Monday, April 10, 2006
For the Love of Libby
Take a good look at this picture. Can you find the bed? This is Shama SoHo, the one and only serviced apartment building in Hong Kong that will accept a dog. Located in the heart of Hong Kong’s SoHo district, it’s a stone’s throw from the famous bar and club district Lan Kwai Fong and just around the corner from the mid-level escalator. Not a bad place to be if you are into hanging out in pubs all day and clubbing all night, but definitely not ideal for walking our four-legged princess. Still, we were more than thrilled when our moving coordinator told us that he had found a place where Libby could stay with us. After putting her through a five-hour flight, I wanted to do everything to avoid sending her to a dog hotel for potentially a whole month before we find a permanent residence. I surfed through the hotel’s website and was satisfied with the services they offered. I did, however, have my suspicions when I spotted the word “boutique”. From past experiences, whenever a hotel calls itself “boutique” or “quaint” it invariably translates to overpriced and tiny. This one is no exception.
When our driver deposited us in front of the building I couldn’t quite believe that this was any kind of residence. The iron gate is only about shoulder-width. Although the stairway is nicely lit and tastefully guarded by a Buddha-like statue, there is no any semblance of a front desk. How do we get in? Luckily our driver from the car service is a man with a sense of responsibility and decided that he couldn’t just leave the two of us standing in the street with our bags. After a few phone calls he told us someone was coming. Two minutes later a young guy in a gray uniform materialized with mobile in hand. He unlocked the door and motioned for us to follow him. No elevators, and we are on the fourth floor!
While the boys, mainly Jason because the guy from the hotel looked like his arms would break if too much weight was applied didn’t do much to help, wrestled with the bags, I did a survey of the place that we would call home for the next month. It didn’t take long since there was only one room plus a little nook as “kitchen” and a bathroom. “Where is the bedroom?” I asked as soon as the hotel guy came in. “Ah, let me show you how the bed works,” he replied cheerfully and proceeded to the kitchen nook. At the push of a button, a bed started to lower from the ceiling, directly above the dining table. Jason and I stared at each other with the look of “you’ve gotta be kidding me” on our face. I mean, seriously! Not only is this room is smaller than my bedroom in the two-bedroom apartment I shared with someone while in grad school, we also have a bed that drops out of the ceiling? I was starting to think that Libby would have more space to move around in the dog hotel that I checked out with big air-conditioned rooms than this. Remembering seeing something about a one-bedroom apartment on the website, we decide to find out if we can move to another unit first thing the next day (the guy turned out to just work there and didn’t know the answers to anything we asked him except for how the bed worked).
Bad news came pretty early the next day. Our apartment was the last vacant one in this ten-unit building. Unless we are willing to ship Libby to a dog hotel, this is home until we find a place. Resigned to our fate, I started to unpack. Miraculously, everything fit, and this place is starting to grow on me. For one, the bed is surprisingly comfortable and it brought back childhood memories of sleeping on bunk beds at school (yup, Jason and I went to the same boarding school when we were little). The roof terrace is pretty nice and I discovered a little herb garden in the corner that had some pretty healthy mint and rosemary, among other things. I’m immediately thinking of mint tea or rosemary lamb chops. But above all, it’s the best incentive for us to find a place as fast as possible so we can move out of this tiny little thing of a “boutique” serviced apartment.