Travel Maketh The Woman

 

It is true that seeing the world does change you and it is no different for me whenever I travel especially when these self-discoveries have led to the way I shape my travels.

I was born a Disney kid.

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© Jasmine Ong

Back in 2012, upon entry into the Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, I found myself skipping in pure joy as I soaked up the atmosphere. I had tears in my eyes when I first stepped onto Main Street, sniffing in the air deeply like it was really made of magic. I was browsing the different shop windows in awe; making a mental note of the merchandise I was going to buy and mentally signing an agreement with Disney to surrender all my monies.

The Disney culture was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced but it felt innate. People often describe it as The Happiest Place on Earth and it truly is. Seeing the different Disney characters and park goers just made me feel like I was finally home. Since that first trip to Disney World, I’ve now made going to a Disney Park an annual tradition.

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© Jasmine Ong

Sometimes you’ve just got to woman up, woman up~

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© Jasmine Ong

Having heard brilliant things about Halloween Horror Nights in Universal Studios Orlando, it was on my travel wish list to experience it at least once in my lifetime. While it would have been ideal to go with a big group, I figured it wouldn’t be so bad with the other park goers around.

I was so wrong.

Since I was holding onto the Frequent Fear Pass, I was allowed in to the haunted houses that were in my lock-down area. Being the kiasu Singaporean, I decided to clear The Purge haunted house first – since it was rather popular. I had expected a few people before and after me but, as I passed several HHN staff (who happened to be engaged in their own conversation), I began to realize that this is not going the way I had expected.

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© Jasmine Ong

And, boy was I right. I was the ONLY person heading into the house!

As I neared the house of horrors, I had two options: (a) Be a wuss now and come back later when there are more souls around or, (b) Woman up and go in alone.

I chose (b) and survived… barely.

Do or do not… There is no try.

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© Jasmine Ong

During a random walkabout at Rockefeller Center, I stumbled upon people queuing in cordoned off areas. Though I had a rough idea what these people were here for, I decided to confirm my suspicions with the NBC page who was standing guard.

True enough – these people were in the standby line for the NBC talk show, Late Night with Seth Meyers. Hoping that there was a queue for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon next, I asked to join after. To my surprise, the NBC page told me that standby tickets for his show had already been given out that morning and if I wanted to attend the next show’s taping, I had to join the queue tomorrow morning at 9. As an added tip, he told me to queue earlier to avoid disappointment.

While I’m usually a spontaneous person, getting up early to queue in the cold New York morning was not the epitome of a vacation. But, since this is for a rare opportunity, I decided to do it.

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© Jasmine Ong

I started my day at 6.30am, secured my standby tickets at 9am and thought that was it. But, no, this is not even half of the long standby waiting game. After collecting theses standby tickets, we were told to be back at the NBC lobby at 3pm where they will call out the number of people that they’ll require. Following that, it was another waiting game for the producer to come down with the number of available seats that they have left.

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© Jasmine Ong

I collectively waited for about 11 hours (including hanging around Rockefeller Center) and only felt the benefits of having great patience when I high-fived Jimmy Fallon at the taping.

Always be ready for surprises

After a tiring day out at Hong Kong Disneyland, I returned to Causeway Bay to grab dinner before heading back to the hotel. Surfacing from the MTR station at SOGO, I was greeted by a make-shift stage that was surrounded by a rather huge crowd.

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© Jasmine Ong

Immediately, I knew it must be a promotional thing of some sort. As I moved closer to the stage, my deduction proved accurate as it was indeed a mini press conference for a Hong Kong film, Always By Your Side. Taking notice of the cast on the poster, I was skeptical that these actors were going to make an appearance… especially when you’ve got the movie king, Louis Koo as your lead. Despite my doubts, I still waited with a camera for the possible appearance of Louis Koo.

Then, at 8.30pm, the smartly dressed Louis Koo graced us with his presence.

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© Jasmine Ong

Needless to say – I was shook.

My parents enjoy my misery

A day out in Ocean Park should be filled with joy and laughter, yes?

Not quite.

While I had the joy and laughter part, I also had a scared-stiff moment that ruined the entire day for me when we took the cable car ride.

You see, aside from my obvious fear of heights (something the parents are aware of), I do often playback similar scenarios that I’ve seen in Nat Geo’s Seconds from Disaster; which were quite worrisome in my situation. Adding to the fact that the cable car stopped quite frequently and the wind was pretty strong, I think my fears were warranted for a good reason.

While I thought my parents would understand upon seeing me cling to the pole for dear life, I learnt that my misery is their enjoyment. Instead of attempting to console me, their phones were whipped out the moment the cable car left the station.

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© Doris Tan

Lesson learnt – I’ll never take funny pictures of them ever again.

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How to get noticed by Darth Vader & his Stormtroopers in Hong Kong Disneyland

So, you’re at Tomorrowland in Hong Kong Disneyland when you catch a glimpse of a black cape flow right pass you.

You do a double take and lo-and-behold, it’s the Sith Lord of your dreams (or nightmares), Darth Vader. He’s flanked by his Stormtroopers marching on while a crowd of park goers gather around them.

You frantically check the map for character greetings but there is no mention of it. So, do you ditch the map and follow blindly or wait around to see what happens?

If pick waiting around to see what happens, congratulations, you just lost your shot at a photo opportunity with the Dark One.

The unique thing about character meetings like this is they are roving acts with absolutely no real photo opportunities. The only chance you’re going to get a photo with them is if you follow them closely and pray to the mighty Yoda that they pick you.

Yes, you read that right. Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers are the ones with the power to make or break your day. They are the ones who will either spare your feelings or destroy them with the power of a Death Star.

To help you secure your prized photo, here’s what you need to do.

(1) Follow them no matter where they roam. This is absolutely crucial. You need to be with the group of people that surrounds them. Only then will they be able to see you, and possibly select you. Even if you don’t get selected, persevere on to their next spot with them.

(2) Use the Force to obtain a prominent spot. Be in their line of sight, or at least tower over the kid that’s in front of you. You want to get selected, you’ve got to be where they can see you. So, if that means shoving someone behind so you can stand before them – do it.

(3) Raise your hand as high as you can, and look as if you’ve just successfully commandeered the Millennium Falcon. The more excited you are, the more likely they’ll pick you.

(4) If excitement didn’t work, try showing off those Star Wars merch. Yes, a park-goer got selected because of her Captain Phasma phone case that she frantically waved in front of them.

(5) Have a cheer squad that can shout as loud as a Tie-Fighter. It’s the only time when you can put your friends or family to good use. Get them to point at you while shouting for their attention. It worked for the kids so it might just work for you.

(6) Now, if all three methods above don’t work, it’s time to pull out the ultimate method – look absolutely desperate. That’s right, put on that sad look on your face and show them how much you want that darn photo. I am proud to say that though this method is probably the last resort, it is a proven method that works. I used this method when the Stormtroopers picked the kids over me. As hope turned to desperation (which probably showed clearly on my face), Darth Vader himself looked and pointed at me for that coveted photo op.

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It all pays off. ©Jasmine Ong