Monday, November 23, 2015

Dongguan China My Roots

it all started with 2 letters dated early 60s. we shifted twice & yet brought these documents along for we took them as antique treasure. no contact or actual relation with anyone whether relative or friend in dongguan.

the above letter was 2nd & last, meant for my grandpa Goon Heng in singapore, signed by his nephew Zu in china. both letters mentioned bad drought in the mainland & asked for financial help. my grandpa was the only child. Zu likely a distant relative of some kind or just a Cheong from the same village. this letter dated 1963 also checked with his 'uncle' that did he receive the 1st as they in china heard no response.

his 'uncle' was either too sick to reply or already passed off during that period. also possible that my grandpa didn't wish to reply. my dad Kum Seong who's very filial child didn't mention a thing. he only establised strong relation & contact with his mum, Loh Fook's roots in hong kong, originally from dongguan too.

my great grandfather, Ah Chee, born around 1870, went to penang, malaysia for a living. he married a nonya Mdm Wong. shortly after their son was born, around 1902, he ran off to dongguan with the baby. worried that his rich wife & family wanted to change his son's surname to Wong!

Ah Chee handed his son to some relatives in china to take care of his son. he came to s'pore this time & worked as a chinese pastry chef. learnt from my dad that his grandpa was eventually given some shares in a popular dim sum restaurant, tai sin. it's demolised in the 70s.

instead of giving education to my grandpa, those relatives in china made him a cowherd. not wanting his son to suffer, Ah Chee sent him over to join him here. the son later learnt foundry works & eventually became his own boss with the help of his filial son not wanting to see the dad merely worked for others.

my dad got to see his grandpa but not me. i only got to see my grandpa who passed off when i was in kindergarten.

Goon Heng married a lady from hong kong. they'd 2 sons & 3 daughters. all born here. my dad married Wong Foong Meng, cantonese, roots in heshan.

as an old fashion chinese man, i always have the idea of roots in my mind. particularly interested in those old tales my mum told. some years ago did show the letters to my hk relatives when they visited s'pore, hoping that they could arrange my visit to dongguan but failed. a good buddy always visit his roots in foshan but unfamiliar with dongguan. moreover his annual trip is usually 2 weeks long. too much for me. online infor about dongguan & the address was near zero.

this year came to know a client, the Yam family. fabulous! their roots, dongguan. in close contact with relatives there. visit them often too! the Yams accepted my request to join them for their next trip to dongguan. my main objective was to visit or take a look at my Cheong's village, & not to try to hunt any relatives. even if i didn't get to visit the village but reached dongguan, i'd be very pleased.

the Yams arranged the trip to be from nov 7 to 17, with visit to hk & guangzhou. about 2 weeks before departure, i tried to search for my details online. amazing! infor & maps kept the trip with high hope. the chinese govt changed my ancestor's district & village to Nancheng, Huang Chun, Hengmei.

in dongguan, the locals speak or talk in dongguan dialect. cantonese is quite commonly used but not consider as dongguan dialect. mandarin speaker is called foreigner!

a picture paints a thousand words. i'll use photos to share my adventure. happy reading & viewing!

nice hk sky through jetstar window

condo's clubhouse apt 

big interior 

the Yam's condo estate in changping

my village house with modern art

resident committee's office

RC staff intro me a family

original entrance 

original lane

ancestral hall turned svc ctr with original pair of lions

other Cheongs reading my letter. oldest man, 90s, left

land gods

modern parking in old town

dogs n cats on the day i visited the village. other days were sunny & windy

to thank mr li, relative of the Yams, who drove me almost 2 hrs from changping to nancheng on a raining day, i walkabout feng shui his 4-storey house:
front blocked by a new building
previous sifu built a pond
rare flowers of iron tree
nice back view

also fs walkabout an apartment & land belonged to a ms ai, relative of the yams.

the Yams brought me to hk to visit the Big Buddha.:
weekday, q for an hr to buy cable car ticket
q another hr to hop in

on another day, we went to guangzhou:
comfortable train ride
the yam's favourite
giant shark fins 
eel n veg for dinner 
expensive chinese tea
classice restaurant with live seafood

other adventure & activity:
drove abt 3 hrs to another province for steam rooster
the yams n relatives at the rooster restaurant 
hand processed rice 
best roasted goose in changping

roasted goose by lychee wood

temple n theme park on a mountain

homecooked hairy crabs

self-washing is a culture in any eatery


pig trotter rice set free soup
beef rice set free soup
nice coffee house

common n unique tissue holder

10 seater coach from changping to hk airport
S$13 beef mee at hk airport
certainly on cloud 9. an unexpected trip. i thank the Yams of S'pore, all the Yams n relatives in Dongguan, all the Cheongs in my village, whoever i met during the trip, & my family too.

23/11/15, 7pm.