I've got an excuse for my lack of updates from the last three weeks. Been busy lah, what else? From the China trip, to Singapore, and the some.
I guess I'll just report up on my China trip, albeit an abbreviated one, for this first parter. Don't think putting in too much details will be too reader-friendly (unless you really have THAT much time to read about what I write). Either way, I don't really have the time lately to sit and write out in too much details.
Monday, 5 Sept: Spent the monday after the Adidas run, running around... figuratively. Had to collect my passport with my China visa from the China embassy, get bus tickets to Singapore, and to send my Polar heart rate monitor to get it serviced, it was acting really funny, with disappearing displays. Without telling too much, let me say this: KL public transport is the crap! The train systems are so disintegrated. I'm glad I have a car to drive, and I'm grateful every minute for that. We have so much to learn, even from Singapore, where public transport is probably one of their national prides.
Tuesday, 6 Sept: Left for Singapore by bus at PuduRaya station at 7pm with John Thomas (we're the only two Malaysians involved for this gig). John had just returned from his South Africa trip with Mr. Gambus, Farid Ali, for their South Africa tour, earlier in the morning. Imagine the two of us, lugging instruments and luggage bags. John had the most to bring, his cymbals, drumstick bag, snare, and his own luggage bag. Reached Singapore early in the morning, around 1am.
Wednesday, 7 Sept: Managed to walk around a little bit in Singapore city, to check out some musical instrument shops. After lunch, we went for a rehearsal for Shanghai show. We rehearsed a variety of current pop and rock tunes, from Maroon 5 to Red Hot Chilli Peppers. You probably must be wondering by now: What does a saxophone player have to do with playing those pop/rock songs? My answer: I don't know! Ahahha.. they just called me up to play, so I'll play la. That's my job, to try to fit in as well. But then, I was also playing flute and some percussions for this show. Later in the night, the band checked into Changi airport for the 1am flight to Shanghai (on Singapore Airlines, this time around, THANK GOD!).
Thursday, 8 Sept: Reached Shanghai airport, around 6.30am. Bus ride to our hotel took about an hour or so, I slept like a baby in the bus. I was watching movies in the plane all night thru the flight. Bad idea, I know... what can I say? Nice movies, like Sin City and some others. After braving the YUCKY, DISGUSTING, NAUSEATING hotel breakfast consisting of porridge and some sad looking condiments, we all crashed in our rooms until afternoon.
Came afternoon, we all went to the Xiang Yuan flea market and bought a whole bunch of stuff, setting up our bargaining prowess with them opportunist Chinese vendors. I got a bunch of sports shirts, a nice imitation Nike backpack, Nike golf shirt for dad, a Tod's bag for mum, while my other bandmates pretty much raided the handbag shops and more!
We, then, went to our gig site at the new Shanghai F1 circuit, where there was a massive box-tent set up on the track itself with a stage, and dinner seats on both sides, separated by the passage on the track to allow the new BMW 3 series car to pass through. Did some instrument checks, set up, and then left back to the hotel.
Friday, 9 Sept: We went to the track again for a second sound-check in the afternoon. Like usual, we waited a very long while until it was time for our soundcheck. Oh yeah, there were models... yummy! Hehhehe. After the soundcheck, me and John went to the jazz club, JZ Bar, where we caught a Canadian quintet play (and they had just came from Korea from the Jarasum Jazz Fest, where Aseana Percussion Unit was playing as well). We then hung and talked with some of the band members. I basically went back to the hotel to sleep.
Saturday, 10 Sept: We left for the F1 track sometime around late afternoon, as the BMW 3 Series launch event takes place today. It's a 2-day event, and we were due to play both on Saturday and Sunday. Since we were the last act to play, we were again, waiting for a long time before we could play. We did the show, played a lot of cool radio tunes from RHCP, Maroon 5, Michael Jackson, and some others. But it was pretty tiring. I even skipped going out with some of the guys for some late night partying.
Sunday, 11 Sept: I got up late morning, and I went out to town alone to Nanjing Road to do some shopping to buy some medicinal stuff that my Mom told me to buy. Wierd thing was, it was drizzling a little bit when I got out of the hotel, grey skies, and every indication like it was going to rain. Funny thing as well, it got slightly heavier and heavier by the hour.
We left for the F1 track again, and it had already rained a little bit, strong winds still persisting. When we got to the site, we were looking at the crew dismantling the equipment in the box-tent, the BMWs were gone, and everything was being packed up. Later we found out that our second day gig was cancelled because of the incoming typhoon! So, we headed back to our hotel, had our dinner and hung out in our hotel rooms playing drinking games, while contemplating and wondering (albeit briefly) on whether we'll get to fly back to Singapore the next day, or whether we'll get stuck in Shanghai for an extra day or so. The winds and rain got much heavier and heavier as the night progressed, the trees looked like they were being thrown around, and the wind draft was so strong, it even knocked against the windows and rattling them. We were getting reports on TV on the evacuation of some of the inner parts of Shanghai from the typhoon. It looks like the part of Shanghai we were in only caught the sideswipe of the typhoon, while the rural areas got hit real bad.
Sunday, 12 Sept: When we woke up, the sky was clear blue, and it looked like that there wasn't a storm thenight before! WE left our hotel early, around 12pm to the airport to avoid any possible traffic jams from the typhoon aftermath. We actually arrived at the airport really early, and we hung out until it was time to check in, and board our plan. And for those who were wondering: NO, I did not miss my flight! Heh heh heh...
After getting back to Singapore at night, me and John checked into Bencoolen Hotel and ate at the nearby Kopitiam food court, and then caught the replay of the US Open tennis match, where we found out that Roger Federer defeated the ever-strong Andre Agassi in the finals. We were so poofed we just crashed almost as soon as we got into the hotel.
Monday, 13 Sept: Our keyboard player, Indra, that went on the Shanghai trip with us offered to drive us around town to buy our bus tickets back to KL, as well as a little shopping. I bought Harry Connick Jr's new album, Occasion, a sax-piano duet with Branford Marsalis (an awesome album, by the way, and one you won't get in KL for a long time, or ever I think!) and Dave Koz's debut album (I previously bought that album on CD, but I seemed to have lost it when I borrowed it to somebody). We then caught the 6pm bus back to KL, where we arrived at around 10:30pm. My parents picked us up, we went to mamak to eat, and I sent John home.
The next couple of days, was just resting, getting bus ticket to Singapore again, and rehearsals for Noryn's show at Avanti's on Friday.
The gig went fairly well, we did a whole bunch of tunes from Stevie Wonder, and some of Noryn's own original compositions.
Joshua Redman in Singapore... stay tuned!
To be continued...