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Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Father And Daughter Trip

I can't be to sure if it's just my wicked sense of humor, but I always have this imagination that on the day I am on my deathbed, I'll ask my daughter this, "do you still remember when we had our holiday, just the two of us?" I think that'll be sweet, or perhaps bittersweet, as we may be crying and smiling at the same time. That is why I planned a trip with my daughter Linda. In a world where Mum will always be in our hearts, I just wanted to make sure that my little princess will have a little bit of memories about her Dad.

And the holiday began at Changi Airport!
Photo by Nuryani

I chose Hong Kong as the destination for the father and daughter trip simply because it's the nearest first world country from Singapore. I wasn't very keen on going through anything that was inconvenient. It had to be simple and practical enough for us to enjoy our moments, so Hong Kong was a very logical choice. It'd be a five-day trip, with only three effective days for sightseeing. The first and the last days would be dedicated solely for travelling purpose.

While I obviously didn't mind travelling only with my daughter, I shared the plan exclusively with my high school friends, just in case they'd like to join. It turned out that only Endrico took up the offer. An old friend of mine, his participation was warmly welcome. In fact, his ideas helped to shape the trip, too. I originally planned one theme park per day, but I only had Ocean Park and Disneyland. Endrico was the one who suggested the Peak. Endrico was also more rational when it came to spending (and that was a good thing) whereas I was more of the type that followed my heart in getting things done. Thanks to his effort, we actually saved some money from hotel booking and theme park tickets. Finally, with Endrico around, now I could go to toilet peacefully, knowing that Linda would be safe with someone I knew outside.

When we were in Lok Fu.

Our arrival in Hong Kong was greeted by Endrico's cousin and a rather cold evening. Endrico already had a dinner planned for him, so Linda and I tagged along. We went to this area called Lok Fu and had a glimpse of public housing in Hong Kong. It was unbelievably tiny! That shocking experience aside, the dinner at the shopping mall nearby was good. The dishes kept coming as if there was no end to it! By the time we finished eating, it was almost midnight. My daughter and I eventually made our way to Burlington Hotel in Wan Chai.

When we were in our room, my daughter pulled out her drawing book and sketched what she saw earlier that night in Hong Kong. She remembered what my wife told her to do. Then, for a split second, she looked at me and said that she did miss her Mum and her sister. That was one sweet and innocent moment, really. She might be throwing tantrum at her Mum sometimes, but deep inside her heart, she always loved her. In fact, on the following day, when she was prompted to write something on the Ocean's Park message board by Endrico, she wrote I love Mama.

The kids, having fun at the Ocean Park.
Photo by Endrico Richard.

Endrico and his daughter, Rachel, stayed overnight at his cousin's house. They joined us at Burlington Hotel on the next morning and we visited Ocean Park together. It was great. The kids were fast friends and they got along really well. Linda clearly liked her travel buddy and she often asked me if she could hold Rachel's hand and walk with her. We explored the whole park, from the Giant Panda Adventure, North Pole Encounter (and I saw walrus for the first time here) to Ocean Theatre and Old Hong Kong. We rushed to Quarry Bay station afterwards to meet our friend Eday Ng for dinner and a postcard moment. He showed us around, from funeral home for Leslie Cheung, how to take the tram, to a taste of Hong Kong dessert.

We went to the Victoria Peak on our second day. The Peak Tram Lower Terminus was quite a long walk from Central station. Unlike Rachel who was strong enough to walk on her own for almost the entire trip, Linda would ask me to carry her. Upon seeing this, Endrico taught her that if Dad was ever tired, all Linda had to do was to kiss Dad's cheek so Dad would be recharged. She developed this habit since then. I wouldn't mind a kiss from my daughter, of course. Personally, I even enjoyed the moments of carrying her around. That's when I could have a silly conversation with her such as, "will you still love Papa when you grow up? Because Papa will love you forever."

Posing at the Sky Terrace, the Peak. 

