China Relatives and Ancestral Places I (Fujian Province)

China Relatives and Ancestral Places I

(Fujian Province)

A Visit to My Parents’ Relatives and Ancestral Places in China (Fujian Province)

China Map showing Fujian Province

China Map showing Fujian Province

After a Shanghai trip in China in June 2010, a few months ago, I thought it was time for my siblings and I to visit my parents’ relatives and ancestral places in Fujian Province in China.
A month before I made the trip there, I bought four air tickets for my wife, my two brothers and myself to fly there from my country, Malaysia. It would be our first and unforgettable trip.
My Mother

My 86 year-old mother, Tan Chea Pang, has always told me, fondly, about her two brothers and a sister, and my father’s brother and sister living in China. She has visited them several times before. We wanted her go with us very much that time, but, unfortunately, her weak right leg would not allow her to walk much.

Fujian Province showing some towns and cities

Fujian Province showing some towns and cities

Besides, she refused to use her wheel-chair. So four of us decided to make the trip together.

My Father

In the late 1930’s, my father, Lim Ah Kho, married my mother and left his small village, Or Por, near Jiangkou Town in Fujian Province of China without her to seek his fortune, first, in Singapore, then in Johor of Malaya(now Malaysia). Then World War II came to Malaya in 1941. When it was over in 1945, he went back to China to bring my mother to Malaya(Malaysia now). Later, she bore him a total of ten children whose ages range from 45 to 62 years now, and I am the eldest among them. About four decades ago, my poor father passed away at the age of 57.

Writer's 86th. year old mother

Writer’s mother

Writer's father

Writer’s father

Writer and his wife arriving at Xiamen

Writer and his wife arriving at Xiamen

Our China Tour Guide, Brother Tan Yun

Many overseas Chinese want to search for their relatives and ancestral places in China, but some of them find difficulty in finding

Brother Tan Yun and his wife, Sister Ah Ying

Brother Tan Yun and his wife, Sister Ah Ying

them due to loss of contact by their parents or grandparents. But, I am fortunate because my mother has visited her relatives in China a few times. Besides she has their phone numbers. With the phone numbers, I contacted her relatives a month before we left for China, and told them about my intention of meeting up with them.

At first, I thought it would be a problem to locate them in China, but later, I felt relieved when one of my brothers, Choa Loon, informed me that he had a China friend, Brother Tan Yun, who was living near our relatives’ villages. He had agreed to be our tour guide and would help us to find our relatives.

Day 1     Friday 3 September 2010

Travelling to China

Finally, after a month of waiting , my two brothers, Choa Loon and Cho Tat, my wife, Peng , and myself left

Writer(centre) and his two brothers

Writer(centre) and his two brothers

our hometown, Kluang, in Johor, Malaysia and went to the Singapore Changi International Airport on 3 September 2010 to take a flight to Xiamen(formerly known as Amoy) in China.
At 8.20 a.m. our plane, Airline China, took off, flew for about four hours without a hitch and landed, safely, at the Xiamen Airport. Coming out of the airport, we were delighted to meet our guide, Brother Tan Yun. After loading our luggage in his car, we were on our way to the villages to pay our relatives the first visit.

Uncle Boon Piau

After two hours of smooth travelling on an expressway, we arrived at Jiangkou Town and checked in at a hotel, Min Motion Hotel, freshened up ourselves and left for a small village, Hui Aw, to visit Uncle Boon Piau in the afternoon. He is my mother’s second brother. With the help of Brother Tan Yun, we found his house, easily. That old, thin, healthy man of 80 years old was living with his wife in an old double-storey house. His three children were married and living in other places.

Uncle Boon Piau and his wife

Uncle Boon Piau and his wife

Writer's marriage photo found in Uncle Boon Piau's house

Writer’s marriage photo found in Uncle Boon Piau’s house

Old photo in Uncle Boon Piau's house

An old photo in Uncle Boon Piau

Old Photos

We, Malaysian Chinese, had some difficulty communicating with Uncle Boon Piau and his wife, as our Xinghua dialect was a mixture of  Malaysian and Chinese words. Luckily, our guide, Brother Tan Yun, came to our aid. He has been to my country a few times and could understand what we were saying. So he became our interpreter.

