Chen Hanwei explains why buying a cup of ice lemon tea with his first paycheck means so much

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For many of us, receiving our first-ever paycheck is a significant milestone. And we probably did something poignant with it. 

For local actor Chen Hanwei, who grew up in Johor Bahru, he bought a cup of ice lemon tea with his first salary. It might seem strange, but there's a deep meaning to it.

"I come from a humble background. We could only afford to go to Chinatown in Singapore (from Johor Bahru) once a year, and the four of us in my family would all share one cup of ice lemon tea," he told host Quan Yi Fong in the latest episode of the meWATCH talkshow Hear U Out.

The 51-year-old had participated in the 1988 Star Search competition, and received a contract with the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, the old incarnation of Mediacorp.

With his first paycheck, he ordered ice lemon tea at a cafe in Malaysia. "That cup of ice lemon tea was such a luxury for me and it made me very content," he said.

We can only imagine how he felt at the time when he had a drink all for himself, without having to share it with anyone else.

But that wasn't the only 'luxurious' item Hanwei bought with his first salary.

"A few days later, I bought an air ticket from Senai in Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur," he recalled.

While it was only a half-hour flight, it was his first time on a plane. "Throughout the entire trip, I was looking out the window and smiling."

Yi Fong chipped in, saying it was a privilege to travel on a plane back then, with Hanwei remarking that it was an "indescribable feeling".

He even kept his trip a secret from his mother as he was afraid that she would call it a waste of money. Recounting the experience, Hanwei said: "I fulfilled this strange wish of mine."

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