Category: Reflections


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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…

A career quandry

I can call myself lucky.
I am the sort of person who enjoys abstract theory rather than practical skills. which basically means that I would probably enjoy studying ANYTHING in university (as long as it’s not mathematics, engineering or business related ~shudder~), and precisely why my choice of senior subjects was so diverse: because I derive satisfaction from the theoretical study of anything, really, as I have such a varied range of interests, which is probably why it was so difficult for me to choose a career in the first place! Art, psychology, the humanities (particularly anthropology), science (particularly biology), the English language; I could go through the whole degree happily, unbeknowist of the fact that after this academic phase of learning ‘irrelevant’ theory, I would have to do the practical side, the application, which I may hate.

So why am I lucky? Had I not chosen to study design, where the practical work was surely not appealing to me, I would have naively wasted four years of my life, thinking how great life is while I’m happily engaging in my “head in the clouds” state of academic studying, only get pushed into the workforce to discover how much I hated the actual job (note here that the studies of something can differ vastly from the actual job it leads to). This could have easily happened to any subject I would have potentially chosen. The problem lies within the fact that I would not really enjoy any of the jobs those subjects lead to, I may actually end up hating the career! Although this post seems to imply that I am immensely picky, it’s not so. It’s more about whether I am suited to a job, and because I’m quite aware about what suits me and what doesn’t, it helped me to foresee any potential shortcomings I may have encountered in a profession.

(If you want to just get the gist of how I chose Nutrition and Dietetics, you can skip the coloured text about how I analysed every career I thought feasible)

Read it this way:

First paragraph is: Why I’d enjoy studying this subject…

Second paragraph is: Why I wouldn’t enjoy the job…

Urban planning

Geography is pretty fascinating.

Too much politics.

Arts

Hello art history, anthropology, english studies, sociology…I like the humanities in all its worldliness! I was seriously thinking of choosing it since it’s for indecisive people like me, and especially because of how easy and interesting it is, but I decided it would be of no benefit to me since I’ve pretty much mastered the whole ‘research/essay-writing technique’ Arts lecturers keep boasting about, in high school.

A Mcdonald’s burgery patty flipper (ever heard of the joke? “What did the B.A. graduate say to the law graduate? ‘Would you like fries with that?'” hahhaa.. either that end of the spectrum, or a university researcher, which I probably would love, but the chances are pretty slim, and researchers seem a bit ‘out of it’, disconnected from the world (something I’m already too much of!). Even if not, it would be something like an art curator, with lots of politics and business, a teacher, or an editor or translator. Actually I wouldn’t mind being an editor or a translator. However, my Chinese is a far shot from professional, and I also don’t think I could stand just reading and writing all day long (plus, I’m not that pedantic to be an editor, I don’t think)…

Any of the Medical/Health sciences

Biology is really interesting for me.

A doctor/speech pathologist/pharmacist/dentist/occupational therapist/physiotherapist/optometrist/whatever else (too: stressful/too boring/too routine/too much detail/too caring/too physical-exercise-based/too much physics and monotonous. One of my main options was speech pathology, chosen because of my love of language, but the actual job is actually more about teaching others about how to make sounds rather than about the artistry of language.

Science

Unleash the inner bio freak within!

Scientist: (I can’t imagine myself in a lab coat tinkering with beakers, prodding mice and writing down numbers all day)

Environmental science

Geography and biology combined in one! Hell yes!

Environmental scientist/manager: I’m just not a tree-hugger.

Psychology

Theories? Essays? Analysing the inner workings of a person’s psyche? Bring it on.

A psychologist/careers counsellor/whatever (talking day in day out to crazy, stressed, or whatever people will eventually drive me insane. Plus i’m already overly analytical of people, don’t want to add fuel to a fire. And although the thought of being a careers counsellor is appealing because I can empathise with them wholeheartedly, I have to admit they don’t help that much (unless it’s saying “listen to your heart”, which everyone knows but hardly anyone enacts on. Which I suppose, most people DO need to hear that advice (maybe I just didn’t find it useful because I already listen to my heart). Besides, most people who study psychology end up needing to do a masters degree in a completely unrelated subject anyway).

Veterinary science

Oh, how I love learning about zoology! I find animals really fascinating, you can see me watching ants all day if I were allowed.

I just don’t love animals enough. They’re cute, but I am not an animal fanatic. Besides, there’s a lot of hands-on work like operations and other fiddly stuff.

Education

Get to study two things at once! (the actual subject/s (I would probably choose something like English/Arts/Biology), and the theory of teaching)

I’m just not in love with little kids, and teenagers? Keep me a yard away from those pests! As for adult teaching, that’s ok, but not for the rest of my life.. I’m also not much of a public speaker.

Journalism

(aahh.. writing is one of my fortes, if I must say)

You need to be bold. VERY bold. And quick-thinking. And have thick skin. None of which I had been endowed with.

Law

Perfect for an analytical person like me.

