Category: Anecdotes


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I know this is my longest blog post yet, but if you treat it like a short story in a book, by an amateur girl who likes to write, then it might be good entertainment 😀 I decided to split it up into sections because it would make a massive post if it were all amassed into one chunk. This is the first part of a series that I’ll be blogging, and the only public post of the series (after which it becomes too intimate/private to blog publicly. Please email me to request the password of the subsequent private posts).

My 2.5 months of holiday in Hong Kong was probably the most memorable of all the holidays I’ve had in Hong Kong, and perhaps, this statement may even extend to all the holidays I have ever had in my life. It may partially be due to the fact that:

  • it’s my longest stay in HK since I emigrated (from 18 Nov to 10 Feb),
  • or perhaps the first time I could immerse in the festivities of Chinese New Year since I left HK (i.e. 10 years),
  • or the seemingly unending succession of celebrations – Christmas, my birthday, New Years, my dad’s birthday, Chinese New Year…) – accompanied with luscious indulgences and subsequent agony of witnessing my face becoming progressively inflated…
  • or the first time I lived with my step-mother, Auntie Grace, and witness my dad’s life turn around, happier than I had ever seen him be for a long time…

But, by far, the most notable factor that contributed to such an indelible imprint on me was the opportunity to work at Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) (13 December to 29 January). Although a large part of this holiday’s unforgettability is due to the evocative experiences I had in DL, I think that merely working alone is enough to make one appreciate the times when playing is allowed… Note that this was the first paid job I’ve had outside employment of a family business. I suppose that’s partly why this has been so poignant for me: I was thrown down the deep end: thrown into a really unfamiliar environment… unfamiliar with everything imaginable, from the people, to the language, to the rules and regulations, to the huge place (read: labyrinth)! Although they say HKDL is the smallest of all the DLs, it was no easy task to memorise both the onstage and backstage locations….

The following passage will track down, in the following format: the chronology of a series of events that led to me getting the job; the daily routine of my working days there; a few tidbits and anecdotes about the stalls I worked at and interesting happenings each day; the numerous rules I broke; the colleagues I met there; and of course, the obligatory happy sappy ending about what I had learned and nostalgic reminiscences yadda yadda.

It all started in Australia. I received an email from Auntie Grace in early September 2010, where she asked whether I would be interested in working as a seasonal staff in HKDL. Auntie has a friend of a friend who works in the HR department of HKDL, so I bypassed the job hunting process and sent in a CV, with this in my reply:

I was thinking of doing work, but I wasn’t sure where, especially since my Chinese is not very good.. I thought of maybe a waitress or shop assistant in shops/restaurants in Central or the Peak (where there are more English-speakers), but I’d love to work at Disneyland too! I highly doubt I would be able to work there though, since my Cantonese is only soso and I cannot even speak mandarin (I think there are a lot of mainland Chinese going to Disneyland, right?) Anyway I will try my best.

Note the highlighted part, “I’d love to work at Disneyland!”…my my my…. Everybody thinks working at DL would be like a dream come true, but gosh, things were put into perspective when reality hit.

Later, I was told that Disneyland called my dad’s home phone to arrange an interview for me in early November, but my parents told them to call on the 19 Nov. The day after my arrival in HK, I was keen to receive the call from them, waiting with both trepidation and anticipation… Unfortunately, HKDL is very elusive (and my impression of them still remains that way), and I had no way of procuring their number to take matters into my own hands! Finally, in the afternoon, after a few false alarms, the phone rings. (my poor translation from the little information I could make out from the super-fast-speaking Cantonese lady)

“Hello?”

“Hi, is this Bonnie?”

“Yes, I am.”

“This is HKDL calling. Are you still interested in the seasonal job here?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, you’re scheduled for an interview on 22 November, at 3.15pm. Do you know how to get here?”

“Um… I know I catch the MTR…”

“Yeah, go to the HKDL MTR station, then walk straight ahead, turn right at the green sign, then go to the 招聘中心 (I now know this is the recruitment centre). You need to bring your HK ID card, proof of residence, and a bank statement.” (at the time, I had great difficulty understanding everything she said in Cantonese terminology and I was utterly confused….)

