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Big Bad Wolf 2020 – Malaysia’s Largest Book Sale Goes Online

Since 2009, Malaysian bibliophiles and book hoarders have made their annual pilgrimage to the Big Bad Wolf Sale, which is held every year around Feb/Mac or Nov/Dec and is touted as the largest book sale in the region. The last time I went in 2018, they had over 3 million titles!

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Buang balik #2018

Due to the pandemic, many events have had to be cancelled – so the BBW won’t be held physically this year. They are, however, having an online sale, so you can still shop for books from the comforts of your own home. The sale went live at midnight on Nov 4, and will run until Nov 11 (which is shorter than the usual BBW which usually runs for 2 weeks).

Now, although BBW and BookXCess (BBW’s parent company) has been around for some time, they’ve always been more of a brick-and-mortar business – as evidenced by their bookstores, which are all beautifully designed as ‘lifestyle hubs’ where you can sip on a coffee, work, study, etc. There is of course nothing wrong with this; I personally prefer physical bookstores and the joy of finding an awesome book hidden in a corner shelf , getting to inhale the smell of paper, touch the sleek edges of the page. Hmm.

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The BookXCess store at Tamarind Square, Cyberjaya is the largest bookstore in Malaysia, and it operated 24 hours a day (pre-pandemic)

But we are living in uncertain times, and many businesses have had to accelerate their digital processes and shift to a more online-centric model to cater to shifting consumer needs/demands. BBW’s first online sale will be a test as to how well it’ll be able to cope. So far, there seem to be a lot of teething problems.

Since going live at midnight, many users have complained that the website is inaccessible – probably due to the sheer amount of web traffic which is overloading their servers. When they do get in, some have problems creating an account, while others can’t browse because titles are not showing up on the pages. Still others have said their cart turns up empty after they’ve selected the items they want to purchase, and some users haven’t been able to checkout at all.

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I’m part of a local book group on FB, and these are just some of the frustrated comments:

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Curious, I went to the website myself at around 11AM today. It loaded fine at first…

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But upon trying to register for an account:

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Tried again at 12.40PM and managed to get a form to fill up, but after filling it up and pressing ‘create account’, it cleared my data and requested for me to fill up my details again.

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BBW has at least acknowledged they’re having problems on their page.

Now I’m not trying to be mean here or say that they’re doing a shit job – I’m sure their IT department is working round-the-clock to resolve these issues, and despite how some people have commented that “Oh you should have been prepared knowing that there will be many people surfing your website”, I know Murphy’s Law applies – you can prepare for every possibility in the world, but things that will go wrong will go wrong.

But I also understand the frustration on the consumer’s side – one comment said it took them an hour to register an account, an hour to browse and select their books, and another hour to checkout because they had to keep refreshing the page – a total of four hours. In a digital-savvy world of instant gratification and convenient online shopping, four hours just doesn’t cut it.

That being said, there are also customers like these – which is when you know you’ve done something right with your brand:

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If you do manage to get in, BBW 2020 does have great discounts, up to 90% off on 40,000 titles and with over two million books on sale. They also provide free shipping on orders above RM180. If you’re buying above RM300, you’re entitled to a further 10% discount with the code BBW10% off.

Anyway, I hope they manage to sort things out soon because I do think that they are doing a good thing – which is bringing books to customers. There are also many pros to going online, namely avoiding the crowd of shoppers and the massive traffic jams that are a signature of BBW sales every year.

PS: I initially wanted to browse some of the titles, but perhaps this is for the best seeing as I have a TBR pile from AS FAR BACK AS 2013 LMFAO I HATE MYSELF WHY AM I LIKE THIS LOL.

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These were from 2018. I have only managed to finish the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time wtf. Kill me.

Have you ordered books from the Big Bad Wolf Sale 2020? How was your experience?

Registration of Marriage @ Thean Hou Temple, Kuala Lumpur

For non-Muslim Malaysian couples who wish to get married, there are a few places where you can get your marriage solemnized and registered; namely the National Registration Department, or a church, temple or association where they have an assistant registrar of marriages. In KL, Thean Hou Temple is a popular place for Chinese couples, as it is a beautiful venue that offers plenty of photo opportunities.

