the killer.

Hang on, did the reporter just say the killer is still on the loose?? A psychopath killer, probably still in my building. The news item changes and my life flashes before me.

Okay, it doesn’t really, but it feels a little peculiar knowing some guy was killed a few floors above us and the murderer is still out there or in here, probably waiting in the shadows for me. By the elevator, the whites of his eyeballs are glowing and his large knife glinting under the broken and buzzing fluorescent light…

Naturally, I google the story on my iPhone. I soon discover that my “bargain accommodation” (which actually came highly recommended by hostelworld.com) is in fact famous for its muggings, murders, fires and organised crime.


Here’s the thing: Chungking Mansions is perfect if you’re a crim looking for inexpensive headquarters from which to run your naughty and illegal activities. Rent is cheap. Killer cheap.

Apparently, if I had seen Wong Kar Wai’s film Chungking Express, I would’ve known all this.

Here’s what was written in one local newspaper:

Police launched a murder investigation yesterday after a man was found dead in a guesthouse in Chungking Mansions. The victim, aged 29 and from Mongolia, was found collapsed with wounds on his body in a room on the 14th floor of Block E of the high-rise complex in Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Police did not describe the nature of his injuries, but he reportedly suffered stab wounds. An employee of the Disney Deluxe Guest House called police at 5.30pm after discovering the body in the room. Police officers removed the corpse at 11pm last night. No one has been arrested in connection with the death. (South China Morning Post, August 11, 2010)

I go to bed but only after I’ve dramatised in my mind the six possible versions of my murder later that night.


84 Chungking Mansions, home for Hong Kong’s dodgiest crooks. (Photo by Veialu)


This post was originally published on Yup, another travel blog in August 2010.