Penang-born Nicol Ann David really does not need any introduction – she’s the pride and joy of every Malaysian, having ‘squashed’ her opponents on the courts since young. Considered by some to be the greatest women’s squash player of all time, the 35-year-old has an exhaustingly long list of wins under her belt, including eight World Championship titles and five British Open Squash titles, and rightfully rocked the No 1 spot on the rankings for a record 109 consecutive months between 2006 and 2015.
My Mexican odyssey
So what exactly does the Squash Queen resort to for some seriously fun down-time when not crushing her rivals in the heat of competition? Holidays! That’s right – and she’s bitten by a serious case of wanderlust too! Get comfy here as the lovely, gracious Nicol dishes out on her ‘travel tales’!
Can you share with us some of your favourite holiday destinations, foreign and local?
Nicol David (ND): My favourite places to go on holiday are Spain and Italy while in Europe, but I’m really enjoying South America such as Colombia and Mexico. I love exploring different cultures there. In Malaysia, I do enjoy being home in Penang when I travel back but I hope to discover our islands more on the east coast and Borneo sometime soon.
Do you have a favourite destination that you never get tired of visiting, even if you have been there many times before?
(ND): I would say Colombia for me has been such a great place that I see myself there more and more every time I go back.
What's on your bucket list of places to visit?
(ND): I would like to visit more of Africa and Turkey. I would love to do the safari in Africa and to experience Turkey as I have heard so much about it.
What do you love most about travelling? And what do you hate most?
(ND): Trying different kinds of food and experiencing different cultures is what I love about travelling. I don’t hate many things … but I don’t quite like it when my flights get delayed or cancelled while I travel – that can be tough at times.
What are some of the travel essentials that you must have with you during your travels?
(ND): My iPhone and headphones with music ready for me to be on-the-go with fun tunes keeping me upbeat always. I also bring a notebook with me so I can just doodle or sketch stuff when I’m free or write some thoughts down on paper when I have ideas that come to me or express emotions through writing and drawing.
When travelling for tournaments, do you take the chance to do some sightseeing or is there no time for that at all?
(ND): I have been on the squash tour for quite some time, so the first few years I used to take a few extra days after a tournament to do some simple sight-seeing. Now, however, I make more effort to do other activities at the new cities I compete in – and in some cities that have lots to offer, I tend to make it a point to explore it more.
Any tips for foodies looking for an unforgettable culinary experience?
(ND): Foodies will have to come to Malaysia, of course, especially Penang because that is the best place to be. Haha! Apart from me not being biased, I would say to go to Thailand and Japan for the real deal!
What services and facilities do you find most appealing at KLIA or klia2?
(ND): Both airports are becoming more customised to the passengers’ needs as it is all about making the travelling experience before and after as comfortable as possible without hassle. It is probably amongst the top destinations to travel to and from or through it as it connects most places around Asia and the rest of the world. Also the KLIA Express is really the best connection from the airport to the centre of KL city from both airports now.
Do you have any pre-boarding rituals?
(ND): I prefer to go early, and then find a good ‘makan’ spot for either something local and a tea to just make sure I have a full stomach before I board.
How do you handle flight delays?
(ND): The only way to handle delays is to wait, I guess – maybe have another tea and keep myself busy either eating or shopping.
How do you keep yourself occupied on long layovers?
(ND): I will listen to music, find some spots to chill and have a tea and snack a little. Perhaps do more shopping or window shopping. Also, if airport Wi-Fi is accessible, then I’ll catch up on my emails and social media.
*Photos courtesy of Nicol David