Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Home Coming-Xiamen (厦门)

Today marks the breakdown of AirAsia’s economical resolve.

They’ve introduced the minimum RM10.00 (domestic) fuel surcharge for every trip you fly with them. AirAsiaX charges RM 90 per way!

My 2-way JB-KL flight of RM15.00 all-in this July (booked during the 0 fare sale last October) will be the last of its kind.

To all avid travelers, this signals the end of (extremely) cheap air tix.

My Cambodia (RM 180) and Burma (RM 120) tix this Summer and Fall respectively looked like a day light murder!

Actually, I thought this was inevitable, considering the inflation, oil prices, and uncertainty of the economy.

While everyone was made ruling the announcement, I went for Malaysia Airlines.

I got myself a 2-way KL-Xiamen air tix, for RM 902 all-in, in February 2012.

Prior to that, I had a hard time convincing dad to follow me. But my old man was kinda “sick” with the idea of Xiamen again (though he was born there) holding to the fact he had quite a hard 21 days back there in March.

He’d prefer to visit other parts of China, possibly Beijing with my mom. I guess we’ll need to wait 3 more years when mom retires.

A further discussion with my sis found out that October till April is their PEAK period.


During these 6 moths of PEAK, all auditors all over the country will be busy closing accounts for firms of all sizes. They can’t find time for anything besides staring into those account statements?

Brother’s gonna be in his 3rd year, and I have all the reason in the world to let him plan for his getaway himself.

So at the end, I’ll travel alone this time.

This 10-day China trip come next February, 2 weeks after Chinese Lunar New Year, will be more than a trip for me.

Why Xiamen?

Now, there’s a long story behind everything, and I’ve to rewind more than half a century back to set the tone right.

Dad’s the youngest son of his generation. He has 2 elder brothers and an elder sister. Both brothers followed grandpa to Melaka, in then Malaya during post WW2 era (1940s).

So, there were my dad, aunt, and grandma back in Xiamen, Fujian, China.

When dad was barely 3, should be in the 1950s, grandpa decided that the coast was clear, and in grandma’s hands, dad was on some cargo ship on the way to Singapore, and then to Melaka. Poor aunt was married off and left in Xiamen on grandpa’s “orders”. Grandpa, I must say, though made a hard and painful decision, was visionary to leave behind such a close kin. My relatives often tell me how bad aunt cried that time.

Imagine your whole family left you where you are, and migrated overseas???

But the fact is, he saw this day coming... He knew there'll be a day, of all his decendents coming back to where they belong.

They'll need someone to tell the story don't they?

So back in then Malaya, grandpa and his boys worked hard during the years, and sent money back home. Life was hard those days. Communication thru letters back China never stopped.

Throughout the years, our living condition improved. The regret was that grandpa past away in year 1977 in Melaka without ever seeing his only beloved daughter again.

In the 1980s, some of my more well-being relatives started revisiting China. And my aunt had also visited us in Malaysia a few times. The family was never separated.

When you look at the older generation of people, it wasn’t that they wanted to leave home (well, like some successful Malaysians to Singapore). The civil war was bad, really bad, and then you’d have the Japs and the whites coming in from all fronts.

It was a horrid time in China’s history.

Migrants flocked and fled.

Walking into the millennium, China has eclipsed Malaysia. Living conditions improved, economy boomed, education flourished. While Malaysia’s still fighting among races for the economic cake, China’s leaders are trying hard to solve imminent problems like corruption, inflation and the welfare of their citizens as a whole.

Aunt’s life in Xiamen has improved drastically. As senior citizens, she takes public transportation for free. Every month there’s pocket money for her. The bridges in Xiamen, which connects to neighboring islands are build within months.

Whilst a mere 20 ft. overhead bridge at MMR2 before Ampang area takes ages.

Of course, China has its short comings too. We can discuss this forever.

Another significant attribute for this trip is to visit the family’s “old house”, somewhere in rural Tong An (同安), 1 hour from Xiamen city (if I’m not mistaken). That’s the place where my uncles and dad were born. From my understanding, the old house is still standing, but abandoned.

My wildest imagination flashes the thought that this house’s a witnessed to the formation of new China, from the Qing Dynasty, Sun Yat-Sen’s Revolution, civil wars, Communist Revolution, Culture Revolution, Economy Revolution, Globalization, and even the Olympics (well, in Beijing though).

My aim is to listen to history myself. I would sit down with aunt and absorb everything that happend in the past century.

Grandpa will be extremely proud to know that, though after nearly 40 years of his death, he’d left a strong, united and wonderful family behind. And that his grandchildren, one after another will re-visit, learn, embrace and appreciate the very place he reluctantly left more than half a century ago.

I can’t really imagine how it was for a man to leave home to somewhere so far away.

Remember, those were the days without handphones and internet… And you’d never know if you’ll ever see your loved ones again.

They actually rumoured that Malaya had gold and silver everywhere underground those days.

Nothing beats the fact of me understanding my roots, my family and my past. Everyone has a right to understand their lineage, just like how Dr Philip talks about his family tree, straight up to 黄帝, with pride.

I am proud of what I am.

I am certain of what I am made of.

This gush of confidence will empower me to take on more challenges and adversity in life.

Like what grandpa had thought half a century ago, “life’s a daring adventure, or nothing”.

Your grandson is coming home!