National Geographic : 1954 Feb
272 Sampan Taxi Women, Clamoring for a Fare, Besiege the Author at Aberdeen "Women in pajamalike garb surround you before you even get out of the car," says Mr. Long. "It's like a bargain-basement crush. You just shut your eyes and pick one; then the others fade away." lean-tos every few hundred yards. Each in turn blew a whistle as we passed. Gradually the valley widened. A chain-link fence topped with barbed wire now paralleled the road. Farmers in straw raincapes were busy in rice fields and gardens on both sides of the border. I watched a farm boy plowing up against the fence. He was having trouble; his stolid water buffalo kept stopping to scratch its flanks on the international barrier. Farmers Cross Border to Work Every mile or so I noticed a gate. "Farmers on both sides own land across the border," I was told. "They have permanent passes, get to know the sentries, and move back and forth freely with their beasts." We stopped to take pictures of women work ing in the fields. A Communist sentry strolled over and watched through the fence. When I turned my camera, he raised his rifle and shot its bolt home. In Takuling we stopped at border police headquarters, warmed up with cups of hot tea, and chatted with the officer in charge. "It's usually quiet on the frontier," he said. "Just an incident now and then to keep us on the alert. Only police, special visitors, and people who own land here are allowed within 500 yards of the line. For several miles back there's a curfew at night. After dark, power ful searchlights from our hilltop observation posts sweep the border, and our men patrol it with dogs and two-way wireless." We stopped at the two frontier crossings, then headed back for Victoria. Cresting the last hill after dark, we beheld a glorious sight. Far below, like jewels spilled on black velvet, glittered the myriad lights of Kowloon and the ships at anchor. Like some colossal ship itself loomed the mighty rock of Hong Kong Island, lighted from water line to rigging as if in celebration (page 266). Free port, outpost of the Western World, and refuge for hundreds of thousands, Hong Kong sets the sky aglow on the dark, forbid den China coast. Surely no gem in the crown of Britain's young queen shines more brightly.