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My good friend Helen and her husband Hong initially planned to have their ROM here on May 20 (5/20 sounds like ‘wo ai ni’ / I love you – so it’s a very popular date! ) but due to the pandemic, it had to be postponed to July. Although the temple has reopened to the public, there are new SOPs in place – so be mindful of these when visiting for leisure, or if you’re attending someone’s ROM.

Note: This is a post on my experience attending an ROM as a guest, so I will not be including info on what documents you need / the procedure. Some useful links here and here. 

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Considered one of the most beautiful Chinese temples in KL, Thean Hou is eponymously named after its principal deity, the Heavenly Mother, aka Lady Mazu. Like many Chinese temples in Malaysia, the temple offers a blend of Buddhism, Taoism and cultural elements. Located atop a hill surrounded by lush greenery, the temple also has awesome views of the city and its surroundings, making it a popular tourist attraction.

To ensure health and safety, a canopy has been set up leading into the main building, with a clearly demarcated route – so you enter from one side and exit on another.

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The marriage registration office is located at the basement, where the temple’s food court and souvenir shops are. Before entering the premises, visitors will have to scan their details via QR code, and have their temperatures checked. Visitors are also required to wear face masks.

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The marriage registration office is divided into two sections. The front is a reception area of sorts – the couple gets a number, waits for it to be called, and then goes in to verify their details. Once that’s done, they can then proceed to rooms at the back where the actual solemnisation and signing takes place.

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Since ROMs are formal events, avoid wearing casual clothing like jeans, shorts or T-shirts and slippers.

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In light of the pandemic, only seven people are allowed into the room at any given time (including the couple). Helen had her sis/bro-in-law as witnesses, while Hong brought his parents and I was the +1 guest. So honoured to be part of their special day 🙂

In comparison to my own ROM at JPN (I got a rather chatty Assistant Registrar), Helen and Hong’s ceremony was quick and fuss-free. After signing some documents and exchanging rings, they were formally declared husband and wife in the eyes of the law, and given their marriage certificates. A life of wedded bliss awaits!

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We made our way up to the shrine and the temple’s magnificent courtyard for some photos. It was a Saturday but the temple was quite empty, so observing social distancing was not a problem.

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After the photo taking, the new couple left and I hung around abit more to explore/pray/snap more photos.

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There are new SOPs to observe when entering the prayer hall. Temple volunteers are at hand to control visitor traffic, and there are clear indicators on the ground as to where you’re supposed to go – as much as possible, they want visitors to follow these marks when offering up prayers.

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Vivid painting of a ‘door guard’ – images of fierce general-gods that are meant to protect the temple and keep evil spirits away.

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The principal deity at Thean Hou Temple –  the Mother Goddess. She is flanked by two other goddesses, Goddess of Mercy (Gwanyin) and Waterfront Goddess (Swei Mei). There are deity statues seated at the bottom of the large golden ones, surrounded by tall prayer light towers. Walls are lined with pictures of Bodhisattvas, donated by devotees to accumulate merits (or karma). You can get joss sticks outside by making a small donation.

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One of my favourite architectural fixtures at Thean Hou is the ceiling dome, which is intricately carved with a stunning pattern. The effect is mesmerising.

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Gone are the days of the traditional ‘kau chim‘ (fortune telling) where you shake a bunch of sticks until one falls out and you get a reading from the resident monk or fortune teller. These days, you grab the sticks from a holder, bunch them up and toss them. You get the number from whichever stick is poking out above the rest, then look for the corresponding number from the drawer and get your fortune. Hand sanisiters are placed next to them so you can sanitise before and after.

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You don’t say. 2020 has been a shitty year for a lot of people. ha 

 

Note: Parking can be difficult to find in the area. If you are driving, the temple has a parking lot but a RM5 fee (channeled to the temple as a donation) applies.

