Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Grave-Sweeping Day (清明节)

Last Saturday, my sis and I fly to Kota Bahru, Kelantan for Ching Ming 清明节 (Grave-Sweeping Day). My parent is already there as my dad work at Grand Riverview Hotel in the town center. We woke up at 5.45am (it is too early for anything to wake up) and take a taxi for the airport (we call for our usual taxi driver who stay nearby). The taxi driver is a very talkative guy, so he entertains us along the way. But I was too tired, so I took a long nap.

We fly with AirAsia to Kota Bahru from Kuala Lumpur (the flight cost RM 250 for two way). Dad pick us up and bring us to "White House" coffeehouse to have breakfast. This is a very famous coffeehouse run by an old man, which is famous for coffee, toast and half boil egg. The coffee is just okay, the egg is good and the toast is special. I think it is hand-made bread, felt a bit rough and suitable as toast. We stay at Grand Riverview Hotel, where I spent most of the time eating and sleeping, and watching some lousy TV channel (8TV is not available, argh!).

We woke up early the next morning to go to our grandparent's cemetery (it is the 1st time I went there after 26 years). The place is about 1-hour drive from Kota Bahru, and we shall meet up with our relatives from Kuala Krai there. The Chinese tombstone is quite large and occupies quite some space, and the cemetery area is huge. We perform the Ching Ming ceremony on grandpa's grave first, which include cutting the grass, put some small flags on the soil above the grave, put up some fruits and cakes, light some jostick and candles and burn some hell money. We perform some basic "prayer" and ask for our ancestors' blessing and protection. It took us about 30 minutes and we have a Nasi Kukus break. Then we continue with grandma's grave and drop by my aunt's grave before we leave the place. My grandpa died at 1975 while grandma passed away 4 years earlier (I was not born until 1979). I have seen their old photo in my relative's house in Kuala Krai about 10 years ago. I guess it is good to at least know where your ancestors are buried.

My uncle brought us to Tanah Merah (a small town) to have lunch. Among the dishes is a fresh water fish: Sun Hok (I don't know its English equivalents) which taste very good and extremely expensive as well (RM 135 for the fish). Other dishes such as spring chicken and bitter melon soup are equally good as well. After the lunch, our relatives drop by a fruit distribution center to pickup a few boxes of apple and orange. We bid farewell with each other and went back to Kota Bahru. We spent some time in the hotel again before we take our flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

There is an old Chinese saying "清明时节雨,纷纷路上行人,--欲断魂", roughly translated as it is raining during Ching Ming, and people feel sad along the road (as they visit the graves and missed their loves one). It does rain during grave sweeping, and it is the 1st time it happens according to my relative (usually it is extremely hot). So, maybe it is a sign from our ancestor regarding my sis and I’s first presence?

No comments: