A vanity area in the living room (above) of comedienne Ho Ai Ling (above left) lets her get ready without disturbing her guests when they stay over in her bedroom.
It is perhaps fitting that comedienne Ho Ai Ling is in love with Hong Kong. After all, the city is known for its tiny apartment spaces.
The funnywoman’s small, 470sqft one-bedroom Commonwealth flat is a homage to all things Hong Kong.
The pint-sized 40-year-old, who lives alone, says: “I love everything about Hong Kong. It has great movies, dramas, actors and cafes. So I decided to buy stuff from Hong Kong to decorate my home.”
She is best known for her role as a small-time actress in Michelle Chong’s 2011 movie, Already Famous. She has also had small parts in MediaCorp television productions such as Maid To Order and The Dream Makers.
But her full-time job is as a restaurant manager at Porn’s in Liang Seah Street, owned by her pal and television host Pornsak. She started working there three years ago.
Ho Ai Ling's living room
Step into the bacherlorette’s flat and you feel as though you have walked into a movie star’s dressing room.
Taking centre stage in the living room is a Hollywood-style mirror-cum-vanity set. Ho got her elder sister to help drill holes around the mirror’s frame and inserted lightbulbs to achieve the look.
She put the vanity set in the living room instead of her bedroom because she does not want to disturb her friends, who often stay over, when she has to get ready in the morning.
Next to it is a low table, which she uses for meals. It used to be taller but she got her father to saw off its legs – she says the low furniture helps create the illusion of space in the room.
She has added a quirky touch to the piece: Displayed under its glass top are laminated dining menus that she took from cafes in Hong Kong.
She shows her love for Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai with a movie poster of his 2000 hit, In The Mood For Love, on a living-room wall. The dedicated fan also bought the digits 2, 0, 4 and 6 to stick on her bedroom door as a reference to the director’s 2004 sci-fi, romance film, 2046.
The living room also houses a poster of director Wong Kar Wai’s film, In The Mood For Love.
Ho also has a cabinet of knick-knacks in the living room, filled with figurines and vehicles such as the famous red-and-white Hong Kong taxi. The items are arranged in a tableaux manner, such that they tell a story. For example, one shelf shows an alien being run over by a car while a taxi driver battles a robot.
Most of these were bought in Hong Kong. Some accessories were bought from Hong Kong lifestyle design and retail brand G.O.D there before it opened an outlet in Singapore last year.
Toys such as a red-and-white taxi are reminiscent of cabs in Hong Kong.
A few more collectibles are scattered around the apartment. Some are in a kitchen cabinet, such as an ice-kacang maker from Japan and Starbucks cups, some of which were bought in Hong Kong.
Ho, who won the Ultimate Comedian Contest in 2006 with an alter-ego character called Ms Mole that she had created for it, says: “I don’t play with the toys. But when I come home stressed from work, it’s looking at these things that relaxes me.”
She treasures each of her collectibles dearly. Before she had her own place, she had to store her belongings, including stools she bought from Hong Kong, in her friends’ homes. “I must say I have really good friends who let me keep my things with them while I moved around, renting different places,” says Ho.
She moved out of her family home when her maternal grandmother died in 1997. Her parents split up when she was a few months old, and she lived with her grandmother and uncle’s family in Whampoa.
The constant moving – she moved four times in about 15 years – made Ho yearn for a home to call her own. “I was tired of being kicked out when the landlord decided not to renew my lease or increased the rent every few months.”
Her $20,000 win from the comedy contest, which she found out about from a television commercial, gave her enough cash to put a downpayment on the flat that belonged to an old couple. She fell in love with the apartment at first sight.
“When they opened the door… the house was so nice. It has a view that you can’t find anywhere else and there was nothing wrong with it. So I bought it and did minor renovations such as giving the walls a fresh coat of paint,” says Ho.
Living on the 17th floor, she has a picturesque, unblocked view of the greenery in the surrounding Margaret Drive area.
For now, she is staying put. “I worked very hard to get this place. Now I feel secure that I have my own home. I’m not moving.”
Written by Natasha Ann Zachariah for The Straits Times. Photo: The Straits Times. This article was first published in 2013.