Aunty Kek Wah(centre) with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren

Aunty Kek Wah(centre) with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren

While we were chatting with the old couple in their living room, some old, faded, dirty, black and white photos in a large picture frame hanging on a wall caught my attention. Among them, I was surprised to see my marriage photo of 1972, a family photo of 1955 showing my parents, two brothers, two sisters and myself when I was 7 years old, and my mother’s photo when she was 67 years old. I, quickly, took out my digital camera and snapped the photos which I wanted to show and surprise my mother in Malaysia, later. Uncle Boon Piau told me that those photos were sent by my mother a few decades ago.

Uncle Boon Toh and Aunty Kek Wah

Before we left Uncle Boon Piau, we asked him for the place where his younger brother, Uncle Boon Toh, lived. Instead of giving us the direction, he asked us to follow him to the house. We found out later that it was just across a wide road and not far from his house.

A beautiful view from Aunty Kek Wah's house

A beautiful view from Aunty Kek Wah’s house

Arriving at Uncle Boon Toh’s house, we were welcomed by a smiling lady, Aunty Kek Wah. She, sadly, told us that her husband, Boon Toh, passed away last year at the age of 76. Then she regained her composure and invited us into her house.

New Large Modern House

Looking at her new, large modern house which was three storeys high, we, Malaysian visitors, felt poor as we owned either one- or two- storey houses. We praised her for her capability to own such a large mansion. But, she explained that her children who were working overseas built it with their earnings.

Beautiful View

Then she proudly showed us all the rooms. When we were on the top floor of her house we saw a beautiful view of some old Chinese traditional houses with red-tiled traditional roofs, vegetable farms, paddy fields, and longan trees nearby; and

Aunty Chui Moi and her husband, Uncle Ah Nui

Aunty Chui Moi and her husband, Uncle Ah Nui

Xinghua Bay and Jiangyin Port in the distance. (The port will be Fujian’s largest port in the near future.) We were surprised to see several new three- and four-storey houses nearby. I guessed those houses were built by the old villagers’ children who were working overseas too. But I could not understand why those children should build large houses with so many rooms for their old parents.
After a long chat with Aunty Kek Wah, we bade her farewell and went back to Jiangkou Town to have dinner before we retired at Min Motion Hotel.

Day 2      Saturday 4 September 2010

Aunty Chui Moi

In the late morning, we planned to visit my father’s sister, Aunty Chui Moi, who was 81 years old. When we

Aunty Chui Moi's house

Aunty Chui Moi’s house

arrived at her house in a small, quiet village known as Or Por, which is near Hui Aw Village, we were told by her husband, Uncle Ah Nui, that his third son had sent her to a hospital for her heart problem. While waiting for her return, we looked at a row of five three-storey houses and told ourselves that she should be a very rich lady. But her eldest son, Cousin Kok Hua, who knew what we were thinking, quickly, told us that it was built by his second brother, Cousin Jia Hua, who had made a fortune in Italy. It sounded familiar: a case of large houses built by children who worked overseas.
We had a good conversation with Cousin Kok Hua, his father and other members in the house. At about 1 p.m., we had lunch at the house. It was a simple, home-prepared meal of the local rice noodle cooked with fresh seafood from the nearby sea, Xinghua Bay. It tasted so good that all of us from Malaysia had a second helping, thanks to Aunty Chui Moi’s two daughters-in-law who cooked it.

