This is a continuation of my blog post about Hainan Island.
‘Short the distance, together the people’ is Hainan Airlines’ tagline (while you’re there, check out their subsidiary Deer Jet and their flashy website), and Hainanese Chicken Rice doesn’t come from Hainan.
Over the next two days of the tour, we were taken to one ethnic village after another and conned into parting with our RMB to watch insipid dances by ‘ethnic minorities’ who strangely spoke Mandarin instead of their native languages.
The Lees (Datuk Y.Y. Lee, M M Lee, Miyagi Lee and S K Lee) after watching one of the Miao (I think) ethnic dances outside the
Miao Village Li tribe tourist village.
On the third day, I decided to ask my cousins (who organised the trip) how we were planning to go visit our ancestral village. I had assumed that everyone on the bus came from (or descended from) the same village, and the village must have been some tourist attraction as well, complete with my relatives doing insipid dances and asking us for money.
It’s fun being wrong, especially when you’re on a trip to some place you’re hardly familiar with. My cousins were just as clueless as I was, and had no idea where the village was, only that it was half an hour out from this city called Kachek in Hainanese, and we had no idea what the Mandarin name for the place was.
I was marginally more prepared. Dad had given me several photographs of Kachek, including one of a four storey building in Kachek he had donated money to build. It had several distinguishing features, one of which was the name of the building, named for one of my long deceased relatives. Armed with that and what Dad helpfully told me: ‘Our village is near where that American spy plane crash landed’, I felt I’d be the one to lead me, my cousins and Dad’s brother on the mission.
We spoke to the tour guide, who was still talking about herself when we asked her where Kachek was. After spending two whole days with her incessant chatter, we didn’t think it was too rude to just walk away mid-spiel and try talking to the bus driver instead. He turned out to be our first real lead. He was Hainanese, and he knew Kachek, and that it was called Jiaji in Mandarin, and that it was located in Qionghai County, which my father and his brother both had referred to as Khkhkhkhkhenghhhhhaii in Hainanese with a lot of phlegm.
[…to be continued…]
Surf stop: Cupcake Queen