Yes I’m back, still alive, still kicking and still blogging. I’m sure you’ve all been waiting rather impatiently for this lengthy post to be published ever since I said I was gonna report about my Kuala Lumpur (KL) trip 2 months ago. I know I’m way, way overdue and I’ve never been away this long unless I say so. Wished I had blogged at the hotel’s business centre back then, so my posts wouldn’t be so lengthy but time was not on my side. A lot of things have happened over the past 2 months, no thanks to my procrastination and laziness most definitely, so here I’m stuffing them all into one mega-sized update for your reading / viewing pleasure. Apologies for this lengthy wait, you’ve been forewarned!!! Since it’s gonna be a very long one, I’ll be splitting the mega update into two parts. As usual, sit tight, have your chips and colas ready and away we go…
Kuala Lumpur Trip
Before I move on, I’d just like to clarify how I’m related to Nadia Mustafar, the actress whose wedding I was invited to attend, as stated in the previous entry. Nadia‘s mother and my mother-in-law are siblings so that means the family ties are strong enough to warrant us a wedding invite. Anyway, Nadia herself took the trouble to come to our wedding in 2005, so it’s only natural that we reciprocated the gesture. It was also a good way to get to know Aida‘s family over there.
Aida‘s uncle, renowned actor and host of the infotainment show “SEKsa“, Jasmani Basri, or Cik Jas as we call him, had planned a trip up to Kuala Lumpur via coach along with other members of Aida‘s matriarchal family. Initially I thought it would be good to join in as I could mingle with Aida‘s cousins, uncles and aunts. However, when I got to know that they were going to Cameron Highlands, I felt that it was going to be a big rush and very little time to shop / gallivant around Kuala Lumpur. So I decided against it and instead made plans to drive up with Aida‘s sis, Kak Rashida and her family, with her husband, Abang Yan being my co-driver.
Thursday, 29 March 2007
Aida and I spent the night (28 March 2007) at my in-laws in Sengkang before we departed the next morning. My parents-in-law were scheduled to leave on Thursday night with the rest of the family via coach, so they helped to look after our daughter in the day. We were supposed to leave at 7:00am, but when you are driving up with kids in tow (i.e. my nephew and niece. Syahindah stayed behind, being looked after by my parents…), you are bound to be delayed by their never-ending whims. And so, we left home at 9:00am but not before stopping over at my parents’ place where we are currently based, to do some last-minute checks on the car with my father.
We exited Singapore at about 10:45am via the 2nd Link with yours truly helming the driver’s seat. This was my first time driving up to KL and so I was quite excited at the prospect. My only fear was being sleepy, the Malaysian drivers’ overzealousness on the roads and the authorities reprimanding us for minor stuff and then demanding money before letting us go. I was quite worried about the tinted windows problem which has been reported lately in the papers. But I printed out a directive from the JPJ website (Malaysia‘s equivalent to our own LTA), which stated clearly Singapore cars are exempted from the rules, just in case the police tried to be funny. My father had also warned me against driving above 90km/h, bearing in mind the number of people in the car and the 2 huge luggage bags that we brought with us. But knowing the highway there, it was impossible to drive at that speed. I kept my limit at 120km/h, going up to 130km/h at times.
We stopped for lunch at Ayer Keroh at 1:00pm. This is the only stop that I really like amongst all the rest areas along the North-South Highway as it houses KFC and A&W amongst others. As it is, whenever I’m in Malaysia I always make it a point to go to restaurants not found in Singapore or those that do not have Halal certificates over here, like Kenny Rogers Roasters and Fish & Co. I know some people do visit the latter restaurant here since the idea is that they serve fish and seafood, but a Chinese colleague had informed me that 2-3 dishes have wine in them. Wallahu’alam bissawab. That’s why I play it safe and avoid those restaurants that do not have Halal certification.
