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How to Know Hong Kong and Macau

Roberto Ignacio Diaz, Dominic Cheung, Ana Paulina Lee, Authors

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My mother's return

Relations between China and the United States were improving, but 1980 was not an easy time for international politics. The Iranian Hostage Crisis had been going on for several months; the country and its people were still tense in the middle of the Cold War.

This was the year that my mother went to China for the first time. She had never been to the herng ha in Toisan (in Cantonese, a person's home village is their "herng ha") and she didn't know quite what to expect, except that she didn't dare tell anyone there that she was going to visit. She went with her childhood friend from Hong Kong and my great-grandmother's younger sister, my Gu Po.

It was a strange experience when she arrived. Everyone was wearing drab-colored shapeless uniforms ("Mao uniforms," she called them), and everyone looked mean and angry. But still she felt like she wanted to cry, she said. This was her China. She was afraid of telling the villagers that she had arrived because of how they had treated her family - my great-grandmother, Bak Bak - during the Cultural Revolution; she was afraid they would be angry to see another overseas Chinese with more money, more things, more opportunities. Bak Bak had already suffered enough.

My mother took Bak Bak to Guangzhou to apply for visa to leave China and come to San Francisco.
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