House in Bamboo Garden
The Chou Family village home in the once-rural area of Punyu is now consumed by the urban demands of Guangzhou. Located in the Bamboo Garden Village in Bai Yun near the Guangzhou airport, the stately home was originally built in the middle of rice paddies. Through the maze of six to seven-story buildings haphazardly built in the 80’s and 90’s, the narrow alleyways lead to this peaceful oasis.
The house is the oldest remaining home in the village. A few remaining pieces of furniture shown above survived the past. The family residence remains unoccupied, but hopefully its redeeming features will support new life and purpose.
An Tang Village
A search for the Lum Family house in An Tang Village proved to be more challenging. The house no longer exists, but finding the precise location was also elusive. The search demands people, place, and time. Rickety 80’s and 90’s adhoc housing sprinkled throughout the village similar to that found in Bamboo Garden obscure landmarks. Being in a more rural setting, the An Tang Village contained more traditional village houses. This could be related to funding, demand and proximity to an urban area.
We located the home of my mother’s uncle. Adjacent to it was a 20’s era clinic. It reminded me of the contemporary style of Sun Yat Sen’s Residence in Hong Kong. Athough unoccupied, it appears to be a historic building ripe for attention and TLC.
The series of Ancestral Temples made the village visit worthwhile. In addition to the artwork that preserves the legacy of the Lum Family, local street murals scattered throughout the village provided inspiration for its residents.
One could never escape a stay in Guangzhou without being first confronted, then blown away by the exquisite simplicity of flavors and unadulterated freshness of ingredients. The consistency of quality is truly remarkable. Restaurants compete for business. Reputation is everything. Now add innovation and creativity to rival any five-star presentation.
In one restaurant, a huge automated lazy susan brings the food to you. Similar to the sushi boat concept, you barely have to “lift a finger” to get the food to your plate!
Despite the herculean feat of moving teaming masses of humanity, public transit in Guangzhou is still a frightening, mesmerizing, and astounding experience. High speed trains get you from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and other remote areas in less than an hour, buses interconnect to desired locations, and the internet provides information and easy ticket orders.
Nevertheless, the human experience is overwhelming. The length of the new Guangzhou South Railway Station is .6km and it takes nearly 5 minutes to transverse it! (See https://www.railway-technology.com/projects/newguangzhou/
Having worked on the HK Mass Transit Railway when its first line was under construction, I am at a loss at how to improve this situation. This development addresses mankind’s needs and for the time being, it is about as good as it gets.
4 thoughts on “Searching for (Lotus) Roots: Village Visits”
Quite the contrast between old and new.
Good observation. I wish village preservation could be accomplished like what Melissa and I saw in Matera, Italy, where the village was not destroyed by new housing construction . It’s too late, but maybe there’s some way to preserve residential uses with new commercial development.
Loved seeing this. Looks like they just up and left last week! Contrary to Gilbert’s family home in Nan Ling tsuen also in Baiyan district. Guangzhou.
Hmm…now you’ve got me wondering how far Gil’s village was from Juk Jai Yuen (Bamboo Village). If it was in Baiyun, it certainly was not far. The house is not occupied, but maintained by a caretaker. Did you live in a rural environment or in a burgeoning village when you visited? Either way, it must have been a memorable and life-changing experience, especially with your entire family!! Thanks for sharing !