17th Chopin Piano Competition

The International Chopin Piano Competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious music competitions in the world. Held every five years in Warsaw, it is exclusively devoted to Chopin’s works for piano. The first competition was held in 1927 and last week was the final of the 17th one.

More than 450 applications were received, from which 160 pianists were selected to play in the preliminary rounds in April. The jury admitted 77 pianists to the main competition, which consisted of three rounds, followed by the final.

The whole event has been documented brilliantly on the website Chopin Competition 2015  The concerts have been uploaded almost immediately to YouTube, here is the complete list of all concerts , 28 videos, totaling more than 100 hours of recordings!

Many of the participants are really young. And surprisingly(?) many of them are of Asian descent. There are 13 participants from China, 12 from Japan, 8 from South Korea and a few from the United States and Canada who have their origins in Asia. Here are the five who made it to the final round.

Here they are again. From left to right  in the foreground Aimi, Kate, Eric and Yike with Seong Jin in the background between Eric and Yike. Seong Jin got the 1st prize, Kate the 3rd, Eric the 4th, Yike the 5th, while Aimi got a honorable mention. Yike is the youngest prizewinner ever at a Chopin competition (minimum age to participate is actually 17, which he will be only in December)


I have been watching many YouTube recordings these last few weeks. To see these promising youngsters play is added pleasure. Here are a few examples

Eric Lu

Yike Yang

Kate Liu

Aimi Kobayashi

Seong Jin Cho

In the final round, all ten participants had to play Chopin’s Piano Concerto in E minor Op. 11. Here is Yike Yang. I find it absolutely amazing that a 16 year old boy can play this beautiful concerto in such a brilliant and sensitive way.

Lata Tampit 14-10-2015

Lata Tampit in Janda Baik is a waterfall described in my Waterfalls of Malaysia website, but I have never visited this waterfall myself. So, when my hiking friend Peter Leong told me that he was going to visit this waterfall with his gang and if I would like to join,  I accepted the invitation, hoping the group would be of an acceptable size. It was …:-)

We met at the Mc Donalds in Genting Sempah and from there we drove to the Latto Caruk chalets. The resort was closed and rundown. We went through the gate and followed a clear trail. Bamboo forest, one steep part, two easy river crossings.

There are seven waterfall tiers, we skipped the lower ones, at the fifth tier a big group was camping, we continued and after less than 45 minutes we reached the top (7th) tier of Lata Tampit. Here we were the only ones. The waterfall is attractive, with a pool. A huge tree had fallen across the pool, a perfect place to rest and take pictures

Here you can see a senior citizen climbing the tree to join the fun


And fun we had.

The waterfall with the huge tree form a very scenic background for pictures.

Here is a short video of the waterfall and our group enjoying lunch

We did not stay very long as the sky darkened. Soon it started raining, actually it was more of a drizzle. We passed another tier on our way down, I just took a single shot, must come back here to take pictures of all tiers.

For lunch we went to restaurant 126 in Bukit Tinggi. I had been there several times, many years ago, could not recognise the place…:-)  Once a simple shed, now a huge two-story building. Personally I had the feeling that the food in the simple shed was better…:-)  After some shopping we went home contentedly. A nice, easy trip

View of the restaurant, highway in the background

Restaurant 126

A Google Earth screenshot of our walk

GE screenshot


Kelantan trip, October 2015

My friend Siang Hui is very good in discovering “new” waterfalls, using the Google Earth imagery. This time he had found a promising one in Kelantan. We decided to make it a weekend trip, as Kelantan is far from KL. Siang Hui had booked a homestay in Dabong, the plan was to visit the waterfall on Saturday. Earlier that week I had caught a bad cough and a cold, thought about not joining, but finally decided to go, as Siang Hui estimated the hike to be relatively easy. Siang Hui, Rani, Nic and Teoh could start only Friday afternoon, Aric and I left earlier.

