Datuk Siti Nurhaliza is as at home in the music world as in the rough outdoors, writes Bibi Nurshuhada Ramli, who accompanied the award-winning singer on a recent trip to Sydney
Demure. Soft-spoken. And, with her luminous porcelain skin, its hard to imagine pop princess Datuk Siti Nurhaliza in extreme sports. But the 33-year-old vocalist extraordinaire is quite at home with the sweat, mud and dirt that are part and parcel of gritty outdoor sports.
During her recent trip to Sydney, the multi award-winning singer, songwriter, record producer, television presenter and businesswoman was probably the most excited among her fellow travellers.
Some of the exhilarating activities that Tourism Australia had customised for her included the gruelling Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, a high-powered motorcycle cruise and a tough sailing trip. But Siti Nurhaliza is no stranger to extreme sports. She has taken part in the past in water-rafting, riding all-terrain vehicles and taking a flying fish boat ride.
STARTED AT SCHOOL
“I love challenges, especially involving outdoor activities,” she said during an interview in Sydney on a cold winter’s day. Clad in a puffy purple jacket, a fur-trimmed hat and gloves, she says: “It feels very satisfying to be able to do these things.”
During her school days, she had shown a keen interest in uniformed activities and had joined the Red Crescent Society and Territorial Army. Siti Nurhaliza grew up wanting to serve in the Police force, just like her father the late Taruddin Ismail. She misses those activities of her schooling years, she said. The recent trip to Sydney gave her the chance to renew her passion for outdoor adventure and sports.
The five-day excursion was the result of a partnership between her cosmetic line, SimplySiti, Air Asia X and Tourism Australia. For the trip, she brought along her mother, Siti Salmah Bachik, seven media representatives and 10 contest winners from her SimplySiti Dermagic Stress-free Getaway contest.
The trip also coincided with Air Asia X’s inaugural flights to Sydney. “Tourism Australia had decided to help out by scheduling an amazing itinerary for us to enjoy and gave us VIP treatment throughout our stay,” she says excitedly.
The first activity set up for Siti was the luxurious seaplane ride that offered a scenic view overlooking Sydney. “I love heights and the view it offers. Before this, I’ve done parasailing in Penang and had a blast,” said the entertainer whose taste for outdoor adventures also developed when shooting music videos.
Next up was sailing on a former America’s Cup racing yacht at Darling Harbour, where Siti had the chance to navigate the sea. She loved the thrill of manoeuvring the fast-moving boat and declared it one of the best experiences in her life.
Another activity, she says, that was a close second, was the bridge climb. Cool as a cucumber, Siti did not show a trace of fear before, during and after the adrenaline-pumping climb.
The group also enjoyed visiting the Blue Mountains, the Featherdale Wildlife Park and the newly opened Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.
The entourage also went on a dolphin-watch cruise at Jervis Bay, attended a personalised fashion tour in Paddington, watched a theatre production of An Officer and a Gentleman, The Musical, had a taste of Australian aboriginal culture and rode on Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
“My husband (Datuk Seri Khalid Mohamad Jiwa) has a passion for riding these motorcycles, and I’ve followed him. He rides much faster, though,” she reveals, laughing.
“This trip has been so exciting but tiring as well,” she said at the end of the tour on our last day. “We hardly got enough sleep, but it was all worth it.”
SHOPPING WITH SITI
Surprisingly, shopping for clothes isn’t among Siti’s Nurhaliza favourite activities. “I can spend hours shopping for electronic gadgets, cosmetics and perfumes, but not shopping for my baju.”
Nevertheless, she finds that Sydney has a lot to offer, “like vintage and local designer clothes”. She said: “Those who like these would find this city very interesting.”
As for her own wardrobe selection, the singer says she leaves it to others to decide, mostly, her husband. “The problem is, I don’t really know how to shop for clothes,” she said, laughing. “The more I see, the bigger the headache. I must have someone guiding me.”
