Monday, August 27, 2012

Tour Is A Four Letter Word World Tour in KL

There aren't many musicians I'd pay to watch live (friends who are musicians don't count - I believe in supporting friends, and somewhat believe in supporting local performing arts). Sarah Brightman, definitely. Josh Groban, if only he'll come! Jason Mraz. Ah, Jason Mraz - the man who sounds better live than on records. There aren't many like that. 

The concert was on 19th June (Mee Mee's birthday!), and yes, I realise it's almost the end of August now. Mine isn't the most diligently updated blog, I know. Reader, if you want to skip this yesterday's-news post, I'd totally understand.

Still here, Reader? Well, you must remember the time I went for Jason Mraz's concert in 2009 - I went fully resolved not to scream, and came back hoarse from having screamed too hard and too much. Lesson learned. This time, I didn't even bother to try. Goodness knows I need self-control (a lot of it) in many aspects of my life, so no, I don't need it when I'm at a concert, especially not at Jason Mraz's.

I was about an hour early so there was no queue and not too large a crowd when I entered the stadium. I had numbered seats too. I'd cleverly (or so I thought) chosen seats near the aisle thinking I'd get a clearer view of the stage if I didn't have a gazillion rows of people directly in front of me. Theoretically, I know I was right, but practically, I got this -

I tried to talk the ushers into removing the divider gate thingy once the concert begins, but well, they didn't even want to speak to me. I conspired with another concert-goer, who had the seat next to mine, to move it aside ourselves when it got dark and the lights went out. He gleefully agreed. But no, we didn't do it. Part of the reason - the moment Jason got on stage, after waiting a while for the deafening screams to mellow (but no, they didn't, so he shouted right over them... he had the amps, though, so it was fine), greeting everyone and telling how the humidity was making his hair big (it really was pretty big and unruly, and he wasn't wearing his hat... yet), he invited all of us to get on our feet. So, of course we did! I'm not tall, but being on my feet, my view was no longer blocked by the offending gate thingy. Later in the evening, I figured I could actually put it to good use -

I know I'm accident-prone, and was absolutely asking for trouble pulling stunts like that, but I managed it well. Came out unhurt. Must be all the yoga and climbing, eh? *Ahem!*

The concert was more than awesome! I can't, obviously, remember the exact setlist (this'll teach me, to procrastinate this long to write a post), but I remember there wasn't a single instant I wasn't enjoying myself. He performed most of the songs from his latest album, plus a whole bunch of older favourites. Each piece was accompanied by stunning visuals projected as the backdrop of the stage. The crowd was so alive, crazy, and exuding generous amounts positive energy all the way. We cheered. We danced and sang along on cue, and I was very near to tears at the beautiful A Beautiful Mess and Mr Curiosity

(My roomees and I were talking about how we find it hard to cry in front of people, no matter how angry or bitter we feel, but it seems I can always recall moments I get moved to tears - a beautiful song, a wistful tale, a heartbreaking scene, my bestfriend getting married...)

There were songs, other than those from Love Is Four Letter Word, that he didn't perform in his last concert in KL, including Mr Curiosity and Bella Luna. He accompanied himself on the keyboard for Mr Curiosity, saying it was a request so he hadn't practiced. But, it was perfect. Perfect! The concert lasted well over two hours (I think...!) including the several encores.

Pardon the lack of during-the-concert photos, Reader. Unlike some people who wouldn't stop taking photos and/or videos all throughout, I was more focused on enjoying each second. Each millisecond. Microsecond. Nanosecond... although I don't think I can discern a time period smaller than say, a third or fourth of a second... plus, it was really dark. Anyway, I took a shot shortly after he put on his hat, so I'd have something to remember the moment by. 

(That's him, projected on the screen... I don't suppose you can tell the "real" him on the stage at the right)

Oh, it's Monday already. Happy start-work-day, Reader! =)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nyamuk Wall

One of the first things I learned about this place is how its name ("nyamuk" means mosquito in Malay) indicates its regular inhabitants. Literally. There is no direct access, so from where the cars were parked, we had to walk a short distance through a housing area to its edge, where a trail begins. From the start of the trail leading to this climbing spot, it is a short 5-minute hike (about 10, for someone like me, of course). It isn't a clear-path hike, mind you - we had to climb over boulders, zig-zag around impenetrable obstacles, and keep from tripping on tree roots (fine, this last point is applicable only to me). Although the experienced climbers joked about the hike being the warm-up, they seemed hardly worked up at all by it. On the other hand, I got all flushed and was sweating like mad. And that, with a girl climber having helped carry my rope! *major embarrassment*

The rock face here is much higher than the part of Nanyang Wall that we climbed previously. It has but a narrow ledge upon which the climbers and their gear perch, with very little room to walk about to and fro. I don't know how the other climbers do it on 2 legs, but when I had to move about, I did on all fours, plus my butt for additional stability. *ahem* I am so not outdoor-trained.

The site itself is lovely - quiet, secluded, and sufficiently distanced from highways, buildings and other forms of civilisation.

