Exclusive Interview: Yau-Man Chan, 4th place finisher on Survivor
Exclusive Interview: Yau-Man Chan, 4th place finisher on Survivor
Yau-Man Chan will go down as one of the most beloved Survivors in the series long history.  It is impossble to discuss Yau with any Survivor fan and not end up postulating on the little man from Borneo's greatness.  Yau-Man came into Survivor: Fiji as an afterthought.  No one expected much from him, but he was formidable in every aspect of the contest.  He won more challenges than anyone else, found the immunity idol, and was simply smarter than the rest of the field.  The only reason Yau didn't win was the fact Dreamz reneged on his immunity deal with Yau.  Nonetheless, Yau-Man will go down in Survivor lore as one of the game's best players.  Earlier in the week, Yau-Man stopped by to speak with us about his time on the show.

Below you will find both the written transcript and full mp3 audio of the interview.

Before we get into anything from last night can we talk a little bit about how you found yourself on the show, how you got cast?

Well, I think the producers were looking for different ethnic groups and they were looking for a variety of different personalities and I think they found me through the National Table Tennis Association website list. I’m listed there as the division director for the North California Division. I’m also sort of an umpire, a coach for the USA Table Tennis Association. So, I think they were canvassing this list and I got a call to ask me to apply to this show, so I did.

You know, before you were on the show, were you a big fan of Survivor? Because to me it seemed like you came into the show with a lot of good ideas.

No, I was not quite…I didn’t really watch the show except the very first season and I only watched it then because it was done in Borneo, and that’s where I grew up. So, when I found out I may be a candidate to go on the show I did a lot of research, I basically checked out every Survivor series available on Netflix and I watched that back to back as much as possible.

Nice. You know, when you came to the island, did you expect to perform as well on the physical challenges as you did?

Not at all. I did not think I would be able to win any of the physical challenges. I thought that the only challenges I would be able to have any chance at is the puzzle solving or the question and answer type challenges. And so when I started to do well I surprised myself.

During the tribal council where Stacy got kicked off, at what point did you decide to use your idol?

Going into the Tribal Council I was quite sure I don’t need to use it, but I was a little bit nervous. I knew that at that time I did not have Dreamz vote. I know that Dreamz will vote me just cause he wants to get rid of me. And then when Stacy mentioned during the Tribal Council that the votes are gonna be split or something like that, I thought…I was listening very carefully. I was listening between the lines at that Tribal Council and that’s what tipped me to say “Oh I’ve probably lost Alex’s and Stacy’s vote too.” And since there were six people left, all I have to do is lose one more and it’s gonna be a tight situation and I did not want to get into a tie vote and lose because of the tie vote. That would be horrible. Because the Survivor tie-breakers are usually very, very silly and I just didn’t want to deal with it.

Yeah. When you saw then that there were four votes against you, how surprised were you?

I was quite surprised. I didn’t realize that Dreamz was able to convince so many people. I was surprised that he was able to convince Cassandra and Boo to vote me out.

Going into the reward challenge for the truck, were you already thinking about scenarios if you won, where you could kind of leverage that truck?

Not until I saw what the reward was. When, you know, they pulled the curtain down and there was a big truck, that’s when my head started spinning, trying to figure out something to do with it…the truck isn’t part of my lifestyle. I’m an urban guy, I drive a couple of hybrids, I have no use for a big machine like that. Yeah, I could have sold it or something like that, but then I have no particular emotion or attachment to it. I decided to see what I can do with it.

Looking back at the deal with Dreamz, do you wish you had made some sort of alternate deal or do you regret doing the deal at all?

Knowing what I know now, yeah. There are so many things I could have done instead of that, I could have put more conditions to it, and I suddenly could’ve changed it in midstream. Yeah.

When Dreamz made the decision to keep the idol, was it a total shock? Did you think he was capable of doing something like that?

No, it was a total shock.


It was. Before we went to Tribal Council I talked to Cassandra and I guess Cassandra had talked to Dreamz also and Cassandra, being a very, very straight up woman, she said she’s quite sure that Dreamz would live up to his end of the bargain. And I talked to Earl and he assured me of that too, so I have enough evidence to support the fact that yeah, he would. So it was a complete surprise.  And that goes to show that he probably didn’t know what he wants. He probably doesn’t know what…you know, what he’s thinking.

It’s sort of hard to decipher what Dreamz has been saying about that decision, especially last night.

It’s a different story every time you ask him…

It seems pretty obvious to me that he made the decision at Tribal Council or soon before. It wasn’t sort of a long plan that he had. Is that your belief?

I think he really wanted to honor the deal until, at Tribal Council, when he realized that he was final three and not final two, that by not honoring the deal he’d get a chance for a million dollars, and supposing he’s final two, well, if he’s voted out another round behind so it wasn’t that close, but being the final three was a lot closer to a million dollars and that sort of tipped him.

Looking back on Earl’s decision to vote for you, is there any lingering kind of anger towards him at all about that?

No, you know, at that point we agreed with each other that by the time we get to the final four, it’s sort of a free fall. I was a little bit disappointed. I was hoping that he would bring me to the next round, and try and see how he’d do against me with the jury. If it were me, I would’ve taken him one more level. That’s cause I want to see how you can beat him with the jury.  Definitely, you know, he wanted to assure himself of the million dollars and that was the best move. It would be stupid of him to try and bring me to the jury because he knew that I could beat him. And I want him to admit that, when I question him there.

Any final thoughts? Anything  coming up for you in the future that you’d like to talk about?

Well, not that I know of. I’m just trying to enjoy this whole experience and trying to deal with all the press and I’m sure by next week I’ll have a different perspective on life.

(Interview Conducted by Oscar Dahl)

(Image Courtesy of CBS)