Friday, January 23, 2009

Penang Island Jazz Festival

For you who are wondering what life in the island of Penang is like, here is an article, which is very well-written, which will give you some clues.

This article is carried in The Star today. Among others, it tells of the author's short trip to Penang from the mainland for a two-night visit to attend the Penang Island Jazz Festival which happened last month. Enjoy the article.

Friday January 23, 2009
Simple fun
Not Today

It is recommended to occasionally put aside life’s concerns and let the good vibes roll.

REMEMBER what having fun was like? Fun, as in leaving your issues behind for a weekend and not worrying about a single thing except answering nature’s call? And eating?

Some of us are so caught up in the rat race that we’ve forgotten how to have fun. Fun, as in, say, going to a concert and getting caught up in a musical adventure.

Music is a hobby of mine, yet, it has been years since I went to a concert. I could blame a number of factors, but I suspect it’s mainly because I’m too lazy. This is unfortunate for my wife, a fan of all sorts of music (I was once dumbstruck to hear her humming a Black Sabbath tune!).

Music festivals? She would love to go, I’d rather stay at home. I’ve adroitly avoided these festivals, despite numerous broad hints over the years.

However, I was cornered into promising to take her for the fifth edition of the Penang Island Jazz Festival last month, and braced myself for what I expected to be a taxing weekend.

At least, to lighten the ordeal, I was offered a new MPV to review that weekend, so along with a couple of friends, we piled into the spacious vehicle and headed up north.

I’m a Penang boy but a prodigal son of sorts, having “migrated” from the island when I was 10. Since then, my trips back “home” have been rare. The last visit more than eight years ago.

Despite the reluctance I showed, I was secretly yearning to see what had changed on the island.

George Town, despite the fresh coat of paint, some new buildings and traffic jams, made me feel as if I had tripped into a time tunnel. I hope it stays this way forever, because that’s the charm of the heritage site. But I digress.

The jazz festival was held at a Batu Ferringhi beach resort, and we carried mats to the grounds there. For about five hours each night, we sat on the grass, basking at times in starlight, at others, under the clouds. I was armed with a camera to catch the action, and was so caught up in the mood that when a friend passed me a bottle of beer, I cheerfully took a swig, forgetting my abstinence from alcohol!

The organisers didn’t allow outside food or drink, but provided a number of stalls in the area cordoned off for the festival. Of course, the prices were high – I shelled out RM10 for a bunch of vegetarian spring rolls and RM5 for a pack of potato wedges. But, in and around town, the food was cheaper and much tastier.

A slight drizzle threatened to spoil our fun for a while, but such was the power of the music and the enthusiasm of the crowd that the elements held off until the next morning!

The music was infectious, the crowd, friendly and the toilet facilities, excellent.

At one point, my wife complain­ed she was uncomfortable sitting on the ground, so I recommended stretching out on the mat. Which she did and promptly fell asleep!

All these brought back memories of when I was a child and my father used to take the family to the Esplanade to watch the fireworks. We’d spread newspaper on the ground, get snacks and gawk at the spectacular display of lights in the skies. When it was over, we went home, our kiddy senses sated and stomachs full.

During those two evenings in Penang, I felt like that child again.

As we Penangites say, Keong Hee Huat Chye ...

Source: The Star...Simple fun

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