Monday, 7 April 2008


Today I met a lovely couple - Tim and Alison - for lunch at the Royal China restaurant in Westferry Circus in the Docklands in London. If you're ever over that way, I can highly recommend it!
Tim originally contacted me through the website on Chan Chak, but it was Alison's father who was involved in the escape. Colin McEwan, of the Special Operations Executive (S.O.E. 136 Z Force) was one of three special forces operatives that led the party to Waichow. He's identified in the group photo (and is standing about three to the left of grandad, just peering between two others), but remained there after the bulk of the party moved on and worked on relaying information from and to the POW camps as well as assisting further escapes - pretty exciting stuff.
Tim very kindly lent me a copy of Colin's diary, which I look forward to reading with interest before I go. He's also alerted me to diaires of other people on the escape at the Imperial War Museum in London, so one of my tasks this week is to get in touch there and have a read of those too.
I say exodus because Tim and Alison are also thinking of retracing some of the escape party's steps, but only as far as Colin himself went - to Waichow. They've lived, worked and studied in Hong Kong (Tim as a correspondent/radio producer/editor/broadcaster for the beeb) and can speak Chinese, yet they're treating me as a guinea pig! I guess I am in a way...
I also met mum's boss, Siobhan, who never fails to amaze me at just how well travelled she is. She's visited some of the cities I intend to travel to and has also been to Burma, handing her passport in (for a receipt) to a border crossing in the middle of the sea from Thailand!
It's dawning on me now, just how far away I'm going to be from it all and how long I'm going to be away and I know I'm going to miss my friends and family massively. Chezza, has therefore very kindly allowed me to take the unit's 'satellite phone' (don't get excited it's not a briefcase with a fold out satellite dish - more like an old school nokia with a big rubber pull up ariel) which will work anywhere in the world. I'm not going to give you lot the number as it costs £2.50/min for calls and a similar amount for SMS, but it's reassuring to know I'll be able to get in touch no matter where I am or what I'm doing.

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