Who Knows Where the Time Goes

I thought I’d write an update. April was all about the A-Z Challenge, and I’m not sure where May went so …

Actually, April wasn’t just about the challenge. There was my birthday, of course, and at the end of the month, my best friend (who is Singaporean and lives in Singapore) and I met in Melaka and seriously overdosed on chendol, and other delicious food, but mainly on chendol, which was just so yum. That was pretty much a food holiday.

About a week after that, I-Shan and I went to Singapore so she could attend a Troye Sivan concert. We didn’t do much else.

Then at the end of May, Ekath, I-Shan and I went to Koh Samui in Thailand for a four-night stay. But, right before that, I went to check out the Thean Hou Temple in Seputeh, Kuala Lumpur. Apart from my interest in Daoist temples, I’d just been reading about Mazu (the patron goddess of seafarers) who is often conflated with Thean Hou (the Queen of Heaven). The temple is identified as a Mazu temple, but I don’t think it is as, apart from her headdress, there’s nothing to indicate that the Goddess there is Mazu. Most significantly, her usual two ‘bodyguards’ are no where to be seen in the temple. Nevertheless, I enjoyed exploring the place. It’s so beautiful even if the lanterns are all plastic, ugh.

At this temple there is a small garden dedicated to the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.

And round the back I found something that made me really happy: The Twenty-Four Filial Exemplars! The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars, also translated as The Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety, is a classic text of Confucian filial piety written by Guo Jujing during the Yuan dynasty ([1260–1368). The text features twenty-four extremely filial children (twenty-three sons and one daughter-in-law) who Chinese children everywhere are expected to regard as role models.

I’d heard some of the stories before, from my mother, who was not trying to teach me how to be a filial child. I think she found the stories as strange as I did.

The one I remember best is of the son who takes off most of his clothes during bedtime and then sleeps near his parents in the hope that mosquitoes will bite him instead of his beloved old folk.

The story that is perhaps the most bizarre is of Madam Tang, who breastfeeds her ailing, toothless mother-in-law for years as the old woman can’t take solids. The mother-in-law even takes precedence over Madam Tang’s own children who are only fed after Madam Tang senior has had her fill! 

By the way, every level of Daoist hell has the most painful punishments for unfilial behaviour, including being sawn in two and de-boweled.

If you want to avoid being punished in the most vile ways imaginable, the following chaps might be able to teach you a thing or two about being a good child … (I’ve captioned the pictures with the story of each filial son.)

On 30th May, we left for Koh Samui. I can’t speak for Ekath and I-Shan, but I loved being by the sea and doing next to nothing but swim and eat and sleep and read. Koh Samui has totally changed since I was there in 1995. It now has malls. Well, of course it does. And it’s super expensive getting round — a 13-minute Grab ride costs RM40! I was quite happy lying on a deckchair on the beach though. I want to go back on my own so I don’t feel guilty about whether the children are having a good time.

One of the highlights was meeting a family of pigs on a small island that we stopped at after a snorkelling trip. The snorkelling was amazing too, but the pigs were a million times better. After I met them, I decided I would stop eating pork. And then when I got back to KL, I thought I’d just go the whole hog (haaaahahaaa) and stop eating meat. I’ve been wanting to go vegetarian for a while now, and I guess the only way to do so is to just do it. So I’m vegetarian now, but I don’t think I’ll ever be vegan. I like milk too much.

On 7th June, Priya, Phek Chin and I drove to George Town. It was a do-nothing getaway and the highlight was definitely a mixologist friend coming to the hostel we were at and making us cocktails, some of which I named after BTS songs. (Haha, yeah, I actually like BTS’s music now, and am no longer just listening to it for I-Shan’s sake.) The lowpoint of the trip was the drive back: We left the island at half-twelve and didn’t get back to KL til about 11 P.M. Ouch.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two and a half months or so, apart from the usual reading and editing and household chores. Also, procrastinating, let’s not forget that!

6 thoughts on “Who Knows Where the Time Goes

  1. Hah, procrastination takes a lot of effort, I can attest to that!

    What a rich and detailed post: I loved the temple pictures and impressed with all the examples of filial piety (none of which I would’ve measured up to, I’m ashamed to admit) — what a curious array of selflessness!

    I was particularly attracted by your title as it reminded me of my favourite Sandy Denny song — her singing still brings a little tear to my eye:

    Liked by 1 person

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