Category: Daily life


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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…

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.

I guess it’s about time I cleared up on what happened in 2008.

In case you didn’t know, I quit my degree in Landscape Architecture and took a ‘gap semester’ for Semester 2. My reasons for doing so were presented in my previous blog, and I didn’t think it was necessary for me to waste one semester of uni fees and time in a subject I was averse to.

So, you might be wondering what on earth I did during that ‘gap semester’. I did many different things, among them being:

~wasting a LOT of time doing pointless things (e.g. sitting in front of the computer, bumming around);
~attempting to get some work experience to find out about jobs (instead, I got a lot of rejections, and some ‘interviews’);
~researching about different careers (heck, I even went back to the Careers Expo and emailed strangers asking about their jobs: people are actually very willing to talk about their careers to strangers in emails! 🙂 );
~’studying’ Chemistry in preparation for my future studies (that was rather unsuccessful, as expected, self-studying isn’t very effective);

The lovely volunteers at MS Society Pottery
The lovely volunteers at MS Society Pottery

~volunteering for various health organisations (every Tuesday was Multiple Sclerosis Pottery club, Thursdays was working as a “Patient Buddy” in Mater Hospital);
~’lecture shopping’ (I furtively sneaked into lots of different lectures at UQ and QUT, just to get a taste of the different subjects on offer. Some of them included psychology, chemistry, pharmacology etc… It wasn’t very easy to sneak in though, especially when you don’t know where the smaller lecture halls are, or what times they are held… Once, I walked into a lecture that ended 1 minute later (people looked at me like I was from a mental asylum), and another time I barged in the middle of an exam! (luckily nobody saw…or dragged me to take an exam I would have no idea about, haha!);

pic
Psychology at UQ

~and eventually, my mum dragged me to her dental surgery to work as a dental assistant.

Mr. Tooth

Mr. Tooth

As you can see, social activities didn’t feature in my ventures, I’ve discovered I can actually live as a hermit (surprise surprise) (note: I didn’t feel that great though)!!! My ‘gap semester’ was quite unproductive, but very different from usual student life nevertheless.

So now I’ve got that cleared up… you’ll be wondering how I came to my decision to study Nutrition and Dietetics. This will take a mini essay that may be best left for another day to spare you the eyestrain.

When I listen to the radio, I have a marvelous time appreciating the beauty of music. After a long spate of mediocre songs, though, I get a little frustrated that there aren’t any good songs broadcasted. But then, unexpectedly and much to my delight, a song I like is played, and I relish in the magnificence of the song. So I thought to myself, why don’t I take note of all the songs I liked and played them on demand on YouTube, so I won’t have to endure the unexceptional songs? With that, I set off to indulge in some music orgy. But it seemed like the songs were somewhat lacklustre from their usual selves, it just didn’t quite climax and send shivers down my spine like they did before.

 
Then I realised why. Without the many mundane, insipid songs that I had to tolerate, the good songs didn’t seem special anymore.

Perhaps it’s not good to have everything you want. Perhaps it’s better to live through the humdrum of mundane life, and when something beautiful comes along, the intensity of its beauty and novelty will be magnified luxuriantly. So when you feel dismal about how routine and uninspiring life is, just be patient and bear with it, great things will come. There will always be a part of me longing for something, missing something, but I’ll be reminded of this analogy and understand that without the dull monotony of the everyday, the rarity of wonderful things will go unappreciated. 

Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve