The Straits Times
Feb 15, 2016
Celebrity couple Darren Lim and Evelyn Tan were the envy of Singaporeans when they recently announced their plan to embark on a year-long sailing voyage.
But they are scaling back the dream journey, now that their eldest daughter Kristen is preparing for her Primary School School Leaving Exam (PSLE) next year.
Instead, the family will take shorter sailing trips around the region and perhaps travel around Australia in a camper van.
Actor Lim, 43, says: "My wife would like to focus on preparing Kristen for exams next year and wants to be land based.
"So this year, instead of going far and beyond, we will just do the region - Malaysia, Thailand, Sabah, Philippines."
He is a little disappointed, he adds. "It has been my dream to sail around the world. But I guess that dream was a little too big. I had to come back to reality and take it bit by bit, in smaller bites."
The Lims' idea of a much smaller adventure is a month-long sailing trip to Phuket.
The family of six will set sail this Wednesday.T
he couple spoke to Life last week, in between trip preparations such as charting the route and loading up on groceries.
Scaling back the duration and the nautical miles does not make the trip any less meaningful, however.
The whole idea of going on a sailing trip as a family, Lim says, is for the family to bond and to expose their four children - Kristen, 11, Jairus, nine, Way, seven, and Elliott, two - to the world.
Netizens can read updates on his Facebook account.
On top of giving their family and friends some peace of mind, he hopes the posts will inspire others to pursue their dreams and "dream big".
On board their boat, he is in charge of steering the ship under the mentorship of an experienced Australian captain.
Tan, 40, a former actress-host who home-schools the children, will keep them occupied with crafts and watching marine life.
She will weave in life skills throughout the journey, such as map reading. She says: "Darren's belief is that education should not be confined to four walls.
The kind of education I am used to, comfortable with, is through books. "But I'm looking forward to this trip. Learning in theory cannot beat experiencing things at first-hand."
Embracing adventure was not always in her blood. It took Lim a decade to convince her to live on a houseboat.
For four years, they have been living on a three-room yacht docked at the ONE°15 Marina Club at Sentosa Cove Marina.
They moved back to their apartment last October when their tenant left.
Lim says: "When we were dating, I took her to the Marina to show her the houseboats. She thought it was crazy to live on a boat and was worried about the dangers, such as our kids falling into the water.
"Four years of living on the boat and nothing like that has happened. There will be dangers, but it's fine as long as you are responsible and take precautions."
It is a case of opposites attract for this couple - spontaneous Lim is anchored by his down-to-earth wife Tan.
Lim says: "All her life, she has been brought up by the book. Everything she does is by the book. If the book doesn't say so, it cannot be done.
"I'm the opposite. I believe in trying first. If you cannot do it, then try again. She's attracted by that because it's a trait that she doesn't have."
The affinity between them began when they co-starred in the television version of Dick Lee's musical Beauty World (1998).
She was the small-town girl Ivy Chan who captured the heart of bouncer Ah Hock (Lim).
Almost two decades later, they will rekindle their on-screen romance in an upcoming Channel 5 telemovie Spelling Armadillo 2.
They play widowed individuals who find love again with each other. Tan recalls a sweet moment when Lim's hawker character Jason decorates the hawker centre with lights to impress his date.
Lim is not too different from his on-screen character. For his wife, he whips up meals, plates the food and dresses up the dining table with a silk table cloth and flowers.
But he says there would be no conventional romancing on Valentine's Day.
He adds: "She doesn't like to receive flowers on Valentine's Day or presents on her birthday. She prefers it to be a surprise.
"Besides, we are so busy preparing the boat. Maybe on the way into the sunset, a peck on the cheek is romantic enough."
This article was first published on February 15, 2016.
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