Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it is often called, is the largest city in Malaysia. According to Lonely Planet, “The founding of KL was almost an accident. In 1857, 87 Chinese prospectors in search of tin landed at the meeting point of the Klang and Gombak rivers and set up camp, naming the spot Kuala Lumpur, meaning ‘muddy confluence’.”
These days Kuala Lumpur is more famous for the Petronas Twin Towers than it is for the twin muddy rivers. I have written about my frequent trips from Singapore to KL but this post is about an opportunity I had to share my favourite part of KL with some visiting Canadians.
We began our evening at Bijan Bar & Restaurant which advertises that they serve “fine Malay cuisine”. The food, the ambiance, and the service were all great. This restaurant is located in the trendy Bukit Bintang area so there were plenty of places to choose from for a ‘nightcap’ after we finished our wonderful meal.
When a long-tailed parakeet flew overhead while I was swimming today, I realized that with the exception of the post about being attacked by a crow, I had not written about the birds of Singapore.
The first time I saw one of these beautiful, bright green birds, I thought someone’s pet must have escaped. It wasn’t until later that I learned that the long-tailed parakeet is native to South East Asia. Now, whenever I hear their distinctive call I look up and smile.
For a ‘birder’ visiting Singapore who does not have the time to seek out the many different kinds of birds that live here, I recommend a visit to Jurong Bird Park. It is the largest bird park in Asia.
In keeping with the theme of unusual things to do in Singapore, this post is about what I did last evening. I am not sure what to call it; it was a film, it was a symphony, it was amazing!
It is events like this (and like the exhibition that I posted about previously) that blur the line between art and technology; perhaps there isn’t even a line to blur. According to the program, “Half a century after its original release, West Side Story the motion picture will be presented tonight in a format that brings its own innovations. MGM has created a restored, high-definition print of the film that reveals details unseen since 1961. A new sound technology developed by Paris-based Audionamix and utilized by Chace Audio by Deluxe, one of the film industry’s top restoration companies, has isolated vocal tracks from the feature, using new source-separation technology that separates elements within a monophonic soundtrack.” The Singapore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joshua Tan, performed the musical score so seamlessly that I often forgot that the music wasn’t part of the film. They deserved every bit of the enthusiastic applause that followed the film’s end credits.
A friend of mine is travelling in Italy right now. She posted photos of Cinque Terre on Facebook. I commented that I was jealous because Italy is still on my bucket list. It occurred to me that I am either incredibly selfish or pathologically addicted to doing things that are not routine.
I have lived in five countries in three of the seven continents but I am still not satisfied. I have travelled to dozens of countries and the only continent left for me to set foot on is Antartica, but I am still not content. What will it take for me to stop travelling and settle down?
My bucket list is not getting shorter. When I was a child I wanted to go to Greece which I called “the birthplace of civilization” and to Rome which I called “the cradle of civilization”. A few years later, I had added Egypt to the list because of the Pyramids. I also decided that I was going to live in Paris but I can’t honestly remember why. When I did finally start travelling, more places got added to the list than got struck off. It was a bit like a hamster-wheel. I was going places but not getting any closer to finding completion.
If you would like me to write about a particular place, just ask. It is always my pleasure to share the trip.
Being neither a chamber music expert nor a French wine expert, last night’s event was an opportunity to learn a bit about both. The venue was @Libitum Pte Ltd, Music and Art Studio on East Coast Road. The wine and the information about it were provided by Guillaume of The French Cellar. The music was performed by @Libitum Quartet.
I imagine some of my readers are thinking “isn’t a quartet four musicians?” but these five very talented people to not all play at the same time. When a piece called for the flute, Albert Shagimardanov gave up his seat to his father, Zufar. The musicians from left to right are Zufar Shagimardanov, Elena Shagimardanov, Albert Shagimardanov, Narine Gevorgyan, and Khachatur Khachatryan.
There were four types of wine, each paired with two pieces of music. Pairing wine with food has become almost commonplace but pairing it with music was a novelty I could not resist. Here are my impressions: The first wine was a sparkling wine called Clairette de Die Tradition. The first piece of music was Polka Pizzicato by Johan Strauss; bubbly and light-hearted, it danced like the bubbles in my glass. The next piece, also by Strauss was Tales from the Vienna Woods. At first, the music seemed staid and sombre, so I was afraid it had been mismatched, and that it would be better with a red wine. Soon the music changed and became whimsical and playful. I was told later that this kind of music was written to be played in the wine houses on the outskirts of Vienna and was meant to emulate the drunkenness of the patrons.
The next wine was Chateau Haut Bessac, a white wine from Bordeaux. I thought I must have misunderstood because I thought Bordeaux wine is always red, but Guillaume explained that 80% of the wine from that region is red but not all. I discovered that white wines from the Bordeaux region are very interesting. Elena invited the audience to close their eyes and imagine they are in a garden. The quartet played Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D major and suddenly Zufar’s flute filled the garden with birdsong. It was magical. The second piece paired with the white wine was a Baroque Quartet by J.S. Fasch. This time the music was led by the flute and the strings were like gentle breezes blowing through the imaginary garden.
It was time now to start getting serious. The first red wine was Bastien from the Cotes de Provence. Accompanying this wine were two pieces by A. Piazzolla, Oblivion and Adios Nanino. The music, like the wine, was intense. The finale was a red wine from Bordeaux (Orby) and two tangos; one, Chao Paris by Piazzolla, and Pur Una Cabeza by Carlos Gardel, probably the most recognizable tango ever.
For my readers in Singapore, I recommend checking out the @Libitum Facebook page for upcoming events.
The cheapest way, short of walking or hitching a ride, to get between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is by coach. Several companies ply this route so choosing which one to use is based largely on how convenient the departure and arrival points are to where you are, and where you want to go.
