Blind Hsiao an adrenaline junkie

Blind Hsiao an adrenaline junkie
Blind Taiwanese singer Hsiao Huang-chi (in sunglasses) enjoying the thrills of Madagascar: A Crate Adventure at Sentosa's Universal Studios.

SINGAPORE - If you hear blind Taiwanese singer Hsiao Huang-chi, 37, screaming while taking a theme park ride, it is not because he is scared.

The amiable singer says: "Screaming is a way to create the atmosphere. That's what makes it fun. I've loved taking such rides since I was a kid. I'm not daunted by them, as I see them as a way of challenging my limits."

The adrenaline junkie visited Universal Studios Singapore yesterday morning, ahead of his concert performance tomorrow, and candidly shares how he enjoys the sudden dips and sharp turns.

Calling The Revenge Of The Mummy indoor roller-coaster ride his favourite ride at the theme park on Sentosa, he says: "It suddenly reverses and then moves forward again. For someone who can't see, you feel the sudden jerks. There are also sprinkles of water and I could feel the heat of the fire."

He was accompanied by his visually handicapped band members, manager, stylist and staff. The entourage of about 10 people took the rides that ran the gamut from leisurely boat rides to dizzying 3-D simulation rides.

The daredevil Hsiao, who has been to theme parks in Japan, Hong Kong and in his native Taiwan, professed that he was not daunted by the rides here and has taken scarier free-fall rides.

He flew in earlier from Taipei last Saturday before his scheduled performance at the You Are My Eyes concert alongside two other visually handicapped singers - Taiwan's Chang Yu-hsia from The Voice Of China Season 1, and Singapore's Kelvin Tan Wei Lian.

Part of the proceeds of tomorrow's concert held at Resorts World Theatre will be donated to the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped.

Hsiao has been blind since birth because of congenital cataracts. He regained partial vision when he underwent surgery at the age of four.

Unfortunately, he lost his sight completely at 15 when he overtaxed his eyes playing computer games.

The talented singer-songwriter is famed for the self-penned song, You Are My Eyes (2002), which is about a blind man's feelings towards his girlfriend who acts as his eyes.

The bachelor, who says he is not dating, recently released his 10th studio album, The Most Beautiful Flower, in the Taiwanese Minnan dialect.

Though he could not spend yesterday's Mother's Day with his 64-year-old mother, he has already celebrated with her beforehand and got his older sister to accompany their mother to buy new clothes.

Recalling fond memories of his mother, he says: "I didn't come from a well-to-do family. When I was young, I was always envious of friends who could buy snacks.

"When I still had partial vision, I once saw my mother appear at the window of my classroom holding red bean cakes in her hand. I loved that snack. The warmth of that simple gesture is something I remember."

This article was published on May 12 in The Straits Times.

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