Friday, 16 October 2009

China- Day 3 (28/09/09) Part One

The climate in Fujian province is pretty similar to the rest of South East Asia. Hot and humid, no wonder why my Grandfather and his contemporaries chose the likes of Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines to find their riches.

Yong Chun at midnight...

...and at 6AM.

Our hotel for the next two nights. For the town of Yong Chun it's 5* but in reality it's more like two and a bit. That bit accounts for free broadband.

When in China don't diss the colour red!

Rush hour time at 6.45AM

Guava and peaches.
I really feel sorry for these fruit sellers when Tesco and the French counterpart Carrefour move in big time into China. Currently the number of Tesco superstores in Malaysia is enough to spook me.


Sea Cucumbers anyone?
I can't think of a more slippery texture than these costly delicacies.


Gross...no they're not the jaws of some rodents but dried deer tendons.

Ah, the cigarette vendor. He invited me to have a cup of tea with him (a common practice in this part of China where tea brings the people together).

The Chinese only smoke brands that are made locally, it's difficult to find the usual brands like Marlboroughs or B&H here. Fags range from 30p to over a hundred quid for a packet of 20! The above is a posh brand that carries an alarming reputation of- if smoking is going to lead you to an early death then might as well do it pleasantly with Chunghwa cigarettes. It was dead smooth tasting and so it ought to be as it set me back £7.50.

Breakfast at 7.30AM
The plastic tablecloth is off-putting to say the least!


Fried dough stick in warm soy milk. It's amazing to think how blandness can equate to deliciousness.

Julie and Gwen

Cousin Chris from little Tawau in East Malaysia

Mum
(Gawd I do miss you!)

My Grandfather's village near Nan'an.
Nearly everyone shares the same surname here.

The whole place is surrounded by hills upon hills.

Newfound wealth is responsible for these new buildings...

...or extensions of little architectural value.

Wells are still widely used

Intrusion time

Grandfather's home before he left as a teenager.
(the above shown is a new building that might well surprise him if he was alive today)

The gathering of the indigenous and overseas relatives.

The altar being prepared for tonight's marathon ceremony

Chor Pek Kong
The patron saint so relentlessly dear to the Hokkiens.


Spirit Tablets
These are signs that designate the seat of my Mum's ancestors (Greatgreatgreatgreatgranddad and more).
I believe that ancestral worship of this kind is unique to the Hokkiens, Hakkas and Teochews. A defaulted and surefire family tree going back hundreds of years is thus guaranteed.

Counter altar

The room where my Granfather was born in more than a hundred years ago. I've been told that the furniture are even older.

Makeshift kitchen to cater for the next 48 hours.

These cooks are devastatingly skillful.

Sweet and sour fish
Filleting the above is simply not allowed, besides, the head tastes the best!

They could be related but I didn't bother investigating (there were too many 'relatives' to ask which football team they supported!), like myself they were watching lunch being cooked.

There's a video of the cooking and the subsequent luncheon here.

Hong Bak
Braised pork belly in soy sauce with aromatic spices. This is the all defining dish of the Hokkiens, it appears on every meal except breakfast. The near overdose of this dish was enough to put me off pork altogether!


The sign of a toothpick in use means that lunch was satisfying.

Setting off for a temple crawl after lunch.

Temple One

With the exception of the Christians, we're all obliged to burn joss sticks dutifully and that's at any Buddhist temples around the world.

No nails! I'm filled with wonder!

Monetary donations are acknowledged by writng the donor's name and uttered loudly to the deities.

Bicylces in China are fast becoming rare, they're being replaced by motorbikes and scooters.

Bedmat trader

En Loong and Pei Yi decided to hitch a lift from an unknown 'relative' instead of walking the entire three mile crawl.

It was a pleasant surprise not to witness any rude behaviour in the village. The hundreds of folks we met have been amazingly friendly and welcoming.

Every household here keeps pigs and that's a simple fact. The Chinese simply couldn't exist without pork!

She was supposed to help her mum but I interrupted.

Temple Two

The roof and the fittings are over four hundred years old.

Jiao or sedan chairs. Early 19th Century.

My late Grandfather, Yap Hui Hong.
The accreditment of his above portrait in the temple is for his philanthropic contributions to the village.

Back in London I can drink 1.5 litres of water a day but here in Oolong country it's quite different. Caffeine doesn't seem to be a problem for the folks here.

Seng Kee
One of the Kaikeelang or 'one of ours'. His story is interesting and tragic. He left the village when he was young to work at one of my Grandfather's sawmills in Malaysia. When he made enough money he decided to come back and retire. Unfortunately he renounced his Malaysian citizenship believing that China would welcome him back with open arms like Israel does with the Jews. Erm...the Chinese authorities turned him down citing they have enough of the population on their plate and he should return back to KL. The Malaysians on the other hand said sorry mate and serve you right for disowning us in the first place. He's basically stateless and he can also forget about paying me a visit in London. On a more cheery note at least he can enjoy his retirement in the village where he was born. A toast to you my good man!

Eyesore.
We have to get used to this, out with the old and in with the new. If I do come back here in ten years' time the old Chinese buildings would all disappear as the villages and towns don't preach the 'listed building' philosophy like they do in Blighty.

Part Two

5 comments:

thora said...

Beautiful post. Guess you're back in London now. Hope you're not too sad. When I come home, I hardly speak for a couple of days.

porkknuckle said...

Thora- As I mentioned in the intro on this blog, I'm not sure where home is for me, I've yet to find it. The most horrible thing is I tend to smoke more when I'm on my own :(

Eternally sad but optimistic, that's me.

meemalee said...

"they're not the jaws of some rodents but dried deer tendons"

I love this sentence :)

I agree with thora - very beautiful post, Les - makes me nostalgic for Burma.

porkknuckle said...

mee- I'm planning to go to Burma within three years from now, it's a lot easier for ASEAN members.

Helen said...

Oooh, what do sea cucumbers taste like?