Aunty Chui Moi's eldest son, Zheng Kok Hua

Aunty Chui Moi’s eldest son, Zheng Kok Hua

Aunty Chui Moi's second son, Zheng Jia Hua

Aunty Chui Moi’s second son, Zheng Jia Hua

Aunty Chui Moi's 3rd. son, Zheng Jian Hua

Aunty Chui Moi’s 3rd. son, Zheng Jian Hua

Later, Cousin Kok Hua brought us around his village. He showed us an old abandoned house nearby where my father married my mother in the 1940’s, a small Lim Clan Memorial house, a village temple which was newly built from donations from the Lims, Tays and Tans, and a large building which was under construction. The latter was going to be the new Lim Clan Memorial House, replacing the old one. As it had insufficient fund for its completion, Cousin Kok Hua appealed to us for some donations. (Later, when we were in Malaysia we sent him some money for the building fund.)

A temple in Or Por Village

A temple in Or Por Village

Uncle's Boon Kor's family

Uncle’s Boon Kor’s family

Uncle Boon Piau's three children

Uncle Boon Piau’s three children

Uncle Boon Kor

Cousin Kok Hua also brought us to see two old, vacant houses which faced each other and told us that my father’s parents were living there before they passed away a few decades ago. Finally, he brought us to see my father’s brother, Uncle Boon Kor, living in the same village as his. We were welcomed by him, his three adult sons and two

Longan fruits

Longan fruits

daughters-in-law. We had a long chat with him. We were surprised that he could speak a little bit of Malay language. He told us that he worked for a few years when he was a teenager in Malaya(now Malaysia) in the 1950’s and learned the language from the local Malays.

During our conversation, one of Uncle Boon Kor’s sons brought into his house a lot of longan fruits. They were from his orchard. We, Malaysian visitors, like this type of fruits as they are sweet and juicy. We took quite a lot of them.

After spending an hour at Uncle Boon Kor’s house, we were, pleasantly, surprised to see three visitors, two ladies and a man, appear. They told us that they were Uncle Boon Piau’s children(or our cousins). We were happy to see each other for the first time and had a good talk.
Later, we were informed that Aunty Chui Moi was back from the hospital. We went back to her house and greeted her. Although she looked weak due to her heart ailment she made an effort to smile. We were glad that she was happy to see us.

Aunty Chow Li

In the evening, we bade farewell to Aunty Chui Moi and left for another village to visit another aunt. She lived in a Jiangkou village, Kan Now, which was a few kilometres from Aunty Chui Moi’s residence. She is my mother’s sister called Aunty Chow Li. She was then 83 years old.

Aunty Chow Li and her husband

Aunty Chow Li and her husband

Aunty Chow Li's elder son and his family

Aunty Chow Li’s elder son and his family

Aunty Chow Li's younger son and son's children

Aunty Chow Li’s younger son and son’s children

Before we visited Aunty Chow Li, we phoned her telling her our intention of seeing her. When we arrived at her village we were surprised to see Aunty Chow Li, a thin, old, sun-tanned and hunched lady, standing on the side of a wide road with her two grandchildren and waiting for us.

Chow Li's new, large and modern house

Chow Li’s new, large and modern house

On arrival, we greeted her and followed her to her house. When we arrived at her house we were surprised again to see her new, beautiful, modern three-storey house built in front of her old traditional one-storey one. Her daughter-in-law, proudly, told us that the large house was built from the earnings remitted from her children who were working overseas- another case of houses built on children’s foreign earnings.
Aunty Chow Li’s elder son showed us the new house inside. As he showed us around he told us, proudly, that he and his father built the house with the help of a few friends.

A stunning view from Chow Li's house

A stunning view from Chow Li’s house

Standing on the flat rooftop of the house, we saw the awesome scenery of the village and the Xinghua Bay similar to the one we saw from Aunty Kek Wah’s house in Hui Aw Village which is a few kilometres away. We spent about an hour getting acquainted with all my aunt and her family.
Before we left, we were surprised when her younger son gave us some live crabs and clams he caught in the Xinghua Bay which is less than two kilometres away. On the following day, Brother Tan Yun, our guide, cooked them together with rice noodle for our lunch at his house. We ate it with great relish.

(Continued on China Relatives and Ancestral Places II (Fujian Province, Meizhou Island))

Next / Home