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!