Leaving the worst till last. Of all the jobs listed here, I believe I would hate this the most. What was I thinking? Was I ever one to love the rigidity of rules and laws?! Was I ever very fond of debating (aka. twisting the facts and lying)? Nonononono!


Separated from the section of “I will like subjects because they’re all theoretical but will hate practical subjects“, some people, knowing my talent in art and love of cooking, asked why I don’t become an artist or a chef. I laugh out loud, especially at the second one.

Fine Art

Yes, I am a keen lover of art, always have been and always will be. It is an inborn gift that I can have such aptitude for it without much practice.

Yet I don’t particularly LIKE drawing or painting. I can say it’s even quite frustrating at times, as if my perfectionist self will never be satisfied with my own artworks, like a chore. It’s also very hands-on, just too much doing rather than ideological thinking. I can’t imagine myself being some bong-smoking hippie artist (yeah yeah, I know it’s such a stereotype, but all artists are slightly insane. Not that I’m not insane, but I don’t think I want to be more than I already am). Perhaps I am more fond of the notion of art rather than the reality of it.

Graphic Design

It’s true, I like to draw, and make things look pretty, and all that jazz.

I don’t have creativity on demand: it just sparks in me whenever, randomly. And you have to pander your designs to the clients’ wants. Plus, I’m not into technology and computer art…

Culinary Arts

Ok, I do like to cook.

But seriously, a lot of people LIKE TO COOK. Does that mean they should all sign up for the next chef apprenticeship course or partake in the Iron Chef? I would actually quite loathe being a chef, because it’s so routine, so manual, so uncreative. I guess I like cooking more because I get to eat it afterwards, than the actual act of cooking!

So I’m lucky. Lucky I chose something where it was so blatantly obvious I would dislike the job, rather than blindly fall in love with university, then get pushed into the reality of workforce.

So why did I choose Nutrition and Dietetics? The sort of job I want is one that is varied, free of rigid hierarchy or routine, one where I can think and analyse, and one where I can help others thrive in a meaningful way. I know a lot of people who want careers where they can just leave all of it behind after 5pm. I’m not like that, I have to feel strongly and passionate about my career. Which is why I think I will leave a profession without too much hesitation if I start losing interest in it, rather than staying in it as most people would-even if it means unfavourable financial consequences. I think by now you’d know that my sole criteria for a job is interest, in the topic and in the work. Call me starry-eyed and fanciful, but wealth or status had no place in my quest for an ideal career.

I have been told that dietitians are either fat or anorexic. Haha, I mean, this sort of cliche is funnily quite true, dietitians either have a love of food, or are health freaks. I must say I am much more of the former, but thankfully not really fat. People ask, “Do you really like food THAT much?”. Well, sort of, yes. I love to eat. I always have. But I think it’s more than just that. I want a job where I can deal with the big picture. With Speech Pathology, I don’t think I would enjoy it much because I think it’s way too specialised and also the sort of work involved seems so monotonous (administering tests, teaching others how to make sounds…) But nutrition is a much more holistic field, where you can really make a difference in a broad way…

I am interested in nutrition, I like how the topic covers the areas of public health/community/clinical roles, leaving a lot of flexibility with social studies, psychology and science… and also get the chance to do some preventative work rather than after the disease has already occurred!

I spent a long long time deliberating over what my career should be fated to be. A lot of tears, a lot of confusion, a lot of despondency. But in the end, I think it’s important to realise that a job is just a job after all: all jobs becomes routine after a while, so don’t have overly high expectations, and know it’s not the end of the world if you feel burnt out and want a change. Human nature is dynamic and ever-changing, and we should always be true to ourselves (I hope this won’t mean changing careers every third year or something…hopefully I’m not that fickle…).

And that, my friends, is my 2000-word summary of my analysis of careers. (which you probably didn’t read)

(N.B. if you don’t believe in God, replace the word with some divinity that reigns the universe, whether that be the sky, or some mystical force called fate…)

So I’m going to post something against the traditional doctrine (I’m not a pious Christian that believes everything the Bible or priest says.).

Whenever I go to church, they always mention an unfortunate person, and ask that everyone pray for them.

Why should people pray if God already knows what is best for us, and has made His plans for us regardless of whether we cusp our hands together and close our eyes and beg Him for something? I am not speaking of praying for praise or gratefulness, but the praying that many people do in an attempt to solve their/other people’s problems. God is almighty and He already knows and has pre-ordained our destiny that is best for us, whether we know this or not, so why is it necessary to ask for Him to change our destiny?

I guess you’ll be thinking that I don’t pray. Actually, I do, but only on rare occasions. These rare occasions are times of great distress, where my future is plagued with doubt and I’m feeling somewhat forlorn. Usually I start off with the typical “Please God, help me…” But for the very reason I stated above, I change it back to “Please God, just do whatever you know is best for me and the world.” So praying in times of distress is more of a way to find solace rather than seeking for a favour from God. No doubt, it is a pretty effective way to ease the suffering and enrich ourselves spiritually, but as for asking God to thwart the fateful path that He has ordained, I don’t get it. Have people forgotten that God will do what is best, no matter we pray to Him or not?

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