If you’ve only been watching the DVDs, then you may not have seen Dayen Zheng, but the bubbly Aussie has been a member of children’s group Hi-5 for nearly two years. She tells suitcases&strollers about her favourite places to tour, her life-changing travel moments and how she unwitting became an English language teacher in Indonesia.
How frequently do you travel?
I love travelling which is perfect for this job as we travel all the time. We basically live out of our suitcases. We travel a minimum of 6 months of the year touring.
[In my personal time a]nytime I get a chance I love going to new places. My family live in far north Queensland, Australia so I do like to go up there on breaks. [For more on things to do in far north Queensland with kids, see the suitcases&strollers interview with tennis legend Pat Rafter.]
Where is your favourite place to tour?
I love touring to Singapore because I have made beautiful friendships with some of my fans there. I love seeing them coming to every show they can and I do try to make time to see them out of work as well if time and the schedule permits. Also I love Singapore for the food. Chilli crab is my favourite! [For more information on where you can find chilli crab in Singapore with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
In which country are your audiences the friendliest?
The most beautiful thing about being a member in Hi-5 is that we get to play, dance and sing with the kids. No matter what country we go to, every child wants to have fun. The best thing is to see them enjoy themselves whether it's coming to our shows or getting a big hug.
Where is the most unusual destination you've travelled to?
Hi-5 went to Cambodia in 2012 as a part of a World Vision trip (we are ambassadors for World Vision) and I never thought I would've had the chance in my lifetime to go to Cambodia. Cambodia is such a beautiful country and the people there are so friendly. We got to see many beautiful things as well as the poverty and the rural communities. I learnt a lot about myself and my vision on life was turned around as I really appreciated my life and how lucky I am. I definitely recommend people to visit this beautiful country; it's unlike any other holiday destination. I would definitely go back there in my own time. [For more on how to do Siem Reap with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Where is the most surprising destination you've travelled to?
Indonesia was most surprising because English is not their first language and Hi-5 were so warmly welcomed regardless of the language barrier. People were up and dancing and kids just sang along to our songs...the energy was so infectious! Apparently children learn English at their schools by watching Hi-5 which is so amazing.
I think no matter what language you speak or what country you come from, children are children and they just want to have fun so we try and give the best experience to them.
Where is the one place in the world you wish you could travel to that you haven't been?
I wish I could go to Africa one day and go on an African safari. I absolutely love animals so that would be a dream come true. [For travel tips on African safaris with kids, see the suitcases&strollers stories Addo Elephant National Park and Madikwe Game Reserve.]
Where is the one place in the world you could go and tour that you haven't been?
I wish Hi-5 could tour to New York, USA. I absolutely love New York and the creative vibe the city exudes. [For more on how you can do New York with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Do you think it is important for children to travel?
I was lucky enough to travel around the world when I was growing up and, yes, I think it is very important for children to travel. It helped me to really understand where I was from and seeing and being in other countries taught me to also respect people from other countries and their cultures. I believe it is a vital part of growing up.
If had children, where is the one place in the world you would want to take them?
I would love to take them to Cambodia and share the experiences I had there helping people in rural communities and shelters with World Vision. I had such a life-changing experience and I would love the opportunity to show my children what we can do to help another person, regardless of the language barrier or the different culture.
What are your top 3 recommendations for places that families should visit?
· Cairns, Australia. That’s where I grew up.
· Pusan, South Korea. That's where I was born.
To read the suitcases&strollers interview with Hi-5’s Stevie Nicholson click here.
For your chance to see Dayen Zheng and Hi-5 live on stage, enter our suitcases&strollers competition here. *THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED*