Heidi has a post today about being in Hong Kong. It reminded me of my time there, so I thought this might be time for another sea story. I'm thinking Heidi and I will have had radically different experiences in this most cosmopolitan of cities.
I've been to Hong Kong 3 times, between 1973 and 1976, all before the British's 99 year lease reverted the colony back to the Chinese. The first time, I was a newly minted quartermaster and I never even got to see the city. We pulled in, announced shore leave for the off-duty watches and set the in-port watch. I was on the rotation that put me on watch first (24 hour watches in port). We were just about through that first day when the captain announced that we had to leave port as a typhoon appeared to be bearing down on us. I reported on that particular joy earlier.
My next trip to Hong Kong was a little more satisfying. By this time I was qualified in submarines and I was the Leading Petty Officer in charge of the Quartermaster "gang" so I could set my own duty rotation. In one of my extremely rare moments of tourism, I actually took a sight-seeing tour. OK, I confess, it was to a San Miguel brewery. Still, it was quite a long drive and I therefore got to enjoy the countryside on the way up. When we got there, we really enjoyed the tour. It was the first time I had ever been on a brewery tour (since then, I've also done Coors in Golden, CO and an Anheuser Busch brewery in Tampa (at Busch Gardens) before they closed it). It was really quite interesting. However, the day was hot and the brewery was hot and by the time we reached the end of the tour, we were very hot and thirsty. They offered us a free glass of beer. What? A free glass of beer? Well, ok, if you insist. Everyone sat there sipping their beers. Not me. I was thirsty. I drank it down in two quick gulps. Instantly, another appeared in front of me. Seeing this, the rest of the tour (mostly my shipmates, of course) began gulping theirs down as well. After a few beers they brought out the catalog of stuff we could buy. I spent every nickel I had with me. I definitely paid for the beer.
I had been thinking about getting a tattoo for sometime. I was still the "pretty boy" aboard ship, had already been raped and was subject to no small amount of harassement for my somewhat boyish (read: feminine) appearance. I was proud that I had stuck it out, even when it got hard, and earned my dolphins. My dad had tattoos, my step-dad has tattoos. That's what real men in the Navy did, right? I decided that is what I was going to do. It is important to understand that this wasn't some drunken flight of fancy. I made this decision while I was stone-cold sober. Now, I did in fact get drunk the night that I actually got the tattoo. I don't care what anyone says, that damn thing hurt! I was a smoker back then and I literally bit through the butt of a cigarette as they were creating their artwork upon my upper arm. That need to be macho, to prove my manhood didn't last, obviously. The tattoo, however, remains (I did attempt to have it removed once a half-dozen years ago, but ended up having them just re-color it). It is a permanent reminder to me of Hong Kong, of the Navy, of submarines, and of a need to prove to people that I was something that I was not.