Amburgers & Wootbeer

9th August 2014: The A&W Bears & Beer Party, at A&W Petaling Jaya Drive-In.

This is probably their most famous outlet, near the Taman Jaya PUTRA LRT station and Amcorp Mall. Of course, to describe its location as such would be unfair – it’s Amcorp Mall and Taman Jaya PUTRA LRT station that opened near A&W, decades later.

This relic from 1965 is still around, but will be demolished in December 2014 to make way for two office towers, called KUB Tower, according to KUB Malaysia Bhd, who holds the A&W franchise in Malaysia and Thailand.

It survived, when 27 outlets were closed down, mostly in shopping malls. This is one of the two birthday party rooms!

A hidden stairway!

This used to be my playground. An epic A&W Bearland. Unfortunately, I cannot find any pictures of the epic Mighty Maze!

This is what remained of the playground. It was gone at least since 2004 when I visited it.

The company subsequently opened a Bearland playground at the PJ Drive-in outlet in 1990 with activities such as a Magical Maze, The Balance Bridge, The Serpent, Burger Fun Ball game, a merrygo-round and the Devil Tree, as well as a patio area for birthday parties.

The playground, costing RM200,000 and covering 650 square metres, was touted as the biggest A&W outdoor playground in the world.


I remember a very tall staircase going up from the entrance of Bearland, to a tall tower, with a giant metal slide, that ended up in the Magical Maze, a maze made of wooden walls, painted dark blue, with stones on the ground. You’d walk around it and hear the stones crunch. The squarish maze was where this little playground set is now.

This sign is probably the only remaining relic. You might notice that the bad English got worse.

The other patio for birthday parties. Also, interesting balcony!

The distortion is from my Sony Alpha 7s with the Sony E 16mm F2.8, with its rear baffle removed so it became a full-frame lens. Well, sort of, with strong vignetting and distortion. I also had to disable automatic APS-C crop mode.

From the inside, looking at the party room entrance.

Hot dogs!

Root beer!

Nuggets and fried chicken! I don’t know why I never discovered how awesome this was. I’d always have coney dogs and waffles.

Party of grown-up kids!

Chak Onn Lau, after lining up for half an hour for waffles, got a number.

Curly fries. The best way to eat this is to dip it in the Root Beer Float’s foam and scoop up a bit of the float. (McDonald’s fries in vanilla sundae greatly pales in comparison.)

I’d discovered that everybody eats their waffles differently. I’ve not even tried their chocolate ice-cream version. I usually went for the waffle with maple syrup and butter, and ordered a Root Beer Float, then scooped the float onto the waffle. This was my mom’s budget pro-tip.

Nabilah bites into her chicken burger!

Finally, coney dogs!

The Commutasaurus cometh!

Left to right: Stephanie Goh, Nadra, Davina Goh.

Davinasaurus is a vegetarian so she has her burger bun with sauce. It’s vegetable sauce! Too bad the waffles had not arrived because waffles should be vegetables too.

I spotted a tint of purple, like a fighting fish!

Filmmaker Benji Lim came as a three-headed snake!

Snake tail.

Then came the highlight – the A&W Root Bear! Here, Davinasaurus is excited to see it.

I could not stop smiling when I saw this. It was hilarious to see that it would walk with a wiggle in the bum automatically, and put its beary paws to its mouth ever so often. Quite like the staff behind it.


This time, Root Bear knows who it is hugging!



The Root Bear is Asian, definitely.

Chak’s cool bear shirt and the Root Bear. Note the worn-out nose. Interestingly, not all Root Bears have solid noses – some are made of cloth.

Derrik is tall.

I wonder how the articulation within the costume’s hand is.

Musical chairs!

The Root Bear looks awesome from the side too.

Chak getting chucked out of the game.

Top 3!

We could not stop taking pictures with it.

The winners!

I wonder how the costume wearer knows which way to hug the picture subject, other than by touch, since he/she can’t see beyond its black eyes.

Photobombed by Davinasaurus!

Next game: blow balloons until they explode.


What is in the prize pack? Party stuff.

According to Nicholas Chin, there’s a A&W in the Botanical Gardens in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, with its epic big playground still intact, but if this picture I found is any indicator, it is probably long gone. (I hope it’s a different outlet!)

So I wondered if the onesie could completely cover the face…

Organizer Matt.

Now, without the hood.

Grace “Pocahontas” Ng (in the middle) who shares my birthday. The theme for the party was orange, and I was fortunate that the company that I worked for made orange shirts at one time.

A&W Root Beer has since been rebranded RB.

