|Tanka People Hong Kong 1970|
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
May 27th #chinadiary
So, still in the hotel in Hong Kong, waiting for Ken's recovery in the hospital - sounds like Carl not having a good time at all, as he finds Hong Kong to be "one of the most uninteresting towns we have struck". He manages to miss the irony in blaming HK for being provincial because it only prints HK news: "I don't suppose there has been a total of one column of U.S. news in the five days we have been here." I suppose he may well have been feeling a little homesick by this point.
A fascinating account of the river life in South China follows, "one of the most interesting things I have ever seen". Thousands of people don't know what it means to spend 24 hours on land. They form a kind of separate caste from the land dwellers, and they live on their boats all of the time." (these are the Tanka or boat people and the picture here from the 1970s shows that their lives likely haven't changed much from 1920s when Carl was writing). He goes on to say that "Their wardrobe consists of the clothes on their back, their cupboard is a place big enough to hold a bowl apiece and an iron bowl for cooking, their washtub, and bath, and dishwashing sink, and toilet, are all found in one place - the river - and that is about all there is to their lives. The bareness of their existence must be beyond comprehension."