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Published: November 11th 2018
1964 Diary Entry "The next day we got up, got dressed and went down to have breakfast. That morning a Mr Sung picked us up as he was going to show us round Hong Kong. First we went to the car ferry where we drove the car on board. Then we got out of the car and went down to the front of the ferry. By the way that day was Buddha's birthday. On the front of the ferry we saw a Chinese junk with lots of colourful flags on it. I took a photo of this particular junk. A couple of minutes later we arrived in Hong Kong. There we drove off the ferry and Mr Sung took us to the Tiger Balm Gardens. These gardens are really fascinating. In the middle of them there is a huge pagoda. This pagoda I can see out of my window at the Park Hotel. Around the pagoda there are Buddhas and goodness knows what. Well after walking around these gardens for about half an hour we went back to the car. We then went round to Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay where the scenery was beautiful. Then we
went round to Aberdeen. You won't believe this and nor would I iff (sic) I were just being told in Aberdeen you can't move for sampans and junks. At Aberdeen we had a sampan ride out to the floating restaurant. At the restaurant we had a look at the fish and seafood that you could pick for eating. Dad picked up a crayfish and Mr Sung took a photo of it. Then we went upstairs for a drink. I had a Coke, Mr Sung had a bottle of distilled water and Mum and Dad had something or other and I don't know what. After drinking, we went downstairs, got on our sampan and went back to the shore. Then we got in the car and headed for Victoria Peak Cable Car. When we got to the cable car Mr Sung paid for our fair (sic) and we went up Victoria Peak. When we got to the top we could look right down on Victoria and Kowloon which we looked at right across the harbour. After we had been looking at this wonderful sight for about half an hour we jumped in the car and drove down the mountain. When
we got to the bottom we drove into Victoria to the Step Steep (sic). This street is a street that is nothing but steps. We walked up about half way and then came down again. We hopped in the car, drove to the ferry, went across the harbour and back to the hotel. We then had lunch and that afternoon we just rested."
The mysterious Mr Sung, and sometimes also his mother, the equally mysterious Mrs Sung, spent three days escorting us around Hong Kong. I'm pretty sure Mum and Dad didn't just find them on a street corner somewhere, and that they must have been a contact of a friend back home. Unfortunately my parents have taken the secret of their origins to their graves, so presumably I'll never know. Anyway, they seemed to do a pretty good job of showing us Hong Kong's highlights, and it seems that their brief even extended to paying some of our fares. I hope that we rewarded them for their efforts somehow.
It was May in Hong Kong, and presumably warmish and humid in the lead up to a tropical summer. It seems however that nothing was going
to deter my parents from perpetually dressing in their Sunday best - Dad with suit, long-sleeved white shirt, tie and Homburg hat, and Mum with pearl necklace and hat. It's good to see that I seem to have been slightly more sensibly dressed in shorts and short-sleeved shirt. I think this dress code was probably a product of a combination of the times, Mum's formalish Methodist upbringing, and Dad's army and diplomatic background. I'm pleased to note from some of the photos that Dad at least seemed to have had the good sense to occasionally shed his jacket, or I suspect we may well have needed the services of the Hong Kong ambulance brigade. He seemed healthy enough at the time, but he did complain of chest pains a lot (and died very suddenly from a heart attack as he and I watched TV not too many years later in 1969).
I remember parts of the Tiger Balm Gardens being distinctly scary, with gruesome statues depicting the tortures of hell that awaited those who didn't behave themselves during their earthly journeys.
I seem to have been a bit obsessed with what everyone was drinking. I wonder if Mr
Sung really did drink distilled water. I suspect the tap water was probably a bit dodgy, but I think I remember reading somewhere that distilled water has had all the minerals that the body needs taken out of it, so I hope the populace had at least occasional access to something else. I suspect a lot of the poverty stricken refugees were probably a bit too concerned with day to day survival to have given this overly much thought.
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