Tung Jung China Tour 20 March - 11 April 2004 Print

When we saw the trip to China advertised in the Tung Jung newsletter last year, we welcomed the chance to visit our ancestral villages as well to see some lesser well known tourist areas, along with cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

This article is only meant to serve as a summary of what our impressions were of the trip, excluding incidents involving individual members of the tour party. We will each have our own good and not so good memories, but we will all treasure the relaxed atmosphere, the exceptional good humor, and the many funny moments that materialized during the trip. We had a great group of fun loving and caring people and everyone felt completely at ease and comfortable with each other very early on in the tour.

On our arrival at Guangzhou Airport, we were met by officials from The Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Guangdong Provincial People’s Government, and a film crew from Guangzhou TV. On the Monday, we attended a function at the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office and were hosted at a reception and lunch by the Director, Mr. Lu Wei Xiong. In his address Mr. Lu sought opinions from our group concerning the best way to go about maintaining the Cantonese language. Our visit was seen on GZTV News, and we were also featured in the local newspaper later that week

 

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One of the objectives of this trip was to visit the villages of every member of the touring party. Bernard’s village is in Zhongshan City, and we took the opportunity of visiting his grandfather’s home, as well as to go and pay our respects at his gravesite. For the rest of the group, Zhengcheng and Xintang were the locations that provided emotional times for many people as they either renewed acquaintances with relatives or met villagers who knew of their family members. Others commented on how their villages had progressed since their last visit. While visiting these villages, some of the group was pleasantly surprised to discover that their forefathers had come from the same village. This fact created a natural bond among this group. It was certainly great to be able to visit other tour members’ villages as well as our own. As far as we’re concerned, the village trips certainly fulfilled the objective of this aspect of the tour.

With regard to the “touristy” side of things, the sights and sounds of Kunming, Lijiang and Chengdu were a sharp contrast to Beijing and Shanghai. The country areas gave us an appreciation of how life was for centuries, and in some cases still is, in villages nestled amongst the rugged high mountains. Beijing and Shanghai, on the other hand were very progressive modern cities that provided us with a totally different kind of experience of China. This itinerary, in our opinion was a very good balance of the ancient and new China….especially for the first time traveller to China.

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This now leads us on our thoughts about how we found the pace of the tour affected our ability to fully enjoy all the activities that were planned for us. Like all tourists we wanted to see and experience as much as we could within the timeframe available. However, there should be a balance between organized and free-time (essentially this means shopping!) activities. Personally, we would have liked to have more time for this, as well as a “breather” towards the end of each day’s organized sightseeing, before we went to dinner and any evening entertainment. We found that on occasions, our minds were willing, but our bodies were tiring rapidly (especially when many of us developed ‘the cough’). This then begs the question – should the timeframe of the tour be extended or should visiting one or two of the locations be omitted? We don’t think that any one answer will satisfy everyone 100%.

With regards to the food, on the whole we could not fault the variety, quantity and standard that we encountered. We know that we ate more than we normally do at home, but that’s our fault for not knowing when to stop. It was good to be able to sample the special dishes of the local regions. Accommodation standards at hotels were excellent and their locations could not be faulted.

Acknowledgement must go to the Tung Jung organizing team and to Janet Joe, our tour director, for their unselfish dedication into making this a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable trip.

Since returning home, friends and work colleagues have asked if this trip lived up to our expectations and was it what we expected. The answer is “yes” it did, to both questions. China is an amazing country, in many places caught in a time warp, but one can see the progress as well. It is hard to describe the feeling as we walked along historical sites. Here we were in 2004, standing on the very same spots that many prominent leaders of the world throughout the centuries had also once stood. A unique sensation, one we find very difficult to put into words.

Carolyn and Bernard Sang.

 

 
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