Since A&W has since disappeared from Singapore, save for the Root Beer cans and bottles, we decided to have lunch there. Didn’t expect to spend so long there. We only continued our journey at 2:10pm. By then I was already feeling sleepy so Abang Yan took over the wheels. I managed to doze off for about 45 minutes and woke up fresh to guide Abang Yan on which way to go once we passed the Sungei Besi toll. Since my last visit to KL was during the May Day weekend in 2005, I was expecting to see some new things done to the city. I did not have to wait long. The road leading to the city centre, where there is a hangar to your left, has been improved, with a tunnel leading to another part of town which I can’t recall to where it heads to.
The view from my brother-in-law’s room…
We reached our hotel (Hotel Grand Seasons, along Jalan Pahang) at about 4pm, a combination of the city’s traffic jam and heavy rain slowing down our movement. I had bad vibes about the hotel, the minute I stepped onto the lobby. Already we did not get the connecting rooms that we asked for, things were made worse when we found out that there was no cable television (Astro) in our rooms. Things went from bad to worse when some of the lights in the room did not work and to iron our clothes, we had to go all the way to the lift lobby where there was an ironing board and iron connected to the wall. To top it off, the room and toilet was infested with baby cockroaches. Mind you, our room was only halfway up on the 17th floor and things were already so bad. So you guys have been warned, never stay at anything less than a 5-star hotel when you are in KL. The only respite was the majestic view of the city centre as you can see from the video clip below.
As you can see, to the right is the 2nd tallest building in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers. The Minangkabau-like rooftop building to the left is the Istana Budaya, Malaysia‘s answer to our Esplanade. And that Ferris Wheel which I zoomed to have a better view, is the city’s latest attraction, the “Eye On Malaysia“. Had I stayed at the hotel on New Year’s Eve, I would have gotten an excellent view of the fireworks display they had there. At the extreme left of the clip, had the sky been clearer, we could have caught a glimpse of Genting Highlands. We managed to see it afterwards and at night.
The Hotel Grand Season‘s swimming pool and jacuzzi…
We rested till after Maghrib, then we set off to Ampang Point. During the rest period, I had tried in vain to locate Ampang Point in the map of the book that my brother-in-law had bought yonks ago. No wonder, cos when I looked at the version, it was in 2002. I know my way around KL having spent hours walking around the area in years past but this Ampang area was out of my venture. Thank god, it pays to know people who are natives of KL cos you can always count on them to guide you if you are at a loss. In my case, most of my contacts are those in the entertainment industry. So I contacted Edry of KRU and he was kind enough to direct me on how to get there as well as the landmarks to look out for.
Ok you must be wondering why of all places I was going to Ampang Point. Well I was answering an invitation to sample the delicacies at Linda Onn‘s “My Mom’s Chicken Rice” restaurant by none other than Linda‘s father himself. Remember in the entry I did about my Umrah experience last year I had mentioned meeting him at Masjidil Haram and he had invited me over to the restaurant??? He told me he was normally at the Ampang Point outlet so that was the reason why we went there, so that we could meet him in case he was there. The restaurant is actually outside Ampang Point, along a row of shophouses. I was kinda disappointed to know Linda‘s father was not around, after asking the staff of his whereabouts.
The view outside the chicken rice shop…
Nonetheless, the menu at the restaurant was to die for. I’ve never liked to eat chicken rice on a regular basis here in Singapore, especially when I eat outside. The reasons were because of the sour taste of the sambal, the less-than-juicy chicken parts and the soup that is more watery than being thick. After sampling the chicken rice here, my perceptions clearly changed. All those negative pointers that turned me off from eating it here in Singapore were dispelled. The sambal is hot and sweet, the chicken parts were juicy and the soup was to die for!!! It had taste, it had flavour, which of course increased the fervour to have more. And the taste of the rice was just so right. I strongly recommend you guys to sample this restaurant whenever you are in KL. They have other outlets at Bukit Bintang and Tesco Ampang.
As I was enjoying my meal, I realised a teenage boy at the next table standing and staring at me. When I looked at him, he said, “Eh, macam pernah nampak tapi kat mana eh??? (I’ve seen you somewhere but where did we meet???)” After staring at his face, it dawned on me that he was Linda‘s nephew and I had also met him at Masjidil Haram back then. So I told him where we met and then I went up to make small talk with him. He said his grandfather was resting at home when I enquired of his whereabouts.
