‘P.Ramlee: Celebrating A Legend’ Musical @ BCCK, Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Show: September 10 2013

P Ramlee is a Malaysian icon. Ever the ladies man, he was also a hero for the macho set with his moustache, dimpled boyish grin and twinkling eyes. He was a megastar akin to George Clooney in his days. From his beginning as a musician in a kampung (village) in Penang, his talents exceeded from composing 360 songs to script writing and directing/ producing 66 movies.

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P Ramlee Banner at BCCK

(My Update: 10 days in the town of Boo, seemed an eternity. Whilst deciphering non-sensical letters letters issued by a local Datuk Pemanca and his daughter whose name totally contradicts her namesake – angry, venomous and NOT happy- had kept me amused, I still need a breather!)

As if the heaven had heard my prayers, I received a text from my friend Sandy, that she had secured a ticket for me to see a P.Ramlee musical in Kuching. This is the first time a professional troupe of artistes had flown in to stage a musical in the outback state of Borneo and I was truly excited to see my first Malay musical.

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Ticket

The concert was scheduled for a 7:30pm start but as usual in the serfdom of Sarawak, there is always a delay to accommodate some self-important VIPs who insist on making an entrance by arriving late. Even though this evening’s performance was sponsored by the State Government of Sarawak to commemorate 50 years of entering the Federation of Malaya together with the state of Sabah to form Malaysia or under the political banner, ‘Sarawak’s 50th Year of Progress in Malaysia‘ – a free event should still start on time, especially with the time costs of over a 1000 eager audiences -young and old – seated and waiting for the show to start! (Sir Elton John never tolerate give sh*t like this! Nor Rolling Stones for that matter! 7:30pm means 7:30pm!)

In the short 2-hour musical, the show chronicles a summary of P.Ramlee’s life romances and career highlights through the use of lightings, props and video clips amid the singing and dancing.

The story begins with P.Ramlee’s early days in Penang wooing a lass called ‘Azizah‘ by penning a song after her. This song became a runaway success for him, giving him the opportunity to work in Singapore to pursue his dreams. In Singapore, he met his first wife, Junaidah. Unfortunately, Junaidah could not handle her husband’s rising fame and decided to leave him. A broken hearted P.Ramlee then met with his second wife, Nurizan who had left the Sultan of Perak for him. During their marriage, he directed his first movie ‘Penarik Beca’ (Tricycle Driver) – a story about forbidden love due to the different family backgrounds. The movie was an instant hit. Naturally, P.Ramlee got engrossed in his work, thus putting a strain on his relationship with his wife. They later divorced. P.Ramlee then met Saloma, his third wife. They remained together until the day he died. The downfall of P.Ramlee’s brilliant career ended with the separation of Singapore from Malaya. As a patriot, P.Ramlee decided to move to Kuala Lumpur. In the final scene, P.Ramlee and Saloma reminisced about their life, singing a meaningful rendition of ‘Air Mata di Kuala Lumpur‘ (Will I be remembered, Sally?) which reflected his life and his worries that he will be forgotten.

I gather from the karaoke-style singing that the leading actor and 2 of the 3 lead actresses were not trained singers, but the humorous lyrics and jokes kept the audiences amused. The lead actor is Tony Eusoff, a Sarawakian architect-turned-actor who did a fine portrayal of P.Ramlee with his trademark hands-on-his-side chicken-wing style and speaking with an intonation.

Nonetheless, the success in the musical is not only attributed to the lively singing and joget-style/ à gogo dancings of the actors and actresses but also relied heavily on the change of props. One of the highlight was the steam train puffing with dry-ice rolling onto stage which later split into two to reveal the singing troupe on the train. It was exciting and wowed the audience. Flashing lights provided glitz, glamour and drama to the stage. The trio of paparazzo provided comedic relief as well as to fill in the gaps in background stories, making the story-line even more enthralling.

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Encore!

I should also praise the well-behaved audiences who did not push nor shove their way into the hall through the single 1-door entrance and for not standing up to get a better view of the low stage. Kudos to the best behaved crowds I have ever came across!

All-in-all, a marvellous night out! Thanks Sandy!

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Source: The Star Online

For more pictures, visit the local daily here.

While reading on P. Ramlee, I came upon an article written by Lim Kit Siang titled ‘Broke and Broken – Should P.Ramlee Have Came Back‘. He felt compelled to pen this article after watching P.Ramlee’s documentary in the History Channel. He used P.Ramlee as a case-study for any talented Malaysian contemplating on returning home to Malaysia. A provoking article as always from one of the Opposition Leaders in Malaysia.

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Exhibition corner

Additional resources on P.Ramlee can be found at P Ramlee Cyber Museum and P Ramlee Museum in Kuala Lumpur.

Moon Cakes So Tiny! @ Mandarin Oriental Hotel Kuala Lumpur

I have been a fan of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Kuala Lumpur’s chocolate-shelled moon cakes ever since it was first introduced to KL a number of years ago. I had chanced upon it by accident while staying at the hotel. From that chance encounter, I have remained loyal and will often grab a few boxes if I am in KL around the Mid-Autumn season for gifts and for my own sweet tooth.

However, this year I want to try other more ‘unusual’ creations that Lai Po Heen, the in-house Chinese restaurant of MO has to offer.

