Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Chi-p way to travel

ONE can’t help feeling a tad sorry for Qushairi Mohammed Razali. Unlike most travel programme hosts who are pampered with five-star facilities and services, Qushairi or Chi as he is popularly known, enjoys none of these.

Instead, he gets street food, creaking beds and everything that depicts budget travel.

But he is not complaining. After all, his programme, Destinasi Bajet (Budget Destination) is one of Malaysia’s most popular TV travel series.

A quick search on the Internet and one will discover that Chi is very popular. With his boyish good looks, courtesy of a mixed Chinese-Malay parentage, the 29-year-old has hundreds of blogs linked to him, mostly created by girls.

So, when director Farid Othman of Homegrown Productions Sdn Bhd called us to help the film crew shoot several locations in the coastal countryside of Perak, we were thrilled.

When we first saw Chi, we were shocked to see him minus his beard. He had shaved it off and was sporting a clean look for the second season of the programme.

Some of you will remember Chi as the drummer for the award-winning OAG Band which won The Best New Artist award category in Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) 1996.

In 1997, OAG had the honour of rocking the 9th FIFA/Coca Cola World Youth Championship Cup singing the theme song that was aired over 25 participating countries.

After years in the music industry, Chi switched to a different tune. Given a meagre budget of RM300 for a 3D/2N stay, Chi takes it all in his stride and in fact, wins over the viewers with his carefree –– and sometimes crazy –– antics to keep all amused with the ups and downs of his journeys.

He speaks impeccable Malay and English but dresses down and dines on cheap eats.

Nonetheless, as we would find out later, things weren’t always rosy. With such a tight budget and a punishing schedule, Chi and his film crew were always on the move.

We had to cover Kuala Kertang, Kuala Sepetang, Matang Mangrove Forest and Kampung Menteri –– all in one day.

There was hardly any time for meals or breaks.

It was only when it rained (and it usually does around Taiping), that everyone could relax, sit back and share some tales.

Away from the camera, we found Chi immensely humble as he shared with us his personal journey of trials and tribulations over his 10-year career.

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