A miracle he still remembered this ugly face of mine. Stupid me didn’t even ask for his name. Hahahaha… We went back to the hotel to rest for the night after dinner. Well not exactly, since we treated this as our first real honeymoon and having a room to ourselves as compared to the Umrah experience where we shared a room with my in-laws. Ok I guess I won’t add anymore details as the rest are too censored for a family-entertainment blog like mine… 😛
Friday 30 March 2007
One of the reasons I looked forward to the trip was the fact that I could enjoy the breakfast buffet at the hotel’s restaurant. After first working out at the gym with my brother-in-law, we all went down for breakfast. By then it was almost 10:00am and the breakfast ended at 10:30am daily. Being a 4-star hotel, the menu was quite limited and it’s the same every day (Nasi Lemak, French Toast, fried noodles, pastries amongst others). The fruit juices were pathetic and tasted more like cordial drinks. When I asked for scrambled eggs, they gave me omelette instead. Man, I wonder if they know the difference between poached and boiled as well.
We left for Sunway Lagoon close to noon. We realised when we were at the hotel lobby that there were a lot of Middle-Eastern looking tourists. Felt as though we were in the Middle-East. We reached Sunway Lagoon at about 12:30pm. I was quite amazed the journey was quite fast since the Malaysian Government has done well to build a lot of highways linking the towns to the city centre. In the past, there was only one major highway (Federal Highway / Lebuhraya Persekutuan), which of course resulted in massive traffic jams during peak hours but now there are other alternatives.
After Friday prayers (the mosque was opposite the Sunway Pyramid Shopping Centre), we sampled the water slides at the Sunway Lagoon. Ever since our very own Fantasy Island closed down, our country has been devoid of such water-themed parks. If you guys say, “But what about the ones at Jurong East and Choa Chu Kang???“, I would retort and say I never regard them as water-themed parks. Anyway, we wanted my niece and nephew to enjoy themselves. When you have kids with you, definitely you want to keep them entertained. At the same time, we adults could relive our childhood all over again.
I was surprised there were quite a lot of Middle-Eastern people at Sunway Lagoon and the ladies were certainly letting their hair down with their skimpy bikinis. I mean, can they really wear like that back home??? I doubt so and I even caught some of the lifeguards ogling them. Can’t blame them cos these ladies looked exotic and having shapely figures with ample flesh at the right places.
I was actually more happy for my wife cos finally she’s managed to slide down on the water slides. Knowing our strict rules when it comes to entering the swimming pool or at Fantasy Island in the past, it’s always a disadvantage for the Muslimahs in hijab to equally enjoy them like the rest of us. Since we were in a Muslim country, it was easier for people like her to get up on the slides and experience the adrenaline rush when going down. I think everyone enjoyed themselves there.
We did a spot of window shopping at Sunway Pyramid and bought food (our belated lunch) to eat along the way home. The original plan was to get back to the hotel and leave again for KLCC after Maghrib. But we were caught in a massive traffic jam near Mid-Valley Mega Mall. For your information, this area is always experiencing jams during peak hours so you have been warned the next time you want to pass this route. Speaking of Mid-Valley Mega Mall, I have always yearned to come to this place since yonks ago, but I have never had the time to venture. And this recent KL trip only served to prolong the wait…
Since we were held up along the way, we decided to head to KLCC straightaway. As I had mentioned how amazed I was at the number of highways linking the towns to the city centre, I was even more amazed by the growing number of highways within the city centre. One such highway led all the way into the KLCC carpark. My brother-in-law remarked that he felt as though we were in the Batmobile returning to the Batcave, cos the route reminded him of how Batman returns to his hideout via the secret highway linking the town to his Batcave.