 

 

Starbucks Malaysia Launches New Winter Menu – And It’s All About That Tea

It may be summer all year-round in Malaysia, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sip on some cool beverages and imagine we’re somewhere nice and frosty (while we melt in the blazing heat)!

Enter Starbucks’ latest winter offerings – The Pure Matcha series – which is inspired by Japanese tea culture. Made from premium micro-ground matcha sourced from first-harvest green tea leaves grown in Japan, there is an emphasis on preparation of ingredients and balance of flavours, to produce a cup of pure green tea goodness. Expect a subtly sweet aftertaste, fresh green notes and a silky finish – perfect for tea lovers!

Winter Beverages 1

Marrying three distinctive flavours from Japanese cuisine is the Black Sesame Pure Matcha Latte with Taro Foam. Fun, indulgent and colourful, the beverage blends Starbucks pure matcha with a velvety black sesame sauce, topped with a frothy layer of aromatic purple taro foam – for a nutty, earthy and rich flavour explosion.

The Caramel Pure Matcha Chocolate Chip Frappuccino will appeal to fans of kakigori, as it was inspired by the Japanese shaved ice dessert. Pairing matcha with chocolate and caramel, no-sugar green tea powder is blended with milk, bits of chocolatey java chips, before being topped with whipped cream and a decadent drizzle of caramel sauce.

Winter Beverages 2

Another one to try is the Okinawa Brown Sugar Latte, a comforting and indulgent seasonal favourite. A signature of the Okinawa region in Japan, Okinawa brown sugar has a deep and complex flavour that lends a hint of mellow sweetness to Starbucks’ signature espresso. The drink is then topped with an airy milk foam and swirl of brown sugar drizzle.

Coffee lovers are not left out, as the brand’s latest Winter Coffee Beans, produced in the volcanic Atitlan region in Latin America are used for the the Starbucks Guatemala Atitlan – carrying a bright citrus acidity, elegant aromas of orange blossom, and deep notes of sweet caramel and milk chocolate.

Starbucks® Zodiac Rat Mug

To usher in spring and the Lunar New Year, there will be Starbucks exclusive Year of the Rat merchandise, with cute, rat-inspired mugs, tumblers, water bottles, cold cups and an adorable Rat Bearista Bear. Food offerings also abound, with items such as the spicy and creamy Baked Tuna Pasta, Apple Multiseed Bread, Orange Muffin with Cranberry and Cream Cheese, Classic Walnut Cookies and Golden Treasure Cupcake.

Starbucks® Zodiac Rat Bank

Starbucks® Bearista Bear Rat

All of the above offerings are available at all Starbucks Malaysia stores from 7 January 2020 for a limited time only.

 

*Photos courtesy of Starbucks Malaysia and GO Communications

 

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Experience Star Wars This Christmas @ Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

As one of the largest and most popular shopping malls in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, one can always expect interesting Christmas decorations at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur come the year-end holiday season. Past celebrations have seen themes such as Christmas Ever After and a Magical Christmas with Disney (featuring hundreds of Mickey figurines). This year, the mall rides on a much-anticipated film releasing in December – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – transforming the Centre Court into a Star Wars-themed exhibition.

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The ‘Starry Christmas’ theme begins at the entrance with a giant pink Yves Saint Laurent tree and a star-shaped gateway. Once you step in, visitors are greeted with booths selling YSL Beaute’s Holiday Look 2019 High on Stars Collection, where you can shop for exclusive gifts for yourself and loved ones.

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The Centre Court is bathed in neon blues and reds to give it that intergalactic vibe. On the sides are giant light sabres rising up to the ceiling, while Sithtroopers guard the Spanish steps.

 

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The centrepiece is the iconic Millennium Falcon, propped atop a giant screen playing clips from the upcoming film.

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Royal Selangor, the homegrown pewter brand, has partnered with The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia to come up with a Star Wars collection, featuring some of the franchise’s most beloved characters in pewter. You can drop by to view the exhibition, and if anything catches you fancy, buy some to take home.

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And who wouldn’t know this scene?

