LOVE TRAV­ELS

Jojo Struys and Michael Lim say “I do” in pic­turesque Uluwatu, Bali

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Bazaar -

Here’s the thing: You may know her as that soothing voice off the guided au­dio re­lax­ation CD se­ries Let­ting Go, though you’ll prob­a­bly re­mem­ber the vi­va­cious Jojo Struys, 38, from the 2005 se­ries Pil­low Talk where she sweetly grilled un­sus­pect­ing guests from the ab­so­lute pri­vacy of her stu­dio boudoir. Ever ac­tive, she writes a monthly col­umn in The Star news­pa­per; blogs; pro­duces and hosts a re­gional food show; and most sig­nif­i­cantly, the princess of re-in­ven­tion has al­ways been in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive of BAZAAR’s starstud­ded breast can­cer con­scious­ness-rais­ing ini­tia­tive The Pink Project. She has one of the busiest sched­ules in the city so when she re­cently tied the knot with her part­ner of many years, Michael Lim, in a beau­ti­ful, in­ti­mate cer­e­mony in Tirtha Uluwatu Chapel in Bali, en­quir­ing minds wanted to know just how she found the time. And who ex­actly was this “mys­tery man” she had suc­cess­fully kept un­der wraps for years? Catch­ing up with BAZAAR a few weeks af­ter their wed­ding, the cou­ple talk can­didly and ’fess up about love and other things.

“It’s true,” she laughs, “for a while there, some peo­ple thought I was mak­ing him up. There were hardly, if any, pic­tures of us online, which is pretty ironic given that I have my blog and am al­ways on so­cial me­dia. But Michael’s very pri­vate and so am I, de­spite hav­ing spent the last decade in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.”

The cou­ple met years ago on set, and TV host Daphne Ik­ing of­ten laugh­ingly takes credit for hook­ing them up, but from the get-go Jojo says Michael was miles apart from any man she’d ever met. “He was calm, con­sid­er­ate, and pro­fes­sional be­yond words.” But the truth is, the fire­works did not start there but in a work-re­lated phone call a week later that lasted five hours. “Oh my God, we just could not stop talk­ing to each other,” says Jojo with that in­fec­tious smile, “and girl, you know I can talk. But we had so much in com­mon, in­clud­ing the fact that we had both found our­selves work­ing in KL when re­ally we are the both of us not from here.” Michael ended up stay­ing to work here af­ter trekking his way from the UK on one of those “gap-year-find-your­self-and-see-the-world jour­neys”, while I was born and bred in Sin­ga­pore be­fore mov­ing to KL.” About a year later, not only were they a cou­ple but they had started work­ing to­gether in a pro­duc­tion house they started to­gether in 2006 called Kyan­ite.tv and thus be­gan a pro­fes­sional and per­sonal match made in heaven.

“Says Michael, “I think I knew from the mo­ment I met Jojo that there was a con­nec­tion which I could not ex­plain. Love is pow­er­ful and it just takes over where noth­ing else mat­ters. I guess I just knew.”

Jojo laughs over the rim of her cof­fee mug say­ing, “Hmm, that’s not what you usu­ally say.” But she ad­mits she never thought she would get mar­ried. “I had this in­nate fear of com­mit­ment but Michael came along and just broke down all my bar­ri­ers and old be­liefs. When I got en­gaged, there was a to­tal ab­sence of fear or trep­i­da­tion. Oh, and there’s a story to how he pro­posed, too.” At this point Michael has turned five shades of red. But of course, we need to know.

“A friend had told us of this amaz­ing nar­ra­tive from Hindu mythol­ogy that in­volved the Lords Ganesh and Mu­ru­gan. Both brothers were chal­lenged to race around the world for a prize and the Lord Mu­ru­gan sped off on the mis­sion while the Lord Ganesh merely walked qui­etly and calmly around his par­ents. When his par­ents asked what he was do­ing, he sim­ply said: ‘You are my world’. He won the chal­lenge.”

A year later on hol­i­day for her birth­day in the Hang­ing Gar­dens of Ubud, Bali, Michael took her to a beau­ti­ful se­cluded spot where, un­der a car­pet of stars on a bam­boo deck lit by a sin­gle flame, he walked around her three times be­fore propos­ing with the words. “You are my world; will you marry me?”

Michael is shak­ing his head, smil­ing, and protest­ing that he’s re­ally not that ro­man­tic even as Jojo says, “Okay, it de­pends en­tirely on your def­i­ni­tion of ro­mance but even though we are su­per busy and con­stantly in the throes of pro­duc­tion or edit­ing, he will make the time to mes­sage me even while we

Love is ex­plor­ing the Mayan ru­ins, then div­ing into the Tu­lum Sea hand-in-hand; it’s liv­ing with a Thai hill

tribe, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing all life has to of­fer, to­gether.

are in dif­fer­ent of­fices in the same build­ing just to tell me he loves me.”

