Sunday, December 18

Mocca Perks Cruise Ambassador 2011

It was a usual schooling day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when I noticed that a contest was being held to find a "Cruise Ambassador" to go on an (almost-fully sponsored) 8D7N Jewels of the Far East cruise for two on the Costa Classica, and cover it "live" with daily updates on Facebook about my experiences! I jumped at the opportunity; this sounded really cool!

As they were searching for the most creative and original answer to what I would do as a Cruise Ambassador, I took some time to craft the following: "As a youthful, 23-year-old mocca perks Cruise Ambassador, I will bring forth the vibrant exuberance of the 8D7N experience of the Costa Classica onto Facebook through live status updates and a daily montage video (highlights of activities) uploaded on Facebook. To include an element of surprise, I will incorporate creative themes like "10 Things You Didn't Know About Cruises" (facts, figures, places), "10 Cruise Crew You Didn't Know Existed" (crew interviews), "10 Delectable Dishes To Try" (for the foodies), and "Top 10 Nautical Escapades" (must-try activities onboard). I believe that the following strengths give me an added advantage as a Cruise Ambassador: 1) my travels around the world (and the region) recorded online on my personal blog; 2) my technical aptitude towards media (background in graphic and video editing); 3) excellent command of the English language with extensive vocabulary knowledge; and 4) frequent user of social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, etc). As a musician in practice, I will bring fresh insights into cruise activities from a creative perspective, connecting effectively and emotionally with both the young and the young at heart." I had a good feeling that this was a decent answer and I stood a good chance of winning, and sure enough, I soon received a call from my Mom in Singapore that Mediacorp (Mocca Perks' parent company) had informed her that I had won!

The following is a recollection of my daily updates as featured on the Mocca Perks website during the period of my 8D7N Jewels of the Far East cruise to Kuantan, Bangkok & Koh Samui (9-16 December 2011), along with selected photos (more photos and videos can be found on my Facebook profile):

Wednesday, November 23

Ambon Jazz Plus Festival 2011

Bono once said, "Music can change the world because it can change people." Indeed, the power and potential of music to enrich lives was apparent, as I experienced first-hand recently. Now in its third year, the Ambon Jazz Plus Festival 2011 brought a renewed sense of hope to the people of Maluku as the event united people of all religions through their shared love of music. With the theme “Hands for Brotherhood,” the three-day event celebrated local and international talent and promoted better relations among the people of the Spice Islands, which recently experienced a spasm of religious conflict. The island’s local musicians were joined by a stellar list of international musicians at this year’s festival, including American jazz guitarist David Becker, French pianist Cedric Hanriot and the Ambonese-Dutch jazz and soul singer Jessica Manuputty.

I was fortunate to be able to perform in this music festival with my band, FVE Project. FVE (Funky Virus Experiment) has the roots of funk, imbued with nuances of fusion and jazz, due to its members' diverse musical backgrounds. Though a fresh entry in the music industry, each band member is no stranger to the music industry both here in Malaysia and Singapore. The members of FVE have participated individually in events including Ambon Jazz Plus Festival 2010 (Indonesia), Borneo Jazz Festival Preview 2011 (Malaysia), and Singapore Street Festival; opened acts for Glenn Fredly, Tompi, and Michael Buble; played in major Malaysian music venues such as No Black Tie, NeroFico, Groove Junction, and KLPAC; and even recorded for the first jazz album launched in Maldives, "Feshun". FVE's latest appearance as a band was at the Music, Arts, Style International Festival (MASiF) 2011 @ KLCC and Studio6's Afrik-Asia Music Fiesta 2011 gospel concert.

Sunshine and a cool tropical breeze greeted me, as I touched down at Ambon's Pattimura International Airport. What struck me first was the island's fertile and mountainous terrain... Though situated in a secluded location in Indonesia (rather close to Timor Leste and Australia), the natural scenery was just breathtaking!

As we roamed and explored the island, the beautiful, laid-back charm of Ambon and the hospitality of its people just made me forget the incessant, urban rush of our modern world...

As I quote from Shakespeare, "If music be the food of love, play on..." The local cuisine, like their music, definitely scored a hit, rendering us helpless in wanting yet another serving of food!

Eventually, it was time to perform, and my band took to the stage, tantalizing the audience with songs like Lettuce's "The Flu", Snarky Puppy's "Skate U", and Spyro Gyra's "Para ti Latino".