Interestingly, it seems that the A&W franchise was previously held by the PAS state government of Terengganu in 1999 – and the federal government sabotaged them such that ads would not appear on TV and newspapers, relegated to Harakah, PAS’ newspaper. The franchise was then sold in 2001 to KUB. Up to 2012, it was still called Root Beer, maybe because of JAKIM insisting they remove the Beer word when recertifying their halal certificate.

The above paragraph takes claims from Faidzal‘s posts in this thread on

The party hat. I remember the Root Bear face masks with holes for the eyes, and elastic bands that would get in your hair!

I spotted Liyana from far away, and pointed her out to Davina, saying, “Hey look it’s Samantha out there!” I meant Liyana, of course, but my brain got confused for a while, from stuffing myself full of Root Beer. She wore this T-shirt for you Davina!

Nabilah shows us how to have a good time.

Bluetooth speakers!

Random throwback to 2013, for Ann Na and Jeremy’s birthday waffle.

And now, for a throwback to 2012, when A&W had a new outlet in Jalan Bukit Bintang, next to the first McDonald’s in Malaysia.

This was the view from the balcony. Nothing more awesome than curly fries dipped in a Root Beer Float with a coney dog. It is now a Starbucks. Interestingly, the first Starbucks in Malaysia was in front of KL Plaza (now Fahrenheit 88), but has since closed down.

27th September 2009, before A&W was there, was a Roxy Quiksilver shop.

This was another outlet that no longer exists, in Kompleks Desa, Kepong. I went here a lot as a kid. It had an awesome double slide.

There was one on Jalan Pudu, opposite Pudu Sentral, that I don’t think I ever went to.

The phenomenon of downgraded playgrounds was not just observed in A&W – all McDonald’s outlets I had been to recently, had downsized their playgrounds. This is McDonald’s Kepong #017. I remember a much grander playground. I also remember a merry-go-round in McDonald’s Section 14 #004. (If you observe McDonald’s receipts, they print their branch codes there, so you can know how old each McDonald’s is. I’ve been collecting these numbers, but I haven’t posted this blog entry.)

Fortunately, the first A&W in Malaysia, on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, was still open. Next to it is a KFC that has since closed down. The first KFC in Malaysia was not this outlet – while the first outlet was opened on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, it moved around a few times along the road – even having four outlets along this road at one time!

My interest in the history of our urban city is also fueled by people who have lived long enough to see development, over at the Rakan KL Facebook group.

This is the inside of the first A&W. Doesn’t look retro at all, and very modern. Can’t say I prefer this!

So you might ask – where were the first 3 A&W outlets? I knew about #1 for a long time, and always thought PJ Drive-In was #2, but I checked with Adeline Chua, who wrote this article, and found out that it was in fact:

1) Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman
2) Menara AIA, Jalan Ampang (closed down)
3) PJ Drive-In, Lorong Sultan, Petaling Jaya

Meanwhile, here’s a Facebook Page called Save Iconic A&W.

Double Dotters’ Division

26th July 2014: Dotters’ Division featuring Jonathan Khor at The Bee, Publika. Here’s Jonathan!

The other four-stringer, Jie Er!

Rebecca, the metronome that wears glasses.

Linet the rock star.

Audrey taking a shaky break.

Melissa, the vocal powerhouse…

…turned into bokeh. Tonight was one of those rare evenings where I’d bring out the king of bokeh lens, the Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus. Everything is just smoother!

Audrey gets a little candidly funny.

Interestingly, Audrey, Linet and Jonathan were in a band called Juanophobia, who won Battle Of The Bands 2011: Passport To Fame (and first runner up in Library’s Got Talent Or Not.)

A friend of theirs gets called on stage to play a little saxophone.

The usual outsource-sing-along-to-crowd bit, but with Audrey and Melissa this time.

Meanwhile, outside, the August 2014 poster for The Bee’s happenings was out, and a picture I took is there for the 16th of August 2014!

2nd August 2014: Dotters’ Division featuring Russell Curtis at The Bee, Publika.

For this gig, I brought a different telephoto lens as well – my first one, in fact – the Minolta 70-210mm F4.0 “beercan”, so named because of its resemblance to a tall beercan. I rarely ever bring zoomable lenses to gigs!

I also used APS-C crop mode to get a further telephoto crop, resulting in a 305mm-full-frame equivalent maximum reach.

This enlarged the sign at the back due to perspective.

Tight crops!

Tight chops!

Extreme close up.

It’s not everywhere you can use a F4.0 lens comfortably.

