I met the late Lydia Sum Din-Ha (her name is also spelt as Lydia Shum) during a 2004 trip in Singapore, months before I went to Perth.
It was an afternoon, and we were eating at the Wo Men De restaurant, famous for its fish head curry. The restaurant was relatively empty that day, I think we were the only ones there.
Then all of a sudden, I heard the restaurant door opening behind me, I didn't turn back, until both my mom reacted.
"It's Lydia Sum." She said.
I turned. And saw one of the most recognizable and legendary faces in the Hong Kong industry that many people like me have grown up watching. She was with her daughter Joyce Cheng (still in the midst of her diet, few months later she would make headlines with her remarkable transformation), and a young man who was either a friend or an assistant. They made their way past our table to another one further into the restaurant.
"Whoa. Fei Fei. In Singapore." I said softly. I grew up meeting many Hong Kong celebrities because my father was in the music industry, yet I felt excited seeing her. Not excited like a screaming fangirl, of course, just a mixture of joy, amusement and disbelief that, of all places, I would actually see Lydia Sum in a Singaporean restaurant. (Most probably because at that time, she was filming the series, LIVING WITH LYDIA)
My little sister was staring too. Despite growing up at different era, she had seen Fei Fei many times on TV too, especially on variety shows.
"Let's take a photo!" I hissed, but mom, of course, already had her camera out.
"Ask her politely." Mom said.
I hesitated. Lydia Sum was making her orders with a waitress.
My buddy and my mom's godson Alex, was with us too. He looked at Lydia Sum and asked who she was. I gave him a 'ARE YOU SHITTING ME?' look, but he really didn't who she was, so indifferent to her presence, he continued reading. (a little fact I brought up again when he was talking about the news last night, the guy works at Sin Chew now)
We waited for the waitress to leave before my mom walked towards Lydia Sum, and asked politely whether we could take a photo with her.
"I didn't put on any make-up though." Lydia Sum said, although she seemed flattered that my mom asked. "But okay."
We handed the camera to the young man Lydia was with, and stood behind her, posing for the photograph.
"Get one more person here." Lydia said. It was old-school Chinese superstition that a photo of only three people can bring bad luck to the trio. Over the years, I noticed many Hong Kong celebrities were pretty conscious of this.
My sister scurried over to join us. And we took the photo.
Thanking her, we went back to our seats and continued eating. After we were done, we left the restaurant, I remember we were waving to her, and she waved back.
Unfortunately, I don't have the photo with me anymore. Something happened when my sister was doing the photo transfers into the computer, and all photos in the camera were wiped out.
So no evidence of that encounter remained. Just that I was reminded of this incident shortly after I learnt of Lydia Sum's recent passing.
"I'm not the type who likes clinging to the past. But look at the HK artistes of today. There's really nothing about the present Cantopop worth dwelling in, at all."