This Pam Am ad from 1962 dates itself by touting “Europe…the Middle East…the Orient!” For $1253, you could depart New York and visit up to 25 countries. Sounds like a great deal to me! You could jump from place to place, touring for a day or two, or staying for a few weeks. Of course, a dollar went a long way back then, and $1253 in 1962 is worth about $9000 today.
My mom first visited Hong Kong in 1962 while still in college and a few years later took advantage of the ’round-the-world fares, shuttling around Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
Her first impression of Hong Kong was marked by the flimsy shacks dotting the mountains, filled with refugees from China. She told me no one in Hong Kong thought they would be able to settle all those refugees. There were water shortages, so she filled her tub each morning in order to store water for flushing the toilet, washing hands, and brushing teeth when the pipes ran dry. To cool off during the day, she and her friends toured the San Miguel Brewery for the free beer.
While the Hong Kong women in 1962 wore cheongsams, high-collared, fitted Chinese dresses, my mom really stood out in her pants or Western dresses. Before Hong Kong’s skyscrapers defined the now-famous skyline, back in 1962, she said the harbor was known for sampans, as seen in this ad, as well as larger boats called junks.
To get to Hong Kong, she flew Pan Am from California to Hawaii to Guam to Tokyo and then to Kai Tak Airport in HK. “I stopped in Hawaii for two days,” my mom told me.
“We stopped everywhere for two days,” my grandma piped in, “Hawaii, Guam, Okinawa… .”