On stage, after graduating from wizard school.

Much fun!

A birthday, not sung on stage.

Russell came on stage for the second set, and harmonized with Melissa for 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up.

It was awesome. This was Melissa’s expression after that!

Russell also digs into some serious licks.

Singing John Legend – All Of Me.

For some chords you just need a certain position.

He also sang his own originals from his Russell Curtis Project album.

A natural entertainer, working the crowd. I bought his CD and he asked me to write a review, so here is a short one: I am always in for a surprise when I hear a performer that is usually in a stripped-down setting of just guitar and vocals in a live setting, in a CD – a rock band may get vocal overdubs and keyboards I don’t usually hear, or a string section. I’d seen Russell as Curtis Blues Review mostly, many years back, or as him on guitar alone – so I was expecting Texan blues rock and soul as I’d heard from him before, or that one unforgettable gig where he just did only Stevie Wonder covers. Well you get the musicality of Stevie Wonder and Tracy Chapman, a sharp balladeer, in a modern pop production, produced by Aubrey Suwito. There are also dancy tracks like Close To You and Drive Me Crazy. It certainly sounded right for radio, though it wasn’t what I was expecting. The only time I saw Russell Curtis Project, was with an extremely funky keyboardist who took it to a virtuoso jazzy sound (if I remember.) The closest to what I remember would be Music’s Brightest Star, and it includes a little bonus live track at the end that shows his guitar-and-vocal-only prowess.

Then again, I don’t pick up on a lot of nuances that musicians do, especially when they discuss sound, and I consider myself a poor music reviewer.

Melissa took this!

The crew.

The tripod selfie.

Rebecca and Melissa swap glasses.

Everybody wants one with Rebecca’s glasses!


75% CC + DD

5th July 2014: Dotters’ Division featuring Frances Tsen at The Bee, Publika!

Dotters’ Division, being the resident band for The Bee, plays every Saturday 9:30PM, featuring a different guest each night.

Frances Tsen, vocalist for Crinkle Cut, with Melissa Wong, guitarist for Crinkle Cut (and vocalist for Dotters’ Division.) So this is half of Crinkle Cut, really.

They started the second set with just Linet and Melissa singing a ballad.

Jie Er on bass.

Timekeeper Rebecca.

Boss Linet.

Red Power Ranger Melissa.

As with all guests, the setlist changes somewhat, so they did The Jacksons – Blame It On The Boogie.

Meanwhile, out at the entrance…

a picture I took! (It is mirrored so she faces towards the poster, obviously.)

Two weeks later, 19th July 2014: Dotters’ Division featuring Ashley Choong at The Bee, Publika!

Audrey on saxophone as almost always…

…with Leroy on keyboard.

That makes Rebecca the only band member I’ve not seen absent and temporarily replaced.

Yes, Ashley’s huge congas block the bass and drums.

She normally plays cajon for Crinkle Cut, sitting down.

Thus the angle is a bit different, as she takes center stage!

She swayed left and right rhythmically, quite like she was adopted by Steve Thornton or something.

The setlist included some Latin song I don’t remember the name of, and Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity, in addition to their regular funky trip across rock and pop music history.

50% of Crinkle Cut, again. Including Frances from the above set it would be 75%.

25% Crinkle Cut, 100% awesome voice.

Meanwhile, Yvonne Chong, also with an awesome voice, deciding what to eat in full swag.

’twas time to get down!

Crowd singalong!

Oh hi Stephanie!

Sing aaa don’t don’t sing!


Gotta love how they work the crowd!

Max discovers the sauce.

Lydia Ong and Kevin.


On the 19th of July 2014, I was down in Publika yet again.

First time I’d ever see a wayang kulit!

This was out on the outdoor stage.

Meanwhile, at White Box…

…was the Raya Fest.

Booths selling clothes, and music.

Syamee Shamsul invited the whole kampung (village).

I am honored to be part of your village!

Gotta love a busy background when using the Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA!

Feedback Open Mic ft Paladin & The Vochale Project @ The Bee Publika / July 2014 Edition

22nd July 2014: Feedback Open Mic ft Paladin & The Vochale Project @ The Bee Publika / July 2014 Edition.

Here’s Danish, who does a cover of Jimi Hendrix – Wind Cries Mary and Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here.

Alyssa & Danish.

Reza Salleh, organizer, with a smaller guitar.

Hameer Zawawi, emcee and host.

Saturday Afternoon.

Being the only band to take on the night’s challenge – to sing a Clean Bandit cover – and stay to the end, they won the prize.

