Singapore River Hong Bao Fireworks Festival & Breakfast With Imran Ajmain…

Four and a half days of solid, free holiday. I’m sure none of us wanted it to end. In times like these, you just can’t seem to get enough of it, but it is most definitely welcomed by all, even if the major retail outlets were closed. Traditionally, the annual Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays are spent camped out at the beach with my paternal family, as some of you older readers of this blog can recall. This year, none of us were keen on it due to a recent bereavement in the family, as recently as last Tuesday (5th February 2008). My aunt who has been suffering from liver cancer for the past year, finally succumbed to her illness. I looked at it as a blessing in disguise as I for one, have never been keen on this camping out affair due to the tiredness from preparing and packing up. It kinda defeats the purpose of leisure, resting and relaxing, even if the aim was to bring together family members and extended family together. So how did I spend my CNY???

The half day on Wednesday was spent visiting one of my aunts at the hospital. As the hospital is situated next to my work place, it would be disrespectful of me not to visit her, and I did so after I went for my workout at the gym. Initially I had planned to watch the fireworks display at Esplanade Drive at midnight, but somehow I was too tired from the workout earlier in the day and decided to stay home and put up my legs. Syahindah Adawiyah too was showing signs of illness, so it made perfect sense for all of us to stay home and recharged our batteries for the coming two days’ affair. Thursday and Friday were spent at our new home, cleaning up here and there physically and spiritually. 80% of the renovation works have been completed and it won’t be another week till the workers resume after their CNY break. So far, things look pretty good, save for a few shortcomings, which is to be expected of renovations, but nothing too major as compared to what happened when my parents were renovating the current home two and a half years ago.

Singapore River Hong Bao Fireworks Festival


Hardly called a crowd aye???

Us being the suckers for fireworks, would never / try not to miss whenever there was an event, the last being the New Year Countdown at Esplanade Drive. And so, after putting off going to the Singapore River Hong Bao event for the past three nights, Aida and I sans Syahindah, along with my sister-in-law and her family finally went on Friday night after we completed cleaning up the new house. As usual, we parked the car at Maxwell Road and took a bus down to Fullerton Hotel. When we alighted, I was amazed at the crowd, or lack of it for that matter. The roads were practically empty and I for one regretted not parking at One Fullerton. Had I known the size of the crowd would be as such, I wouldn’t have wasted time parking at the usual place. Oh well, it’s some lesson learnt for future events.


A splendid view of the Merlion at night with the Esplanade and Swissotel @ Westin in the background…

When we were at One Fullerton, we continued to be amazed at the number of people there. It was like a normal weekend where people just walk along the mall by the river. We managed to pick a spot facing the construction of the integrated resort (IR) currently being built. A middle-aged man who was standing next to us said that we picked the right spot cos he said the fireworks was going to shoot up from where we were facing and it would be different from the previous night where the firework shells shot up from the direction of Esplanade Drive itself. For regulars of these kind of events, you would know that the firework shells will normally be shot near where the IR is situated.


The people over at the other side were asked to cordon the area before the event started.

Sensing something was not right, I told the rest to stay where they were while I walked towards the statue of the Merlion to see if there was any suitable spot for us to stand or sit. True enough there was!!! So I called them to come over and we sat a few metres away from the Merlion. We were so close that when the wind blew, we felt the water droplets raining down on us. Fifteen minutes before the scheduled event started (9.15pm), the police cordoned the viewing area facing the Esplanade on one end and the Merlion on the other. Which brought me to realise that the fireworks were gonna be shot at from the direction of the Esplanade or thereabouts after all. Had we remained where we were initially, we would have been duped by that middle-aged man.


Another stunning shot of the Merlion

True enough at 9:32pm when the first blast was set off, the shells were seen being shot at from Esplanade Drive itself. No wonder the bridge was closed to both the traffic and pedestrians. As with every fireworks festival, Aida and I took the time to spot any new designs, based on the sounds and shapes. There were more flares and pyrotechnics as compared to fireworks, which reminded me of watching wrestling on TV where some of the wrestlers have pyrotechnics accompanying their respective entrances to the ring. Even the fireworks were low-level, which explained why the viewing area was cordoned off as they were too close to where the shells were being fired. Having the Merlion as backdrop only brought out the serenity of it all. By the end of it, my eyes were stung by the smoke emitted and all of us were hit with the burning smell but it was all worth it, especially to my nephew and niece, who were enjoying a rare event for the eyes.

Nothing eventful happened on Saturday besides the fact that we did some window shopping for a new computer table for the new house at Funan Centre and then had a Tahlil ceremony for my late aunt in the evening at Tampines. We were left kinda disappointed as most of the shops were still closed for the CNY holidays. But we still managed to grab some ideas on what kind of table we were going to buy. Oh not forgetting, we brought Syahindah to the doctor in the morning, as her nose was blocked with phlegm and mucus, and she was coughing badly. The doctor had to use an electronic suction pump to suck out the phlegm from her nasal passageway. You can imagine her bawling in the clinic, puking her milk on my jersey afterwards and everyone’s eyes focusing on us. It was kinda embarrassing as I was a complete mess with her vomit but I took it as part and parcel of parenting.


