October 14th, 2015
|05:21 pm - South Asia|
September came and went so fast - probably because I was having fun. I managed to get issue 86 of Black Velvet completed a few days sooner so I could post it online before flying to Kuala Lumpur. A friend planted the seed in our heads to go to a few of the Bon Jovi shows in South Asia. I booked a couple of weeks off work and chose to go to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Seoul and the two Macau shows. I've never been to any of those places before so as time got nearer I was quite looking forward to it.
After doing some googling on Kuala Lumpur I found a local tour that included a stop at Batu Caves before going on to Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary. Being that I love animals and had never actually seen elephants in real life before, and knowing that it was a sanctuary that cared and rehabilitated the elephants, I was eager to go - and was probably looking forward to visiting the sanctuary more than anything.
I decided to fly over late on the 16th, which would get me to Kuala Lumpur late on the 17th. My flight went via Dubai and I landed at 9.45pm, then caught the train to Kuala Lumpur Sentral (sic) and then changed lines for one more stop before finding the hotel. I'd booked the elephant tour for the next day. Kaori was arriving early in the morning, so she came to the hotel and while waiting for our elephant tour/batu caves pick up booked tickets to go up the Petronas Twin Towers the next day.
The elephant tour usually also stops off at Deerland, a deer park, on the way, but it's closed on Fridays, which was a shame, but we didn't mind too much as then you have to go at 9am. We arranged with the tour company to go at 10am - to make sure Kaori landed and got to our hotel on time.
Batu Caves and the elephant sanctuary were great fun. The caves have loads of monkeys and I was more mesmerised with taking their photos than I was of the actual caves. Our tour included lunch and I'd requested a vegan meal. The driver/tour guide asked if I liked rice... but I don't... Figuring it may be hard for him to find me a nice vegan meal I told him I'd eat fruit, so we stopped at a fruit stall on the side of the road where he bought us some papaya, apples, banana chips and we also tried a rambutan (Malaysian fruit). The elephant sanctuary was the highlight of my trip, with us getting to feed the elephants and then bathe a smaller baby elephant. So cute. Although I also won't forget getting bitten about 10 times by mosquitoes that day. WHY do they love my blood?! I came up in massive red lumps all over my legs.
Mentioning to the driver that we were planning to go to the KL Menara tower with another friend, the driver said he could drop us off by the tower, which was nice of him, and saved us making our own journey from our own hotel there. Although there was a change of plan and we ended up getting dropped off at a friend's hotel where Connie and others were hanging out. We went for a meal at the nearer veggie place - a chain called Simple Life Vegetarian. Nice place although not enough vegan food for me - and a lot of it was too asian. We ended up not going to the tower as by the time we had eaten there wasn't that long before it shut, so figured we'd have to do it the next day instead.
So the next day we went up the Petronas Tower... we then took a cab to a vegan place which turned out to not be open/there and was a waste of a rip-off cab ride... and then went up the KL Menara Tower too, before going back to our hotel and getting ready for the first Bon Jovi show. Our hotel was ten mins walk from the venue... the bad news is that the hotel receptionist sent us in the wrong direction - to Merdeka Square instead of Merdeka Stadium. Argh! I started getting angsty when we realised we were the wrong place and time was ticking by. It was a major chore finding the venue - and THEN finding the ticket collection point. I had visions of us not finding the venue before the band went on. We followed one guy on what seemed a 3 mile trek. It was 7.30pm by the time we found the ticket collection point. Hallelujah. I've never been so relieved to find the ticket collection. Really thought we would not find it. Skipping to the show, we managed to all stand in front row (despite having second row seats). Jon telling us front rowers we were a nice surprise was a nice surprise too.
I got 1 1/2hrs sleep that night as we were flying from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore for the Grand Prix. We were shocked to discover that no-one was queuing when we got to the gates. They had a few entrances and I was first at my particular one. The most annoying thing was when it was time to go in. We had our bags searched and then a female security stopped me for a random full body search. Ugh. Are you kidding me? Making me stand there with my arms out while others are running past. And can you go any slower? I wrote in the Grand Prix survey later what a stupid thing that was. Why should they penalize the first person who had got there the earliest of all, to make them stand still for 10mins while others were running past. Annoying. Everything worked out though (apart from being on the opposite side to my friends), I got a great spot for the show and the show was fun. Waiting until 10.30pm before the band came on was torture though - it was boiling hot and we were melting. The Grand Prix before the show meant that the performance didn't start until 10.30 and ended at 12.30am.
