A positive mindset and an eagerness to learn can go a long way in helping a person find his bearings in a crisis, as ASP (NS) Ang Zichao shows.

TEXT: ROY SIM
PHOTOS: KELVIN CHIA

The skies around Changi Airport were eerily quiet when we caught up with ASP (NS) Ang Zichao last December. It’s a space the 36-year-old knows well, having been a flight attendant for the past 12 years. But these days, he spends more time on the ground than in the air, as the aviation sector continues to struggle in the face of COVID-19. Its recovery is expected to be slow, with predictions suggesting that air traffic would likely reach pre-pandemic levels only in 2024. “I still fly once every two months, but it’s a completely different experience — something which I never expected,” shares ASP (NS) Ang, referring to the heightened health and safety measures at airports and onboard aircrafts.

FOSTERING POSITIVITY AMID A PANDEMIC

Recalling his fear about the pandemic’s devastating effect when air traffic ground to a halt last March, ASP (NS) Ang shares, “I was worried, as I had just bought a place of my own and have a mortgage to pay every month.” However, such gloomy conditions have done little to dampen ASP (NS) Ang’s spirit. “Since then, I have been taking it one day at a time. Instead of always focusing on the downside, I try to look on the ‘upside’ — because some things, like the pandemic, are just beyond anybody’s control,” he says.

To ASP (NS) Ang, who is single, one upside of the pandemic is that it has allowed him to spend more time with his family. “When I was flying regularly, I was always away — sometimes for long periods. I hardly saw my mum and dad then. My three older siblings are married and have moved out, so my ageing parents depend on me a lot more. It was very satisfying to be able to spend quality time with them during the Circuit Breaker,” he says. Forced to stay at home, the Angs bonded over jigsaw puzzles, completing four 1,000-piece puzzles during those two months. These were glued together and framed as a memento of the extraordinary period.

“Keep on telling yourself that things will get better. In this difficult time, if you need help — be it emotional, financial or physical — go out and find it.”

ASP (NS) Ang also sees the pandemic as a time to adopt a more active role in the community, since he is on the ground more. During the Circuit Breaker, for example, he volunteered at a friend’s hand sanitiser supply company to help ensure that Singaporeans had access to this essential item. He has also been keeping himself busy with his ORNS commitments and has recently completed his ninth in-camp training at the Protective Security Command. There, he serves as the OC (Manpower, Administration and Logistics) of its 3rd division, handling disciplinary matters of his men.

A TIME OF LEARNING

Then, there are also the opportunities to explore long-held passions and interests. “During the Circuit Breaker, I picked up something that I’ve been wanting to try for a very long time: road biking,” shares ASP (NS) Ang. A road bike is very different from your typical bicycle, as riders have to wear special shoes that clasp onto the pedals. The now-avid cyclist recalls that when he first started riding a road bike, he would fall off it almost every time. “I still have the bruises and cuts to show,” he quips. “But I am glad I stuck to the sport because whizzing around on my bike has been a great de-stressor.”

Learning has helped ASP (NS) Ang stay motivated at work and in life. During his years as a flight attendant, he has expanded his proficiencies to include wine appreciation and wine-and-food pairing. “There are always opportunities to upskill and rise in my career,” he says. His desire to learn helped him to attain the rank of Leading Steward. “I am proud of this achievement and can’t wait to get back into the skies again.” While ASP (NS) Ang waits patiently for that opportunity, we are sure that he will keep on soaring in whatever he sets his mind on doing.

ASP (NS) Ang enjoys cycling at Tanah Merah Coastal Road.

Bike Bites

ASP (NS) Ang remembers the first time he saw a road bike: “It was my uncle’s and he would park it at my house when I was a child. I used to be fascinated by the complex components of the bike, as I watched him pedal off around the old Kallang Airport.”

That early fascination never waned and some 30 years later, ASP (NS) Ang has a road bike of his own. “I make it a point to cycle at least once a week although I am more energised during some sessions than others.”

On days when he feels lethargic, ASP (NS) Ang still makes it a point to press himself to head out for a short ride. “I also rope in my cousin and friend to join me every now and then.” This practice, he says, has helped him turn an interest into a habit.

GAME ON

Laser Tag has always been a go-to activity for ASP (NS) Ang and his NS buddies, who enjoy bonding over competitive pursuits. “We enjoy pitting ourselves against one another in an exciting setting and Laser Tag fits the bill perfectly,” he says, adding that other activities the group enjoys include bowling, pool and dodge ball.

He is excited that HomeTeamNS clubhouses offer such activities, including Laser Tag which can be played at Laser Quest in the HomeTeamNS Tampines Clubhouse. “People say that a unit that trains together stays together. That’s definitely true, but cohesion activities outside the unit take bonding to the next level — and we always have lots of fun.”

Did you know?

Laser Tag has always been a go-to activity for ASP (NS) Ang and his NS buddies, who enjoy bonding over competitive pursuits. “We enjoy pitting ourselves against one another in an exciting setting and Laser Tag fits the bill perfectly,” he says, adding that other activities the group enjoys include bowling, pool and dodge ball.

He is excited that HomeTeamNS clubhouses offer such activities, including Laser Tag which can be played at Laser Quest in the HomeTeamNS Tampines Clubhouse. “People say that a unit that trains together stays together. That’s definitely true, but cohesion activities outside the unit take bonding to the next level — and we always have lots of fun.”

MY WISH FOR 2021 is that the COVID-19 vaccines will start to restore some form of normalcy to our lives.

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