Celebrating in spectacular style


A spectacular drum show that featured top professional drum troops established in the North, Central and South of Malaysia, aptly marked the 36th anniversary celebration since the founding of the art of the 24 Festive Drums in Johor Baru.


Taking a bow at the close of the anniversary show
[Photo courtesy of Tan Chai Puan]

This celebratory drum show was presented in the evening of Saturday, June 8, at the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House, the venue for the past season of Drum Up JB! shows staged here since January 2023.


The day’s activities kicked off at 3.30pm that afternoon with a celebration ceremony that included the official announcement of the next season shows dubbed, Drum Up JB! 2.0 that will showcase all-new performances by the artistes in JB Drums and Orang Orang Drum Theatre, scheduled for 4, 5 & 6 October 2024.


At the cake-cutting ceremony held in the
foyer of Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House
[Photo courtesy of Tan Chai Puan]

The drummers and drum enthusiasts then gathered in the foyer of the Opera House for a cake-cutting ceremony and tea reception to commemorate its 36th anniversary.


“It’s a full-house tonight,” the floor manager, Chingli, declared happily when we met in the lobby of the Opera House that evening. She, however, deeply regretted that she had to turn away three walk-ins (so far!) because it was already a sold-out show.


I agreed with her that it was good to be back again after a six-month break since the last Drum Up JB!


One for the album from the anniversary show
[Photo courtesy of Tan Chai Puan]

You see, when the Drum Up JB! shows kicked off in January 2023, I had the privilege to partner with them with a pop-up store in the lobby the Opera House.


During the Drum shows, the MC will make an announcement to alert fans that the story of the 24 Festive Drums was duly documented in My Johor Stories and that they could get their own copies and have their books autographed by the author.


It was my pleasure to autograph my books
for readers of My Johor Stories

I must say that this pop-up store had given me a great deal of opportunity to meet with readers who enjoy looking over my books, flipping the pages and having a chat with me before buying the trilogy of My Johor Stories and having them autographed.


I must also congratulate them because they are now proud owners of My Johor Stories books, a trilogy which is fast becoming a collectors’ item. 


That evening, as the audience trickled into the lobby, I observed that many did not pay much attention to my books. This, I am well aware, was probably because they were not conversant in English.


With Paul and his wife, 
from Batu Pahat, Johor

This temporary setback was compensated by others who approached me with queries, not only about my books but for the date for my next Heritage Walk.


They are familiar with my Heritage Walks that are based on My Johor Stories in a “live” experience with me because they have been following my stories on Facebook and were keen to join.


I thanked them for their interest and explained that for now, when the weather was so scorchingly hot, it was best to delay that date to avoid any risk of any participant feeling uncomfortable or suffering any form of heatstroke.


In fact (I told them!) I have been receiving numerous queries online. So I encouraged them to drop me a line on Facebook Messenger, for me to let them know of that coming date when they may register to join my next Heritage Walk.


With Yee Lin and her family

As more arrivals flooded the lobby, I believed that the audience for this anniversary show will comprise fans and drum enthusiasts who were keen to enjoy the performances by leading professional drum troops in the nation, all in one great show.


Yes, I had the pleasure to watch this spectacular show where the Johor Baru-based JB Drums professional drum team was joined by leading drum teams of the Kuala Lumpur-based Hands Percussion, Batu Pahat-based Shicheng Theatre and Penang-based Louds Percussion.


[I obeyed the strictly No-Photography rule in the theatre, so I do not have any photographs of the performances to share here.]


As for me, it was a pleasure to meet with supporters of the visiting drum troops who were in Johor Baru to enjoy this anniversary show. Among them was Paul from Batu Pahat, who were delighted to discover the trilogy of My Johor Stories that was published in English, and Yee Lin, who was there with her family.


Tan Chai Puan, snapping a we-fie
with a group of young people

On this auspicious occasion, I also had the pleasure to congratulate co-founder of the art of the 24 Festive Drums, Tan Chai Puan, and watched with amusement as young people chatted with this living legend.


After all, Tan was honoured with the Warisan Orang Hidup award by the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry in 2018, for his contributions to culture and heritage.


When I observed how Tan happily agreed to snap a we-fie with them, I was pleased to see that there was clearly no generation-gap but pure unity among fellow drum enthusiasts.


The Drum Up JB! shows are an entertaining and exciting, family-friendly showcase that reaches out to unite the community through the language of drumming, percussion and music.


With the new show dates lined up for Drum Up JB! in October 2024, don’t miss the opportunity to get your tickets for the shows and visit my pop-up store set up at the lobby of the Opera House for autographed copies of My Johor Stories.

Taste the Middle East at Turmeric


From now till June 25, resort guests and the local community will have the pleasure of tasting Arabian hospitality and gastronomy at the Turmeric restaurant, an award-winning fine dining destination in the Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas.


View of the swimming pools from the Turmeric
at Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas

This is made possible with the presence of specialty Chef Waed Norddin Qerqmaz who is here in Johor, visiting from the Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort.


At the entrance to the Turmeric, I paused to look closer at the poster which proudly announced details about the chef and his cuisine and eagerly anticipated meeting him and of course, tasting the Middle Eastern dishes.


It was a pleasure to be back at the Turmeric and be among the guests for a preview to experience the essence of the Middle East by tasting Chef Waed’s specially curated spread, served for both lunch and dinner but only for a limited time.


Chef Waed presents a specially
curated menu at the Turmeric

When Chef Waed emerged from the kitchen to introduce his cuisine, the soft-spoken chef proudly declared, “During my residency here, we will not only be revisiting the classics but will also be introducing innovative twists that merge the familiar with the novel.”


Diners who wish to pick from the ala carte menu, may enjoy time-honoured Middle Eastern recipes that are served with contemporary flair.


They may savour an array of traditional mezze like Hummus, Tabbouleh, Fattoush, the nutritious Falafel salad and the burrata cheese salad with dry zaatar.


The main dishes were both light and satisfying.


A serving of pan-fried Seabass with Tahini sauce

They included pan-fried Seabass with Tahini sauce, Lamb Ouzi, Moroccan Chicken Tajinen with tender vegetables and olives, and the Arabic Mixed Grill that featured meats like Chicken Shish Tauok, Lamb Kofta Khashkahash and Lamb Arrays.


To end the meal sweetly, Chef Waed created a choice of cold and warm desserts in a fusion of Eastern tradition with Western innovation: Turkish Labneh Panna Cotta was served cold while the Umm Ali puff pastry pudding was served warm.


Best of all, these specialty dishes are also featured in the buffet dinner spread priced at RM148+ per person, served at Turmeric restaurant on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


A choice of cold and warm desserts:
warm Umm Ali puff pastry pudding [Left] and
Turkish Labneh Panna Cotta [Right] served cold

Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas is the Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas group’s first luxury hotel in Malaysia, designed within lush tropical gardens on the exclusive Desaru Coast in Johor.


Located at Persiaran Pantai, Desaru Coast, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor, it is a smooth drive away from Johor Baru city via the Senai-Desaru Expressway.


For reservations, Tel: +607 – 8280 888 or email: fb.ades@anantara.com


For more information on Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, visit webpage: www.anantara.com/en/desaru-coast.