Sunday, October 28, 2007

Historical Holiday: A Candid Experience of One’s Ancestry - China [Part II]

After these tiring days, our large group of thirty individuals was split into two separate destinations; one heading towards Shanghai and another towards Mei Zhou, the land of the Chinese dialects of ‘Khek’. As a prerequisite note, it is known that China is a vast country filled with different dialects, (the majority of dialects known are ‘Khek’ and ‘Hokkian’) just as Indonesia has innumerable tribes, ranging from the Sundanese, Bataknese and others. My mom’s family are ‘Khek’ and we are going to the village of where her grandfather came from. It was a short flight from Beijing to Guang Zhou, there we have to walk (yes, walk) from the airport to the train station through the main road which was approximately 500 meters. In the journey, a person with very similar appearances to a friend walked across, and it was quite hilarious. Skipping to the train station, we took a bus instead and had an eight hour drive to Mei Zhou, a distant town from the main city. We eventually arrived in front of our hotel, possibly the only five star hotel in the isolated little town. Surprisingly, it was 200 yuan (converted to approximately Rp. 240,000) for a presidential suite and for such a luxurious facility. We then had a supper in the market below on the road side. The famous ‘Yam Mie’ (noodles) known as one of the authentic delicacy of the Khek, was served everywhere, even in the late night. Another surprising fact that it was really cheap in comparison to the amount of meal they served. Fifteen portions costs about 40 yuan (Rp. 48,000). This made me deduce of how low their standards of living are, and how could one possibly survive there?

The next morning, we were picked up by our long lost blood family that remained in China. To elaborate, this was the story of my family from the words of my grandmother: My great-grandparents (from my mother’s side) had just given birth to a daughter when an invasion occurred in China. They wanted to flee, but their in-laws restrict them for they assume that they won’t return if they brought their child with them. They left the child in China and bravely ventured out to Indonesia. (This moment of time, the brothers were also brought with them, all except one, who was again restricted to leave. They all went all over Indonesia, some went to Timor, and some went to Pontianak). My great-grandparents again gave birth, this time to a son, my grandfather. After several years, they also adopt some other kids. For the rest of their days, they did not return to China, not to see their daughter, but instead, moved to Jakarta and has settled there after the marriage of my grandfather.

In 1978, there was a medical crisis of grandaunt in China, my grandfather went there for the first time to aid her by bringing her to a doctor, outside the village. It was a horrible journey there, especially in 1978, no actual roads were built around the area of the village, no mechanical engineered vehicle and the largest obstacle, the mountain. And that was the first and last time they saw each other. Now, 29 years later, my grandfather forbade us to visit the village for its troublesome journey. He himself won’t even go to China. Here we are, now, 29 years later, meeting our last blood family existing in China.

The road towards the village certainly is long and the fact that there were no roads back then gave the horrible impression. There was a small long path leading to the front of the village, at the foot of the mountain on the other side. (No wonder, my grandfather said not to go). This particular blood grandaunt strokes my memories of the past of the face of my great-grandmother (her mother). We were greeted with innumerable explosions of firecrackers (a traditional method in alerting people of an occasion) Yes, some tears were shed, and I became known to cousins I never knew existed. Days were spent together in mostly talking and shopping together. Saw pictures and portraits of my grandfather in the room. Their village was particularly intriguing. It is a small land, divided into rooms of family members and the center was a place of praying and the living room. Such isolated location with such primitive lifestyle, no wonder one of the remaining brother (who was not allowed to go out of China last time) said to my mother that she was lucky her grandfather bravely went out of the country at that time. (This again reflected to me, for I might not exist if my mother did not meet my father in America).

Goodbyes were mentioned, and some promised that we would meet again and would visit us in Indonesia. Our vacation continued with another bus journey, this time for about eight hours to the place where the British once ruled, Hong Kong.

Our segregated family members from Shanghai were gathered towards the same hotel in Hong Kong. That next morning, the majority of the family members went to Hong Kong Disneyland, my own family on the other hand didn’t, my father refused for our family have been to Disney World in Florida few months ago. Thus, that following day, I wandered in the streets of Hong Kong. My mom went shopping with her friends as well as my dad followed her around, I eventually followed around with no aim within mind. I tried to find a replacement 5x5 rubik’s cube in Toys R’ Us, but they only sell 3x3; that is just sad…

It was finally time for us to go back to Jakarta. On the other hand, my father went on a different flight, back to China for business and in the Hong Kong airport, we separated. In the airport, I stumbled upon an old friend whom was once enrolled in SPH and we chatted for a while and found out that we are in the same flight back home to Jakarta. In the flight, some more movies were watched, such as ‘License to Wed’ casted Robin Williams and Mandy Moore as well as a fascinating documentary of Chelsea, the soccer team. Other than that, I taught my cousins who bought the 3x3 rubik’s cube until we arrived in Jakarta. That would probably sum up my holidays, my almost two full weeks of holiday.

1 comment:

Anita said...

Jessie, China's economic growth is currently 11% per year - a shocking rate. Even USA isn't growing that fast. Indonesia is decades behind - no need to elaborate.

$1.1 trillion
The market capitalization of Chinese oil company PetroChina after its shares tripled in its Nov 5 debut on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, making it the world's most valuable company. (Time Magazine, Nov 19, 2007)

Next time you visit China, do employ a more positive outlook. Be proud of the Chinese blood in you. Before lashing out judgments, do look at the empirical evidence.

China was a cradle of civilization with a history of over 5000 years. Chinese people invented paper, the compass, the gun powder, developed herbal medicine, and was a mighty silk trading country. Moreover, after many lapses in history, China is now growing strong. China just became independent in 1949. Look at where it is now - way ahead of Indonesia.

Let us not rule out the possibility that your 5x5 rubik cube might end up in the hands of a genius Chinese child, and s/he might use it better than you.

Ms. Anita