Vanessa Chong drools over cars while we drool over her!

Published on November 3rd, 2010

Traffic: What drives you?

Vanessa: Actually there are a few things that drives and keeps me going, my active lifestyle, and also my family, because all of us, as in my siblings, we’re into the same things like fitness, sports and healthy eating. Having a healthy and active lifestyle is important to me, such as taking part in activities like boot camps, hiking, swimming and other similar stuff like that, these activities that I’ve mentioned actually make me more energetic, and these are the things that drive me and keep me going, so if I have a last-minute job, I’m always prepared, in the right frame of mind and in the right shape, so I don’t have to be like “oh I need to go on a crash diet right now! Or things like that… so I’m ever-ready. :p

Traffic: What are you currently working on where work is concerned?

Vanessa: Quite a few things actually. I recently did the Rookie, which is an online reality show. It’s on www.nokia.com.my/therookie. So it’s based on 12 contestants, 2 teams, weekly challenges… and I’m the host for the program. I’ve finished shooting the finale so I’ll be busy doing hosting and MC gigs, as well as acting.

I’ve acted in a few telemovies, a few local dramas, as well as a movie which has been recently released out on the cinema circuit called Kecoh Betul where I played a villain. It’s an action comedy. My sister Pamela and I also give motivational talks, such as for girl camps and stuff like that, just to give ’em (the girls) the right, proper and correct motivation and advice, because young girls do see us as role models, so it’s nice to know that we can give back positively to the community in that sense.

Traffic: So after gaining popularity by successfully appearing and taking part in the Amazing Race Asia, as well as being voted as FHM’s joint “Sexiest Woman”, how different has life become for you?

Vanessa: Hahahahaha(Laughter)…Well it didn’t change me as a person, who I am essentially, because I’m the same person I’ve always been, with the exception that I’m a little bit more confident now when I’m speaking or appearing in public. In the past, I used to be quite shy, someone who wouldn’t step up to go for a casting or similar stuff like that.

I sometimes think to myself, “Well if I can do something like the Amazing Race Asia, what’s more in real life!” especially so after winning second place on a reality show with such a huge following, and it’s on this particular show where I developed the love for travelling. And of course FHM’s Sexiest Woman title was quite an interesting thing to win because it’s based on votes.

That was quite an honor, since the people who voted were from all walks of life, even ladies and girls. Thanks for the votes! These are the things that have enabled me to be a bit more outgoing, whereby I’m not so afraid to try anything new or different.

Traffic: What’s it like being conferred the enviable title of “Sexiest Woman” in Malaysia together with your sister?

Vanessa: Hahahahaha!… I never really thought I’d be referred to as one of the sexiest women, looking at the way I used to dress in college back then! I used to wear baggy shirts in college. I never wore skirts; I never wore dresses, so it’s really funny to know and realize how far we have come, especially to such a publicly recognized level where people not only think but say that my sister and I are one of the sexiest women around. But I think it’s not just about the way you look, but it’s also about the confidence and being a strong woman.

In the Amazing Race Asia reality program that we took part in, you can see we didn’t look sexy, but we proved that being young women, we found ourselves to be more independent, confident and strong enough to challenge and fight all the way to the end during the duration of our involvement with the reality show, and I think that it says something to young girls and women out there, that they too do not need to be or look sexy just to get somewhere, they have to believe in themselves and their abilities, to be women who are confident, strong and independent.

Traffic: If you do not mind us by asking, any interesting, or rather weird eye-opening, jaw-dropping marriage proposals or pick up lines that you have encountered if you wouldn’t mind sharing with us?

Vanessa: Well of course! But that always happens when you have one of those bad days. You exchange numbers with people you work with, then out of the blue you get a random call or a random text message over and over again, even if I don’t reply! I sometimes wonder if they get the hint that I am not at all interested. I do feel bad sometimes because I don’t reply, but if I do, then they would go, “Oh she’s replying!” and get all excited. The weirdest of them all was when someone said “Let’s be the best of friends”. Which I know is not their true intention. Why would they want to be my best friend all of a sudden? It just does not add up.

Traffic: What car do you currently own and drive?

Vanessa: Right now I drive a Proton Waja. It’s a good car in my personal opinion, as it has a comfortable and stable suspension system, it’s easy and nice to drive, and it gets me from A to B safely without any fuss. It fulfils its purpose well. With Proton launching the Inspira soon, which is the apparent successor to the Waja, I hope the new Proton Inspira is just as good, if not better than the Waja. Good Luck Proton.

Traffic: What cars have you driven?

Vanessa: Oh I’ve driven quite a few cars actually, I’ve driven a Toyota Estima, which is a family car, and in my opinion is pretty huge. I drive the Estima quite often because I need a multi-purpose vehicle(MPV) with space like the Estima to fetch my stinky brothers to and from school. I’ve also driven a Honda Civic, a Suzuki Vitara… all sorts of cars and vehicles over the years… especially family cars. So if one breaks down I drive the next car that’s available. I like the Hyundai Atos! It’s so small, cute and nippy! When you don’t have a parking space available, you can just slide the Atos in anywhere where there’s some form of space. It’s like driving a little toy car.

But there was this one car I bought when I was in the UK, it was a really old Peugeot, and it even had a choker which came in handy when starting the car up during cold and freezing winters. I bought it cheap back then for about 400-500 pounds. Every morning during the winter season without fail, to start the car, I had to pull the choker again and again and again, as the car was difficult to start during such cold and freezing weather! Even the gearbox was “senget” (crooked), as there was this one time I got stuck in the middle of the road in the country side because the gear got jammed and wouldn’t shift…it was so embarrassing!

Traffic: What’s the fastest car you have ever driven?

Vanessa: While I was in South Africa during the Amazing Race Asia, I drove an F3 race car which had about 400 horses on tap. Although it was not like the insanely fast F1 race cars, for me nonetheless it was quite fast. I even got to drive it at a race track and I managed to beat the boys at it! They couldn’t shift their cars transmission into fifth gear and had to stay stuck in fourth gear, but somehow I managed to shift my car’s transmission into fifth gear, so I had the advantage of top speed over the boys on the straight stretches of the race track. I had a lot of fun and an adrenaline rush racing the F3 race car around the race track for about 8 laps in total if I’m not mistaken, and I wouldn’t at all mind doing it again, beating the boys as well.

Traffic: What car would you die for?

Vanessa: Honestly, I don’t really have a dream car. But my sister had a very good saying: “Don’t dream too big and you will get your ideal car much faster than you think or can expect”. But right now, at this moment, I don’t have a dream car, because I’m quite happy with the cars I have to drive and as a practical person, as long as I have a car, I feel blessed that I can move around, and at the end of the day, as long as the car is good, solid and keeps me safe, then I’m okay.

The Volvo XC90 2.5L D5 Diesel is attractive and hard to ignore though, as it has the traits and qualities that I look for in a car, it looks and feels good, it most definitely is and feels quite solid, it has loads of space to carry people or things, it’s cabin is comfortable and luxurious while being loaded with welcome technological goodies and gadgets such as the mini television cum DVD sets built into the headrest of the front two seats for the back passengers viewing pleasure, and being a Volvo, I’m confident I’ll be safe when I’m in or driving an XC90 D5 as Volvo have a good reputation when it comes to making good, safe cars.

Traffic: Do you mind sharing with us what’s the naughtiest, silliest thing you’ve done while driving?

Vanessa: Well the silliest thing I’ve done while driving was many years ago. I was a new driver and I was driving, I just looking down for a second or two while driving, which is very wrong for someone at the helm of the wheel to do, and I ended up knocking into a car in front of me. That was the silliest thing I’ve done while driving. I bent down to grab some coins to pay for the upcoming toll booth, I wasn’t even near the toll booth and in just a split second I hit of all cars on the road, a Mercedes-Benz that was in front of me. From that day on, I vowed never to do such a silly thing like that again ever when at the wheel.

Traffic: Dare we try to ask what’s the most embarrassing moment being a famous person?

Vanessa: Oh Gosh! Well it was during one of my interviews which was in Malay. Usually I’m quite OK but this time the interviewers prepared the type of answers that they wanted to hear. So I was concentrating so hard on the answers and answering the questions correctly, but when one particular question was asked, I just suddenly went completely blur! The worst part of it all was that it’s online and it can be viewed over and over again by almost anyone, and it’s so embarrassing to watch. Thank goodness my dear sister Pamela was there to cover for me at that moment.

Traffic: If you could change a traffic rule, what would it be?

Vanessa: I don’t wish to change anything but I would like to emphasize more on how important it is for the rear passengers to always wear their seatbelts or safety belts. When I was in the UK, there was a campaign on showing how someone at the back seat can kill someone in the front seat even though they are wearing a seatbelt due to the immense impact during a collision or accident. I also like to take the opportunity here to remind people out there on the importance of using the indicator when turning, switching lanes, or indicating to the car in front to move to the left.

I think people need to understand that when people use the indicator, they are not trying to challenge the person in front or behind them even, but merely informing other drivers close by where they are going or turning. I realize that a lot of Malaysians tend to speed up when someone starts indicating behind them. It doesn’t make sense to me, as if the driver behind turns on the indicator, it is safer to move to the left lane and let the driver behind pass.

Traffic: If you were driving you would…

Vanessa: I would keep my eyes on the road!

Traffic: Favourite parking position please?

Vanessa: I always reverse park. I don’t know why but I find it easier.

Traffic: If no one’s looking while you’re at the wheel, you would…

Vanessa: I would check if I look presentable since I’m always in a rush. I would just check if my make-up is still on properly. I only do this when the car is not moving though.

Traffic: May we ask who are the two people you would trust with your car?

Vanessa: My sister because I think that the both of us are quite safe drivers. I’m not on the edge when she drives and she’s does not feel on the edge when I drive. My brother Vincent is OK too in my books.

Traffic: Traffic is…?

Vanessa: Traffic is really just a stressful big waste of time… hahahaha!