As for handbags, most of hers are presents from her husband. “He knows what I like and dislike, and I find the ones that he buys very nice.”
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Siti Nurhaliza admits that she has learnt a lot from the trip, from the culture and lifestyle of the aborigines to the legendary tales surrounding the natural wonders of Three Sisters rock formation at the Blue Mountains.
“We have our own legends such as the dragon of Tasik Chini in Pahang or the Tasik Dayang Bunting in Langkawi. Here, we get to hear similar stories about myths and legends too, and it makes Three Sisters one of the must-see attractions.”
Siti also found the visit enriching, “Australia is a beautiful country with very friendly people. It is also very easy to find not only halal food, but also Malaysian dishes in Sydney.”
“Sometimes you feel at home walking in the streets because of the many Asian faces here,” she said.
FUTURE GETAWAY PLANS
Countries that Siti would love to visit next are Italy, Brazil, Spain and New Zealand.
“My husband and his friends had discussed riding the Harley-Davidson motorcycles in New Zealand, but we haven’t decided when exactly it’s going to happen. I am so excited and want to join this trip!”
Since she was a young girl, Siti said she had always wanted to see New Zealand, for its vast landscapes synonymous with adventure holidays. She would also love to take part in the extreme activities popular in that country, such as skydiving.
“I’d love to try out bungee jumping, but my husband won’t allow it, even though it is very safe,” she said.
When asked to describe her husband, Siti said: “Khalid is as energetic and adventurous as I am. When I found out that he loves the same adventurous activities after we got married, I was over the moon. He and his sons (Muhd Anas Zawawi, Muhammad Adib, Muhammad Asyraf and Muhammad Aazief Ñ from Khalid’s first marriage) also do sports activities, and I usually follow.”
She recounted a trip to Bali where they went water-rafting, rode all-terrain vehicles and took a flying fish boat ride. “We all enjoyed the activities together.”
HOLIDAY WITH FANS
This was the third trip to Sydney for Siti. In her prior visits, she hardly did anything outdoor as they were business trips.
“So, this is like my first holiday here, and making things more special and memorable is the fact that I’m here with my fans. I hope they have enjoyed their time here with me.”
Some of the fans had never been outside the country, others had never been to Sydney. Siti thought Sydney would be able to give them that amazing and unforgettable holiday experience.
It was fulfilling for Siti to see the fans really enjoying themselves, and trying new things. For the bridge climb, some of them didn’t want to go for it initially but since Siti herself was trying it, they overcame their fear of heights.
“I found it sweet the fans sent postcards from Sydney to families back home. Nowadays people mainly use email to communicate, but they kept it old-school.”
It was also Siti’s first time holidaying with her fans. Previously, SimplySiti held a contest as part of its corporate social responsibility. The project raised funds for two children who needed surgery at the National Heart Institute of Malaysia. Contest winners were given lodging vouchers and flight tickets to Korea.
SIMPLYSITI GOING PLACES
It has been slightly over two years since SimplySiti was launched and as its president, Datuk Siti Nurhaliza is more dedicated than ever to ensure its success. With skincare, cosmetics and fragrances, it is being marketed as a local brand with international quality.
“Prior to this, I’ve always wanted to have my own line of beauty products, and I’ve had people telling me that it was only a dream. Thankfully, I have a professional group of people to assist me and turning this dream into reality.”
As the president, Siti is involved in every brainstorming process before launching a new product. “I have fun everytime I give my ideas or a formula and see my team of scientists develop it. Then we test the products until we get the best result.”
In five years, Siti hopes for SimplySiti to enter Dubai and Indonesia. “Dubai requested for halal products, so there is a bright future there. Meanwhile, we are looking for the right packaging to suit the Indonesian market.”
After this, SimplySiti plans to branch out into hair and body care and health care. “I’d like to create a one-stop beauty centre.
Visit www.simplysiti.com.my for more details of the products.