Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Binlang Yu(檳榔嶼) in Taiwan

Binlang Yu(檳榔嶼)was an old Chinese name for today's Penang Island. It was reported that the name was given by Admiral Zheng He of Ming dynasty during his expeditions to the South Sea in 15th Century.

By chance, I come across an article in the web, telling the story of another Binlang Yu(檳榔嶼 )in China. Politically the island belong to Taiwan. It is a small island. The island is located between Amoy or Xiamen(廈門)and Kinmen or Jinmen(金門). The other name for the island is Matsu Island(媽祖島), the name called by local people of Amoy(but not to confuse with The Matsu Islands(马祖列岛), a minor archipelago of 19 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait administered as Lienchiang County (連江縣)).

This really surprise me. Officially it is called Zhong Hwa Binlang Yu(中华槟榔屿), Chinese Betel Nut Island.

Location of Xiamen(PR China), Kinmen Island and Penghu Island(ROC Taiwan)

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Map of Binlangyu

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Yu(嶼)in Chinese means island, Binlang(檳榔) is the name for betel nut. Taiwan and Penang was having popular habit of eating betel nut in the old days. Even today, betel nut is still popular in Taiwan, despite the habit is dying in Penang. Penang and Taiwan have betel nut culture. Logically it is not surprise to see the name of island named after betel nut.

Kinmen or Jinmen(金門)

Kinmen, also known as Jinmen and formerly as Quemoy, is a small archipelago of several islands administered by the Republic of China (Taiwan): Greater Kinmen, Lesser Kinmen, and some islets.

Administratively, it is Kinmen County of Fujian Province, ROC. The county is claimed by the People's Republic of China (PRC) as part of its own Fujian Province's Quanzhou Prefecture. Some islands of other counties, such as Wuchiu, were transferred to the jurisdiction of Kinmen County by the ROC government following its civil war defeat and retreat to Taiwan. Matsu(马祖列岛)is the other set of islands on the Fujian coast controlled by the ROC.

Many Taiwanese businesspeople use the link through Kinmen to enter the Chinese Mainland as it is seen as cheaper and easier than entering through Hong Kong. However, this changed following the 2005 Pan-Blue visits to mainland China and the presidential and legislative victories of the KMT, that allowed easier Cross-Strait relations. Kinmen has experienced a considerable economic boom as businesspeople relocate to the island for easier access to the vast markets of the People's Republic of China.

Map of Kinmen County(金門縣)

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Today, the Kinmen County consist of Jincheng Township(金城鎮)、Jinhu Township(金湖鎮)、Jinsha Township(金沙鎮)、Jinning Township(金寧鄉)、Lieyu Township(烈嶼鄉)、Wuqiu Township(烏坵鄉). The first three are urban township or Zhen(鎮)and the last three are xiang(rural township鄉), so there are 3 urban township and 3 rural townships(三鎮三鄉).

All townships in Greater Kinmen Island are with their names start with Jin (金), which means "gold". Jincheng Township(金城鎮)、Jinhu Township(金湖鎮)、Jinsha Township(金沙鎮)、Jinning Township(金寧鄉). All these golden townships are in the Kinmen Island proper(金門島)or Greater Kinmen(大金門).

Wuqiu Township(烏坵鄉) comprises Greater Qiu Islet (大坵) and Lesser Qiu Islet (小坵).The location of the township, was closer to Taiwan island, and near to Meizhou Island(湄洲岛), Xiuyu District(秀屿), of Putian(莆田市), a prefecture level City. Meizhou Island is the legendary birthplace of the goddess Matsu and a famous pilgrimage site. The township, unlike other Kinmen townships is far away from the kinmen Island. The exact location can be seen from the map at Wuciou Township Office official website, http://www.kinmen.gov.tw/MultiMedia_ImageResize.ashx?guid=404cf53a-fa1b-4806-aaa9-88bbec7d2c40

Lieyu Township(烈嶼鄉)encompasses the entire Lesser Kinmen Island, it is next to Kinmen island(Big Kinmen), and is the closest to Xiamen. Lieyu Township (烈嶼鄉), commonly known as Lesser Kinmen (小金門) is located to the Southwest of main Kinmen Island in between main Kinmen and Xiamen. It is situated outside the mouth of mainland China's Jiulong river and inside Xiamen's harbor. The distance from mainland China at the closest point is only about 5000 meters and is located in a very strategic position. Lieyu also administers Dadan (大擔) and Erdan (二擔) islands, respectively 5 and 6 km to the southwest, Bilang Yu(檳榔嶼), and other islets. In 1950, Dadan was the site of a minor battle in the Chinese Civil War, "Battle of Islet Dadan". Tseng chenggong or Koxinga(郑成功)trained his anti-Manchu soldiers at the Dadan islets.


