Monday, 31 December 2012

Love's Trials 华染状元红

Chinese Opera Society staged Love's Trials at Drama Centre on 30 Dec 2012, featuring Cultural Medalion Lou Mee Wah playing the male lead Ru Feng Sheng 茹凤声, Aw Yeong Peng Mun as the step mother Si Jie and Gary Kong 龚耀祥 as Xia Ziqi.  The opera was directed by Christopher Choo.

The opera was about a scholar Ru who promised to marry a courtesan Hua Yanhang when he finished the scholar examinations.  Ru's sister found out the love affair and caused the breakup of the two.  Nonetheless, all's well that ends well. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Basi (Blessing) Ceremony for new born baby, Laos

While travelling in Laos, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Basi (also spelt Baci or Barsi) ceremony.  Basi is a Laotian ceremony celebrating a special event such as a marriage, a homecoming or a birth.  The ceremony that I attended was the celebration of a new birth, a boy now 4 months old. The ceremony lasts throughout the day. 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Night Market along Mekong River, Vientiane (Laos)

A good option after dinner in Vientiane is to visit the night market, located along the Mekong River.  This has been a new attraction to the city for more than a year.  When I first visited Vientiane in 2010, the whole area was still under construction.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Hotel Khamvongsa, Vientiane, Laos

A friend recommended this boutique Khamvongsa Hotel and  I tried it when I visited Vientiane this time.

The hotel is few minutes walk to the river front, a few streets off the busy streets but still centrally located.  It is within easy walking distance to the restaurants.

Xang Khoo Restaurant, Vientiane, Laos

Read from the travel forum on this restaurant and decided to have dinner on one evening.  The  set dinner had 2 options: main course with pasta or Lao chicken dish.   

Nam Ngum Dam, Laos

About 90 km north of Vientiane is the Nam Ngum Hydropower Plant.  It is 1.5 hours drive from the capital city, and a popular day trip for picnic. Public transport only reached the town centre and you would need private vehicle to come in.

Nam Ngum Dam makes a pleasant trip from Vientiane.  It is good to take in a visit to a hydropower plant as the country is becoming a major exporter of hydroelectricity to the region.  The country calls itself the "Battery of Asean".

We left Vientiane around two pm and arrived at the Dam at half past three.  I would recommend a slightly earlier departure if possible.

On that day, we saw a few groups of people having picnic by the ground.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Moon the Night Restaurant, Vientiane

Moon the Night Restaurant: something is definitely not right with this restaurant name, but the name definitely stuck in our mind.

The restaurant is located along the Mekong River, though the walkway along the river leading to this restaurant was still under construction at point of writing.  It should be ready months ahead.

Playing petanque in Vientiane

I had the opportunity to play petanque with a few Laotians.  Laos is strong in petanque in this region, having won several gold medals at the Southeast Asia (SEA) Games.

The petanque game area is slightly off the city centre.  When we arrived, the area was pretty packed.

Tadxon waterfall, Vientiane

Another good place to visit slightly out of Vientiance is the Tadxon waterfall, about 40 minutes drive from the centre.

While it is called a waterfall, we could not visit it currently as there was construction work being carrying out.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Meeting the Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys, the Musical, is currently playing at the Marina Bay Sands Singapore.   I had the opportunity to speak to the 2 lead cast members recently, and they are: Grant Almirall (Frankie Valli)  and Daniel Buys (Tommy Devito).  The other 2 were Kenneth Meyer (Bob Gaudio) and Emmanuel Castis (Nick Massi).

The cast hails from South Aftica.  So how was the arts scene there?  Well, it was good enough to earn a decent living.  There were not many musicals being staged in South Africa and both had to audition for the roles.  Grant initially auditioned for another role as he felt that his vocal range was not the same as that of Frankie Valli's.  But he eventually got the lead role.

Daniel was just finishing the South African run of Mama Mia! and auditioned for the musical.  He was offered the role of Tommy Devito but the producers were initially sceptical whether he was the right choice.  So while the actors playing the role of Frankie Valli would traditionally go for a "Frankie camp" in New York, Daniel also went along.

Besides familiarised themselves with the role, the few of them had the opportunity to visit the Belmont Tavern in New Jersey, where the bartender had a few tales about Tommy Devitto and the band.  Grant also had a personal session with Bob Gaudio, the key songwriter of The Four Seasons and one of the producers of this musical.

While it looked as if the 4 main cast members were performing effortless on stage, they found certain section of the choreography challenging.  In particular, they singled out the Sherry/ Big Girls Don't Cry/ Walk Lik A Man segment as the most challenging, as they need to remember the moves, sing and also play the instrument.   For Grant, singing like Frankie Valli involved doing lots of vocal exercises.  And as in other Jersey Boys productions, he only did 6 performances (out of 8) a week.  Their favourite tracks included Beggin and Bye Bye Baby.
The cast were busy with the performances and do not have time to explore the city much.  They are bringing the musical back to South Africa, and possibly a tour to Hong Kong in the near future.

For more information:

Friday, 14 December 2012

Anna Grilled Duck, Vientiane

If you are in the area of Singapore or Australia Embassies, out of the central area, a good place to have lunch would be at Anna Grilled Duck.

Sunset along Mekong River

A great thing to do in Vietiane was to stroll along the Chao Anouvong Park or having a drink by the river and catch the sunset.  It is definitely one of the highlights visiting Vientiane.

It is memorable! 

For more pages on Laos:

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Performances at Nam Phu Fountain in the evening

Nam Phu Fountain was the landmark in Vientiane City.  In the evening, the area was converted into a dining area.  Visitors around the area would get to listen to music from the band hired by the restaurant.

The band performed mostly coveres and sang in English.  The standard is good.  Recommend for a drink there.

For more pages on Laos:

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Roadside stall food, Vientiane

When evening falls, the street hawkers will appear, selling various kinds of main meals and snacks at affordable prices.  I came across this gentleman manning a stall.

Friday, 7 December 2012

World Peace Gong, Vientiane

Walking from the Patuxay, past the water fountain and continuing till the end, you will find the World Peace Gong.


It complements the Patuxay as the Patuxay is a war memorial  Let's hope peace will be with this country forever!

For more pages on Laos:

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Climbing the Patuxay, Vientiane

It was on Laos National Day that I visited the Patuxay Monument, which is at the end (or start) of Lang Xang Avenue Surprisingly, there were not many visitors at the monument.    

Monday, 3 December 2012

Theatre Review: Roots, The FInger Players

The production Roots written by Oliver Chong of The Finger Players staged at the Drama Centre Black Box must be one of the most memorable performance in Singapore this year.