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Two friends tell the story of their reunion after years of separation



It's Friday. Time for StoryCorps. Today, a story about friendship. Pak Yan and Joe Chan were born in Hong Kong and inseparable as kids. They learned to ride bikes together and walked each other to school every day. But in the sixth grade, Joe's family moved to the U.S., leaving Pak wondering what became of his best friend.

PAK YAN: I vividly remember that night you left. I saw the ship in the harbor. And then remember, when the ship is moving out, you've got a roll of paper streamer. And you throw it to me. I hold it in my hand, and we hold the streamer together. And this details is always in my mind. After you left, we sent letter to each other, about one letter per week.

JOE CHAN: Those were the days before email and instant messages. So these are one-page letters that we send by air mail. But then gradually, as time passed, I think we sort of lost contact. Now I thought that my best friend was lost forever.

YAN: Actually, I kept every letters you sent to me. And remember I work in a Christmas tree factory?

CHAN: Yep.

YAN: I do the packaging. All those artificial Christmas tree - they all ship to America. So I thought, oh, maybe Joe Chan would get one.

CHAN: So what made you decide to look me up?

YAN: When I was 30 years old, I came to the United States, too. I know you were in America, but there's a big question mark in my mind. Where is Joe Chan? But America is so big. One afternoon, type your name - Yahoo search. I found 108 Joe Chan in America.

CHAN: So did you call every Joe Chan on that list?

YAN: Yes. I left a lot of message and then hope one of the message is you.

CHAN: Yeah, I remember that day real well when I heard your voice. I got really excited. So I called you back right away.

YAN: I was overwhelmed when you called me back. I was just - can't believe I finally found you. I was very happy.

CHAN: And since that time, we try to find time at least once a week to have a bike ride. And we will have dinner together. It's like we just picked up where we left off. You have less hair. That's about all.

YAN: (Laughter).

CHAN: I think as we get older, I think there's a part of our wisdom is to realize that friendship is one of those things that you cannot put a price tag on.


MARTÍNEZ: Best friends Joe Chan and Pak Yon, who are both in their 70s. This holiday weekend, NPR and StoryCorps invite you to use the StoryCorps app to interview a loved one as part of the Great Thanksgiving Listen. More info at Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Esther Honig