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Having been born, raised, educated and worked in Singapore, I have had the good fortune of being in a centrally-located tiny island-city.
The strategic location of home country has allowed me to take advantage of the countless travel offers available, and I did embark on countless travel adventures. However, it was on a journey (made in October 2011) to my forefather's hometown of Jieyang (some 45km fm Shantou) that opened up an interesting chapter in my travel journals.
1930s saw numerous Jieyang inhabitants emigrating overseas. , Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Thailand has large Chinese communities of Jieyang origin. So that was how my father's family came to be in Singapore! Most brought their skills and trading acumen with them when they migrated.
There are a lot of porcelain/ceramic manufacturing facilities in Jieyang/Chaozhou areas. In 1991, the chinese central government have approved that Jieyang become a prefecture-level city. A new airport is scheduled to be opened on 18 December 2011 in Jieyang, very interesting for it means that I'll be able to fly directly to my ancestral city in due course.
Meeting relatives, sitting among them and chatting in Chaozhou dialect is a rarity for me (because we mainly use Mandarin in Singapore), but the experience transported me back to my childhood days in our very Chaozhou grandmother's house where all the relatives would gather during special occasions. It was a somewhat surreal, yet comfortable feeling.
The food is these towns/counties are also somewhat different. Chaozhou people prefer their food steamed, as in steamed seafood etc, as compared to the Cantonese who prefer fried foods. And because steamed food has to be very fresh, that accounts for higher prices in Chaozhou cuisine, but the price difference is often justifiable for the freshness of products.
Oh, another top-notch favourite in Chaozhou cuisine is the Braised Goose. So widely (and comparatively cheap) available it is that I could eat it everyday. While in Shantou, I was pleasantly surprised to find cooked food easily available in the Lotus supermarket as well ... that really kept me happy!
I look forward to returning to Shantou/Jieyang for longer stay in due course, just so that I can absorb more of the city of the Yuan (Wang in Chaozhou) family!
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