Guang Dong, China: Visiting a village frozen in time

My Guang Dong posts will be a short, focused post exploring my ancestral home. Chinese is not my first language, and I may butcher some of the phonetic translations.

The Quick and Dirty:
Location – Guang Dong, China
Travel Duration: 15 days
Visa needed for US Citizens?: Yes
Vaccination needed for Americans: Routine vaccination and antibiotics
Language: Chinese – Cantonese necessary
Type of trip: Sight seeing, city/urban trekking and museums, family
Top reasons for visiting now: CHEAP and delicious food.

Hong Kong Harbor

We arrived in Hong Kong (HK) where my uncle picked us up (HK style) via bus.  Public transportation is amazing as car ownership is cost prohibitive.  Buying a tap pass will allow you to ride on the bus all over town.  Each bus has Wifi, making the City very well connected.  English is common and most information signs have both Chinese and English.  I spent very little time in Hong Kong – just enough to get a taste of the food.

My uncle brought me from Hong Kong out to Guang Dong via bus and boat.  The ride was quick but bumpy.   I stayed at my uncles condo right outside of San Zhong, on the outskirts of Jiang Men.

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The village neighbors high rise towers, rivers and creeks that run through town.  The village has two separate entrances.  Vehicular traffic is very limited and travelling by foot is the only way through the town.

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The town is surrounded by rolling hills and rivers.  Most of the buildings in town are now abandoned.  Everyone who lived here has left to the city for jobs – leaving an eerie feeling.  The only people still here are elderly.  The village was built before the time of cars and is now frozen in time – nothing has changed much since my last visit 10 years ago and likely nothing will change unless people move back in.  It is interesting to note that while China’s primary language is Mandarin, the people in this area speak cantonese – specifically Tou San.

Just outside the village is a farmers market.  My uncle would come down here and  grab produce for breakfast and lunch.  Locals cook traditional rice and beef rolls every morning and he would grab a couple orders for us.

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The Village

My parents own a few homes in the area – mainly homes that belonged to my great grand parents.  We made an effort to visit every single one.  While it probably wasn’t a good idea to walk to the second story or roof, it was interesting to see what my parents and family left behind.  My sisters and I keep saying we will come back here and bring some of the family relics home to the United States.

IMG_20111022_182146The homes were small and studio like.  Modern conveniences like telephones and gas are new to the village.  The last time I was here, there was one telephone in town and waste water drained to the streets.

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Several other homes within the area are abandoned.  Moss grow on the roofs as walls begin to crumble. IMG_20111022_182652

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My mom and dad lived in a single bedroom home together.  The home has a tiny courtyard in the center and a kitchen across from the living room and bed room.  I really wish I brought a better camera – there is no glass on the windows and the light in each room brought so much character to each photo.

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I told my mom I wanted to bring this bike back to the states – an old rust bucket that used to belong to my dad when he was my age.

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My dad spent a bit of his younger days as an artist.  He painted a lot of murals for the village.  The years have not been great to the paintings, and a lot of have begun to fade and chip away.

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We met several remaining residents who immediately knew who I was.  They knew I was my dad’s son because I look exactly like him in his 20s.  It was a humbling experience and more so an eye opener to how close this community once was.

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