The encounters we make while we are traveling, whether it is someone we sat next to on our flight or a staff at an information desk, can turn an experience into an unforgettable one or can leave you with a strong impression. It may change the way we see things. We may realize something about ourselves that we never knew before. It may provoke self- evaluation and self-improvement. The people you come across may remind us how fortunate we are. With all the encounters, good or bad, we learn from them. Of all the people we meet along the way, some make an appearance and leave, some may become our good friends.
My friend and I walked into our second-class train cabin for our commute from Moscow to Irkutsk to find that our bunkmates for the next three days are two Chinese, mother and son. Majority of the people were locals. What are the chances of us Chinese being in the same compartment?
The mother and son are from Xian, China. The son has just graduated from university in London and mom flew in to travel with him by train through Siberia back home. She seems to be up for whatever plans her son got, which includes taking an eight-hour bus ride to an island immediately after this long 70 plus hour train ride.
The mom is young at heart. She talks and looks like someone much younger than her age. Each time she speaks, she likes to finish her sentence with a smile or a giggle. She is very friendly but yet minds her own business and doesn’t ask too many personal question.
The son is a humble, well-mannered and polite young man; very attentive when you are speaking and is quick to offer a helping hand.
This family has such a wonderful relationship. They are like friends. It is a joy to watch them interact with each other. The son shows his mom how to use new apps on her iPhones. They exercise in the aisle – the mom showing him stretches and the son doing pull-ups and push-ups as mom counts for him. They engage in conversations while eating almonds. They never seem to run out of things to talk about and they never got into any disagreements or raised their voice with each other.
The son does everything for his mom. When it is bedtime, mom steps out of the compartment and the boy will make the bed for her. He prepares instant noodle for her, cleans up after she is done and refills her thermos cup whenever it is emptied. He does all this voluntarily without her asking. A true example of filial piety.
The mom is constantly reporting to her husband who is working at home. When the train makes a stop, she’ll snap some pics and send them to her husband with a voice message. Before going to sleep, she tells him the local time and says good night. She gives updates like these to him throughout the day. Her daughter who is currently traveling in Peru is also exchanging stories and pictures with her. What a lovely, well-rounded family.
They have made my long train ride more interesting. Too bad I didn’t take a picture with them…