My whole experience in Ambon, Indonesia was an eye-opener. This year’s festival was held in Ambon’s central Pattimura Square for the first time, with the hope that the location would help draw more people. The strategy and hard work paid off - the estimated crowd at the event doubled from last year’s festival, with around 8,000 people watching performances over the three days. And how better to round up this post than with a video clip I shot on the introductory night cruise party we were invited to. Here, Ambonese people of all ages and religious backgrounds joined hands to form a circle, before singing “Maluku Tanah Pusaka” (“Maluku, the Sacred Land”), considered to be a cultural anthem for the people of the islands. Peace; brotherhood; equality for all - may these ideals spread out from Ambon, and to all the nations of the world.

Thursday, February 3

Countdown to New Year 2011 - Fireworks @ KLCC

The long-awaited video of the fireworks at Suria KLCC @ Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I counted down to the New Year with college buddies Gang and Javen... enjoy!

Saturday, January 8

December 2010 update

Happy New Year 2011! I realize that I'm super late in updating about December 2010, but life was just too packed and crazily fun to have time to do so... here are the key events:

Dec 1. I had a nice 8-course Chinese lunch with my schoolmates at Pik Wah Restaurant (Jalan Hang Jebat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Sumptuous, filling, and at RM35 per person, it was a steal ;)

Dec 6. Played DoTA with Gang, Nic, and friends at a cybercafe till 2am+... I really suck at it, but I try =) just not the gamer-type, unlike my brother...

Dec 7. After badminton and a game of pool with schoolmates, headed off to meet Singaporean friends Veron and SK, here for a holiday, at Bukit Bintang, where we had Nando's (Sungei Wang Plaza) for dinner...

Dec 10. I was merely kidding, but Javen, Gang, Ryan and I ended up visiting the Zoo Negara in KL anyway. It wasn't too big, and the attractions were mediocre, but I wasn't expecting much (ended up buying lots of souvenirs for folks back home though). Thereafter, it was dinner at KFC and catching the latest Narnia movie...

Dec 11. Had a nice Papa John's Pizza lunch with my Dad before I headed back to Singapore by coach... still managed to "crash" upon Natasha's surprise birthday party at Villa Bali (Gillman Village) on time!

Dec 14. Caught up with my secondary school classmates over badminton and lunch at Subway... hadn't seen some of them for at least 5 years...

Dec 17. Checked out the new NEX shopping centre at Serangoon with Tianshun, and had a chance meeting with campmate Kenneth at Sim Lim Square's nu:box outlet (didn't know he worked there)! Thereafter, polytechnic classmates Yanxi, Jasmine and I showcased our original songs (thanks for singing Jas!) at the MTL Songwriter Showcase at the Library@Esplanade. This is 想要, co-written by Yanxi and I:

Dec 21. TICE Eco Camp reunion at Hippopotamus Restaurant & Grill at Marina Square; the food was rather pricey but the ambience and quality of food was great (so was the free flow of chips =p)!

Dec 24. The SINGAPORE CHRISTMAS EXPERIENCE begins... Met my two schoolmates Javen and Lim, who arrived from KL by coach... we first proceeded to my place for a cosy local steamboat dinner, then went out to take in the sights and sounds of a Christmas countdown at Orchard Road (which included getting "sprayed on" by strangers; all in the name of fun LA!)

Dec 25. Places on our itinerary today included Sim Lim Square (for the best local IT/electronics deals), Bugis Street (inexpensive clothes/food), Iluma shopping centre (with their upside-down Christmas tree decorations), Somerset/Orchard areas (shopping!), Fullerton Hotel (look-see), and the Marina Bay area (Esplanade/the Merlion)...

Dec 26. After a Hong Kong-style lunch at VivoCity, we headed to Sentosa, where the rain did not dampen our spirits to explore the beaches, Southern Most Point of Continental Asia, Sentosa 4D Magix/Cineblast (awesome simulator and 4D rides), Merlion Walk and Resorts World Sentosa (Universal Studios Singapore was sold out until 2011!) The one-of-its-kind "Crane Dance" show at the Waterfront of Resorts World Sentosa ended the night brilliantly with its amazing water, light and sound effects!

Dec 27. After a semi-buffet lunch at Lighthouse Bistro, compliments of my Dad, my Dad and I accompanied my two friends to the Larkin Bus Terminal at Johor Bahru, Malaysia, where they caught a bus back to Kuala Lumpur (KL)... =) what a wonderful holiday it had been!

Dec 28. Met polytechnic buddies Prinsten (lunch over McDonald's) and Tze Lip (dinner and a music jamming session over at my place). I was trying to catch up with as many friends as possible before heading back to KL in the next few days...

Dec 29. Japanese ramen supper with my J-rock bandmates Woon Han, Hui Ming, and Benji at Cuppage Plaza... we didn't have the time to jam once again though! Soon soon soon...

Dec 30. Met polytechnic lecturer Wendy to pass some gifts, did some last-minute shopping at Carrefour and Sim Lim Square, and dropped by the post-Christmas gathering at polytechnic lecturer Simone's... then caught the bus back to KL at 2359 hours...

