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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.