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Journey of Discovery

Zurien Onn
Journey of Discovery

Always excited about visiting new places and learning new culture, actress and TV host SARAH LIAN shares about her favourite trips thus far

Just back from a snowboarding trip to Niseko, Japan, Malaysian actress, television host and emcee extraordinaire Sarah Lian was very excited to talk about travel with us. While that last trip to Japan was purely a vacation for her, Sarah shared how blessed and lucky she feels to be able to travel for work. Sarah had hosted luxury travel programme, Luxe Asia on Channel News Asia, but even before then she was already acting in various international productions including award-winning indie films Jasmine (2015) and Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (2015); as a hacker in Cybergeddon (2012), a web series by CSI-creator Anthony Zuiker; in Canadian production XIII: The Series; and television’s Piper Perabo-starred Covert Affairs.

Having been in the industry for more than 10 years now, Taiping-born Sarah had come back to Malaysia in 2008 after graduating from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada and almost immediately took off as the face to watch in the Malaysian entertainment industry. Since then, she has hosted various television shows on Malaysian media, including MyEG Xtra Time on ESPN, Astro Hitz Radar, Photo Face-Off on History Channel Asia, and Luxe Asia, which features luxury experiences across the region.


These days, Sarah is also busy running her women’s retreat, Supparetreat - a project that’s close to Sarah’s heart as it is an avenue for her to help women improve their mental health and wellness.

“It’s a kind of sisterhood that transcends race, religion and class,” explains Sarah. “Through this unity in sisterhood, participants will look at things differently after the retreat, as it allows women to have a space to talk about problems you can’t even discuss with your friends, and discover their inner voice and true potential through a series of rediscovery exercises my fellow coaches and I have designed. ” The next Supparetreat is scheduled to be held at the end of this February, in Bali, which Sarah says is going to be quite different as the programme has been fine tuned to allow more time and space to reflect, as well as time to enjoy the location.

While having the next retreat in Bali makes perfect sense as the location for a journey of self-discovery, here Sarah shares with us about other destinations around the world that she calls her favourites, and how she plans the perfect vacation

What is your idea of THE perfect vacation?
To be able to do something different that I’ve never seen before - a window to a cultural experience. It’s like a learning experience when you travel and go to different places they have a whole set of culture, language, and even style that you’ve never known before. For example, when I did a job for Conrad Maldives resort, the crew and I were brought on a local island tour, where they would bring you into the locals’ homes, and I was able to see what they do with coconuts, and it’s amazing how nothing was wasted! We had coconut roti canai that they dip in fish jus and it was so amazing, and we saw how they would use coconut husks to make string, or how they would have these old coconut tree leaves and they would weave it and they go on the roof. Learning their language, eating local food - it was a really cool experience and I loved it! I also got a taste of masmirus - a local delicacy made with chilli paste and dried fish, which I loved so much that if I heard someone was going to the Maldives, I would get them to get some for me when they come back to Malaysia.

imgLiving the high life while shooting Luxe Asia for Channel News Asia in the Maldives.

imgSoaking up the culture in Copenhagen.

What was your favourite holiday destination overseas, and why?
There are many but Copenhagen was amazing because the food was delicious and it was just very interesting to see their way of life. I walked everywhere and I got to see the architecture, and saw how the people living there are very diverse yet they all seem to practice the Scandinavian way of life. You would go to restaurants and they’re very thoughtful in the sense of the future and how resources are being used, and it’s nice to see that they do it on their own, and not from fear because it’s the law or anything like that. It’s just their way of life, as they celebrate life and it comes from a good place.

Where is your favourite local destination, and why?
I really like places like Janda Baik and Bukit Tinggi. My dream is to own property on Janda Baik with a stream and a nice house and people can stay there for the weekend, just away from the city.

What are the top 3 destinations on your ‘Bucket List’?
This year, I want to do another trip back to Canada, to go to Europe and maybe another destination in Asia, but at the top of the list would be Cappodicia, Turkey; Nepal; and Tuscany, Italy.

What is the one destination that you reckon everyone must visit at least once if given the opportunity?
To be honest, it really is Malaysia for me! Not just for non-Malaysians, but we have a lot of hidden gems, like the Mangala resort in Kuantan, for Malaysians to discover. We have a lot of beautiful spots here, like Langkawi island - The Datai Langkawi is amazing! We also have many interesting, old places and buildings like the Edison Mansion in Penang, where you can see the heritage of Penang’s past in its design. Or, going to Kuala Sepetang in Perak for the best seafood, and where it is so cheap. I feel that as more people are able to visit and taste our food and see our culture, then our hoteliers and tourism agencies can do something with it to promote it even more.

imgEnjoying the best of Malaysia at Edison Mansion in PenangThe Datai Langkawi in Kedah

When going through KLIA or klia2, what services or facilities do you find most appealing?
The lounges at KLIA are quite great - I really like how they included water filling stations. And charging stations and plug points that the public can use is really helpful. Just the airport thinking of helpful stuff for travellers is really amazing. What I would love to see more of, though, is just spaces where people can connect, and healthier food options. Or for people with allergies, it would be good to have restaurants that cater to them.

How do you keep yourself occupied on long layovers or when there’s a flight delay?
I read a lot, eat, and might do a little bit of shopping. I always bring my laptop, always bringing my work, as my work never stops.

What are some of the travel essentials that you must have with you during your travels?
My phone, because all the apps I need for travelling are on my phone: for currency exchange, for example. And I rely a lot on TripIt - it saves all my travel details such as flights bookings and confirmation number, hotel bookings, car rentals and such.

What do you love most about travelling? And what do you hate the most?
What I like the most is being able to see something new and learn new things. What I hate most is unpacking.

How do you plan your holiday itinerary? What’s the first thing on your itinerary when you visit a brand new destination?
Choosing a hotel to stay at is definitely on top, just seeing which hotels are best for activities that I plan to do. I like discovering and staying at quaint boutique hotels. Then, I’ll read those articles like “The 5 things you need to do...”, “10 things you need see...”, and will plan to do at least one sightseeing thing, visit one museum, eat at one good recommended restaurant, and always one market.

Are you an adventurous foodie?
I would say so, as I’m definitely open to trying things. I just can’t take too much spiciness - because you can’t taste flavour when it’s too spicy. I tried the black pudding, and it’s so good, I would eat it all the time.

imgSarah at Loch Ness, Scotland

Holidays are often peppered with memorable episodes. Share with us ONE such memory ... something you still talk about to this day.
I was in Scotland for work, and was told about haggis - which is made of sheep’s innards, oatmeal and spices, and encased in sheep’s stomach, and often described as not that tasty, but it tasted like murtabak to me, and it was delicious. While there, we also drove up to Inverness, and visited a whisky distillery. I love the Scottish people and I Iove Scotland so much.

All photos copyrighted to and courtesy of Sarah Lian

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