Aboard Hakusan Maru

Wednesday, July 10, 1929

Went aboard the ship this morning about nine and we sailed at noon. Third class, or second for that matter, can’t even compare with those classes aboard Orient liners. 2nd and 3rd are jammed in the poop, 3rd below deck, and second on the poop deck. First seems to monopolize about ¾ of the ship. 2nd dining room is small and 3rd nothing more than a crew’s mess room. My cabin is as good as can be expected, but I am not so fortunate as to have one to myself this time. It has eight bunks and I have four companions, one Jap and three Indians, one a boy. I am fortunate enough to have the best bunk, though, near the porthole where I get the breeze. As for a place to pass the time, I haven’t been successful in finding one as yet. The aft’deck where I imagine 3rd hung out is now overflowing with about 75 Indian deck passengers. Therefore, I use the 2nd class deck.

My cabin mates are quite interesting. One is an Indian from a town north of Singapore, returning from London. He and another man drove a small car form Singapore to London, encountering many hardships en route in the way of roads, cold, revolution in Afghanistan, no food, etc. The trip was made in nine months. The same young man was taken to India where, according to custom, his parents had selected a wife for him. But he contrived to see her first and immediately left India, refusing the marriage. His father disowned him in consequence.

The second Indian is a very wealthy money-lender of a nearby town. According to the former, his wealth runs into the millions of Straits dollars. Yet he travels third, wears old clothes, etc. to save more money. His hair is all shaved off. That is a caste mark of the money-lenders. Nevertheless, he sports an expensive wristwatch and a gold chain about his wrist. His affinity [Such a nice name for one’s gay partner!] also wears such a chain and diamond earrings.

The Jap is an acrobat who has traveled America and England with his stunts. Is built like a brick fence, dumpy and muscular. He is an amiable chap and speaks at English.

On the 2nd class deck I met a boy about my age who was born and has spent ten years in Japan. He is English. Got tired of school at Leeds, so shipped off on a tramp steamer for a year and is now en route to Yokohama where he has what I call a darned good job. A chemical manufacturing company is training him for a year, paying him, and then he gets a position in the company. Every five years he gets a 6-months leave with full pay and passage money for a trip around the world. Rising in importance, the time is cut to 4 years, and finally three years when he becomes an officer.

We followed south along the coast all day. The good weather changed for rainy and the inland mountains of Ceylon were very scenic. hung with lowering clouds. The sea is a bit swelly, but not bad.

On deck, the deck passengers have a messy time of it—all squeezed on two hatches, cooking on deck by means of two stoves, etc. And eating, like the Indians do, with their fingers, it is more messy than ever. No sanitary arrangements, but this doesn’t bother the small kids any more than it does at their homes.

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