Friday, October 8, 2010
To see her on land, Loi Chai-san looked like a normal, unassuming, young woman. She wore delicate silks and satins and kept her hair tidily knotted at the nape of her neck.
But on water, aboard one of her 12 armed junks she inherited from a pirate named Honcho Lo, off came the silks and satins and on came the garb of man - pants and jackets. Transformed, she became Queen of the Macao Pirates, ruthlessly scouring the waters around Hong Kong during the 1920’s. Pillaging cargo and kidnapping wealthy people and holding them for ransom was how she earned her fame and amassed her wealth.
She adored her fame and encouraged it. A journalist by the name of Aleko E. Lilius paid her $43 dollars per day to follow her and write about her exploits in an article entitled “I Sailed with Chinese Pirates.”
Whenever she attempted a raid, two women accompanied her and acted as a mediary between Loi Chai-san and her crew of male pirrates. Loi never spoke directly to the men of her crew and they were always banned from her cabin.
Whenever she kidnapped someone, she sent a message to his or her relatives. If they refused to pay the ransom, Loi Chai-san sent them the captive’s finger or ear. If this failed to persuade them to pay the ransom, she killed her prisoner.
The history books are silent regarding what happened to Loi Chai-san. Some say she attacked a torpedo squadron during the Chinese-Japanese War and was killed during battle. Another rumour tells that the International Coast Guard caught and arrested her in 1939 and sentenced her to life imprisonment.