Monday, May 4, 2015

Urban Pack Hostel Hong Kong and a series of misadventures



Urban Pack Hostel served as our home in Hong Kong for three days. We were supposed to stay in Macau but due to some unforeseen circumstances, we ended in Hong Kong. Turns out, Hong Kong offers more selections of cheaper accommodations. 

There's a little back story behind this unexpected decision. I volunteered to charge our plane tickets to my credit card. Unfortunately, not everyone paid on time. My credit card balances accumulated and as you can sense it, I got myself to some financial trouble. I also have to mention that some paid me just in time. Whew! Imagine all the palpitations I gained. I have to rush to the bank before closing time to settle the chunk of the charged plane tickets.

Having this predicament, I sought the assistance of one travel companion (TC). I don't want to get another person to the same financial trouble so I expedited  the processing of our little monetary subsidy, courtesy of our workplace benefit. When our subsidy check payment arrived, it took some weeks before we were able to book our stay in Urban Pack Hostel. To be honest, this gave me a source of unnecessary worries and frustrations at the same time. 

I relied so much to TC. I thought TC will take care of the booking, given that I already forwarded the direct URLs of the target hostels. All TC has to do is access the sites, type some information and enter the security code of his credit card. It didn't help that my internet connection at the workplace blocked Agoda and AirBnB. It was only TC who has full internet access. In addition to this, it's only now that I learned that booking at Agoda entailed some form of luck. What is available today may no longer be available tomorrow and even after a few hours. Because TC has also been busy, booking our accommodation was always set aside. I have to constantly remind TC, which irritates me because I feel like I'm pestering him the entire time.

Only a few more weeks before the trip, TC finally rendered some real actions. TC left his credit card and internet access. I repeated the same process of identifying potential hostels, narrowing down options and finally choosing the best among the rest. Unfortunately, this was the point when we lost all the target accommodations in Macau. There's nothing that could fit our budget. The last option we had then was Hong Kong. The original plan was to explore Macau and make a side trip to Hong Kong. Given the circumstances of the accommodation, we were forced to reverse our plans. 

A few learning points I gained after this experience are

1. Never again I will use my credit card to book plane tickets of other people, unless an advanced payment is given. 
2. There are just some things you can never entrust to the members of the male populace. This is something I find ironic because most of the helpful travel blogs I encountered are managed by the males. 

Setting aside the little stress I got from the preparations, I was able to book a three-day stay in Urban Pack Hostel in Hong Kong. There are four reasons that convinced me to choose Urban Pack Hostel:

1. The rates fitted our budget.
2. It has the best reviews among the few hostels left in my options.
3. I've seen a few Filipino bloggers and reviewers leaving positive comments. 
3. It's the lone hostel in my option that can accommodate 4 people in one room.

I booked via Agoda and it was my first time. Everything went well although I have fears that Agoda might not be able to coordinate our booking to Urban Pack Hostel. I wanted to have that assurance so I messaged Urban Pack Hostel via their Facebook Page. I also took this as an opportunity to inform them that we will be arriving late since our flight originated from Macau. Much to my relief, I was assured that they can wait until 12 midnight. 

I was expecting that we will arrive to Urban Pack Hostel around 11 pm. Surprise of surprises, we arrived in Macau half-past eleven. We took the ferry for about one hour. We arrived in Hong Kong's Sheng Wan's station around 12:30 pm. Since the trains were already closed, we took the taxi and the driver was able to easily find Haiphong Mansion, the building that houses Urban Pack Hostel.

When we reached the door of Urban Pack, I felt that my greatest nightmare is about to happen. It was past 1 am and the doors were already locked. We tried the doorbell, which I believe wasn't functioning. There was a cordless phone left on the rear of the door. But we were clueless of its purpose. It took me a few minutes to notice a note posted on the door. We were given a  number and a contact person by the name of James. TC made the call and was given instructions on how to open the door equipped with a digital passlock combination. TC cannot figure out the instructions given by James. Good thing, a fellow guest felt our presence and finally opened the door. Hahaha Everyone was profusely sweating during those moments.

When we finally entered the premises of Urban Pack Hostel, we thought that our little misadventure is already over. Turns out, there's another maze that awaits us. James claimed that he left our keycard in the reception area. It took us some time to find our keycard and the attached instructions. Good thing, the Malaysian guy who opened the door obliged to help. Now here's another surprise.