Fariz, pinky.

Reza not-Salleh. Nice voice.

Kat. Nice voice, too!


…featuring Talitha for the first time as a guitarist.

First featured act, The Vochale Project.

Second featured act…

Cello band Paladin!

Five cellos all doing separate lines to the Game Of Thrones theme song (which ironically The Vochale Project just did earlier.)

There’s also stuff like Deep Purple – Highway Star and Azlan & The Typewriter – Jeritan Batinku.

Lead solo time!

Florian’s cool shirt.

Talitha Tan, solo after a long time.


Their guitarist.

The Nicholas Ng Song Project with a rousing cover of Michael Jackson – Rock With You.

Sid. Quite awesome.



…who covers Damien Marley full on reggae.

Melinya, once a familiar face around here.

Raksasa, a returning face (and goatee), this time with his own pedal manipulator.

He was asked to sing a birthday song. Those who have heard him would know we’d be in for a treat!

Ministry of Blunk (MOBlunk) live in Fresca

18th July 2014: Ministry of Blunk (MOBlunk) live in Fresca, The Gardens Mall, Midvalley City!

Fresca is a Mexican restaurant, in the middle of The Gardens Mall, on the ground floor. I’d never noticed it there before!

Isaac the hidden drummer!

The sessioning bassist!

The guest vocalist!

Doctor Kelly.

Lyrical flub, I think!

Shane the blues/rock/soul singer!

They did some covers of some stuff I didn’t even know were covered in that way, like Creedence Clearwater Revival – Heard It Through The Grapevine (I didn’t know CCR covered it!)

There was also a Bon Jovi cover.

Before the busy doctor had another appointment, she took a picture with Shane.

Mike Skinner, of Douche Manouche, gets on stage to jam the blues.

Cassandra Chong, too!

The crowd waiting outside was very curious, and somewhat spellbound.

Vishnu Black Jesus with a crown of thorns roses one rose.

More ladies called up to sing. Somehow, they knew which ones could!

Hina must be like, “I’ll just hold this…

Discovariety Thursday

10th July 2014: Laundry X AHM Records Present: Discovery Thursday at Laundry Bar, The Curve! Here’s Shane of Ministry Of Blunk.

Here’s Vishnu, but we call him Black Jesus.

They have a sessioning bassist.

Isaac on drums. Unfortunately I got there only in time for their last song and missed most of their new sound!

Darren Teh of An Honest Mistake (and An Honest Mistake Records), emcee and organizer.

Meanwhile, outside, Ray Cheong and band, practicing.

Back2Basixx, a vocal harmony group!

Looking all dapper.

Sharply suited.

Cool shave!

Daryll on guitar.

Their own Bruno Mars.

Side bokeh time!

Christian Theseira, who also sings R&B with his band. (Thanks Christian for the correction!)

Back2Basixx from the back.

Christian then gets on guitar while Daryll sings.

If he’s familiar, that’s because he performed at Laundry Bar almost 8 years ago, on the 13th of July 2006, at an open mic session at the third ever Moonshine at Laundry Bar, or the seventh ever Moonshine. (Yes, this picture was taken with a Canon Powershot A520, not a dSLR, and it is misfocused.)

Just for listmania, here are the first 10:

1) 26th November 2005, No Black Tie
2) 15th December 2005, No Black Tie
3) 5th January 2006, No Black Tie
4) 2nd February 2006, No Black Tie (postponed due to complications with DBKL.)
5) 11th May 2006, Laundry Bar (same lineup as the postponed Moonshine #4, just relocated.)
6) 1st June 2006, Laundry Bar
7) 13th July 2006, Laundry Bar
8) 10th August 2006, Laundry Bar
9) 14th September 2006, Laundry Bar
10) 12th October 2006, Laundry Bar

Meanwhile, Darren looks busy on a laptop.

Ray Cheong, double-tapping fingerstyle extraordinaire.

The song is elevated with Jonathan Khor’s violin.

Ryan Lee Bhaskaran, on percussion.

Ray sings his soul out.

Meanwhile, this soul-stealer…

…is featured in the next band, Black Lightbulb.

Here’s Raja Farouque looking as handsome as a cat can be.

Ian fills in for Zaim, with one extra bass string.

Simmy just got out of prison and hasn’t found her civilian wear.

The genre is rock of the instrumental type, but Hameer adds acoustic guitar and rock vocals. They even did a cover of Led Zeppelin – Kashmir!

Farouque on fire on slide on guitar on speaker on stage.

Simmy then released her hair as all rock stars should.

