1976年从香港到广州:一整天的跋涉 / Hong Kong to Canton in 1976: a Full Day’s Trek



东方宾馆的正门入口,摄于1976年 / The main entrance of the Dong Fang Hotel, 1976

1976年从香港到广州:一整天的跋涉

1976年5月的一个清晨,我从尖沙嘴的老九龙火车站乘火车去广交会。老火车站紧邻天星码头,就在旧钟楼下面。如今钟楼依旧矗立在那里,成为老火车站的唯一遗迹。

所有前往广州的旅客必须在罗湖口岸香港一侧下车,办理好出关手续,再拖着行李,步行通过深圳河上的木桥。在这座旧桥的香港这边挂着英国的国旗,而对面的大陆一边挂着中国国旗。

在中国一侧的桥头,持有外国护照的旅客需要上楼办理一系列入关手续,而中国人则在楼下通关。

在办理完包括提交各种疫苗接种证明在内的边检手续后(据我所知,如未能提交接种证明,就会被送到一个小房间里打针),外国旅客会被带往餐厅,在那里享用一顿丰盛的中式午餐。

午餐过后,有大约一个小时的规定休息时间,地点是在一间像洞穴一样的房间里。屋里摆着成排的扶手软椅,上面还罩着椅套。椅子之间,有很多很多的痰盂,摆在地上。

痰盂几乎和旅客一样多,如果我们当中大部分人突然要吐痰,或是集体吃起嚼烟,这些痰盂都够用了。

很多痰盂的表面都装饰着彩色的花朵图案。以前我只在小时候观看牛仔电影时,在酒吧场景里看过痰盂。这使得我在中国碰到它时,平添了一丝奇怪的熟悉感,也许,这是当时在那个地方唯一能让我稍感熟悉的东西。

墙上挂着一幅巨大的中国传统山水画,画面上有一棵松树,另配一行书法:“迎客松”。

报刊架上摆放着《中国建设》、《北京周报》、《中国对外贸易》之类的英文和其他文字的杂志,里面的照片上全是各行各业的中国百姓,个个面带微笑,露着皓齿,脸颊红润。

Hong Kong to Canton in 1976: a Full Day’s Trek

One early morning in May, 1976, en route to the Canton Trade Fair, I boarded the train in the old Kowloon station in Tsimshatsui, next to the Star Ferry terminus-beneath the old clock tower which still stands there today as the sole remnant of the train station.

All passengers going to Canton would disembark the train at Lowu, on the Hong Kong side of the border, clear exit formalities there, and then –with their baggage in hand – walk across the covered wooden bridge above the Shenzhen River. The British flag flew above the Hong Kong side of the old bridge, opposite the Chinese flag on the mainland side.

On the Chinese side of the bridge, foreign passport holders went through one track of entry formalities on the upstairs level, and Chinese went through another, downstairs.

After clearing immigration, which included presenting proof of having obtained several vaccinations (failure to do so, as I learned, meant being escorted into a small room and jabbed with a needle), the foreign travelers were escorted to a dining room where a sumptuous set Chinese luncheon was served.

After lunch was about an hour of allotted rest time, in a cavernous room lined with soft, antimacassar-backed armchairs. Dotted among the armchairs were spittoons on the floor. Many, many spittoons.

The spittoons were almost as numerous as travelers, so we would have been well served in the event of a sudden outbreak of mass expectoration, or a group exercise in consumption of chewing tobacco.

Many of the spittoons were decorated with colorful floral patterns. Previously I had only seen spittoons in the bar scenes of cowboy movies I watched as a child. This added a strangely familiar element to their presence here in China, perhaps the only vaguely familiar aspect of the place at that time.

On the wall was a huge traditional Chinese landscape painting of a pine tree with a line of calligraphy: “Welcoming guests pine tree.”

There were magazine racks with titles such as “China Reconstructs”, “Beijing Review”, and “China’s Foreign Trade” in English and various other foreign languages, filled with photos of smiling Chinese people from all walks of life, with shining teeth and rosy cheeks.



