The essence of filial piety: Travelling with my mum (带妈妈去旅行)

Backpacking travels with mother

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In the midst of my vacations in Taipei previously, I went to a outlet of Cheng2 Ping3 bookstore (诚品书店), a chain of bookstores that have become more popular over the years in Taiwan, and which do not have any outlets back in Singapore to date. Singapore has major bookstores as well, such as Popular and Kinokuniya, but they do not bring in many Taiwanese book titles. This could be attributed to the fact that Singapore uses simplified Chinese – which is similar to the Chinese language system used in China, but vastly different from those used by Taiwan or Hong Kong.

It was only through sheer luck that this author has loved pugilistic novels since young and as copies of such novels are only available  from Hong Kong imports then,  I have forced myself to read the different chinese characters. Over time, such mastery of the language has opened opened up many more book titles from Taiwan and Hong Kong for me to read, of which I am glad and grateful.

I have to clarify one thing though. Although the book featured here is a book I have seen and bought in Taiwan, the author and his mum are not Taiwanese. They are South Koreans. In fact, the trips that they have taken around the world do not include Taiwan (due to, as mentioned by the son in the book, schedule issues). Nevertheless, the story of a son quitting his job and bringing his mum (who has spent most of her life raising him up and tending to a small shop back home in Seoul) touches the heartstrings of the Taiwanese and the theme of filial piety resonated so well with them that Taiwanese bookstores find it feasible to being in the titles into the country.

The western culture often emphasises independence and the story of a son quitting his job and bringing his aging mum around the world might be deemed as interesting and/or unbelievable. Regardless of cultures, this story will warm the hearts of anyone who reads it. Even just casting a glance at the book cover makes one wonder: why not travel with friends? Why not travel alone? Why not travel with one’s girlfriend / boyfriend / spouse? Why travel with mum?

As the story unfolds, readers will gradually begin to solve this mystery and understand this heartwarming mother-son relationship. There are many, many touching moments, including the son shielding his mum from the influx of train passengers when they took the lowest priced train tickets to Beijing while squeezing knee to knee with other passengers with minimal leg space, when they are cheated by drivers when the hotel they are staying turned out to be US$60 rather than 60 yuan (a seven-fold price increase), the latter of which is they have been told by the drivers, when the son was surprised by the fact that his mum loves to dance (which he has almost never seen in most of his life to date), and when he witnessed the determination of his mum to complete their travels despite the harsh weathers and long distances to be covered.

This is more than a story of a mother and her son. This is a story of love, a story of how a son is able to sacrifice a well-paying job to spent time with his mum. This is a story which defines true filial piety love, reflecting that everlasting happiness lies not only with parental love but also the love for one’s parents. This is the story that will warm the hearts of any person who is currently caught in the waves and currents of materialism and consumerism, unable for a moment to contemplate on what truly matters in their lives.

But of course, travelling with both of our parents, whenever possible, is best.

It is time for all of us to slow down our lives and read this book. This title definitely falls into my “A book you must read at least once in your lifetime” list.

We really should celebrate Parents’ Day.

Insights:  It is interested to observe the recycling efforts put in by the Taiwanese when it comes to environmental conservation. Cheng Ping bookstores do not use plastic bags when it comes to book purchases unless the customers purchase more than a book. Single book purchases are usually only wrapped up in a brown recycled paper bag. If you offer to not use any plastic bags despite numerous book purchases, your gesture is usually greatly appreciated and respected. I have seen similar recycling efforts being exercised in Japan.  Kudos to both countries for taking care of Mother Earth! 🙂

Parents' Day

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