Sadly I didn't get to see anything of Singapore. I didn't even get to eat at the veggie place in the local mall next to the gate as it was closed for lunch (ironic) when we went to have a look. I'd like to visit Singapore properly at some point as it did look like a nice place.
Next morning we flew to Seoul. This was a longer flight, over 6 hours. We got to our nice hotel that evening and while Connie and Stef went out to eat, I got to sit in the nice jacuzzi bath. We were all pretty shattered by this point. I had 3 hours sleep the night before so had only had about 4 1/2 hours sleep in 3 days. An early night and a sleep in the next day was needed. Although you don't get much of a sleep in on show days, and before we knew it we were at the venue (which luckily was a ten minute walk... in the right direction... away).
Another nice spot for the show, and chatting to a new friend from Korea who was stood next to me, helped kill time before the band went on stage. The Seoul show was the best out of the 5 with the band doing 2 encores, and the Korean fan club giving everyone signs to hold up, which Jon was moved by.
We had a day off in Seoul so next day I dragged Connie to a vegan cafe called Plant and then got the subway to Namsan Cable Car and took the cable car up to N.Seoul Tower for a view of the city. It was nice to see the love locks on the way up and watch some activities in the area outside.
Next day we flew to Hong Kong International Airport and then took the ferry to Macau. We could have flown directly to Macau but we opted to go by the more well known Hong Kong Express and then get the Turbojet. We got to our hotel in Macau at around 8pm (I think) and after checking in Connie and I grabbed a cab to a veggie place in Macau called The Blissful Carrot. The cab driver didn't know exactly where it was and said he couldn't get to it so we had to get out and ask someone else and follow directions where we eventually found it. It was a quirky little place. More of a homely room for takeaways than a cafe/diner - although they did have 4 stools and 2 were free, so we could sit and eat inside. I think I had the veggie burger and potatoes and a karma cola... and then chose to buy a cupcake and some toothpaste (I had run out of LUSH's toothy tabs so was amazed that the vegan cafe actually sold toothpaste!). The assistant squashed a box lid down on my cupcake though so it completely squashed the icing on top and made taking a photo of the cupcake void! I ended up eating it after we had left. It was nice - just a shame she'd squashed the icing down. I was planning to go back to the The Blissful Carrot as I did like it, but we ran out of time both the next two days, which were both show days.
On the Saturday I can barely remember what I did... Maybe I slept in? I remember having a walk with Kaori through the Venetian looking for gift shops and not being able to find anything. I think the plan was to walk to the Blissful Carrot but we got sidetracked looking for gift shops and ran out of time. It seems that most of Asia don't do souvenirs. We did find a LUSH (which I smelt 200m away) and then ended up in the food court, getting hungry and buying sweet potato fries there, as it would have taken too long to get to the Blissful Carrot and back in time for the show. Next day, Kaori, Connie and I took a cab to downtown Macau in search of gift shops again. We went to a veggie/vegan store which sold wraps, cookies and smoothies and had a wrap and a smoothie before continuing our search. It ended up pouring down, we bought cheap umbrellas and finally, someone told us that there were some gift stores on the way to St Paul's Ruins. We found the ruins and found the gift shops - where finally I could buy my mom some Macau flip flops and other stuff.
The 2 Macau shows were in the Cotai Arena, and were fun - although I think Jon may have had problems with his voice towards the end of the second show. The encore was cut short and the band didn't do their usual bow. A slight shame for our final show before going home. We still enjoyed them though.
The trip was loads of fun. I had a great time visiting 4 countries that I've never been to for 5 shows. I got back home on Monday September 28th, in need of sleep.
I'm piled up with Black Velvet work. I went to see/review Mallory Knox and Set It Off with Sam and Penny on October 2nd in Wolverhampton and then last Friday I went to see/review Michael Monroe and Hardcore Superstar in Birmingham.
Photos are at
Various Bon Jovi photos can be found on the Black Velvet Instagram page - http://www.instagram.com/blackvelvetmagazine - thanks to Phil X for sharing a couple of them!
Jon Bon Jovi & Matt O'Ree:
Phil X and Jon Bon Jovi:
I now need to get some interviews done and catch up on a whole lot of zine stuff (and more sleep).