“Um… okay then.. Thanks.”

“Alright, see you there. Bye bye.”

So there I was left with a bewildered look as I gazed down on the scribbles on the paper of the poorly romanised Chinese words and crap English translations that I couldn’t quite get. Oh well, I thought… I’ll just have to make do.

I had in my possession a valid HK ID card and I sincerely hoped they would accept my father’s electricity bill as my own proof of residence, so what was left was the bank statement. I did not have a HK bank account at the time… with just 3 days until the interview, it was far too late to create one. So again, I hoped for the best and took my dad’s bank statement with me, wondering if they would accept my request for my salary to be deposited there.

The Interview

Before I knew it, three days passed and I got ready for my interview, scrubbing myself up and wearing half-decent clothes (although I only had sneakers to wear). “You should wear makeup, maybe they want you to look beautiful!” my domestic helper of 16 years, Minerva 姐姐, said to me… My parents insisted that I travel to HKDL in the company of Miner 姐姐, despite my assertion that I’d be fine on my own. So on that day,

– I left the apartment down to Queen Mary Hospital bus depot,

– catching the Green Mini Bus 55 down to Central,

– walking to Central MTR station Exit A, then a 5-minute walk underground across to Hong Kong Station (with the help of a travelator), through to the platform serving the Tung Chung line,

– taking the 30-minute-ride all the way to Lantau Island (Sunny Bay), the interchange station for transfer to the Disneyland Resort Line

– waiting ~5 minutes for the specially designed Disneyland themed train, with its Mickey Mouse windows and ceiling handles and golden Disney figurines… for the 5 minute ride to the magical world of Hong Kong Disneyland… then came the haunting (in my own scarred mind of too many early mornings of half-asleep “I don’t wanna go to work” moanings… in fact, it is supposed to be very cheerful!) music, followed by the speaker phones blaring “Welcome to the Disneyland Resort line!” (and the Cantonese and Mandarin version prior)… “We will soon arrive at the magical world of Hong Kong Disneyland.” …. “Disneyland Resort station, have a magical day.”

a lengthy and tedious 1.5 hour journey that I was soon to become all too familiar and dreary with. But on this day, it was a journey filled with both trepidation and anticipation.

To be continued…

In July, 2009, my brother sent me an email about a competition offered by totaltravel.com entitled: “Win a family holiday in Canberra! – Wrapt in Canberra”.

Apparently, ‘wrapt’ is the archaic form of wrapped. Perhaps it is implying one needs to be bundled up with >10 layers, or a pun to being ‘rapt’ in the city.

The question to be answered was this:

“What’s your favourite winter experience in Canberra? (50 words or less)”

Now I thought that was quite a funny question because winter in Canberra can get pretty darn piercingly cold, and I remembered when I visited for my brother’s graduation for his undergraduate degree, it was quite a bleak and desolate place when the icy winds engulfed the town. Nevertheless, I thought I might get my creative writing juices flowing and went ahead with this entry:

Canberra’s beautiful scenery is shrouded in an aura of mystique as the misty fogs waft through the maze of mountains, architectural masterpieces, and national landmarks. The tranquil streets impart a bittersweet enchantment as the wintry winds sweep through; a uniquely mysterious beauty no other Australian capital city can parallel.
(49 words!)

Now perhaps it was the slightly melancholic words ‘shrouded’, ‘fogs’ and ‘bittersweet’ (Canberra does look slightly dramatic/melancholic in winter…can’t deny that, but melancholic drama often has a lot of depth…), or the slightly wild and abstract undertones, but I didn’t win. Well, I thought I might use this as an easy post to this much-neglected blog of mine (it takes a long time to write an eloquent and crafted prose!). Nevertheless, I got to visit my brother and his fiancée during a more hospitable season (summer! But it was still cold!) at the end of the year, and had a great time :).

