My parents and aunts (on my mother’s side) visited Yongchun, Fujian two years ago. It was by chance that they found my mother’s aunt. A local man had offered his service (for a fee) to help my mother track down her relatives and the next day he set up a meeting with my mother’s paternal grandmother’s niece.
The relative verified her identity with letters written by my mother’s cousin in 1970s. One of which even included the names of my mother and her siblings. My grandaunt also brought my mom and aunts to their grandmother’s ancestral home.
My father had kept the namecard of the driver who drove them around during the last trip and we had arranged for him to pick us up at Quanzhou Railway Station. After lunch and checking in at the hotel (more on it later), the driver dropped us off at our relatives’ place.
Our relatives piled us with tea and snacks again. My grandaunt also brought out the letters which she had been keeping since 1970s.
My grandaunt and granduncle then brought us to see the ancestral home which was a few minutes’ walk away.
After paying respects at the temple, we were led through the labyrinth of the compound. Distant relatives still lived inside the ancestral home.
My maternal great-grandparents apparently came from a well-to-do family. My great-grandmother even had her feet bound. However, the wealth didn’t seem to be passed down to the descendants who are still living on the compound.
Each unit has its unique address.
Apparently my great-grandmother inherited six of the 166 rooms from her ancestors and my grandaunt is now the caretaker. Most of these rooms were in poor conditions and no longer suitable for habitation. However several were rented out to distant relatives who needed an interim place to stay (super cheap at 400 CNY per year).
The living conditions reminded me of my excursion to Chinatown Heritage Centre where there were depictions how Chinese immigrants used to live in shophouses. A family would all stay together in one small room and cooking had to be done in communal kitchen. My grandaunt got one of the tenants to show us the kitchen.
We came to another courtyard with an altar for ancestors. There was also a map of the entire compound.
Then we proceeded on to the clan’s ancestral hall.
My granduncle was one of the members in the committee responsible for maintaining the ancestral hall and he told us that we just missed an ancestor-worship event earlier that morning.
After visiting the clan’s ancestral hall, we walked back to my grandaunt’s house.
Our relatives thought of bringing us to trek up the hill near their house but they were scared that it would be too dark by the time we were coming down. Hence they mobilized two cars to drive us up the hill where we visited two temples. The road up the hill was narrow and some parts were under construction. There were sections where the gradient was pretty steep and the car needed a few attempts to get up.
The first temple that we visited was a Guanyin Temple.
We were driven down hill and stopped to go to another temple. Apparently this temple 魁星岩 is quite famous.
The caretaker knew my grandaunt and granduncle and even treated us tea and snacks.
The prayers package bought by father included firecrackers. Ying hadn’t seen a live one before and was very intrigued.
A boy helped us to set off the firecrackers. It was a din and I couldn’t take any video because my hands were covering my ears.
After visiting the temples, our relatives brought us to their shop. My grandaunt’s third son ran an ice-cream distributorship and he treated us to free ice-cream.
The restaurant where we would be having dinner was next to my uncle’s shop. Coincidentally our driver brought us there for lunch in the day too. All my grandaunt’s sons and their families joined us for dinner.
And as usual, we were piled with lots of food.
After dinner we walked back to my uncle’s house where we chatted over more tea.
Later in the evening, one of my cousins dropped us back at the hotel that we were staying in. Another uncle who operates a bakery got his employees to travel to the hotel bring us some confectionery. I was truly overwhelmed by all the hospitality from our relatives.
Something about our hotel: we got the driver to book our accommodation and he recommended Grand Honor Hotel. According to him, it is a 5-star hotel and was newly opened in Dec 2013.
The driver knew the manager and he managed to get us a good rate of 298 CNY per room, with two buffet breakfasts included. We were impressed by the price and further impressed by the rooms.
Although the hotel was fairly new, there was already wear and tear. For instance, there was a flickering light in my room and we noticed some defects on the finishing already. Nevertheless we weren’t complaining at such a price.
Breakfast was a pleasant surprise too. Beside the usual buffet spread, there was also a station where eggs and noodles were cooked to order.
Grand Honor Hotel is a good place to stay in Yongchun. I doubt that there is more value-for-money place in the area for the time being.
Some interesting sculptures seen outside the hotel. A homage to Wing Chun perhaps?