Category: Hong Kong


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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…

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

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.