An appetite for travel

04 Apr 2016 / 21:40 H.

PAPI ZAK, real name Mohd Zakry Kamal, is a well-known radio presenter, stand-up comedian, public speaker and emcee.

He can now add travel show host to his resume, with the impending premieres of Happy Endings on April 11 at 9.30pm, and The Halal Foodie on May 6 at 9.30pm on ­GoAsean (Astro channel 737).
The pilot episodes of the series had already been shown on the channel in February.
Happy Endings has Papi, together with co-host Razif Hashim (the host for Best in the World), as they frolic through 10 Asean countries immersing ­themselves in the cultures and unique traditions of each of them.
Papi said: "It was a concept developed by Michael Lin (­producer of Kyanite TV) and some comedy promoters who wanted to shoot a show about what makes people happy."
While looking for a host, someone suggested using stand-up comedians.
"I think I was the second or third choice," he quipped.
The pilot episode was shot in Manila, and saw the hosts playing basketball with some schoolchildren from the city's rural area.
"They are so passionate about basketball and some of them are so poor that they can't even afford the proper shoes. Yet they play in the blazing hot sun on the hot cement floor."
When he asked them why, the children ­explained that there was ­nothing ­better than ­­playing with their friends.
"I think that is the ­essence of what we are trying to do in Happy Endings," said Papi.
"In the ­Philippines, they are very ­passionate about life. Even those from very humble ­beginnings – they turn the ­negatives into positives with songs, comedy and basketball.
"In Bali (Indonesia), happiness just comes from within. They don't need material things. They go to the beach, they surf and that is peace, that is ­happiness.
"In Thailand, it's the satisfaction of growing your own food."
Papi describes Happy ­Endings as more than a travel show, as he learned so much from the people he has ­encountered.
His other show, The Halal Foodie, is also unique because it offers a ­different perspective of the Asean food scene.
"I was ­approached by the production house (Dos Fellas) and producer Justin Ong who is a friend of mine," said Papi.
"He said he had a show that was right up my alley. It was about food, so of course, I could not say no.
"I am not a foodie, I just love to eat. That is basically what they wanted – not someone who criticises food.
"They just want a guy who appreciates [food] and just loves ­eating. I like to travel to different places and try ­different types of food, so I could not say no."
Most travel shows that touch on food are often geared towards the western ­perspective. ­However, The Halal Foodie ­focuses on Asean and is seen through the eyes of someone from this region.
At the time of this interview, Papi had just completed shooting four of the eight episodes for The Halal Foodie's first season.
The show's pilot was shot in Bangkok, and he has since ­covered other cities like Manila and Kota Kinabalu, and by the time you read this, he would have already recorded his latest episode in Singapore.
When asked what's the biggest thing that surprised him during his travels, Papi said: "I was in Manila, and there was this very big Muslim community that lived right next to this very big Catholic community. There was no clash of ­cultures. It was a nice place."

When it comes to highlighting ­halal food in the countries he visits, the food is not just ­confined to the pork-free versions of the local food but some dishes that are unique to that community.
Sounds good, right?

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