Encik Din, the owner of the homestay had warned that the direct route from Gua Musang to Dabong might be blocked. The bridge across the Nenggiri river had been destroyed during the catastrophic January floods, and the temporary bridge might be closed because of heavy rain a few days earlier. We decided to try our luck and found that he was right…:-) The temporary bridge looked passable, but apparently the authorities did not want to take risks. We had to go back to Gua Musang and make a long detour to reach Dabong. Of course we warned our friends…:-)

The homestay was a pleasant surprise, well-kept, three bedrooms each with aircon, TV, fridge. Hard to imagine that during the flooding, the water had risen until above the doorposts!

Unfortunately I did not sleep well that night so I decided not to join the waterfall trip..:-( Aric kept me company, and after breakfast we decided to visit an easy waterfall nearby. Lata Kertas.  The website suggests that it is well-maintained, but that is not true. Here are a few pictures and a video. Quite a nice fall actually, could be a nice tourist attraction when maintained properly

When our friends came back, at 5 pm!, the first thing Nic said, was : “Good that you did not join”. It had been a tough 7-hour hike to reach the waterfall, and even Siang Hui was exhausted. I will leave it to them to report about the “Twin Falls” as they have named the falls. That evening we celebrated the birthdays of Teoh and Rani. They look quite recovered already..:-)

The next morning I felt a bit better and we decided to visit the nearby Jelawang waterfall, also known as Stong waterfall. It is on my website, but I had never been there myself, although I had seen the fall several times from the road. Most people climb up to Baha camp, at the top of the fall, crossing the suspension bridge to the right side of the fall. We stayed on the left side and walked carefully over the rocks to the base of the fall. Very impressive, supposedly the tallest waterfall of Peninsular Malaysia. Click on the pics to enlarge them, and try to find the tiny humans.

Here is as video of the Jelawang waterfall

Siang Hui, Rani, Nic and Teoh had to drive back to KL after this visit, another long drive. Aric and I were not in a hurry and decided to make it a round-trip, first going north  to Jeli, then following the East-West highway to Gerik, stay overnight in Kuala Kangsar, from there the next day back home. It gave us the opportunity to visit one more “easy” waterfall, Lata Janggut. Not spectacular but worth a visit. Will soon add it to the Waterfalls of Malaysia website.

On our way to Gerik we saw a signboard Air Panas (Hot Spring). We love hot springs, so we had a look. What a surprise, a futuristic design in bright colors, still under construction. The water was too hot, not suitable for bathing, as a poor frog had found out. I doubt if it will become a tourist attraction. In Kuala Kangsar we stayed in a boutique hotel, the Shop Hotel. Nice design, but rooms really too small, I almost got claustrophobia..:-)

The next morning we visited a few of the Kuala Kangsar landmarks. The Istana Kenangan itself was still closed for renovation, but at least we could enter the garden. The Ubudiah mosque (designed by a British architect!) was beautiful as always. The Baitul Anor, now a ruin, was built in the same period for the Perak royalty. We visited the Royal gallery, full of memorabilia of the former sultan.

Then it was time for lunch. Laksa, a Kuala Kangsar specialty and one of Aric’s favourite foods.For me one laksa was enough, Aric had three. The first was Laksa Pak Ngah, a famous one. Modernised, and a bit disappointing. The second one was Laksa Pokok Limau, where my friend Ibrahim had taken me during the Sg Siput Recce. Before going there, we had a look at the Victoria Bridge, visited by Chadel and me when we followed the  route of the Japanese invasion in 1941-42. Finally we went to a Chinese laksa shop in the town (the other two were Malay). Aric’s verdict: the laksa in Laksa Pokok Limau was the best, although a bit too creamy.

Although I did not visit the new waterfall, it was a nice rewarding trip.


Journal 1-10-2015

It’s a long time ago that I wrote my last regular journal! Time for an update, in chronological order.

