The Other Side of Reality

Last weekend – Scott, Joe and Harshad went to Southern China. I thought it will be another business-cum-drinking joy nights..but it turned out to be a very meaningful trip for me.

Harshad and I stayed over 1 more night in Guangzhou and we were told by a local friend that there is a RMB30/night hotel. It isn’t a love-motel, it was just some local 1-star hotel for those who just sleep and leave. Thus, we decided to explore this option – since it is only RMB30 per night!

It was an eye-opener for me. The stairs are dark, the walls are dirty and the hall stink badly. There is no reception table – just a man sleeping behind a caged room of bars (like a jail cell) – he opened the door and led us to our rooms. When he showed us the room, it reminded me of those kampong houses – cracked floor, decaying ceiling and lizards crawling around the room. No aircon, just a black dusty ceiling fan. I checked the toilet – it was dark and stuffy. It was one of those old untiled squat toilet holes (like those I saw in jail). Next to the hole is the shower area. Yeah, I bet there is no heater too. The bed is old and torn – I bet there must be a zillion bed bugs in there waiting for me! We politely rejected the hotel manager and left the hotel. My god, how could anyone live under such condition!

Later that evening, our friend invited us to her house. It was sad for me. Her house was as bad or if not, worse than the hotel room. It was deep inside the back alley – no street lamps – I have to turn on my iphone so that we have some decent light to lit the path. Her flat was on the 4th floor – the stairs were dark and narrow. This is one place where my imagination will run wild – I felt so unsafe and scared. It looks exactly like the scary movie "Dark Water" or if not "The Ring".

Once she opened her door, Harshad and I saw a couple of rats running across the room! Her room-mate had left the window open – the rats came in to look for food. It was really pathetic! I can’t help but felt so so sad for her. I looked out of the window – everyone in the neighbourhood is living almost in the same condition. It was the norm for them.. but for me – it was as good as staying out on the street (maybe Singapore street is cleaner and brighter too!)

On our way back to Hong Kong, I can’t erase what I saw the night before. It did affected me deeply somehow. It was a different type of world. A world that my grandparents had lived and never want us to revisit. In the harsh reality, there are still many people who are still living under such "norm". It is times like this that made me realise how fortunate I am. According to her, there are much more worse living conditions that we normally don’t get to see. For how many can we help?

For me, it doesn’t matter how many people I can help. I will start with one..and slowly move on to the next. The Guangzhou trip isn’t just a trip where we meet business friends and got drunk-happy. I saw a new chapter in my life – It was hardship that I never get to experience or see as a child. And I do appreciate my life a lot.

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