Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Visiting Barbara's grave

Click this to read my visit to Barbara's grave in June 2017

Barbara Yung's grave, Cambridge 28 July 2016

Since I started writing posts about Michael and Barbara last year, I had wanted to visit Barbara's grave in Cambridge UK. I finally had my chance when the UK immigration finally granted me a tourist visa for a visit this July.

I went to visit Barbara's grave in Cambridge last week on Thursday (28 July). It was raining when I arrived around 2 pm at the Cambridge City Cemetery. I had with me two bouquets of roses: 10 yellow roses and 10 red, pink and white roses. I also brought a pot of small red roses, all for £10 in the Thursday Cambridge market.

Located at Lot 29, at the north corner of the Cambridge City Cemetery (diagonal from the main parking lot), Barbara's grave wasn't looking as sad as when Rob Radboud came in June 2012. Back then, a yellow rose bush was growing unattended, blocking the grave. Rob had to hack the bush with his own hands without garden scissors or a knife, for he wasn't expecting that the grave wasn't attended. This time, last Thursday, I saw "only" two bunches of flowers wrapped in plastic, half a bottle of mineral water that someone used as a vase, and growing weed. Still a mess though, which made me sad...



Barbara's grave as I arrived, before I cleaned it up


But then, on the right side of the grave "garden", I noticed that some fans had planted some peonies, small pink roses and another type of flower I couldn't recognise, so I felt happier. You can see these flowers on the first photo above and the third photo below. I also saw a metal grave vase on the left side of the grave (it has holes on it to hold flowers). Some fans have put white chrysanthemums into the holes, which is nice. 

Despite the rain, I decided to start working. Good thing it wasn't raining hard, lest I would have to wait under a tree, considerably rather far from Barbara's place. I first played Alan Tam's "Who Can Change" (the theme song for Fearless Duo 1984), several times. Then I suddenly cried. Really cried. I'm sorry that she died like that, that she couldn't live life to the fullest. I'm sorry for her and Michael, for the love that was not given the chance to grow (I do believe they loved each other at one point, but they decided not to grow it into a proper relationship). I cried for Michael, for being so devastated due to her premature departure (his first interview about her was in 1996, a good 11 years after her death).

After crying, I set to work. I think the rain stopped for a while. I played the songs of her other movies, particularly the Chor Lau Heung themes and the first and third LOCH themes. Then I took out the tulsi scented candle I brought with me. The rain alternated between drizzle and pouring, but I wanted to lit the candle as I worked. Then I realised that Barbara had a candle lantern on the right side of her grave, next to the Angel boy (on Rob's photos in 2012 and 2013, the lantern was on the left side. So, someone had moved it to the right side and planted it rather deep into the ground). The lantern has a lid with some side holes to facilitate the airflow. I opened the lantern lid and indeed found a spent candle holder there. Excited, I took the old candle holder out, put my candle inside, lit it, and placed the lid back. Soon, the fragrant scent of tulsi or holy basil filled the air as I worked my way through the grave.

I put on my gloves, pulled out the weeds and cut the tall grass with the garden scissors. I dismantled the two flower bouquets from their plastic wraps. One of the bouquets contained somewhat fresh flowers, might have been left behind by a fan three days prior. That's good, I thought, cos I could reuse the flowers. But the other bouquet contained totally dried flowers, which made me wonder why the previous visitor didn't just chuck it away when he/she arrived a few days before my arrival (that bouquet must be dried already when he/she arrived). I threw away the dried flowers. I also plucked out some withered flowers from the first bouquet. Then I arranged the remaining fresher flowers with the roses I brought with me. The vase that I found was very useful for that. I left the white chrysanthemums attached to the metal grave vase, for the mums were still rather fresh. 

Come to think of it, perhaps the vase was there for that purpose: to contain the flowers brought by fans. After all, fresh flowers in a vase is much better than flowers in a plastic bouquet. The latter only works its magic for one day. Two days later, it will look very much like a garbage already. By the way, the vase wasn't there in June 2013 when Rob visited the grave. A fan must have left the vase afterwards. Thank you, Anonymous Fan.

Overall, I was very pleased with my work. The second photo above was how Barbara's grave looked like when I arrived. And this is how it looked when I finished working on it (also the first photo above):


The white vase (left) and candle lantern (right) are very useful!


I'd like to think that Barbara would be pleased with the new flowers and candle...

After cleaning up Barbara's grave, I played some music again. I had to stop playing music when I worked, for it rained again and I had to use my umbrella to cover me, hence the iPad had to be tucked away. I still played some songs with my iPhone, but battery dropped quickly hence I had to be conservative with it. I replayed some theme songs from The Foundation, and again, Fearless Duo, CLH and LOCH. I also played Leslie Cheung's "The Moon Represents My Heart". I also said the Christian Lord prayer and some other prayers from the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. I actually had Alan Tam's version of the Heart Sutra with me, so I also played it. I prayed that Barbara is in peace now, free of attachments, and, if she does reincarnate again (because I believe in reincarnation), I hope she leads a much more wonderful, peaceful and meaningful life.