Is it not almost inconceivable to the mind that this moon is the same one that friends afar separated by the oceans can see; the same one that ancestors from a thousand years ago once gazed upon, perchance thinking these exact same thoughts?

Some memories of Moon Festival from HK:

I’ll miss playing with the red candles’ wax on park benches since they prohibited it 10 years ago (as I saw on TV) – moon cake tins then became the new base on which to create the red sculptures…

The simple joy that the beautiful paper lanterns could impart, and how connected we felt when we saw other children also holding their beautiful paper lanterns passing by the park.

The roadside shops dedicated to the myriad of different handmade lanterns…and how special we felt when we got the expensive and unique rabbit (with wheels!) lantern. I lamented how the lanterns the children held became progressively more plastic/electric-ised as I grew older.

My love of the lotus seed paste in mooncakes as we ate it under the moon… so much so that I would pick out the prized duck egg yolk core. Oftentimes I’d play around with the smooth, oily, lotus seed paste, treating it in a play-doh manner and rolling it into shapes of 1cm balls/cubes, before eating each artistically crafted morsel.

The legend of the ‘lunar deity’ is a fascinating one, yet, as much as I squinted my eyes, I could only see a rabbit in the full moon.

Living in Australia, this yearly ritual never occured. It’s not mid-autumn, it’s mid-spring here. But the moon that I gaze upon, shall never be changed.

中秋節快樂

Embracing braces

(if the tenses seem completely incongruent, it’s not because I have a completely warped sense of time (or maybe I do, but not so much that I can’t tell the difference between yesterday or two months ago!), but because, as usual, I procrastinated posting this and so it combines experiences from when I first got braces fitted to present (2 months later)).

It’s been such a long time because of my mother’s (dentist) insistence on ‘settling down’ before starting orthodontic treatment. Since we were moving around like nomads during my teenage years, the prerequisite for braces was not met, and we never got around to it till I saw a periodontist and he strongly advised I do get braces. So, in these few weeks, my mum found a good orthodontist, pulled out four of my teeth (originally she didn’t have the inclination to extract her own daughter’s teeth (like taking one’s own flesh?!), but then the disconcert probably subsided), got separators put in last week, and today got the brackets cemented on and the archwires pulled through. The whole process isn’t as daunting as it seemed. I’ve never had teeth pulled out, so naturally I was anxious… but it didn’t actually hurt. The injections hurt… especially the upper gum, but somebody was really clever and told me to think of it as just like ant stings (speaking of which, an ant bit my knee the other day and now puss is squirting out. yummy). The important thing is try not to panic! I did panic a bit and felt quite dizzy: breathe in slowly and deeply, to avoid that happening (easier said than done!). The actual extractions didn’t hurt a bit, I think the pain is more psychological, as if you’re forever removing a healthy part of yourself. But it’s necessary, at least in my case of severe overcrowding. After the anaesthesia wears off, there will be a dull pain on the site where the teeth were, lasting no more than one to two days, but the worst bit is having to taste your own blood.

The separators are just tiny little rubber bands that are placed between your back teeth to allow for space to place the bands. They are good because they allow you to get accustomed to the sort of ‘discomfort’ you’ll get with braces in smaller areas and without the strange metal contact a week before the actual braces are fitted. The ache only occurs when you’re chewing down on food: otherwise it doesn’t hurt.

I was pretty indecisive about whether to get ceramic or metal brackets (for the upper teeth, metal is needed for lower): I know they all say it’s about the same, but I was still unsure and wasted a lot of time researching about it on the internet. While most people my age would think that ceramic braces are more aesthetically pleasing, I have to say I think metal braces are way cuter. At the very last minute (literally), while sitting on the ortho’s chair, I finally decided on ceramic braces. They are indeed a bit bigger and have a smoother texture than metal braces, but after a week, you get so accustomed to the feeling that the feeling has habituated (unaware sense). There are times when ulcers will develop because of the constant friction with soft gums, but they clear up. Braces has definitely made oral hygiene even more laborious because you have to thread the floss through each wire and the actual braces themselves are such obstructive things, but I noticed that interdental cleaning is easier because of the bigger gaps. Eating food is also quite annoying when everything gets jammed in between the wires, refusing to budge even with vigorous mouth rinsing, and you keep tasting your lunch from 4 hours ago as the flavours (that also taste strange because the enzymes have degraded it!) seep out.

