These are women who turn wherever they may be into a festival. They move across the grim, fluorescent-lit ugliness of CKM like flowers, laughing and chattering and lovely. Even the ones who are not conventionally pretty are beautiful on Sunday. They fill the nearby green space of Kowloon Park and bring to it the joy of an instant picnic and they transform Chungking Mansions into a town square as they move in and take it over for a day. They are delightful and the currency exchange guys aren't the only ones to think so. When I see them, I think of sunlight and mangoes and music; I remember that Carabao, my favorite Thai band, developed their chops in the Philippines and that the girls who are passing in front of me are close relatives of the people I love and miss in Bangkok.
Today is life as usual and the morning seemed a little more Monday than it should be. I got in the elevator to go back to my room after having coffee and the sounds of drums filled it long before I reached the fourth floor. Music entered with the man waiting at that stop, and I got off.
Down a dark and squalid-looking hallway was an open door leading to a room filled with metal folding chairs and people of all colors seated on them. I would have thought it was an AA meeting except for the drums and singing and African music that came out into the hallway and made it a joyful spot.
This is the reason I stay in Chungking Mansions--the surprises, the music, the occasional blaze of loveliness and light.