My Trip to Hong Kong (part 2)

Sunday, May 22, 1955

Sunday was a very quiet day indeed. I woke up at 9:30 and listened to a Church service on the radio. Then I simply lounged around and read for a while.

About noon, I left the hotel and went to a cobbler where I ordered: 1 pair of Scotch brogues; 1 pair of black dress shoes; one pair of brown loafers; and, one pair of slippers – all hand made to my own measurements! The three pairs of shoes cost (don’t laugh) just $6.50 U.S. each!! The slipper were so cheap that I can’t for the life of me remember the price!

After this great expenditure I wandered over to the Dairy Farm for a light snack then back to my room where I slept (of all things!) until 4 o’clock, when I had my first fitting at Gene’s. After the fitting I just wandered about enjoying myself immensely, looking in store windows, etc. I bought a few books and also some ivory and wood carvings (wait till you see them!).

At about 6 o’clock I went back to my room and had a HOT BATH (it was wonderful!). Dinner at the Palm Court Hotel that evening included a ham steak (1/2″ thick) with a ring of juicy pineapple on top. After dinner I took in a CINEMASCOPE movie, “Deep in My Heart“, which was the story of Sigmund Romberg. Wonderful music and colour. I had the best seat in the house for about 60 cents U.S.! Quite a change from the $1.50 “boards” you get in Phnom Penh!! Besides, in Phnom Penh the movies aren’t worth a hoot anyways!

Lobby Cards for “Deep in My Heart”

After the movie I took a taxi back to the hotel and dropped off to sleep in a matter of seconds! Guess the excitement of civilization was too much for me all at once.

Monday, May 23, 1955

Up bright and early this morning (10 a.m.!). I rang for the room boy and had breakfast brought sent up. Breakfast in bed (sigh!). Gene arrived about 10:30 and took me shopping for silk, suitcases and pearls. It was the most amazing thing, shopping with Gene! Every shop we went into, Gene would say a few words in Chinese and the prices would suddenly be reduced considerably.

Hong Kong street scene

Hong Kong street scene

After the shopping spree I went back to the hotel and freshened up. The over to the Dairy Farm for lunch. From the Dairy Farm I walked down to the ferry landing and sailed across to Victoria City for about 3 cents (fabulous amount of cash to pay out all at once, isn’t it?). In Victoria I dropped in to visit our Canadian Trade Commissioner, Mr. T.R.G. Fletcher. We chatted for a while, then I left and walked about the city for a while, did a bit of shopping, and ran into (not literally) Frank Ballachey. Frank and I slipped into an air-conditioned lounge and splurged on a pineapple soda each.

I dug up another 3 cents and took the ferry back to Kowloon for another fitting at Gene’s at 6 p.m. My clothes were shaping up wonderfully!! After the fitting, Gene and I sat around and chatted for a while and then his little daughter Nancy came in and entertained us with several selections on the piano.

Back to the hotel for a HOT BATH, then dinner at the Palm Court Hotel again. Dinner consisted of a pear and ginger cocktail, milk, soup, salmon salad (with pickled beets, potato salad, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc., thrown in for good luck), roast chicken, potato chips, mixed vegetables, custard and coffee. This banquet set me back the equivalent of $1.00 (one dollar) U.S.!! Tsk, tsk, such extravagance!!

After dinner I went to see Jane Russell in “Underwater” – filmed in SUPERSCOPE (oh dear!), then back to the hotel. On entering the room I realized that THINGS HAD BEEN ARRIVING ALL DAY!!!! I forgot to mention before that in Hong Kong it is an unheard-of thing to take your purchases away with you from a store. In one store I bought a ring for one of the fellows here in Phnom Penh. Now, a ring is not exactly a bulky thing but the little man who sold it to me refused to let me take it with me. I simply paid for it, got a receipt, left my address and walked out. Now, when you’ve been doing this for several days, it comes as a bit of a shock when things start arriving. Indeed, I had forgotten that I had bought half the things that I had bought!! Oh well, away to bed I went.

Movie Poster “Underwater!”

Tuesday, May 24, 1955

This morning I awoke at 11:30 a.m. Oh well, I was on a holiday – I kept telling myself. I shaved and dressed and then had a juicy HAMBURGER at the Dairy Farm. Did some more shopping and then took a taxi to the General Hospital to see Mr. Duder at 1 p.m. He and I chatted for an hour and at 2 p.m. Captain Lloyd (from Vientiane) arrived and the three of us took a taxi to Gene’s. Mr. Duder ordered some clothes, including a suit of exactly the same material and colour as one I bought. One of us has good taste! Then I did some shopping with Mr. Duder and he went back to the hospital and I to my hotel. I just loafed around and read for the rest of the afternoon.

I had another fitting at Gene’s at 7:30 and at 8:30 Gene called at my room to take me out for a Chinese dinner. We met Captain Duchesne (Army Paymaster for Indochina) in the hotel lobby and Gene asked him to come along with us. We went to a lovely upstairs restaurant-night club called the Princess Gardens. Gene asked us what we would like to eat and Captain Duchesne and I both agreed that he should make the choice. We started with jellied chicken, then graduated into shark-fin soup, shrimps on rice toast (delicious!), sweet and sour spare-ribs, Chinese hot rice bread, and gallons of Chinese tea with jasmine blossoms floating about. Oh, and I forgot to mention, before the meal we all had cocktails. I tried a Hong Kong Sling just for laughs.

Captain Duchesne had just arrived that day and was pretty tired so he left us right after dinner, and Gene and I moved into the night club part of Princess Gardens. We ordered gallons and gallons (I’m sure) of that wonderful jasmine tea and just sat and chatted till about 1 a.m., listening to the good music and watching people dance.

Gene Loo was a wonderful host. While I was sitting there that evening in far-off Hong Kong, chatting with Gene as if we had been old friends for years and years., I once again was amazed by the fact that two people of entirely different races, colour and background can discover in each other similar viewpoints, theories, etc. Which all goes to prove that basically there is really very little difference between peoples of all races, all over the world. All people have the same hopes, fears, dreams, be they Chinese, Canadian or what have you. If far more people could only realize that fact, I think this would be a much, much better old world to live in.


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