What’s in my bag: Joel Choo’s packing problems (and fails)

Joel Choo tells Toggle what are his travel necessities when he goes overseas to ‘Jalan Jalan’

joel choo bag 1

Photos: Teo Sijia
Video: Charlene Chong

Are you a light or heavy packer? Organised or messy? A last minute packer or a well-prepared traveller?

These were a few burning questions we posed to the cast of Channel 8’s newest long-form drama series Jalan Jalan at the show’s press conference in October, where we invited them to bring and share with us some of their must-have travel essentials when they are on an overseas trip. 

It was an intimate session, to say the least, with the actors airing some of their insecurities and deepest, darkest secrets, and we had it all captured on camera.

We picked up a couple of interesting celebrity trivia about the cast of Jalan Jalan: there is a self-professed fitness nut who needs to work out every day when he’s travelling because of his sweet tooth; a gadget girl who can’t live without her arsenal of techy stuff (even though it weighs a ton); and an idiosyncratic traveller who packs two of everything, just to name a few…

This week, we have Joel Choo who plays the youngest of the Zhang siblings, Zhang Wei Jun, an aspiring singer-guitarist who harbors lofty ambitions of making it big in showbiz. In reality, Joel was first a singer (he’s a member of local band Maxime), before he officially dipped his toes in acting and made his debut on Channel 5’s Faculty last year.

Joel endeavours to be a minimalist traveller when he’s on the go but something about his style of packing and the things he brings seem to suggest otherwise.

Take for example, during his maiden trip to Tokyo for several band gigs in Japan with his group, Maxime, he had a suitcase full of clothes to “battle the cold” but ended up only wearing less than half of what he brought in his “huge bag”.

He recounted bringing three different jackets of varying thickness, five different sweaters and two pairs of shoes (“in case, you step on snow or something y’know, it gets wet and you can change your shoes,” he said) and went through all that trouble of lugging it to Osaka for nothing.

Clothes aside, he’s also the type of person who travels with bags of varying sizes – each to serve different purposes (watch the video below as he explains more). But if there’s one item that he tends to bring “too much” of when he travels, it’s socks.

“I don’t know why but I always bring double the quantity [of socks]. I’m scared I’d dirty my socks…” Joel said, letting in on his irrational fear of going a day without a pair of clean socks.

Makes us wonder how he survived his outfield training during his NS days.

So what are Joel’s travel must-haves and what does he bring too much of all the time? Read on for more, or watch the video below!

Jalan Jalan is now showing weekdays, 7.30pm on Channel 8. Watch past episodes of Jalan Jalan on Toggle.

(Continued on next page: Joel's rationale for bringing extra bags when he travels)


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#1 Extra bags

“I’ll always bring extra bags. So this is a recyclable bag – sometimes when you buy stuff and they don’t give you a plastic bag, you’ll need a reusable bag. This is a smaller bag, in case you want to travel light and just need your passport and wallet, and this is a bigger bag to put your passport [and] more stuff, basically… but I end up using the bigger bag only and the recyclable bag will be in it. [As for] the smaller bag, I don’t know why I always bring it but I don’t use it.

“You never know if in the middle of the night you just want to go to the convenience store and it’s dangerous [to bring all your stuff along]. (Ed: Why don’t you just use your bigger bag?) I’m not satisfied if I carry a big bag and there’s only a wallet inside, there’s no body to it and it just feels uncomfortable.”

#2 Film camera

“It’s a film camera ‘cos you know you look cooler when you hold a film camera. It’s like [as if] you know your [photography] stuff. So I just bring a camera even though it’s very heavy and half the roll of film just turns out crap [after developing the pictures]. But I just bring it [anyway]. Then I’ll just post the nice pictures and they’ll be like ‘Eh, he knows how to operate a film camera’. It’s very pretentious lah (laughs).”

#3 Pillow case

“You can’t really trust Airbnb pillows. They say they’ve cleaned it but you don’t know whether they’ve [really] cleaned it or not. I’ll really always bring a pillow case! And I’ll use my own pillow case. (Ed: what about bedsheets?) I think [caring for your] face is more important lah. You’d rather get rashes on your body than your face, right?”

#4 Extra earpieces

“I’ll bring headphones or earpieces, and I’m always afraid I’ll lose or spoil my earphones along the way so I’ll bring two extra sets of earpieces.”

#5 Notebook

“I have this notebook [because] it’s cooler to write where you’re going… [Like] this was from my previous Taiwan trip [when I visited] Shida Night Market [and wrote] how to get there, what to eat etc. You can’t read my handwriting – only I can read my handwriting. Some countries have cute stamps too, so when I went Taiwan, I kept stamping all the random stamps at its monuments and famous places.”

Why does Michelle Wong always travel with a face roller?
James Seah and his love for ‘basic’ underwear
Dawn Yeoh, the ‘reformed’ traveller
The ’Jalan Jalan’ cast members’ travel woes: Broken train tracks, love hotels and more

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