YMCA International House, Hong Kong

Thursday, August 21, #2

 

 

This  is  letter  #2  this  morning  -  the Great Photo Robbery.  After leaving the tailors I was  wandering around looking  at  all  the  different  shops when I spied a small camera shop and thought  I'd  check  the prices.  I  didn't really  intend  to buy  anything then.  But when he started quoting prices, it  all  sounded  so  cheap  that  before  I realized  it  I had spent over $200 and had two bags full of stuff.  Most of it was for the guys back in Cu-chi,  but  I did buy  me  a wide-angle  lens, tripod, 3x converter and pistol grip.  If  the  money  comes  in today  I'll  buy  a telephoto.  I  had  so much stuff I had to take a taxi back to my room.

Then I went  downstairs  and took  a  steam bath  and massage.  The  steam bath was  great  but  the massage was rough.  The Chinese guy  that worked me  over  really had strong hands.  But  I  felt  so  good  afterward  it didn't really matter.  Oh yes, I weighed myself on the scales as  I came  out  and was 200 lbs exactly, so I've lost some weight in the past five months although not much.

After the steam bath I went out walking  around again and  ended  up walking the back streets where the Chinese do their shopping.  The sights are groovy but it's  the  smells that  make  the  impression  on  you.  The  different  foods cooking,  all blend in to make  a wonderful  aroma  in  the evening  air.  So  much   different  than Vietnam,  which stinks.  And the people here are all dressed  nicely  except for the unfortunate few that do the heavy labor.

The  girls all wear nice cotton dresses and most of the men, slacks and white shirts.  when we get back from Europe we'll have  to start planning a trip to the orient.  Before we get too old to enjoy it.  I'm really  sad  dear that  I can't  share  this  time with you.  I know how much you like to shop.

Hong Kong reminds me of the trips to Glendale when  I was  little.  It  seemed so big and so many stores with neat things, and the most I ever had was a quarter.

Hong Kong is sort of like that except  that  I'm older now  and it takes more to impress me.  There are faults with the system though.  I shopped  for  two hours  looking  for some  socks  big  enough  for  me and ended up buying Jockey brand socks from the U.S.  I guess I should have had  some tailor made.

 

YMCA International House, Hong Kong

Thursday, August 21, #3

 

I'm  suffering  from a severe case of writer's cramp on beginning this 3rd letter.  Anyway, on with the story.

I came back to - on second thought I didn't  come  back but  took  the  bus  toward the mission home, got off at the wrong stop and walked two miles to get there.  I  guess  the Missionaries  here  hadn't  read the  article in the Church News that said they would take care of you if you  came to Hong  Kong.  So  I  just went  by  and visited  for  a few minutes.  They made me feel like a nut  that was  bothering them.  But  anyway,  Elder Rockwood, the Mission President's assistant, did tell me to go to a  Chinese  movie,  which  I did  last  night.  It was called "Raw Courage" and was along the lines of the  Japanese  samurai  movies,  with  lots  of sword  fighting, etc.  In Chinese history, the equivalent of the old West, Cowboys and Indians.  The swordsmen, two  guys and  a  girl,  were  super human  it seemed as they took on whole armies and beat them while trying to  save  the  crown prince  (a  baby)  and  restore him to the throne after the wicked prince had killed the king, etc, etc.  The  subtitles were  good  after you  got used to them.  There are so many dialects of Chinese that there were Chinese subtitles  right over the English ones.

When  I  got  out of the show about midnight, Hong Kong was just starting to close up the shops and retire  for  the night.  So  I  grabbed a Pepsi on the way home and came back and played with  the  camera  stuff  till  1:30  am in the morning.  I  got  up  this  morning  at  10:00 am because my small pox shot is itching so bad I can't stand  it.  I  have to have it checked today at a hospital, for the record.

Goodbye  dear,  till later.  I have to go eat lunch now and go to my fitting.  I love you and suffer for you  (three letters at once). Take care.

 

Kowloon, Hong Kong, Friday, August 22, 7:30 pm:

 

Lover,  or  at  least  at  this very moment I wished it were so.  I could use a  little  sympathy  right  now.  It's very  depressing  just  laying here wishing you weren't just laying here, but unable to go anyplace because  one  leg  is cramped  up  and your  feet  are  blistered and sore.  And besides all that, the money you were expecting hasn't  come and that worries you because it's five days overdue.

But  on  top of all that I worry about all the things I wanted to buy my wife but can't now.  Even though  she  says don't bother - it bothers me.  I'm ready  to  come home  right  now.  I've  seen the sights of Hong Kong and have spent all  my  money  and must yet suffer through another day.

I  spent  yesterday wandering  around the city looking and than last night I took a ride up the peak  tram,  which goes  up  the  side  of a mountain so you can see the harbor lights and all.  It's really a romantic place  except when you're  alone  and  lugging  a tripod and camera.  All I got out of it was tired.  But it was refreshing, except when  I had to leave,  my leg cramped up bad.

Today  I  spent with Jeff, a Stanford college student doing some summer teaching  and welfare work  at his  own expense,  here  in Hong  Kong.  I  shipped home  some tape recorders from the APO for him for $9.50 which would have cost  $45  minimum to  ship  through  the Hong Kong mails. That's  the  minimum shipping  charge  from Hong  Kong  to anywhere.  Anyway,  after  that he treated me to dinner at a little out of  the way  place.  Really  good!  The  Chinese have  a way  of  cooking things that really make them mouth watering.  The four-course meal only cost  85  cents  and  I was full after the first course.

My  smallpox  vaccination  is  really bothering me.  My whole shoulder is swollen and it runs around under my  arm into the  glands  in the armpit.  Very painful, but I guess if it keeps me from getting smallpox, it's worth it.

