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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Interlude in Hong Kong: Vietnam notes & photos 1965 1975


Interlude in Hong Kong

I decided I needed to see a specialist about my haemorrhoids. I arranged for some leave and went to Hong Kong. There it was decided an operation was necessary so a week later I would check into a private clinic on Hong Kong Island.

I had arrived in Hong Kong wearing a light tropical suit to find the weather bitterly cold, it was in February, and everybody wearing dark clothes. I took advantage of my stay to have a few suits made up. The hotel I had checked into was I think very respectable but I somewhat naively wondered what all those rather lovely Chinese ladies were doing sitting round the hotel lounge.

I spent a somewhat energetic and rather wild week. The colony at that time was confronted with the Cultural Revolution in China and was very lively and full of energy. I went to Macao on one of those boats that zoomed along on some kind of skis. Boarding the boat there were two Portuguese peasant women in front of me who had a most horrendous odour. I don't know how someone could consciously live with it. I can still remember it after forty years. The Portuguese colony seemed to have known better times. The hotel room was cold and the casinos rather dull. The food in Hong Kong though was delicious. The only sour note was that when changing my military scrip for some US dollars at Tan Son Nhut at the US military exchange somebody had given me a counterfeit $20 bill which led to my being interviewed by the police. I didn't give a damn but they seemed to take it seriously.

I won't go into the various other delights of Hong Kong in this article.
I naturally had a private room in the clinic which had a wonderful view over Hong Kong harbour, the sisters were hard bitten catholic missionaries, but the nurses were very sweet Chinese. Everything went well so I won't go into that either. I must say though if one has no life threatening problem it is very nice to be spoilt. Probably very expensive but I was covered by my blue cross and blue shield etc. Also for those who suffer from income tax and social security deductions from their pay cheques we had none of that and the per diem was reasonable. Mind you there never was an excess of volunteers for Vietnam. I remember telephoning home to the Bahamas. It was impossible to telephone internationally from Vietnam; difficult to telephone internally. They also had two systems, one US military and one Vietnamese.

I sent a telegram to my bank asking them to send a case of champaign to my sister for her birthday; those really were the days.

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