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XII. the two visits before the first visit.

On my first recce trip to USS, I met Rudith there during our lunch breaks. She orientated me to all the locations and explained what I could and could not do The main purpose of this trip was to confirm the proposal hot spots as well as to find places for Gideon and Caleb to camp at while they were capturing the moment. I took lots of photos and videos and sent it to the both of them via WhatsApp so that they could get a visual idea of where they could plant themselves without being spotted by Huiyi.

The plan looked really promising as the Pavilion had Far Far Away in the background and I could imagine that with a sunset added, it would make a spectacular backdrop for an equally spectacular proposal. In my mind’s eye, I got excited thinking about how stunning the photos would eventually turn out.

I tried asking for special passes for their entry since they weren’t going in to enjoy the rides but to just snap photos. USS declined my request, which I could understand. So on my way out, I purchased two tickets for the two of them. I didn’t have a choice, really. So I was grateful that DBS was running a promotion with USS and tickets were sold at a small discount.

But I realised the first problem. Unless Gideon and Caleb had excessively expensive camera lenses, there was no way they would be able to capture close-up shots. The entire proposal would also be seen from only two boring perspectives and none of our facial expressions would be captured.

On my second visit to USS, the main purpose was to enter during sunset to ensure that the spot which I had chosen had the sunset in the horizon, and that the crowd would have started to disappear. Much to my shock and horror (but eventual relief), the sunset actually took place where Battlestar Galactica was and not at Far Far Away! This looked like a plan that was doomed for failure because it didn’t contain the all-important sunset criteria!

Then came the final nail in the coffin – the binoculars were out-of-order! There was no way she would be able to look into her “FUTURE far far away…”

Die. Back to the drawing block.

The third plan was officially far far away from success.

Next chapter: the relentless schedule that week.

XI. the red tape that I couldn’t clear.

I actually called USS VIP Tours and asked if I could speak with someone who would be willing to coordinate the event with me. The staff who attended to me was freaked out at my every request, so she brought it to her supervisor who brought it to her manager. Be it to bring equipment in, make a complimentary recce trip, or have Shrek or Fiona make an appearance. I don’t blame them though, because it’s not normal that they speak to some nutcase who wants to execute something unprecedented and radical at the hallowed grounds of USS.

But Rudith was superb. She sent out a couple of emails to the VIP Tours department as well as a couple of her friends who were in Ground Operations. Well, no one had presented them with such a request before and as much as I tried to PR my way into their PR department with my PR tactics as a former PR person, I faced a stone wall time after time. So after a few more email exchanges and phone calls, I decided against doing this officially because it was just way too difficult, cumbersome and tiring to clear the red tape.

Believe it or not, they even told me that Shrek and Fiona cannot go to New York because of intellectual property issues. Apparently, these two characters cannot leave Far Far Away… Can you believe that!? I was bemused by their unbelievable but understandable insistence on sticking to the integrity of the character.

So I had to count on Rudith and the by-left (aka more creative) methods. I must say, she really, Really, REALLY, went out of her way to assist me. Now, what Rudith had done for me, I will not and cannot disclose, even though I really want to because of the magnitude of her kindness, but I do not wish to get her into trouble or set a precedence for USS and get into trouble with them. Not to worry, she didn’t do anything that would cause her to get struck by lightning… So let’s just say that with Rudith’s help, things became way easier to plan and execute, so I was really thankful for her intervention!

Next chapter: the two visits before the actual visit.

X. the preparation before USS.

Looking back to before the recce trip, I remember asking Cheryl about her recent experience at USS. She was the one who told me about the Pavilion and how the sun set beautifully over there. That actually prompted the site visit. She even sent me some of the photos she took at the Pavilion when she was there. It was important that I saw it for myself.

I also consulted Joel, who visited USS with Cheryl (and two others). Both of them gave me insights into what I would expect at USS as a visitor. Rudith however, could provide real advice on what I could or couldn’t do in USS, since she worked there. So I took the liberty to randomly and suddenly message her via FaceBook.

And within an hour, I received her reply via WhatsApp! I explained to her why I could not add her as a friend on FaceBook and that our communication would have to be discreet.

Normally, Huiyi has full access to everything in my iPhone (since I have nothing to hide) but in those crucial weeks, I was cautious whenever I texted or received a message from someone. I couldn’t afford to give it away due to a careless mistake of concealment.

Anyway, Rudith goes on to play an important role in my proposal. And considering that I was a complete stranger to her, what she did for me spoke volumes about the generosity of her character. You’ll discover soon why I’ve said that…

Next chapter: the red tape that I couldn’t clear.

VIII. the secret weapon – her birthday.

You must bear in mind that throughout this entire time of planning, Huiyi has absolutely no idea that she would become my fiancée before we arrived in Perth. Every other day, I imagine her imagining the sunset scene that Perth promises – great! – it’s going according to plan.

But there’s a part of me that fears giving away the idea for I used to have a reputation of a surprise spoiler. So the last thing that I wanted was to spoil what possibly would be the greatest surprise I would ever spring on anyone!

We had wanted to visit Universal Studios Singapore (USS) for the longest time but was always reluctant because of the exorbitant entry fee and average rides. Hence it was our blessing that Huiyi had friends in right places; Rudith worked in USS and was a friend from Huiyi’s university days. They had lunch together recently and seemed to hit it off well. Well, well enough for Rudith to magnanimously offer two of her limited eight annual staff discounts to us so that we could enter USS at a knock-down price.

Huiyi proceeded to purchase a pair of tickets through Rudith and I offered to pay for it as part of her birthday present. We had wanted to go on a Thursday instead of a Friday simply because we speculated a smaller crowd. But after a week of deliberation, we decided to have it on Friday instead.

Next chapter: the third idea – Universal Studios Singapore.

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