The streets of Tai Kok Tsui are lined with hardware stores, many of which are run by Zhaoqing Jinlinese. They took root in Hong Kong by setting up these small businesses, building wealth from nothing and growing from weak to strong through unrelenting effort. The town of Jinli is also renowned for dragon boating. The pragmatism, agility, and diligence of the Jinlinese can be easily observed from the local dragon boat races. Many third and fourth generation Hong Kong Jinlinese have taken up their fathers’ mantles. They all hope that the spirit of their ancestral home will be passed down from one generation to the next.


    • I Am Taishanese

      I Am Taishanese

      “Getting sold down the river” and “Old Man from San Fran” were used to describe the Cantonese people who travelled overseas to be mine and railroad workers during the late Qing dynasty and early Republic of China period. Taishan’s coastal location and deep-water port makes it a natural gateway to faraway lands, leading successive generations of Taishanese to seek livelihoods away from their ancestral home. Taishan is China’s first overseas Chinese hometown. There are over 1.3 million overseas Chinese of Taishanese descent around the world, a number which exceeds the local population.

      There is actually a Taishanese village in Hong Kong – San Wai Fuk Hing Lane Village in Yuen Long, which was established more than a century ago. Thomas Yeung grew up there and saw the changes that the village has undergone first-hand. Although the blue brick house that he lived in as a child is now a Western-style villa, he has managed to preserve his clan’s genealogy book which has over 100 years of history.

      William Chan is Thomas Yeung’s primary school classmate and friend. His grandfather opened the only grocery store in the village – Overseas Chinese Store has borne witness to the changes within the village. Initially solely patronised by villagers, it became the canteen for construction workers when the highway was being built. Nowadays, however, it is much more convenient to go into town, leaving the store deserted. It has also been relocated from the market plaza to an inconspicuous spot next to the Chan family’s ancestral residence. William Chan has persisted with running the store to fulfil his promise to his late father of “continuing to provide a place for neighbourhood residents to get together”.

      Like many other Taishanese, William Chan and Thomas Yeung have both worked abroad. The former went to Africa when he was 45 to manage a car factory for 17 years, climbing the corporate ladder at the cost of missing his sons’ childhoods. Meanwhile, the latter worked in Europe for a few years before returning to Hong Kong as he was unable to adapt to the local life. They both say that the Taishanese of today do not necessarily have to work abroad, because there are many opportunities for development in Hong Kong and the mainland, offering them a plethora of options. Regardless of this, the Taishanese people’s sentimental ties to their hometown remains unchanged. The number of fortified towers which stand in the city are a testament to this. The overseas Chinese remitted money back to their ancestral home, contributing to its prosperity. Subsequently, the residents built fortified towers to protect their home from thieves. The two men are now leading semi-retired lives and go back to their ancestral home when they are free to drive their cares away.

      Returning to one’s place of origin is not just a habit of the elderly. Thirty-something Kenny used to go to his mother’s hometown (Zhongshan) with her to visit relatives as a child, and always thought that this was his ancestral home. It was not until he was in his 20s that he learnt that his roots originate in Taishan. His wife and mother-in-law (both of Shundenese descent), as well as his mother, all have their own ancestral residences, but why does he not? Consequently, he joined Hong Kong Federation of Tai Shan Association in hopes of finding his ancestral home. His family has lived in Hong Kong since his grandfather’s generation, with both Kenny and his father being born here. As his father lost interest in searching for his roots long ago, Kenny is tackling the task on his own. In a cruel twist of fate, he discovers that his grandfather had been using a fake name, making his already difficult search an even greater challenge. Will he be able to find his roots in the end?

      Everyone has an ancestral home. Whether it has withstood the ages or vanished without a trace, the search for it serves as a cure for homesickness.

    • The Flavours of Southern Fujianese Life

      The Flavours of Southern Fujianese Life

      North Point is known as the Little Fujian of Hong Kong. As many Fujianese live there, it is possible to get by on Southern Fujianese alone if one does not set foot outside the area. It is home to a tenement house temple, a unique feature of Hong Kong. Teng Hai Temple is home to the tutelary deities of Shijiao Village in Quanzhou, Fujian. A villager brought the gods with her when she came to Hong Kong. The divine emissaries are now worshipped by the residents of Shijiao Village and their descendants. Every two years, fellow devotees return to their ancestral home to conduct worship at the original temple. Fukien Secondary School, which has more than 60 years of history, is the alma mater of many Fujianese. Referrals by an overwhelming number of hometowners has resulted in enrolees of Fujianese descent making up more than half of the student body.

