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Wan Chai became legendary for its exotic night life, especially for the US servicemen resting there during the Vietnam War. It has been the landing point for visiting US Navy sailors for decades. He supplies the photos, the comments and the captions to this Flashbak.
And because he never throws anything away, we see the bar cards and other ephemera from the era. One of the girls from a bar I had frequented came to the airport to see me leave,and actually paid for the taxi there!
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The days I spent here are still vivid memories-the other places I went have faded in my memory such that I can barely recall them. Note all the tailors in these Wanchai photos. I met lots of guys down there spending big money on getting all sorts of custom-tailored suits and other clothes. Stereo equipment was also big-guys would buy the stuff here,and have it shipped home. If I had only known at the time that I was photographing a place and time that would soon be gone forever, I would have shot rolls wan chai bar girls rolls of film there to document it.
But, of course, I had no idea. So, the photos they took sit in dusty old albums, or in boxes of slides in a drawer somewhere.
My parents never saw these photos of mine when I got back from HK. This was a badly damaged negative from the very end of the roll of film. A careless jackass of a developer stapled something right over what would have been a nice photo of Wanchai,back in Anyway,it still has plenty of old period detail to be seen.
When I took the photo, it was just getting dark,and the bar lights were just coming on. I had either just come out of, or was just going into the San Francisco.
As near as I can tell, comparing with other, later photos, this is the northeast corner of Lockhart and Luard Ro-just a short walk away from the Luk Kwok. He had said that all his characters, Suzie included, were composites of women he met in Wanchai, and I have to believe he spent some time in this bar.
In Julywhen this photo was taken, his book had spent 29 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller list falling off in Marchbut the movie of the same name was still almost two years away. Lockhart Road, circa Sailors in Wanchai, They would seem to be on Hennessy Road.
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That distinctive building on the right should pinpoint the location. Anyone recognize it? My guide book states that the Kow Hoo Shoe Co. It was at 23 Hennessy Road. Please consider making a donation to our site.
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