I have had one adjustment (monthly), and while the process itself does hurt a little, the pain afterwards was nowhere near as intense as the first fitting, when I was forced to eat soggy Weet-Bix the next morning (my previously most hated breakfast food: but now it seems I am “Australian-ising” and becoming less picky…), and pureed (baby) food for a week afterwards (not really baby food. Pureeing the common family dinner… but even chicken was a bit tough and required some sore gnawing even after pulverisation). I think I loved the blender during that time because it allowed me to evade the usual Chinese “remedy-for-all-ailments” of congee (which I am not fond of at all!)… After that week, I was able to chew on pretty much anything, and after a fortnight, even hard foods like apples and nuts are okay to bite on (although they say to avoid nuts.. obviously I’m not a good patient am I?! I’ve also been eating Twix lately, hopeful the caramel isn’t that detrimental… :P).

Results are clearly and quickly visible. Only just two months into treatment and it’s already straightened considerably, especially the lower teeth. It makes me at awe of the wonders of technology and love orthodontics (I think orthodontists have an unfair advantage to all other dentists because everybody loves getting straight teeth without too much pain!). However, the heart-wrenching thing is the loosening of my teeth… I am wishful that they will still be an intact part of me for a long time to come…

Some interesting things I notice about what has happened because of braces… (I know, just two, pretty pathetic list eh?):

~I can’t whistle loudly! (like I proudly could before! Only a very weak, pathetic one!) Something to do with the hole that the lips form?

~Before, my top right canine (which formed a lump (anterior) on the gum) always (or… a lot of the time) had an itchy feeling. Now it is only occasional.

There is a part of me aching to go to a university steeped in history, prestige and acclaim. I want to be part of that culture, perhaps so that I can feel like an elitist snob. 😀
I seem to notice there being a superiority complex in UQ. The group on Facebook titled “I GO TO UQ THEREFORE I AM BETTER THAN YOU”  is just one example. While I praise the creators for being able to spell ‘than’, using capitals for emphasis, and the very discerning use of the word ‘therefore’, such feelings of superiority toward other universities are quite unhealthy. It also seems there isn’t this problem in other Australian states; there isn’t a “I go to UniSyd therefore I am better than you” group, and from what I remember from my conversations with people there, it appears Sydneysiders respect those who attend UTS, Macquarie or the like. Or in South Australia, I seem to sense there’s an equal ranking between students of the more eminent University of Adelaide, and other institutions like Flinders or Uni of South Australia. I have, however, noticed that an aggressive elitism is also shared between Melbourne Uni and Monash, with the former constantly belittling the latter much like UQ students do to other unis. Must be the stupid Queenslanders and Victorians! I must say I am making a huge generalisation here, and apologise to many of those who do attend the universities and hasn’t fallen prey to the aforementioned pompous attitudes.

I have to admit, part of my reason to want to go into Speech Pathology back then was because I had a chance to go to UQ, a prestigious, sandstone university, no longer taunted (self, psychologically) with the inferiority associated with attending a non-sandstone university, a chance to reunite with my old high school friends, a chance to mingle with high-class, intelligent people.

No, I had to fight all those desires, and tell myself I TRULY wanted to be a dietitian, and not to be blinded by an elevation in ‘university superiority status’ or ‘social popularity’.

