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Royal Wedding @ Confluence Castle - April 18-20, 2006

(Wedding party at "Confluence Castle". TonyB on the upper left. Mr DickStock below him. Targ & aFeng in the centre)

What has Lamma's "Confluence King of China" (as the SCMP called him in a feature, see left) been up to since we've heard from him last in the Lamma-zine, when he was setting another record for most confluence points visited in China? He's successfully visited 144 confluence points so far, mostly all over China and is planning to conquer a lot more. He's been building an 18-room "castle" in rural China and getting married there in the traditional style of the home village of his charming bride and co-confluencer aFeng!

He's the undisputed "Confluence King of China", marrying his "queen" (see right) in a new "castle-sized" house, that's how the title of this story was inspired. We've got a first-hand account from his friend TonyB who took along his eldest daughter. She's already fluent in Mandarin and attended the village school (see the brown-haired girl on the left, being the center of attraction).

There are also loads of wedding pictures I've selected personally from Targ's huge hard disk at home. Their home, up a hundred (or more!) stairs in Tai Peng, overlooks the luscious Yung Shue Long valley with a sunset view that is not so different from the all-green views from Confluence Castle.

TonyB:  Targ's friend, co-worker and fellow confluence hunter:

I find myself writing this story several weeks after Targ's wedding while sitting in the comfortably air-conditioned office, south side of Hong Kong.  It's not often that my travels leave me short for words, but what I saw, heard, felt and experienced just a few short weeks ago can never fully articulate "The Wedding".

The suggestion and the seed was planted about a year ago when Targ and aFeng decided that they could not live apart any longer and decided to tie the knot.  It was a very small, simple and quick ceremony at Hong Kong City Hall attended by the bride & groom, a JP along with 2 witnesses and a beautifully gurgling baby and mummy.

It was certainly a nice ceremony, but "unique" it was not.  It just didn't fit the character that I knew as Targ, so I asked:  "When will the Village wedding be taking place?  When will we get to hear the drums, horns, firecrackers, the chattering villagers?"  Little did I know that my words would trigger a set of events, which culminated with the 3-day wedding attended by family and friends from around the world along with countless local villagers celebrating the ceremony in honor of Targ and aFeng.

LongFeng is small farming community, tucked into one corner of GuangXi province, just over the border from Guangdong province.  The remoteness means that a long bus trip is the only viable transport option that takes approximately 12 hours door to door from Hong Kong.  We undertook the trip with Targ, 6 members of the Aussie gang which included Targ’s father, sister along with partners and kids and the ever-present Richard [Mr DickStock - Editor], the resident videographer from Lamma.  The end of the journey signaled the beginning of the celebrations.  Upon leaving the bus, we were warmly greeted by aFeng and her wonderful family who welcomed us to their home for the next 4 days.

The next day signaled a heightened level of activity all over the house and the surrounding area.  The day started with the slaughter of 2 pigs, a rabbit and numerous chickens in preparation of the feast next day.  The cutting, cleaning, chopping, dicing continued along side of steaming, frying, braising, stewing.  While all that was going on, extra bowls, tables, chairs, chopsticks, plates were being delivered to the house by a constant stream of visitors and well-wishers from the surrounding area.

If that was not enough, there were 2 other sources of frantic activities.  The back area of the house was taken over by a sizeable crew who were constructing a stage for the 3-day opera while inside the house itself, last minute construction was going on to finish the tiles, the hot water heater, the shower and, most importantly, the flushable toilets.  To the relief of the visitors from afar, works were completed soon after dark which allowed everyone to take long-waited showers.  To the joy of local villagers, the stage was completed which allowed for a 3-hour long opera conducted in the local dialect.

The wedding day itself was a big blur of frantic activity, punctuated throughout with loud ceremonies.  It could have been the endless supply of fireworks, it could have been the continuous sounds of the celebratory drums and horns, it could well have been the opera singers who played again for their second night well into the night.  The combination of sounds contributed to the atmosphere of joy and celebration.  The previous day's preparations were in evidence throughout the day and were received and appreciated by the guests.

The day started with the lion dance, which literally lasted all day long.  After Targ and aFeng were suitably dressed for the occasion, the lion surrounded by the ever-present drums and horns led a large procession from the house to the local temple for offerings and blessings.  The return trip through the rice fields was just as musical and colorful as the trip there.  The day continued with the food of previous days' preparations.  The endless stream of guests took part in copious portions of food and drink.  Some traditions transcend all cultures!  The happy guests' bellies full of food and minds full of drink continued on till late into the night and they fully enjoyed the second night of the opera.

As with all large celebrations, the festivities must eventually come to an end.  Usually the hosts are left with wonderful memories, a wicked hangover and a large amount of cleanup; not necessarily in that order.  For the lucky guests, the next day, which was also the last full day in LongFeng, was a time for some quiet hiking, some peaceful resting and contemplation of the simple life that is no longer available in the hustle and bustle of large cities.  Slowly, the tables were gathered, the bottles collected, the bowls washed and the rooms were cleaned.  The evening hours were spent in friendly conversation, more picture taking and the third and final day of the opera.

It is with great thanks I tip my hat to Targ.  With this undertaking, not only did he achieve his top-most goal of happiness with his lovely bride, but in the process provided a group of guests the opportunity to experience a part of life that would not have been possible otherwise.

It is with great admiration I wish Targ and aFeng a wonderful future together!

Photos taken by Targ and several relatives:

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