Genting Highlands, 2003

My next trip, 5 years later. During these 5 years, I was studying my Eng Lit and Lang degree holding only a p/t job. Who had the luxury of going across any borders?

13th Jun to 15th Jun 2003. I believe it was Genting Highlands with Irene and her sis, Jac. My 2nd trip to Genting, if memory serves correctly. After 5 years, I just had to get out of Singapore then, even for a while. Of course, she made some disparaging remarks on the state of my finances, but that’s neither nor there.

For my thoughts on Genting, see my post on cruising. Replace swimming pool and Pulau Tioman with Genting amusement park. Casinos are fucking boring, gambling only empties your pockets and mind. What else was there to do? Well, it would have been fun, except the 2 ladies didn’t like to fly around on some machine that made you scream. They preferred to do … nothing. yes, nothing. They did spend 1/2 their night at the slots machine, while I decided to hang around the Italian restaurant and listen to the ‘live’ band.

Genting is bloody boring, unless you are a gambler or slots addict, or their kid, in which case you have no choice. Trust me, go at your own risk.

Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen – 1996

Longest trip so far, HK, Macau and Shenzhen from 1st Mar 1996 to 12th Mar 1996. I went with Shan, just the 2 of us. The main reason for this trip was for the first Beyond concert tour after Ka Kui’s death. It was also the first Beyond concert for the both of us. We planned the trip ourselves after seeing the concert announced in the papers, booking hotels and visas and planning short trips, getting Shan’s relatives to book us concert tickets for the final night of the concert.

I lost the ticket stub years back, because some idiot decided to steal my wallet. The money didn’t matter after a while, but the ticket stub still does.

So far, this is the trip I have enjoyed most in my life. We spent 12 days there, with 1 day in Macau and 1 day in Shenzhen, booking all the trips and travelling around on public transport ourselves. For this trip, we stayed at North Point, 北角, in a hostel meant for China nationals. But it was fairly cheap, S$15 a night each. The hostel was actually just a normal HK flat, and we stayed in one of the 4 bedrooms available there. It was clean and warm, with a small tv, hot water flask and 2 bunk beds, enough for the 2 of us, considering we went out before 8am and returned after 2am most days.

There was a Hoi Wong 海皇 shop nearby which had friend noodles, fried yau char guai and soya bean milk, usual breakfast/supper fare, 24 hours a day, and a tiny road-side stall who set up stall late at nights selling hot desserts 糖水. Guess who had supper every night :). It was also there that I discovered the joys of warming cold fingers and slurping down hot soup or soya bean milk while the cold wind swirled around you pinching your fingers and cheeks. Further down, was a multi-level wet market, very similar to what we have in S’pore, only Singapore’s only has 1 or 2 levels. The top level was, well for want of description, a hawker centre. And in this hawker centre was this gorgeous stall who sold delicious and fairly cheap dim sum *drool* and, get this, Teochew porridge. Every morning, you would see old men coming up and ordering that yummy steamed fish and other dishes. I wasn’t that much in love with Teochew porridge then as I am today, but the dim sum was fantastic. On days when we didn’t have a too-early start to the day, we’d wander down to this market and eat our favourite dim-sum, especially char siew bao. There were stacks and stacks of those bamboo containers outside the stall, and the assistant there would open them up showing you umpteen choices of steaming, glistening dim sum. You chose what you wanted before taking a seat nearby. One of the assistants would then bring it over to you. Business was so good, sometimes you just had to wait while they were getting steamed. Who needs a restaurant, eh?

Like I said, the highlight and purpose of this trip was the Beyond cncert 1996. The 2nd day we were in HK, we rushed over to the ticket counter and bought another 2 tickets for another night, besides the ones we had already. I mean, if we had the money and time, I think we’d have gone for all 4 or 5 nights. This concert is best laid to rest in my memories. The limited words I have do not do honour to these 2 nights, and I have not gathered up my courage, after nearly 10 years, to watch the LD again.

We also visited Ka Kui, 3 years after his death, at his gravesite. This is a trip, almost a prilgrimage, that is never avoided or one is too busy for. It was our first time visiting him, and my first time coming face-to-face with him, so to speak. Again, this is another event in my life that words cannot do the honour of describing.

His place of rest was breathtakingly beautful at that time. It is situated near the top of the mountain, facing an ocean bay. The place is often silent except for birds and the wind and the occasional interruption of a car or taxi driving past. The valley and ocean bay below, at the time, was devoid of any human touch or development. Time stands still between you and him, with just the wind for company, and hours just pass by while you sit there.

It was also at the HK concerts, that I discovered the business acumen of HKers. When we watched the concert on the 2nd night of the tour, stalls were laid out otuside the HK Coliseum 紅勘體育館 selling light-sticks, whistles and all sorts of paraphernalia people decide they need to use at a rock concert. None of that for us. The stalls which attracted us, the photo/poster stalls. It was like this dream come true for girlie fans who had to have Ah Paul or KK or Wing adorning your walls. We bought some posters and photos, because we couldn’t decide what to buy, because the stalls stretched all the way from the Coliseum to an overhead bridge leading towards the bus-stops. When we went on the final night of the concert, we even got the address of a guy sellng there, a free-lance photographer, and went to his family-run laundry shop to buy even more photos from him. (Chris and Jean will understand why we did this) Luckily we didn’t know of Sun Wo Building 信合中心, or it didn’t exist yet.

