Friday, July 14, 2006

The Hong Kong Experience! - Part 1

I was gonna write about it in this post.. but I guess everybody already knows what happened to Jackie Chan in Hong Kong! I didn't know it made such big international headlines! What a boo boo... although I have to say, the Press made it a little sound rather exaggerated than it really was.

Anyway, I'll just get on to write about our trip to Hong Kong:

The trip to Hong Kong for the Jonathan Li was a blast.. not to mention a few surprises here and there. Don't get impatient.. I'll try to write it all down. But I'll try be as concise as possible. At least I'll get to finish this story (yes, I know.. I didn't finish my Taiwan story... so sue me.. I'm busy!).

Day 1 - Fri 7 July

I only started packing in the morning, and after lunch with my brother and my mom, they sent me to the airport. The usual suspects for the Jonathan Li band arrived one-by-one: Aji, me, Eddie, Gary, JJ (replacing Roger for this gig, as he was tied down with the NSO, much to his dismay), Ameer, Chet, Itchie, Mac and Jenny. As usual, it was checking in, going to the terminal, and then boarding the plane. The flight itself was uneventful (I watched V for Vendetta on the plane.. interesting movie).

We arrived sometime around 9pm, and one of the first things we noticed as we got out of the airport was that intense humidity at that hot temperature (around 30C and above). It felt like we hit a wall of heat, as though we were stuffing our bodies into an oven! And much to our distaste, it was to persist during the duration of the trip.

We were housed at the Harbour Plaza Metropolis Hotel, which is next to the Kowloon Harbour, and next to the Hong Kong Coliseum, where we were performing for the concert. The hotel itself was pretty high class, very posh, but unfortunately I can't say the same for the room we got. We hoped we'd get a harbour view, but we were housed on the other side of the wing, and we didn't really get much of that view. But it was still a nice view of the surrounding area. Not only that the size of the room was rather small, as well. But of course, it was adequate. After all, it IS Hong Kong!

As usual, it was out for supper after we've settled in, and Mac and Jenny took us to one of the char chan teng (small little restaurants) which was about 10 minutes walk away from the hotel, through a connecting bridge from the shopping complex (adjoined to the hotel), overlooking the Kowloon side of the Hong Kong Island tunnel, and into some shops near the harbourfront. I had chee cheong fun and soy bean drink, and the chee cheong fun was slightly different, where they put soy sauce, with peanut paste sauce and the sweet gravy (usually eaten with the chee cheong fun we are familiar with). The walk to the restaurant was a very hot, humid and sweaty one. The restaurant inside had aircon, so it was comparatively more comfortable than being outside. And after that it was back to the hotel again.

Day 2 - Sat 8 July

Me and Eddie got up late as usual, but I still woke before Eddie and had some time to go to the gym for a 5k treadmill workout, before going to the food court for lunch (they had a vegetarian stall too, so that was a plus for me). After that we headed to the HK Coliseum for a whole day soundcheck and rehearsal. We rehearsed some of the old songs once, and two new songs (for Karen Mok who guested on the first night's concert), and some other reworked songs (in different keys).

We finished around almost 11.30pm, and after the rehearsal, we (the band) headed back to the same area from the night before to have our dinner/supper, but just in another restaurant, with more food choices. It was another char chan teng, very similar to the Kim Gary concept in KL. I had this baked cheese and vegetable spaghetti, and we shared a french toast, and pineapple bun.

The Germany v Portugal game was on, we caught some of it.

Day 3 - Sun 9 July (first day of concert)

I got up slightly earlier in the morning to join Mac, Jenny and Chet to take a ride to Sham Sui Po to check out some electronics and computer stuff. But when we got there at around 10am, a lot of the shops weren't open still (although we expected that it would by then). Must be the World Cup effect.

We got back to the hotel, and prepped to go to the Coliseum to do another soundcheck and rehearsal with some of the artistes. On the first night, Jonathan's guests were Karen Mok, Jeff Chang, Richie Ren, Gigi Leung, Fish Leung, and Jackie Chan (who did a duet with Jonathan). Jackie's son, Jaycee was there as well (note: Jaycee's apparently one of the Jonathan's few proteg├ęs as well). Anyway, the show went very well, plus minus a few (hopefully unnoticeable) hiccups. Unfortunately, none of them stayed long enough for us to catch and take pictures with. Would've loved to take some pictures with Karen. The best part was this: I forgot to take my camera on stage!! Arggh!!

Anyway, after the first night concert, we went to eat again. This time, it's the same area, but just a different eatery. We went to a char chan teng or something like a coffee house. It's a similar concept of eateries such like Kim Gary's here in KL. I had a vegetable and cheese baked spaghetti (although the noodle technically wasn't spaghetti.. it was a slight thicker noodle), and we shared some polok bau (pineapple bun), and the hongkie version of french toast (basically to slices of egg-toasted bread, with peanut butter in between, served with a dollop of butter and honey)... lethal stuff!

It was back to the hotel and...WORLD CUP FINALS!! France v. Italy... AND ITALY WON!!! Wooo Hooo!!! It was pretty hard to tell who would win, until the end of the game! But nevertheless, it was a fantastic game to watch, apparently it was like the best finals game in over 20 years or something to that effect. Heh, and apparently not without some kind of sensationalism, as well.

Oh well, that's the end of World Cup for now... and also me getting fat because of it! And not to mention lack of sleep! We were walking pandas for one month.. damn!

Day 4 - Sunday 10 July (second day of concert)

Woke up late just in time for lunch, and everyone was talking about it, while having lunch at the food court at the adjoining shopping complex. The rest of the afternoon - evening was just rehearsals with some of the artistes for the second day. This time around guests were only Emil, Jaycee, Slyvia Chang, and Jackie.

The second day concert also was a blast.... until Jackie came on! The rest is history. Well, to clear things up a little bit, the international press exaggerated a little bit on the Jackie story (and so is their source of information... I gather the HK papers don't like him very much), he didn't exactly trade insults, although he said something like "lei lou mei".. I'm not sure what it means, but it's not as severe as something like say... "f**k you" or something like that. I think it was something along the lines of "your momma...". Feel free to correct me on that, if anyone knows what it means. And the tone of the whole deal was he said all that in a rather jokingly manner, even though he was drunk.

It was a long 3 1/2 hour concert, and halfway through the concert I was already feeling the urge to go to the loo! But it was a blast nevertheless!!

After the concert it was the post-concert makan (and press conference), at the hotel restaurant. Saw a lot of HK press there, and you could tell how much of a paparazzi they were. Scary thought. We saw Jonathan do the press conference, but he left rather hastily, as the press was getting on his nerves asking more of the Jackie incident than the concert itself. It just seems like the press was more interested in the "flash-in-a-pan" stuff than the meat of things.. typical. But that's Hong Kong for you.

to be continued...

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