We reached KLCC close to 8:00pm. Did nothing except to window shop cos a lot of things there were bloody expensive. No wonder KL natives prefer to come to Singapore and shop. I noticed quite a few notable changes there like how finally they have a McDonald’s outlet and the A&W restaurant had gone through a makeover. And as per previous visits to KLCC where I used to bump into celebrities like Ezlynn, Zizie Ezzete, Tun Dr. Mahathir amongst others, this time we met the Zain siblings, Anuar and Ziana doing a spot of shopping with their (I presume) manager. We were in two minds, whether to take photographs with them or not, but in the end decided not to cos Anuar was unshaven and kinda sloppy (by standards) and Ziana looked tired. So we tried to respect their privacy and didn’t even go up to them. We retreated back to the hotel at about 10:00pm. By then I was suffering from a bad cold…
Saturday 31 April 2007
We were supposed to bring the kids down to the hotel’s swimming pool for a swim before breakfast but the cold kept me away. After breakfast, we went out again without the car this time. We took the LRT down to Imbi from Chow Kit, which was near our hotel. The Imbi station is quite popular, especially to those who wanna go to the Berjaya Times Square shopping mall. Opened in late 2005, this place is a one-stop centre for entertainment and shopping. What do you expect when you have a theme park, cinema, shopping centre, restaurants, retail outlets all under one roof??? As people would say, one day is not enough to finish everything but we actually did within 5 hours. Even then we did not sample the rides at the theme park as I was too afraid of heights when I saw the roller-coaster going as high up as the 12th floor (which was approximately equivalent to the height of 20 floors of a HDB flat)!
I noticed something weird / fishy / mind-boggling when I was taking a rest on one of the benches in the shopping complex. As the bench I was sitting on was big enough for 6 people to sit on it (3 facing either side), there was a couple seated to my right. I noticed that they were concentrating on the guy’s handphone and the girl was giggling away. Being inquisitive (I’m stopping short of saying I’m a busybody here…), I took a sly peek at what was so interesting on the handphone screen. My eyes nearly popped out when I saw that they were viewing a video clip in the same mould as the now-famous “Papa Jahat” video. And they were brave enough to view it in the open!!! I was too stunned for words and quickly left the bench. It’s a bit saddening to see them viewing something like that in public and with the girl in Hijab, it makes it all even worse. To think I was in a Muslim country. I just feel Singaporean girls, esp those clad in Hijab, are much better and more aware of their responsibilities wearing it. I just feel that over there, wearing a Hijab is more of culture than religious responsibilities…
We then made our way to Bukit Bintang, which was an LRT stop away. It rained cats and dogs the moment we stepped out of the station. Fortunately there was an overhead bridge linking the LRT station to Sungei Wang Plaza and Lot 10, which are on opposite sides of the road. I was so looking forward to eating at Fish & Co, situated at Lot 10. But I was badly disappointed by the fact that it has been replaced by some posh Chinese restaurant. So, the other substitute was to eat at the shopping complex’s basement foodcourt.
Once we finished our belated lunch, we made our way to Sungei Wang Plaza. Abang Yan and me were looking out for shops selling games and I was busy enquiring the prices of Playstation 3. It’s cheaper over there. Here in Singapore, it is selling at $799. If we convert back the price they are selling it there, I would be saving almost $100!!! In the end, I did not buy it cos if it needs to be repaired in future, don’t tell me I need to travel all the way up to KL to get it fixed!!! Again we did nothing except to window shop.
By Maghrib, my legs were aching to no end. I decided to go back to the hotel via cab but as you know over there, getting a taxi driver who does not follow the meter and just quote exhorbitant prices are a dime a dozen. They wanted to charge us RM15 but I said no. But God is fair. There was a driver who followed the meter and when we reached the hotel, the fair was only RM6.20. For his honesty in carrying out his job, I gave him RM13. Aida said it was a bit too much but I told her, I don’t mind paying a bit more for honesty cos he deserved it. If he was God-sent to us, then I hoped we were God-sent to him. Bless that driver…
After bathing and saying my prayers, I decided to walk around the hotel, just to see if their pubs were showing live Premiership football on television since the dumb hotel does not have cable television in our rooms. I was lucky, the moment I stepped out from the lift, I was greeted by a familiar roar only heard when one watches football on TV. They were indeed showing it at the Kasbah, the name of the pub situated on the 1st floor. So I went up excitedly and told my brother-in-law, and we agreed to meet at the pub at 10:00pm. As there was still an hour to go, I decided to take a short nap to rest my tired legs after the long walk I did in the day.