The rain stopped about 20 minutes before I left at 4 pm-ish. It was hard for me to leave the grave. I kept looking at the candle, hoping that the candle will burn until it really is spent. Hoping that the candle will burn there for Barbara, at least for one night. The last two music I played for her was Alan Tam's "Who Can Change" and his version of the Heart Sutra. I walked out of Lot 29 with those songs. I turned to see her grave again before I lost sight of it, hoping that I can visit her again next year.


Barbara's grave as I said goodbye

Visiting Barbara's grave was very special for me. She's not only my first favourite actress. Visiting her grave is part of the process to come to terms with the fact that Michael didn't end up with Barbara. See, I dreamt of Michael Miu on 19 July, perhaps because i was reading about Babs' grave before I slept. In my dream, Michael was his 58 years old self. We were watching a wuxia series together (wouldn't it fun to watch a series with your idol??). Then, the actress in the TV series was shown to wear a yellow Qing dress that Barbara wore in Fearless Duo 1984. I turned to tell Michael that the actress wore Bab's dress. He smiled, but his eyes looked misty and he then looked pensive. That dream was very special to me.

But apparently, not only Michael and Barbara fans though that they had good chemistry back then. In fact, because I stayed with my friend in Surrey, I told her the reason why I wanted to go to Cambridge; not just that Cambridge is the resting place for Barbara, but also of her relationship with Michael. I showed my friend some photos of Barbara and Michael. Looking at the photos of Michael holding Barbara's shoulders when Babs just finished crying, and also of him in his CLH costume holding her in modern clothes, my friend then said that there was definitely something between Michael and Barbara. "They didn't look like they were just friends, the way she leaned on him and him holding her." Bless you, my dear friend...for being able to see such a pure affection at once...

I hope I can visit Barbara's grave again next year. By then, I hope I am more in peace with the unfulfilled affections between Michael and Barbara. The 2017 Legend of Condor Heroes will be finished by then, so I can make another MV of Michael Miu as Huang Yaoshi, the father of Barbara's character back in 1983. I hope I can play the MV as I clean the grave. By then, I hope I smile more, thanking her for her gifts to us, and not focusing on her sad ending too much. I did thank her this time, but I also cried a river...

And I hope that the grave is more maintained during my next visit. If not, well, then I just need to do some cleaning again.


The Angel boy holds many talismans from fans.
(The white chibi Chinese pendant reminded me of Michael's theatre costume in Fearless Duo...)


For friends who visit Barbara's grave in the future, please allow me to give you some tips. Definitely bring garden scissors, gloves and garbage/plastic bags for debris, dried flowers, used plastic wraps etc. Please spend time to clean up the dried flowers, cut the weeds and rearrange things to look nicer for Barbara. If you bring flowers wrapped in plastic, please take off the plastic wrap, for it only looks nice on Day 1, then the plastic becomes a waste. Please use the vase provided there for your flowers. If you have time, please bring a candle (with the match) with you and place it inside the candle lantern. Bring a talisman if you'd like, hang it on the statues. There are so many things we can do for a lovely person who had coloured our childhood with beautiful memories...

Also, here's the map of the clusters within the cemetery. Rob Radboud's website has a Google Map of the location, but I screen shot mine as well here:





Take Bus 10, 11 or 12 from City Center, only 17 minutes or so, with return ticket of around £ 5. As I previously mentioned, Barbara's site is at Lot 29, the northern corner of the cemetery. Just take the diagonal direction from the main car park, and you'll get there. And when you do, please give my love to her...



A post-script note to self (lest I forget):

Spend one night in Cambridge next time, for I also want to join the punt (boat tour) and visit the Fitzwilliam Museum for Hendrick van Anthonissen's whale painting. So, if I fly directly from Europe, I can fly to London Stansted Airport and take an hour's train to Cambridge for less than £ 15. Or if I'm in London already, I can take the early bus from London Victoria to Cambridge (return was £ 14), arrives around lunch time, check in, and go to Barbara's grave before dinner. Then the next morning, I can leave my luggage at the hotel, go back to the grave after breakfast (or before breakfast) to check the candle, lit another candle, etc (I really really wanted to do another trip yesterday to Cambridge, but just didn't have time). Then do the punt tour, the museum tour and get back to London in the afternoon, arriving just in time for dinner. 

12 comments:

Tammy said...

This is very touching and sweet of you. It's sad that, the only way to visit her is at her Grave :*(
She was such a beautiful actress. If I'm in the area, I will def visit Barbara.

Icha said...

Thanks a lot Tammy for the comment. When I placed the fresh flowers, I actually thought how I'd much rather giving the fresh roses to her in a meet-the-fan or award ceremony than there in Cambridge.... But Cambridge is a beautiful quaint town, I think it's a lovely resting place for someone as lovely as her...

I'm certain that, had she been interred in Hong Kong, many fans would more often visit and tend to her grave. UK is slightly too far for the majority of her fans...but I can understand why her mother wanted her to be interred in a quiet place...

