Thursday, August 17, 2006

Travelogue: Singapore (The romanticism of Mogwai and reunion of friends).

Music: Mogwai - Acid Food (click to download)


Believe you and me, I know that this blog update has been long overdue. I've managed to take some time off after the completion of my radiotherapy to visit an old friend of mine in Lion City, Singapore. I had an unbelievably good time visiting Orchard Road (who doesn't?) and spending some quality time with my underrated best friend Chris Saw.

For starters, the itinerary was simple. Get myself on a coach bus from Penang to KL. Take the AirAsia flight from KL to Senai Airport, Johor. Cross the border. Spend a couple of nights in Singapore. Catch Mogwai at the Esplanade. Head back via Senai, direct to Penang.

What turned out to be a simple plan went simply awry even at the beginning! Haha! I managed to get lost in the dumbest possible way; taking the speed train to KLIA instead of the LCC terminal (KL's low cost carrier terminal). No biggie - thank God I had the timing pre-planned to make time allowances for any 'mishaps'. Managed to catch a small express bus heading from KLIA to the LCC terminal with 2 hours to spare!

LCC terminal.

LCC terminal.



After a 30 minute delay, boarded the flight from KL to Johor whilst spending some quality time reading the Bible. Arrived in Senai at approximately 2100 hrs and Johor gave me the impression that it's practically a dead cowboy town at night. I didn't venture much into the surroundings but instead took the first available coach to the Singapore Woodlands immigration checkpoint. After getting my travel documents stamped, the journey to Chris' apartment in Pasir Ris was pretty smooth as the taxi driver was pleasantly chatty (to a Penangite) and was running the cab meter (whoaa...)!

As this was my first visit to my friend Chris' new humble domain, I found that he and his wife, Melodie have done a remarkable work in hiring the best interior designer to work out the space layout and theme. I gathered that partial sections of their apartment was Balinese-accented.

Here are some snaps:

Le kitchen.

More of le kitchen!

View from the 11th floor.

They've just managed to get this huge mirror fixed...

Le loiteree. ;) Well I don't see them using this as a dining table...

Their fancy living room.

Mel's artsy fartsy dining table light. Definitely not Ikea's.

Brightly lit at night. The lighting sets the mood. Gotta get me one of those!

Brad's room - temporarily my room for the duration of my stay. Lacoste polo t-shirts not featured.

Outside their HDB flat...pretty quiet for a Sunday, don't you think?



The next day, Chris, Melodie, Jaime and I went exploring Sun-Tech City but not before having a very heavy lunch over at Sakae Sushi's.

After our sumptous sushi meal which was kinda costly but worth every penny spent and our little walk around Marina Square and previewing the Esplanade...we adjourned to Max Brenner's Cafe outlet.

Didn't get to spend much time with Melodie and Jaime as they were off back home to monitor the progress of their home renovation. Leng Chong and I proceeded thereafter with a trip to the place he loathes the most, Orchard Road and went to do some much needed window shopping.

PLUS! We managed to spot a pair of strong-wristed foosball players as we were having our leisure time in the city.

Seriously, these guys were beyond belief when they play!



Mosaic featuring Mogwai...what an experience!

My autographed ticket stub. Thanks Swee Jin for braving the crowd for this!

The Scottish quintet started their gig with full-on Adidas threads with Stuart looking achingly shy in front of the mostly upper middle class crowd in the theatre. Right after introducing themselves, they kicked off the night with aptly titled 'Yes! I Am a Long Way From Home'. Frenzy ensued at the end of the song - the crowd also bemused by members of the band taking off their jackets; which was probably due to the immense pressure put on them by the largely expectant Singapore crowd.

I went off literally off my feet when the band started playing a rousing version of 'Travel Is Dangerous', 'Acid Food' and 'Hunted By A Freak' midway through the gig. Those songs were certainly the more memorable pieces that's spearheaded by lieutenant Barry Burns.

The noise junkies were at their full force. Stuart Braithwaite and John Cummings on guitar, Dominic Aitchison fiddling the bass, Martin Bulloch on drums and the multi-instrumentalist Barry Burns on guitar, keyboard and occasionally synths. The vocal duties were shared by both Stuart and Barry throughout the gig. Illuminating the whole concert was the vibrant strobe lights effects that have been orchestrated, probably, by Mogwai's roadcrew.

If it weren't for the sonic debauchery of 'Glasgow Mega-Snake', the crowd would have probably settled for the show to end. But no, the Scottish rock giants decided to end their set with it and so then came the rain of "encore! encore! encore!" from the very enthusiastic crowd still awestruck by the exhilarating gig they've bore witness to that night.

After the concert, managed to get ahold of T.S and Swee Jin when they were out getting their ticket stubs and CDs autographed by the band. The band members were sweet enough to autograph every single thing thrown at their faces are were to even strike brief conversations with their many adoring indie-music loving fans.

Along with having taken their picture with band members of The Observatory that night, T.S, Swee Jin had nothing more to say but that Mogwai were simply a class of their own. The trip had been well worth it - having travelled an ass-numbing 10 hours from one island to the other. We capped off our night with some drinks and banter whilst glazing across the city in the sparkling night light.



While I was in the taxi heading back from the check point in Woodlands to Senai Airport, something clicked. It felt like pins and needles at first and then tears just fell down my cheeks. I wasn't the old late Sudirman track the old cab driver was playing. I realised that it wasn't the gigantic feedback noise of Mogwai that illuminated this trip but it was the presence of Chris, Melodie, Jaime and Eileen that made the trip worth the wait. Friends like these are one in a million and yes I know that sounds rather corny coming from me. I've been surrounded by awesome friends who know how to make me forget about my woes for a little while.

Coming back to Malaysia seem like a hefty chore when I think of it now. Shame that Brad wasn't there though. Having the old gang in Singapore would be have been utter perfection! Anyway, thank you Chris, Melodie, Jaime and Eileen...thanks for making my visit truly memorable even without you realising how important being close to old friends is to me right now.

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