We didn't do much at the Peak. We had our lunch there, took a picture or two with Bruce Lee whom stood in front of Madame Tussauds, visited the Sky Terrace and then, after watching some 3D show about prehistoric fish and dinosaurs, we went back to the city for Jenny Bakery in Sheung Wan. Once we had our dinner nearby Burlington Hotel, we took a cab to Hong Kong station. Oh yeah, prior to this holiday, I didn't know that Endrico was able to speak Cantonese. He could converse rather fluently and according to him, the cab driver was irritated after learning that we just wanted to go to Hong Kong station. He grumbled that the fee four passengers had to pay for the train to airport was almost the same as the taxi charges.

But we didn't go to the airport. We were heading to Disneyland instead. We reached the Disney Hollywood Hotel at around 9pm and the kids immediately had the time of their lives in the bathtub, enjoying the bath bomb made by Angelia. They loved it, but they were visibly annoyed when they saw no toys once the bath bomb melted, haha.

Heading to Disneyland. 
Photo by Rachel.

Came the next day, it was time for the happiest place on earth. Although it paled in comparison with Tokyo Disneyland, the Hong Kong version was quite decent and still fun for a while, until Endrico inadvertently made Linda cry, haha. The rides such as Dumbo, it's a small world, Mystic Manor and many more had a short duration and were kid-friendly. Apart from Winnie the Pooh, the waiting time for other rides was quite alright. My personal favorite was Mickey's Philharmagic. I think the kids would just take it as it was, but I grew up with Mickey, Donald, Aladdin and those cartoon characters. Seeing them again on a big screen did bring back the good memories. By the way, as we couldn't find our way out after Jungle River Cruise, we ended up being there in Disneyland until the theme park was closed.

In hindsight, I am glad that the Hong Kong trip happened the way it was. Just like me, Linda had a good friend and good times throughout the trip. From Endrico, I also learnt that sometimes we had to be very persuasive for the good of our children. While I often make fun of him, in all honesty, I think he's a brilliant father. And for all those moments when we didn't order our meal so that we could finish the leftover from our daughters, it somehow got me thinking about what the mothers went through: sacrificing their own pleasures for the family. Most importantly, I also enjoyed the quality time with my lovely daughter. I always knew that she was a friendly and kind-hearted girl. I adored her curiosity and amusing antics. But to have a firsthand experience of my daughter for almost 24 hours a day? It was like sitting on a front row to watch the greatest show on earth, fully knowing I've been blessed with such a wonderful daughter. Love her, really...

Back to Singapore!
Photo by Endrico Richard. 


Liburan Ayah Dan Anak

Saya tidak sepenuhnya yakin apakah ini dikarenakan oleh selera humor saya yang aneh, tapi saya selalu membayangkan bahwa suatu hari nanti, saya akan bertanya kepada putri saya seperti ini di kala saya menjelang saat-saat terakhir saya, "apakah kamu masih ingat saat kita liburan berdua?" Saya kira itu akan menjadi kenangan terakhir yang manis, atau mungkin pahit dan manis, karena kita mungkin tersenyum dan menangis pada saat yang bersamaan. Karena itulah saya merencanakan liburan bersama putri saya Linda. Di dunia dimana seorang ibu akan selalu berada di hati kita, saya ingin memastikan bahwa putri saya memiliki sedikit kenangan tentang ayahnya.

Saya memilih Hong Kong sebagai tempat tujuan untuk liburan ayah dan anak karena Hong Kong adalah negara maju yang paling dekat jaraknya dengan Singapura. Saya tidak berminat untuk menjalani segala macam kerumitan yang tidak perlu. Liburan ini harus sesederhana dan sepraktis mungkin bagi kita untuk dinikmati, jadi Hong Kong adalah pilihan yang logis. Liburan ini akan memakan waktu lima hari dengan total tiga hari yang efektif untuk berjalan-jalan. Hari pertama dan terakhir akan sepenuhnya dimanfaatkan untuk penerbangan ke dan dari Hong Kong.

Linda dan Rachel di MTR menuju Ocean Park. 

