Growing up, I’ve always been attached to physical things. I couldn’t get over moving house, I’d get sentimental and emotional over even changing rooms and I’d feel nostalgic for lost items or belongings.
I think it was because I associated memories too strongly with places. After getting dragged unceremoniously back from Shanghai to Singapore as a child, I started to compartmentalize good times and bad times into where they happened.
I was devastated when we moved out of our old place in Tanah Merah to Dunbar Walk – so afraid that my memories of my late grandmother sniffing her favourite white flowers or sitting at her usual spot on the red sofa in the living room would trickle slowly and surely out of my mind without a physical anchor to remind me of her.
Now, I know better. I know I will never forget my beloved Amah, or the things she used to do, and I know that home, truly, is where the heart, and the family is .. now that my loved ones are spread out all over the world and it’s nearly impossible for all of us to be in one place together.
For example, this week, my Dad is in China on business, my Mom and one of my brothers in HKG, another brother in Australia, another in Malaysia climbing mountains, one in Taiwan on a school trip, and my sister and myself here in SG – talk about far and wide !
When I was back in HKG this time, the family shaped hole in my life never seemed so obvious – seeing my parents and my three brothers settled into their new, beautiful place – the rooms exactly like how they used to be – induced a kind of raw ache in my heart, and K was puzzled by my strange pensiveness.
Still, I enjoyed myself thoroughly, even if it was bittersweet – home cooked dinners, walks with my parents and siblings, quality time with my little sister, all so precious !
View from outside home
The HKG branch of my family is now based high up on Hong Kong Island, just below the peak – this makes for gorgeous views and wonderfully fresh air, but is a real deterrent for a serious shopper – the 15 minute drive up and down the Peak is truly uncomfortable, but in such a hectic city, a sanctuary in the mountains is hard to come by and far more necessary if you are an actual resident and not a tourist !
We are now hopelessly addicted to Tai Cheong egg tarts and their lovely, light, fresh soy bean milk. It’s become a Soh family ritual of sorts to make the 10 minute slow walk up to the peak and snigger at tourists in our jogging clothes before munching on those divine buttery eggy tarts washed down with a bottle of dou jiang for just under $10 HKD.
Our new place at Mt Kellett is really comfortable, even when we are all there ! Rooms are too private, but here’s our living room, almost a replica of our old living room at Dunbar, and cozy dining area on the basement floor (it’s four floors in total). There are real fire places in both and I can’t wait to visit in winter and spend time warming my toes, reading books, and pigging out on junk food while it’s freezing out. 🙂
My favourite little chickadees (only when they are good) have grown so much, especially Nonny.
David was as chirpy and huggy as usual, but Daniel ! Look at the difference ! His voice has broken and his feet are huge now. We heard that he now has a two-member fan club at the Swiss German School where he’s studying – they think he looks like a K-pop star. What do I think ? In my eyes he’ll always be my baby brother.
Paul couldn’t join us this time, so we spent some happy times with No. 3 and 4.
The weather was perfect – a cloudy, dry 25-26 degrees in the day, and then a lovely cool 20-21 in the evening once the sun sets (it’s a few degrees colder up in the Peak) so no humid sweating a la Singapore. Autumn is here, and boy did we knock ourselves out shopping for the change in season – leather and velvet skirts, huge comfy cashmere sweaters, oxblood knit wear, navy blue and deep red ribbons – K got himself a whole new wardrobe of Chuck Bass-esque cardigans, leather jackets and vests in preparation of our end year vacation.
And here he is, trying out my kid brothers’ new thingamajig skater board.
“What’s this ! I only had spiders, country erasers, and Magic Cards growing up you know ?”
Taking a walk about the neighbourhood –
My parents really put in a huge effort to love us extra over the weekend – Daddy insisted on sending us all the way to the airport despite being exhausted from work instead of asking the driver, Mummy cooked us all our favourite food – her beef stews, chicken soup, fried wantons, chicken teriyaki, the list goes on, and I was so happy watching K bond with my family.
The most emotional moment of the trip ?
Waking up on Saturday morning to the smell of Daddy’s special fried eggs. It’s been over a year since I last sleepily dragged myself out of bed for eggs and bread and I had a little cry under a my blanket before going down. I think one of the hardest parts about getting married was moving out, for sure. Those freshly fried omelettes on soft pillowy buttered bread washed down with a mug of my sister’s (handmade) Earl Grey Lattes tasted better than any 3 Michelin star or 5 star hotel breakfast.
Till the next flight up, I’ll be keeping these new memories close to my heart.