REST AND RECUPERATION - HONG KONG

 

 

Camp Alpha, Tuesday, August 19, 9:30 am:

 

On my way  at  last,  or  at  least I will be by 2:00 o'clock this afternoon.  I  went  down to  the R&R  office yesterday  morning to  get  a  copy  of  my  orders for the orderly room and the people at the R&R office had  lost  me in the  shuffle.  Worse yet, they had me down as canceling out and  no  orders whatsoever  on  me.  So  checking back through  their files they found their mistake and whipped me out a set of stand-by orders (since reserved seats  have  to be  in  8 days in advance).  Well, I've gotten this far till now.  Camp Alpha  is  the  departure point  for  most R&R flights  in southern South Vietnam.  Cam Ranh Bay takes care of northern South Vietnam.

I'm sitting here in the NCO snack bar to the piercing howl  of some African screaming about his problems.  Typical of the army at large, white boys don't  invest  their money in Jukeboxes.

Anyway,  Camp Alpha  is  almost  as  bad as  the 90th Replacement in Lon Binh and is run by the  same  people.  My bed  for the night sagged so much under my fat body, that it felt as if I were sleeping in a foxhole.

The only significant difference between here  and Lon Binh  is  the  mess  hall,  it's  pretty nice here, which in itself is surprising.

Being here with different GI's from all over  the  area just  confirms  my  suspicions  that  the  mentality  of the average GI draftee is below that of Pavlov's dogs.  I  thank the  Lord  for  making me a halfway decent Mormon who loves his wife more than anything.  I  couldn't  live  like  these guys  do, they have no purpose in life whatsoever, except to get drunk every night and  feel  sorry  about  it  the  next day.  Thank you dear for keeping me straight!

Of  course,  one  underlying  factor  might be that I'm almost 28 years old and seen a little bit of  life  and the world.  Most  of  these  guys  are l9-20 and have never been out of their home state  except  in the Army.  I  guess  I shouldn't be too harsh on them.

Good  news!  I  hate  the Army and so I resubmitted my early out and might be home next week if  it  goes  through. Think  you can be ready for me by next week, say on the 28th or 29th  of August?  If  not,  I'll  stay here  and dodge rockets a little longer.

Sorry  I didn't write last night but I was lucky enough to get in a hootch where the lights  went  out  at  9:30 pm instead of  1:00  am.  So  I'm feeling a little more rested now and can think about what I'm doing.

I was worried about having enough ($200) to go  on  R&R and yesterday  everything  fell  into place and I ended up with $330 of my money,  plus  $l50  of  other peoples.  The company  bought my clippers for $35 (I paid $25) and I got a partial pay of $40 from finance.  So I ought to be  able  to buy a few trinkets to go around.

It's  been unbelievably hot and humid the past week. I kept getting dizzy the last week in the  shop.  Sunday  I found out my  orders  were no good so I let the new barber take over while I went to correct  the  error  and  I  never went  back  to  the barbershop except to use the phone.  And the two times I was in there for a few minutes,  Pix called once and Dave the other.  Such fate.I  have  to get changed into my khakis in a few minutes but I can't until I buy a new belt (I forgot the two I  have in Cu-Chi), then I ought to look pretty straight.

I  guess  I'd better  stop  this  foolishness and quit spoiling you or you'll expect a long letter every time.

 

I just finished another book,  "The  Last Unicorn".  A sort  of fairy tale with a moral.  I got stuck reading about Soviet education when I was so tired, so I switched to  some lighter  reading.  It was a good book, in fact I have about ~ good books to send home with my baggage;  most  of  them are reference books about classes I'll be taking.

I  hope  you're  well  and happy because just thinking about seeing you again makes me happy.  Take care and maybe you'll  get  a "come pick me up" phone call about the end of next week or so.

p.s.      Call you tonight from Hong Kong.

 

YMCA, Hong Kong, Wednesday, August 20, 8:15 am:

 

I've just awakened from a very good nights  sleep  and I'm  contemplating  getting up.  It's like Christmas morning when you know so many neat things to see but to get  out  of bed is a hardship.

Talking  to you last night was wonderful but as soon as I hung up I knew I had goofed.  I forgot to ask what kind of  tape recorder Kerry wanted.  I'll have to call again and ask.

