Saturday, February 03, 2018

China: New Year Exodus: 齊豫 Qi Yu: 橄欖樹 Ganlan Shu Pt 1

23 January 2020: Latest News From Wuhan China.
The Wuhan virus will badly affect this year's exodus of the Chinese people when they go home to their provinces to greet the Spring Festival. What is this exodus? This article explains:
A Lunar New Year ang-pow to all. 
A lovely Chinese pop-classic that tells much.


It's a yearly affair where more than 200 million Chinese travel home to their various provinces in mainland China by plane, sea, train, road or on foot, to make sure they are present for the Chinese Lunar New Year family dinner. 

It is a huge exodus. Some news media call it the largest human migration ever that happens yearly in a country of 1.412 billion people. 

There are many reasons why they leave their hometown. Many of them leave to work in the city while some go away as students to study in another province or country. Then there are those who travel far and wide for their own personal reason. Some love to travel and explore the world while others have businesses abroad. But most of them come home for their new year family gathering.

Similarly in Malaysia and Singapore. There's a mini-exodus here when Malaysians working on our island return to their homeland and vice-versa. Buses, taxis, cars, motorcycles, trucks fill the Johore Causeway days before Chinese New Year, resulting in huge jams and heavy traffic.

The theme of being away and to "wander so far", reminds me of this Chinese song by well-known Qi Yu who is a Taiwanese singer, best known for her lovely and melodious rendition of Olive Tree written by her composer/songwriter mentor in 1979. Qi Yu covers English songs too; she is just as popular in Singapore and was here in 2014 for a performance.

I heard this song when I was eating in a Chinese restaurant alone in Winnipeg Canada in the 80's. The music came from the owner's kitchen. The old gentleman came out and explained to me in perfect English what it meant. It's another form of migration, to another country but, never going back home. Which was what he and his family did.

Somehow the haunting melody connected, especially when I was sitting by myself in that empty restaurant (it was cold Winter and no student could afford meals in these places). I was giving myself a treat when the song came on and the thought of being a refugee never came to mind. It was the first time I heard it and I was thousands of miles away from home...

齊豫 Qi Yu (橄欖樹 Ganlan Shu). Video provided by Rock Records.

Mandarin Lyrics:

橄欖樹 Ganlan Shu

李泰祥 Li Taixiang: Music
(三毛) San Mao:Lyrics

不要問我從哪裡來  我的故鄉在遠方 為什麼流浪 流浪遠方 流浪 為了天空飛翔的小鳥  為了山間輕流的小溪 為了寬闊的草原 流浪遠方 流浪 還有還有 為了夢中的橄欖樹橄欖樹 不要問我從哪裡來 我的故鄉在遠方 為什麼流浪 為什麼流浪 遠方 不要問我從哪裡來  我的故鄉在遠方 為什麼流浪 流浪遠方  流浪為了我 夢中的橄欖樹
The olive tree: Screenshot from zzenzero: YouTube 17.08.2017.
English Lyrics

Olive Tree

Don't ask where I have come 
My home is far far away
Why do you wander so far 
Wander so far, wander so far?

For the birds in the sky 
For the clear mountain streams
For the grasslands green and wide
I wander, wander so far

Then is there more?
Yes for the olive tree in my dream
Far far away
For the olive tree of my dream
Far far away.

Enjoy your 2018 doggie Lunar New Year everyone.

Read Part 2. Click below:
According to zzenzero (youtube 2013), the song is from a 1979 movie, Your Smiling Face and written by a lady San Mao. It was interpreted as a song about refugees and a person's wandering ways.

The singer herself explained that Olive Tree represented an ideal but that if this ideal was unattainable then one needed to let it go, or the person became the Olive Tree and vice versa. Never pursue or look for it.

Images: Google. 
YouTube: Acknowledged.



This is the time of the year not to visit China. Cheerio

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Michael for comment. Very true. Too crowded.

JIM LEE said...

Nostalgic when hearing the song... Music sounds familiar... In the late 60's...
Fortunately, I'm home n not at far away land.

With the Internet, the distance is getting less significant. Can talk n see though far away, thru Skype or WhatsApp.


Beautiful voice. Crystal clear.

JOYCELYN said...

A very meaningful song and, her voice is good too.


Big hassle for them especially now with the airline row between China and Taiwan.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for the meaningful comments on both the great exodus and the song. I appreciate such short but timely insights about these postings.

It goes to show what readers focus on and their feel for the subject matter.


Thanks for sharing this hauntingly familiar song from years ago. Never knew the meaning of the lyrics until today. Although the olive tree is not familiar in this part of the world, we have tasted preserved olives. What a warm n heartening music to all wanderers who miss their home!

Will definitely share with my WhatsApp chat group!


Beautiful song and lovely singer. Thanks for making me feel young.

LAM CHUN SEE said...

I love this song.


I cannot help but be struck by the haunting melody and the sense of longing and loneliness; of a person adrift. He is far from his homeland and his home its beauty the warmth and all that is good...

(This is part of an article by Ms SWEE L., which will appear soon as an independent posting. Do watch out for it.)

JACKIE said...

