ST subscriber taking daughters on trip he won to Margaret River

Mr Lai Sze Hai takes part in the ST+ news with benefits contests regularly and previously won a sleepover at S.E.A. Aquarium.
Mr Lai Sze Hai takes part in the ST+ news with benefits contests regularly and previously won a sleepover at S.E.A. Aquarium.ST PHOTO: MARCELLIN LOPEZ

Mr Lai Sze Hai, 43, may have won a four-day trip for two to Margaret River worth $10,000, but to him, that reward is "just the icing on the cake".

To enter the contest, he had to share with The Straits Times why he thought he deserved a trip to Australia to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences at the Western Australia Gourmet Escape festival, which his prize package includes tickets to.

He posed the question to his elder daughter, Fion Lai, 15, who was full of praise for him.

"Fion thanked me for all the little things that hadn't even occurred to me, like always making sure she and her sister eat first, or sponging her when she has a fever. As a parent, these actions come naturally because you want the best for your children," says Mr Lai.

"She brought me to tears with her appreciation," adds the civil servant. "As a single dad who has brought up my daughters to become the mature young women they are today, I felt I had already won the best prize ever."

Mr Lai, who has been a Straits Times subscriber for many years, starts his day by reading the newspaper and highlighting articles he thinks may interest his daughters.

Fion and Dion, 13, his younger daughter, are animal lovers who enjoy reading up about the environment and conservation.

Mr Lai takes part in the ST+ news with benefits contests regularly and previously won a sleepover at S.E.A. Aquarium. For that event, he took his daughters and mother along.

This time, he will be buying an extra ticket so that he can take both daughters with him on the trip.

His daughters are especially excited to visit Australia, famed for its kangaroos, koalas and other wildlife.

They have started planning their itinerary, including activities like a visit to Caversham Wildlife Park, which they hope to squeeze in between the Western Australia Gourmet Escape festival events.

The girls are also eager to attend culinary workshops hosted at the festival.

Asked if he is a foodie, Mr Lai chuckles and says: "As long as it fills my stomach, I don't really bother about what I eat. But I will take my loved ones to eat the food they love."

He says he is looking forward to spending quality time with his daughters on the trip.

He and his daughters will also continue their tradition of penning daily reflections in a travel journal and ending the trip with a postcard addressed to themselves.

"It is just a reminder for us to be grateful for each moment we have together, wherever we may be," he says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2019, with the headline 'ST subscriber taking daughters on trip he won to Margaret River'. Print Edition | Subscribe