Rider Profiles: Opera Singer
Introducing our Rider Profiles series!
Each month, we feature interesting panda riders from various professions with unique stories to tell. This March, we get to know Tsui San, who is both a panda rider and opera singer.
Tsui San Yong, Opera Singer
Tell us a little something about yourself?
My name is Tsui San Yong. I’m a foodpanda rider and an opera singer.
How did you become an opera singer? What’s your story?
I’ve loved singing since I was a young girl. My aunties used to have several Teochew opera stages during the festive seasons and as a curious person, I used to climb up the stages to watch and learn the steps. Soon enough, I was convinced by my godbrother to pursue my passion in the arts.
For those who aren’t informed, tell us a little something about the Chinese opera.
In essence, Chinese Opera is a stage play about Chinese filial piety stories and Chinese legends like “Journey to the West”. Chinese filial piety is a concept that revolves around respect for one’s parents and ancestors.
Chinese opera involves mostly singing and we start painting our faces 3 hours before the show. We usually go up on the stage with our props by 12 noon sharp and the show lasts for about an hour and a half.
How is Chinese opera different from other genres? Are there any cool opera facts you’d like to share?
English opera focuses on very high-pitched songs. For Chinese Toechow opera, it would depend. If you’re in a female role, it’s high-pitched. For male roles, it’s low-pitched. Also, for English opera, one doesn’t need a colorful face. There are over 360 different types of Chinese opera and usually, the colors painted on the character’s face symbolize the different qualities of the person they’re portraying. One example would be white could mean evil and treacherous, while red means prosperous and heroic. It is definitely more work compared to English opera. Nowadays, it’s a dying art. In order to attract the younger crowd, we occasionally include some Chinese pop song performances before the traditional show starts. Chinese Teochow opera performances usually take place in temples and churches and we also do performances for Chinese traditional clans and associations.
What are some of the important skills you need to become a great opera singer?
To be a successful opera singer, you must be patient, determined and physically fit. During your performance you will find yourself singing, dancing, moving around and climbing wooden panels. Hence, it would be helpful to have a traditional martial arts background regardless if you’re female or male. You also need to be calm and have no stage fright. I’ve noticed that people with extraverted personalities are more well-suited for the industry.
What is your most memorable performance?
It was during my second performance for the mid-autumn festival. My pants fell midway through the show, luckily, I was wearing 3 different layers at that time. I was so embarrassed but I had to be very calm and discreet since the prime minister was sitting in the front row alongside the different ministers of states.
Any advice for aspiring opera singers?
You have to work hard and accept that it’s not a full-time job. It’s better to work in foodpanda! Haha!
Chinese opera make-up
What made you decide to ride with foodpanda? Is there anything in particular about foodpanda that sets us apart from other food delivery companies?
I joined foodpanda because I can plan my schedules ahead. Also, to me, foodpanda is the most popular amongst vendors and the bonding between riders is very strong. Our fellow Panda brother, Andy, is one of those special angels who help us whenever there’s a road accident. He also becomes the traffic diverter to help riders get immediate attention and care before the 995 paramedics come. We also have very good events thanks to Beatrice and the team. We feel very supported.
What has life in foodpanda been like? Share us some of your most memorable memories.
Life in foodpanda is interesting. Sometimes you get the same customers ordering different food so you become familiar with the different routes. I once delivered a ten-dish meal to a house that resembled a Hansel and Gretel gingerbread house in this private estate area. The house belonged to a Swiss family. It was very beautiful!
Do you have to share any foodpanda rider tips? Do you have anything to share with both seasoned and newly recruited riders?
Tip 1: Drink a cup of warm chicken essence half an hour before you start working
Tip 2: Bring enough small change in your waist pouch
Tip 3: When picking up coffee, always ask for a drink holder and tie the coffee with two layers of plastic bags
Tip 4: On rainy days, don’t panic! This is the best time to earn more. Just park your vehicles at a safe corner and walk more.
Tip 5: Always be polite to customers! And say thank you whenever you receive tips. When you’re good to a customer, they’re good to you too. If a customer is angry when the food is delivered late, apologize and hand over the food with both hands sincerely.
Know a rider with an interesting profession worth a feature? You can nominate them by sending an email to with the subject "Rider Profiles Nomination"