Es­cape with Yuna

One of Malaysia’s favourite song­birds talks about her favourite Asean hol­i­days.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Travel - By CHESTER CHIN star2­travel@thes­

BE­ING one of Malaysia’s big­gest mu­si­cal ex­ports, Yuna’s sched­ule is un­der­stand­ably packed. She works all year long. But when­ever she gets the chance, she would pack her bags and go on a long over­due getaway.

“I try to go once a year ... but I’ve only been on a hol­i­day once these past two years,” she of­fers via e-mail from Los An­ge­les, the United States.

A hol­i­day also al­lows the singer­song­writer of pop­u­lar hits such as Crush, Lul­la­bies, Shine Your Way and Terukir Di Bin­tang, to pur­sue her other pas­sion – pho­tog­ra­phy.

“I’m a pho­tog­ra­pher, so I bring my cam­era ev­ery­where I go and take pho­tos. I try not to spend a lot of money when I’m trav­el­ling. In­stead, I just walk around and take pretty pho­tos of the places I go to,” she says.

For the 30-year-old songstress, a per­fect va­ca­tion is go­ing some place where she can tem­po­rar­ily es­cape the glitz and glam­our that comes with be­ing an in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned record­ing artiste.

“A great hol­i­day is where I get to be by my­self, or with my fam­ily. It’s some place that is not too crowded, a place where I can learn its his­tory,” she re­veals.

“I’ve trav­elled to a lot of places but the most mem­o­rable ones are Is­tan­bul, Bali, Mi­lan, Egypt, Zurich,” she adds. Yuna also counts Asean coun­tries as some of her favourite des­ti­na­tions to un­wind.

“Bali, Kuch­ing in Sarawak, Pe­nang and The Datai Langkawi!” she an­swers, when asked about her favourite lo­ca­tions in this re­gion. Yuna adds that the beach, food and peo­ple are what make those places spe­cial to her.

Yuna re­counts her most mem­o­rable hol­i­day she took with her best friends to Bali to cel­e­brate New Year’s Day.

“We went to Uluwatu, and then got a re­ally nice villa where we just rested and re­laxed the whole trip,” she re­veals.

What was the one Asean va­ca­tion where she felt the hap­pi­est?

“It was at The Datai Langkawi with my par­ents.

“I took them there, and we rented a beau­ti­ful villa by a pri­vate beach. It was re­ally beau­ti­ful.

“We were sur­rounded by na­ture. I loved it!” she says.

Born Yu­nalis Zarai in Alor Se­tar, Kedah, the law grad­u­ate spent some time liv­ing in Perlis. Dur­ing her time in Malaysia’s small­est state, her love af­fair with Thai food started.

It’s no sur­prise that she said she would go to Thai­land in a heart­beat – just to en­joy the food.

“I lived in Perlis for a long time. Grow­ing up, we had de­li­cious Thai food as we lived so close to the bor­der of Thai­land. I love Thai food,” she says.

Over the course of her im­pres­sive mu­sic ca­reer so far, Yuna has worked with su­per­stars the likes of Phar­rell, Usher and Jhené Aiko. In De­cem­ber last year, her third in­ter­na­tional al­bum Chap­ters made its way to the top 10 of the Bill­board’s Best R&B Al­bums of 2016.

Although she’s based in the United States (mainly LA) now, Malaysia is still home. So, if she were to be a tourist guide for a week, where would she take her vis­i­tors to?

“I’d take them to Jalan Alor (in Kuala Lumpur) for seafood, then drive them up to Pa­hang to the ele­phant sanc­tu­ary, and then to one of our beau­ti­ful is­lands. I have ac­tu­ally done this be­fore with some friends who came to visit from Italy,” she says.

On a more se­ri­ous note, Yuna hopes that Asean coun­tries would work to­gether to re­duce waste.

“I’ve been to beaches where there was a lot of trash. Our corals die from the waste we throw into the ocean.

“Also, I hope we’ll find a way to re­duce the us­age of plas­tic bot­tles,” she says.

“I feel that we are slowly get­ting there ... for ex­am­ple, with re­cy­cling, and ban­ning sty­ro­foam con­tain­ers.”

That aside, the mu­si­cian has some ad­vice for trav­ellers to the Asean re­gion: “Have an open mind and be pa­tient – there might be a lan­guage bar­rier and also the weather can re­ally test you. Avoid touristy ar­eas; try to go where the lo­cals love to hang out. Other than that, just en­joy the jour­ney!”

Yuna in Bali, In­done­sia. She likes to visit places that are not too crowded and where she can learn its his­tory.

At The Datai, Langkawi, where Yuna loved be­ing sur­rounded by na­ture.

For Yuna, travel is all about ex­plor­ing new places and cul­tures.

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