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Try your hand at the new Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order game at the PS4 booths.

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Or snap a pic in the Cockpit Access and Hyperdrive Tunnel.

As part of the experience, there will be shows and other programmes throughout the month of December, from appearances by C-3PO, R2-D2 & First Order Stormtroopers, Star Wars light shows, as well as the more conventional Santa meet and Greets, carolling, etc.

 

5 Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley This Halloween

Halloween. The ‘spookiest’ time of the year.

It’s when cable TV starts showing re-runs of classics like Halloween (duh!), A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and costume parties abound. Or, if you worked at my (now ex) company, they have a small prize for colleagues who come to work dressed up. Usually this means slathering some face paint on and dressing up in all black, but still.

While Halloween is not as big in Malaysia as it is in countries like the States (where people go trick or treating door-to-door and Starbucks insists on pumpkin spice everything), there are still loads of things you can do to participate in the festivities.

1 ) Get your heart pumping at the Halloween Night Run 

  • Where: MAEPS Serdang
  • When: Saturday, Oct 28 2017, 7PM

Credit: Halloween Night Run’s Facebook page 

 

Talk about ‘running scared’, lol. Raise your heart levels and get some cardio in at the Halloween Night Run, returning to MAEPS Serdang for its second year. Coz when it comes to running and having a good time, all ghost, ghouls, demons and witches are equal.

Bonus: Come dressed in your best costumes and stand a chance to win prizes!

Tickets and registration: HERE 

 

2 ) Meet the monstrous residents of Sunway Lagoon theme park at Nights of Fright 5 

  • Where: Sunway Lagoon Theme Park
  • When: Fridays-Saturdays til 31 Oct 2017, 7.30PM til late

Nothing screams ‘celebrating Halloween’ like a trip to the spook house. Or maybe 8 spook houses, 5 scare zones, 11 thrill rides and 4 show stages. At Nights of Fright 5 by Sunway Lagoon, every corner is filled with otherworldly denizens, be it zombies, cursed dolls, corpses or vampires. Enter… if you dare.

Tickets: HERE 

3) Have a Zombie Party at Jump Street Asia

  • Where: Jumpstreet Asia, Seksyen 13 PJ
  • When: Saturday, Oct 28 2017, 5PM – 10PM

Credit: JumpstreetAsia sorry couldn’t find Halloween one lol. 

Impersonate a pocong (coz it jumps, geddit? lol) at Malaysia’s largest indoor trampoline park, Jump Street Asia. Dress up and bounce your way to a good time, with fun activities such as a haunted house, zombie dances and best costume contests. For only one entry price, you get five hours of great fun as opposed to the usual hourly rates, so book early!

4) Give some blood… for a good cause @ My Bloody Halloween 2.0 

  • Where: The School, Jaya One Petaling Jaya
  • When: Saturday/Sunday Oct 28 – 29 2017 , 11AM -6PM

Don’t waste that blood! Donate some to help save lives at My Bloody Halloween 2.0. The initiative is put together by a group of youths from the Leo Club. There will also be cool vendors, pop up stalls and activities at the event !

More info on FB: HERE 

5) Pub/bar crawl your way through Changkat Bukit Bintang 

  • Where: KL
  • When: Various dates beginning Oct 28 – first week of November

Bars, pubs and clubs in various spots around the Klang Valley/KL have a long tradition of having costume parties and Halloween promotions – and one of the best spots to experience the nightlife is at Changkat Bukit Bintang. Spots like Havana have annual dress-up events with free entry for those in costume, and other places also have their own themes. And having a tipple as a vampire beats boring ol’ normal clothes any day (or night).

 

 

Happy Halloween! 

PS: If you could dress up as a character, who’d you pick? Lemme know in the comments below! 🙂

Kuala Lumpur Events in September – Diversecity 2017: An International Art Festival

Celebrate and explore Malaysia’s vibrant arts and culture scene at Diversecity 2017, an international arts festival held annually in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Happening throughout the month of September, visitors can expect a showcase of over 50 local and international acts across genres such as dance, music, visual arts, the arts and more at venues all around the capital.

