Redhead junk boats, a symbol of the hardworking people of Chaoshan, are also a connection between the local folk and overseas Chinese of Chaoshan descent as over 200 years ago, millions of Chaoshanese boarded the vessels and left their home to seek a better life. Zhanglin Port, recently selected as one of the top eight tourist sites in Shantou, was their departure point.
Zhanglin, a name that once appeared on an 18th-century European nautical chart, is known as one of the three departure ports of China’s marine silk road.
During the reigns of Emperor Yongzheng (1722 -1735) and Emperor Qianglong (1736-1795) in the Qing Dynasty, the coastal areas in Southeast China suffered from famine. Encouraged by the government, merchants in Chaoshan boarded redhead junks and sailed to Thailand to purchase rice.
Between 1722 and 1861, over 1.4 million people left for Thailand by junk boat from Zhanglin Port.
Over the years, the glory of once-flourishing communities in Zhanglin has faded away. Yet the history still lives on in the bricks and tiles of the old houses lying silently near the ancient port.
Pettitoes rice, a local cuisine known as the Chinese fast food of 200 years ago, also comes from Zhanglin port culture. As a busy port, Zhanglin was home to many porters. Among many choices provided by restaurants near the port, they found that pettitoes rice, cheap and served quickly, could provide the energy needed to do the physically demanding work on ports and ships. Gradually, it grew popular among the porters and became known as a local Zhanglin cuisine.
In Chaoshan, Zhanglin is also known for its sugar apples. The fruit, originating from Southeast Asia, was introduced to the port by merchants coming on redhead junks.
Take bus 101 to Zhanglin Ancient Port Stop, bus 102 to Wujin Gongjucheng Stop, or Chenghaihezhou Special Line/bus 210 to Subei Middle School Stop