Friday, September 27, 2013

China 2013 (Autumn)

The start of my father's journey to Nanyang in 1940's
Tracing the roots of our ancestors - ask your grandpa ?
In pursuing our dream path, the sky is full of rays of hope

" If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward "

" No one realizes how beautiful is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old & familiar pillow "

" Trees have roots & branches. Human race has a family tree to trace "

" My 21 days solo visit to Southern China ( Guangdong, Chaozhou, Shantou, Xiamen, Hukeng/Tulou, Meizhou, Shenzen, Hong Kong, Macau, Sanya & Haikou ) from 3 - 24/9/2013- a walkabout to major cities of southern China & tracing the roots of Malaysian Chinese whose ancestors migrated to Malaya in the early 1900's "

Total Expenses Incurred ( 21 days ) : Rm$3,038 (US$990)

Air Asia ticket (KL>Gungzhou 16.00>20.00; Guangzhou>KL 01.15>05.25): Rm690

Visa fee ( multiple entries - 2 yrs) - Rm148
Airport shuttle bus: Rm18
Hostels: Y$940 + HK$398
Long distance buses / trains: Y1,202 + HK$190
Metro / City buses : Y$115 + HK$203 + MOP$6.40
Food: Y$679 + HK$180 + MOP$35
Entrance fees: Y$90 + HK$5 + MOP$8
Hostel booking fees: US$18 + GBP2.50
Exchange rates: Rm$1=Y$1.85; Rm$1=HK$2.33; Rm$1=MOP$2.32 (Macau); US$1=Rm$3.25; Euro$1=Rm4.39; GBP$1=Rm5.21

Travel itinerary: Kuala Lumpur > Guangzhou > Chaozhou > Shantou > Chaozhou > Xiamen >Hukeng/Tulou > Longyan > Meizhou> Shenzen > Hong Kong > Guangzhou > Sanya > Haikou > Guangzhou > Macau > Guangzhou > Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

This is my 8th visit to China, the first was in Sept 1997 to Beijing, Tianjin & Chengde. 

The two UNESCO world heritage sites I visited in this trip are Fujian Tulou & Historic City of Macau ( China currently has 45 UNESCO World Heritage sites and to-date I had visited 30 of these sites; another 15 more to pursue ). 

Martin Luther King's "I have a dream"; Nelson Mandela's "your life remains our inspiration" & Deng Xio Peng's "reform & opening up" - these wisemen's thinking & belief led to people yearning for a better life and ultimately leading to a better world ! Likewise, this applies to the Chinese people who migrated from China to Nanyang (south of the oceans - countries like Malaya, Borneo, Singapore, Indonesia & Philippines which were perceived by the early Chinese migrants as lands of opportunities) in the early 1900's in search for greener pastures. 

In the early 1900's, most of the Chinese migrants in Malaya were from the coastal cities of southern China. These cities are Guangzhou, Chaozhou, Meizhou, Fuchow, Hainan islands and other smaller towns in the provinces of Fujian & Guangdong. It is interesting to note that a significant number of Chinese settled in America during the California gold rush (mid 18th century) and also worked as contract workers in railroad construction etc.

By visiting these cities and their provincial museums, one could gain a better understanding of their historical past, the reasons why our ancestors migrated to "Nanyang" seeking a better life overseas. The Portuguese arrivals in Macau (1557); The first Opium War (1839); the British's rule in Hong Kong (1841-1997); Deng Xiao Peng's political reform's policy in the 1980's; all these events had greatly influenced the course of Chinese history, the life of the Chinese people and the political & economic developments in China over the last three centuries.

I am a 1st generation Malaysian of Chinese origin. My father migrated from Guangdong to Malaya in the early 1940's. My mother was from Hong Kong. I understand my ancestor was from a small village in the district of Gaoyao (near Zhaoqing) in Guangdong province. But my family has lost touch with our relatives in China since the 1960's . So the prospect of tracing my ancestor / root is quite a daunting one ! Hopefully this dream could be fulfilled in the near future. 

Here goes the tale I like to tell after spending 21 travel days with my Qigong buddy (Mr Choy) touring southern China :

Map of Guangdong
Map of Fujian

Guangzhou, Guangdong Province

Chaozhou, Guangdong Province

Shantou, Guangdong Province

Xiamen, Fujian Province

Gulang Yu, Fujian Province

Hukeng / Tulou, Fujian Province

Meizhou, Guangdong Province

Shenzhen, Special Economic Zone, Guangdong Province

Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (SAR), China

Map of Hainan Island

Macau, Special Administrative Region (SAR), China

Sanya, Hainan Province

Haikou, Hainan Province

Map of Hainan Island

" Mind your language - Malaysians of Chinese origin speak various dialects ie Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Teow Chew, Hainan, Fu Chow etc ....... but over the years, we have our own style of conversing in English. Prince Charles may not like the kind of indigenised version of English we speak or write ! In England, you speak British English. In Malaysia, we speak Manglish; in Singapore, it is Singlish & in Thailand, they speak Thaiglish; but if you can speak mandarin (huayu) or putonghua in China, this could make your life easier when communicating to the various ethnic races (China has 56 ethnic groups) in the various provinces of China; so have fun when you are traveling to China & South East Asian countries ! " 

Pursuing our dream path under our own feet
Map of Hainan Island

" Without a passion, life is nothing "

Guangzhou, Guangdong China (Autumn 2013)

Total expenses incurred (6 days): Y$1,010

Hostel - Y$50 x 5 nights (dorm - Sunshine Home hostel)
Food : Y$198
Metro/city bus: Y$52
Bus: Guangzhou>Chaozhou  - Y$190
         Guangzhou>Sanya - Y$320 (sleeper bus)