I was surprised to see the pub had no visitors when I came later on, save for the staff and the bartender. I ordered Coke, which was RM9.50 by the way, and Abang Yan did likewise. The staff then beckoned us to their lounge to watch the match between Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers as the seats were lush and more comfortable. The only downside was the television set was small, but to us, it was better than nothing. Beggars can’t be choosers as the saying goes. We of course enjoyed the game since United ran out 4-1 winners. We also entertained ourselves during halftime by playing dart at the lounge. Though the pub was dead, we tried to liven it up with our whoops and cheers. We turned in for the night once the match ended. The rest of the family members who were supposed to come by coach, reached and checked-into the hotel slightly before 10:00pm but I did not go over to see them.
Sunday 1 April 2007
My daughter turned 4 months and we were not there to be with her. We were missing her a hell lot, watching clips of her on my handphone every now and then. We checked out close to 12 noon and made our way to Shah Alam. There, we checked into the Grand Blue Wave Hotel, which was facing Wisma Perbadanan Kemajuan Pertanian Selangor (PKPS), the venue of the wedding of Nadia and Hazil. When we were doing the necessary stuff at the check-in counter, the bride coincidentally called in and reserved a room at the hotel. The receptionist told us that she was going to put the bride’s room next to us. I grinned at Aida and said that we would be able to hear some noisy sounds later on in the night coming from their room.
Plaza Alam Sentral…
I tell you, going from a 4-star to a 5-star rated hotel is like comparing it to the skies and the ground. This hotel is a fine example of what a hotel should be all about, polite and affable staff, clean, posh, having internet connection in the room, lights and aircon having a main central switch and switched on with just a touch on one of the buttons, cable TV and even a switch to indicate whether we want our room to be made up or not to disturb us, replacing the normal signs we normally hang outside on the door handles. To top it all, a room facing the majestic Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque. I’ve always been intrigued by the beauty of this mosque. Even when I prayed there in the past, I remembered being in awe of the ceiling and half-wondered what would happen if it falls on my head. The mosque was so near that one could rely on it to give us a morning wake up call during Subuh.
The view from the hotel room…
Since the room wasn’t made up yet (cos we only reserved the rooms just before we left KL), we went out to have lunch at Plaza Alam Sentral, which was a 10-minutes walk away from the hotel. We had lunch at Kenny Rogers Roasters. After lunch, we did a bit of shopping, with me buying games for my Playstation 2. I still didn’t find enough conviction to buy anything else since I feel the prices over here are still much cheaper. We were back at the hotel by 5:00pm, but not before meeting the bride and her entourage waiting by the lift lobby since their rooms were being made up. Her entourage included Sharifah Shahirah, the pretty actress who used to be married to Jatt Ali, the 70s / 80s singer from the famous group Black Dog Bone. Abang Yan and I decided to bring the kids out to swim at the hotel’s swimming pool. Actually I wanted to workout at the gym but the equipment were quite sucky and I wasn’t in the mood anyway, so I swam about 80 laps (the pool was 25m in length) just to burn away the number of calories I’m supposed to lose in a day. The water was icy cold and I took pity on my nephew and niece, as they were shivering when they came out from the pool.
Wisma MBSA: The Anugerah Juara Lagu in 2000 was held here…
It was a mad rush getting ready for the wedding. We had bought new clothes for the event, with a Bollywood theme to it. As the venue was opposite our hotel, we took our own sweet time to get ready. Anyway, since the bride and groom were next door, we knew what time to leave the room. We left close to 8:30pm. When we reached the event venue, the bride’s family greeted us at the door. After the customary greetings with Aida‘s relatives (the Singapore entourage took up about 5 tables), we sat down at our table. It was here that my eyes worked overtime and scanned the ballroom to see which celebrities were invited. It was basically a who’s who in the acting industry – Watie, Hana, Linda & Fiza from Elite fame, Rosyam Nor, Jalalludin Hassan, Ezlynn, Fahrin Ahmad, Linda Onn, Danny X-Factor, Fasha Sandha, Serina (Chef Wan‘s daughter), Fiz Fairuz etc.
