I remember sleeping in one of these rooms. I remember the temple. I remember waking in the very early hours of the morning to the chants. I remember the winding path up to the ‘farm’. I remember the entrance foyer. I remember the winding path – too narrow for anything large I remember the iron archway – the entrance to the land beyond. I remember the furniture.
… this is the ‘farm’ and I remember coming here with my family when I was still a teenager! This, I think, was my grandfather’s escape … but it is also the place where he and his three brothers and their wives, as well as my great grandmother, are buried.
Many of us gathered here last Sunday at the ‘farm’ for lunch and to visit the property. Some of my relatives had never been here. We feasted well, as you do in Hong Kong, swapping stories and picking up more family information, and then we visited the grave sites.
I remember thinking this was such a grand residence, with the parquetry floors so carefully patterned, the ceramic bowls and containers, ornate barred windows and rooms – there were so many rooms. This was a spectacular place for one man. All the bedrooms had lockable doors as well as wardrobes and beds and each had a bathroom (some with full baths others with corner showers). All those rooms are numbered, just like a hotel room and the keys were hung on a numbered board downstairs. To my mind, only hotel rooms are numbered. It was a strange feeling standing in these rooms and I am sure my memory is not distorted by the passing of time.
Now it is not so grand. The house is old and musty, crusty even. It is weary and showing its age; paint is peeling, walls are cracked and sort of sagging with age. Many rooms have mould marking the passing of time. Parts have been repaired but much is still required. The water still runs but with a rattle or two through the pipes trying to tell their tales, just like the whispers I heard as I walked the halls before all the ‘family’ arrived for the feast and the whispers were drowned out. The bedrooms still have their room numbers attached to the architrave above although some of the digits are missing. The room keys though, they still remain, two of each although I couldn’t locate the key board. The front room on the second floor is now a family room with the old back and white photographs and all the other articles where family members can pay respects to our ancestors.
Even through time has passed, and even through age has weakened and wearied this place, the building still is stunning. It is a reflection of grandeur, of a time that seemed to me so unbelievable then, when to travel across the equator by plane was an enormous adventure. This is a really special place.
Awestruck I was then — and still amazed now. The graves are all important, but more on those later. This is family!
More on the Carolinas later but Pam Vaughan (official photographer for the New England conference last weekend) has just sent me oodles and poodles of photos … so if you don’t want to see piccies of me in action – then look away now! There are photos of me with friends, of me panelling, photos […]