There are quite a number of routes set-up here, the easiest being 5cs. I do not know for sure how high most of them go, but I would estimate they're at least 25 meters on average. This is because the modest 50m rope I brought was only enough to climb about three-quarters of one of the average-length routes.

At first, we were the only ones there, and the climbers jokingly cheered at being able to hog the entire place to ourselves. We put our gear down, and they proceeded to unpack various types of insect repellents. I was handed a can and instructed to spray it all over my legs. Some sprayed the repellent all over their arms as well. Coils were lit and placed at convenient corners all around.

The name of this place isn't a joke. Within no more than ten minutes getting there, I'd had to brush away several nyamuks, eager for a meal, from my arms. Of course, while some fussed a little, no one would actually let those little things get in the way of a good climb. As we got ready to start, more climbers arrived.

While most of the climbers there that day could've completed the 5c and 6a routes, I think, not every one is up to lead. Thankfully, we have Sifu, who, as usual, graciously led several and set them up as top-ropes for the rest of us. Sure, some of the stronger climbers also led every single time. Not me though... I needed the assurance of a safely anchored rope!

There is something inexplicably gratifying and extremely enjoyable climbing such long but none-too-difficult routes. They say it takes endurance, but I hardly felt it. There were plenty of good positions for momentary rests, a soft breeze keeping me cool all the way up and the constant eagerness to find out where and what's the next hold like. Unlike indoor colour-coded routes, every next move is an exploration - even more so for the first-timer. It is, I must say, intoxicating and totally addictive. I now understand why serious climbers all have an addiction problem.

A little while after we'd begun, we heard thunder rumbling at a distance. The climbers insisted it's no more real than hallucinations, and laughed it off. I don't think they find it physically possible to stop unless they actually feel raindrops on their heads and noses. It's great.

So, we climbed on. Against the darkened sky, rolling thunder and stronger winds, we climbed on.

And you know, Reader, it never actually did rain until dinner time, which is usually when they would stop anyway.

I don't know if it is possible to continue climbing after it gets dark, but it must be, for as we were leaving, there were others still climbing. On my clumsy hike down, I got in the way of a lone climber going up. He eyed me for two seconds, then promptly stepped aside to let me stumble past him, (probably) lest I should stumble on him... *yikes*

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


There is this climbing gear store that I've been meaning to visit. Reader, you may remember this post from some months ago. I finally dragged my heavy bottom off my comfy chair last Sunday and got myself there! It is nestled within a neat little commercial area no more than 10 - 15 minutes' drive from some of the favourite climbing spots at Batu Caves... a most befitting location, indeed.

The moment I stepped in, the friendly staff greeted me warmly and offered me a chair. You wonder why? Well, I was half-panting (the shop is on the 3rd floor, but seriously, what kind of climber am I to start losing breath after just 3 flights of stairs? *sigh*) The store is modest in size, but extremely well-stocked. They carry every climbing necessity from the very basic shoes, harnesses etc., to headlamps and even ice axes!

(I only had with me a wimpy compact camera, Reader, so please excuse the quality of the photos)

*pretty pretty pretty*

*new arrival, in a cool black!*

There is something inherently different, special, about a gear shop run by climbers for climbers. At one corner of the amazing little place, there is a bouldering wall. Yes, an actual bouldering wall with crash pads, complete with a 7a+ route marked out!

See? I'm not joking about the 7a+:

I imagine, other than satisfying the climbing addiction of the staff when on staff-duty, the wall gives a huge plus point if a customer looking to buy shoes wants to get a feel of how those shoes would perform on the rocks.

I did not get onto the wall there, but I did try their slackline (in retrospect, I should have tried that crazy 7a+ and see how miserably I'd fail!) Walking on the slackline is supposed to train one's balance, focus and core strength. If one can get on it at all. I couldn't. I tried several times and each time, I wobbled off before I even got completely on. Climbing Sifu tried to help by sitting on the line to stabilize it for me, but even then, I could only manage to stand on it only for fractions of seconds longer before falling off, as usual. It was awfully embarrassing, but Sifu, being the good, professional Sifu he is, didn't laugh at me. :D


Needless to say, there isn't any photo of me on the slackline. I mean, if someone were to attempt to take a shot of me up there, he / she would have to use a super high-speed camera, like those used in Time Warp, considering how extremely momentarily I remained on it!

Visit them virtually at -

Or, physically at -
2-105, Jalan Prima Sg 3/2, Taman Sri Gombak, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Inspiration

More than a decade ago, someone inspired me to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies. It started with an opened cookie jar and an offer to have some. The cookies were so delicious I immediately asked for the recipe - something which I had never done before - and those happened to be the first baked goods I ever made. This someone was my roomee.

She is one of the most creative and talented persons I know, and those qualities applied to baking yield amazing things. I mean, just look at what she did yesterday:

She is my inspiration.

And this post is the inspiration for -

Thank you, roomee, for all the recipes, tips and tricks, photos and the super delicious peach tart you made for us... twice