I wasn’t paying much attention to the events that unfolded as I was busy planning who to take photographs with. It’s not often you share the same reception as many big names. I was disappointed that Serina left quite early. Didn’t realise it was her till she walked out of the ballroom. I had a lovely time chatting with Linda Onn. I might have been less than impressed with her during last year’s APM 2006 but actually I’ve always admired her hosting talents. Told her how I met her father at Masjidil Haram and enjoying the delicacies at her restaurant. She’s very amiable and had no airs about her. She said that she’ll be going Umrah again towards the end of May and to pray that everything goes well for her and family. Even her partner Fahrin is a suave chap. He looks like the cocky and arrogant type but actually he’s a shy person and quite embarrassed with popularity from my observation. They both make a great couple, down-to-earth, humble and no airs whatsoever. The media should respect their privacy rather than speculate if they are together or not. Since then, I’ve been a regular listener of Linda‘s evening slot on Radio ERA…
Well if meeting Linda Onn and most of the artistes were nice experiences to savour, the same could not be said of one particular actress whose star is rising every single day. Over the past 2 years, we’ve seen Fasha Sandha taking the lead actress roles in many movies and definitely this has led to her stock rising, what with the numerous popular actress awards that she received in the various awards shows in Malaysia. You would expect one so popular to be obliging and sincere towards her fans but that was not what I saw that night. Yes, she did take photographs with the other guests but I caught her making unhappy faces at them behind their backs. This is the difference between being genuine and fake. You don’t get this from someone like Siti Nurhaliza, no matter how high her status is or no matter how tired she is after a show. From liking Fasha before this, I lost my respect for her as a person and performer, and I dunno how many people caught her making faces that night. Even her manager was tightfisted and prevented me from taking a photograph with her. As you can see from the photo I took with her, I wasn’t looking too pleased, what with her manager pulling her away.
Click here to view the photographs taken with some of the guests.
The event was something you expect of a wedding dinner event. Aida and I agreed that even with the star-studded guest list, it was never going to match the entertainment-by-the-minute we had during our own wedding dinner. Ok maybe we’re in denial or we’re overly biased towards our own affair, but truth be told, people still say our event was extraordinary and something they’ve never experienced before for those who came. Plus we didn’t need to engage transvestite dancers to entertain the guests. I noticed quite a few blushes and embarrassed faces whenever these dancers performed their stuff that night. But that’s not to say we did not enjoy the event. I personally did and I thought it was well executed with the number of people invited and having to entertain them all.
By 11:30pm, the event was over. I had half the mind to scoot towards Stadium Malawati nearby where a tribute concert to Sudirman was being held. Performances by my personal favourites Siti Nurhaliza and Liza Hanim amongst others, were enticing enough but as it was running late, I was afraid the concert was over. Anyway, since it rained earlier in the day, I was also fearful of the ground being muddy and dirty. So I had to make do with having another round of honeymooning back at the hotel *grins*…
I woke up the next day with a massive headache and a strained neck. Don’t ask me what I did the previous night. All I can say is, if you’re not accustomed to a certain type of position that strains your muscles, then don’t do it!!! I switched on the TV and was impressed that one of the channels (8TV) was showing live feeds from Hot FM‘s studio. (90.1FM) by the way, has taken over Radio ERA as the premier radio station in Malaysia. This was justified when the Persatuan Akademi Industri Muzik picked them as the official radio station for this year’s Anugerah Industri Muzik. Interesting to see what the DJs do when they are not speaking to the listeners. It’s a riot seeing their antics.
The buttons on the main switchboard control the lights and other stuff in the room… Cool huh???
The AM crew of Hot FM live on 8TV…
After a good round of high-class breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, we checked out and headed for home. Contrary to driving to KL, driving back was a sleepy affair. And since my head was spinning, I was trying hard to keep myself awake. But I persevered till Ayer Keroh and then Abang Yan took over the wheels till we reached Holiday Plaza in Johor Bahru. There, we took a breather and of course did a spot of shopping of our own. I think for those who are familiar with the place, you know what things we shopped for. After topping up our petrol and washing the car (so cheap, only RM8), we headed for home.
