Our rental place in Cheung Chau – living right above a deep fried fish restaurant, two block away from an iron welding shop, and adjacent to a funeral ceremony (almost everyday – unreal!) brought us tremendous negative impacts on our family relationship as well as well-being.
Nina is our surprise present sent by God, and we decided to give birth to her in Hong Kong, so we made our way back from Canada. We would have setup a hostel in Philippines by now, if we hadn’t had Nina.
As soon as we arrived, we stayed at our beloved L’hotel Island South for a few months before we settled in a long rental apartment lease. As you may know, the cost of living in Hong Kong is the highest among the world, so we were actively looking for some budget alternatives such as apartments in outlying island.
Any apartment, that is decent size, given the Hong Kong standard, I would say, around 350-400 feet in the city, is around USD4,000/Month. However, the rental price of that size of the apartment in the outlying islands is almost 1/3 or 1/4 that in the city. As a growing family, we definitely need more space while the accessibility is not problem at all as we can still get to Central, the CBD, to work in just 30 minutes of fast ferry WITHOUT any traffic.
We searched for a lot of decent rental places online and via real estate agents for weeks but in vain. One day, I came across a rental list in Cheung Chau on Facebook Marketplace with a few eye catching clean simple decorated semi-furnished interior pictures. I reached out to the owner right away to have a site visit. Little did we know that our nightmare started.
I got a response immediately. My site visit was urgently arranged the same day as soon as we contacted the owner. It was a very rainy day under Amber rainstorm warning signal. Yet, we arrived in Cheung Chau sound and safe, but it was not ideal for a pregnant woman with a 10-month-old baby on a slippy rainy day and getting on a wavy ferry.
Since no one would like to go out under heavy rain, it was a quiet day in Cheung Chau, a tourist destination, where usually is crowded with tourists.
Everything looked great – a glimpse of sea view, quiet, 3-minute walk to the closest supermarket, clean, simple with new wall painting, and semi-furnished. Most importantly, the fish and chip restaurant downstairs was closed and there was no funeral ceremony on that very same day. We decided to pay the deposit to reserve that spot straightly.
We admitted that it was our fault to overlook the negative effects on the restaurant and the funeral ceremony.
We lived on the 1st floor right above a restaurant. There were also a chain of restaurants near us with their ventilation pipes blowing towards our apartment, so we were very much impacted by the greasy fishy stinky smell daily.
A iron welding shop was two blocks away from us. We could hear the welding lousy noises with metal dusts scattering all over the place. We believe that we were breathing in all those allergy inducing mental dusts.
As for the funeral ceremony, almost everyday, you woke up with the Chinese traditional funeral music until 10pm. (There is exception during Chinese New Year. They take the funeral ceremony bamboo scaffolding down). Besides, you could still hear, under double layered sound proof windows, the chatting noises between the dead’s living friends and family members overnight because they needed to guard their dead relative according to the Chinese tradition. Apart from that, colourful givings, probably with industrial chemical paints, were burnt in a mini incinerator right next to us with ashes all over our place.
Dennis’s health deteriorated over the 6-month stay. He could not breath. His eyes and noises got runny as soon as he stepped in the apartment. His faces, and eyes were itchy. He could hardly sleep at night. It was a vicious cycle for him as sleep deprivation weakened his immune system and greatly impact our relationship. It got to a point I avoid speaking to him to ask how he was doing.
As soon as Nina was born, she got eye inflections and were treated with antibiotic just under one month old. India and I were congested. We took India to a doctor who even recommended us to stay away from the allergens – our apartment.
Staying 6 months were more than enough for us. We would probably need another one or two years for our body to fully recover especially on skin. We were grateful that the owner was understandable and fair enough to let us go before our one year verbal lease with no additional charge after we explained our health conditions to her.
We love Cheung Chau. It was a small, lovely, local fishing village. We believe that our very unique rental experience will not put a black mark on that beautiful place. Hopefully, we will sail back and anchor in Cheung Chau to fully enjoy it with our sweet home.