But it took a fair bit to fight such desires. It seemed like fate had conspired for me to stay in Brisbane, to stay in QUT. Why do I say that? When I felt desperate to leave QUT, to stop such feelings of inferiority, I was looking for alternatives. First it was thinking of any possible subjects I could do at UQ, and Speech Pathology seemed a plausible option. Yes, I think my desire to leave QUT even clouded me into thinking that I could accept being a speechie. My heart kept pulling me toward Nutrition and Dietetics, I could feel it, but I kept pulling it back because I knew I’d have to stay at QUT and because my mathematics (needed for chemistry) skills aren’t so good. In the end, I listened to my heart.

So after I decided I wanted to be a dietitian, I was still yearning to attend a ‘sandstone uni’. I looked interstate, desperately hoping I’d have a chance.

Victoria: Monash: “Non-school leavers: An applicant’s entire academic record will be taken into account and short-listed applicants will be required for interview in early December 2008. Entry is competitive.” Considering I didn’t do well in my first semester of university, I think it was plain obvious that Monash didn’t welcome me.
ACT: University of Canberra: has a Master of Dietetics, but that would mean I’d have to study for an extra year and also a slight chance I wouldn’t be able to get in.
SA: University of Flinders: considering its prestige is about the equivalent of QUT, I didn’t see why I should move so far away, to a place I never really liked living in (I lived there for 1.5 years).
NSW: University of Sydney: this seemed like the absolute perfect option! Not only could I continue the legacy of my parents’ attendance of Australia’s oldest university, I could actually live in a big city, oh I like Sydney!! My grandma lives there and I could live in her apartment! Yay! Perfect right? Wrong. The Nutrition and Dietetics course is actually just a major in the Bachelor of science, along with all the mathematics that goes with it. It’s even more tough than Pharmacy, where there are no mathematics subjects, and public/community health is pushed to the peripheries with only a few subjects starting in the third year. To make it even worse, despite the relatively low UAI required to get in (93.85, equivalent to OP 4, whereas QUT had an op cut-off of 3), to get into honours year (fourth year for accreditation as a dietitian), you have to get minimum of credit average. Even though it’s quite likely that if I studied hard it shouldn’t be any trouble, but when there is that question of doubt hanging over your head, it’s not really that nice. You already have enough to worry about when you’re studying in university, let alone to worry about whether or not you’ll ever be able to pursue the career you so wished to have! So it was an unfortunate no.
QLD: UQ: UQ seemed to want to taunt me by introducing a new nutrition major and Master of Dietetics for 2009. I thought it was perfect for me, even though there is that slight possibility I may not be able to enter masters, plus an extra half year of studies. All my hope was placed on UQ now: and it was quashed. I looked further into it, and the new degrees were going to be taught at the IPSWICH campus. Yes, Ipswich. Now I’m open to living independently, but if I’m going to move out of my house, I’m doing it so that i can receive quality education. But the thing was, the new nutrition major was going to be offered within the Bachelor of Health Sciences, a degree that is for the laziest of people who just want the easiest way to get into a health career (note, OP 16 cut-off), which is precisely why it was relegated to the boganville town of Ipswich. Do I really want to live in the hole called Ipswich amongst classmates who don’t give a shit about their education? Do I really? no. Furthermore, since it’s a new degree, being their guinea pig isn’t the wisest of ideas.

I was despondent. One after another, it seemed that there was a conspiracy to prevent me from leaving Brisbane, or from attending a prestigious university.
I don’t hate QUT. I think it was more of a very very bad nightmare I had during that semester of design. And having went to a ‘prestigious high school’, I probably became a little elitist myself, and thought I had to go to a ‘reputable university’ just to maintain my status quo. Well, I don’t want to think like that. You stand on your own two feet: you don’t rely on your attendance of university or your grades to measure your worth, and whoever does is not somebody of substance anyhow. Yeah, I’ll have to live with the taunts of “I GO TO UQ THEREFORE I AM BETTER THAN YOU”, I’ll have to separate from many of my friends, I won’t have the honorific title of “Group of 8 University graduate” to lean back on, but at least I’ve learned early on that prestige isn’t everything.  If I could fight this irrepressible urge, it means I am truly choosing a job for its job, not for the pathetic 4 years of studies and the enjoyment it can provide me in that short timeframe, or the foolish pride it would afford me from being able to boast about my “high society” education. It was pretty funny: my little brother was playing with his little friend. They were getting up to some mischievous things, so I chided them. The friend ignored me, and Robbie matter-of-factedly said “Listen to my sister! She went to Brisbane State High! She is very smart!” and at that point I just rolled my eyes, “So what?!”