The rest of the trip was spent in a whirlwind of shopping, walking, sightseeing and eating, just like in the commercials 買東西,吃東西,休息,買東西,吃東西. We visited every shopping place or night market we knew of, spending at least 2 days at each if we could. Window shopping at branded TST, clothes at Causeway Bay, tacky accessories at Ladies Market, porn mags at Temple Street, the list just went on and on. We even walked along Nathan Road from TST MTR all the way up to Prince Edward MTR. We paid a visit to the Po Lam Monastery on Lantau Island and climbed up all the way to the Giant Buddha. Too bad the weather wsn’t good, as we wanted to go to Tai-O as well.

Many people say they don’t like to travel to HK in cold weather because shopping is difficult and summer clothes are limited. For me, I love the cold…anything above 10deg C (the coldest I’ve expericed so far) is fantastic for me mainly because I have a thick layer of natural insulation *grin* I sound like I could be a seal or a whale. Cold weather allows me to walk further, and because I love the cold, I don’t have to be bundled up under layers of clothes. I get to enjoy steaming hot food and drinks, which I don’t normally in Singapore because I end up perspiring like a lunatic. It’s just this whole new experience, every single time.

At the end of these 12 days, I fell in love with HK even more and couldn’t bear to leave it. But we had to. We had also accumulated between us more than 40kg worth of boots, shoes, tees, useless accessories, food, tidbits, photos, posters, which we could barely carry to the cab. The best part was cabs weren’t allowed to stop on the road in front of the building so we had to lug and drag everything around the building to the back. We also decided to check in early so the heavy luggage wouldn’t get penalized 🙂 Did I mention this was also when it was the old airport at Kai Tak? I loved the place. Yes it was a bit old and dingy, but it also had the most character and the most difficult runway to land on, imagine you’re sitting at a window seat, the pilot announces that we are descending into HK, you look out and see the wingtip rush by numerous old dingy apartments then the plane touches ground and you see water on both sides of you, barely a few hundred metres away. The entrances into immigration are also firmly etched into people’s minds from the numerous TV serials and movies churned out from this fantastic city over the years. How can anybody not miss Kai Tak?

Hong Kong. Every time I leave her, I can’t help but be lured back into the whirlwind again and again Rest assured, this is not my last trip there.

M’sia – 1994

Unremembered trip, 30th Sep 1994 to 2nd Oct 1994. For the life of me, I can’t remember what this trip was about and where I went. A hole in my history that I can’t patch up.

I started working in 1994 so it can’t have been a big trip to anywhere far. If anybody who knew me as Shufen or Nicole back then reads this blog, remind me of it. Goodness, it’s scary.

JB – 1993-1994

New Year’s trip into JB, in on 31st Dec 1993, out on 1st Jan 1994, Happy New Year! I went with LC and her cousins. Nothing much to remember, as her younger cousin and I just went along for some fun. She went to resolve some stuff with him, I think.

Hong Kong – 1991

The next first, Hong Kong, 16th June 1991 till 20th June 1991. This 5-day trip was a revelation to me. I fell madly in love with Hong Kong on this trip and I think I left a lot of myself back there. Recently I’ve been thinking that I might have been a Hongkie in my past life.

This happened during the long break after 2 years in Anglo-Chinese Junior College. Lee Chin, Jingmin and I decided to get together after these 2 years and go on a trip together. We stayed at the Omni Marco Polo, I think. An organized trip with Chan Brothers. We got the requisite City Tour, and the seafood dinner at Lei Yue Mun. I do remember the guide who was with us was really cute ^__^

More details as I remember them. I’ll go dig out the old photographs in the meantime.

Kukup, JB – 1988

My first trip overseas, I got the passport made because of this. So many years back. I think it was a school geography trip, to Kukup in JB, 1-day trip, there and back on 3rd June 1988. I was in Seconday 4, Fairfield Methodist Sec and I loved Geography. It was a one-day trip but I don’t remember much about it anymore, I remember we ate seafood 🙂 food’s very important to me, and seafood in JB is fantastically cheap and delicious.

But it’s strange that the little details are the ones that stick inside your head, well, my head, at least. Because I do remember one thing very clearly about the trip.

We paid a visit to this fishing kelong, at least, I think it was a kelong. There were these wooden slats laid out over the water, and the boys were running about on them. I was inching about, wondering if I would accidentally step through the slats. I wondered how I would get home if everything I had was dripping wet. However, luckily, I didn’t do anything of that sort. I did, though, drop my pen into the water. It fell with a ‘bloop’ into the sea and before I could reach out for it (one of my many *DUH* moments in life — what was I thinking…quicksand?– ), it had sunk from my sight. I wonder what happened to it afterwards.

Well, those are the memories of my first-ever trip out of Singapore.