Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm goin' to NYC!!!

I got it!


Saturday, December 29, 2007

The end of a good, but brief era.

Wishing my dear readers, and everyone else (a bit late but who cares?):


I pray that the new year will bring you all more blessings, great health, and the propensity to change ourselves for the better.

* * * * *

Yes, it's official now:

Top Room @ Top Hat Restaurant is closing down! Read about it here.

The place where I have been making a lot of rounds over the past 1 year over, with my own groups and with others, is closing its doors from Jan 1. The restaurant business in Top Hat is still running of course, but the jazz is gone.

So to commemorate its closure, there'll be a jam session, hopefully a massive one, this SUNDAY 30 December 2007, from 6pm. I will be there for sure, and I heavy-heartedly say that I was there when it opened, and now when it is closing as well.

In many ways Top Room was a place close to my heart, as I did a lot of my playing over the past year ever since it opened. And it was such a great place to have good jazz music, and there was a lot going for it - great ambience, and great sound, and great intimacy. But unfortunately, those qualities aren't necessarily enough to sustain a place like that.

I also want to point out that the new year starts heavy for me because of that. One would hope something good like that could go on, especially with the prospect of my (hopefully soon) departure for further studies. I would have loved to follow its progress over the next few months, and also gig if I get back here for my holidays. Alas, it is not to be. But I also hope that the remaining jazz joints keep up the good work, and maybe more potentially good ones would open up (at least I've got spots to play while I'm on summer holidays!!) as well.

Goodbye, Top Room!

* * * * *

My visa interview is this Monday morning. Wish me luck! Once I get it, I'm good to go.

* * * * *

I'm so saddened when I saw it on the Net.. the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The world is a severely injured, and fractured place now, and it's gotten worse over the years (talk about understatement).

Usually I'm quite oblivious and ignorant about things around, as I never had fondness for governmental and national politics. But it is really getting hard to ignore it. And to quote sax great Phil Woods, "Musicians must be worldly people", so music has ingrained a bit of that in me. I feel a bit sad over some of the things that has been happening to our world, and mostly because most of the more horrendous ones result from only one entity: Man.

The question is: What can us lay people do about it?

A conceptual option I can think of is, be positive. Not just in thinking but in spirit as well. I cannot stress how important that is. Hopefully try to apply that in our daily lives as well. You'd be surprised how much difference it can make. I think I have lost a bit of that over the past several years, and I am trying to find it back. I need it.

You can read and find out more about it in scriptures, whether the Bible, the Dharma, the Quran, I-Ching, Tao Te Ching, and others. And I think this is the time we should do it, to save the world and save ourselves.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kajang.. sudah maju?

I was just walking in Kajang town just yesterday (something which I hardly do these days, mind you) to go the bank, to do my US Visa processing fee payment. But as dumb as it got, I didn't realize it was a national holiday, Hari Raya Haji, and the banks weren't open. Anyway, I went to do a couple of more errands, and to have my mobile phone fixed. While waiting for it, I dropped by the new shopping mall in Kajang, METRO POINT, to check it out. It's located right opposite from my old high school, and before all of that, there was a tennis court I used to play at during my high school years.

Anyway, when I entered the building through the front entrance, lo and behold, the first thing I saw blew my mind away!



Yes, it's true.. there's now a Starbucks Coffee in Kajang! Incredible!

Maybe Kajang town has started to move on with the times! I'd never thought I'd actually see one in this small, albeit growing, town. Now the question ponders in my head: Is Kajang ready for a Starbucks?

No seriously... do the people here even understand the concept of a cafe latte (or even a hot chocolate) for that matter? LOL! Okay, you can stop laughing now..

Or the more important question is: Is the people of Kajang ready to pay a premium for that kind of coffee, when most of the time the people here relate to teh tarik and kopi (to colloquialize local coffee) more than a double espresso macchiato?

Well, we'll see what happens in a couple of months... or maybe more (more on that later!) and see if the Kajang Starbucks Coffee will last. If it does...AMEN.. I don't have to go far for a good cuppa!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Singapore Marathon... ahhh..

Well, it was a blast for me!

After a really head-banging, stressful week, I was really anxious to go down to Singapore to run the race. My last race was really Penang Bridge Run, which was also good! But unlike Penang, I wasn't properly trained for this, and this was also attributed to the fact that I had such a miserable week, and it was also miserable because I couldn't train as well! But I was adamant on going anyway to enjoy the race! And enjoy it I did...

Anyway, I went down south early Friday morning with my drummer Martin, who wanted to go and check out the clubs there, and also see Eugene Pao (an amazing jazz guitarist from Hong Kong) at Jazz @ Southbridge. (Note: I got stood up by my good buddy who was also supposed to do the race.. but backed out due to illness!). We checked into the Killiney Budget Room (great place by the way, and cheap!) and just walked around a bit. I retired to my room to sleep for a couple of hours (while Martin met up with his friend) and then went to check out Eugene's gig later that night. Greg was also playing with Eugene for that three-day gig. And he later told me he wasn't doing the race (Greg was supposed to do the full distance), as he did not train up to that distance. Darn. Anyway, we left early as I wanted to head back to sleep earlier and get as much rest on the Friday night.

