How things have changed since my first trip to Hong Kong in 1963. Note the clock tower to the left of the picture, right on the waterfront, more about it later.
I found this old advert, which also shows Hong Kong of the 60’s.
We entered Hong Kong harbour via the Tathong Channel on the eastern side of the island.
It was early morning when Diamond Princess arrived, and the island began to wake.
It was misty, early April, winter not long over.
I found the continuous tower blocks a little depressing, perhaps because my memory of the excitement of Hong Kong was of an earlier age. The population in 1963 was about 3.5 million and now it is 7.5 million so I suppose the growth in apartments was inevitable.
The cruise terminal used to be the int’l airport Kai Tak, which had a hair-raising runway to land on in the early 1960’s. As the aircraft came in to land, and if the passengers looked out of the window, they could see in to the local apartments.
Not everyone landed safely – China Airways missed the runway or couldn’t stop in time.
Kai Tak in the 1960’s – when I flew out of Hong Kong I used to check the location of the various ships at anchor and to try to judge how much runway was left as we passed each vessel. Self torture I suppose.
The old peninsular shaped runway is now a cruise terminal – at the end of the terminal they have a park called Kai Tak Runway Park . . . . . the above photograph shows the cruise terminal as we swung around to face out to sea for our night time departure.
Maureen and I had been to Hong Kong a number of times so all we wished to do was to visit the Peninsula Hotel for lunch. Well, I had the wild idea of having lunch there as a surprise, but once we entered I must admit I changed my mind.
I suppose I was a little ambitious thinking that we could have lunch at an acceptable price, particularly as I took this photograph a helicopter lifted from the roof – the only way to travel really in crowded Hong Kong.
The rest of us would have to put up with being met at the airport in a green Rolls Royce.
I tried to capture the green of the Rolls, but the day was a dull and the gleaming ‘green’ duco didn’t show up in the photograph.
It was late morning and many were finishing their breakfast, while others were having a pre-lunch drink. I ordered a beer and an iced-coffee for Maureen. To be fair they came with peanuts, chocolate thingies, and something else that I can’t remember. The bill came to over AUD $27, which wasn’t bad for such an establishment, and it gave us a chance to read the menu.
The cheapest thing that I could find for lunch was AUD $50 for a Caesar salad, and if you wanted chicken or prawns with the basic salad, that was extra . . . one can dream, perhaps one day. It was an interesting experience.
In 2007 I visited Hong Kong with my son – he’d won a draw for two economy tickets to Hong Kong, and during our trip we visited The Bar at The Peninsular, (it doesn’t open until 3.00 pm, so I couldn’t take Maureen).
After we’d finished our drinks we left and I took a photograph of him walking down the stairs as we left the hotel.
History repeats itself as I took a photograph of Maureen coming down the same stairs.
It was a short walk to the Star Ferry at Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon.
If everything else has changed the Star Ferry seems to be stuck in a time warp.
Still the same system to come alongside – the ferry terminal is the same one that I remembered from the earl 60’s.
The The World of Suzie Wong is a movie that was made in 1960, but the beginning of the film is also an historic record of Hong Kong at that time, try and look beyond the printed word on the screen.
This piece of film is of how cargo would be worked in 1963. It is silent, but you will be able to see cargo ships moored to buoys in the harbour, and large cargo junks alongside working cargo.
We would be in port for several days and as soon as we were secure to a buoy the sew sew girls would be after us to do our laundry, and make tailor made uniform shirts and shorts – hence the title sew sew girls (although their card had ‘sow sow’, not sew sew) – I didn’t mean so so girls, which would have been very un PC.
I had a number of uniform shorts made in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bombay, and still have a pair of shorts that was made in Singapore – and I can still get in to them . . .
I mentioned the clock tower at the beginning of this blog, which used to be closer to the water than it is now.
Reclaimed land perhaps, but the area has certainly been ‘beautified’, I think it used to be a bus terminus in this area.
I was very impressed with the metro – clean, very efficient and cheap.
We sailed in the early evening.
The new Kai Tak cruise terminal is large enough to take more than one cruise ship.
We used our side thrusters to push off the wharf and begin the short transit to the open sea.
We returned to the open sea the way we came in, rather than via Victoria Harbour, which was the way we would enter and leave in a cargo ship of 7,000 gt –
British India vessel Landaura that I sailed in when we entered Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong, in 1963. I was nineteen at the time.
The Diamond Princess is 115,875 gt just a small difference in size.
Farewelling Hong Kong was a cold business in April.
A final shot of the blocks of flats before we disappeared inside the accommodation for a spot of warmth.