Walau saya tentu saja tidak keberatan untuk bepergian hanya berdua saja dengan putri saya, saya menawarkan rencana ini kepada teman-teman sekolah, kalau-kalau ada satu atau dua di antara mereka yang berminat. Ternyata hanya Endrico yang turut serta. Seorang teman dari sejak dulu kala, partisipasinya tentu saja disambut dengan hangat. Ide-idenya bermanfaat bagi liburan ini. Dari sejak awal saya berpikir bahwa kita hanya akan mengunjungi satu wahana per hari, tapi saat itu saya hanya memiliki Ocean Park dan Disneyland dalam daftar saya. Sempat terpikirkan bahwa kita mungkin akan ke Ngong Ping, tapi saya tidak terlalu yakin. Endrico pun mengusulkan the Peak. Hal baik lainnya adalah Endrico lebih rasional dalam menekan pengeluaran sementara saya adalah tipe yang lebih mengikuti kata hati. Karena upayanya, kita jadi lebih hemat dalam biaya hotel dan karcis masuk ke wahana. Hal lain yang juga tidak kalah pentingnya, dengan adanya Endrico, sekarang saya bisa ke toilet dengan tenang karena ada yang menjaga Linda di luar. 

Ketibaan kita di Hong Kong disambut oleh sepupu Endrico dan malam yang dingin. Saudara-saudara Endrico sudah merencanakan perjamuan makan untuknya, jadi Linda dan saya pun diajak untuk bergabung. Dari bandara, kita menuju ke daerah bernama Lok Fu dan berkesempatan untuk melihat rumah susun di Hong Kong. Ruangannya luar biasa sempit! Setelah pengalaman yang mengejutkan itu, kita pergi ke restoran di dekat tempat tinggal mereka. Makanan demi makanan terus disajikan tiada henti. Ketika kita selesai makan, malam sudah larut. Saya baru sampai di Burlington Hotel yang terletak di kawasan Wan Chai saat menjelang tengah malam.

Saat Endrico dan Rachel tiba di Burlington Hotel. 

Sewaktu kita berada di kamar, putri saya mengambil buku menggambar dan mulai melukis apa yang barusan dilihatnya. Dia ingat dan melakukan apa yang telah dipesan mamanya. Selagi menggambar, dia memandang saya sejenak dan berkata bahwa dia merindukan ibu dan adiknya. Saya tertegun dan tersenyum melihat betapa polosnya dia. Meski Linda kadang menggerutu tentang ibunya, di dalam hatinya, dia selalu menyayanginya. Ketika Endrico menyuruhnya menulis sesuatu di papan tulisan di Ocean Park, yang Linda tulis adalah saya sayang Mama.  

Endrico dan putrinya Rachel bermalam di rumah sepupunya. Mereka datang ke Burlington Hotel pada keesokan paginya dan barulah kita berangkat bersama-sama ke Ocean Park. Anak-anak dengan cepat berkawan akrab. Linda jelas menyukai teman seperjalanannya dan seringkali ia bertanya apakah ia boleh berjalan bergandengan tangan dengan Rachel. Kita menjelajahi Ocean Park sepanjang hari, mulai dari Giant Panda Adventure, North Pole Encounter (dan saya pertama kali melihat walrus di sini) sampai Ocean Theatre dan Old Hong Kong. Saat malam tiba, kita menuju ke stasiun Quarry Bay untuk bertemu dengan Eday Ng. Kita dijamu makan oleh tuan rumah kita ini, lalu kita pun menuliskan sesuatu di kartu pos untuk seorang teman. Dari Quarry Bay, Eday membawa kita melihat-lihat Hong Kong, mulai dari rumah duka Leslie Cheung, cara menaiki kereta listrik, sampai jajanan lokal Hong Kong.

Menikmati hidangan pencuci mulut bersama warga Hong Kong.
Photo oleh Endrico Richard. 

Kita berangkat ke Victoria Peak pada hari berikutnya. Peak Tram Lower Terminus, tempat kita menaiki kereta yang mendaki ke atas, cukup jauh jaraknya dari stasiun Central. Rachel cukup kuat untuk berjalan jauh, tapi Linda masih sering minta digendong. Saat melihat kebiasaan Linda ini, Endrico pun mengajarkan apa yang harus dilakukan Linda jika ayahnya terlihat lelah: Linda harus mencium pipi Papa dan niscaya Papa akan segar kembali. Hal ini sekarang menjadi kebiasaan Linda. Saya sendiri tidak keberatan mendapat kecupan di pipi dari putri saya. Secara pribadi, saya bahkan menyukai saat-saat menggendongnya. Di kala inilah biasanya saya bertanya, "saat sudah dewasa nanti, apakah Linda masih akan menyayangi Papa? Sebab Papa akan menyayangimu selamanya."