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Packaging for individual moon cake

Snow Skin Durian (RM18)
At RM18 a piece, this is the must be the most expensive moon cake I have ever bought – and IT IS TINY! The size of a Chinese chess piece! I am tempted to pop the whole piece into my mouth, but decided to nibble at it instead as to make the experience last longer. It has a strong durian fragrance and tasted durian-ish. However, the filling were not grinded fine enough, thus the rough texture about it. I couldn’t put my finger to the other binding agent until I ate a piece with residual lotus seed. There we have it, durian and lotus seed paste snow skin moon cake .

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Mini Mini Moon Cake!

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Snow Skin Moon Cake with MO’s Signature Fan Embossed

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Yellow Coloured Filling: Snow Skin Durian

The other 2 varieties I bought were MO’s medium-sized moon cakes at RM20 a piece.

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Slightly bigger than the mini…

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MO’ s signature fan is embossed on the moon cake

Chestnut with Melon Seeds ($20)
The paste has a rough texture with pieces of melon seeds. I tasted something caramel-ish, but could not make out any hint of chestnut.

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Brown Coloured Filling: Chestnut with Melon Seeds

Pandanus Essence and Macadamia Nut ($20)
This has a very strong aroma of pandan when cut open. It was otherwise a very bland moon cake. One would not know that it has macadamia nut paste filling unless one reads the packaging. It’s rough and kind of floury. Incidentally, MO uses palm oil which I have no issues with. Quite frankly, the boycott of palm oils in Western countries is ridiculous and simply a propaganda for rape-seed and soybean oil industries which are substitutes for palm oil. Palm oil is healthy oil. Palm trees does not cause any ecological damage to the environment since they do not require replanting annually unlike the rape-seeds and soybeans. The palms’ replanting cycle is 25 years.

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Green Coloured Filling: Pandanus Essence and Macadamia Nut

My verdict? Expensive and not well-made. The fillings have rough/ coarse texture which is disappointing especially when one is expecting the smooth ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ feel that is hallmark of a high-quality moon cake. Perhaps MO should think of purchasing a high-speed Vitamix blender. Moreover, the sizes of the moon cakes are very small which defy the Chinese tradition of cutting the moon cakes into quarters for sharing.

My parting comment is: “Ouch to my wallet!”

The Floating Hornbill – A Rubber Duck Reincarnate?

As they often say, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

A photo of a floating Hornbill on the front page of a local newspaper caught my attention the other day.

Looking familiar?

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Floating UBAH Hornbill against the backdrop of Penang Bridge
Source: http://www.lipstiq.com/2013/07/15/water-ubah-di-air-launches-in-ijm-promenade-penang/

Another floating birdie craze in the making by way of Hong Kong, now arriving Malaysia?

Gosh! (Aint’ Florentijn gonna make a bundle out of his copyrights?  The artist’s page is here if you are so inclined)

The news article explained that this is the RM60,000 “Water UBAH” mascot  funded by the DAP political party supporters and sponsors which went afloat on July 15 in Penang (‘Ubah’ means ‘change’ in Malay).   The PVC rubber UBAH hornbill was completed in two months and inspired by Florentijn Hofman’s giant floating Rubber Duck which went viral worldwide after docking in Hong Kong.  Weighing approximately 250kg, the UBAH hornbill stands half the original Giant Rubber Duck size of 16.5m, at a mere 7.6m tall and 8m wide.

Hang on, the naysayers rightly pointed out, ‘Hornbills can’t swim!’

Why of course!  However, if you step a bit closer, mind the water’s edge,  the hornbill is sun-bathing on a buoy!  Humph!

Let me rewind back to an early post entry of the Giant Rubber Duck in Sydney Festival earlier this year (here).  (And I CANNOT recall the Duck making such a phenomenal splash in Sydney as it did in Hong Kong)

Since I was in Hong Kong in June, I can tell you of the maddening crowds that gathered at Ocean Terminal where it was berthed for a month.  There were scores of people each day competing to take pictures with the Rubber Duck, there were duck memorabilia everywhere and duck merchandises for sale.  Even the property owner of Ocean Terminal, The Wharf Holding’s Ltd (SEHK:0004)  stock price jumped 10%!  This was how crazy Hong Kong was about the Rubber Duck!

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The 16.5-meter-high inflatable sculpture, which made its first public appearance in Hong Kong on May 2, was on showcase at the Ocean Terminal for a month.

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Duck against the backdrop of Victoria Harbour

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Additional Duck Art in front of Ocean Terminal

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Angle taken from Star Ferry

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Duck Promos inside Ocean Terminal Mall

Even restaurants geared up to the Duck’s crazies by creating special duck dishes.  This was my friend’s photo and if you google hard enough, you will find a lot of creative and interesting dishes created especially to celebrate the arrival of the Duck.

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Special Duck Creation

Then rather unceremoniously, it ‘died’.  Rumour had it that it was deflated for maintenance reasons.  Mini discontent ensued since some tourists from the Super-nations had toured to Hong Kong especially to take photos of this now Dead Duck.

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Duck Dying
Source: Flickr

About a week later, the Duck arisen and made everyone happy again.  The said Duck then set sail from Hong Kong on June 8 to an unknown destinations, possibly somewhere in America?

No matter how silly the whole Duck scenario was, it added a touch of light-hearted fun and childhood nostalgia into the lives of the otherwise ordinary mundane lives of people.  Can this Floating UBAH Hornbill in Penang do the same (if not for political change, then creativity in the local arena?)

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Duck Floral Arrangement