When we went to Hong Kong last time, we also made a short 3 day trip to Fujian province to visit the birth place of Mr. Panda’s father. It was a very emotional trip for all of us, and Mr. Panda and I also learned a lot about my new Chinese family’s history, and about how Chinese dad came to live in Hong Kong.

As Chinese dad is staying in Hong Kong right now, I had to interview Chinese mom about the details. She answered all my questions rich in detail, but as Mr. Panda was not a happy bunny about being our translator, his translations were comparatively short. Some information might have been lost in the process, but as compensation I got a crash course on Feng Shui basics in broken German, but more on this later.

House of Chinese dad's birth in Fujian
House in Fujian province where Chinese dad was born

Chinese dad was born in the 1930s in this house somewhere in Fujian province, a doctor especially came to assist at his birth. Tthe house was only build a few years before he was born. The construction was very expensive, but Chinese dad’s father went to work in the Philippines and apparently made a lot of money with whatever he was doing there. He send all of his money home to his family, which built this beautiful house with it. Although embellishments are nothing special these days, I was told that they were very expensive back then. The whole inside of the house is rich in detail with many different embellishments.

Dragon embellishment
Dragon embellishment
Lion embellishment
Lion embellishment

After the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), the economy could not recover in the region, and many people starved to death or died because of sickness. Because of food shortage, Chinese dad and his mother (his father was still working in the Philippines ) decided to move to Hong Kong in 1955. They had to leave behind most of their belongings, they only brought the most important commodities with them. Many of their neighbors also left the region, and all the before beautiful buildings have been exposed to the elements for decades now and are already pretty run-down.

Run-down neighborhood around Chinese dad's house
Run-down neighborhood around Chinese dad’s house
Run-down neighborhood around Chinese dad's house
Run-down neighborhood around Chinese dad’s house

The house has an inner courtyard. And although the house as well as the whole area is pretty run-down, there are still many poor people living there. There is currently even living a poor family in one of the rooms of Chinese dad’s house for free. They take care of the house so it does not fall apart even more than it already has. Although they do not own much, they own a computer. Their older son who was around eight or nine years old was playing some computer game when we visited.

Inner courtyard of the house, Chinese boy plays a comupter game at the computer next to the entrance.
Inner courtyard of the house, Chinese boy plays a comupter game at the computer next to the entrance.

Locked up in two of the upper rooms on the first floor stands beautiful red furniture, beds, cupboards and mirrors. There were bought not soon after the house was finished. They are wooden and ornate with gold. They are not used and are slowly rotting, what a shame!

Trip to Chinese dad's house of birth in Fujian province
Beautiful red wooden furniture, ornate with gold
Trip to Chinese dad's house of birth in Fujian province
Beautiful red wooden furniture, ornate with gold

Near their house is a little temple where the families who live around the area worship their ancestors. When male relative dies, a picture of him and his wife gets engraved on their family’s plate. It is somewhat like a memorial tablet. Mr.Panda’s grandfather died long time ago, and he and his wife, Mr. Panda’s grandmother’s pictures are already engraved. Mr. Panda’s grandmother however is still alive. It seems that the wives’ pictures will also be engraved at once when their husbands die, although they are still alive. It is questionable if anybody of Chinese dad’s two sons will accept the responsibly and go there to let his face be engraved after he dies, so Mr.Panda’s grandparents will probably be the last people of their family to look down from this stone plate.

Small temple in the neighborhood to worship ancestors
Small temple in the neighborhood to worship ancestors
Memorial table with engraved ancestors in the small temple in the neighborhood
Memorial tablet with engraved ancestors in the small temple in the neighborhood

The whole trip back to his roots was very emotional for Mr. Panda, and I am glad that I could go there with him. It was a very informative trip, and I am glad that I got to know a big part of Chinese dad’s history, as I haven’t talked much with him until now as he does not speak German or English at all. Chinese dad, I know I need to learn Cantonese for you… Please wait a little more!

Oh and if you ask yourself about what happened to my first Feng Shui lesson? There are actually five big stones in front of the house, which bring very good Feng Shui to the neighbors, but it actually brings very bad Feng Shui to my Chinese dad’s family. And this, my Chinese mom says, is the reason, why Chinese dad’s father died so early.

The five super bad Feng Shui stones from the neighbos which block the flow of the Qi from Chinese dad's house
The five super bad Feng Shui stones from the neighbos which block the flow of the Qi out of Chinese dad’s house

Have you ever been on a journey to find your family’s roots? How did you feel to find out about your ancestors? I would love to hear your stories.

Trip to Chinese dad’s house of birth in Fujian province
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13 thoughts on “Trip to Chinese dad’s house of birth in Fujian province

  • September 8, 2015 at 21:16
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    Thank you for sharing your trip with us, this emotional return of Chinese dad to the house of his birth and the opportunity for you and Mr. Panda to share the experience.

    My late husband was also born in Fujian Province, in Gulangyu (Xiamen). His family escaped to Taiwan in 1949. Our return in 1983 to see his old house was also very emotional for him. (In case you’re interested, I wrote about that trip on my blog in September 2013: “You Can’t Go Home Again,” “No Room at the Inn,” and “The Fall of the Bamboo Curtain.”)

