Award Banner
Award Banner

Left in Singapore at age 9, Lee Teng holds on to old $50 calling cards as keepsake of long-distance calls to Taiwan family

Left in Singapore at age 9, Lee Teng holds on to old $50 calling cards as keepsake of long-distance calls to Taiwan family
PHOTO: Screengrab/meWATCH

Most of us would have a keepsake from our childhood to remember important people or events in our lives.

For local television host Lee Teng, who was born in Taiwan, his are $50 calling cards – from when he made calls to his family in Taiwan after being left in Singapore at a young age.

In the most recent episode of the meWATCH talkshow Hear U Out, the 37-year-old told local host Quan Yi Fong that his parents had sent him here when he was nine, because they were really busy and had no time to care for him.

Another reason was that it wasn't safe in Taiwan back then and many parents would send their children to countries like the US or Australia.

"Singapore wasn't too far away and there was a bilingual education here, so my mum made up her mind to send me here," he added.

However, at the time, Lee Teng thought he had come to Singapore for a short holiday. Reality struck him hard three days later when his mum unexpectedly left.

"I just suddenly broke down that night, I hid under the covers and cried. I remember crying every night for about a week," he said.

With no mobile phones back then, it was also hard to keep in contact with his family in Taiwan, so the best financial option was public payphones and international calling cards.

He told Yi Fong: "I remember my mum would buy six or seven $50 calling cards to last three months. I had to call home once a week, and I could make maybe two calls with a card before it ran out of value."

Lee Teng shared that back in the day, kids used to collect these phone cards and as his $50 cards were rare, he would trade his cards with them.

His collection includes a glimmering card of Taiwanese singer Jimmy Lin, who was his idol when he was in primary school, and a commemorative edition card for Singapore's 25th birthday.

As for why he holds on to his old cards till this day, he said it serves as a warm memory of his childhood and a reminder of how he kept in touch with his family then.

"It's like a process. Honestly, each card represents me missing my family," he shared.

Lee Teng is married to Gina Lin.

ALSO READ: 'Powerless and helpless': Lee Teng opens up for first time after wife's miscarriage

This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.