My mother is my travel role model.
One of my earliest childhood memories is that of a train ride. That was during the early 90s in China and I was only 3 or 4 years old. Imagine China at that time. At the beginning of the 90s, it just starting showing the potential for development and the people were still much “comrades”. No one could have predicted that China became the country it is now. Train rides back then were slow and rare, unlike the high speed trains that connect across China now.
My mother would often bring up this trip which took us to Huashan, which is one of the five great mountains in China. It was the first long distance “leisure travel” trip she has planned and she was proud that she managed to take me and my grandmother with her. My mom got “hard seat” tickets for my grandmother and herself. I had no ticket because I was still a tiny person. My mother prepared a bamboo mat for me and rolled it out underneath her seat. I don’t remember much of that train ride except for peeking out from time to time from my little kingdom below the seats. The trip I don’t really remember much of either but I think it was one of those trips that ignited something within my mother.
A year later, my mom and I would board a flight to Germany to join my dad who has left China to pursue his PhD in engineering. Airplane trips were so much rarer back then but I was ignorant to all these things. I only remember how much fun it was and the toys that I got from the nice foreign ladies (airlines are definitely not as generous as they used to be). I realized only much later that my it wasn’t only me that got souvenirs from the plane. My mom also got some souvenirs, such as the the “Board Safety Card” (I still collect puke bags as well).
My mom’s thirst for travel deepened further being abroad in Germany. We went around and visited many surrounding countries – Italy, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, England, Austria, Switzerland and many other places in between. My parents tried to go to as many European countries as we could during the whirlwind 4.5 years in Germany until we left for Canada. Back then it wasn’t easy for Chinese citizens to travel either since the Shengen wasn’t created yet and as Chinese citizens we needed a visa for every country. However, my parents still managed it on my dad’s limited scholarship and our tiny little red Nissan.
Forward years later – my mom has made me her reluctant travel companion. We went on guided trips and bus trips with set itineraries since my mom was not yet ready to plan her own trips. I was still young at that time and didn’t appreciate travel as much as I do now. Trips to places such as Tibet and Egypt were “ugh, why are we going there?” trips. I sometimes really wish I could have told my younger self to appreciate these trips more and to be grateful that I was able to visit.
During the meanwhile, my mom has also developed further hobbies in addition to her travels. With my dad’s (financial hahahahaha) support, she has gotten into photography. She has also started her own blog (in Chinese) way before me. Without a steady travel companion (me) she has started to go on solo trips. Her first solo trip was actually to India for a month. I was quite worried when she first told me of her ambition to go but she was determined. What made me worry was that she didn’t know how to read maps and in general is quite gullible. Furthermore, this was right after the Delhi Rape. However, she loved every single minute of that trip. She’s even more bold and adventurous these days and has done gone on many additional trips herself.
She’s my role model; she caught the travel bug early on and passed it on to me.
I never thanked her or shown her my appreciation for taking me on these trips. As I matured (a bit), I truly am glad that she has “dragged” me along and put up my immature ass. She really makes me proud and I want to show her off to the world.
I was inspired to write this today because it’s her birthday. So I dedicate this entry to her and wanted to say…