1976年广交会的机械展厅 / Machinery Hall, Canton Trade Fair, 1976

虽然我们休息的地方离罗湖桥香港那边只有一箭之遥,但我们感觉自己已经置身三千里之外。过境的过程好似经受了时间扭曲,仿佛留声机的唱盘慢了几拍,从香港充满活力的78转变成了中国内地慢条斯理的16转。

好在那时候对着装管得不严,大概是因为没有空调。我那天穿了一身咔叽布猎装,是当时很流行的款式。

中国一侧的火车站大楼是适合午睡的地方,四周环绕着稻田、鸭塘,偶尔可以看到水牛。这里温度高,湿度大,但比天气更火热的,是构成了那个年代商业甚至一般生活的背景的意识形态。

从火车站和下午出发开往广州的列车上一眼望去,满眼都是传统的劳动密集型农业的景观。

红砖墙和建筑物的侧面刷着白色大字标语,如“毛主席万岁”、“农业学大寨”,等等。这些政治口号可算是十多年后才开始激增的商业广告和户外广告的前身。当时,商业广告一直被当作是资本主义腐朽的产物,直到1979年才获得正式平反并得以复兴。

火车在下午三、四点间抵达广州。一般情况下,外宾都有主办单位接站,并由对方陪同乘坐专职司机驾驶的汽车或小巴前往不远处的东方宾馆。出租车还未出现,统治街头文化的是自行车,而不是汽车。

从香港到广州的直线距离只有134公里(84英里),却要花费一整天的工作时间,之后你就被带进社会经济和政治环境完全不同的世界里了。

在1976年5月,我并不知道那一年中国将发生巨大的历史变革。1976年1月周恩来总理逝世,紧接着毛泽东主席在9月逝世, 10月份臭名昭著的“四人帮”倒台,举国欢庆。

从许多方面看,1976年10月是中国准备开放时期的开始。

Although we were sitting only a stone’s throw from the Hong Kong side of the bridge, it felt like we were already a million miles away. Crossing the border seemed to involve going through a time warp, like a stereo turntable turned down a few steps, from Hong Kong’s energetic 78 rpm pace to China’s slow-moving 16 rpm.

One good thing was the relaxed dress code, which was practical given the lack of air conditioning. That day I wore a khaki safari suit, a popular style. at the time.

The train station complex on the China side was an island of noontime naps, surrounded by rice paddies, duck ponds, and the occasional water buffalo. The heat and humidity were intense, but not as hot as the ideological issues which formed the backdrop of business or life in general during that era.

The view from the train station and the train for Guangzhou which left in the early afternoon was of a landscape dominated by traditional labor-intensive agriculture.

On red brick walls and building sides there were big character slogans painted in white, like “Long Live Chairman Mao”, “In Agriculture, Learn from Dazhai”, etc. These were the political forerunners of the explosion of commercial billboard and outdoor advertising which would follow a decade or so later. Commercial advertising was still considered a foul offspring of capitalism until its official rehabilitation and revival in 1979.

The train arrived at the Guangzhou Railway Station between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.. Foreign visitors were typically met there by a representative of their host organization, who would escort them in a chauffeur-driven car or mini-van to the Dong Fang Hotel a short ride away. Taxis had not yet arrived on the scene, and street culture was dominated by bicycles rather than automobiles.

The journey from Hong Kong to Guangzhou covered only 134 kilometers (84 miles) as the crow flies, but it took the better part of a working day and landed you in a radically different socio-economic and political environment.

Little did I know at that time in May, 1976, that tremendous and historic changes would unfold in China that year. January 1976 year had seen the death of Premier Zhou Enlai, which would be followed in September by the death of Chairman Mao Zedung. In October came the celebrated downfall of the infamous Gang of Four.

In many respects, October 1976 was the beginning of the pre-Open Door era in China.


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