On the Peak, which is a residential part of Hong Kong situated on the hill-top, the temperature is usually about 7o Fahr. lower than at the sea-level. Taken altogether, and in comparison with other places in the East, the climate is not markedly unhealthy, and Englishwomen do not lose their colour or energy after a stay of a few years, but at the same time it is advisable to spend six months in four or five years at home in England. In Amoy and Foo-chau, the climate is very similar to Hong Kong, but in Shanghai and North China, the winters are very severe, frost and snow rendering furs a necessity. The summers are exceedingly hot, often reaching 104o Fahr. in the shade, although short in comparison with the hot seasons of South China.
For those who can leave Shanghai for the hills in the hot season, during the months of July and August, there is nothing to be said against it as a place for working women, but office work during these two months is exhausting to a degree, and only the strongest should undertake it. It is advisable for all Englishwomen living in the Far East, whether working women or not, to spend at least six months every four or five years in England. Most firms engaging men for positions abroad arrange that leave will be granted in the proportions of six months to every five years, some firms prefering to give one year's leave at the end of seven or eight years' service to shorter leave at more frequent intervals, but, speaking generally, the frequent short leave is the best for the health and spirits.
It is an almost unheard-of thing at the present moment for firms to undertake the responsibility of sending out women clerks and stenographers, although no doubt it is only a question of time before as many women as men are sent out. There are, however, many women acting as clerks in China, but almost without exception they are engaged locally. The disadvantages, however, of being engaged locally are considerable. Thus, for example, if dismissed by employers and unable to find work, one is not entitled to receive a paid passage home, as would be the case if engaged at home in England and sent out by the firm; also it is difficult to make satisfactory arrangements for leave of absence. At the present time a few enterprising young women stenographers, some with friends and a few with nothing but introductions, have arrived in the various colonies and found work almost immediately. This procedure, however, is attended with grave risks, and is not to be recommended. No Englishwoman should start on a voyage of adventure to the Far East unless she has a definite promise of work, or unless she has relations prepared to befriend her in case of illness or trouble.
. Although a few have succeeded without these aids, it is not wise to look upon this as a precedent, for there is no mention made of those who have tried and failed. At the present time one must be prepared to offer to pay the passage-money in order to obtain a situation. Advertisements can be sent to the offices of the "China Mail," at 11 and 12, Clement's Lane, E.c.; or the "South China Morning Post," care of C. G. King & Son, 10, Bolt Court, Fleet Street, E.c.; or to the " Shanghai Mercury," care of Messrs. Street & Co., 30, Cornhill, E.c. The latter firm will also insert advertisements for the "China Mail" and the "South China Morning Post."
The cost of inserting the advertisements is about eightpence a line for a single insertion - very much like the newspaper charges at home. In the event of receiving answers to such an advertisement, great care must be taken to ascertain that the offer of work is genuine. No woman should enter into any engagement without first ascertaining that the firm is not a bogus one, and that everything is quite straightforward and above-board. The Young Women's Christian Association and the London Mission have branches in most of the large ports in the Far East, and would no doubt be willing to assist in suggesting possible sources of information if they did not themselves possess it.
The passage-money is a very heavy item to those paying their own expenses, and the farther East the destination the more heavy the expense. There are three methods of reaching the Far East - (1) via Suez, (2) via America, and (3) via Siberia. The
Woman's Work latter two ways are not to be recommended for a woman travelling alone, and the frequent changing from steamer to train adds greatly to the expense of the trip. There remains, then, the journey via Suez. There are many steamship companies with vessels calling at all the principal ports. The Peninsular and Oriental Company, the Norddeutscher Lloyd, and the Messageries Maritimes are the three lines with large mail steamers, and opinion is divided as to which is the best. A first-class passage by mail boat from London to China takes about thirty-three days, sailing all the way, and costs about £76, and a second-class about £50.
On the intermediate steamers of the same lines, which are smaller boats and take about ten days longer, the first-class passage costs roughly about the same as a second-class passage by mail boat, and the accommodation is not very different. The Nippon Yusen Kaisha, a Japanese steamship company, has at the present time a fleet of boats quite equal to any of the large mail steamship companies before mentioned, and the passage money is very much less. Being subsidised by the Japanese Government and anxious to secure the traffic, they have cut down prices, with the result that one can travel as luxuriously in one of these boats as by first-class P. and O. mail boat. The first-class passage to China by a Japanese steamer is about £50, the same as a second-class passage by P. and O., and the second-class passage about 38, and yet there are a few little luxuries, such as an electric fan in the sleeping cabin, included in the cost by the Japanese line which is only supplied to order and charged for £1 extra by the P. and O. Company. The Japanese and German lines are the only two which carry arrangements for washing passenger's linen, which is a great convenience and a saving of expense, as to take a supply of clean clothes for a six weeks' journey is a very serious item. By the Japanese boat the journey to China takes about forty-two days, the same as the intermediate P. and O. boats, the extra ten days being spent in ports of call.
The cheapest possible passage is by the Shire Line boats, which costs about 35, and, although not so luxurious, is preferable to a second-class passage by Japanese boats, since one is liable to have lower-class Japanese natives as fellow passengers in the second-class cabins. Only one class of passenger, and only a limited number, is carried by the Shire boats, but they are comfortable, and carry, as a rule, a stewardess and doctor. The only objection to this line is that the voyage is slow, often extending to about two months or more.
The Blue Funnel boats are said to be arranging to take passengers, and, if so, the fare will probably be very cheap; but of late they have not been available for this purpose. For those who cannot afford to spend 35 on the voyage, it might be possible to obtain a passage by acting as nursemaid for the trip. There are hundreds of people with children going out East every year.
Many people do not care to undertake the responsibility of taking out and keeping an English nurse in the East, but prefer to engage a nurse locally. The usual custom is for a Chinese travelling ayah, or nurse, to be engaged for the voyage only. She is brought home by one Englishwoman, and goes to the ayah home in London, where she stays until claimed by another for the outward trip. It often happens that one is not available at the time required, and an English girl, giving her services for the passage or part passage money, would be accepted and much preferred by many.