A journey home after 35 years

We just got back from a trip to my hometown of Shuibu next to the city of Taisheng. Well, technically I’m from one of the outlying villages of Shuibu. My village and most of the outlying villages have remained fairly intact although most of the inhabitants have moved into the town or the city.


Lake in Taisheng


New apartment (one of many) by the lake


An afternoon rest in Taisheng


Lake at night in Taisheng


Pedestrian shopping street in Taisheng (though bikes and electric bikes careen through here too)

My mother’s friends arranged for us to visit the home that I left at the age of seven. It was a surprising mix of emotions seeing it through adult eyes after a 35-year absence. Prior to seeing it, I only had a couple of fuzzy memories, so fuzzy as to be possibly made up. The minute I saw the house though I recognized it. And then memories started coming that I must have locked away. This was likely aided by the fact that the inside of the house was like a time capsule. Everything in the house was almost exactly the way they were on the day we left for Canada. How different my life would have been if we had not left.


By the entrance of my village. When I was a child here, there was a stone table with four stone stools at the spot where the kids are sitting. I use to get clay from the pond and play with it on the table.


Front of my house. There use to be a gardenia hedge in the front and a fenced vegetable garden on the right.


Path at the back of my house


Door of my house. I remember the shadow of that door falling across the floor as I sat playing.


My mother pointing at the spot where our well is located. Someone is using it to house their chickens now.


The concrete stairs that I fell down. I still carry a scar of that accident on my left cheek.


The bed I shared with my mother and brother. Notice the wooden boards and bamboo mat rolled up on top of it. They would have been placed on the bed to form our “mattress”.


The basket that I and then my brother slept in as a baby.


Our stove with a stack of wood still beside it and dishes in the cupboard neatly stacked above. How we left it 35 years ago.


Five original keys


My mother and the pail she used to get water from the well (see earlier photo of the well)

After a visit to my village, we went to visit my mother’s ancestral village, which was much further into the hills. Along the way, we passed several other villages. It was really interesting to see that each village had it’s own distinct flavour. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos from the vehicle we were travelling in due to the windy bumpy roads.


Old kitchen in ruins in one of the homes in the village


Doorway of my mother’s ancestral home


Family altar at my mother’s ancestral home


A family photo of my grandmother, one of her sisters, her children and some of their spouses and three grandchildren. My mother is the second from the left.

Our morning in the countryside ended with a really unique lunch arranged by my mother’s friends. Locally grown taro, potatoes and meat were placed inside a mound of clay earth; covered with coals and a large metal lid; and baked until everything came out delicious and juicy.


Taking the earth off and getting ready to lift the lid


My honey bringing home the bacon err… chicken

It was an exceptionally memorable day and I was so happy that I was able to share it with my husband and children. It’s going to be neat to hear Isabella’s perspective on this day.


20 thoughts on “A journey home after 35 years

  1. Wow. These photos are amazing. I can’t imagine what it was like for to go back after all that time. It must have been quite an experience for the kids to see things exactly as you left them. Right down to the baby basket!
    I just loved this post. It’s great that you were also able to experience it with your mom. She must have been so happy to share that with Isabella and Dominic.
    I can’t wait to read Isabella’s perspective…
    Keep posting. We’re loving it. Charlotte read Isabella’s posts to everyone over dinner. Very cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will tell Isabella that Charlotte reads her posts to everyone over dinner. She will love to hear that. She’ll be typing up her post on the village tomorrow. She wrote it today.


  2. Wow! What an experience for both you and the rest of the family. So emotional and thought provoking I’m sure. Shirley, does your family still own this home? No one else lives there now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes we still own the home Melissa. Any homes owned by people that have immigrated elsewhere still remain theirs. Usually the families send money home to someone for taking care of it. No one lives there.


      • So interesting. In a small way, kind of like leaving your home here in Toronto…but on a shorter scale! When the kids come home, everything will be where they left it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We’ve been having a lot of problems getting consistent and reliable internet connection. It’s also affected our email so sometimes I might not see the notices for comments or be able to reply. I just looked through all the folders and approved them all. Strange as some don’t need approval at all.


  3. Thanks for sharing! Really enjoyed the pictures. That would be a great experience for the kids to see the house and to appreciate the differences with the house in Toronto. Love the vegetation!

    Liked by 1 person

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