Entranced: An Evening with a Ghost

For lovers of dance and movement, enjoy an ethereal performance with Entranced: An Evening with a Ghost, which marries contemporary Southeast Asian trance-rituals with traditional Japanese Noh drama. The haunting showcase cleverly weaves together different elements such as dance, installations, visuals, sounds and vocals for a truly spectacular treat for all the senses.

There’s also the legendary Boy Story from Hong Kong, a classic which was first performed in 1996. Now, 21 years later, watch as the cast who have turned from teens to uncles and fathers reunite to bring audiences on a trip down memory lane.

Boy Story

Traditional Malay ‘Zapin’ dance

Che Malambo

For the first time ever in Malaysia, Argentinian all-male dance sensation Che Malambo will be bringing their energetic, fiery performances to the stage. This will be a good time for Malaysians and international visitors alike to see them performing the traditional South American Malambo, which is characterised by a blend of precision footwork, rhythmic stomping, drum beats and song.

On the music front, Diversecity offers a wonderful mix this year, be it band ensembles or classical music and traditional instruments. Highlights include the Once Upon a Time by string quartet 16 Strings and the critically acclaimed Sachal Ensemble, who will be making their debut in Malaysia at the festival. Known for their one-of-a-kind take on iconic songs from bands and singers such as The Beatles, the talented musicians blend Western instruments such as violins with traditional Pakistani ones. The result is as enchanting as it is unique, and will surely have audience members tapping their foot and bobbing their heads to the hypnotic rhythms.

Sachal Ensemble

Back by popular demand, playwright, comedian and actor Wolfe Bowart will be making an appearance with ‘Letter’s End’, featuring his signature physical comedy, illusion, shadow puppetry and interactive film which is sure to tickle and wow audiences of all ages.

 

The young ones are not left out as there will be performances such as The Breath of Dragons and Bon Voyage!(above), performed at the Kereta Api Tanah Melayu Berhad platform.

 

Other activities in the lineup include art exhibitions, poetry readings, literature activities and more. Events are either ticketed or free. For the full festival line up and ticket purchases, visit http://www.diversecity.my. 

Breath of Dragons

 

*Photos courtesy of DiverseCity.

Cute Animals @ Pet World Malaysia 2017, Mid Valley Exhibition Center Kuala Lumpur

It was a long weekend thanks to the Nuzul Al-Quran holiday (good thing about living in Malaysia – you get holidays for everything. Chinese New Year, Muslim holidays, Wesak, Deepavali, Christmas, etc. :D). C asked if I wanted to go to the Pet World Malaysia 2017 happening at Mid Valley Exhibition Center in KL, and I didn’t have anything else to do in the afternoon so it was a yes. We brought her pet Chihuahua, Genie, along.  

Didn’t bring a carrier, so Genie sat on my lap throughout the drive. She was very quiet; probably wondering if it was a journey to the dreaded vet lol.

Returning for its 10th year, the event is touted as the ‘largest pet exhibition’ in the country and was held at MVEC, which had plenty of floor space. There was an entrance fee of RM5. Place was pretty packed out, but we saw lots of cuties!

Pet owners were having fun introducing their dogs to each other and making new friends. Not sure about how the dogs felt though.. it was crowded and noisy enough for me, a human, let alone a small doggo who has senses of smell and hearing much more acute than mine.

Booths sold mainly pet products such as pet shampoo, food, treats, leashes, carriers, etc.

One of the grooming booths had this magnificent dog with long, soft and curly fur. When it flopped down I could easily have mistaken it for being a rug!

Corgi doggo.

Pug in pram. Most of the dogs were well behaved and no fights broke out.. at least not during our visit.

Not real fish, made from resin. They looked so life like tho!

Cat section. They were mostly in cages 😦 except when their owners took them out for grooming.

There was a corner dedicated to insect lovers. Look at this giant Rhinoceros beetle! It was really shiny and wasn’t moving, so I thought it was fake.. turns out they were real. The sticky bits on the stump was actually sugar-water + honey made into jelly, which they eat.

