The Welcome To The Railworld Japan host talks travelling around the world.
Henry Golding is not a model.
The handsome English-Iban TV presenter (cut to a close-up of those high cheekbones and a jawline so sharp it can cut glass) shares that’s one of the biggest misconceptions people have of him.
“People are like ‘you’re a model.’ Tell me something I’ve modelled before. I’ve never been a model in my whole career. But they always label you as a model/presenter. The first job I ever got was on (variety show) 8TV Quickie,” says Golding in an interview with Star2.
Clad in a relaxed blue gingham shirt and a pair of khakis, Golding goes on to admit he isn’t his most comfortable self when it comes to photo shoots.
“I feel very awkward. I don’t know what to do with my arms, they’re just so gangly. If it’s not moving pictures, I’m really bad at it. I’m getting flustered just thinking about it,” he says with a laugh.
Perhaps it might have something to do with his generally introverted nature. “It’s almost like polar opposites. I love the interaction with people but at the same time, I love being alone and doing my own thing. I’m very happy when I’m on my own,” he reveals.
But hand him a microphone and Golding is a different man altogether. “Hosting is more like a companionship between viewers and the presenter,” he reasons.
Truly, Golding has been stepping into audiences’ living rooms since his stint on 8TV Quickie back in 2008.
These days, Golding is going places, both figuratively and literally.
The 28-year-old is dabbling with travel hosting, even moving to Singapore to allow him to fly around the globe with greater ease.
Golding has a contract with BBC and freelances with Channel News Asia.
On expanding his local career to a regional one, he offers: “You can hit the proverbial roof at certain areas in the industry unless you venture out. And I never really set out in my career to stay in one place. I wanted to go out and try new things. Luckily, I’ve had that opportunity.”
Asked if he was afraid there would be competition with other pan-Asian TV presenters at the regional level, he responded: “I knew early on in my career that I wanted to market myself specifically as a travel presenter. There’s not too many young pan-Asian travellers at my age.”
Golding is among the stable of presenters on BBC World News’ The Travel Show where he reports on the latest travel stories from wherever he may be in the world.
But his interest in travelling is driven by more than just sheer wanderlust.
“When you go to a country and investigate how a country works, for me, that is travel. You’re not seeing the country on a surface level, you delve deep into the stories behind why a country is the way it is,” shares Golding who will be heading soon to China to uncover its citizens’ sentiment on love and relationships.
One of his latest travel assignments brought him to Japan where he shot 10 episodes of Welcome To The Railworld Japan, a new instalment of the 2010 8TV travelogue Welcome To The Railworld.
In the show, Golding explores all eight regions of the country via its railway system.
“The total amount of time a train is late in one year is less than 60 seconds. If a train is late, it makes headline news. Every country should take a leaf out of Japan’s book. They put public service before anything,” he praises.
The show hopes to introduce viewers to many of its lesser-known but equally fascinating travel destinations.
“When you talk about travelling to Japan, people immediately flock to Tokyo. But they don’t realise that a couple of hours away by train, they can discover a different feel to Japan.
“You witness the real Japan. Tokyo can be quite intense which dilutes the actual Japanese experience,” he says.
“We go to places like Shikoku, Osaka and Kyoto where in its town and cities, old quarters, temples and traditions are preserved. The people are a lot more friendlier and they take their time doing things.”
Golding adds that Japan’s natural landscapes are also not-to-be-missed: “We were kayaking around the islets of Oki Islands. It was magnificent.
“Blue waters, tall mountains and cliffs, and you feel so small. There’s nothing around you apart from nature.
“Japan has some outrageous natural commodities and you’re thinking, ‘where am I?’ It looks like New Zealand.”
He was also struck by the country’s juxtaposition of modernity and tradition.
Golding recalls: “At Kyoto, we spent some time with a 19-year-old maiko, an apprentice geisha. There was a tea ceremony and she performed a dance for us. It’s interesting to see her devote herself to something so traditional.”
Welcome To The Railworld Japan premieres tonight at 9.30pm on 8TV.