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Published: November 8th 2018
1964 Diary Entry "The next morning we got up and got dressed and then we went down and had breakfast. We then went shopping and Mum and Dad bought quite a few things. After shopping we went back to the hotel for lunch. After lunch Dad took me over to Hong Kong island on a ferry. Over at Hong Kong I took my first photo on the trip. When we were walking up one street we saw some street musicians. One was playing a xylophone and the other one was playing a mandolin. The one with the mandolin came over to us and Dad gave him twenty cents. We walked halfway back to the ferry and the rest of the way we went in a rickshaw. We then went back to Kowloon where we caught a taxi back to the hotel. At the hotel we got washed and went down to dinner. We then came up, got washed, hopped in to bed and went to sleep."
Even allowing for the age of the author, this is possibly the most unenlightening travel diary entry ever written, so I thought I might pad the page out with some contextual
background. (Good to note however that in amongst the wonders of an exotic location, us washing ourselves managed to get two mentions.)
Mum and Dad met on a cruise ship travelling from Australia to England in late 1952/early 1953. Dad was a Major General in the Australian Army, and he was travelling to London to take up a diplomatic post at the Australian Embassy as the Government's Defence Representative. He was a widower, and had his two daughters, who were in their early twenties, in tow. Mum was travelling to England for a holiday. Mum and Dad got married in London in 1953 and I was born there at Guy's Hospital in late 1954. Mum was nearly 43 at the time and didn't handle her first pregnancy too well. She didn't go back to her London home, and when I was six weeks old Dad instead took the two of us straight from the hospital to the docks to board P&O's SS Himalaya for the trip back to Australia. Dad retired from the Army at the end of his posting, and from all work in early 1964.
Our 1964 European adventure was Mum and Dad's long awaited return
to the "scene of the crime". They even managed to book our home passage on the very same SS Himalaya so they could relive the memories. There was also family to visit. Mum's sister, my Auntie Beth, had traveled to England to work as a biochemist at Guy's Hospital, where she met and married the hospital's Professor Geoffrey Haslewood. They had set up home at Shoreham-by-Sea on England's south coast. Dad's eldest daughter Pat, who was also a scientist, had met Dr Laszlo Szabo while they were working together in Paris, and they had married and set up home in the Paris suburb of St Antony.
That's enough context; back to Hong Kong.
I think I remember Dad being quite keen on buying some tailor-made suits, as this was apparently seen as a must-do activity for travellers to the "shopper's paradise" that was 1960s Hong Kong. The Park Hotel's magazine of the day was packed with warnings about the hazards associated with this activity. It regaled its guests with horror tales of "shoppers who 'did not beware' ... ordered suits and dresses, paid deposits and requested for deliveries to be made to their hotel before departure. ....... Both suits and dresses were not delivered!". Just to be sure their guests didn't miss this the first time, this exact same full page of warnings was then repeated a few pages further on. I'm struggling to reconcile this with my very distinct memories of Dad telling me shortly after we arrived in Hong Kong that the Chinese were the world's most honest race, and that if you dropped a penny in the street you could be sure that if you came back several hours later it would still be there.
I suspect multiculturalism was perhaps not quite as alive and well in the western world then as it is now, and this same hotel magazine included instructions on how to use chopsticks. Different times!!
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