Qingming festival

Today is a traditional Chinese festival called Qingming (清明节) on which families go and visit their ancestor’s graves. On the Chinese mainland this and other traditional festivals have not been promoted to be celebrated, as they were seen as some kind of superstition since the Liberation in 1949. But also there it is still alive and even having a renaissance as it became again a public holiday in China again in 2008. In Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Qingming is an important family feast and Lamma Island today was full of visitors bringing flowers and little sacrifices and burning “paper money” at the graves. Latter habit kept the Island’s fire brigade at hight alert the whole day, because we had dry weather and the tombs often are a source of large hill fires. 

The Wikipedia entry in Qingming says that the celebration goes back to Emporer Xuanzong who introduced it in 732 to curb the number of expensive celebrations and limit them to one day only.

I went went to the cemetery on Lamma Island up the hill from Hung Shing Ye Beach and wondered about the grave carrying a German name of Gerd Heinz Balke who died here in 2000 at the young age of 51. I found that he was a German engineer and the author of the books Paradise fermenting and Skull dance. He lived in Po Wah Yun which is a village here on the island and the title picture of his book Paradise fermenting, a tattooed dragon, was taken by Bob Davis. Michael LaRocca in an interview speaks about his books and that he suddenly died of a heart attack. I will see whether I find a copy in the Bookworm Cafe in Yung Shue Wan

There were some fresh flowers at his grave today.

P.s. In August 2018, nearly a decade after this was posted, I was contacted though this website by a former classmate of Gerd Balke. They both studied civil engineering at the Applied University of Wuppertal. Kindly, I was also told far more about the life of Gerd and the (for me) mysterious grave on Lamma Island. The classmate also sent me an article with public information on Gerd, which I attach here for download (click here). He was returning from a Silk Road trip, before he passed away in 2000 suddenly. I am very thankful that I was contacted and my little website proofs continously to be a repository for special interests - This Post Scriptum was added on September 19th, 2018 in Tilburg (Netherlands).