Monday, 28 July 2008

Forbidden Nights at Ocean Beach Club

On Saturday night I was billed as the headline act for the Ocean Beach Club - a massive outdoor club and restaurant with a huge pool and a floating dance floor. Justin and Natalie, our generous hosts, joined us as we watched the pre-gig show with fire dancers and acrobats.

At around midnight, I climbed up to the DJ booth to get ready for my set (the DJ booth is on top of a tower overlooking the club). As soon as I played my first record, the crowd went wild. To say that it was a great gig would be an understatement. The club was at full capacity with 2,000 people. At one point, people started jumping into the pool and a couple of professional dancers dressed in kinky outfits joined us in the DJ booth!

Justin, Natalie and Lisa (our new San Franciscan friend) escaped the mayhem down below and joined me up on the tower to dance the night away. However, one of the club's investors, Chris, decide to create mischief by ordering plenty of Redbull and vodkas for us.

At 2am I finished my set and handed over to the German DJ Andy D'Lux while we all headed home for quiet drinks.

Amy and I woke up the next afternoon at 3pm! Having totally missed our opportunity to head surfing, we went straight back to the Ocean Beach Club so that I could DJ again, this time while the sun was setting over the ocean. Speaking as a DJ, it doesn't really get much better than this.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

I know I shouldn't show off, but I can't help it!

This is the ridiculous Balinese villa that we have for the next 5 days free of charge, simply because superstar DJ Adrian Ma is playing a few gigs here this weekend. We have our own POOL, people!

I don't quite know how I can return to normal backpacker mode after this, sigh.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

DJing at a beach party & a public apology to the thirsty customers...

Last night I DJ'd at a beach bar here on tranquil Gili Trawangan. It was a miracle that they have the equipment I need, seeing as though technology isn't this place's forte. In fact the most sophisticated form of transport here is a horse drawn carriage (there are no roads) and most places don't have electricity until sunset.

Anyway, Amy and I arrived to a packed party at around midnight and quickly made friends with a Dutch couple who introduced us to more people. Amy chatted with them while I set to work behind the turntables. I surveyed the crowd and decided that a 90s megamix of classic house tunes was the order of the night.

While I was playing, reports were coming back to me that the bar staff were too busy dancing to serve any customers. The problem of getting served at the bar was further exasperated by the fact that a load of revellers had taken to dancing on the bar too.

So to the thirsty customers of Tir Na Nag last night, I'd like to apologise for the long wait for your drinks. He hee...

More friends of the deep

Another day, another dive - my 10th already, and Adrian's 13th. We saw three white tipped reef sharks, and several of these beautiful green turtles (sadly this shot is complete with annoying arm of fellow diver - does he not know you aren't supposed to touch marine life/ruin other people's photos??!). And below is an Oriental Sweetlips - sweet!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Singing and swinging in Singapore

From Malaysia to Singapore, and more hospitality from Adrian's family. We stayed there with another of his uncles for a few days, doing all the usual touristy things (bird park # 2, art museum, etc).

While there we also got treated to a couple of very fun nights out with friends of Elaine. We had a delicious chili crab dinner, saw a band called Electrico (see above, also good friends) perform at a wicked venue in a converted pumping station, saw a singer (another very good friend, of course) Robin Goh perform some swinging jazz classics at a cool venue on the waterfront, and went to a newly opened bar with a very lovely roof terrace. Phew!

You can see most of them in this shot:
(from left to right: Edgar, Mike, Manoj, Aldrin, Adrian, Amy, Ben)

The king of fruits

From Kuala Lumpur we caught a bus to Melaka to spend a few days with Adrian's uncle and his family. While we were there I finally decided to give in and try some durian - it is a large and lumpy fruit (see photo) and extremely smelly. I used to find the smell offensive but now I associate it with places in Asia that I love so I've grown sort of fond of it.... However! I will not be eating it again in a hurry - once inside that strange exterior you'll find pods of weird creamy fruit with stones in the middle with a very odd flavour. It lingers for ages afterwards too, urgh.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Bird watching in Kuala Lumpur

We finally left Thailand and arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last night. Today, after meeting my auntie for lunch (this is Adrian writing the blog post), we visited the city's bird park where Amy discovered ANOTHER new favourite animal (or should I say bird) - the owl that she's stroking in this picture (actually, I must admit that it was very soft and cute).
When this little owl was returned to its tree, a parakeet - jealous of Amy's affection for the owl - tried to eat the poor little thing. Luckily one of the bird handlers stepped in to protect it. I decided keep my affection for Amy a bit more covert after that. I reckon if the paraket saw ME with Amy, it would have pecked my eyes out...

Make some noise for the lady boys

Down boys! Before you get too excited, they're all boys. Even the one on the left. Yes. It's true (apart from the one second from the left in the white top). We found these beauties at a fantastic, kitch, lady boy cabaret on Koh Tao. At one point, a little (female) dog, which belonged to the owner of the bar, joined these queens on stage, completely stealing the audiences' attention from their rendition of 'We Will Survive!'. The little bitch (f'nar f'nar!).

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The graduates

Here we are with our fellow students, our brilliant instructor Simon, and Mimi. Left to right: Tove, Linus, Gareth, Adrian, Simon, me and Mimi.

The boys proudly sporting their early birthday presents

As a reward to Gareth and Adrian for qualifying as open water and advanced open water divers respectively, Mimi and I decided to treat them both to Big Blue t-shirts. Here they are stolling back to our hotel together looking incredibly stylish.

More diving photos

Getting ready for the first proper dive

After a day of learning a few skills and getting used to trusting all this crazy equipment to actually let you breathe underwater, Gareth and I were ready for our first proper dive.
This is me in all my gear about to plop backwards into the sea, with Gareth next in line. I think my pink fins are rather fetching....

Sighting the elusive whale shark

At Big Blue, our dive centre, divers, including the seasoned staff, are divided into two groups: those who have seen the elusive whale shark and those who have not. Even people who have worked there for years jump into the water every day hoping to catch their first glimpse of this near-mythical creature... Here are some facts about the whale shark:
  • It is the world's largest living fish (and its a shark, rather than a whale)
  • Its massive smiling mouth can be up to 1.5m wide (it's this big so that it can feed by filtering the water it swims into)
  • Typically, they grow up to 12m long and weigh around 15 tonnes
On the morning of the 7th July, during a deep dive to 30m at a dive site called Champon Pinnacle (famed for its reef and leopard sharks) my instructor, who was swimming in front of me, started pointing frantically into the distance. I looked over to my right and saw a massive, spotted, fish about eight metres away gliding gracefully through the sea as all the divers around me quickly grabbed their cameras. From its markings, size (about three to four metres) and from the reactions of the other divers, I quickly deduced that I was in the presence of the legendary whale shark (but a baby one).

When I got back on board Banzai, the name of the dive centre's biggest boat, everyone was buzzing with dis-belief, excitement and disappointment for those who missed the sighting. Keith, my dive buddy for the dive managed to catch this picture of the creature. Lucky isn't even the word.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008