    • Spirit of Steel

      Spirit of Steel

      The streets of Tai Kok Tsui are lined with hardware stores, many of which are run by Zhaoqing Jinlinese. They took root in Hong Kong by setting up these small businesses, building wealth from nothing and growing from weak to strong through unrelenting effort. The town of Jinli is also renowned for dragon boating. The pragmatism, agility, and diligence of the Jinlinese can be easily observed from the local dragon boat races. Many third and fourth generation Hong Kong Jinlinese have taken up their fathers’ mantles. They all hope that the spirit of their ancestral home will be passed down from one generation to the next.

    • The Taste of Youth

      The Taste of Youth

      Shing is a Meizhou Hakka. Whenever he returns to his ancestral home, his third uncle, a culinary master, would cook an array of Hakka dishes for him, with stir-fried intestines being the most memorable among them. Now working as a chef, Shing is returning to Meizhou for the Lunar New Year in the hope of learning how to make this delicacy. Nonetheless, things don’t always work out according to plan, and the recapturing of the flavours of the past proves to be a challenge.

      Shing loved returning to his ancestral home when he was young as he enjoyed the liveliness it exuded and the freedom it offered. However, his enthusiasm for going back has waned with age and the various changes in his life. Shing’s mother, on the other hand, rarely returned to her hometown in the past as she had to take care of her family and also put food on the table. Consequently, her son is more familiar with the people and affairs of her hometown than her. However, a series of mishaps which befell her relatives in recent years has led her to go back frequently. Mother and son embark on the same homecoming journey with different moods.

    • Common Origins

      Common Origins

      Many Chinese people were drawn to Hong Kong to make a living after it was established as a free port in the 19th century. They formed societies according to their respective ancestral homes to look out for each other, keep one another informed, and even assist in transporting the cremated remains of the deceased for burial in their hometowns. These societies gradually developed into clansmen’s associations. As such, some of the clansmen’s associations in Hong Kong have more than a century of history.

      Sam Shui Natives Association was also established under this historical context. As early as the ninth year of the Guangxu period, the remains of Chinese people of Sanshui descent who passed away in Southeast Asia were transported home via Hong Kong. However, the ashes of some could not be taken back for burial because their addresses were unknown. Consequently, a group of Sanshuinese living in Hong Kong applied to the government for a plot of land to turn it into a burial ground for the unclaimed dead. This society later evolved to become Sam Shui Natives Association, and paying respects to these lone souls has been its tradition for more than a century.

      The organisation plays an active role in sustaining the relationships between fellow hometowners. After the Handover, many mainlanders immigrated to Hong Kong. They have become the association’s new blood. Chan Chun-kit, who moved to Hong Kong from Sanshui in 1990, actively participates in its activities because he believes that the other members grew up in a similar background to his, making it easier for him to be on the same page and to speak freely. Despite having lived in Hong Kong for 29 years, Chan Chun-kit still has strong ties to his hometown. He has not only helped his village compile its first genealogy book, but also takes Hong Kong families to their hometowns to assist them in reconnecting with their ancestry.

    • Chaoshan Natives in Sham Tseng

      Chaoshan Natives in Sham Tseng

      Sham Tseng was once a prosperous small community. It was home to numerous factories and shops, as well as a sizeable Chaoshanese population.

      Yiu Chi-ming, President of the Sham Tseng Chiu Chow Kaifong Welfare Association, remembers that the manager of the former brewery, Mr Waller, was on especially good terms with the Chaoshanese of Sham Tseng. He not only arranged for them to work at the brewery, but also enthusiastically supported them in holding the Yu Lan Ghost Festival. He even donated a piece of land to them so that they could build a clubhouse.

      Unfortunately, as the times changed, the Chaoshanese of Sham Tseng gradually moved away, causing the clubhouse to fall into disrepair. Consequently, a group of second-generation Chaoshanese residents raised funds to renovate it. Yiu Chi-ming’s younger brother, Yiu Chi-kit, remembers that a fellow Chaoshanese man who ran a small business unexpectedly donated $30,000 towards the project. He was deeply moved by this gesture.

