Journey discuss with badminton champion Loh Kean Yew


Athletes are often travelling for international competitions and Singapore badminton player Loh Kean Yew is no exception. In the last twelve months alone, he’s represented Singapore in global competitions that have taken him from Indonesia to India, and from Sydney to Spain – where he took home the gold medal at the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championship 2021 and became Singapore’s first ever Men’s Singles World Champion. Loh Kean Yew continues to reach new heights and rose to become the world’s third top player, making history by becoming the highest ever ranked men’s badminton player in Singapore – all in the same week that he received his first Sportsman of the Year title at the Singapore Sports Awards. Here, we get the scoop on how the globetrotting athlete spends his off-court time abroad and in the air.

Top travel picks and must-haves

Loh Kean Yew Interview
Few people travel as frequently as international athletes. Photo credit: Joshua Lee

1. What he wears to stay comfortable on board

Tracksuits are my top choice for long-haul flights. Besides being comfortable, they can be pretty stylish as well. For shorter trips, like between Singapore and Penang, you can’t go wrong with shorts and sneakers.

2. His seat of choice when travelling

I like the new Business Class seats on Singapore Airlines (SIA) because they can be converted into flat beds. The space and privacy have really improved as well. When I travel with friends, I like SIA’s Premium Economy Class. It offers a good mix of value, amenities, and legroom. I also enjoy the new Singaporean in-flight meals such as the Nasi Lemak, Seafood Hor Fun, and Roti Prata with Fish or Chicken Curry.

3. What he looks forward to on board

I don’t get much personal time to go to the cinemas, and I’m always behind on shows so I look forward to watching movies on board. Last month, I finally caught up with the last two Harry Potter films for the first time! I watched them back-to-back on my flight to Dubai.

4. How food plays a large part in his travels

Growing up in Penang and Singapore, which have some of the greatest street food in Asia, I’m always on the lookout for local food when I travel. Some of the best street food I’ve tried are from Taiwan and Japan, but my all-time favourites are Penang’s ban chang kueh with the crispy pancake corners and peanut filling, and the humble char kway teow. I spend a lot of time in hotels and while I do enjoy hotel breakfasts, I’m often out looking for local dishes, so if I decide to stay in the room, it’s probably because I overate during breakfast.

Loh Kean Yew SIA Business Class
Food is a big part of travelling for Loh. Photo credit: Joshua Lee

5. How Paris captured his heart

I rarely travel for leisure but seeing the rooftop view from Galeries Lafayette in Paris is one of my most memorable travel moments. I love the bistro culture there with their iconic outdoor dining. It’s also a great place to people watch. The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower were even better in person. I’ve been told that the view of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadéro Square is the best so that’s on the to-do list for my next trip.

Loh Kean Yew in Paris
Loh pays a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower on a rare vacation to Paris. Photo credit: Loh Kean Yew

6. The scoop on how he stays fit

I travel frequently for competitions so I follow a strict training regime. Even when I’m overseas, I’m often at the gym or on the court working with my coach. Part of the training is also having good quality rest periods because sleep is important for recovery.

7. On keeping in touch while travelling

Besides playing tourist, I also enjoy quiet personal time on the phone to decompress, catch up with friends and reply to fan messages. Although the internet can be brutal, I try to focus on the positives.

8. His efforts to go green

I always travel with my water bottle as I am required to stay well hydrated. I do my best to avoid single-use containers, and am looking at ways to be more eco-conscious.

The inside scoop

1. What food would you travel for?

If I had to travel somewhere for one dish, it would have to be for A4/5 grade Kobe beef filet mignon – served medium rare and ordered in a language I don’t speak.

2. What’s a new destination you’d love to visit?

The Maldives for sure. I’ve heard how beautiful it is, and although I’ve only seen photos of the water bungalows, it’s definitely on my bucket list.

3. Is there a country you’d like to revisit?

I can never get bored of Japan. Virtually every restaurant I’ve walked into was good. It’s such a unique country, from its culture and nature to its skyscrapers and small towns.

4. What’s the first thing you do when you’re back in Singapore?

I generally head straight home after I land but sometimes I take a detour to walk around the HSBC Rain Vortex at Jewel Changi Airport to soak in the atmosphere. It’s a simple thing but it does make me feel like I’m home.

The Maldives is next on Loh’s travel bucket list. Photo credit: Joshua Lee

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