I managed to get a picturesque shot of the OUB building en route to Raffles Place MRT Station after the event had ended…

Breakfast With Imran Ajmain

We woke up nice and early for this abovementioned event yesterday, held at the Costa Sands Pasir Ris Resort. This time we brought Syahindah Adawiyah along, even if the original rules for this event stated clearly that kids below 12 were not allowed. I can’t thank the good people behind the event enough for giving us special dispensation, as weekends have always been a Family Day for us where both sets of our parents are told to rest from looking after the little one. Luckily Syahindah had recovered well enough to tag along.

With kids in tow, you are normally delayed from moving off at your intended time and this was no different. We reached there a good twenty-five minutes late and most of the attendees had started eating. As always, Imran always have a beam in his eyes whenever we meet and it was no different yesterday, even though I sensed a little tiredness in him. He was moving around chatting with the other members of Imtiaz (his fan club members) and so I did not chat with him till slightly later when I saw him standing alone grabbing a bite.


We made small talk and discussed the article about him in Berita Minggu yesterday. I’m sure many of you would want to know how I feel about it, seeing that I am a staunch supporter of Imran and also a long-time fan of the radio station. To tell you the truth, I read the article before going to the breakfast event with mixed feelings. I am on both sides of the fence and I feel very much for him as well as try to understand the radio station’s approach. I feared for him by coming out like that, cos it would mean a career suicide over here and we all know the power of the media when things go awry. Already it is a daunting task to win over the local listeners like what Ahli Fiqir had lamented recently.

At the same time, there could probably be some truths to what was being highlighted from my own personal observations over the past year (which explains partly my angst towards the two Idols). Personally I wondered why new tracks from Imran‘s latest repackaged album which was released late last year have not been introduced as possible new hits whereas songs from the recently released Anugerah Cinta album by the Anugerah 2007 finalists have been introduced almost every other week. I dunno about the rest as only the people in the know, know what is going on.  I dunno about the rest of whatever politics that is going on behind the scenes, as only the people in the know, know what exactly transpired, or happened for that matter.

For the sake of our local industry, I hope there is some reconciliation. I’m quite neutral on this and I do wish that whatever grievances between both parties could be settled somewhat. At the end of the day, we the consumers and listeners, just want to see our local music industry thrive with equal support for all. The artistes need the radio stations to promote them and the stations need the listeners to tune in to them. It is a cycle and relationship that works hand in hand.


Guess who enjoyed herself at the event???

Back to the breakfast event, Imran called everyone into the chalet at about 11am for some briefing regarding his upcoming concert on 27th February at The Chamber – The Arts House @ Old Parliament Building and also took the trouble to introduce to us some songs from his upcoming album which will be due in mid 2008. It felt like being in a classroom with the lecturer sitting with laptop on his lap and delivering his lesson to the students. The concept of the new album is kinda retro-ish from what I listened, but it definitely is a different concept from most mainstream albums released. I will not devulge more on what I already know of the album and I’ll let the man release the album to talk more about it.

Besides the man himself, there was also another star of the event, vying for attention from everyone. No prizes for guessing who. When we came, she was all shy and even wanted to cry when people came over to her. But after awhile and her engine’s all warmed up, she acted like a backup host, walking all around and waving to everyone. Of course, it made the other attendees gushing over how cute she is and they took the opportunity to snap photographs of her whenever she went over to them. During the briefing session, she even disturbed Imran and was extremely inquisitive over the laptop. Wished I had taken a video recording of that.


All in all, it was a very good laidback session, no pandemonium, no hysteria and everyone else was immaculately behaved. It is to be expected of Imran‘s fans who I believe are a mature lot in thinking and not overly excited when they meet their idol. The planning and execution of the event was also commendable, though the weather could have been kinder if it was not so hot and there was more breeze. Kudos to the good people at Work Heart, Play Pause and Beats Society for coming up with this event with a personal touch for the fans. I’m sure there will be more events like these from them in time to come…


I took a recent photograph of my daughter and can’t help but be reminded that I once looked like her when I was about 3-4 years old. Maybe with this photograph, the debate will end as to who she resembles…


Author: Pujangga Malam™

Well-known on RIA 89.7FM as a controversial and sensational critic able to invoke thought-provoking and sometimes, fiery responses from fellow listeners. Have since evolved into a distinguished blogger of reputable claim with takes on the Malay entertainment industry and football-related matters. Brutally honest and believes in only reporting the truth as I see, hear or experience it. Self-styled critic who does not mince his words and is definitely a non-conformist.

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