foto: IJsbrand on roof Macdonnell Rd 1949
To Hong Kong in pictures
1948 - 1950

When I completed my education at the HBS in Deventer, Netherlands in 1948 I was faced with making a choice for my future career. I had preferred studying further in philosophy or medicin (psychiatry) but at that time it was far too costly. My parents could hardly make a living on their income. So I was urged to apply for a job that could generate an income. First I undertook a sailing trip to the North of Holland in Friesland. Whilst there my aunt sent me an ad offering a position as bank-officer in the Far East. I applied and was accepted for a training course at an institute of a Dutch commercial bank, the Nederlandsch-Indische Handelsbank. Not that it was my first choice but I was consoled by the fact that it gave me an opportunity to escape the narrow boundaries of my homeland. Moreover it had become a tradition in my family to seek ones refuge abroad. My grandfather was a Protestant minister in Indonesia and my father explored the riches of that country. His brother was psychiatrist in Cairo.

At institute 'de Ginckel, Naarden'. IJsbrand/Michael fourth from the left
Last view of my father in 1949

In 1949 I completed the course succesfully and was told that I was to be placed as an officer of their branch in Hong Kong. It was a heartbraking farewell for my parents as they were not to see me again in six years. My father was 74 years old and I realised that it was a goodbye forever, as he was in bad health and would not live long. However, I promised them to make a record on film of all that I would be seeing in the coming years. I kept my promise and sent them films regularly. Moreover exchanged letters every week.

Shipping label, 29th july 1949
De Mariekerk
foto: Abbekerk

On a slow boat to china. The Mariekerk was a Victory class freighter hailing from WW2

On board I realised that I wouldn't see my home country again. Right away I was tested in the Gulf of Biscaye whether I was a good sailor. By remaining on deck most of the time I could manage keeping my dinner inside! Approaching Italy the storm layed down. The first city abroad I was to see in my life was Genoa in Italy. It had not changed much after the war. I took out my cameras and started making pictures.

Calling on Genoa and the Philippines

Meeting his colleagues in Singapore
foto: Singapore
..and those in Manila.
foto: Manila

After Genoa we passed the Suez canal. When we reached the Indian ocean the engine gave up and the ship bobbed motionless in the sea. Fortunately they had a manual aboard and the trouble was fixed. Singapore was the first port we reached in the Far East. A coleague from our office there took me around. I was dazed by all the impressions of oriental living I had to digest. I was also treated the the first glas of whiskey I had ever had in my life. I loathed the bitter taste of it and vowed never to drink it again. I abstained from alcoholic drinks all of my life and did not smoke either, however much my friends nagged me to relent. Anyhow after a few days we took off to IloIlo in the Philippines

Hong Kong, the gigantic city

Hong Kong harbour
foto: Hong Kong haven
Staying in the mess at MacDonnell Road
foto: MacDonnell mess

Des Voeux Road Central
Des Voeux Road Central

The office at Des Voeux Rd. Central, now demolished

Queens Road Central

Ruins of WW2
First exploration

De Star ferry to and from Kowloon
He meets Buddhist John Blofeld in Shatin

Mr. Woo of the Pure Land Buddhist Society
Buddhist Pure Land ceremony

Starferry to Kowloon

Cruising down the river

Video clip: IJsbrand on Big Wave Bay

Climbing the mountains in the New Territories

Tolo harbour, New Territories
Tolo harbour

Xmas party

IJsbrand inspects results of his 9,5mm film
Entertaining the crew of a Dutch warship on its way to Korea.

Doing Macao by bike.
Fireworks home industry in Macau

Dancing with Joy at Queen's birthday party.

See further:


Recommended reading:

  • Booth, Martin: Gweilo. Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood (2005)
  • Morris, Jan: Hong Kong(1997)

  • Recapitulation of previous pages with photos and clips

    On the web since 17 September 2006. Revised 6 October 2020

    © Michael Rogge 20120

    Of my films taken in Hong Kong DVD's are available in Hong Kong! Click here for a list.

    The above photos also appear in my autobiography in Dutch:

    • Naar Hong Kong. De jaren 1949 - 50
    • Hong Kong 1950-51
    • A collection of my photo's of Hong Kong Kong in the fifties have been exhibited in 2010 in the Tao Evolution Gallery, Hong Kong
    • For more of my 150 video clips on Hong Kong search YouTube with 'michael rogge hong kong'