While I realise that indeed, UQ, and any other sandstone university for that matter, is a very good university giving quality education to its students who no doubt are intelligent to be able to enter in the first place, it doesn’t give them prerogative to regard others with contempt. Many people have considerations other than eminence when making a choice of university; many have no choice but to choose another university because it is more suitable for the degree they want: it is not necessarily because of a lacking OP (or intelligence, for those who erroneously believe the two have a strong correlation). Four years on from now, and everybody’s going to be slaving away as a novice in the lowest of ranks, the graduation certificate you receive is only a license to a lifetime of learning, and which university you went to or what GPA you got would be the most trivial of matters. Ultimately what is important is your character, rather than the shadow of pride that prestigious education or good marks confer.

哥哥 got engaged!

(a most unprofound post title)

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to hear of my brother’s engagement with his girlfriend of 5 years, Yoko. My first memory of this girl was back in Wagga Wagga, when my brother and I were sitting in the computer room, and he was telling me in a lovesick tone about how he had fell for a Japanese girl who was older than him, and that he was worried it might go against tradition. Then it blossomed into a beautiful and tender relationship, and our family also became close to Yoko, who was in Brisbane at the time. She was always really kind to us, inviting us over for her lovely Japanese food, sending packages of food and gifts from Singapore/Japan, sending us little letters telling us about her life and asking about ours… She also had always known I like Snoopy (something most of my friends might not actually know/bother to remember!), and that I like to eat Japanese snacks. hahaha.

I guess Yoko has made a real influence on my brother, in a good way of course! He has become more caring and accepting now, bullying me a little less than before. 😛

When I was small I had a strange dream about my brother getting married, and I was actually jealous of the bride! I was quite close to Gor Gor and the thought of him leaving his little sister, and replacing me with his wife as a ‘surrogate sister’ must have been quite a scary thought for me! The strange dream aside, I am actually really happy and have no feelings of jealousy, as I now realise that I’m never going to be ‘replaced’, and besides, Yoko is too much of a dream sister-in-law to be jealous of! Haha (yes, Gor Gor shall always be in my never-ending “bully-victim” sibling cycle).

If you are reading this, Gor Gor or Yoko, I wish to congratulate your engagement, and hope this passage wasn’t embarrassing and hope you don’t mind me talking about it!

Here is a photo of the spouses-to-be. (I tried to look for a really cute picture of them in Japan but my brother must have deleted it out of bashfulness because he was hugging her hehe)

Fiancée and Fiancé

Fiancée and Fiancé

I just had this sudden urge to go hiking up a mountain under the moonlit starry sky. It’s a shame walking around at night is a ‘dangerous’ risk to take in Australia. When I was a child in HK I had fond memories of roaming around the city and natural places at night with no fear. I even remember hiking up a hill, making a stop at this fluorescent-lit house (houses are rare in HK).

How I crave to relive the joys of wandering around and engulfed in the mysterious shrouds of darkness without a speck of trepidation. A beautiful, serene, exhilirating experience, to walk up a mountain when the sun and creatures, who usually so harshly shines or eyes, have been doused to sleep. Where palpable objects become indiscrete shadows, where sounds are amplified tenfold, where there is the rare occasion (one that daytime does not permit) of simultaneously experiencing both ends of the spectrum of stimulus: of the intense allure of the moon, to detecting the most subtle nuances of the dark, unfamiliar habitat you have intruded upon. Where all surroundings seem inextricable, everything falls into its place, is one with the universe. Alone, yet invigorated, while relishing in being one of the few individuals still awake and blessed to appreciate such a thrilling yet uncanny atmosphere that only the hours of darkness offer.