Singapore's golden hipster boy Benjamin Kheng has spoken, and to him, the Lion City holds more meaning than the rich and lavish lifestyles portrayed in postcards and pop culture.
Or as Benjamin would tell you, it's more than just Henry Golding speaking Mandarin in a British accent (which he's impressed by, FYI).
Benjamin, along with fellow celebrity Nat Ho and Filipino YouTuber Laureen Uy, were present for the launch of Viu's new reality travellogue series, No Sleep No FOMO.
The show rides on the phenomenon of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and sees host Paul Foster, along with his celebrity guests, tackling 60 challenges in 60 hours across eight different countries - Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and Thailand.
At its launch party held yesterday (March 20), AsiaOne, along with other members of the media, sat down for a cosy "fireside chat" with Benjamin, Nat, and Laureen, to talk about the show, travelling and how they would sell Singapore as a tourism destination.
Benjamin went to Switzerland for his episode while Nat and Laureen visited South Korea.From left: Benjamin Kheng, Laureen Uy, and Nat HoPhoto: Viu
Q: What was the most memorable activity of the trip?
Laureen Uy: (For me), it's probably the penis worm. All the Koreans were saying it's so normal for them but it was my first time hearing about it.
The (shopkeeper) was showing us what it was like… there was water squirting everywhere, and then she chopped it in front of us and there was blood…
Nat Ho: And we had to 1, 2… (mimics eating at the count of three)
Benjamin Kheng: We rode up and hiked a little bit to the top of Zermatt, which is the Matterhorn. If you look at your Toblerone chocolate bar, that's the iconic mountain (on the packaging). I didn't expect to get so emotional but I got so emotional.Benjamin Kheng (far right) and Paul Foster (second from left) being bartenders in SwitzerlandPhoto: Viu
I looked around and everyone was also like (makes crying expression). Just seeing the crew putting down their equipment and taking it in… Like I was crying. Paul was crying. And you look over, on the left you see France, and you can see Italy on the other side.
Laureen Uy: It's nothing compared to my penis worm. (laughs)
Q: The show is based on completing a series of challenges. Who is the first person you would tell after overcoming a major challenge in your life?
BK: Not Paul Foster. (laughs) He's too competitive.
LU: I'll probably say my family. I'm very close to them and our family chat group is very active. They know I travel a lot for work and this was very exciting (for them).
NH: Mine is probably my brother. He's the person in my family I communicate with the most. He sends me cat videos almost everyday.
So I'll tell him first followed by my mom. My mom worries too much so I rather not tell her straight away.
BK: It's strange, I should tell my family but I've got a band and I usually just tell my band first. And they end up making fun of me mostly, so I don't know why I do it.
Q: If you could be stranded in any one country, which would it be and why?
LU: I would probably say El Nido in Palawan. It's my country and I love our islands, especially El Nido. I feel like it's amazing to just be in an island filled with people who are the friendliest. I'm not biased, Filipinos are very friendly.
NH: Well, I would say that I would like to be stranded in Taipei since I've been based there before and the seasonal changes aren't too big. What's cool is that if you want city life, there's the city, but just take a train about an hour out, and you get the great outdoors.Nat Ho (far right) and Laureen Uy (second from left) in a HanbokPhoto: Viu
BK: I would say Punggol lah. (laughs) There's everything there. No, um… it's a toss up between Bali or Japan for me. Bali is just so chill and in your mind it's like, "What's up? Chill, wake up and surf, drink."
As of late, I've been really getting into Japanese culture and watching Japanese shows and there's something very romantic about that place. If I had only one cuisine to pick for the rest of my life, it would be Japanese because of the variety.
Q: Which destination is at the top of your bucket list at this moment?
LU: I already know mine - go to Cappadocia, Turkey and to watch the sunrise on the hot air balloon. That would be perfect.
NH: Maldives. Still on my bucket list, haven't got around to doing it.
BK: I really want to do Iceland and (watch) the Northern Lights before it's too late.
Q: If you could sell Singapore as a tourist destination in one sentence, what would it be?
NH: (deadpans) Merlion selfie. That's what everybody does, right? It's like a thing so might as well sell the hell out of it.
BK: I would say, 'not that crazy rich'. I think there's a lot more to discover in Singapore than what is depicted in post cards. There's a lot of interesting things…
NH: I think it's the hawker centres and the small shops that have so much more character than what is depicted in the movies.
BK: Not just Henry Golding going (in British-accented Mandarin), "Liang wan fan (two bowls of rice)". (laughs) He said something like that and I was like, (non-sarcastically) "Wow, so convincing."
LU: I come here for the culture, and the food. Really. Honestly. Everytime I'm here, I'm just full 24/7. So I feel like as a tourist, if I were to tell my friends to go to Singapore, it would always be to explore the city and to eat good food.
No Sleep No FOMO premieres this Friday (March 22) on Viu with new episodes weekly.