19 April 2009

Ah Pak San 2

Somewhere between the two entrances, Saga and Awana lies the peaks - Saga and Cuepacs

My second trip up Ah Pak San. This time I defied my old bones and made it all the way.

I got up at 7am in spite of a late night fiddling with the 1TB WD My Book. I think my body was psyched to do it all of yesterday so I was on biological alarm clock mode. Since I was up and wide-eyed, I decided, WTH, let's go torture myself.

I didn't have breakfast. I didn't have coffee. I decided to go with nothing on my back but a towel and my car keys.

Station 6 is the Cuepacs peak or Ah Pak San

It was painful. But good. I made it to Station 6 in 45mins, which I understand is actually the peak of Ah Pak San. After mucking around for a few ticks, I continued on to Saga Hill Top.
To my delight, the trail between the two peaks is really a plateau. I walked some 20 minutes to the Saga peak which is little more than a shack. A few hammocks and swings are there to welcome the weary climber. I decided to swing a little on the hammock - oh what I would've given for a cup of coffee and nasi lemak then.

Note to myself: pack nasi lemak and coffee next time.

I descended slowly, smelling the flowers and admiring the mosses and fire ants rather than rush through like a horror flick with pontianak on my heels. Actually my feet were killing me.

18 April 2009

Chris Botti: Italia

Is it the Martin Committee Handcraft trumpet with a 3 silver plated mouthpiece from Bach? Or the Miles Davis inspiration? Or could it be the Larry McVey, David Baker and Bill Adam jazz school training? Whatever it is, they are all outbreathed through the lips of one Chris Botti to produce music like I've never heard before.

His notes are measured. His technique perfect. His style understated yet unmistakably one of a virtuoso. But most of all it's his soulful yet not morbid, true-to-genre yet original interpretation of a set of classics that make for a penetrating auditory experience in Italia.

This 2007 release rounds up some of the grandest music we know:
1. Deborah's Theme From "Once Upon A Time In America"
2. Italia
3. Venice
4. The Very Thought Of You
5. Gabriel's Oboe
6. I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
7. Caruso
8. The Way You Look Tonight
9. It Never Entered My Mind
10. Ave Maria
11. Estate
12. Nessun Dorma

Most of it is orchestral and stately - Nessun Dorma, Deborah's theme, Ave Maria.
Venice, Caruso, The Way You Look Tonight balances the contemplative mix with some smooth chill.
The Very Thought of You made me ache inside, Italia (featuring Andrea Bocelli) made me grieve quietly, but the rendition of Gabriel's Oboe simply broke my dam and had me weeping uncontrollably 4 bars into the song. This has never happened to me before, I assure you.

One of the few productions I can call a musical experience and certainly something to put down everything to listen to. Over and over again.

05 April 2009

New Music This Week

Ever in search of the soundtrack of my life, I've turned into a music-download junkie. Thanks to the hyper-efficient cataloging of iTunes and my trusty Sony Ericsson Bluetooth Headset that can turn my day into an audio-enveloped cinematic experience. (I confess, I've sometimes piped music into my ears while doing surgery..)

I don't know why I got Celine Dion - for completion sake? Or just a tribute to the mother of divas?

David Cook comes highly recommended but haven't sampled it yet.

Everything Ingrid Michaelson and Jack Johnson is fantastic. Adequately deep and authentic. My kind of music.

Olivia Ong is Singaporean and saccharine sweet. I drink Diet Coke, so that's ok.

I hope Diana Krall won't be too commercialised to be of any value. The Top 100 Jazz looks promising too..

Soundtrack for my week to come is ready...

APS Maiden Voyage

A week of stress and distress could end fatally with me slumped in my armchair, remote in hand, and 'heart-healthy' chips in my mouth. But every now and then you hit a low that's low enough to catapult you into something a bit more positive.

This week I decided to try out APS. It could well be translated Acute Pain Service for its therapeutic value, but it's actually Ah Pak San: a hill that straddles Hulu Langat and Cheras on the east of Klang Valley. It was good to get off my flubbering butt, drive to the foot of the hill and with nothing but a waist pouch hit the slopes with fury.

It was good.

The trail is steep for short stretches with plateaus for catching your breath. The foliage is thick enough to render the city a distant memory. Cicadas croak and crickets chirp to provide jungle soundtrack. And the occasional stream and waft of morning breeze makes it very refreshing. Trekkers are friendly and the trek is surprisingly rubbish-free. None of the mineral water bottle or plastic bags so typical of Malaysian parks and trails.

I only made it to Station 6 for lack of time. But it was a good 1hr sweat with a few challenging slopes and a nice vestibular-rehabilitating tumble and trot down. When you reach the end of trail, there is a roar of water (courtesy of Indah Water) that makes me feel like I'm in Lata Tembakah or some deep-forest waterfall destination.

Definitely a must-go-again, and to the peak next time!