Abu Dhabi #4 - Cultural Differences

Cultural differences

Sooo many! It’s hard to know where to start! Ramadan of course is a biggie (see separate blog). The effect of this country turning from Bedouin state to Oil rich opulence is truly remarkable. No more than 40 years ago this was a dessert with basic quality of life. A British colony as it goes, back then. Then the founding father of the modern day country (Sheikh Zayed Mohammed) decided all that would change and following the end of colonisation, the city began to grow.

40 years on, it’s a spacious place – still growing, but there’s big gaps in between the towers, and the roads are very uncluttered, albeit with rather large mpv’s.

What effect can this have had on the people? I hear there is so much wealth here that the Government gives anyone who marries locally $200,000 and a 5 bed house to get them started (my apologies for the repeat information if you read the First Impressions blog). If you leave the country, they pay for the highest level of education possible, and then do their best to ship you back to their country to reap the benefits of their investment. But one thing seems clear – these people don’t have to work.

On one hand, it’s great that they share so much of the oil money with their people – there’s no poverty here. Unemployment, yes, but poverty, no. At least, not if you’re Emirati.

 

Anyway, back to cultural differences. All the above might correctly lead you to assume there is a strong sense of hierarchy here, and loyalty to their own people. In England, I think we have a different approach – we do our best (though fail) to treat everyone equally, regardless of class, nationality, age even. I think we adopt an attitude of “Do as unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

This doesn’t seem to exist here. It makes me wonder why the Expats stay, but I guess the money’s good. Personally, with a big family back in the UK, it wouldn’t be enough for me, no matter how much money.

 

Eating – they eat communally here, from one big bowl, and they eat with their hands. You won’t often see this however, because although it’s very cosmopolitan here, unlike UK, Abu Dhabi is kinda segregated. The locals barely mix with foreigners, or so it seems. The culture gap is too big, the bridge toooo long. I think it often leads to misunderstandings and controversy.

I did see/experience this however with a group of very nice Emirati’s in the lobby of my hotel (see “Abu Dhabi blog #5 – The People” for more on this!) and I’m not sure about it.. is it  hygienic? I didn’t see anyone washing their hands first…

 

On the other hand, this is one of those many countries which has what is affectionally known as ‘bum-squirters’ in all the toilets. Now these things should be globally introduced! Not only is it unquestionably cleaner, but it’s fun too!

Sure beats the crap out of toilet paper…

 

 

The best show of cultural differences is explained to me by another Mohammed, who part runs the cultural and heritage area at my event.

He tells me of the social do’s and don’ts, such as not to finish eating before your guest, and only pour a small amount of coffee into a guests cup. Why not? He explains… the coffee is too hot and you are free to help yourself to more.  This way you don’t burn your tongue. The exception to this is if you want to talk to your guest about something specific. Then you can pour more and he will know that his host has something to discuss, so the coffee will still be hot when the conversation is done.

 

Furthermore, it’s rude to blow on your drink to cool it down. And to sniff your food can be crossing a line – what do you think? That I will serve you something unpleasant?

He also shows me around their stand, which includes a man writing your name in Arabic calligraphy (which I later have embroidered onto a t-shirt, much to their joy!), and the three moustachioed women I mentioned earlier in my “First Impressions” post. I ask him quietly why the women have fake moustaches, and he looks at me confused… “They’re not wearing moustaches” he tells me. – it’s part of their Berkah – they hide their top lip with them to avoid the attention of male desires…

Hahahahahaha! I love stuff like this! It’s exactly this kind of thing that points out that the term “cultural gaps” is not helpful. It’s a bridge, not a gap. And finding out this, makes me wonder about all the other stories I am told.. .do they really fine westerners for drinking water in public during Ramadan? What is the truth behind the picture of the kids in the Heritage and Artistic brochure that shows pictures of kids playing with guns? How come stories are abound of Emirati superiority complexes, but they are so welcoming to me whenever I meet them in the flesh?

 

I doubt I will get to the bottom of all these questions during this one short trip. I only have 4 days to go, and there’s so many conflicting thoughts running through my head, any conclusions I can draw can only be half baked.

 

*** LATER – Since writing this, I have discovered the truth between the kids dancing with guns. It’s a dance. They spin the guns to music.

Doesn’t make it any better as far as I’m concerned – they’re still putting rifles in the hands of kids, but at least I understand now.

Apparently there’s another dance they do which is a strange bobbing forward and backward dance whilst holding a stick. I’m told that it’s really dull, but someone has had the most inventive idea of putting footage of it up on youtube but changing the music to a Michael Jackson track!

Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPie9sONDoM

Written by Sam Heath • July 21, 2013

Abu Dhabi #3 - THE BUBBLESHOWS!

The BUBBLE SHOWS!

So how are the shows I’ll bet you’re wondering… How are they received? How’s the air-con? What does the client think?

Well, the shows are all going well – I’m at number 79 now, of 100 shows I’m doing this Summer (split between UK, Indonesia, Abu Dhabi, and Hong Kong), and I’ve got my show pretty well sorted. That’s one of the great things about performing intensively like this – it gives you the creative opportunity to really nail down what works and what doesn’t.

The air con isn’t too bad, although there’s a big draft from it which kinda kills my “Bubble-Vision” section of my show.

 

Every show is well received and although the client hasn’t said all that much, I know that they are happy. The staff on the show all shout out to me “I LOVE BUBBLES” whenever they see me (a tagline in my shows).

And the kids? Well,.. the kids love it, just as they do in any other country. Most of them are cute and nice regular kids. Unfortunately, this is often overtaken by the 10 or 20% who are N A U G H T Y!

Ohmigosh! From what I hear, I’ve had it pretty light, but even still…. They get up on my stage in the middle of my show ALL THE TIME! Repeatedly! Then they run about giggling, trying not to be caught. Do they have performer aspirations? They want to be famous? Or they just like being naughty… I don’t know, but it has taken all my patience to just stick with my plan of being firm with them. I learnt a few words of Arabic, and one word is “KHALLAS!” It means “Enough!” I put my hand on their shoulder and squeeze just enough to let them know I’m serious and it seems to work. The security aren’t allowed to touch the kids as the kids are all Emirati’s and the job of a security guard is waaayyy below anything that they would do for a living. That’s how it is here – a lot depends on your social standing.

 

The older boys (say 10-12) are worse – they still try to get up on your stage but they DON’T CARE! About ANYTHING! They won’t get off if they don’t want to, or they’ll turn up with the aim of trying to ruin your show, partly by shouting and at you, but also in the case of the Clowns and Balloon girls, they have pinched Christine’s bottom, taken bits of their equipment, broken their tools, and told Becca, to f**k off!

 

Why do they do this? People discuss this quite a lot, and it’s generally assumed that they do it because they are not given any boundaries by their parents. They get everything that they want (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRTkCHE1sS4), and their Philippino nannies aren’t allowed to discipline them. Apparently their parents don’t spend enough time with them, although I don’t know if this is true: Kids rule here.

Also, and perhaps most importantly, they don’t get enough sleep!

This was the article that appeared in the National newspaper this morning – that kids in the Arabian culture tend to stay up very late and getting less than 8 hours of sleep a night when you’re little can lead to Attention Deficit Disorder. It’s not something that happens in the West so much – my kids go to bed between 8 and 9 every night. They probably get closer to 10 hours sleep. But here, the kids are up whenever. Either because their parents let them, or because they get to choose their bedtime. It’s rife.

 

Just to further illustrate this, my shows here are all during Ramadan, so they are at night! Sometimes my first show is not till MIDNIGHT and my last show can finish as late as 2.30 in the morning. It’s an event FOR kids!

 

My next leg of my tour is going to be 15 gigs in Hong Kong and is a Guinness World Records show. It’s a free event like in Jakarta, so I expect there’ll be more people there, and I look forward to giving you the lowdown on what the kids are like there!

Better… I hope!

 

Happy bubbling!

Samsam

Written by Sam Heath • July 21, 2013

Abu Dhabi #2 - RAMADAN!

Ramadan

For those of you who don’t know, this is a month long event in the Moslem calendar where people don’t eat, drink or smoke during the daytime – as far as I can ascertain, it’s a time of thinking about others, family time, abstinence and an opportunity to celebrate their religious beliefs.

Generally, as I learn from the expats, it’s also a time when many people take their holidays. Both locals and expats. It’s not an easy time to be in an Arab country. For one, pretty much everything is shut during the day, so my shows all happen after dark, and there’s not a lot to do during the day. My days are slow… they crawl by with me spending too long on Facebook, watching one of the many blackmarket dvd’s I picked up in Jakarta (thank god!), keeping up with emails/work, and chilling by the pool (once the heat of the day has passed).

Doesn’t sound too bad right? And it’s not. In many ways, I appreciate the down time. I don’t get an awful lot of it at home with two kids and two businesses to run. Thank god there’s a pool at my hotel… my first hotel closed their pool after the first few days, and I quickly started to feel like a battery hen. Cooped up in my hotel room all day, no-where to go, and no outside space to chill. So I figured this was a good time to go out and see some of what Abu Dhabi has to offer.