We learned that we are staying in their extension apartment in another building. Hahahahaha So off we went again to another misadventure.

The extension apartment of Urban Pack Hostel is situated in Prat Avenue. The exact location is in between the Circle K Convenience store and the famous 24/7 Wah Kee Snacks. It's the little passageway you can see in between the two establishments. 


We were having doubts and felt a bit afraid when we entered the premises of the building. For those who have a weak heart, prepare yourself for some challenge. :)


Another misadventure happened while we were waiting for our turn in the elevator. There was a group of Indian nationals having a drinking session near the elevator. They were willing to help but we were quite reluctant to accept their assistance. There was fortunately one of them who looks way better and far from being drunk. :)


I believe the building administrator has a lot of work to do here. Cleanliness and those frightening wires obviously need a lot of improvement.


We only started to feel complacent when we finally reached our place.


This was definitely way better than what we expected. There's a spacious living area with dining table and an iMac free for everyone's use. There's also a very fast and reliable wifi connection, adequate lighting and excellent airconditioning system. 


We didn't have the apartment by ourselves. There were two other doors that can accommodate two to three bunk beds. All the while, we thought that the misadventure is over. There's a last saga waiting to happen. Turns out, the keycard and the passlock combination assigned to us only works for the main door. We discovered this when one of my companions accidentally locked the door of our room. When TC tried the keycard, it didn't work!!!! Oh God, is this a prelude of our Hong Kong trip? Looks like we are accumulating a series of unfortunate events. We were lucky because the heavens sent us helpful flatmates. There were two Malaysian guests (BIG SHOUTOUT TO KAREN AND HONG!!!!) who never left us. Hong offered suggestions and his personality was more than enough to console our dead tired spirits.  Karen made the initiative to call the Filipino caretaker using her mobile phone. We were later convinced that the keycard given to us does not work for our room. We were instead given the emergency passlock combination. 


Our bunk beds that came in with a pillow, comforter, clean bed sheets and a very comfortable mattress. There were also heavy duty and universal extension outlets enough for 6 electronic devices. Although there were no cabinets, we were contented with the clothesline and abundant hangers provided. 


We love this unique painting :)


The apartment is also equipped with a fully furnished kitchen. There's a refrigerator, washing machine with dryer, oven, faucet with functioning hot and cold water, and a set of induction cooker. There were also clean kitchen utensils. For those who like to cook during their trip, Urban Pack Hostel offers full kitchen facility.


I forgot to take photos of the toilet and bathroom. But I can personally attest that the area is clean and well maintained. The shower area is equipped with a very effective heater. It has ample space, enclosed in a glass door and best of all, the elevated structure prevents spillage of water to the toilet area. The toilet area is clean and for the neat freaks, the tiles are well maintained. There are no dirts accumulating on the side of each tile. There are free toiletries, ample toilet paper and sufficient space as well. The only disadvantage I see with the toilet and bathroom is the fact that it's communal. We have to share it with other guests. We shared the apartment with Malaysians, Koreans and an Indian who cooks his own food. On a positive note, we never had problems with them because everyone is friendly, accommodating and respectful. 

Setting aside all the misadventures, I don't regret choosing Urban Pack Hostel. I was even thankful that we were booked in their extension apartment in Prat Avenue. As it appears to me, the rooms and other facilities in their main building in Haiphong Mansion are smaller and highly occupied by other budget travelers. I also have to acknowledge the fact that our area is regularly cleaned. Whenever we come home, the waste baskets are emptied, bed linens are fixed and the floors remain clean and dust free. The area is also near key business establishments such as 7-11, Mc Donald's and Circle K. Looking for food even on those wee hours is not a problem.

If you are looking for cheap and reliable accommodation in Hong Kong, I highly suggest Urban Pack Hostel. If you only need a place to sleep, eat and shower before and after a long day, Urban Pack Hostel can be your best choice. Although if you are traveling with kids and elder members of your family, I'm quite reluctant recommending this place. As its name suggests, Urban Pack Hostel fits the backpackers, yuppies and those who just need a place to sleep and leave their things behind while exploring Hong Kong. 

2 comments :

  1. For the longest time, akala ko ako na ang pinakamalas mag-byahe. hehehehe

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Diane,
    well that was quite frustrating having to search for your accomodation and then the little mishaps along the way! I'm surprised to find a fully equiped kitchen in it! I'm glad the other guests were so helpful :)

    ReplyDelete

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