Traffic: What are the two words that come to mind about the Volvo EC90 D5?

Vanessa: Safe and solid. It is really smooth and the features are nice and welcome, especially the electrics seats and headrest mounted television cum DVD players… these accessories and gadgets are really cool.

Traffic: What would you say to owning and driving a Volvo XC90 D5?

Vanessa: Where the XC90 D5 is concerned, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the commanding driving position I have in such a large vehicle, and I like it as I have a better view around me. Being a Volvo, I felt really safe in the XC90 D5, be it as the driver or as a passenger, as it is just loaded with all sorts of active and passive safety features which is most assuring, and I would feel good driving such a vehicle.

I know if I ever get into a sticky situation, I would be able to get out of it with better prospects of being safe and unscathed, as the XC90 D5 seems to have been built in such a way that in the event of a mishap or accident happening, both driver and passenger safety is assured thanks to all the safety features it has, as well as how solid it is. You know being a woman and all, I would really feel safe and confident in a vehicle like the XC90 D5. And for such a big vehicle, it’s quite stylish too, and I like how the XC90 D5 looks and feels which is important to me. So my answer to your question is a definite yes!

Traffic: What’s your take and opinion on Diesel cars? Is it one of the ways of the future where transport is concerned?

Vanessa: I don’t know much about Diesel cars but I do know that in the UK they have more Diesel cars than they do here. I’m not very familiar with Diesel cars. The Volvo XC90 D5 is the first Diesel car I’ve been in and driven, if I’m not mistaken and I like it! The XC90 D5 was surprisingly powerful for such a big Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) that runs on Diesel, I’m impressed to say the least with how quick and fast it is.

I also like how quiet it is inside the XC90 D5’s cabin, as the typical diesel clatter produced by Diesel engines was virtually non-existent while I was driving and being in the XC90 D5 as a passenger. I also like the fact that a Diesel vehicle like the XC90 D5 is more fuel efficient and can go for longer distances without refueling compared to gasoline powered cars. If I had the chance or opportunity, I would not at all mind owning and driving the XC90 D5.

Traffic: Have you ever been to Sunway Lagoon before this? If yes, could you share a happy memory during your last time here?

Vanessa: During my younger years I used to literally beg my parents to bring us to Sunway Lagoon because in those days, there was no better place to go to for some family fun and excitement. There was no internet back then when I was a kid, and we didn’t have much money to go to faraway places for a holiday. So at an amusement theme park like Sunway Lagoon, I could spend a day trip with my girlfriends and my siblings, having fun and enjoying the Amusement Park’s rides such as the rollercoaster, because there weren’t that many places in Malaysia like Sunway Lagoon which offered that much adventure, fun and excitement all in one.

As kids, we were very adventurous and sometimes we would go back time and time again to Sunway Lagoon, especially to the Water Park, with the Lazy River being our favorite part of the park. Back then, even though there aren’t as many rides as there are now, we still thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had loads of fun. Sunway Lagoon theme park is the closest best thing or place to bring someone to in KL for some rest and relaxation, fun and excitement, as who would have guessed that in a busy city like KL, with all the hustle and bustle, there is a special place like Sunway Lagoon where people from all ages and different walks of life can come and enjoy themselves and have getaway from all the hustle and bustle of working and city life.

Traffic: What do you think of Sunway Lagoon, is it exciting and fun for you, and does it bring out the holiday mood in you?

Vanessa: Yeah definitely! It’s wonderful and amazing to be in a city like Kuala Lumpur and not have to travel a long distance to have and enjoy some fun, rest and relaxation. When you walk into Sunway Lagoon, you can’t help but smile and be happy to see a beach, a wave pool, and all sorts of fun, exciting and entertaining rides and games. It’s also a family-oriented place where families can come and not need to plan where to go especially for parents who are working and who just don’t have time to take a few days off for some family fun.

They can bring their kids to Sunway Lagoon for a good family outing and for a while, be away from the demands and expectations of daily and everyday life. It’s also good for teenagers, especially those who are constantly being holed up in their rooms by choice just playing games on the computer and having little or no interaction. At least amusement theme parks such as Sunway Lagoon gives people such as teenagers, an outlet for them to have some outdoor fun while interacting with friends or fellow patrons. Sunway Lagoon also has an environment that suits people from all walks of life and all ages, be it young or the young at heart. For me, Sunway Lagoon is still one of the best amusement, theme parks around.

Traffic: Anything else you would like to say to put your mind at ease?

Vanessa: I just wish more and more Malaysians would drive with a little bit more courtesy, alertness and patience. Malaysia has an alarmingly and worryingly high rate of accidents even when compared to bigger countries with more roads and people, such as the US in terms of percentage and statistics. What’s the rush? You can be the safest driver around on the road, but sadly sometimes, all it takes is for someone else to be impatient and drive recklessly for an accident to happen which could claim another life or lives in the worst case scenario. Please my dear fellow Malaysians, drive safely and be patient at the wheel, be mindful and courteous, think of other people on the road and your loved ones. Be safe and drive safe.

words & pix: Azdee Amir

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