Dec 31. Counted down to 2011 at Suria KLCC with colllege buddies Javen and Gang, and an amazing display of fireworks!

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful 2011 filled with bountiful blessings, opulent opportunities and mesmerizing moments! Remember: make MUSIC, not war! ;) HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 3

November 2010 update

Somehow I just realized I could Twitter if I'm lazy to write long blog posts... Twitter's like a mini-blog! =.="

6 Nov. Went for a nice local (KL) duck rice brunch with college mates, then checked out the PC Expo @ Mid-Valley MegaMall... offers galore, but there wasn't anything specifically for Mac, so I didn't get anything in the end.. thereafter followed Gang & Javen to T.T.D.I. where they cut hair.. and "zhi char" dinner at Kepong ended the day :)

7 Nov. Cut my own hair for just RM9.90 at E3 Salon @ Genting Klang.. just down the road from my place.. it was cheap and not too bad at all!

Mid-Nov. (well, almost the whole month) Time was largely spent on getting the many assignments done, as well as practising for our practical performance exams and studying for tests. Many thanks to Gang and his family of which I inconvenienced by staying over/studying for those many nights at Gang's... thanks bro!

20 Nov. My ex-Army colleagues from Singapore came up to KL for the weekend... Had a great Saturday with them at Pavilion KL, Bukit Bintang, and Bangsar! Ate so much... Hakka cuisine, beard papa puffs, cheese tarts, mango smoothie, sticky sweets, satay/naan/tandoori chicken, Baskin' Robbins... =) thanks Chiu & Jas and see y'all back in Singapore soon!

21 Nov. Wee hours of the morning, 2-5am. T'was at McDonald's mugging for the impending Malaysian Studies exam with my college mates...

25 Nov. Headed to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in KL with Javen, Gang, and Lim, to watch Lim's piano teacher's lounge gig set for the night (with bassist and saxophonist). Later, we gained deep insights on the workings of the music industry as his teacher shared his experiences and opinions. Cool stuff - it's not a easy road ahead for us musicians, but as long as the flame of our passion's still burning bright, anything's possible! =)

27 Nov. Caught the virtuoso Brazilian guitarist, percussionist, multi-instrumentalist and composer, Celso Machado, at a guitar masterclass at KL's Performing Arts Centre (KL PAC). Really love the ambience and old world charm of the place. The masterclass was great too; especially the insights into the workings of the bossa nova and baiao rhythms... thanks for the invite Joanna! ;)

29 Nov. The final day of my exams and the final Monday of the semester before the holidays. It was practical exams (Private Instruction module) the whole day; I played Debussy's "Reverie", Mandy Moore's "Only Hope" accompanied by the wonderful vocalist Natasha, and the jazz standard "I Should Care" for my classical, pop and jazz pieces respectively. Also helped a couple of other vocalists as accompanist for their pieces and sight reading.

To my college friends: it's been a wonderful first semester knowing you guys, happy holidays everyone and see y'all in January!

To my Singaporean friends: well, it's December already, and I will be heading back to Singapore for a while this holidays... so catch up with you all soon! ;)

Wednesday, November 3

October update

So it's been a fun-filled, exciting October... have been mostly occupied with school work (assignments, performances, tests and the like), but at least I'm doing what I enjoy! Here's a rundown of some key happenings...

3 Oct. Overnight study for exams with friends at my place... we ended up cam-whoring quite a bit!

15-16 Oct. My college, the International College of Music (ICOM) holds two Tribute Series Concerts to ABBA and Queen. Check out the trailer preview here!

18 Oct. Caught an early music concert, "The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres", at the KLCC's concert hall... it was a tasteful visual-aural blend of sights and sounds as I was treated to soothing traditional/classical music along with projected images shot by the Hubble Space Telescope. May I add, the buffet dinner during the intermission was unexpected and sumptuous!

22 Oct. Finally, an evening of SPORTS - indoor badminton! I hadn't played any (officially) since I got here to study... here's a dazed photo shot over dinner at the nearby "pasar malam" (night market) after the game...

29 Oct. GENTING here we come (again)! It had been about a year and a half, and oh my, it was sure good to be up there almost 2km in the clouds again, enjoying the cool mist and fog just sweeping past my face. Although it was only several hours, it was a good de-stress and bonding opportunity with my friends (and their friends), as we made up real silly forfeits over games at Coffee Bean, embarrassing ourselves in public... definitely looking forward to being back up there again!

31 Oct. Marcel's surprise birthday celebration at Pasta Zenmai @ Mid-Valley MegaMall, KL!

This November's the final month of my semester before school closes... so exams and assignments clamour for my time and attention! Take care everyone! Ciao~