Saturday, I woke up for a 20 minute run to warm up the joints a bit. Probably my only run for the past week. After that we ended up walking some more for a little bit. I went over to the Esplanade and collected my race kits, and rendezvous-ed with Greg, June, Kerong (who was also doing the race), Darren and one of Greg's friends. Collection was a breeze, and so well organized you hardly had to break a sweat doing it! Kudos to the organizers! After that I did the same thing in the evening.. slept for a couple of hours and went out to Southbridge. Second night's show was a real blast.. they just played crazy!! Eugene Pao is definitely one of them guitarists I enjoy listening to!!! Left to retire early again. Just before sleeping, I did the usual pre-race preparations - shoes, bibs, vests, gels, water, etc. I also had a strange feeling I won't be able to sleep that night, and so right I was. I didn't sleep too well at all. Mostly the feeling of being half-asleep.

Race day

I awoke about 4-something in the morning. I wanted the time so I didn't have to rush having toilet emergencies. Had a snack bar and a fruit for pre-race meal. Once I finished preparing myself, I headed out to the Padang at City Hall by walking/jogging from the budget room to the start point... good way to warm up! When I got there, I waited in line to drop off the race luggage bag at the Baggage Collection point (well-organized as well!), and off to the starting point. I was trying to look around for June, who was also doing the half-distance, but to no avail. There was just way TOO many people out there. Coincidentally, I bumped into Pek Fui who was also doing it with a friend, what a surprise! Anyhow, like any race, I always try to spot people that I might possibly recognize, but also to no avail. Tough luck.. I wasn't even sure who was taking part! Oh well..

Flag off at 6:15am... and off we went. I started with a slight sense of trepidation, as I did not know what to expect during the race. But anyhow, I started running at a fairly relaxed pace, and allowed others to overtake. Unlike KL, there are more... fit runners... here, so that prospect was pretty terrifying! But to quote this year's Marathon motto: RUN YOUR OWN RACE, I told myself the same thing, and just proceeded with running at my own pace.

I found I was running at training pace, and it was comfortable for me. I knew I didn't have a choice, as my training encountered a setback, but I didn't let that stop me. If I pushed to race pace, I knew I might burn myself out a little too quickly. The first 10 - 15k was fairly comfortable, and I could maintain that pace, most of the way, except when I had to stop and queue for the restroom. I think I wasted valuable time on that, but when you gotta go, you just gotta go. But I could already feel my legs stiffening up even up to the halfway mark, and this was a clear sign of undertraining on my part. I stopped once or twice to stretch just to loosen them up.

Hydration stops were well planned out, and well supplied with both water and 100plus. They even had bananas at one particular stop. I think I managed hydration pretty well this race, having a bottle of Accelerade on one side and water on the other (I had one of those two small bottle fuel belts!), and two PowerGels (only used one). After the 15-16k mark I did the run/walk routine as my legs were awfully stiffened up and couldn't really go at a faster pace. It felt like I had the energy to run, but my legs just weren't in the condition to go.

Anyhow, I could not manage a sub 2:50 timing as I would like, as I was barely near the finish line when it was past 2:50. But I still went on and told myself to FINISH, FINISH, FINISH "You Can Do It!" and other self-psycho-ing encouragements! Next thing I knew, the finish line was near...I was running on the Esplanade Bridge... and it was really sunny hot... and only at the last 500m I just continued on running at whatever pace I could manage and finished up at 2:57:04. Not my best timing, but I was really happy I could finish it! AHHHH.. VICTORY!!

After collecting my baggage, and stretching a bit, I met up with Greg and June and went off to had a light snack to replenish. I went back to the budget room via MRT, washed up and had a late breakfast with Martin. Slept for a few hours, and went out to walk around at Singapore Plaza... and ate again. We went back to the room, chilled out a short while, and then met up with Greg and June at Borders (we walked there.. even while my legs were still sore), and had dinner not long after that! I felt like a virtual bottomless pit!! Even after dinner, I still didn't feel like I had enough to eat! We sat around for drinks and chatted quite a bit, and then departed each other's company and the both of us headed to Boat Quay to go for the jam sessions there. Man, what a day!

Next day was a real sleepy day as we couldn't really get up as we were both so tired from the last few days. But eventually we got up, had lunch, checked out, and went out walking again! Not much, just to a few shops, and sat around for coffee while killing time! Eventually, we got our luggage from the room, and departed to the First Coach bus depot to catch the 6.30pm bus back to KL!

What a trip this was!

Anyway, here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

race morning @ start line.. getting ready to go..

marina south.. check out Singapore's Eye

police drumline.. very cool

yay.. finish line nearby liao!!

Greg & June

me cam-whoring...what a relief

yay.. another medal!!

another view of it

Sunday, December 02, 2007


That's more or less my Chip timing..


I'm glad I finished... I FEEL GOOD... nehh, nehh, nehh, nehh, nehh, nehh, nehhh...

Greetings from Singapore..

It's 1.29am in Singapore, and I've just prepped my race kits.

I'm really psyched to run the race.. half distance marathon at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. It'll be my second SG Marathon, my last one being year 2004. Although I can't say I'm fully trained for it.. I don't give a *toot*... I'm gonna try to enjoy it anyway!!!

Wish me luck.. will try to take pictures if I can!!

PS: I'm shifting all my running reports and related blogs about it here, from my other running blog. Too lazy to maintain two sites...