2019 Chinese Australian Hometown Heritage Tour

In March 2019, Sophie Couchman and I ran our third Chinese Australian Hometown Heritage Tour to Hong Kong and Guangdong.

The tour took us from Hong Kong to Jiangmen, Kaiping, Taishan, Xinhui, Zhongshan and Zhuhai, before returning to Hong Kong.

Here’s a rundown, in tweets, of what we got up to!

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Chinese Australian Hometown Heritage Tour group in Cangdong, Kaiping, China, 10 March 2019

Hong Kong: 6–8 March 2019

Day 1: Wednesday, 6 March 2019
Arrive Hong Kong

No tour activities were planned for today, but Sophie and I made a preparatory visit to the cemetery in Happy Valley to prepare for the next day’s walking tour.

The tour’s first two nights were spent in Hong Kong.

Day 2: Thursday, 7 March 2019
Hong Kong

We started the tour proper with an introductory talk by Sophie and myself on the history of Hong Kong, the Pearl River Delta and their Australian connections.

After lunch we took everyone on a Chinese Australian heritage walking tour to King Yin Lei, a heritage-listed mansion, and the scenic Hong Kong Cemetery.

This evening was free for guests to enjoy the sights of Hong Kong at their leisure.

Jiangmen: 8–9 March 2019

Day 3: Friday, 8 March 2019
Hong Kong – Jiangmen

After breakfast, we travelled by ferry (3 hours) to the river port city of Jiangmen in Guangdong, our first stop in mainland China. Jiangmen, or Kong Moon as it was known, is the historical heart of the See Yup (now Wuyi) district.

In Jiangmen, we visited Li Village, a village within the city, and the bilingual Wuyi Overseas Chinese Museum.

Overnight in Jiangmen.

Kaiping: 9–12 March 2019

Day 4: Saturday, 9 March 2019
Jiangmen – Kaiping

This morning we explored the famous Kaiping diaolou (watchtowers) in beautiful Zili village.

Then we headed to Cangdong village, to learn about village culture and heritage with architectural historian Dr Selia Tan and her team from the Cangdong Heritage Education Centre. We shared a countryside lunch prepared by Cangdong locals and tried our hand at making traditional snacks, crafts and music.

The next three nights we stayed in Kaiping.

Day 5: Sunday, 10 March 2019

We spent the whole day around Cangdong, with lunch in a nearby local restaurant.

We learned about the conservation efforts of Dr Selia Tan and her team, including visits to the rebuilt village temple and restored ancestral halls.

We then enjoyed a relaxed afternoon in the village, with musical performances including the guqin and Cantonese Opera.

Day 6: Monday, 11 March 2019

This morning we visited the magnificent Fengcai Tang, the ancestral hall of the Yu (Yee) clan, with Dr Selia Tan.

After lunch, we attempted to track down a particular village for Sophie, before we visited Baihe Pier – from where goods, people and bones came and went from overseas – and Majianglong, a World Heritage-listed diaolou village.

To finish the day we had a dinner of the local speciality – goose.

Day 7: Tuesday, 12 March 2019
Kaiping – Taishan

This morning we visited the shiny new Kaiping Museum.

In the afternoon, we explored a cluster of Australian Pan (Poon) family villages at Qiaotou and visited the market town of Yueshan, to indulge in a unique afternoon tea experience.

We then drove to Taishan where we would spent the next two nights.

Taishan: 12–14 March 2019

Day 8: Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Guangdong is the home of dim sum, so we started today with a yum cha breakfast in Taicheng, the capital of Taishan, before visiting Meijia Dayuan (a historic market square), Haikou Pier, and the Silver Letter Museum.

After lunch, we enjoyed a free afternoon in Taicheng. Guests could follow our self-guided walking tour of the old town or go on their own adventure.

Xinhui and Zhongshan: 14–16 March 2019

Day 9: Thursday, 14 March 2019
Taishan – Xinhui – Zhongshan

We spent the day exploring ancestral villages of some well-known Chinese Australian merchant families.

In Xinhui we visited Wangchong village, home of merchant James Chen Ah Kew of Wahgunyah, followed by Zhuxiuyuan and Shachong in Zhongshan, the home villages of the Guo (Kwok) family of Wing On and the Ma (Mar) family of Sincere.

We enjoyed dinner at a famed local restaurant in Zhongshan.

Two nights in Zhongshan.

Day 10: Friday, 15 March 2019

Today we had the choice of taking it quietly or exploring the old town centre of Zhongshan, known as Shekki (Shiqi).

One popular route was to wander along historic Sunwen West Road and visit museums (including the excellent Xiangshan Commercial Culture Museum and the quirky China Radio Museum), a local temple and the Ming Dynasty Yandun Pagoda.

This evening we enjoyed a stroll through Sanxi village followed by dinner with a historic twist.

Zhuhai: 16–17 March 2019

Day 11: Saturday, 16 March 2019
Zhongshan – Zhuhai

We visited the Museum of the Former Residence of Sun Yat-sen and the Zhongshan Folklore Culture Museum in Cuiheng village, before stopping at Waisha village to see restoration work that took place since our 2017 tour.

We had lunch and free time at the new Zhuhai Opera House, and then visited the Meixi Royal Stone Archways and house museum of Chinese Hawaiian merchant Chun Afong.

We celebrated our final night together with a farewell dinner overlooking the lights of Xiangzhou harbour.

Overnight in Zhuhai.

Day 12: Sunday, 17 March 2019
Zhuhai – Hong Kong

After a farewell breakfast, we transfered to Jiuzhou Wharf for our ferry to Hong Kong (1 hour), where the tour concluded.