While some say the quick­est way to end a re­la­tion­ship is to work to­gether, Michael has a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. “I like to think that we are qual­ity time peo­ple. If we are with each other, the ac­tiv­ity is al­most sec­ondary. We do al­most ev­ery­thing to­gether: work, live, ex­er­cise, walk our pugs, to even just sit­ting still and lis­ten­ing to rain.” Here Jojo chimes in say­ing, “Have no fear, we have our dif­fer­ences and he chal­lenges me all the time, but it makes me a bet­ter per­son and more pro­fes­sional. It’s a con­struc­tive ex­change, not a de­struc­tive one, we build each other up and not tear each other down.”

Says Michael, “It is dif­fi­cult to put into words how I felt that day in Bali, when Jojo be­came my wife. There was magic in the air, it was al­most sur­real. To see her smile when she saw me as she walked down the aisle, well, it got pretty emo­tional for me. At the time when we re­leased a pair of doves at the end of the cer­e­mony, I didn’t know they mate for life. Watch­ing them fly off to­wards the ocean to­gether is a mo­ment we will al­ways re­mem­ber.”

Of course, the topic of the hon­ey­moon crops up next and it’s a tough sell be­cause the two have trav­elled so much to­gether, es­pe­cially in the film­ing of their soon-to-bere­leased trav­el­ogue Let­ting Go. “Trav­el­ling is just one of the things we do re­ally well,” re­veals Michael, who co-pro­duced the ex­cit­ing project. “From ex­plor­ing the Mayan ru­ins and spon­ta­neously div­ing into the Tu­lum Sea, to catch­ing the sun­rise over the Ang Kor Wat or ex­pe­ri­enc­ing snow come up to our chests in Niseko, Ja­pan.” Clearly, the two have had some pretty in­cred­i­ble es­capades to­gether, re­ceiv­ing a wa­ter bless­ing from 20 monks in the mid­dle of a for­est in Cambodia; trekking into the north­ern tip of Thai­land to stay with a hill tribe, and even tak­ing the long­est zip line in the world over the sea in Haiti.

Says Jojo ex­cit­edly, “Oh my God, do you re­mem­ber those kids in Ja­maica who posed like Usain Bolt when they saw us?” Michael nods with a smile be­fore he con­tin­ues, “We plan to get lost in more zip codes to­gether; we’ve al­ready cov­ered New York, Lon­don, Tokyo, Seoul, Mi­ami.” For now though, the cou­ple agree that Africa looks like a good bet to mark one of the most spe­cial hol­i­days they’ll take to­gether as man and wife. Ma­jes­tic vis­tas and ex­otic sa­faris await.

When Jojo slips away for a sec­ond to an­swer her cell phone, Michael qui­etly shares: “Jojo is fiercely pro­tec­tive about me, and when your part­ner tells you ev­ery sin­gle day that ‘you are amaz­ing the way you are’, you start liv­ing with a love and a bond that is un­spo­ken. When we are in tune and in sync with each other and not think­ing about work or dead­lines, it is the most beau­ti­ful thing in the world. I guess we’re kind of like a twin flame. The light gets brighter and you feel that noth­ing else mat­ters; as I said be­fore, you just know when you are con­nected.”

Af­ter Michael leaves and over a last cup of java, Jojo muses aloud how she knew Michael was re­ally the one for her. “I think I fell in love with him, or at least re­ally knew he was “the one”, one day in New York City. There was this old home­less woman and she’d dropped her things, and all around her the city bus­tled, too busy to care. And I un­der­stand that, you know, ev­ery­one has their own thing go­ing on, their own prob­lems. Out of the cor­ner of my eye I saw Michael bend over to help her, even slip her some money be­cause it looked like she hadn’t eaten in a while. He didn’t know I was watch­ing, but I knew then that he was the man for me, and al­ways would be.”

Jojo Struys and Michael Lim walk out of Tirtha Uluwatu Chapel in Bali, as man and wife

The cou­ple share a kiss at sun­set

From left: Jojo Struys and Michael Lim just be­fore they re­leased a pair of doves to sym­bol­ise their eter­nal love; Jojo walked down the aisle of the chapel by her fa­ther, Leslie Struys’s side; The cou­ple’s first dance at the re­cep­tion where Malaysian celebrity singers Ash Nair and Chel­sia Ng sang love songs to com­mem­o­rate the night. “When Ash started singing U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Look­ing For” I thought I’d cry all over again,” says Jojo.

Says Jojo, “There were no Bridezilla mo­ments, thank God.”

The cou­ple with Chel­sia Ng (left) and Xandria Ooi (right)

LOVE AROUND THE WORLD

A love of travel binds them, and next year Jojo launches her trav­el­ogue Let­ting Go, co-pro­duced by her hus­band, Michael.

Look­ing for­ward to a new be­gin­ning

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