Show pigeons. Again, from afar,  I thought these were fake coz they weren’t in a cage.. until they started moving and plumping their breasts out.  Sooooo fluffy.

A sort of soft shelled turtle from the Amazon. I held it in my hand and it was cold, soft and squishy.

Balls of hamsters.

Some sort of flying fish with dragon wings.

We waited til 1.30PM so that C and Genie could have a Chihuahua photo session! We got a can of beef to take home.

A very fluffy and somewhat sad husky.

 

Til next post!

 

Love Story the Musical : Live in KL @ the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre

 

Hey guys! So I was recently invited to the opening night of Love Story: The Musical, happening from now til 18 June at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre. Not my first time at a musical, but I thought it’d be a good idea to bring B along since he’s never been to one before! 🙂 I’ve also never been to KLPAC, even though I know it’s like THE place for the performing arts in Malaysia.

B and I got to the place early. Located in Sentul within a gated and guarded park area, the centre was opened in 2005 – but the building itself has impressive history dating back to the 1800s, formerly housing a wood-crafting workshop, a sawmill, a railway depot and workshop. At the end of WWII it was bombed but rebuilt and made into a golf clubhouse before being abandoned in the 1990s.Today, the remodeled building houses glass windows on the front.

Entering the spacious, high-ceilinged interior, we were greeted by an open space with stairs on the right leading up to the second floor. Posters of plays, dance performances and music shows were plastered on the pillars, and at the back was a mini library with a space for ongoing art exhibitions. Under the staircase area was a chic cafe called Espressolab, where B and I had some drinks since the show wasn’t due to start in an hour.

Posters of ongoing and upcoming shows on the notice board.

Show that we watched that night!

I’m sure everyone has either seen or heard of this movie from 1970, based on the acclaimed novel by Erich Segal. Even if you haven’t, you would know the popular song “Where Do I Begin”, the film’s instrumental theme (which also seemed to be a favourite tune of music boxes lol). The story was then adapted into a musical in 2010, with the script written by Stephen Clark and music by Howard Goodall. It enjoyed successful runs in UK and the US, and now, luckily for us, has been brought to Malaysia for the very first time!

View from the staircase.

Mini library with books donated from the public.


At 8.30PM, we entered the theatre, which looked like an auditorium with colourful seats. There was a small screen at the top which ran subtitles.

As photography wasn’t allowed during the show, I only took two photos of the before and during the intermission.

The play tells of a rich, spoiled boy, Oliver Barrett, and poor music student Jennifer Cavilleri, whose paths cross in the most unlikely way. They eventually marry against Oliver’s family’s wishes, and Jennifer gives up her lifelong dream of a scholarship in Paris in order to put Oliver through law school. He eventually graduates, lands himself a job and the happy couple move to New York to start their new life together. But as usual, fate has other plans…

(SPOILER) As far as it goes, it was a great play and I enjoyed it, although personally I don’t like watching sad plays or movies :/

The actors were good at conveying their emotions, especially Joshua Gui, the lead actor who plays Oliver Barrett, and Michelle Tan, who plays Jennifer Cavelleri. Both had awesome stamina; having to run around the stage, dance, sing and also convey emotion is no mean feat. I really admire the production crew and the speed in which they changed the sets around – basically after every scene, they had to rush out and spin/move the huge sets around and have them in place within seconds. The songs were also really great with nice melodies and meaningful lyrics, from the upbeat ‘Pasta’ and ‘Summer’s Day‘ to the haunting What Can You Say. 

The play is produced by Dama Asia, which has a long history of staging theatrical shows and musicals in Malaysia.

Showtimes:

  • 16 June – 8.30PM
  • 17 June – 3PM & 8.30PM
  • 18 June – 3PM

Ticket prices start from RM65 on Friday evening and Saturday Matinee, and RM85 for Saturday evening and Sunday Matinee.

More info on http://www.dama.asia, or call 03-4047 9000 (KLPAC) / 03 7880 7999 (Ticketpro).