Tidak banyak yang kita lakukan di Victoria Peak. Kita makan siang di sana, berfoto bersama Bruce Lee yang berdiri di depan Madame Tussauds, naik ke Sky Terrace dan setelah menyaksikan tontonan 3D tentang ikan purba dan dinosaurus, kita bergegas kembali ke kota dan membeli beberapa kaleng Jenny Bakery di Sheung Wan. Sesudah itu, kita makan malam di dekat Burlington Hotel dan naik taksi ke stasiun Hong Kong. Oh ya, sebelum liburan ini, saya tidak tahu bahwa Endrico bisa berbahasa Kanton. Dia bisa berbicara dengan lancar dan menurut Endrico, supir taksi itu agak jengkel saat mengetahui bahwa kita hanya menuju ke stasiun Hong Kong. Dia mengomel bahwa biaya yang harus dibayar empat orang untuk menaiki kereta ke bandara sebenarnya hampir sama dengan ongkos taksi.

Di Disney Hollywood Hotel. 

Akan tetapi kita tidak menuju ke bandara. Kita pergi ke Disneyland dan tiba di Disney Hollywood Hotel sekitar jam sembilan malam. Anak-anak pun bergembira-ria di bak mandi, menikmati garam mandi yang dibuat oleh Angelia. Mereka menyukainya, tapi terlihat kesal saat menyadari bahwa garam mandi tersebut tidak berisi mainan seperti yang sering mereka lihat di Youtube, haha. 

Di hari berikutnya, kita mengunjungi tempat paling gembira di dunia. Walau tidak sebagus Disneyland Tokyo, versi Hong Kong ini cukup terasa riang dan menyenangkan, sampai Endrico tidak sengaja membuat Linda menangis, haha. Dumbo, it's a small world, Mystic Manor dan wahana serupa lainnya berdurasi pendek dan cocok untuk anak-anak. Kecuali Winnie the Pooh, waktu tunggunya pun tidak lama. Favorit saya adalah Mickey's Philharmagic. Saya rasa anak-anak mungkin menganggapnya sebagai tontonan biasa, tapi saya tumbuh menyaksikan Mickey, Donald, Aladdin dan tokoh-tokoh kartun lainnya. Bisa melihat semua karakter ini lagi di layar lebar sungguh membawa kembali kenangan indah di masa lalu. Setelah menyusuri sungai dalam wahana Jungle River Cruise, kita menemui jalan buntu sehingga harus berputar balik dan akhirnya baru keluar setelah Disneyland tutup.

Rachel dan Linda berpose di depan istana Cinderella.
Photo oleh Endrico Richard. 

Kalau dilihat kembali, saya bersyukur bahwa perjalanan ke Hong Kong terjadi sebagaimana mestinya. Seperti saya, Linda pun memiliki teman untuk berbagi cerita di sepanjang perjalanan. Dari Endrico, saya juga belajar tentang perlunya membujuk anak demi kebaikan mereka. Walau dia sering menjadi bulan-bulanan lelucon saya, dengan rendah hati saya akui bahwa dia adalah ayah yang hebat. Untuk setiap jam makan dimana kita tidak memesan makanan kita sendiri supaya bisa menghabiskan sisa makanan anak, saya jadi teringat dengan para ibu, terutama tentang pengorbanan mereka untuk keluarga. Yang paling penting lagi adalah saat-saat bersama putri saya. Saya tahu dia sangat ramah dan baik hati. Saya juga mengagumi rasa ingin tahu dan juga sifatnya yang jenaka. Liburan di Hong Kong bersama Linda selama hampir 24 jam per hari bagaikan duduk di kursi depan sebuah pertunjukan paling seru di dunia! Di waktu yang sama, saya juga menyadari bahwa saya telah diberkati dengan seorang putri yang menakjubkan. Sungguh sebuah pengalaman yang luar biasa...

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