Like most ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia, my ancestors originated from the two southern Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. While I know which dialect groups that my father (Hakka) and my mother (Hokkien) belong to, the exact locations of where our ancestors migrated from were more fuzzy.
My parents know the names of the area where their parents came from but they remain names. They are just some far-away places in China where we know no one and no one know us. However the links to the ancestral land were stronger than I imagined to be.
Some relatives from my paternal side started reconnecting with us a few years ago. They started to write letters to my grandmother and one of the relatives met my grandmother and aunt when she visited Kuala Lumpur for vacation. Hence the idea of visiting our ancestral village was planted.
For the most of last year, Malaysia Airlines ran several attractive ex-SIN promotion with return trip to either Guangzhou or Xiamen via Kuala Lumpur costing a very reasonable 333 SGD. Guangzhou is one of the gateway airports to our ancestral village of Lufeng, Guangdong. Although SZX is nearer, MAS doesn’t fly there. HKG requires the added hassle of crossing the border to Shenzhen.
My parents visited my maternal grandparents’ hometown in Yongchun, Fujian two years ago and I suggested that we should visit both places in the same trip. The nearest airport is Xiamen and the open-jaw ticket cost the same. My whole family would be traveling and we managed to find dates in March which fitted everyone’s schedule.
A new high-speed rail line which connects Shenzhen and Xiamen was opened in December 2013. Lufeng lies en-route and Quanzhou，the nearest station to Yongchun，is slightly less than three hours away. Taking the train will shorten our journey considerably.
My two aunties (my father’s sisters), their spouses and one of my cousins would join us as well. As they lived in Malaysia, they chose to fly on the same MH flights as us. There would be 11 of us in total, visiting our ancestral village(s) for the first time.