    When we lived in the Philippines, we saw that the large Chinese population there is almost entirely made up of Fujianese. My husband’s paternal great-grandfather made his fortune in the Philippines. It’s a very outward-looking province. Like your Chinese dad’s father, many of the overseas Chinese send money back home.

    Reply
    • September 9, 2015 at 2:59
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      Nicki, thank you for telling me that you also wrote about it before. I am still trying to catch up on all posts who where posted on blogs I only started to follow recently. I read your posts, and it seems like it is really and emotional trip for anyone who returns for a short visit at some time. I am glad that I joined him as I planned to wait for him in HK at first. I am glad that I came as an emotional back-up for him.
      And if you asked me, Eugene should have stood up for your beauty more 😛 but maybe he was just being humble and didn’t want to show off too much 🙂

      Reply
  • September 8, 2015 at 22:16
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    These are beautiful houses and furniture (not my cup of tea but beautiful none the less). What is that piece of furniture by the side of the chest of drawers, 4th from the bottom? Is it a bed? The interior is so rich in embellishments and on a big scale, too.

    It appears that the exterior of Chinese dad’s house are of different periods. Perhaps it was the fashion then. I am interested in the Feng Shui principle behind those five stone pillars. Please can you shed some light?

    Reply
    • September 9, 2015 at 3:16
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      Yes, that would be the bed (I’ll add it to the picture’s description). It looks like furniture of this style was “en vogue” in the 1920s/30s and everybody with money wanted to get some of these. Of course they are outdated now and way over the top for me too. But I am positively surprised that they remained almost unharmed since then. And Mr. Panda and I both thinks it is such a shame that they slowly crumble away back there. 🙁

      About the Feng Shui concept I am not too sure, because she explained it to me in broken English. I think what she meant is that the pillars in front, but not in front of the main entrance, or around the house stand for strictness and strength and symbolically lock the house behind bars. They avert harm from the people living in the house.
      But as for Chinese dad’s house, the stones of the neighbor blocked the entrance so the Chi couldn’t flow in and out of the house without being disturbed by the neighbor’s stones. Therefore the neighbor’s stones brought bad luck to Chinese dad’s family. If someone is superstitious, of course.

      Reply
  • September 9, 2015 at 2:18
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    I still know pretty much nothing about fengshui. It’s funny to me, because my husband will blame any bad luck on something like that–bad fengshui, an earlier omen, someone’s horoscope. Why can’t we admit sometimes bad things just happen? I guess that’s scarier to admit, better to blame someone or something for misfortune.

    Anyways, I think it’s really cool that you had the chance to visit the house and it’s amazing that it still exists (and in such good condition).

    Reply
    • September 9, 2015 at 3:24
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      Mr.Panda and me are like that too, not superstitious at all. When Chinese mom begins to talk about god’s will, a higher might, bad omen or feng shui concepts, we just nod and say yes. It is impossible to convince her that the opposite is true, and science is just some crazy made up story by the West. It is funny cause we are both natural science graduates, but still resign when talking with her. Mr.Panda says I should just save my breath because it is impossible to change her ideas anyway.
      Of course I would never dare to change anyone’s set of belief… But really? Grandfather died because of a stone in front of his house? If she says something like that I always remember my mom who taught me to never say all I actually think. Thanks mom for saving me lots of trouble and hatred 😀

      Reply
  • September 11, 2015 at 2:51
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    Lovely house and lots of history to it.

    As for the Fungshui, I don’t understand much either. But when my cousins came over to our place in Chinese new year, they saw many wooden elephants decorated around in our flat. Apparently the elephant trunks have to face outward and have the back facing inside the flat. I asked why and they replied saying something along the line of elephants will suck water (wealth) from the trucks, giving us luck. They even rearranged the decorations to the strategic places.

    Afterward I explained to my wife saying that was fungshui and all the elephants need to do is drink water from the trucks and poo water out from the backside to give us wealth! 🙂

    Reply
    • September 12, 2015 at 2:53
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      Thank you!

      How about the unintended redecoration of your place? Did you turn around the elephants again after your guests left? 🙂

      Reply
      • September 15, 2015 at 2:44
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        The elephants must have roamed around without me realising. 😛
        I did put them back in the original places. Didn’t particular fancy seeing elephants’ bottoms. 🙂

        Reply
  • October 1, 2015 at 4:53
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    I am envious — you got Mr. Panda’s father’s story! I wish I had the full story of Andy’s father. They fled China for Vietnam, and then went to Hong Kong. But I have no idea where they fled from or any further details.

    Reply
    • October 1, 2015 at 11:00
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      Yes I sure was lucky that I got the possibility to go there. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to Chinese mom’s birth place last time, but I really hope that I can go there once in the future.
      Maybe you should just ask them about their story. Maybe they will be glad that you are interested and happily tell you anything you want to know.

      Reply
  • October 2, 2015 at 6:12
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    I did ask. Repeatedly. But Andy’s dad always tells me to talk to Andy’s mom about her childhood instead. I don’t think he’s told anyone, and the story is lost. Which is perhaps what he wants.

    Reply
    • October 2, 2015 at 10:23
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      That really is sad. Maybe it is just too sad for him that he doesn’t want to talk about it? Which is still sad because one personal story in world history is lost. 🙁
      My great grandfather never told what happened when he was forced to fight in Poland in Second World War. Of course everyone wanted to know but he never told anyone even one single detail about what happened.

      Reply

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