The Words of Young Oon Kim
My dear Family:
Our original plan was to go to Baghdad, Iraq, from Beirut. However, the Pan American office told us that cholera had started in Iraq and no planes were flying there. They advised us to go straight to Tehran, Iran. So we skipped Iraq where we had expected to see the ancient Tower of Babel. We had driven to Beirut from Amman, Jordan, and we sent back the car and flew to Tehran, the capital of Iran. Ancient Persia is now divided into Iraq and Iran.
Since we arrived in the evening, our Leader blessed ground the next morning (September 7th) at 9 am in Park Farah in Tehran. Then we went to one of the royal palaces of the Iranian king. Most of the old palaces in Europe are decorated with beautiful paintings on the walls and ceilings, but the palace in Tehran is decorated with crystal, glass and gold. It looks even richer and more gorgeous. This palace is the entertainment palace, and receives distinguished guests from foreign countries. The Iranian king lives in another palace. A market right in front of the palace made a sharp contrast.
In the basement of the National Bank of Iran are kept all kinds of jewels, and the crowns and golden robes of former kings. This is a big attraction to foreign tourists.
Iran is a Moslem country and the king has been divorced twice and is married now to an Iranian Moslem woman. This is to obey the constitution which was changed after World War I. His second wife went to Hollywood and became an actress
In this Moslem country, we found a Presbyterian guide and learned that Protestant Christians are a very small minority. They seem to be inactive due to the circumstances. In all Moslem countries missionary activities are not completely free, besides their own lack of enthusiasm.
In Tehran we were told by Pan Am that war had broken out between India and Pakistan and that if we went to Pakistan we would never be able to go to India. Here again circumstances forced us to change our schedule. We flew on to New Delhi, India, but our plane landed at 5 am, not in New Delhi, but in Bombay. The announcement said that the airport New Delhi was closed. There was a little confusion for a couple of hours in the Bombay airport, and an arrangement was made by phone to continue our flight to New Delhi, where we arrived after a couple hours flight.
Outside is as hot as a furnace, and inside the house is as cool as an icebox the hotel is air-conditioned. From 7 pm all lights are out and one is allowed only a candle. I phoned Mr. Kattial whom Mr. Ben Sharma had introduced while I was in London. He sent his son-in-law, Mro Seyal to visit us at the hotel. They sent us a car with a driver, and we went to see the graves of Gandhi and Nehru, Nehru's house, and the Grand Temple of Hindu. The Hindu Temple is entirely different from the mosques in architecture. Two statues of a Hindu god and goddess stand on its altar. There are religious pictures on the walls which explain some of the stories attached to Hinduism.
New Delhi is a quiet city, widespread over a large area. We visited a mosque four centuries old, and a palace of a Moslem king. It showed how much power and wealth the king had to build his fort, palace, and the tomb for his wife.
Our plane was the last one into New Delhi, and no planes were either coming or going after our arrival. We checked with Pan Am every day and finally found a plane leaving for Calcutta. Calcutta is the largest city in India where hungry people are lying in the street. Here again we waited for a plane to get out of the country. After two days we were given a half-hour's notice to get to the airport. We were very lucky because the hotels were full of people who were waiting for planes to go to various destinations. We stayed four days in New Delhi and two days in Calcutta. We were uneasy but safe, and were very happy to leave the country because of the war.
Our intention was to go to Rangoon [Burma] or Bangkok [Thailand], but circumstances forced us to go to Singapore. On September 15th, our Leader blessed ground in a park in front of the Hotel Ambassador where we stayed (9:40 am). Singapore is now independent from Malaysia and waiting for United Nations recognition.
We went to Johore, the southern city of the Malaya Peninsula, by taxi. It took one hour to cross the border of Singapore. Our Leader blessed ground in a royal park of the Sultan's house at noon, and we returned to Singapore.
Singapore is an island and a huge port. Sixty-five percent of the inhabitants are Chinese. From Egypt on we saw colored people, and from Singapore we saw Oriental faces. Singapore has Buddhist temples, Moslem mosques and Christian churches.
We left Singapore on September 17th and came to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. We hoped to go to Rangoon, the capital of Burma, and come back to Thailand, but we failed to obtain a Burmese visa. The Burmese government has given orders not to issue any visas. So we stayed in Bangkok for two days and visited Buddhist temples. Some of these were built four centuries ago, and another only 65 years ago. The architecture is quite different, not only from the mosques, Hindu temples and Christian churches, but also from any Buddhist temples in Korea or Japan. The inside and outside walls and ceilings are made of colorful mosaics and porcelain. Huge golden statues of Buddha stand, sit or recline on their altars. Today is their service (worship) day and we saw hundreds of boys, aged 7 to 19, wearing the orange robes and sitting in the temples reciting prayers. Lay people, mostly women, sit in crowds behind the boys and also recite prayers.
Ninety percent of the Thais are Buddhists. This country exports rice and silk to Japan and other countries. Food is abundant, and Thailand has never been colonized since her foundation in the 7th century Our Leader blessed ground in Lumpini Park at 6:10 pm.
Who will come to this country to teach the Divine Principle? The Thais have their own alphabet which was invented in the 13th century. Thirty percent of the people are Chinese and use Chinese characters. These are seen everywhere, side by side with Thai letters. The Thais originated in the vast region of Southeast China, south of the Yangtze Valley, so one cannot distinguish a Thai from a Chinese.
We are leaving tomorrow for Saigon, Vietnam. I will write again, and send my love.