China – Guangdong – Jieyang

Went on a weekend trip to Jieyang (揭阳) to visit some relatives with my parents. Jieyang is a small prefecture city in Guangdong province. Although the predominant spoken language is teochew, apart from the really old, most people understands and speak Chinese as well. Like most Chinese cities, it is rapidly developing from farming and agriculture into medium and light industries. This industrialization brings much wealth to the people, as evident by the numerous plots of land, factories, and high rise condominiums owned by my cousins. According to my relatives, electricity had only been introduced to their house 40years ago. Gone were the days where they had to write to us, asking for donations of clothes or money. Now, on comparison, they seem better off than us…

My journey begain with a jetstar plane out from Singapore Changi airport to Jieyang Chaoshan airport. The flight journey is about 3.5hrs, and cost about SGD$200 one way inclusive of taxes. With a budget airline, you can’t expect the seats to be comfortable. However, given the relative emptiness of the plane, one can take up an entire row of 3 seats and sleep horizontally comfortably :D. However, given that this flight is flying into and out of China, and am appalled by the cabin crew’s command of Chinese. 

Upon arrival at Jieyang Chaoshan airport, I was overwhelmed by my relatives that came to pick us up. Feels as if we were mobbed – all our luggages were taken from us, and we were ‘escorted’ to their cars. Jieyang Chaoshan airport is a small international and domestic airport, with only a handful of shops selling souvenirs and food. Like most airports in China, there is an airport express bus service, ferrying passengers to and from various locations in downtown and rural Jieyang, at a fraction of the cost of a cab. There is a bus that stops directly in front of the hotel I am staying at, and cost only RMB$24.

Airport express bus counter at Jieyang Chaoshan airport to town
Airport express bus schedules. The fourth row’s bus goes to Hefeng International Business Hotel.

So, my relatives ‘escorted’ us to the hotel I pre-booked, Hefeng international business hotel (和丰国际商务酒店). It is a relatively new hotel, just opened in 2011, and has a ‘five-star’ rating. The most famous hotel in Jieyang is Rongjiang Hotel, and on retrospect, I should have booked that, as it oversees the Rong River and supposedly has better view. However, it was also the oldest ‘five-star’ hotel in Jieyang, first opened in 2005. And according to some comments online, the rooms were musky and service wasn’t great. Hefeng on the other hand, was situated next to a shopping mall, Guangbai Departmental Stall. Service at Hefeng was good, and rooms were really clean and spacious, with very comfortable beds and pillows. There is a free wifi spot in every room, which means you get a strong dedicated signal. Speed was good enough to watch HD movie streaming off China websites. Towels, coffee, tea and mineral water were replaced everyday, together with a meal voucher for breakfast. Don’t be too excited about the breakfast though. Selection was mediocre, and generally quite salty. I only ate it for the first day, and skipped it thereafter. Nonetheless, what do you expect from a RMB$10 breakfast? Hotel rooms were RMB$258 per night, and we stayed for 3 nights.

Hotel lobby
Twin single beds. Relatively spacious room. Clean and tidy. No weird odors.
The toilet.

Public transportation around Jieyang is under-developed. There is no subway, and public buses are almost non-existent. Students walk or cycle to school, while adults ride their motorized vehicles to work. It was afterall a small farming town some 10 years ago. However, urbanization was rapid and much of the rural farmlands I saw 5 years ago, were already converted to 6-9 stories high factories/houses.

My first dinner in Jieyang was at a upscale restaurant called Dong Fang Yu Chun (东成渔村). Food was fantastic, and I ranked it as the number one restaurant I have tried in Jieyang. Though it is pricey in terms of Jieyang’s cost of living. For RMB$800 the group of 7 of us were ushered to a private room with a attached bathroom and pantry, and a couch where a tea set was placed for tea drinking. We were served about 10 dishes of fish, squid, oyster omelette, stewed duck, stewed cabbages, some cakes… Service was excellent. We had a dedicated waitress attending to our every needs, and frequently changing our plates, and our hot towels.

