Saturday, 10 May 2008

The crossing

Another busy one today - up early and off to Sai Ke Wan to the battery there. This is just opposite Kowloon (the mainland) on the NW side of HK island and is where the Japanese first made their assault and successful landing onto HK island.

I was being shown around by the very kind Edlin, a reporter here on one of the chinese language newspapers and a contact of Donald Chan's. We had a look around the battery, first built in defence of the potential Russia/French threat as they were the main traders in the area at the time.

The battery was impressive and I have to take my hat off to the Japs who managed to overwhelm it and cross - what a feat! There are still gun emplacements there, range finders, magazines and a rather good exhibition. It turns out the Chinese have had an on-off war with the Japs for many years now...

Grabbed lunch of barbeque'd goose in one of the noisiest cafe's I've ever heard! There was drilling going on upstairs (like the building work next door geronimites - OMG - so loud!). Then it was off to Stanley, a small peninsular on the south of the island that the allies managed to hold out before the surrender. They were completely cut off and vulnerable so I don't blame the allied commander/governor at all. There's an argument he should've done it sooner! Stanley is a funny place - only a couple of hundred metres wide at the neck, with a small beach on one side and the locals frollicking in the water pretty much fully clothed... The other side has a great market (bought three t-shirts for six quid) and a rather European promenade complete with pizza express and maccas (oh no) and a whole host of mock British pubs. Nice strolling though.

Then I headed up to Stanley war cemetery. Not as big as the previous one, but interesting in other ways. Lots of young men gave their lives before they'd even lived. 19, 20,21,22 and 23 were not uncommon ages on the grave stones. Grandad was also 21 at the time and I saw a gravestone for an R Barker from HMS Cicala (his last ship) so thank God that wasn't him! Otherwise I wouldn't be writing this now. I signed the guestbook as before. I would like to think that if the UK was in the same situation again, I would be so valiant and sign up, but I guess it's one of those situations that you don't know what you'd do until you're faced with it...

4 comments:

Ash said...

Sounds so amazing Russ!

Hannah said...

WOW what adventures you are having, awesome blog, just been having a read. You lucky thing, although for once we have had a weekend full of pure sunshine even creeping above 25 degrees so the english are out in tanning force! The bikinis are out and London has turned into Spain with high rises. Office much the same, not much news that you probably don't know already - Fiona Kane had a baby boy. Keep having fun, how the hell you are going to want to come back to work after all this amazes me. Take Care - Hannah :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds fascinating. And I love the fact you've found a reporter to show you around. But I don't believe anywhere could be noisier than the construction next door...

The one thing Hannah didn't mention was that Fiona Kane not only had her baby but she actually had it in the back seat of the car on the way to the hospital.

Happy adventuring! Nicola

Russ in China said...

old news now, but that's amazing! I love it when the sun comes out on London - there's such a buzz in the air! There's a buzz in the air here too, but that's either of the biting or air conditioning variety...