This place is beautiful.  What a change from the  South Vietnamese.  The people  walking  the streets are clean and the  streets  are  unlittered,  even though Hong Kong  is grossly   overcrowded.  The  difference,  I  guess,  is  the people themselves,  which  just  goes  to  disprove  my  old theory  that  a  gook is a gook.  I guess some aren't so bad after all.  But I'll reserve my final  judgment  until  I've finished my  business  dealings  and left.  If I still like them then, OK.

Being a British Crown Colony,  they  observe  British driving  rules  which  scare  me  to  death.  It  takes some getting used to when cars are passing on your  right.  The only  means  of  travel I have is taxis and the taxi drivers here don't try to take every penny like the Saigon gooks.

Arriving at night, or at least evening (7:00  pm),  the place  was  lit  up  like Las  Vegas.  Every ten feet was a different shop with shelves loaded with  stuff  and a  neon sign  in  Chinese  telling you  all about it.  I can hardly wait to get out and visit some of them.

At eleven o'clock last night, when  I  came  back  from the  mission home  to the YMCA, this town was jumping.  But at 12:15 am, when I went to  get  a Pepsi,  the place had nearly  folded  up  completely.  I was surprised as I walked along the sidewalks to see so many people working  in tiny rooms  by  themselves; tailors, etc.  I even walked past one little shop where the shopkeeper  slept  in the  doorway with his feet sticking part way out the door.

Well,  enough talking about it.  I guess I'd better get out into it and start taking pictures for you.

The Chinese people are even helpful.  The  night desk clerk did his best to get me settled last night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YMCA  International  House,  Hong Kong, Thursday, August 21,

1l:00 am:

 

I've got so much to tell you I guess I'd better  start from yesterday's  letter.  After  I  wrote you yesterday I went down and exchanged rooms and got a single (I was  in a double).  $5  a  night is about all I'd pay before I'd sleep on the beach, so it worked out nice.  The hotel I was  going to  stay  at  was  $10 a night, so I'm saving some bucks. After making sure I can stay till I  leave  Sunday,  I  went out  sight seeing.  I took the #7 bus for HK 20 cents (about 3 1/4 cents u.s.), to the Star ferry and rode  over  to the China  Fleet  Club to  do  some  pricing of goods.  Then I decided to check the American Express, but the money hadn't come yet, so I took the ferry back to Kowloon.

Hong  Kong,  being an island, has to have a good ferry, and the Star ferry is fantastic.  A boat leaves  every  five minutes,  so you  don't have  to wait.  And 1st class (the upper deck) is only HK  25  cents  (or  4  cents u.s.)   We could  live  like kings here on just the GI bill money.  And with the  Fire  Dept.  salary we'd be  in the  upper  1%. Anyway,  back  to the war.  I  came  back  to Kowloon and decided I'd better get fitted for my suit (1) so they would have it finished in time.

But before  I knew what was happening I had spent $175 and bought one blue gray suit, one brown  stripe  suit,  one blue plaid  sport jacket, and one pair of blue slacks, plus three tailor made shirts to go with  them.  I  really  felt guilty  about  it  but  I  guess  I  won't  need anymore for another ten years.  Then they tried to sell  me  a pair  of custom-made  shoes  and  I ran out quickly.  I think you'll like what I got.  The sport coat is  double  breasted,  four button  and  the suits are continental three button with the slacks, no cuff, no pleats but with belt loops.

I probably could have gotten the  suits  cheaper  if  I had  gone  somewhere  else,  but  the place I went is under contract to the Army and  if  they  do  lousy work  I  have someone backing me up.

I  have  to  go to a fitting at one o'clock today and a final fitting tomorrow, so at least I'll  get  to  see what I'm buying before they take all my money.

You'd  go  mad over here dear.  There are whole blocks of stores selling nothing but blouses,  others  that  sell only  purses,  and blocks more of women's shoes and dresses. And inexpensive, wow!  A knit dress for $8  or  so,  blouses for  $2.50 with all the lace on the front.  I'm going crazy because I don't want to buy  you  the wrong  sizes.  Well, enough of that.

In  letter #2 I'll mention how I spent $250 in a camera store across the street  from the  suit  salesman.  I  love you.