I used to use a company that departs from a shopping mall 10 minutes on foot from my office. My last trip with my usual bus company ended up taking 8 hours instead of 5. I did get to see a part of Singapore that I had never seen before and I took some photos while waiting for another bus to arrive so that the passengers could be consolidated. This is a smart move, business-wise, for the bus company but it made my normal trip intolerably long.
Unlike long flights on airplanes, there are no meals served, no movies to watch, and no toilets. That is why I changed bus companies. It is not as convenient for me to get to the new departure point (I have to take my luggage on the public transit) but at least once I am on the coach it is only 5 hours travelling time to Kuala Lumpur and a meal of nasi lemak and hot coffee were served on board.
Please note – there are sometimes long delays at the border crossings which are beyond the control of the bus companies.
Before there were blogs, even before there was email, there were postcards! My sister found this one in her desk drawer and I want to share it with all of you. Not only do I love the faces of the mother and baby sloths, but as my sister pointed out, the stamps are cool too!
In case you cannot read my handwriting (and who would blame you?), the postcard states, “Greetings from sunny Costa Rica. I saw one of these sloths yesterday on a 12 mile hike through dense jungle. Thank goodness the Indian guide had a machete! (For the vines – sloths aren’t too dangerous)”
Apparently, I had a sense of humour back in the old days.
Our guide, Mauricio, not only showed us what was on the itinerary for our trek through the Bri Bri Indian reservation he also brought us up to speed on the political situation and took us to his friend’s house in the jungle because he needed to look after the livestock while his friend was in the hospital. Who knew chickens and ducks will eat bananas?
I only wish I had a photo of the intrepid Andrea, crawling across the fallen tree that served as a bridge, on her hands and knees.
p.s. my sister doesn’t live here anymore so it won’t do you any good to visit her hoping to get a glimpse of the original 😉
Tuesday night, I went to the last opening night of Ikkan Gallery in Singapore. This gallery opened in May 2011 and has shown a staggering array of modern and contemporary artists. This last show features teamLab , a group of techno-artists that I was introduced to by Ikkan Sanada several years ago. Although it is their last show at Ikkan Gallery, their presence in Singapore will remain as they now have permanent installations at The Arts Science Museum, The National Museum, and Marina Bay Sands.
I am going to miss attending the gallery openings which not only introduced me to art in its many and varied forms but also to art lovers. The people who attended the openings were as interesting, to me, as the art that they came to appreciate. I am forever grateful to Ikkan and Miho for inviting me to the openings, and allowing me a peek into a fantastical world.
I was bitten by the travel bug at a very early age and for my fourth birthday one of my older sisters gave me a lovely set of matching red and white luggage. As a little kid, I travelled by train and I still enjoy that particular mode of transportation but, let’s face it, train travel is limiting. Air travel made the world more accessible and my first flight was on Air Canada two years after its name had been changed from Trans-Canada Airlines. I had spent the summer of 1967 in Toronto with another of my older sisters and at the end of my vacation she brought me to Toronto International Airport, that’s what Lester B. Pearson International Airport was called back then. I travelled as an unaccompanied minor on the one-hour flight from Toronto to Sudbury. The businessman in the window seat next to me probably took this flight weekly but he kindly pointed out to his overexcited eight year old seat partner how the farm fields looked like a patchwork quilt. Maybe because I was so excited to be flying or maybe because I had drank several glasses of lemonade provided by the flight attendant (they were called stewardesses then), I used the washroom three times on that short flight. In those days, small bars of soap wrapped in white paper bearing the red Air Canada logo were provided and I pocketed one for a souvenir. After my third and final trip to the toilet, I returned to my seat and handing my seat partner a bar of soap said, “I couldn’t help but notice that you hadn’t been to the washroom so I brought you back your souvenir soap”. Now Air Canada Express offers 6 flights daily from Toronto to Sudbury with Tango fares starting at $79 CAD.
There are a host of attractions to enjoy in Sudbury including Science North with IMAX films and the Digital Dome Planetarium, the Big Nickel and the Dynamic Earth museum, the F. Jean MacLeod Butterfly Gallery, and The Art Gallery of Sudbury contained in the old Bell Mansion.
Sudbury has lots of outdoor activities with several golf courses, horseback riding, and many freshwater lakes for swimming, boating and fishing. Lake Ramsey, which we called Ramsey Lake when I was a kid, was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest lake located entirely within the boundaries of a single city. That changed in 2001, not because Ramsey shrunk but because Sudbury’s boundaries grew to include the larger Lake Wanapitei. You can take the Cortina boat tour of Lake Ramsey starting in May or you can stroll along the Jim Gordon Boardwalk which connects Science North to Bell Park. Bell Park did not have the amphitheatre when I was eight years old but it did have a whitewashed wooden bandstand, a snack bar that served French fries with malt vinegar in paper cones, and a beach where I took my first swimming lessons. Now the park hosts the Northern Lights Festival Boréal, the Sudbury Summerfest, annual dragonboat races and the Bell Park Gazebo Concert Series.
Sudbury Downs has offered live harness racing for 38 years with the first race being won by Pink Panther and Jim Wallace on Sunday, June 2nd, 1974. I was a young woman when the racetrack first opened and it was an exciting place to spend time with friends. Races are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays from May to New Year’s Eve and for those who wish to gamble there is Teletheatre wagering available throughout the year and over 350 machines at OLG Slots which is open 24/7.
Sudbury, like me and Air Canada, has changed over the years. It is now a vibrant, modern city and, in keeping with all the technological changes of this new millennium, you can get a Sudbury Visitor Guide on-line.. Enjoy!