Unfortunately, what Abu Dhabi has to offer at any time of year, doesn’t really fit with me. Look up top attractions on Tripadvisor, (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g294013-Activities-Abu_Dhabi_Emirate_of_Abu_Dhabi.html) and maybe you’ll get a sense of what I mean. This one I found particularly funny: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294013-d2358809-Reviews-Al_Maqtaa_Fort-Abu_Dhabi_Emirate_of_Abu_Dhabi.html

Mostly, it’s either malls, or visiting the extravagant hotels… or there’s Yas Waterworld which is a pretty extravagant theme park.

So I went to Emirates Palace – the most opulent hotel of them all. The grounds are lavish, and the interior, gold plated! There’s a vending machine that sells gold!

It would be nice maybe if I was staying there, but after a while I just figured ‘what’s the point?’

And Yas Waterworld? Something about being a 41 year old man going to a theme park for the day on his own feels a bit wrong. Know what I mean?

So I jumped back in a cab and asked for Marina Mall. It’s a mall. Shops you could go to in England. And some others. Even if they were open which they’re not because it’s Ramadan, they don’t really hold anything for me.

Not only that, but I am expected to respect the Ramadan tradition by not eating or drinking anything in any public area. If I do so, I can be fined £500 for the first time, a LOT more for the second, and imprisoned for the third.

I DO respect their tradtion, but that doesn’t mean I have to follow it! And what would the Emirati’s in UK say if we insisted they follow Christmas, or Easter?

The result of this is that after half an hour out and about, I get so dehydrated I have to return to my hotel just to drink some water. I am later reliably informed that I can lock myself in a toilet and drink there of course, but as I say, Malls and flash hotels? Who cares?

 

So, I go back to my hotel, become a Facebook freak, and see if I can actually come back from a gig with a tan. Believe me, this is rare.

Written by Sam Heath • July 21, 2013

Abu Dhabi bubble shows #1 - First Impressions

First impressions

Immediately upon leaving Jakarta, on getting on the plane in fact, I begin to notice differences. People seem larger – I’m surrounded by large men (one of them in my seat!). A lot of people are on their way to Mecca which is in Saudi Arabia. Mohammed, sitting next to me, seems a gentle giant, and politely teaches me a few words.

Once out of the airport, the next thing to hit me is the heat – temperatures here in summer regularly hit 50 degrees, and the humidity makes it pretty wearing. It’s not too dissimilar to what I imagine walking through the inside of a cow must be like, and thoughts of Damien Hirst works quickly fill my brain.

I’m quickly ushered into my car, a very flash brand new black Audi that feels like I’ve entered into some kind of Hithchikers Guide spaceship. Alll the trimmings, including a cooler in the armrest for drinks and plenty of flashy lights which I don’t understand.

Apparently there’s a car museum here which was featured on Top Gear. They loooove their cars, and showing off their wealth is a national sport.

 

It’s funny hearing all the reports of the heatwave in England… The online Newspapers and multitude of FB posts talk about at 32 degrees, how unbearably hot it is in the UK at the moment, and I think (and reply to FB friends) how it’s 6 degrees hotter here at 4 in the morning!

People say to me “it’s different though isn’t it.” Yep I think.. you’re right: it’s waaaayyy hotter! Literally impossible to do anything during the day. If I take my computer out to the pool to enjoy the pool-side wi-fi, I can only stay out for 20 minutes because the machine heats up to the point where I seriously worry it might explode.

But there is a difference of course, and the difference is that everything here is air conditioned. Probably not far off 90% of my time here is inside. They think it’s crazy that we have radiators….

 

 

I’m exhausted after my trip and can’t wait to get some sleep in my hotel. Unfortunately my room turns out to stink of stale cigarettes, and in the hour and a half it takes for them to decide to upgrade me (they don’t have another room in my price bracket) my patience begins to fail. The second room eventually turns up, and that smells too. Another hour goes by and eventually I am given a non-stinky room, pull down the curtains and drift off to sleep.

 

Later I awake and drift over to the venue to check it out, and meet my client for the first time. Becca (from Surrey) is my first point of contact. She’s nice and comes over to say hello during the Balloonatic’s last performance. She shows me around the event. It’s basically an indoor funfair, with coconut shy style booths, and an impressive obstacle course. A huge inflatable bed, the size of a house that you can jump onto from great height. A Deathslide. A separate stage with Sesame Street shows in Arabic (they are about to start filming the Arabic version of Sesame Street here), a Lego copy of the city complete with giant Sheiks and their wives, and best of all, the Cultural Heritage Arts Village”. A quick look in here blows your mind – amidst the face painting, hennae tattoos, and workshops, is something bizarre! 3 older women in near full berkahs creating traditional craft objects, whilst wearing false moustaches! (see  “cultural differences” blog for more on this!).

