True Travel Tales: Readers’ Comments

From Allan Murphy (“Dalai Lama Badge” P19, “Zen there was Reality” P70, “Himeji Romance” P100)

  1.   I truly enjoyed Billy Atkinson’s scrumpy story (“Scrumpy and Western” P125). I immediately recalled my father’s experience. He was called up in 1942 on his 21st birthday. After some basic training, he was assigned to a base in the south of England. He was from Birkenhead, Cheshire and hadn’t been to this region before. Soon after arriving, Dad and three or four of his army pals (all new recruits) went to a nearby pub. The bartender recommended the local specialty: scrumpy. They all downed a pint, and it hit the spot. Then, one of the locals offered to buy them all a round to appreciate their service to the country. This one also slid down. After the fourth glass, they were all legless. I don’t recall how they got back to the barracks, or if there were any consequences. It turned out, when the boys arrived, the locals exchanged winks and nods. Whenever new recruits turned up, they decided to give them a special welcome.

2.   I was in Lhasa for about five days. I visited several temples in the vicinity; many prayer flags and ceremonies. Another very good memory was seeing pilgrims in a temple circuit near the Potala. While some simply walked, quite a few had a different technique: stand; pray, dive forward, hands out-stretched, landing on the ground; stand on where the hands had reached; pray; etc. Many of these pilgrims had sections of car tires tied to their knees. Quite an effort!

3.   Sept.6, 2023: After reading “Blood Money” (P30) I sifted through a dozen letters from 1982 looking for something similar. I eventually found it from friend, June travelling in Taiwan. She’d learned that there was blood business there and tracked it down. After a blood test, it took a week to get the results, so she went travelling and had a good time. On returning to Taipei, she got the green light, gave a pint and received $100.
Back at her hostel, she learned there was a smuggling racket going on between Taipei and Tokyo. A couple was set up as being married. The bride wore an expensive wedding ring, a necklace and other gear, a fancy outfit, carried a Louis Vitton bag and other luxury goods.  The groom wore high-end clothes and a Rolex watch. They received a free oneway ticket to Tokyo. On arriving at Narita, they were escorted into restrooms. They changed, handed over their gear and each received $200. Several people did this often. Friend June did it once for the experience!