It’s been a while since the last post. In fact, over five months already. Times have been busy and have eaten my time so efficiently that I simply haven’t had any time to concentrate on this blog. What a pity it is, but it will all change now. The posts will appear again every now and then. I also had to turn off the comments section due to a massive amount of spam comments. I try to open it again with new settings, but if the spam keeps coming I have to close it again. In that case sorry about that, PM me if you want to leave feedback or have something else on mind.
As always, it’s hard to decide where to start. So many good records, so much good music around. Therefore I start with a post that I was thinking about in April. A short look what was happening in certain southeast Asian cities during the spring of 2011. Of course I usually talk about records and music in general, but this time there’s more to come…
First stop Kuala Lumpur
I had no special expectations of this city and it turned out to be a really positive surprise. Almost everything was in order, places were rather tidy and when you knew how to negotiate, even the taxis were very cheap. I definitely got to get there again.
Malaysia seems to be rather rich country (29th largest economy in the world). Commuter trains were from the late 1990s and the monorail was from the 21th century. And everything was working very precisely. The only thing that I didn’t quite catch the first time when I tried to buy train tickets, was the “mesin tikit, mesin tikit” that the guy on the counter was yellin at me. Apparently their official language, Bahasa Malaysia, has a lot of loan words and “mesin tikit” of course meant “ticket machine”. Finally when I got the ticket, I was ready for the adventure - the search for most likely the only record store in Kuala Lumpur area. Rumors told that there is another store about 100 kilometers up north, but that was naturally out of question.
There was our train going to the mall
After some stops with the LRT we got to the mall where the store was supposed to be located. It was a huge 27 storey office complex including a hotel and the headquarters of a local bank. Bottom five levels were reserved for the retail stores and restaurants. We wandered through the floors without finding any traces of records, we found only stores selling boomboxes, old stereo equipment, trendy turntables and a lots of other stuff.
Finally we noticed that there was also a basement floor and there was the record store located. It appears that every weekend they had also a fleamarket on the basement floor so there was more to see. At least three fleamarket sellers had vinyls on their tables but the musical selection wasn’t that wide. Not the exotic stuff I was after, only western rock and pop. The sellers were really kind though.
After the brief browsing on the fleamarket tables I dared to check out the record store. Or it was actually not just a record store, they were selling a lot of other stuff among records. Books, guitars, drums, synthesizers, memorabilia, sheet music, amplifiers, turntables, ghettoblasters, clothes, souvenirs, toys. You name it, they have it. But what was the most important, they had records. A lot of those. In the store I even bumped into a local rock star looking exactly like a Malay version of Slash. I should’ve taken the fan pic with him. Damn.
I literally spent the whole day listening to records that I couldn’t tell what was in them. They had a lot of Chinese stuff from Hong Kong and also stuff from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and India. Seems that there’s a quite strong Indian population in Malaysia and they have pressed a lot of Bollywood soundtracks there. I already had several good ones as Malay pressings but the amount they had was impressing. Not any good ones though. After buying some 20 records I finally took off and headed back to the hotel. There was some sights and attractions to see during the next days so I wasn’t sure if I was able to get back again.
We also checked the nightlife and found one partically interesting looking bar where was supposed to be a house band and all. The name of the house band was really an interesting choice, although I was pretty sure it wasn’t the real deal.
We had bad luck that night, ‘cos the band had a day off and there was only some trance music playing. I really wanted to see what the band was all about. Luckily we found another bar with a band and they were playing Malay covers of some well known rock and funk songs. Nice. On the last whole day I decided to go back to the record store again as the girls were heading to the “girls’ shops” and I wasn’t that interested about that. I talked this and that with Terry, the really nice worker at the store and he told me that there had been another Finn visiting the shop just few weeks earlier. Although I later asked around about it here, the identity of the mysterious fellow countryman remained hidden and was haunting me almost four months until it finally revealed…
With more records in my bag it was time to finally head to the next destination.
Second stop Bali / Gili Air
It was clear that there was no record stores in Bali, so it was time to spend next week relaxing. First stop in Bali was Lovina, nice and quiet little place up north. After Lovina, the next stop would be the island of Gili Air so we needed a transport. This is what we found..
Despite the obvious tempting of the slow ferry, we still decided to take the fast boat and finally got to the Gilis. Gili Air is the second smallest of the three Gili islands located northwest coast of Lombok and it has a population of approximately 2000 people. It’s kind of a small paradise with no cars or motorcycles, limited electricity, clean waters and very friendly locals. And there’s much less tourists than in Gili Trawangan - which is the largest of the Gilis. The nature was also nice…
Last stop in Bali was the city called Sanur located in south-east. There we bumped into a traditional wedding party, although we didn’t dare to crush in. We were just digging the band from the distance. Besides that, there was basically nothing else to see.
Third stop Hong Kong
Last three days were dedicated to the home of kung fu flicks and Bruce Lee. I had done some advance research so the locations of several record stores were in my map. Although the local transportation was working very smoothly, the navigating wasn’t that easy.
The thing is, that in Hong Kong the main interest in music is on classical music. And all the stores were packed with Beethovens, Mozarts, Vivaldis and Sibeliuses. I heard from a local friend that people in Hong Kong have always been interested only in classical. That sounded kinda bad. I still decided to try my luck and look around. I had a list of stores that I got from my friend and I even managed to find one extra spot that he didn’t know. Besides records, almost all the stores were selling other stuff too. Amplifiers, turntables, stereo equipment, instruments, books, souvenirs, etc. Just like in Kuala Lumpur.
At least they knew how to handle the listening spots.
My absolute favorite was the one I visited the last and where I had the least time. It was a weird store in the middle of a shopping street packed with flea market and regular market booths and all kinds of other sellers and hustlers. In the store they had piles after piles of records in a total mess and they also had piles after piles of Harley Davidson shoes. What a weird combination it was. Gladly I managed to find some Korean stuff among some nice Hong Kong soundtracks, so I didn’t have to get back empty handed. Too bad I had so little time to visit there, it really looked promising.
And I still haven’t listened through all the records I bought…
Nam Hong - Kong fu fighting
Nam Hong - Kung fu back again