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The totally true story of how Chua Enlai left a friend to die in the open sea

And it was all because of a stupid sea turtle – or at least that’s how the host of CNA Lifestyle’s new podcast series House Party For 2 remembers it.

The totally true story of how Chua Enlai left a friend to die in the open sea

Chua Enlai is the best kind of house party guest. The kind that brings champagne and cheese. (Photo: Phin Wong)

Is it true, I asked Chua Enlai, that you only travel on Business Class? “No,” he replied, earnestly. “I also fly First Class.”

He laughed because he was being funny. I laughed because I was making plans to murder him. Besides, I figured, it would simply be payback for the time he almost killed me by way of holiday manslaughter.

The actor, television personality, funnyman (he doesn’t like being called “funnyman” but, hey, he almost killed me) and intrepid traveller was my first guest for CNA Lifestyle’s new podcast series House Party For 2, where celebrities plop themselves on my couch for the world’s least populated house party for an unfiltered conversation about their personal lives over drinks and makan.

LISTEN > House Party For 2: Chua Enlai spills the secret to having a Channel 8 career when he can’t speak Chinese

Enlai was the obvious choice for my first house party guest, seeing as we’ve been friends for 20 years – and actually does have to be chased out of my regular house parties at 5am. In those two decades, we’ve travelled together many times, in no small part due to Enlai’s immense talent of finding incredible deals where you feel like you’re vacationing like royalty while spending like a stable boy.

One of those holidays was to the gorgeous Indonesian island of Lombok, the scene of my harrowing near-death experience at the hands of the man who plays Pornsak Sukhumvit on The Noose.

Chua Enlai with his totally-not-regifted bottle of champagne. (Photo: Phin Wong)

While my beach vacations usually involve very little “beach” and a lot more drinking in the shade at my pool villa, Enlai (and, to be fair, the other two people we were vacationing with) persuaded me to explore the great outdoors of Lombok and Gili Islands. “Let’s go snorkelling!” they said, filled with the enthusiasm of children after consuming too much ice cream. “Let’s go make friends with sea turtles!”

I reminded my dear friends of my lifelong fear of being in open water and how I am not a strong swimmer – two facts that I thought were rather pertinent in that particular situation. But still, there we were on a rickety boat, speeding towards my impending demise.

“I don’t think I can swim out that far, guys,” I said as we stood at the edge of the water. “Use the life vest,” they mumbled, throwing on their snorkelling gear.

“I don’t know how to work the snorkel mask, guys,” I said, panic rising as I imagined sucking in water through what looked like a bubble tea straw connected to the goggles. “Just breathe lah,” they said, helpfully, plopping into the sea. A few splish-splashes later, they were gone.

LISTEN > House Party For 2: Rebecca Lim on her Channel 8 crush and trying to date when you’re famous

“We left you on dry land!” said Enlai during our House Party For 2 podcast conversation.

“You didn’t know you left me on dry land,” I reminded him. They had assumed I was right behind them in what is essentially a vast, unmarked, watery grave where sushi comes from – and did not even realise I was missing.

“We did …” he said. “After about 25 minutes, we looked around and we realised Phin wasn’t there. We were like, “Okay, I think he’s fine. He probably has a cocktail in hand.”

Because that, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is what loving friends do when they realise someone is missing in the middle of the open sea: Shrug their shoulders, assume he hasn’t drowned or been attacked by a Sharktopus, and just merrily continue hanging with sea turtles while Sebastian the crab sings Under The Sea to a jaunty calypso rhythm.

Never mind that I was actually drinking a cocktail on dry land.

After I had decided that a cold pina colada was the safer option compared to certain death (all those Choose Your Own Adventure books I read growing up finally came in useful), I walked to the nearest beach hut and drew doodles of my friends getting eaten by parrot fish. Where I somehow proceeded to lose that bubble tea straw attachment of the snorkel mask and had to pay S$50 to buy new gear to replace it.

Exhibit A. (Photo: Chua Enlai)

And this is why friends are important: How else would one appreciate the glory of being alive if your friends didn’t try to kill you? Thanks, funnyman.

Listen to the full podcast to fully understand what life with Chua Enlai is like.

New episodes of House Party For 2 are published every Sunday at This podcast was recorded in early December, 2019. Both House Party For 2 host and guest are now hibernating safely in their respective homes.

Source: CNA/pw