Post by chansomvia on Sept 22, 2013 6:50:17 GMT -5
Hello Helen and lachinatown
I attach a write-up of the first ever combined Lion and Dragon teams from the main cities of New Zealand of Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch which gave performances and exhibition of the Chinese Culture. My son George of the Christchurch Qiao Yi Lion Dance team organised the event in our earthquake damaged city to celebrate the Moon Cake Festival. My other son Evan was the main drummer for the Lion Dance team from Simi Valley/Thousand Oaks area from 2001 to 2008 and this team participated in most of the Chinese Cultural shows in Los Angeles whilst he was there.
Post by chansomvia on Sept 23, 2013 6:31:09 GMT -5
Thanks for letting me know there will be another banana conference next year in Auckland. I have been traveling quite a lot, firstly to UK to meet my brother and extended family there. he had a stroke but fully recovered physically but mentally he suddenly realised that we need to keep in touch whilst we are still fit, hence the big family gathering. He was very keen to know I visited our village and met some of our remaining folks there. I need to go to spend a month in Florida to take a holiday with my brother-in-law and sister next month, hence put off any plans to go to China in November.
There seems to be quite a lot of Toisan people from China in Christchurch, they seem to be parents of immigrants, there is also a Siyip Association in Christchurch but have not touched base with them. I am a member of the Canterbury Chinese Association but they seem to have stagnated, too many old folks, unable to act as the main umbrella body for the Chinese as they cater for the Cantonese market gardener type of people.
There is an increasing variety of mooncakes in Christchurch, many made locally and quite a few imported. We has some specials from Singapore and Malaysia as our niece came down to attend the Full Moon celebration of my latest grand-daughter. As usual mooncakes with egg yolks or meat are mot allowed into NZ or OZ which does not matter to me; I however was upset when they would not allow a handfull of SunWui orange peel which was dried for over two years. I do miss in NZ a genuine TanPei Ngap.
Post by douglaslam on Sept 23, 2013 9:01:03 GMT -5
Joe, mooncakes with meat and duck egg yolks are allowed into Australia from Hong Kong if the cakes are certified by trade department officials to have been baked above a certain temperature. This, I was told years ago by a Chinatown importer. Only certain traditional Chinese style bakeries in Hong Kong have the accreditation. For example, our mooncakes are by the well known bakery Wing Wah 榮華 of Hong Kong.
Similarly, I thought bird's nest soup would be banned outright. Not so. Again, I talked to a retailer who told me the importer had to fund the full cost of sending a quarantine official to the exporting country, to observe every step of the production process. This is to ensure all possible disease-carrying bacteria, germs, bugs, parasites, or whatever are killed off. It is very costly, and must be fully complied. No wonder they are so bloody expensive.
Last Edit: Sept 24, 2013 7:26:54 GMT -5 by douglaslam
Post by chansomvia on Sept 24, 2013 7:00:04 GMT -5
Thanks for your clarification of how certain mooncakes can enter Australia, one of the worse thing for me is to stand in front of a Custom officer after a lengthy tiring flight having him cut the mooncakes to check what is inside as they are not usually convinced that they do not contain duck egg yolks or meat. I usually chuck them into the arrival bin at the airport as these mooncakes, usually given by well meaning friends as hand carry at the departure hall, causes more trouble than what it is worth if I am not traveling with my wife. These are not the only bloody expensive things that the Chinese are being ripped off; my friend's wife spent a fortune on a Chinese charlatan selling extremely expensive useless Chinese herbs to unsuccessfully treat her terminally ill husband who died an undignified death; my friend was caught in a Gold Mountain returnee ceremony where he was told that it was customary to clear the graves, buy food and other offerings to appease the spirits, and feed the whole village and dispense red packets like confetti. The richer you are the more "relatives" you have. Sorry douglaslam for being so cynical as my own experience, in returning to the village unannounced for a flying visit as a man who had to work hard all his life with not a too deep pocket, is a much happier and pragmatic one.
There is a certain trepidation expressed by some of our members returning for the first time to the village that they may not be doing the "right" things according to the traditions or customs - there is no set rule of how many roast pigs to bring to the grave-site, there is no set rule of who to give the red packets to or the amount or the currency, how many times to bow, all these are man made rules and open to abuse. The more affluent you appear to be or more gullible the more the "rules" changes. There is always a feel of "guilt" that somehow a tradition was not followed to perfection.
Hence this forum has given so much sage advise in so many ways, joining this forum gave me the confidence to just up and go to see the village with basic information supplied by the knowledgeable experts, finding one link led to another, taking care not to be conned in making an elaborate ceremony but at the same time showing respect to the relatives living in the villages.
I look forward to going back again and staying at a hotel near the village, I want to learn much more before there is no-one left to recount the life as our parents knew it.
Last Edit: Sept 24, 2013 7:04:33 GMT -5 by chansomvia: added comment
Post by douglaslam on Sept 24, 2013 8:31:46 GMT -5
Joe, after so many trips to China lately, I am wise-up about Australian Customs regulations. For example, I like our preserved black olives, and one year Customs had them all impounded for they were deemed not commercially packed, and therefore not dried in high enough temperatures. We now pack the olives in brand new branded plastic bags, and seal them ourselves. I steer away from any meat or egg product.
In China, I do not hide the fact that I am just a blue collar worker, I dress in shorts, T shirt and thongs, hardly the attire of a gold mountain returnee. I also have my well-meaning minders in the early visits to fend off peaky individuals. I don't fall for any swindling tricksters. Of course, I do give away money to a few, and throw a dinner party on each visit. People know me well by now. I can make my way home by public transport alone and unaided.
The Forum is valuable to the uninitiated. First timer can do better by engaging a helper like Henry's nephew who has your best interest at heart. He can deal with any situation as it arises. It is worth the modest amount. He helped me greatly last year in finding Fay Chee's home village.
For my trip in November, I have three or four cases to follow up. Three people supposed to join me, all had to pull out due to different reasons. That means I am going to have more time to do my own things.
Post by chansomvia on Sept 25, 2013 7:18:02 GMT -5
I have great respect for your factual no frill report of the many visits you have made to the villages and various cities in China, I am particularly impressed at the way you participated in dealing with the lost relatives. A minder is very important, be it a friend or someone like Henry's nephew, it save a lot of time gleaning information from a lot of elderly people. Most of the younger generation are usually away from the villages as there is little scope for advancement.
Like you I intend to muck in with the villager, by staying in the local traveler's inns and eating the local food, but not the more exotic variety. I am wary of the self proclaimed elders who sets up rules and keeps harping on the need to follow traditions, too many of these traditions are cherry picked myths to assuage their ego or line their pockets. My deep distrust is based on my first visit to Hong Kong to look for my father's grave, he was the sole bread-winner of a family of five surviving children in a foreign country with a mother from China who had no skills and very rudimentary knowledge of the local language. He went to Hong Kong in 1948 and died in 1949 seeking treatment for his long illness. We managed to scrape through till I was able to go and seek his grave. We had been sending what little money we could afford to our relatives in Hong Kong who said that his grave needed cleaning and burning of joss sticks etc for the annual Chin Ming. I went after 10 years of blue collar work to Hong Kong and was given the merry go round around the graves in Hong Kong as no-one knew where his body was laid. It would appear that his body was moved after a certain amount of years to make way for another body, this seem to be the norm for the place is short of fresh burial grounds. No-one followed up the move. I therefore have little love for the relatives who have been pocketing the Ching Ming money for years, without attending my father's grave, and I can now never find my father's last resting place. My energy is now to trace what sort of life he had before he left China, and I look at these Chinese ceremonial rituals from a very dispassionate viewpoint.
This is why I find sincere people like you and others in this forum extremely honourable, willing to share and help the lost without any expectations of a monetary gain. In fact I know a lot of the forum members going out of their way to get information at their own expense and time, I am indeed grateful that there are people like you.
So much for digressing, but I take things with a pinch of salt when I see how pedantic some of the traditions are raked up. For those who are feeling guilty for not following the "traditions and multitude of customs" take heart in an advise I had from an old lady after attending a funeral who saw I did not know of the many protocols of a Chinese funeral, she pulled me to one side and quietly said " It is no disrespect if you do not know the traditions and pay respects in the way you know and do it from your heart".