Icha said...

Oh, and anyone of you, if you do visit Barbara, please send me your photos. I'd love to post the photos and the journey/trip here, with your permission.

Kimberly Lan said...

Beautiful post and tribute to Barbara! I great up watching her act. I became a fan through my mom, of course. I think it was 2003 when I googling for MORE of her movies (my mom didn't tell me she died) and I came across her fan page that she died. A part of me died inside knowing I wouldn't see her with Miu on screen anymore (I legit watched all the TV series she was in, within 6 months!).

Your post is beautiful and thank you!

Icha said...

Thank you so much, Kimberley, for reading! It's an honour that I could be of service to Barbara's fans like you. I'm still also digesting the fact that she had long ago left us. I knew that she died back then in 1985, but I was such a kid that I didn't realise what it meant! I liked watching her with Michael, but the concept of fandom wasn't in my 11 years old head back then. So now, though I'm happy that Michael has moved on (but still cherishing Barbara's memories), that he's happy with Jaime, but my 11 years old is still adjusting to that fact.

Where do you live? If you have a chance to go to UK, to Cambridge one day, please give my love to her, and send us photos...

Icha said...

Sorry, I misspelled your name. It should be "Kimberly"...

kimberly ly-c said...

I misspelled "grew" up watching Barbara on TV, because my mom and aunts LOVED HK Dramas back in the 70's and 80's. - I'm only 25, but I LOVE the old dramas compared to the new ones today. I got super excited the other day because I watched Lethal Weapon 3 (I think) and I saw a few HK actors that I recognized from those old dramas. <3

I live all the way in Hawaii. If I ever make it to UK, I would definitely visit her grave and help do some touch up work.

Icha said...

OMG, Hawaii! That seems even farther than me... I live in Australia although I'm an Indonesian. My partner is a Dutch, so we go visiting his parents regularly, hence it's easier for me to go to UK from Amsterdam.

You're only 25! How nice... I couldn't remember what I watched when I was your age... Certainly not the classical HK dramas. Good on you to watch the oldies! Granted, recent classical dramas were shot in the Mainland, hence they're prettier these days, but the excessive use of cables and CGI is a sore to my eyes (I feel like a broken LP saying that again and again...).

Will see if I can watch Lethal Weapon 3 cos of course I also love those oldies HK actors...

Anonymous :] said...

I love the classic HK and old TVB (ATV, ETC) dramas from the 70s, 80s and even 90s. Lol. I think maybe it's the costumes, plots and how handsome the men were.

My first series was the Mystery of Twin Swords with Roger Kwok and Dicky Cheung. I thought that Roger was so handsome. I think he was my first crush lol. ๐Ÿ˜‚


But I definitely think because the plots, costumes and characters is what makes me like the older series. The cgi back then was horrendous! But the actual martial arts and action made up for it. Even if you could tell it was a body double wearing a bad wig. I enjoyed the older series.

I have the drama fever on my phone so I can stream Chinese and Korean drama. I like the historical, time period, and wuxia dramas. But the new ones costumes are nice, but male leads are too pretty vs handsome. I just finished Prince of Lan Ling which was good, plot wise, but fighting was eh. Male lead was handsome. Lol. I'm watching him in Ice Fantasy now and he's way too pretty in this series haha.

Anyways. I enjoy coming to your blog because you post the old Babs and Miu. And I like reading your episode guides for LOCH. Even if I've watched the series way too many times lol.

-Kim.

Also my phone won't let me sign into my different accounts to comment to you, so yea. It's me lol.

Icha said...

Ah LOL, hi again Kim! I looked at the posters for Ice Fantasy, and it looks more like a video game than a wuxia for me... Too...blue and silver... Tho apt for the ice theme!

Yeah, these days, we have too pretty men who don't really somersault and can't do backflips at all... I cringe at the CGIs in the LOCH, but I cringe more when I saw how incompetent many current actors are compared to the veterans...of course we have exceptions like Hu Ge, Nicky Wu, Liu Tao, Liu Shishi...but in general, Palm/face!

Anonymous said...

Icha,

I cry just reading this post of your visit with Barbara. What an adventure anyone of us fan would love to have a chance to do. It is very sweet and thoughtful of you to clean her grave, lit the candle, play memorable music to her. We all wish that one day, we can come and visit her and appreciate what an honorable actress she is.

Thank you for doing this and for Barbara!! You're an awesome fan!!!

take care,
Cynthia

Icha said...

Hi Cynthia, thank you so much for dropping a comment here...

Yes, now I tear up again to remember Barbara... I swear, the last day I was in UK, I really really wanted to jump on the train and bus to go to Cambridge again, but i will not make it for the flight back to Amsterdam. But I'm still so happy that my trip there has touched the heart of many, for we all miss her, and we do want to lay flowers and tend to her little garden every so often...

I hope that another fan will go there soon and let us know how Barbara's grave look like. And I hope I can go back there next year to do some more maintenance and lay flowers etc...