Our last day in Kuala Lumpur (KL) was very full. We had a 6:30AM call time so that we could be on a morning news and talk program that airs on the largest TV station in KL. We followed that with a great radio interview (which I will post when it’s shared with me. The questions were super in-depth, and on a range of subjects I’m rarely asked about). There’s been a lot going on in the news here. The main story is that there has been some terrible flooding in parts of Malaysia. Please keep the people here in your thoughts and prayers.
In between events, our new fr
iend Hisham (our public relations aficionado from the U.S. Embassy) took us out for breakfast. I’d yet to try a local, specialty beverage that I’d been researching called Teh Tarik, or “pull tea”- a hot tea drink that is prepared by pouring the tea back and forth from a large distance to cool it to the perfect temperature before pouring it over sweet, condensed milk. It was phenomenal! To give you an idea of the timeframe here… I had this first teh tarik drink before noon on Wednesday, and had another two teh tarik beverages before we left for Johor Bahru (JB) at 8:55 the next morning.
We didn’t have a free day to explore in KL, BUT we were able to make a brief stop at the base of the world-famous Petronas Towers. We were all in awe of the enormous structures, and snapped a quick photo.
On Thursday, we flew out of KL early in the morning. The call time was 6:00AM in the hotel lobby, where we met a van that took us to Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah airport, we flew to JB, met our van (and our driver/local expert, Jai), and went to our first gig. Between the early start, hunger, travel fatigue, and a bit of a bumpy car ride, I was not feeling 100% at the start of our first performance of the day at the Malaysian Arts School of Johor… But the students were SO excited. They really gave me a second wind. As we arrived they were waving at me and calling my name from different spots in the distance around the school campus. At the concert, they were electric! Truly. I’ve never seen anything quite like the appreciation they had… and maybe few bands have since the Beatles circa 1964.
We stayed, signed autographs, made some new friends, and then had a lunch break. Jai took us to a local Indian restaurant. I ordered briyani rice with curry beef and mutton, AND my first soda abroad, a crisp, cool 7UP. It was an open-air place with ceiling fans on full blast, and I devoured my food, and felt much better. I guess it’s true what they say: “Spicy, curry mutton really does cure an ailing stomach.”
In the afternoon, we visited the Spastic Children’s Association of Johor. There was a group of about 30 people who were at our concert waiting for us in the front of the gymnasium-sized space. They had a range of differences and abilities and were so sweet. I went to them before the concert and introduced myself to everyone who’d been waiting.
We were asked to delay the start time because the rain gets so intense here that traffic gets significantly delayed. This meant that when we started the concert, one staggered bus load of students after another continued to filter in until the gymnasium was full, and SO noise-filled during singalongs that the band had a hard time hearing ourselves to keep tempo and pitch. A difficult, yet welcome problem to have as a touring musician, if you ask me.
**It’s important to mention that the U.S. embassy staff in the places we are visiting is so much of what has made this trip great. Thank you especially to Shanon, Allyson, and Hisham for all of your dedication, care, and friendship.**