The journey begins and already I am confused. What day is it? I know I left San Francisco at 00:58 on October 30th, I know I flew for hours and hours, sleeping when I could, eating dinner at 2:00 A.M. and breakfast shortly before landing. However, here’s what I cannot wrap my mind around crossing the International dateline, we lost a day which is why I’m not sure what day it is today.
Kudos to Cathay Pacific for their customer service and quality of food, but next time I’m going to swing for premium economy or better yet, first class because the leg room in economy must be designed for very small Asians.
Our fourteen-hour flight to Hong Kong was followed by a quick hop to Guangzhou, where we waited for others in our party to join us. I meant to bring my mini-disposable tooth brushes and rest assured I will not forget them next time, because when we landed in Guangzhou, the first thing I wanted to do was brush my teeth.
I was happy at last to meet other members of our Roots Plus group, bonded already by our common goal to touch the good earth of our ancestor’s homeland. Undaunted by hours of travel, we embarked on the first leg of our journey, meeting our guides from the Guangdong Overseas Chinese Vocational School, who have worked tirelessly helping the U.S. guides locate our villages in the Guangdong Province. In Chinese fashion, our meeting occurred over a meal – not a McDonald’s or KFC lunch – yes, they seem to be around every corner in Guangzhou, but rather a feast of one dish after another, topped off by an apple cider vinegar drink or a very potent drink in the tiniest cordials I’ve ever seen, imbibed by the red-faced folks at one table. I won’t mention any names; you know who you are.
A ride through the extremely crazy traffic of the city took us towards Kaiping and the “Watch Towers” at the Fong residence at Kaiping Diaolon and Village, a UNESCO and World Cultural Heritage site. The village represents a sampling of a unique collection of buildings made possible by the contributions of Overseas Chinese, who brought every manner of cultural influences to this small village.
What will we find in our villages?