Honeymoon with a twist

Honeymoon with a twist
Low Yi Yang and Ivy Teong (third from left and second from left) at a bar in Cuiaba, where they watched the Brazil v Mexico group-stage game with some locals. The Singaporeans have enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Brazilians during their three-week trip.

SAO PAULO - Maldives. Yes. Venice. Sure. Paris. Definitely. But Brazil during the World Cup as a honeymoon destination?

Low Yi Yang, 31, and Ivy Teong, 28, have been doing just that for the past three weeks.

After their wedding on June 8, the couple flew out the next day to begin their whirlwind trip that saw them witness the Netherlands' 5-1 demolition of world champions Spain, take in the spectacular sights of Iguazu Falls and even manage a chance meeting with Russia coach Fabio Capello.

Said Teong of the unorthodox honeymoon: "The first reaction from my friends was, 'Why is your husband doing this to you?'. But I knew this means a lot to him. And overall, it turned out better than I thought."

The trip took them to Brazilian cities like Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Cuiaba, where they got to experience Brazilian culture first hand, including a visit to a favela (Brazilian slum).

They also found themselves on the receiving end of warm Brazilian hospitality.

Said Low, a lawyer: "People would go out of their way to help us, even if they didn't understand us. One guy even gave us his mobile number and told us to call him if we needed any help. One family invited us into their home.

"You rarely experience such things in Singapore."

The experience and warm reception they received was in contrast to media reports of protests, the high crime rate and unfinished stadiums.

Said Low: "We felt everything was well organised and relatively safe. Of course we also used common sense, like not to walk in small alleys at night and to stay in the tourist areas."

With over 100 Singaporeans set to make the trip to Brazil at some point or other during the World Cup, it was helpful that they could share tips with like-minded travellers. So when 20 of them started a WhatsApp chat group, the couple joined too.

The highlight of the trip for Low was seeing his favourite team, the Netherlands, beating Spain and getting to mingle with travelling Dutch fans at Salvador's historic centre, also known as the "Pelourinho".

Said Teong, a teacher: "He was so excited, jumping up and down and hanging out with the Dutch supporters.

"Then we saw Holland win. It was a perfect day."

While that perfect day has come and gone, Low can find solace in the fact that he has found the perfect mate for life, someone who is supportive of his passion for football.

Said the Liverpool diehard: "My life revolves around football. Most of my trips have some football element to it, be it visiting the Nou Camp in Barcelona or going to Anfield.

"I'm lucky she is so understanding."

This article was first published on JULY 2, 2014.
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