July 31, 2008
July 28, 2008
On the street running parallel to the tracks on the north side of Nakano station is this little place called Karma. The interior is a jumble of squashed up mismatching tables, though it probably only seats about eight people in total, and there are various works of art on display among the clutter. It's cosy and laid-back (it might take about ten minutes for the one member of staff to react to you having walked in), but it's not a bad place to go for lunch or afternoon tea and cake.
July 27, 2008
Tucked away on a little side street just off the shoutengai, Kahei is a stylish and friendly little izakaya, with a nice selection of food and drink at fairly reasonable prices. Tonight I had a bit of sashimi, some kuro buta kakuni (simmered pork),parmesan risotto and salad, which all went down rather well. I really should come here a bit more often.
As in previous years, there was a Indonesian-style gamelan performance, with both music and dance. Apparently the group have been performing at this event for over twenty years. Part way through their first set, it started to rain a bit, though it wasn't heavy enough to ruin the event.
July 22, 2008
Cox does well in recreating mid-nineteenth century London with sketches of all different levels of society, from sprawling country estates to dingy opium dens in the capital. In true nineteenth century mystery style, the drama unfolds one episode at a time and the tension gradually builds as the story progresses. Having said that, however, I found that as the story progressed I was able to successfully anticipate the next turn the story would take, and I felt that the 'big twist' was no great surprise. Nevertheless on the whole, I have to say that I enjoyed the book and it is a creditable first novel.
July 21, 2008
July 20, 2008
As well as performing on the main stage, each eisa group takes part in a procession, dancing up and down the pedestrianised streets that run north of Nakano Station, and there are judging stations and at the end of the festival the grand prix is awarded to the best group.
Peculiar Times - Shawn Lee
Witness - The New Mastersounds
Invisible - Baby Charles
1958 - Skalpel
Monkey Mush Down - Naruyoshi Kikuchi Dub Sextet
Amalgam - Fascinated Session
The Panther - Dexter Gordon
Snafu - Yusef Lateef
Just For A Day (Sunday) - TM Juke
July 15, 2008
Not far from the expensive malls on Bukit Bintang is this building, which, as far as I understand used to be the main KL prison before the city expanded. It's now used by the police.
Very clear message on Malaysia's policy towards traffickers.
Coffee shop in Chinatown
July 14, 2008
At around midday, I took a combination of the monorail and LRT as far as Masjid Jamek, where there is a very impressive looking mosque, which was apparently designed by a British architect some one hundred years ago.
From there it is a short walk to reach what is referred to as Chinatown, where some of the old shophouses and colonial-era buildings are still standing despite the relentless pace of development in KL.
Of course, I ended up popping into Central Market, which like Covent Garden, was formerly a produce market that now mainly caters for tourists. It contains dozens of shops selling different trinkets, souvenirs and antiques, with the prices and quality of goods varying enormously. There were shops selling exactly the same 'ethnic' knick-knacks you find in Thailand and Vietnam, whereas others offered nice batik prints or wood carvings at much higher prices. It was fun to spend a little time wandering around, and there was also the added benefit of a cheap food court, where I had some black pepper chicken claypot for lunch.
Just around the corner, there was a second larger store called Peter Hoe Evolution + Beyond, which also sold furniture and soft furnishings and had its own cafe.
Opposite this store is the Guandi Temple and a little further down the street there is the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, with its huge ornate entrance.
It was starting to rain at this point so I decided to head back the way I had come, stopping off in Central Market on the way for a 30-minute foot massage, which was welcome after all the walking I'd been doing on the trip.
Seeing that this was the last night of the trip, I decided to do things in style a bit in the evening, and, after returning to the hotel to shower, freshen up and change, I headed towards the swanky Starhill Gallery mall. This is a beautifully laid out mall with about five floors of luxury shops that I would never dream of entering, let alone buying anything. However, on the lower ground floor, there is also a wide selection of places to eat. Following recommendations in the Lonely Planet, I opted for a stylish Indian restaurant called Vansh, which, although a little pricier than other places I'd dined at, was not too expensive given the quality of the food and surroundings. The waiting staff were something else. They have all obviously been trained in trying to sell as many dishes as possible ("Just a wafer thin mint, monsieur?" comes to mind), and if I had accepted all of the suggestions, I don't think I would have been able to stand at the end of the meal. Very good food nevertheless.
To round the night off, I had a drink in the swish outdoor cafe/bar Lecka Lecka, though passed on the option of a hookah (shisha).