When the search for love becomes a great adventure

Can a person really find true love through blind dates?

By LYDIA NATHAN

Sometimes over blind dates, you don’t necessarily find true love in another person, but you learn more about yourself

FINDING love might not be the easiest thing to do these days. Still, there’s always that little chance that you might find love at the most unexpected places.

Now, what if two strangers are placed in uncharted territories? Could their “blind dates” lead them to love (while being under the watchful eyes of a camera the whole time, that is)?

TLC recently decided to combine both, a travel show with the likes of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” and the infamous “The Bachelor/Bachelorette”, to present “Travel For Love”.

The 10-part series is aimed at exploring the journey of five young, hopeful singles who travelled to a destination to discover the local cultures, cuisines, and specialties with an added romantic twist of blind dates.

Four female participants were from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, while the only male participant hailed from Singapore. In the programme, they travelled to different cities, namely Kuching, Yogyakarta, Dalat, Kuala Lumpur and Bohol.

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) spoke to the bubbly and vibrant Honey Khanum who took on the challenge of meeting new people while embracing flavours, destinations and cultures of the host cities.

Honey, one of the five cast members from the show, is a friendly fashion designer from Penang.

The beach lover and adrenaline junkie trained in the coveted city of fashion, Paris. Upon returning to Malaysia, she continued her love for fashion and sustainability.

On any given day, one can find her designing, styling and then heading out to a theme park or trying out new culinary activities with her friends.

The other Malaysian on the show is Tahanee Shauki, a 23-year-old International Communication student from Subang Jaya who aspires to build her own business empire someday.

What’s unique about Tahanee is that she stands out among the other four as a modern-day hijabster, also having moonlighted as a model of modest fashion.

Producers said the choice of destination took into account religious sensitivities and found a city in a Muslim country that could offer just the right amount of adventure for Tahanee.

TMR spoke to Honey and Tahanee, delving into their lives and how they ended up doing the show.

Who is Honey, really?

Honey: I am a full-time fashion designer. After my grandmother taught me how to sew when I was four, I started off making clothes for myself and my Barbie dolls. After working professionally in the fashion industry for seven years and five specifically in film, I am craving for adventure. I love travelling, it’s a great way to expose yourself to different cultures and people, and immerse yourself in something totally new, so I love doing it. Like I always say, try everything twice.

What attracted you to the show?

Honey: I remember seeing the casting call on Facebook on a friend’s post, looking for people who love to travel, love food and of course are single. I had a “you-only-live-once” moment and went in fully not expecting to be chosen at all. Imagine my surprise when I found out it wasn’t for a small social experiment on YouTube like I thought it was.

Tell us about the whole journey

Honey: I received an email saying I would be going to Bohol Island in the Philippines, and these are the items I should pack, with no more information. I didn’t know anything — not what I was doing or where I was staying. It was quite scary venturing into the unknown, but I signed up for an adventure, so I was ready. I was still living in Penang at that time and the journey to Bohol was quite long. But as the plane descended, I knew the long flight was worth it. All up, I was in Bohol for about a week, including travel days.

What sort of expectations did you have going into this experiment?

Honey: I had absolutely no expectations going into it. It was a completely new experience. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what I was going to do or who I was going to meet. I really wanted to get outside my comfort zone, which I did. I feel so lucky that I got to participate because it altered my perception of so many things.

Let’s talk about some of the dates you went on

Honey: All of my dates were so different. I met a variety of men that I would not have had the chance to meet if I didn’t go on the show. Dates with activities are really so much fun, but I think the show spoilt me because now, I won’t be able to settle with just a dinner date. I will be craving for the adrenaline and excitement that I experienced in Bohol which were some of the best dates I’ve had! I love doing physical activities, so doing things like riding on all-terrain vehicle, snorkelling and paddleboarding while on a date was an amazing treat!

What were the main challenges you encountered while on the show?

Honey: I am a planner, so I like managing my time and knowing what is going to happen. By participating in this show, I really had to give in to whatever that was coming my way and just accept the journey. I also used to be a very guarded person, so letting my guard down was hard.

