How to locate your Ancestral Village with Google Maps
In the previous tutoral the Village Database yielded the ancestral village of Shek Tau/Shitoucun (石頭村) in Sun Wui County/Xinhuixian (新會縣). The present day term for a county is Shi (市). However, this term has several other meanings as well, e.g. it can mean a City State like Guangzhoushi (廣州市), a Prefecture like Jiangmenshi (江門市), a County like Xihhuishi (新會市) or any City like Jiangmenshi (江門市) or Xihhuishi (新會市). The last two though with the same Chinese characters mean the actual cities within the prefecture and county with the same names.
With this information we will now try to locate the village on a Google map. Before this can be done it will be necessary to identify the civic administrative hierarchy to follow to ensure a successful search. The administrative entity above the county level is called the prefecture. In this case, it is now called Jiangmenshi (江門市) and it incorporated the Wuyi (五邑) counties of Xinhui (新會), Taishan (台山), Kaiping (開平), Enping (恩平) and Heshan (鶴山). The next level of administration above that is the province Sheng (省), in this case, Guangdongsheng (廣東省).
Now, rearrange the information in reverse chronological order as derived from above: 廣東省江門市新會市石頭村. Google Maps is quite user friendly and can use either Hanyu Pinyin (漢語拼音) or Chinese script to conduct a search, the latter being faster without having to select Google's suggested names as would be the case when using the former approach. Google Maps can also read both Traditional and Simplified characters for the search but the results on their maps are always in Simplified characters only and with Hanyu Pinyin (漢語拼音) as well. Thus Google Maps would be preferred as Chinese map sites will display only Chinese script.
To load Google Maps go to the Google Main Page and click on Maps in the categories bar menu. When the map page appears showing its default map just copy and paste the above information: 廣東省江門市新會市石頭村 and click on the "Search Maps" button. A map will appear with a dark red "A" marker (see below).
To view the village just zoom into the area until you see the village name 石头村. As well, you will see another name 石头 close by to the left which is the rural town by the same name.
In this instance the village was easily located. However, sometimes it may return a negative result in which case you may have to try other sneaky tricks like dropping the character for village, 村/里 or maybe try to locate the rural town (called Zhen 鎮) instead which is usually close by as it serves as the commericial center for the cluster of villages in that township. Sometimes a village can be located by identifying it after the county (Shi 市) name without knowing the township (Zhen 鎮).