The Mayaguez incident

About the time Elle and I were to depart from Hong Kong for Bangkok, a US merchant ship, the S.S. Mayaguez, was hijacked by the Cambodian Khmer Rouge.  President Ford ordered that American forces based in Thailand attack and recapture the ship.  This he did without informing the Thai government, which was angry at the US for what they considered to be an affront to their sovreignty.

Because of the ongoing diplomatic confrontation I thought it unwise to travel to Thailand, as it would be at least uncomfortable for us as perceived Americans (although Elle is Australian).  I phoned British Air in Hong Kong, begging them to change our flight to Kuala Lumpur.  They refused.  I asked the British Air official whether he would be prepared to go to Thailand at the moment, if he were American.  He said, “Oh, certainly, no problem.”  But he wasn’t American, and he wasn’t going.

The trip was enjoyable, although we had some trouble getting taxis to carry us.  We made the usual guided tour of the palace area and a couple of Buddhist temples.  We saw a couple that spoke with a North American accent who sported Canadian flag pins on their collars.  Every time someone spoke to them, the first thing they said was, “We’re Canadian.”

The trip back home to Sydney was uneventful.  We flew on Qantas, the Australian airline.

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