Melody Chen is the ultimate risk taker. From equestrian lessons in secondary school, to wakeboarding in the early 2000s and the motorbike lessons she’s now taking, the gung-ho 37-year-old is determined not to let fear rule her life.
“I developed a keen interest in sports when I was younger, and that gave me plenty of opportunities to try something new,” she says. Besides the usual running and swimming, she also dives, snowboards and ice-skates.
“It wasn’t all smooth-sailing, though! For example, with equestrian lessons, it was scary mastering jumps with my horse. I had many falls, but I picked myself up again and again.
"I wouldn’t exactly call myself an adrenaline junkie, as I do have my fears,” Melody muses. “However, I’m quite capable of leaving them at the door and going all out when I’m in the zone.”
At present, the ONE FM 91.3 DJ is bent on getting her motorbike license. She embarked on lessons in early 2014 but these skidded to a halt after a mishap. “It was raining heavily during one my lessons, and halfway through, I discovered that my bike couldn’t decelerate properly.
“I managed to complete part of the circuit before falling off the bike and landing on my side. I couldn’t walk for a week after that! I have a slight fear of the emergency brake now, but I’m determined to resume lessons again soon,” she says, eyes glinting.
An independent streak
Has she always been such a risk-taker? We ask. “I think that moving out at the tender age of 20 was one of the biggest risks that I have ever taken in my life,” Melody shares.
“As an only child, I was very privileged. However, I craved my own space, and didn’t want to lead a sheltered existence. I was even willing to sacrifice my relationship with my parents to attain that independence, something people around me couldn’t understand back then.”
The gutsy lass rented an apartment and looked for freelance jobs to support herself. “I don’t regret my decision though, as it has made me who I am today. And thankfully, my relationship with my parents is still as strong as ever,” she says.
Looking back, she says she has her dad to thank for her gutsiness. “My dad always wanted a son, but that didn’t materialise. As a result, he brought me up to be strong and independent,” she shares.
Adventure on reality TV
Melody’s not afraid to try anything new – even if it’s captured on TV for the world to see.
In 2006, she took part in Amazing Race Asia with a friend. One of the challenges was to bungee jump a whopping 134 metres over New Zealand’s Nevis Valley – no mean feat, especially for someone afraid of heights. “I was terrified, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” she laughs.
“If I were asked to participate in The Amazing Race all over again, I’d agree in a heartbeat! I love the series, and I was thrilled to be called back as a Pit Stop Greeter for the Singapore leg of The Amazing Race 25 last year.”
In 2009, Melody also gamely agreed to take part in an ice-skating reality competition, Ice Star Asia, despite never having skated before. “It was a wonderful experience for me, as I got to train under some of the best Cirque du Soleil instructors in the world. How many people can claim to have done the same?” she asks. “These shows really pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.”
Off the beaten track
Reality TV adventures aside, Melody’s volunteer activities have also taken her outside her comfort zone. Sure, she’s had holidays in glamorous places like Santorini in Greece, and Mauritius, but it’s her off-the-beaten journeys that have made the most impact on her.
Take her trip to Bangladesh in 2010, for instance, where she visited the child she was sponsoring under World Vision’s Child Sponsorship programme.
“The trip was an eye-opening experience – physically, mentally and emotionally. Forget about five-star treatment; the living conditions there were really rudimentary. But it really touched my heart to see the children so happy with the simplest of things,” she recalls. Following her visit, Melody became a World Vision Singapore Goodwill Ambassador for three years.
She has no qualms about roughing it out during her travels, and would love to strike other far-flung places off her bucket list. “I’d love to visit Machu Picchu in Peru, as well as the Amazon, and I‘ve always dreamt of going on safari in Africa,” she says. “Traveling just makes life so much more fulfilling!”
This article was originally published in Simply Her February 2015.