Stuif's Adventures

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China May 2010 part III: Chenghai
The town of Chenghai, located between Shantou and Chaozhou, is called the Toy Capital of China. In the modern town there is not much to see, but the surrounding countryside has interesting old villages.

By bus it took us about one hour from Chaozhou, we checked in at a hotel near the bus station, and after our lunch (with goose, not really my favorite) we visited the former residence of Chen Ci Hong.

This Teochew emigrant (1843-1921),had become a rich business man in Thailand and built a huge mansion (more than 200 rooms) in an eclectic mixture of Ming architecture combined with Italianate decorations and tiled floors.

For our dinner, we were in for a change and we decided to go to the local McDonald's. Interesting item on the menu: pork burger!

Our program for the next day was a visit to two old villages in the countryside. But first we moved to another hotel, the Lian Hua Shan Hot Spring resort, not far from Chenghai. This time we went with two taxis. The drivers knew a small restaurant, where we had a rich pork lunch for about 12 Euro (for 8! people). Incredible..:-)

The first old village, Zanglin GuGang, was not easy to find, but after a lot of asking around, we finally discovered it. Old houses, narrow streets, a temple with decorations. Nothing spectacular, but all very scenic. The local people must have been surprised by a Kwai Loh visitor. Nearby we found a second, similar village, Zanglin GuXiang.

Back in the hotel, it was time for the Hot Springs. For Aric's family a new experience..:-) Bathing suits were available, at first they were quite shy, but soon it became fun. Several of the baths were infused with various kinds of herbs and tea! As the resort was far away from the town, we had our dinner and breakfast in the hotel, a funny experience as we were about the only visitors.

The last two days were dedicated to the "finding of roots".
We moved back to Shantou, because Aric's ancestral village was now more or less a suburb of Shantou. We expected that not much of the old village would be left, so it was a pleasant surprise that in between the new apartment buildings, there still were several streets with traditional houses. The villagers were curious and friendly, and soon Aric's parents could be seen busy talking. Even Aric got "a bit excited" as he expressed himself.

The next day we went to the ancestral village of Aric's uncle. There had been telephone contact, people were waiting for us at the entrance of the village. It was an emotional meeting. For the first time Aric's uncle met the brothers of his mother. They told him some family history. How his grandfather had emigrated to Malaysia, and had died there during the Japanese occupation. That his grandmother had decided to go back to Teochew with her sons, but that the daughter (just married) had stayed behind in Malaysia.

The hospitality was overwhelming. First lunch in a restaurant, they insisted to pay. Then a visit to their homes, with more food. A tour of the village. Presents when we had to go back to our hotel. The picture of the family says it all. Worth the whole trip!

Altogether a most memorable trip. Aric had done an amazing job, organising everything in detail.

Costs for the 12D11N trip: RM 2480 pp (flight, lodging, food) Unbelievable.

Our busy trip organiser

Lunch with goose eggs, legs, feet

Tuktuk transport

Here we go

The Chen Ci Hong residence



One rich lady..:-)

Decorated window

Part of the complex

View point

Roof detail

So many rooms

Wall decorations

Italianate style ?
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Dinner at McDonald's

LianHuaShan Hot Spring resort

The hotel lobby


With pork

House entrance


Drying joss sticks

Another house

Characteristic style

Beautiful decoration

The village square


Street with old houses

Owner must have been rich

Traditional tea shop


The old gate of Zanglin GuXiang


Outside the temple

Inside the temple

Temple decorations

Ready for the Hot Springs

Enjoying a bath

At first a bit shy, now enjoying

One for the album

Dinner in the resort

Breakfast in the resort

Back to Shantou

In the bus

XiaJiuHe, Aric's ancestral village

The village temple

Nice old street

Characteristic architecture

Another nice house

And more


More architecture

Meeting the villagers


Aric's family

We did it!

Meeting the family of Aric's uncle

Meeting for the first time

A moment to remember

Two uncles and their nephew(!)

One uncle

The other one

More and more relatives

Grandchildren of the two uncles

A copious lunch

Seafood of course

Uncle's house

With his grandchildren

The kitchen

Traditional wood fire
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More food!

Eggs in sweet soup!
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This is a symbolic dish

To commemorate the meeting

A sweet memory forever

Uncle (l) showing the village to his nephew(r)

Time stood (almost) still here

House entrance

A friendly lady making baskets

Another one, preparing quail eggs

Another kitchen

The stove

This picture alone is worth the whole trip!

Gate of LongHuGuZhai

This village is a tourist attraction

Village street

Well preserved

Located near the river

wrote on Jun 12, 2010:
Syabas to Aric for organizing such an interesting trip. I bet those guys in China will be talking about this reunion till the cows come home. :)

wrote on Jun 12, 2010:
As will his parents and his uncle & auntie...:-)

Liz wrote on Jun 12, 2010:
Almost looks like Wedgewood!!!

wrote on Jun 12, 2010:
This is indeed very Teochew. We used to eat this on our birthdays. The last time I had this was on my 50th birthday -- in Canada!

Liz wrote on Jun 12, 2010:
Empty at dinner, empty at breakfast. Why?

wrote on Jun 12, 2010:
It might be more busy on weekends, but on this weekday there were hardly any guests. A bit like A' Famosa

wrote on Jun 13, 2010:
Great pictures .... you make us even more determined to visit China.... don't forget us on your next trip!

wrote on Jun 13, 2010:
wow.. still got such thing???

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