25 July

Durian trip with Joe Yap. Joe has a relative in Kg Chetang (near Raub) who has a durian farm. When she told me that she would go there and if I would like to join, I could not say no, of course..:-)  After a dim sum breakfast in PJ we went to the farm. It was high season, we had a lot of Musang King and Joe’s friends bought a lot to bring home. After having (too) many durians we used the traditional way to remove the smell .  Wash your hands with water flowing over the husk, and drink water from the husk. Does it really work? Not sure, but it was fun.

8 August

Trip to the Chiling waterfall with Edwin, Janine and friends. I must have visited this waterfall more than a dozen times in the past decade, the hike with its many river crossings never gets boring…:-) This time our target was the remote top Chiling fall, also known as the Jewel of Selangor. As the friends of Janine were newbie hikers, they decided to stop at the main fall. Edwin, Rani and I continued, ignoring a recently placed signboard…:-)The reason for this signboard is apparently that accidents have happened at the upper falls. It’s another hour hike to this top fall. Beautiful pool.

15-17 August

More waterfalls the next weekend. Through my waterfall website I had come in contact with Ibrahim, a waterfall explorer from Perak. He suggested a waterfall recce in the Sg Siput region. I have reported about this trip in a separate post: Sg Siput Waterfall Recce Here pictures of the waterfalls we visited.

25 August

Another waterfall visit, this time with our British friends Pat and Roger. We went to the Chamang waterfall near Bentong. On our way back, we took the old road, passing a hot spring that has recently been renovated. We decided to have a bath here and as usual we ended the day with a nice dinner.

29-30 August

The following weekend  for a change not a waterfall but a mountain! My friend Rani had organised a weekend trip for his (teacher) colleagues with their families to the Cameron Highlands. Plan was to climb Gunung Irau, would i like to join? I am not really a mountain climber, but Gunung Irau, with its mossy forest, interested me, so I accepted his invitation. They had rented two apartments in a Brinchang hotel, for twelve adults and numerous kids. I was a bit shy in the beginning, as probably were Rani’s colleagues too…:-). But what a nice group!  And I was poplar with the kids, one of them immediately ran to me and called me “apek”, grandfather!

The ladies, many of them teachers too, did not join in the hike, but prepared delicious Malay food. And of course went shopping..:-)

The next morning we drove to the trail head and started our hike, together with numerous other climbers, because Gunung Irau is a popular destination. Here is our group, at the start and at the summit. Small detail: as you have to grab trees often during the climb, Rani had bought gloves for me. They were useful, although, as my friends pointed out, I was using them inside out…:-)

The trail head is at 2000 m, the summit at 2110 m. Distance 2.4 km. Easy hike?  Forget about it. You have to follow a ridge which goes uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill and so on…Here is a collage of my struggle with Gunung Irau. As you can see, much of the mossy forest has been destroyed because of too many visitors, causing the trail to become extremely muddy.

Gunung Irau and me

But I reached the peak! Many people there congratulating me that I, a senior citizen, had made it…:-).  Then it started to rain. The hike back was very tiring. Happy that I made it, but this was a once in a lifetime experience for me.

Latest newsThe Gunung Irau trail has now been closed to the public, effective Oct 1 until mid-2016. I hope it will help.

6-19 September

Good that I had a few days to recover before Aric and I left for China with Pat and Roger..:-) The 14-day trip was the result of a promise made by Aric, a few years ago already, to show them China. We started in Xi’an, followed by Suzhou, Zhouzhuang and finally Shanghai. I took more than 1500 pictures and it will take time to write a detailed report about this fascinating trip.  Here an impression.

26 September

We celebrated the Mid-Autumn (mooncake) festival in Kepong, where Aric’s uncle lives. The family had booked a lok lok car. Lok lok is a Malaysian specialty, a bit similat to steamboat. It was a happy celebration, because Aric’s mother after suffering a stroke in August and being in hospital for some time, now had recovered, so she could attend the celebration.


I will do my best to update this blog more regularly…:-)