We faced another problem when we got home. Syahindah was apparently sad and angry that we left her for a good 5 days at home. Even though she was fine when my parents looked after her, the moment we reached back, she cried when she saw our faces. Subsequently for the next 24 hours or so, she cried whenever she saw my face. Sleeping with her was a no-no. Even when she appeared to have cooled down, the moment we mentioned the word “KL” to her, she’ll burst into tears as though someone had hit her. Alhamdulillah she didn’t bear her “grudge” for long. By the third day, she was smiling and laughing jovially again. But we learnt a lesson. Never to leave her for so long again.
I promised Nurul I’ll post this entry soon but it’s not to be, but here it is sis. Better late than never.
I was really looking forward to this event for the sole reason I could meet my old friend Liza Hanim and introduce my daughter to her. As some of you older readers of my blog could remember, the last time I met Liza was when she came over to my place a day after our wedding with her family, as she could not attend our wedding dinner due to family commitments. Since my daughter was also born on the same day as her daughter Marsya Qistina, I thought the bond we had was even more special. But there was one big problem. Liza lost her handphone and my number and when she got a new one, she changed her number and I was left with no other contacts to get to her. Coupled with the fact that she changed her management, it all adds up to being a no-go on contacting / meeting her.
AhliFiqir performing “Merdeka Minda“…
Fortunately through the kind help of sis Diah and Nurul, I got the message across to Liza and Ummi (Farah‘s mum), who was also my Mak Andam and involved in the show, took the trouble to call me up during the full dress rehearsal a night before the event so I could talk to Liza, when she overheard Nurul‘s conversation with Liza about me. We didn’t talk long, just exchanging pleasantries and stuff before she had to rush off for the rehearsal. So I thought it’s ok, maybe I could meet her during the reception the following night.
Liza Hanim performing “Fly Me To The Moon“…
The show itself was enjoyable, save for a few segments (the dance and musical segments where only the melody was played and no vocal accompaniment) which I felt were there just to take up the time. The 2 hosts (Nurul & Nurul) had a very good chemistry between them and I quite like the exchanging banter between them. The comedy skit was also a riot. Kudos to Abang Keatar and his wife Kak Wan for coming up with the script for the show. I personally enjoyed Faizal Tahir‘s performance, Ahli Fiqir‘s and of course, Liza‘s. I am still not impressed with Eka Mairina‘s vocal range. She can’t seem to sing the low notes without going off key. I thought Fuad Rahman did a credible performance. All in all, I think the show was about 3.5 out of 5.
Faizal with “Maha Karya Cinta“…
Compared to Pesta Perdana 9, it was easier to go into the reception area this time around. Met a few friends and acquaintances in the local entertainment industry and chatted with them over the drinks being served. I wasn’t hungry so chatting up with my old contacts certainly made me full. And surprisingly Huda Ali remembered me and acknowledged from a distance. All these while I was keeping a look out for Liza who I was told was not feeling well that night. Upon meeting Nurul, I thanked her profusely for helping me out to get in touch with Liza, cos really without her help, I think I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to meet or talk to her again. So to Nurul, thank you for being a great help and to sis Diah too for passing the message to Nurul. We didn’t get to meet Liza at the reception even though my cousin Ezaad and wife (who came to the show with us) bumped into her on their way back, since they left the post-event earlier than us.
With Nurul at the reception…
With Faizal Tahir…
Armed with the knowledge that her flight was at 10:00am the next morning, Aida and I brought Syahindah along with us to the airport in the hope of introducing Syahindah to Liza. To cut things short, the little one chose the right time (not!) to puke her milk out when we entered the Terminal 2 carpark and we had to change her first. The time wasted was crucial as we ended up not being able to meet Liza as she had already entered the Departure Gate. We were quite disappointed as Liza herself did not call us to say she’s leaving already. The miscommunication was a major factor in the disappointment we experienced. Dunno when we’re gonna meet or chat again since I still did not get her number.
Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM 2007)
This is one event I have never missed since its inception in 2001. Even when it decided to uproot itself to Kuala Lumpur in 2003, I took a flight out with the wife (then-girlfriend) to savour the event from the comfort of the artistes’ area, as we had complimentary seats thanks to Elfeeza Ul-Haq, who could not make it. As some of you had known, the event this year was almost held in Jakarta. I would have gone there myself if it really happened but of course deep down I wanted it to be held here as I’ve always maintained that this is the product of our own local company and should remain here when Malaysia and Indonesia don’t give a damn about our artistes in their respective award shows.
18 April 2007 was the day of the media conference to announce the final list of nominees for the event. The announcement that the Singapore Indoor Stadium would play host to the event was a great surprise and one that I give both thumbs-up to the organisers. A prestigious event like this deserves a good place to hold it and it doesn’t come much better than the Indoor Stadium, the close proximity between the stage and audience makes it conducive to enjoy the proceedings. Coupled with the arena’s sound system and excellent acoustics, I’m sure certain performances will make the audience’s hairs stand.
Nominations-wise, I guess the usual suspects dominate the list. The Indonesians have traditionally been strong in all aspects and it’s no wonder seeing them having a major slice of the pie, especially in the Best Group Category where all the groups are from Indonesia. As I had prophesised previously and in fact, surpassing my expectations, Imran is the man to watch this year with 7 nominations directly linked to him. If you count the other songs he had a hand in composing like Taufik‘s “Usah Lepaskan” and “Sombong” and Sleeq‘s “Pilihlah Aku“, that increase his number of nominations to 11!!! I’m extremely proud to have seen his rise, from a nobody in our mainstream market to a force to be reckoned with regionally, without the need of any help from reality shows. I definitely share his happiness at being nominated and felt vindicated all the hype and praises I gave him all these while were shared by the regional’s professional juries. All I can only hope for is that he doesn’t end up like Hazrul Nizam who was expected to sweep APM 2004 but ended up with nothing more than a memorable performance of “Kaulah Segalanya“.
Of course, if there are positives to be highlighted, there will be the negative ones sticking out like a sore thumb. How in the world Imran is not given the opportunity to showcase his talent on 8 June 2007 to the regional’s watching audience is beyond me and those who appreciate his presence in the music industry. Compared to Hady Mirza (thanks to Muzika Extravaganza and his reported fling with MTV VJ and actress Fazura) and Taufik Batisah (chalking up his 3rd straight APM appearance this year), Imran is still relatively unknown to the regional audience. He might have made inroads into Malaysia with various shows in KL of late but he’s still a complete stranger to the Indonesian audience. A performance that night would definitely be a breath of fresh air, a great introduction to our next singing sensation, as we’ve seen quite enough of the two Idols on local television and to some extent, Syed Azmir who I feel is only performing due to obvious reasons which I won’t mention in here.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Taufik, Hady or Syed Azmir. I love their music myself. But I would really love to see more local talents being showcased. Heck, I would even clamour for the other Anugerah Boys to be given the opportunity to shine, along with Eiss (Iskandar Ismail), Bhumiband, Norazela Rosli and Sleeq who had quite a few nominations themselves. Isn’t APM an event to introduce our local talents to the region after all??? Contrary to what was announced at the media conference in that our local standards have improved, the opportunity to let more of them showcase their talents is still somewhat limited. Even though I understand that the final list of performers for that night have been finalised, I still hope that some backwards bending could be done so that we can be proud to show that we have artistes who are as good as their regional counterparts.
Being the sucker that I am for this event, I was queueing outside the Joo Chiat branch of Muzika Rekods as early as 9:15am on the morning of 21st April 2007, the day the tickets went on sale. The shop only opened at 10:00am but there was already a lady before me and soon more people joined in the queue. By the time the shop assistant came at 9:40am, we had quite a considerable number of people already waiting. From being the second, I suddenly found myself to be the first person in the queue when the lady before me suddenly left. We were temporarily disappointed when we were told that the tickets were only going on sale at 11:00am but due to the rising number of people queueing up, good sense prevailed. I got front row tickets to the right of the stage, which was near enough for me. Couldn’t have felt happier with what I had in hand…
To be continued…