I returned to Singapore from Hainan, China last Saturday. I had a wonderful trip, although that was somewhat discolored by the tsunami tragedy that overwhelmed the world last week. To those of you who hadnÃ¢ÂÂt made donations to the many disaster relief funds that have appeared since, please do contribute something.
My personal email server (weecheng.com) has been experiencing some problems since 25 December. Emails sent to me have either bounced or gone missing. For those of you who had emailed me since 25 December, please send the emails again.
In Hainan, I visited the ancestral house where my father was born, an ancient building with high ceiling and unique Hainan-style ceiling frescoes depicting farming life and HainanÃ¢ÂÂs subtropical flora. I walked along the country lanes and chatted to the prawn farmers and rice peasants who are my distant relations and family friends over the past few centuries. Among them, I learned the many tales of tragedy, courage, glories and humiliation that relate to these people at the far southern edge of China.
I traveled across to the islandÃ¢ÂÂs southern edge, to the beach resort city of Sanya, which recently hosted for the second time, Miss World. The many seafront hotels, holiday villas, golf courses, malls and endless miles of beaches with coconut palms reminded me not of China, but of Miami Beach and QueenslandÃ¢ÂÂs Sunshine Coast.
I hired a taxi to the ancient city of Yazhou to the west, where an ancestor of mine seized military control over eight centuries ago. I also explored the Hui Muslim villages in the western suburbs of Sanya, where the locals were descendents of a people who once built a powerful Hindu kingdom in what is today central Vietnam. I went to the central Highlands of Hainan, where the LiÃ¢ÂÂs, a formerly ferocious tribe once feared for their magic and admired for their embroidery skills, still live.
A few portions of the famous Hainanese chicken rice, and I decided that I prefer the Singapore version, with its smooth tender texture and fiery chili sauce with ginger.
I did not uncover more information about my ancestors, but I have brought back with me many books and much source material. This is only the beginning of a search process. Maybe a further trip to find out more about this land.
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs all this time. I will write more about my Hainan journey.