Hong Kong Homies is a series where we get deep real fast with Hongkongers.
Woo Soo-ying, 69, retired
On embracing old age
I travel six, seven times a year. I went to South Korea and we picked strawberries. There were about 50 elderly members, including this 90-year-old man. He was in such good shape and had such a good appetite, eating everything from the first course right down to the cup of ice cream. A new travel tour? A new course? Let’s sign up. Why not?
I am a member of about six to seven organizations. I learned how to use the computer. I took a course on Putonghua. I leave home every morning. I don’t ask my husband where he goes. He goes wherever he likes, I do whatever I want. We’re very independent.
When I was at the doctor last year, checking my eye, I went there myself. I needed to stay overnight at the hospital for some procedure — I checked in myself. I take care of myself. What’s there to be afraid of?
I am very happy. Since my retirement, I’ve been having the best time of my life. You don’t know even know — it was tough back then. There was no holiday, no rest, nothing. Life was rough until now. So now I spend my days enjoying myself, learning whatever I can, going wherever I can.
On growing up
I grew up in Sai Ying Pun. I remember the salted fish most. It smelled like salted fish. We were poor. We walked every morning to Pok Fu Lam to go to school. It was an uphill walk of about an hour. An old woman sold egg waffles on the ground floor of my building. She was very nice to me; I didn’t really know why.
When I came back from school, she would sometimes save me a bag of egg waffles. That was the best thing in my childhood.
My dad pulled a rickshaw for a living. It was rough work. Sometimes I would play with the rickshaw. I was a naughty child.
When I was small, only men went to tea houses and had dim sum. Women stayed at home. My father would bring me sometimes on weekends, and I would be the only female there.
I have signed up to be a “Silent Teacher” [A CUHK body donation program for medical education and training purposes]. I’m not put off at all. You are helping medical students!
And did you know that, after they are done with your body, they will cremate your body and hold a ceremony with hundreds of people attending. It’s a rather good way to go, in my opinion.
I distributed dozens of the registration forms to my friends. Many of them have signed up.
Houses, and money. You can’t take them with you after death. What use is it to hold on to them? My whole life, I worked to earn enough money. Now I have learned to not to take it so seriously. Spend what you can now. No need clinging onto money.