Do you believe in finding true love through blind dates?

Honey: I love the idea of love, I think love can be found in unexpected packages. You never know if you could meet the one on a blind date. Or maybe you had a terrible blind date and as you’re going home, you meet the one. The hopeless romantic in me would like to believe it’s possible.

What are some of the lessons you learnt from the show?

Honey: The biggest lesson I learnt was not to be so hard on myself. I think we are our worst critics or at least, I know I was to myself. So, learning to be kinder to myself and also being a little more honest with how I feel has been the biggest lesson, there was a sense of liberation in that. No one likes facing those not-so-nice parts of themselves, but it’s really important to allow your- self to feel the full spectrum of human emotion, otherwise, you’re not really living, I guess.

Tahanee says adapting and preparing herself to meet new people on each date was most likely the hardest part (Source: Asian Food Network)

Who is Tahanee?

Tahanee: I’m a proud Subang Jaya kid, a loud, happy-go-lucky person who puts family above everything else. I majored in International Communication at a local university and will be graduating soon. I’ve done some part-time modelling and worked with more than 20 brands in Malaysia. I really enjoy travelling and have been to Indonesia, Thailand and all over Peninsular Malaysia. During pre-interviews, I was asked about my preferences for a destination and I told them to take me anywhere since life is an adventure, anyway. The whole trip was about six days’ long.

What inspired you to participate in the show?

Tahanee: I had just gotten out of a two-year relationship and moving on was harder than I thought. I needed a distraction and when I found out producers were looking for a “hijabster”, I thought, why not? Next thing I knew, there I was on the plane to Yogyakarta.

What sort of expectations did you have going into a show like this?

Tahanee: I really didn’t know what to expect, up till the very last minute, I was still questioning myself “Am I really doing this? Why am I doing this to myself?! Standing at the immigration gate, deep down I knew this is a great opportunity to learn new things about myself, about others, a perfect way for me to regain the energy I’ve been seeking.

Let’s talk about some of the dates you went on

Tahanee: I loved that my dates were all in nature, which was a great way to experience Yogyakarta. One of the most memorable dates I had was by the majestic Mount Merapi, truly one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I was there with Day- mas, who was so much like me! He was very entertaining, funny, and we had so much in common. I also had a date with Pajay, who was by far the most attractive with a great sense of fashion. We went caving at Gua Pindul, and it was great. We didn’t experience any of those awkward first encounters and had naturally great conversations that flowed. I remember having so much anxiety on my first blind date with Levi that I felt I wasn’t presenting my best self, but that all changed when we went sandboarding which was so fun.

You never know if you could meet the one on a blind date

What sort of challenges did you come across while being on the show?

Tahanee: Adapting and preparing myself to meet new people on each date was most likely the hardest part. I don’t usually go on normal dates, so you can imagine what going on a blind date was like for me. Apart from that, I am usually full of energy, so I can be all over the place. So, another challenge was practising how to conserve my energy so I don’t burn out too quickly.

Can a person really find true love through blind dates?

Tahanee: I guess it’s possible, when it comes to true love. I’ve always believed in expecting the unexpected. Because you are basically putting yourself in a situation where you’re most vulnerable, you leave it to the universe to do its magic. I find that sometimes over blind dates, you don’t necessarily find true love in another person, but you learn more about yourself and more importantly, how to love yourself. Self-love is a cliché, but it’s true!

What are the lessons you learnt from the show?

Tahanee: The most significant lesson I remembered throughout this whole experiment was when I had my solo beat at the end of my trip, where I found myself on the high- est point of Borobudur, a renowned and beautiful Buddhist Temple. The majestic sunset setting with the sound of Maghrib prayers from all over humbled and reminded me that not everything is within my control, and if things don’t go my way, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I’ve also learnt that there is a certain beauty in unknown possibilities and you should always say ‘Yes’ and take hold of opportunities that come your way. There’s always a lesson to be learnt or taught to the people you meet along the way, so keep this in check and stay mindful.

The reruns of all 10 episodes of “Travel For Love” is now on, so be sure to catch it.