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Travel is a bit like love. It makes you do things that you’ve never done and explore places you’ve never been to before. It reaches to the innermost part of your soul that other things can’t, and it also changes you.
Two couples who are passionate about travelling share their beautiful stories with us. Whether it is discovering new destinations or trying out unique experiences, these travellers prove that a holiday is always better when it is shared with people you love.
Keeping passion alive
Ken Lee, 42, and Charise Liew, 41, have been married for 17 years and have two teenage sons. Travel is a very important part of their lives so at least once a year, the couple would go on a romantic trip without the kids.
Lee and Liew usually go on holiday around Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day, for practical reasons.
“It’s not just a Valentine’s Day-cum-Chinese New Year trip, because for us, we’re celebrating everything at the same time – our first date anniversary in November, my birthday in January, and Christmas in December, too,” Liew explained.
Lee, who runs a family business, works long hours every day and hardly ever takes any time off. He would only take longer breaks once a year to travel with his wife.
“I appreciate the fact that he always tries to make time for me and the family despite his hectic schedule. This yearly trip is a way for us to spend some quality time together,” Liew said.
“Every year during Valentine’s Day, we would have a candlelight dinner and he would give me a flower,” she added with a good-natured laugh, emphasising that it would always be just a single stalk as flowers are normally very expensive on that day.
The practical couple prefer to spend their money on travel.
Liew also noted that travelling over the Chinese New Year period is fun because some places will not be as crowded. “Also, it is winter for countries in the northern hemisphere during this time, and my husband just loves the cold!” she shared. Liew and Lee have been going on such holidays for the past 10 years.
“Travel draws people closer and a couple that travels together, stays together. This is because we get to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses during our travels, and we learn to get along and compromise if and when there are any disagreements,” the serious, soft-spoken Lee said.
He said the word “occhiolism” is defined as “an awareness of how small one’s perspective is” and that when one travels to another country, one tends to gain a bigger perspective and understanding of just how big the world is.
“It makes any difficulties or disagreements you might have in your relationship seem trivial compared to the great world out there. It makes a person want to quickly put aside any disagreement or misunderstanding, and just focus on strengthening their relationship,” Lee explained.
“I believe that’s what this saying by Gustav Flaubert, ‘Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world’, is referring to,” he added.
His wife agreed and said, “After being married a long time, it’s important for couples to go on romantic getaways to reignite the passion and keep the magic alive in their relationship.”
The duo were first introduced by friends at a cocktail party in Kuala Lumpur. They became friends first, but romance blossomed and they started going out more often.
“Every time we went out, he would cook something for me to eat. It was his homemade red bean tong sui, red bean buns and red bean baos (that won me over)!” Liew said, laughing.
The couple revealed that their most memorable trip was to the Maldives last year.
“It was different from other hectic tours or trips. We could customise the itinerary to do and see what we wanted each day, so it was very relaxed,” Lee said.
“There was also a lot of privacy and it was a very serene place. We would definitely recommend it for a couple’s trip,” Liew added.
It started with a pen
Ukrainian Tatiana Moskalenko, 26, runs her own wedding planning business. She travels often between Europe (mainly the Ukraine and Russia) and Malaysia, thanks to her business ventures here, and also to visit her family around Europe.
In June last year, Moskalenko attended a business investment event in Kuala Lumpur. She did not have a pen with her, so she borrowed one from a “tall, dark and handsome stranger”.
That was the first time she and her soon-to-be husband, Aaron Dinesh Kumar, met.
Moskalenko and Dinesh Kumar exchanged numbers and kept in touch for business purposes. Soon, though, they became friends.
“Initially, we were just friends but I really liked her. She was so energetic and motivated like me, and of course, very beautiful,” Dinesh Kumar, 32, said. He added that Moskalenko had refused to go out with him on a real date at first, so they just hung out together.
“He didn’t give up and that was a very good strategy,” Moskalenko retorted with a glint in her eyes.
“Whenever I was putting on my makeup, getting ready to see him, I asked myself, ‘Why?’ because we were just friends. And, when I went out with him the first few times, I was very shy,” she revealed.
Absence really does make the heart grow fonder because when Dinesh Kumar had to go on a month-long trip, Moskalenko became anxious and missed him so much. “I had to wait for him for weeks in KL and it was so difficult,” Moskalenko said.
Soon enough, their love blossomed and they were no longer “just friends”. One day, Dinesh Kumar proposed to Moskalenko. “We were chilling at home and I really felt like I could never be without this girl. I just looked at her and said, ‘I want to be with you forever like this’, and I asked her to marry me.
“And then, I went ‘oops sorry, no ring right now!’,” Dinesh Kumar said, laughing.
Since their first meeting, the fun-loving couple has travelled to numerous places in Malaysia including Penang, Langkawi and Tioman islands, and Bukit Tinggi in Pahang. Though they have yet to travel together overseas due to their hectic work schedules, Moskalenko was quick to add that she loves travelling around Malaysia.
She said that there are many unique and scenic places to visit here, as well as experiences to try out, and she hopes to visit more in the future with Dinesh Kumar. She particularly loves going to the islands and beach resorts in Malaysia, and likes the warm weather.
Both of them also enjoy visiting hill resorts. In fact, their trip to Bukit Tinggi was perhaps the most memorable one for them so far.
“That was when I realised she would be the one for me. We really understood each other. Even though it was a short trip, it was a quiet and peaceful place, so we just chilled,” Dinesh Kumar said.
“We definitely recommend it as a romantic getaway for couples,” said Moskalenko.
Dinesh Kumar added that they also enjoyed travelling to Penang.
“It is a wonderful place to check out for the food and cultural experiences alone,” he said, adding that the island brings back memories for him because he went to college there.
Besides travelling for business and leisure, Dinesh Kumar also goes on medical missions with a team. They visit villages to provide medical assistance to less fortunate families. He went to Siem Reap in Cambodia last year, and will be going to Yangon, Myanmar, sometime this year for this purpose.
The couple also runs a charity organisation called Wishing Well Association which helps to raise funds for the underprivileged.
“Travelling is definitely my favourite hobby. I used to do it myself but now, I have someone to travel with so it’s going to be even more exciting,” said Dinesh Kumar.
They plan to travel to Europe after their wedding in March.