The Missionaries turned out to be a bunch of  duds  and I  haven't heard  from them since I got here except the two times I went up  there.  I  do  indeed plan  on writing  a rebuttal  to that article in the Church News.  It was at the least very misleading.  Even the Mission President  turned out  to be  a  dud.  It  sure wasn't like this in Germany! Thank goodness!

Tomorrow should be a busy day.  I'm going down and  sit in  the American Express office until it closes and bug them every minute about my money.  It probably isn't their  fault but I don't care.

 

Then  I  have  to pick  up  a tape I'm having made of Chinese music.  Four albums on a 7-inch  tape  for  $5.  The music is nice I think.

Then  I  have  to pick up my suits and shirts and make sure they're OK or else beat the salesman to death.

Then if my money didn't come, I'm going to get  roaring drunk  and fall in the harbor and drown, but only till 10:00 pm because then I have to call you and tell you I love you.

And Sunday morning at 6:00 am we fly back  to Gookland to  visit  the war again.  And in great anticipation that my new orders will be there telling me  to  go home  the  next day.

 

Kowloon, Hong Kong, Friday, August 22, ll:00 pm:

 

 

Just  finished playing with the camera lens' again and since it's still too early to  go  to bed,  I  thought you might like to hear of tonight’s adventure.

After  depositing your last letter in the mail, I left to go somewhere, anywhere, just to get out.  I ended up on the  bus  and went  down to pick up my tape with the four Chinese  albums  on  it.  It  sure  sounded  good on  their machine, so I hope it'll be a little good on mine.

Then,  as  I  left,  I  decided to  visit the thief’s market on the way back.  One  mile  of  stalls,  lit  up by Coleman  lanterns,  with  just about everything to offer.  I ended up buying a pair of  tweezers  for HK  50 cents.  Oh yes,  $l U.S. is equal to HK$6, so when I say HK 50 cents, I paid about 8 1/2 cents U.S. for a pair of tweezers.

I tried to buy a band but the  Chinese  must  all have small  fingers,  because  none of them fit me.  I think I'll wait till I get back to you before I get a band.  I want  to plead  my  case  just  one  more  time  before  I  give  in completely.

I was tempted to go in one of the Go-Go houses  tonight but  decided  it wouldn't  be  any  fun to just look, so I didn't.

Anyway, back to  my  big  adventure.  The  sights  were wonderful,  but  the  smells  are what impress you the most. About every 10th stall sells  something  to eat  or  drink. There  were  apple  vendors who even peel the apple for you. Coconut  squeezers  who  sell  the  juice  they   get   from squeezing  coconuts.  Stalls where fresh octopus is deep fat fried to your liking.  All kinds of herbs,  rice,  tea,  and tidbits  can be found to please the palette.  There are even herb doctors that will make you a balm of some kind to  cure any   rash,   infection,   or  disease  right  in  front  of everyone.  And of course, there were the  gamblers,  fortunetellers,  and  con  men with  their  funny stories and fast hands.  But also there were children,  running  the  stalls, playing,  and  even  sleeping right in the middle of it all. I guess there's some kind of magic  in  children because  I sure love them.

As  I  was nearing this place I stopped to look at some live fish swimming in a  restaurant's  pool.  Here  you  can choose your  own  fish or lobster or eel live and they kill and cook it for you right on the  spot.  But  anyhow,  as  I was  standing  there  a policeman  came  up and tried to be friendly (as they all do), and told me the  different  names of  the fish.  I can't for the life of me remember what they were but as we were talking, a group of people  stopped to join  in the conversation.  The Chinese, that is the decent ones,  are  very  conservative  and won't  be   seen  with Americans  or  foreigners  at  all for fear of scandal.  All except the kids.  Yesterday,  as  I  was  walking down the street,  I  stopped  and gave a HK$l to a boy playing and he couldn't believe it - a treasure - so he  told his  friend and he  ran  a half  a block to catch me to get his.  But before I gave him one, I made him pose for a picture and he stood  so  stiff  and straight I thought he would break.  Of course, the Chinese belief is that a picture takes  part  of the  soul  onto the paper,  so most  Chinese forbid their picture being taken.

Well, my arm is suffering so I'll say  goodnight  dear. I  wish I were home to say it with love, but it won't be too much longer now.

 

Kowloon, Hong Kong, Saturday, August 23, 6:00 pm:

 

I just put my suits away in my room and I'm now  going bowling with  some  of  the  guys  that  sold me the suits. You'll love me again when you see the clothes  I  bought.  I even  look fashionable again.  I won't embarrass you when we go out now except for  my  bald head and pot  belly.  But those are minor.

My blue  tweed wool  sport  coat  – 6 button, double breasted - looks out  of  sight.  My brown stripe, double breasted,   4-button,   is   mod and my blue 3-button, conventional is conservative so I can make it with anybody.

I even trimmed my moustache  this  morning because  it was  bugging me.  It  looks and feels better now anyway.  I didn't have any scissors so I  used my  comb  and a  razor blade.  Almost  took  my nose off several times, but make it

OK.

Tonight, or at least  this  afternoon,  I  ate  Chinese style  (with  chop sticks) and surprisingly enough I did OK. I got so good I started showing off  and  almost  spilled a whole bunch in my lap, but I saved myself by quick action.

I  sure  did enjoy  talking  to you  today  dear.  It somehow makes us seem so close even though I'm  still  7,500 miles from home.

I  have  to  go  out  and spend my last few dollars now because we can't convert them back into greenbacks.

The Chinese are very accommodating and try very hard to please you  -  completely,  opposite of the Vietnamese, who only do what they have to in order to get by.

I dread going back for a week.  But knowing  I'll  be home soon keeps me going.