Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Friday, 22 November 1912

Trip to Canton

Marian, Hedley, Freddie & myself left HongKong on the 22nd Nov 1912 at 9 am Friday evening by the SS Kwong Jung. 

We had comfortable sleeping berths.  Hedley, Freddie & myself had a cabin to ourselves.  Marian sharing a cabin with Mrs & Edna Elson.  We arose about 6 am and going on deck, we perceived that we were approaching Canton.  What greatly interested us was the Sam-pans drifting down at a most terrific rate & sweeping by us, close enough for a Chinese-man or woman to jump on board ship while their Sampan went rushing on down the river, until brought about by other occupants.  Then our ship came to a standstill,  & we were literally surrounded by Sam-pans, who were waiting for a fare, the Chinese passengers depended upon these.  We then partook of a most excellent 7 course breakfast, which was served up by the Chinese Stewards, and which we done justice to.  Our little party numbering 25 then took Sam-pans ashore, where we were met by our Minister Rev. C. Bone, Mr Dewstoe a missionary & Li Wing a Chinese missionary who acted as our guides through that most ancient city.

Mr Dewstoe taking charge of the walking party,  & Rev. C Bone & Li Wing the Chair party.  We were of the Sedan Chair party.  The Walking party started off & we took our seats in the Chairs, then the fun commenced, for the Chair-Coolies went on strike & refused to budge an inch, & made a terrific noise, but we could not understand a word, but our guides informed us that they wanted 3 coolies to each chair as we were heavy & after wasting half an hour of our time, we decided to walk & acted accordingly.  The chairs followed us up & eventually we took our seats once more, but 3 would insist upon carrying me, & the funny thing about it was, that I was the lightest man of the party.  But such is a China-man & there is no accounting for things they get into their heads.  I stuck out for some time but, at last gave way, took my seat & brought up the rear.

Once we started we moved along at a rapid pace.  We first visited the 500 Genai or gods, each one representing something.  Well do I remember the god of plenty.  He was a big fat, jolly looking fellow.  While we were looking at the Gods the Chinese priests were chanting and playing most wierd instruments & tom toms & burning Joss-sticks.  We again took our seats in our Chairs & was again hurried through the streets; I shall never forget they were so narrow, you could stand in the centre & touch the houses on either side, so our chairs took the whole width of the street & we were 20 in number.  We visited one or two Temples and Joss houses,  also the British Yamen, where we heard the noted & most remarkable echo.  Upon speaking the echo would repeat most distinctly 3 or 4 times, this was between two large walls, which appeared to be ruins.  This Yamen was taken by the British many years ago because the French took one at that time.  We next paid a visit to the 9 Storey Pagoda, called the Flower Pagoda, it was most interesting.  We then visited the ancient Water Clock.   (For a picture of this very clock go to and scroll down the page). This was  the only clock in Canton at one time.  It is simply 3 tubs one above the other & the water dripping from number one into number 2 & thence into number 3 & the water raise a float at the to of which is a long spill marked off into degrees, & so the time was announced to the inhabitants of Canton every two hours, by the singing of a large Bell.

We then went on the City Wall, which since the Revolution is being removed.  The city of the Dead was also interesting, the bodies were in Chinese Coffins & each one in an house by itself in front of which were Josses & Joss sticks burning, these were waiting until the relatives could find a lucky place in which to bury them, some remaining for many years before burial.  But all these things are rapidly coming to an end in China & one month from our visit this was to be abolished, & the persons responsible have to remove these bodies.  Some of the coffins were made of ebony & very heavy.  In this place we also saw a large number of prisoners with heavy chains around their ankles & about their necks.  We were informed by our guide Li Wing that they had been robbing the dead.  We then took our Chairs again & done a little shopping, but as time was getting short we could not make many bargains.  We then returned to the Rev. Dewstoe's residence where we had a good tea, which we stood much in need of after our long travel through the city.  Here we met the walking party again.  After tea we visited the Shameen where the Europeans live, & left there in Sam-pans for our good ship the SS Kwong Jung at 4 pm.    Mr & Mrs Uchyama paid us a visit on board & presented Marian with a Blackwood Photo Frame.

Our boat left Canton at 6.30 pm.  We were served with a seven course dinner on board which we all done justice to, the majority then turned into bed but some of us stopped up as we were due to arrive in HongKong at about midnight be we actually arrived at 1.20 am Sunday morning, where we took rickshaws for home arriving at 2 o'clock in the morning.

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