Explaining why Chinatown is the street of Tang people(唐人街) to my kids

When I was growing as a kid... in school, I learned that I'm a Malaysian citizen and this is the identity that I grew up with.

However, I got confused by the other identities given by my parents, grandparents, relatives and friends. Sometimes, they told me that I'm a Hua-ren(華人), ... sometimes, I'm a teng-nang(Hokkien for 唐人) or tong-yan(Cantonese for 唐人) and I was like ... what is that? I would only found out later as an adult about the real meaning of Tang people(唐人).

While studying in Australia, I will head to Chinatown whenever I need to get some food that suits my taste buds. During one my of routines of downing a bowl of hot soup noodle in Adelaide's Chinatown, I met a wise old-man that finally put a rest into this mystery of why Chinatown is known as the street of Tang people.

Adelaide's Chinatown

Image credit: CaFe Parejo

To get to the answer. First, we need to ask a question.

Why not Yuan(元朝) people street, Ming(明朝) people street or Qing(清朝) people street, but named after Tang dynasty(唐朝)?

Apparently, Tang dynasty is known as the golden era for the people of Chinese ancestry. Chinatown is called street of Tang people(唐人街) simply because Chinese people want to be associated or remember this bygone golden era.

Alright, now I know why I read poems from the Tang dynasty as a kid and I'm able to tell my kids why they need to read the Tang poems. There are a lot of wisdom to be gained from those era. Hopefully my children will be able to benefit from those wisdom.


  1. I'm a loyal Malaysian and know where my loyalty lies.

  2. I still remember the very first time I visited China with my dad... I remembered the strange feeling that there's only Chinese, but no Malays, Indians, Ibans, Kadazans, etc. That's how I know I'm a true Malaysian.

References :


唐人街 Wiki


  See also : Responsible parenting tip. Teach your own mother tongue to your kids.

By Adam Ng(黃武俊)

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