It all began during her college days when Natalie Ng was given the opportunity of interviewing Hong Kong stars Andy Lau and Tony Leung [during their visit to Malaysia] which was aired over Hong Kong’s TVB8. After she had graduated, Natalie joined 8tv where she hosted Go Travel and Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia – both travel programmes which saw her travelling to some of the most fascinating places on the planet. Natalie has since moved on to become a TV host on live entertainment shows.
As a seasoned host for Go Travel and Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia, could you recommend some must-see destinations both locally and internationally?
Since I’ve hosted Go Travel and Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia for some eight seasons, I’ve been to many places. But if I were to recommend…locally, I would say Penang. The main attraction there has to be the food and the Xing Zhou bridge. Penang has changed a lot but the food is just as delicious and cheap while the Xing Zhou bridge still remains a popular tourist attraction. I also discovered several cafes nearby the temple where we were shooting. You can definitely find surprises everywhere.
Then there was one time, the crew of Go Travel went to shoot in Hokkaido which excited many of us. It’s truly a lovely place. The scenery is so beautiful that the pictures come out great at any angle. It isn’t a busy city so you actually feel relaxed. At the time when I was in Hokkaido, the lavender was in full bloom. The purple fields were really a romantic sight.
Backpacking is a relatively new trend. How does that differ from travelling in a group?
Actually, I believe both have their pros and cons. When I first started travelling it was always with a group, usually family. But then later on when I was more familiar with travelling, I started backpacking. Either way, it all depends on what you want to do on the trip. If I go travelling with my family, I will always choose to travel with a group because older people can’t walk for long periods so a schedule would suit them better. They would then know what the programme for the day is…so they would know how to plan themselves. Also when travelling in a group, opting for travel packages from travel agents is cheaper as you can get pretty decent rates.
Backpacking, on the other hand, is more popular among the younger generation…usually with friends. If I were to travel with a friend, we could take our time to find places and activities to do. We also get to experience the local life. For me, I love to travel alone. I would usually buy a travel book and get recommendations from colleagues and friends as to where are the places to visit.
You’ve tried extreme sports, which one would you say has been the most challenging?
When I was hosting Go Travel, I had to try all sorts of extreme sports but it was very difficult for me in the beginning. Because I’m more of a timid girl, I’m not very daring to try things like extreme sports. But after joining Go Travel, I became braver and I knew that the audience would enjoy the show more if I take part in extreme activities, so I toughened up and gave it a go. It was truly an amazing experience.
On my first shoot for Go Travel we went to Macau. There, I had to bungee jump off the Macau Tower. It was 200 metres high and when I reached the top I went completely blank. I was utterly terrified but it was a good experience. The Macau Tower Skywalk is also a famous tourist attraction. You have to walk around the tower supported by a rope. The wind was really strong, so it was terrifying and my legs were trembling all the time. Later on in the show, we went to New Zealand and this time I had to bungee jump off the Kawarau Bridge. The experience is priceless.
Besides travelling for work, have you travelled anywhere recently for pleasure?
Apart from travelling for work, I do travel alone every year. I went to Shanghai three years ago and two years ago I was in England. When we shoot a programme, time is very limited. We take about a week to film two to three episodes. We have to wake up bright and early and then we film until night, then we sleep for a few hours and then we start all over again. So because we are always rushed for time we don’t actually get to experience the feel of the place.
So I do travel by myself every year just so I can experience the country at a slower pace. Shanghai is a very charming city. I got to explore different places this time around and tried many local delicacies as well. Before visiting England, I did a lot of research. I got to experience different cultures. I can definitely feel the difference between travelling to Western and Asian countries.
These days many celebrities and TV personalities have been getting a lot of bad press. Have you read or heard any about yourself?
Honestly, I worry about this a lot. Thankfully having been many years in the industry I have yet to receive much negative criticism. There were some people who didn’t like my low voice when I first started out and I use to get very upset and it did affect my confidence a little but my friends and family have always been there for me so they always comforted and advised me. They really helped me in getting my confidence back and I learnt that there will always be two sides to everything – there will be people who like me and there will also be people who dislike me.
I once interviewed Eason Chan and he said my voice was very special because he liked low-frequency sounds. In this industry, there is bound to be people that dislike you and try to put you down, so as a public figure you need to be thick-skinned and mentally strong.
Many celebrities and artists have opened up restaurants and boutiques. Have you any plans of starting your own business?
I would love to open a themed cafe. The theme would be “home”. These days when we travel, it has become a way of finding one’s self and a time to relax, but when we are unable to…we need another form of relaxation, find an alternative home. So when I am unable to travel, I can go to the cafe and relax. cs