My last visit to Guangzhou was in Dec 2005 (prior to my retirement). During that year, eight of my wife's family members joined a package tour to Guilin,Yangshuo, Xingan, Hezhou, Zhaoqing & Guangzhou. Our group extended our stay in Guangzhou, the main purpose was to trace my father-in-law's  ancestor's place in a village near Shunde. In Guangzhou, we visited places like the Pearl River, Yuexiu Park / Statute of  5 Goats, Sun Yat Seng Memorial Hall, Beijing Road & Shangxia Jiu Lu (

As our hostel is located near the Liwanhu Park, I took the opportunity to re-visit Beijing Road, Shangxia Jiu Lu and in addition, the Shamian Island & Qingping Market

I used Guangzhou as a transit point for my visits to Chaozhou, Hainan islands & Macau. These cities are well connected by public buses & trains. Guangzhou has an efficient Metro network but the early morning & late afternoon hours in certain Metro stations are usually packed with people.

During the last 2 days (22 & 23 Sept) of my stay in Guangzhou, typhoon "Usagi" stormed the coastal cities of southern China with strong wind & rain resulting in many flights cancelled & re-scheduled. 

Throughout my stay in Guangzhou, we enjoyed eating Cantonese food ie wan tan noodles, dim sum, chee cheong fun, porridge & local pastries & pancakes etc 

Shangxia Jiu Lu Padestrian Street
Beijing Road
Qingping Market - medicinal herbs, live birds, live animals
Shamian Island
Guangzhou Train Station

Sunshine Home hostel, Hui Yang Yuan Residential Complex, near Liwanhu Park, Guangzhou

The living hall of our hostel - cosy & cooling on 15th floor
A panoramic view of Liwanhu Park from our hostel

Cantonese Food in Guangzhou - when in Canton, do as the Cantonese people do ! Are these Cantonese food tempting to you ? Oh, I loved it very much ! A bit pricey but great dim sum served in Tao Xia restaurant - siew mai (Y$14.56 for a plate of 4 pcs); cha siu bao (Y$8.26); har gow (Y$14.56) & Teow Chiew steamed fun koh (Y$8.26) & a pot of quality Chinese tea (Y$11.20) ...... put a Y$100 note on the table, you & your buddy could enjoy a great dim sum breakfast in Guangzhou ! Happy eating !

Tao Xian restaurant is in front of Tiyu Xilu Metro station
Pick a number & waiting time is 20 minutes for a table
Y$83 for 7 dim sum dishes paid before 10am30% off
Y$14.56 for a plate (4 pcs) of char siew zhan bao / po lo bao
Y$10.36 for a plate (3 pcs) of Looi Sa Thon Yuen
Y$10.36 for a loh mai gai in lotus leaf
Y$10 for a bowl of wan tan noodle
Y$6 for a plate of chee cheong fun
Y$16 for a steamed white chicken rice
Y$11 for a clay pot of century egg porridge

Mr Choy, my Qigong buddy from USJ has his dream fulfilled after savoring some of the best dim sum & century egg porridge in Guangzhou & Chaozhou ! Me too ! One finger up for our choice of Cantonese food in Guangzhoz. The smell of these food made both of us salivate ! 

" Mind your ancestor's origin - Majority of the overseas Chinese originated from Fujian & Guangdong provinces. The Cantonese people (3rd largest group of ethnic Chinese in Malaysia) migrated from Guangdong & Guangxi in the 19th & early 20th centuries. The dialects they speak are Guangfu, Sei Yap & Guangxi. Malaya then was under British administration and the earlier Chinese settlers worked as "coolies" in tin mines & rubber plantations. Cantonese dialect is now widely spoken in Kuala Lumpur; the popular Cantonese soap opera & pop; well known figures are Andy Lau, Bruce Lee, Wong Fei Hung and our home grown badminton star - Wong Peng Soon and a layman by the name of  K M Cheng " 

Guangzhou Metro - Y$7 from city to airport

Chaozhou / Shantou, Guangdong China (Autumn 2013)

Total expenses incurred (3 days) : Y$361
Hostel: Y$70 Per pax x 2 nights  (Home Inns - double bed room)
Bus: Chaozhou>Shantou - Y$17
        Shantou > Chaozhou - Y$15
        Chaozhou>Xiamen - Y$100
Food: Y$79
Entrance fee (Kaiyuan Temple): Y$5 (senior)
Trishaw: Y$5

Chaozhou is about 6.5 hrs by bus from Guangzhou. It is easy to visit Shantou from Chaozhou by bus which takes about an hour. We stayed in Chaozhou for 2 nights and this allowed us time to visit the waterfront area of Shantou & the touristy places near the old town of Chaozhou ie the old city wall, Kaiyuan Temple & the ancient top scholar memorials. 

The people in Chaozhou & Shantou speaks Teow Chew dialect, many of the early migrants from Malaya, Singapore & Thailand were from these two cities. 

The Teow Chew mandarin oranges are popular and widely consumed during the lunar Chinese New Year in Malaysia & Singapore. 


Chaozhou's top scholars memorials
Kaiyuan Temple - built in AD738 during Tang dynasty
Chaozhou's Old City Wall

Home Inn Hotel, Chaozhou - this hotel chain operates in major cities of China

Y$140 for a twin bed room


An old fishing village during the 18th century
Shantou's waterfront area
Modern commercial buildings & apartments

" Chaozhou or Teow Chew or Chiu Chow; the 4th largest group of Chinese in Malaysia; early migrants settled in southern Peninsula Malaysia, Thailand & Singapore, Teow Chew opera; Teow Chew porridge; Chaoshan cheap eats; Prominent statesmen are Li Ka Shing, Thaksin & our William Cheng, chairman of the Lion & Parkson group "

Pork, beef & seafood noodle Chaoshan style