Binlang Yu(檳榔嶼) is small islet, but a development project with the inter-strait cooperation by mainland China and Taiwan is now taking place, it may be the good sign for strait relationship. In no time, the islet will be another tourism spot.

Hokkien dialects(福建话)

Southern Fujian is home to three main Hokkien dialects. They are known by the geographic locations to which they correspond (listed north to south):

Quanzhou (Chinchew, 泉州)
Xiamen (Amoy, 廈門), which is the mixture of Quanzhou and Zhangzhou.
Zhangzhou (Changchew, 漳州)

Many of the county's inhabitants speak Hokkien. Due to their previous political isolation, most residents will say they speak "Kinmenese", as opposed to "Taiwanese" as it is commonly called in Taiwan, though the two dialects are mutually intelligible. It is geographically very near Xiamen, no more than 2 kilometers. Taiwanese Hokkien is generally similar to Xiamen. Minor differences only occur in terms of vocabulary. Like Xiamen, Taiwanese Hokkien is based on a mixture of Zhangzhou and Quanzhou speech. The residents of Wuchiu Township however speak Puxian Min, as opposed to Hokkien for the rest of Kinmen. Wuchiu Township is not close to Kinmen Island, it is far from Xiamen and close to Putian.

Penang Hokkien (槟城福建话) is a local variant of Hokkien spoken in Penang, Malaysia. It is the lingua franca among the majority Chinese population in Penang as well as other northern states of Malaysia surrounding it, and is characterised by the pronunciation of words according to the Zhangzhou (漳州) dialect, together with widespread use of Malay and English borrowed words.

So with both Kinmen and Penang speak the Minnan dialect, linguistically they are the same, even with some tainted by local influence of Malay and English(Penang), and Japanese(Taiwan), they are still mutually communicable. It is not surprise to name an island Binlang Yu.

I am wondering if Admiral Zheng He had been to Xiamen, and visited Binglang Yu like Koxinga. He named Penang after Binlang Yu of Xiamen, now Kinmen. Pulau Pinang or Penang was named after direct translation of Binlang Yu. Can Betel nut and the name of Betel Nut Island(Penang)be from Taiwan?.....

So next time, if you meet a Chinese who said he is from Binlang Yu, do not mistaken that he is from Penang, Malaysia. He may be from Binlang Yu, Kinmen, Taiwan.

Kinmen People in Malaysia(大马金门人)


紀錄片落番 探金門人移民南洋史

There are Kinmen clan association or Kimmui kongsi, in Johor(馬來西亞柔佛州金同廈會館)、Malacca(馬六甲金門會館)、Selangor(巴生雪蘭莪金門會館).

槟榔同安金厦公会. Tong Aun Kim Har Association. 22, Lebuh Melayu, 10100 Penang. Tel: 604-261 0013, Fax: 604-261 0013.

I wonder is there any Kimmui clanhouse(金門會館)in Penang? and what is the number of Kimmui lang in Penang?....

Tan Sri Dato' Seri Yeoh Tiong Lay(楊忠禮), the founder of YTL Corporation Berhad, his son Tan Sri Dato' Seri (Dr) Francis Yeoh Sock Ping(楊肅斌)are famous Kimmui personality in Malaysia.

Kimmui Lang in Penang must be proud that the name of Penang is similar to an island in Kinmen.

If you feel like visiting another Penang in Kinmen, the following video may be useful for you.

If you can read Chinese, please visit 中华槟榔屿_互动百科, http://www.hudong.com/wiki/檳榔嶼;中华槟榔屿特别试验区揭牌仪式, http://www.gctaiwan.com/tequ/GB/201027/377.html; http://taconet.pixnet.net/blog/post/30707237-關注檳榔嶼的開發




1. 新加坡金门会馆, http://www.kimmui.com/
2. 烈嶼風情, http://www.jhes.km.edu.tw/902005/
3. 來去烈嶼, http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/princess-michelle/article?mid=2138&prev=2617&next=2046&sc=1
4. Islet Dadan, http://www.jhes.km.edu.tw/lieyu/english/content4/triver16.htm

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