It was not just the sites, food and shopping but the friendships forged among students that made their recent trip to Hong Kong a memorable one.
AWESOME!” screamed 10-year-old Nur Syazliyana Shek Daud as the roller coaster twisted and turned a tunnel so dark that you couldn’t even see the person beside you . This gutsy girl from SK Convent Green Lane, Penang, was one of the 13 Mag Inc contest winners who made the journey to Hong Kong Disneyland.
Although barely making it past the “are you tall enough for this ride” test, her classmates Adelya Yeoh, Jesther Chong, Ku Anis Nabilah Ku Idris and Hng Shu Eem had all eagerly piled into the Space Mountain roller coaster car.
They had enjoyed themselves thoroughly but were still begging for more. They pleaded with their teacher, Mona Lim to let them have another ride. Being bold and adventurous, the children were not at all keen to take the “milder” rides. When Lim suggested that they ride on Dumbo the Flying Elephant, they protested in unison , “Teacher, Dumbo is boring!”
However, Lim chided them asking if she could ride on something “where my heart doesn’t drop?” Later in the day, they finally acquiesced to the Mad Hatter Tea Cups. They did, however, end up spinning the wheel as much as they could, making the teacup twirl ike a tornado.
Lim took it all in stride saying it was a well-deserved holiday for the pupils who had earlier in the year worked hard on their mini magazines. “The children worked in teams and took turns to host team members so that they could work on the magazines at their respective homes. Their parents were also involved as they had to drive their children.
In September last year, the team from SK Convent Green Lane created a three-page mini-magazine based on the theme “Speak Out!” that clinched them the top spot in the primary school category of the competition. The group, along with the lower and upper secondary school champion teams, Penang Chinese Girls’ High School and SMK Bandar Utama Damansara 4, Selangor, won themselves a four-day, three-night trip to Hong Kong courtesy of The Star and Pizza Hut.
For the team from Penang Chinese Girls’ High School, going on the trip meant that they could not be at school to get their PMR results. Koay Jing Ling, Bong Jo We, Teoh Ee Hong and Lee Min Shan spent an entire lunch on the edge of their seats, squealing every time one of them received a text message.
One of their mothers even provided a Twitter-like update. “She’s at the school gate!” Min Shan told the others, which sent them all into jitters.
Although they were unable to get their results first-hand, they wouldn’t have missed the trip for the world. All of them said that they would like to take part in the NiE competition next year. “Hope to visit Hong Kong again!” quipped Min Shan.
With a tour guide and a chartered bus, the students managed to visit must-see attractions on different islands in Hong Kong, sometimes finding themselves travelling between three islands within the same day. Upon touchdown in Hong Kong, they were immediately taken to Repulse Bay and Aberdeen Harbour, where the 10-year-olds couldn’t contain their excitement upon seeing a fishing village.
The bus made its way to the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. When they were asked who their favourite Hong Kong movie star was, there was no response, but when Jackie Chan’s name was mentioned, their faces immediately lit up. They responded with equal enthusiasm when the late Kung Fu star Bruce Lee’s name was mentioned.
The upper secondary winners from SMK Bandar Utama Damansara 4, who were the seniors in the group still thought Disneyland was “magical”.
“Going to Disneyland has been a childhood dream of mine,” said Tanisha Chwee, 17. “I enjoyed every moment and the fireworks display at the end of the day epitomised the magical feeling that everyone wishes to experience. I truly felt like a kid again.”
For Tanisha, the trip was special because it was her first time out of Malaysia after more than a decade, and it was all the more sweeter as her best friend Tania Tan made the journey with her. “I get to stay in a hotel without my parents but with my best friend,” Tania quipped.
The two were close to inseparable during the trip and commented on their outing to the Ladies’ Market, a huge night market in Kowloon where tourists can buy clothes, ‘techy’ accessories and bags for a bargain. “The people here are so fierce,” said Tanisha when recounting her adventures later on with Tania.
Both the girls weren’t the only best friends on the trip. Christian Palencia and Kadri Nizam, both 17, long time school friends were equally happy to be in each other’s company and visit Disneyland, one of their favourite sites. Having watched Disney movies, it was indeed a walk down memory lane for the duo.
“Hercules showed me that no matter what my dream was, hard work and a humble attitude was the route to achieve it. Visiting Disneyland refreshed and reminded me that since my secondary school years have finally come to an end, my journey towards my dreams are just beginning,” said Christian who like Kadri is looking forward to the grand prize of a Taylor’s College or Taylor’s University scholarship worth up to RM150,000 for winning the upper secondary category.
In his spare time, the self-proclaimed Pokemon game master writes songs and shoots music videos together with Kadri. In between sightseeing, the pair found time to document scenes for their new music video which they hope to post on their YouTube channel once it’s ready.
“This is good,” Christian said to Kadri and pointed at the empty concourse area at the Golden Bauhinia Square. In fact, every time the bus stopped, the pair looked around for potential filming sites.
What made this trip even sweeter for them was that they earned it and their parents didn’t have to fork out a sen.
“Hard work and teamwork is what you need in the NiE competition. It’s what brought all of us here,” said Kadri.
After three years of creating mini magazines, this year’s Star-NiE competition has been revamped to keep up with the times. The new contest, open to all primary and secondary students in Malaysia will be announced soon.
From left Christian Palencia, Tanisha Chwee, Tania Tan and Kadri Nizam in front of Disney’s signature castle.
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