The next rock star, however, kept it all under a cap.

The brutal Deumuseth!

There’s just three of them.

They play music so heavy, they have difficulty carrying their own weight.

Minor electronica.

Dark, heavy, Drop E tuning (an 8-string guitar adds a 7th string which is a lower B, and an 8th string which is a lower F#, but from his tuning and comparing a video to my tuner it looks like he dropped the 8th string to E so it plays like Drop D on a 6-string guitar.) Although we were all getting into the sound of the djenty guitar, so low the band doesn’t need a bassist, I do wish there was more higher register guitar work though! (This also makes me wonder if there are bands that are just a drummer and an 8-string guitarist, where either one of them sings.)

Sara, an accomplished screamer.

What a varied night! Music ranging from heavy sludge to vocal harmony!

Dash x Bassment Syndicate Live at No Black Tie

6th July 2014: Dash x Bassment Syndicate Live at No Black Tie.

The boys of Darren Ashley’s band, Dash, are back again.

All in red and suits.

No suit, just tie.

Darren picks up his ol’ acoustic guitar for a throwback to his pre-electropop days… but the songs escalate into electropop eventually.

View from upstairs.

Full house.

Massive drum (not) solo! Also, Isaac has gotta have more cowbell!

Darren with one KAOSS Pad today, instead of the usual two. Also note his red towel!

View from the balcony.

Here’s their last song for the night, We Are Over Here. (Thanks Isaac and Dash for the name!)

Next up: Bassment Syndicate!

I like that they always bring their own lighting.

There is probably a spookier angle, but I did not take it.

Upstairs, Clara and I.

Monica encourages us to drink water. It’s good for you!

Artsy shot by artsy Clara.

Jeremy and Monica. Not my blurry in-the-club shot.

Drunk on F&N, obviously.

I didn’t have one of Bassment Syndicate’s funky LED lights so my phone screen would have to do.

So back to the band, with Marcus.

He invited on stage…

…the amazing Najwa Mahiaddin!

If I remember correctly, they did the neo-soul Bassment Syndicate feat. Najwa – Confusion. A really groovy, smooth track.

Fook also sings, sometimes, alternating between bass and guitar. This gives the band an interesting sound, that’s not too full in that guitar and bass sound, to be filled up by keyboards…

…or trombone.

They also invited Darren Ashley up.

They’d performed together before.

The crowd was asked to get up!

I haven’t seen the crowd stand up in No Black Tie, to the best of my memory.

I forgot this guy’s name. Eric something, I think, in town for a bit.

For some reason, the way he looks reminds me a lot of Murphy Kenneth Hibbert…

…also known as Bleeding Gums Murphy, Lisa Simpson’s saxophone mentor in The Simpsons!

Meanwhile, outside, Feeka, the hipster coffee shop next door, had a sign that said “Close”. I think we can tell. It was open earlier in the day, so I don’t know why they’d have to put a sign!

On the other side of Jalan Mesui was this signboard.


5th July 2014: Alter:Fest, at Merdekarya! I didn’t catch the name of this band, who played during the open mic session.

Brendan James de Cruz, with a raspy rock voice.


Jes Ebrahim, a familiar face.


Christian Palencia, organizer, introduces the emcee…

Amanda! Cute, funny and full of corny jokes.

Guess whose do-it-yourself contraption this belongs to!

Ray Cheong, fingerstyle funk soul rock and roll star.

While waiting for the next band to set up, Amanda took the oppurtunity to pimp the pre-loved stalls set up downstairs, by showing off the deals she got.

The guys from Six Strings, a guitar store.

Interestingly, the Timoz-branded cajon that the Yao-Ming-faced guitarist is sitting on, is made in Kluang, Johor – it’s a Malaysian brand. I don’t remember exactly, but it was mentioned that they hire ex-offenders as well, a good way to reintegrate them into society.

I was feeling really tired and was about to leave when Tasha got on stage, so I stayed to see this familiar face.

Eness, too. I’d seen both of them when I was taking pictures and recording videos for Ministry Of Blunk when they were recording an EP, as they laid down vocal harmonies on the tracks.

Together, they form Tashnes! Awesome vocal harmony like none I’d heard before, with tight acoustic guitar. It was like Destiny’s Child on guitar, with fingerstyle guitar slapping, even! (Slapping guitar for Ne-Yo – One In A Million, wow!)

They’re tight in real life too, having been best friends since childhood. I love their on-stage chemistry! I stayed for their whole set.

Here they are, covering Little Mix – Wings.

Sara G., to great acclaim from the audience.