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Before Malaya

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Before Malaya (1837-1854)

Yap Ah Loy was born in Tam Shui village in the Kwai Yap district of the Fui Chui prefecture in the Southern Chinese province of Guangdong, on the eighth day of the second moon of the seventeenth year of the Emperor Tao Kong. that is on 14th March 1837. He was therefore by descent, a Hakka of the Fui Chui clan.

At this time, the Qing Dynasty was already in its decline. Yap Ah Loy was 3 years old when the Opium War broke out between China and Great Britain at the battlefield of Dongyuan Wumen, not far from his village. When he was 15 years old, worsening poverty and limited fertile land fueled the Taiping uprising in the Guangdong and Guangxi provinces. The put down of the uprising by the Qing army was particularly bloody, and few families were left unscathed.

Junk: the ships that transported thousands of Chinese to Malaya and other Southeast Asian destinations in the 19th century.

In the midst of this tumultuous time, thousands of Chinese left their home to escape in search of better lives in foreign lands. In 1854, Yap Ah Loy left for Malacca in Malaya from Macao with 80 bronze coins.

His journey was described as follows:

"At Macao, he embarked in a junk, and voyaged out over the deep, wide ocean. The junk sailed southwards to Malaya. He was full of hope, though his property consisted of no more than eighty dollars in Chinese currency and a few cheap pieces of luggage. The junk sailed for more than a month, and passed through many dangers, before it reached Malacca. When at last he landed he found himself in a place very different from China. The scenery, with the tall coconut and betel palms and the small attap houses, was new and attractive to him. The unhappy time he had experienced during the long voyage was totally forgotten. He was as peaceful and at ease as the blue sky over the Southern Ocean." 

 

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The History of Yap Ah Loy
This page was last modified on September 12, 2000