Dong Chen Yu Chun restaurant.
Chef preparing food
Restaurant lobby. Yup. It has a lobby!!! It is 4 stories high.
They gave us a private room! Look how spacious it is. At the back there are sofas for tea drinking.
Collage of the fantastic food

Other places we had our meals were not that wonderful, but sufficiently good in quality. One of the most expensive one must be the restaurant in Zhong Tian Wen Hua Hotel (中天文化酒店). Food was elaborately presented with lots of garnishes, and decorative carving. However, to my disappointment, it didn’t taste as good as it looked, and service was really bad. No one came to change our plates or refill our tea.

On this trip, I realized my relatives were quite well-to-do people in Jieyang, each owning a piece of land, and staying in 6-9 stories houses, they built for themselves, I also realized that buying an apartment in Jieyang, cost more, at least 2-3 times more, than building your own 9 stories house! My cousin attributed this to the location of his apartment, which faced the Rong river, a much coveted view. Then it struck me that my flat in Singapore cost as much as buying a piece of 150sqm land and building a 9 stories house on it, with private lift and interior furnishing. And to my astonishment, this cousin is in the business of printing money – paper money. He even joked that the money he prints is universal across all countries and banks.

Old architecture, preserved since pre-communist era. It used to be surrounded by farmland.
And I thought I will only see this on tv. A typical Chinese quandrangle, or Siheyuan (四合院).
Benches and ancestor altar.
Elaborate wooden beam sculpture.
Intricate wooden carving on door.
Old houses
Walkway between the old houses
Doors of these old houses.
Stacks of paper money in one of my cousin’s factory
Printing money

On our sightseeing days, we visited a couple temples, and the West Lake of Jieyang. All these scenic spots paled in comparison to those offered by other Chinese cities, like Hangzhou, Shanghai, Qingdao… 

Temple next to the Rong river tributary.
Temple altar
Furnace
Some other temple… there are so many temples.
Carvings on temple wall
Chicken resting under a table tennis table.
Wall outside Confucius temple
Back of the previous wall
Confucius and his disciples.
Front yard of the Confucius temple. The lake is round, and symbolizes the continuity of all things.

The main temple complex
Exhibit of Confucius and his teachings were on displays in the numerous wings of the compound.
Next I went to the nearby Dual-peak temple (双峰寺). This is a Buddhist temple.
Goddess of mercy.

Hall of scriptures.
More temples. This is the most famous temple in Jieyang. Chen Huang Miao. This is a taoist temple. Legend has it that a river spirit used to live in the Rong River and saved people from drowning. In view of the good deeds this river spirit performed, the Gods decided to make it a deity. And this is the temple where the river spirit became a deity.
Drum tower

Nontheless, Jieyang is a city full of history. Given a few more years, it will no doubt catchup in development with the more developed cities of Beijing and Shanghai. Afterall, it already has an international airport.

Dec 2013

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4 thoughts on “China – Guangdong – Jieyang

  1. Hi Jimmy, thank you for your frank insight of Jie Yang and all the useful informations. I am brining my parents there this October. My dad is 85 years , he told me that he would like to visit his ancestors home which is in Jie Yang. Unfortunately we have no trace of any of our relatives because my grandfather was born in Malaysia. This is will be our first visit to our ancestors home.

  2. HI Jimmy,

    Thank you for the insight. Will definitely try out the 东成渔村!!! Ü

    I’ll be traveling to JieYang with my parents and kids in the last week in September. Like Rose Wang, I’m just bringing my dad back to visit his ancestor home.

    How many days did u stay in JieYang? And how many days do u think i should be staying in Jieyang? Did u go to Shantou? Direct flight to Jieyang means we will only reach the hotel at night. Am thinking of staying additional 2 more nights and depart to Hangzhou on the 4th day morning.

    Do u suggest He Feng International Hotel or Rong Jiang Hotel to be more suitable for family?

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    1. Hi. I stayed 3 nights in He Feng. I have never stayed in Rong Jiang before, but my relatives do stay there from time to time. Rong Jiang is next to the river, so it is more ‘touristy’ (not that there are many tourists there). But that is something you can do in the evening. He Feng is next to a shopping mall, but its too pricey for the locals.

      I did visit Shantou, as my relatives drive. So they took us there for food and sight see.

      Yes. We reached Jieyang at night too. If you stay in Rong Jiang, it wouldn’t be a problem, as its famous. Not many cabbys know about He Feng, as it is new then. I am not sure of the situation now.

      ENJOY YOUR TRIP!!! My parents still miss the food in DONG CHENG…

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