Thanks Andy for sharing this song... I heard this song when I was a kid. Not sure from where but it could be from Rediffusion. I noticed that I got to know a lot of oldies thanks to my parents. This song does stir the emotion of being far away from home.



One other favorite Chinese oldies female singer I like is Lin Dai especially those she sang with Yuen Choon. I like to listen to all those Chinese oldies. Big influence from my father. Unfortunately, I know very little Mandarin as I am English school educated.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

A big thank you to all who replied. I was apprehensive about posting this song but I knew that if it is so familiar then some viewers might remember and write about it.

For me, just listening to the song takes me back to that restaurant in Winnipeg with the overwhelming thick snow and depressingly cold afternoon.

tan510jomast (ex-fried ice) said...

It's so beautiful an article . It's like the swallows of Capistrano ..or those turtles exodus back to beaches to lay eggs. Perharps one day I too will make my exodus to Guangdong province "wo de cong lai difang" (place from where we came). After reading this , I thought of "The Weight" by The Band , which Robbie Robertson wrote, and recorded this for all of you It's about going back..though for the person in the song, it wasn't very welcoming.
To all who do make this exodus, I wish them all a welcoming experience, and a good start to The Year Of The Dog ! Kong Hay Fatt Choy, Seng Ni Huat Chye, Sing Nian Kuai Le.


This song always touches my heart when I hear it. The whole song just brings out all the sadness and sorrows that couldn't be at home.

It just led me to think of the older generation of immigrants who settled down in SG but couldn't go home. Also working in abroad and couldn't find a matching job to settle down in SG.

Or animals whose home were being destroyed by natural disaster or human being. They have to move...lucky ones may be well-taken care in the zoo but with less freedom.

Nevertheless, this song is so classic that I would like to listen once a while but not everyday song.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you, Richard Khan ( October Cherries) for writing this piece. I don't know why your writing is ANONYMOUS. Will rectify somehow.

It's true that we feel homesick when we listen to certain songs. Your reply is sensitive and provides a true picture of people and animals who have lost their homes. I think one needs to experience such a dilemma to understand the true meaning of the lyrics in OLIVE TREE.


Hi Andy

This song is really felt and understood when you are alone very far away from home, in a strange and foreign land.
Just like food - you never really appreciate its value until you have really experienced hunger.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks, Michael,

for your insights and like Stephen you have provided a lot of background information about the songs posted.

Yes, the song laments and is very haunting.


This is a lovely song

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...


WUHAN whole province under quarantine.

Two factors about the posting:

1) the exodus every year; more than 2 and 3 million return home.
2) the song was written by SAN MO, the Hemingway of the East, who committed suicide because of depression.

Please listen to the lament.
Translation has been provided.

facebook chats said...

Thanks to the following who LIKE this post and song:

Kim Yee Wong
Hon Siawlung Alex
Tina Kuek
Leonard Lioe
Kenneth Tan
Maggie Lee


11 million a logistic nightmare

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes Jimmy. It is. And during their Spring Festival. A sign from the Gods? THANKS FOR THE RESPONSE. Sui Pang thank you. Hope all is well in Malaysia?

Thanks to all who responded to this post again.


Hi Andy, yes a haunting song, especially if you are lonely far away from home. This is something you won't really understand until you are in a similar situation. Hi Jimmy, the movement of hundred of millions is a logistic nightmare, but it is only the tip of an iceberg compared with the mental stress. Cheerio

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

True Michael. Haunting and causes a numbing pain when I listen to it and like you said, we won't understand. Thanks Michael for your feedback.


It's so interesting to read this article, cos like you I heard it when I was living in San Francisco in the 80s. This Chinese friend played it on his turntable again and again and again. He doesn't listen to any songs except this according to his wife. I thought the song and melody was haunting and being far away from home I feel the sadness it emotes. She sings it beautifully!!


Hi Andy and Irene, the sadness and loneliness is more the missing of love ones and people dear to you, even pets experience this same feeling.


Looks like the Chinese Govt is wise to clamp down on people leaving Wuhan and done other provinces.I like the lovely voice of Chy’i and her English songs especially “Whoever Finds This ,I Love You “

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

It's an international topic this virus and we all hope China settles in and resolves it. Thanks Irene, Michael and Stephen for the feedback. Personally, replies from readers are so important because we get more information. And Irene your friend must be a sentimentalist. I have done the same with the same song, repeats... Stephen too, we share the same feel for the song. Yes, Michael loneliness - never know till you experience it.


Andy Young
Thanks Fabian, you're the earliest bird. Hope you and others will read about the yearly China exodus; they even have a song for it...

Andy Young
Thanks to Stephen, Daisy and EricBronson for liking this post.

Freda Hanum
Beautiful touching classic song and the singer lady is beautiful too... No wonder the song haunt you Andy hehehe 😀

Andy Young
Freda Hanum yes, very meaningful, considering the happiness of going home to family and the plight of a tedious journey on the way.

Freda Hanum
Andy Young To agree on this Andy...


Freda Hanum
Foo Jong Fook
Stephen Han
Chow Wen Hing
Koh Daisy
Ericbronson Wong
Raymond Cho
Peter Cheong
Chee Chien
Colin Colin