SHANGHAI - Shen Qiren, 75, does not look like a man who can be easily swayed by emotion, with his serious demeanor and a build that belies his age.
But his voice grew hoarse with excitement when he recalled memories of his 97-year-old foster mother in Taiwan, who now lives in a home for the elderly in Taipei.
"We've met each other only once in the past six decades," Shen said with a sigh.
"Both my brother and I were brought up by her. But she went to Taiwan during the civil war in 1949, when we were in our early teens," he said.
"It was a difficult time for us, while she was away."
Shen managed to reunite briefly with his foster mother when she visited him in Shanghai in 1992. "She's now too old to visit me. I really miss her. I hope I can go and see her more often, before I am too old to travel," he said.
With this in mind, Shen signed up for the first Chinese mainland tour to Taiwan once it was made available. His grandson will join him on the trip.
At the airport, other tourists waited excitedly to check in and said goodbye to relatives and friends.
But Shen seemed nervous - the dream of meeting his foster mother was about to become reality.
"The opening of Taiwan to mainland tourists will give us a chance to see what it is like on the island," he said.
"More importantly, it offers those like me a rare opportunity to reunite with our loved ones."
For Chen Xuesheng, another Shanghai resident in the tour group, taking the first trip to Taiwan meant that he would be able to meet his cousin, whom he had not seen for more than 50 years, again.
"I didn't sleep well last night," he said.
"I could almost imagine my cousin sitting in a restaurant, waiting for me to join a family lunch.
"Thanks to the efforts from across the Straits, we are not only able to see the scenery on the island, but also reconnect with our family. I hope that, as cross-Straits relations improve, people on both sides can have more of such exchanges."