      Yiu Chi-ming’s biggest wish is to revitalise Sham Tseng. Someone has partly realised this wish on his behalf in recent years. Hui Pak-kin, a Chaoshan dialect and culture teacher, has rented the building of the now defunct Sham Tseng Trade Association which had been left vacant for quite some time. He has revitalised it into a Chaoshanese tea parlour to promote the culture of his ancestral home.

      The Sham Tseng Chiu Chow Kaifong Welfare Association celebrates the birthday of the Heavenly Father and Earthly Mother, and also holds an elderly appreciation event on the ninth day of the Lunar New Year annually. In addition to promoting Chaoshanese culture, the festivities also pay tribute to the previous generation of Sham Tseng Chaoshanese.

    • The Chikan Connection

      The Chikan Connection

      Every person has their own roots and respective ancestral home. The older generations of Hongkongers are more connected to their place of origin, with some even having lived there in the past. Sentiments and memories may be the reasons that they keep going back. Meanwhile, the younger generations who grew up in Hong Kong seem to have a limited understanding of their ancestral home. What is their impression of their ancestors’ birthplace? And will the ties between the two grow gradually distant?

      Shuyi, who grew up in Hong Kong and has never set foot in her ancestral home of Kaiping in these 20-odd years, only has a subjective understanding of the place. An unexpected opportunity has enabled her to travel to the birthplace of her ancestors for the first time. How will she feel about this place which is foreign yet relevant to her? How will a deeper insight into her ancestral home affect her?

      On the other hand, Guang, who was born and raised in Kaiping, chose to come to Hong Kong in the hope that his offspring can receive a better education. Despite having lived in Hong Kong for many years, he still misses the days of living in his hometown. Where does his profound love for his ancestral home come from? One generation wished to leave, while another longs to enter. What sentimental attachments do these two different generations of Kaipingnese have to their ancestral home?

    • Homecoming Pride

      Homecoming Pride

      Nanhai District of Foshan is the home of martial dragon and lion dancing.
      In the 1940s, a large number of people from Nanhai moved to Hong Kong. A renowned dragon and lion dance troupe, Bei Lun Tong, also put down roots in the city at the time. Its name was later changed to Zen-Kong Bei Lun Tong Athletic Association to mark the organisation’s sentiments for Foshan and Hong Kong. The association serves as the vehicle for bringing like-minded individuals together and to carry forward the spirit of martial arts and lion dancing.
      Chung To-yan is a Bei Lun Tong disciple born and raised in Hong Kong. He has been working in the logistics industry for decades and has always hoped to fulfil his childhood dream. After achieving career success, he decided to travel to the birthplace of Bei Lun Tong in Nanhai, Foshan, and dedicate himself to lion dancing. He returned to his ancestral home with a group of his kung fu brothers and re-established a dragon and lion dance troupe there. He hopes to train a new generation of youngsters in new martial arts routines and high difficulty plum blossom pole lion dance techniques, so that they can continue passing down the traditional culture of Southern style lion dancing.

    • My Home is My Oyster

      My Home is My Oyster

      Lau Fau Shan is renowned throughout Hong Kong for its abundance of fresh oysters. It turns out that the art of oyster farming originates in Shajing, Shenzhen.
      Today’s Lau Fau Shan is still mainly inhabited by people of Shajing descent. Many residents of the neighbourhood come from the same hometown. The central figure of this episode, Auntie Cheung, officially moved from Shajing to Hong Kong some 40 years ago. She hails from a long line of oyster farmers.
      The Shajingnese have been farming oysters in the waters of Shajing and Lau Fau Shan since the ancient times, working in both regions simultaneously. Due to rapid economic development and land reclamation, there are no longer any oyster beds in present-day Shajing. However, the village’s unique oyster farming techniques and history have been carried forward by the Shajingnese of Lau Fau Shan.
      Apart from the art of oyster farming, familial ties and ancestral home sentiments are also being passed on from one generation to another. Uncle and Auntie Cheung’s family has remained tightknit for generations. Despite having settled in Hong Kong for more than 40 years, their bonds with their relatives in Shajing and Lau Fau Shan are as solid as ever. The entire family of close to 100 come together every Lunar New Year, while an annual visit to the family’s ancestral home is also an obligation, all in the hope that the next generation can sustain these connections.