National Geographic : 1962 Jan
Hong Kong Has Many Faces public servants. For every illegal immigrant sent back, I knew, 20 get through and are allowed to stay. But I couldn't help wonder ing about the fate of these unhappy men who had tried for freedom and a fuller rice bowl and failed. Hong Kong has even more interesting transportation than its busy short-line rail road to the front door of Communist China. Its public conveyances, varied as perhaps in no other place on earth, afford an endlessly shifting view of the city's throb and bustle. From the green-and-white Star Ferries - they make upwards of 400 crossings a day - I delighted in watching the col- Side orful kaleidoscope of Hong Kong's Temp great peak-girt harbor. Double-deck- the sc er buses and trams gave me a gi raffe's-eye look at pulsing streets of Chinese shops. When I tired of the constant ebb and flow of people, I could let the city's famed cableway lift me steeply upward toward Victoria Peak. There, far above the crowds and the scut tling ferries, I could laze away an hour of solitude as the lights of Hong Kong went on and the city turned tawny orange, then dusty lavender, and finally jeweled black velvet. Rickshas Survive in Busy City But of all the city's rich fare of transportation, I liked the rickshas best-in spite of remembering that a friend of mine spent six months in a hospital after a ricksha-automo bile accident. Unfortunately, he was in the ricksha. Perhaps I like rick shas because they are disappearing from the world. Except as tourist attractions here and there in the Far East, they survive only in Hong Kong and Calcutta. Close-cropped Wong Tsun, whose scarlet vehicle sits with eight or ten others at the foot of Wyndham Street in Victoria, eyed me with amuse ment. Of course he would talk to me, but I would have to pay for his time like any other customer. Wong rents ricksha No. 153 from a friend: 75 Hong Kong cents-131/2 cents U. S.-for ten hours. Another man pays the same amount for its use during the night. On a busy day Wong may earn as much as five or six Hong Kong dollars. Bad days drop his take to less than the rent he must pay for the ricksha. Wong's family consists of a wife, a daugh ter, and a son-in-law who works in a factory. Wong isn't sure what kind of factory; it is enough that the son-in-law brings home a few dollars a month. I asked Wong Tsun what he thought about the Communists having banned rickshas in Red China; it was not right, they said, for one man to pull another. But Wong was no walk serves as counter for a clothing shop in the )le Street night market. Rented gasoline lantern lights squatting proprietor's jumbled stock.