Khoo Boo Hian tells Izwan Ismail that his tech gadgets always help him stay on top of his risky exploits
TIME: 2pm. Location: On a hilltop in a remote location in Seremban, Negri Sembilan. The sunny and windy afternoon is perfect for outdoor activities.
For 43-year-old Khoo Boo Hian, it’s time for one of his favourite pastimes — paragliding. He checks his Suunto wristop computer watch to get data from the altimeter and barometer, which give him the air pressure readings of the surroundings.
Convinced there won’t be any change in weather for the next three hours, he makes a dash to the edge of the hill. His parachute, which is laid out on the ground a few metres behind him, balloons like a kite, taking him up a few metres off the ground.
As Khoo ascends, the hot air pushes the parachute further to a higher altitude of about 30m. He is now cruising steadily, enjoying the breathtaking view of the surrounding hilltops.
When he is comfortably airborne, he takes out his GoPro Hero2 camera, which is fixed at the end of a metre-long stick. He turns on the camera to capture the beautiful hilltop aerial scenery.
WAY OF LIFE
Khoo likes extreme sports. If he doesn’t get an adrenaline rush, then a sport is not worth doing. He’s had this insatiable appetite for extreme sports from childhood. He grew up in a rubber estate managed by his father.
“While my schoolmates were into badminton, football and hockey, I was attracted to sports that test one’s limit like riding the BMX bicycle, roller-skating, hiking and jungle trekking,” Khoo recalls.
“I remember at that time, BMX and skateboards were the craze. My friends and I would build our own track, and create the wooden U-shape platform using plywood to do our stunts.
“We would also go to Tasik Titiwangsa to take part in BMX competitions.”
Then he went to Australia to study law and commerce. Even when busy with work as a lawyer, Khoo’s passion for extreme sports remains strong and he makes time for them.
“The activities help to refresh my body and mind as well as prepare me for another week of work in the office. They also train me to not be afraid to take risks in life,” he says.
Paragliding is not the only extreme sport that he indulges in. He is also into scuba diving, in-line skating, mountain biking, mount climbing, dirt biking, drifting, go-carting, super biking and sky-diving.
As an extreme sportsman, Khoo finds technology innovations a big help. “The use of tech gadgets, apart from proper protective gear and sufficient training, ensures that the risks I take are calculated ones,” says the father of three.
For example, the Garmin GPSmap 60CSx that he carries along while mountain biking in an unfamiliar area, gives him the much-needed data on the uncharted territories.
“Normally I will go places, some of them remote, for my mountain biking activities. On top of having some friends with me, tech devices like the GPS map helps to document newly explored routes. It leaves ‘breadcrumbs’ for me to track back tracks that I’ve passed before. It’s hard to get lost with this technology,” he says.
The GoPro camera helps him record all the actions he is experiencing. “I use the video recordings to study the moves I have made. If there are errors or areas that I need to improve on, I can see and learn from the videos taken,” he says.
He also posts videos of his extreme sports activities onto his Facebook sites, YouTube and Vimeo.
He will take the camera with him everywhere he goes and mount it on the helmet, bike handle, arm, or anywhere that he feels can produce the best and unique point-of-view videos.
Besides that, Khoo also carries a pen-like device called SteriPen which is used to purify water collected from rivers, ponds, etc.
“Sometimes, I run out of drinking water and, in places where there are no shops or villages, I’ll use the pen to sterilise water from rivers, lakes and ponds,” he says.
“All I need to do is leave the SteriPen in my drinking bottle for a while and the water will be clean and safe for drinking,” he adds.
Another device that he never leaves home without is a solar charger called Powertraveller Power Monkey Explorer to help charge all the tech devices he carries along.
HOBBY TURNED BUSINESS
In 2009, while in Singapore to look for a camera for his mountain biking activities, he came across the GoPro model.
“It was then a new kind of sports camera and was not yet available in the Malaysian market. The dealer asked me if I was interested in selling the product in Malaysia. And the rest is history,” he says.
The camera shopping trip has turned Khoo into an extreme sports equipment supplier. He later set up a company called FunSportz (www.funsportz.com.my and www.facebook.com/FUNSPORTZ). From just selling GoPro camera, the company also sells all sorts of extreme sports stuff like helmets, GPS, car racks, GPS watches, bags, SteriPen as well as in-line skates. The timing was also right as more people were getting into extreme sports.
“On top of enjoying my extreme sports, I have the means to finance them as well,” says Khoo, who has to date spent over RM200,000 for his extreme sports equipment and activities.
He is also a certified in-line skate trainer and runs a school in Seremban. “I have 40-50 students, mostly primary schoolchildren,” he says.
His classes are held every Saturday morning, while the afternoon and Sundays are filled with sports activities.
“Since I’m involved in many extreme sports activities, I’ll do one at a time each week,” he says.
His family is also very supportive of his involvement in extreme sports.
“All my children are into in-line skating and go-carting, while my wife helps me to run FunSportz,” he says.
While staying safe and expanding his extreme sports business are his goals, Khoo has one ultimate dream — to conquer Mount Everest.
“With enough training, tech equipment and financial means, I hope that I will be able to realise that dream,” he says.