Trip to Chan Village

Xiamen Travel Blog

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Poh Tiang in Chan Village.

After I organised this trip, I realised that I could also visit relatives on my father's side in China too.  They lived at Chan Village about half-hour from Zhao An (which itself was four hours away by bus from Xiamen).  By the way, my surname is "Tian" in Mandarin which is quite an uncommon one.

My contact for this long day trip was an elderly gentlemen by the name of Poh Tiang. We are related as my great-great-grandfather is also his great-grandfather. 

Poh Tiang and his cousins were extremely hospitable:

  • First they showed me around the village ... it was quite Italian with narrow alleys and rather Yemen in terms of infrastructure and public hygiene. 

  • Then they took me to his home, which was the house my great-great-grandfather owned and died in.
    Poh Tiang and other uncles. Poh Tiang is holding a picture of Chan Koh (my great-great-grandfather) who migrated to Kuching.
      People in China have a different sense of what is "nice" and what is "ugly".  The historic home had been restored with "nice" modern tiling, exposing only the old door arches and door.

  • They also took me to the old hall where Chinese people normally would worship their ancestors.  This building is in need of restoration so I got a taste of its former glory before it gets tiled over.  The interior rear wall where ancestors photos are normally placed have been replaced with a mural of the great leader Mousie Dung. 

  • A ten course lunch followed.

  • After lunch, they took me to my great-great-grandfather's grave.  The site is near the coast where shellfish was being cultivated.

We spoke a mix of Hokkien and Mandarin.  I'm not great at either but in when speaking in Hokkien in China, it is important (but extremely difficult) not to mix in words that are not of Chinese origin, for example, most Malaysian Hokkiens would use Malay words for the following:

  • kahwin (married),
  • jamban (toilet),
  • salah (wrong),
  • tapi (but).
    Door to my great-great-grandfather's house.

As the conversations progressed, I realised that Poh Tiang was using some Malay words himself.  So I checked his origins and it eventuated that he was born in Malaysia (then Sarawak) and was brought to China at the age of five.  Obviously his parents spoke an adulterated version of the language. 

Nice to know that China has been enriched by the Malayo-Polynesian language ... and the foods ... one can find Laksa (Kuala Lumpur style) just about anywhere in Xiamen. 


portia says:
It is Tian as in sky or rice field or something else?
Posted on: Dec 01, 2006
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Poh Tiang in Chan Village.
Poh Tiang in Chan Village.
Poh Tiang and other uncles.  Poh T…
Poh Tiang and other uncles. Poh …
Door to my great-great-grandfather…
Door to my great-great-grandfathe…
This is normally the altar for anc…
This is normally the altar for an…
photo by: westwind57