 

I end up back at the hotel, celebrating their last night before heading back to the UK drinking with  a bunch of expats in the hotel bar…. That’s what expats do.

Written by Sam Heath • July 21, 2013

Interview questions from Hong Kong - for Samsam

Hi everyone!

So i finished my last show in Jakarta and bid farewell. I think one of the highlights for me was the experience of giving out 300 large signed stickers of pictures of me performing to the audience. It was all i could do to give them out safely! The surge as i offered out the stickers was incredible to the point of danger! Adults pushing kids out of the way to get to the front of the stage, and kids going wild to grab a sticker! i ended up throwing some of them up in the air and they wafted down to the sea of arms below. I stopped giving them to the adults and made sure that they kids got them, but it was like nothing i've ever experienced before....

Imagine like a jumble sale where all the grannies have had waaaaaaayyyyy too much coffee (dumbed down for the sake of youth).

Also probably most meaningful moments were to do with showing the 2 films - 1 my new documentary short, and no. 2 about the bubbles and Orangutan appeal. It was great to see how many people watched the film.

 

Anyway, so i'm now in Abu Dhabi and awaiting my first show (tonight at 8.30pm). It's Ramadan starting here today whichi is kinda wierd! I'm also awaiting a point where i can get my head together enough to write a blog post about how different it is here from Jakarta, or England, or anywhere else so keep your eyes peeled for my next bubble adventure post!

But in the meantime, i thought you might like to learn a bit about me and my history of bubbles. I didn't plan any of this - my last country on this tour is Hong Kong, and they sent me some PR questions to fill in. I figured you might like to see the answers.

Don't forget to leave comments!

Samsam

 

 

QUESTIONS FROM CLIENT IN HONG KONG

Bubble Show

 

Bubble Show

  1. Background information for Samsam

Qualification:

Experience:

Award List:

  1. Reason of learning/ selecting such item:
  1. The three most impressing awards received
  1. The three most impressing publicities (TV Shows, Newspaper etc)
  1. Countries/ Cities visited as a performer
  1. Have you ever been performing in HK (if yes, please list the time and venue)
  1. Have you even been performing in some famous artists/ celebrities? (if yes, please list the time and venue)
  1. Any updated rundown for the performance in Cityplaza

Remarks:

 

 

 

SAMSAM ANSWERS:

 

1)    a) qualification – I learnt my art by teaching myself as I learnt before qualification in Bubbleology was available. Now I set up the first ever college for bubble studies (www.bubbleinc.co.uk) and am the principle and founder. (joke!)

b) Experience – making bubbles since 1989 following my ‘bubble epiphany.’ I was sat in a field in England when I was 17 and saw a bubble float across my vision. I wondered and marveled at it’s beauty… floating ball of colour and light… how do you exist?

Then,… ‘pop’ and it was gone. Was it even there in the first place??? Like magic, but real.

 

This began my hobby into soap bubbles. For 11 years it stayed as a hobby and I learnt tricks and started mixing my own bubble solutions as well as collected different toys, solutions and books about bubbles.

Then in 2000, I set up new company - Bubble Inc (www.bubbleinc.co.uk or www.samsambubbleman.com) - to provide whatever people would want from bubbles. If they wanted to buy bubble toys or machines, then we could supply them. If they wanted bubbles for an event, then we could help. If it was something else, well… as long as it was bubble related we can probably do it too! Tell us your bubble vision!

Since then we have now a team of 25 people working with bubbles and have worked on creating bubbles for the Opening Olympic Ceremony last year; SFX for tv and film; Many pr exercises and tv commercials (eg Sony Bravia, O2, Cussons, Diaggeo; Barclays etc etc); celebrities and royalty (Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Royal Family of Dubai, Royal Family of Saudi Arabia, Paul McCartney, JK Rowling, Danny Boyle, Peter Gabriel, Shakira, Ringo Star, Michael Caine, and many more)

c) Awards – 9 x Guinness World Records; 1 x Certificate of Honour (Indonesia); Several other world record awards.

 

2)    See 1b)

To add a little to this – there is something very special to me about bubbles… I don’t’ think there’s anything else that has the kind of power that they do. You don’t believe me that bubbles have power? Find me something else,… ANYTHING else that can turn a 40 year old or even a 90 year old back into a child. Think about it. How much money does the cosmetics industry plough into finding products that can do this? How much money do we as a race spend on this search for the fountain of eternal youth? Actually a pot of bubbles is cheap does the same thing, and makes everyone else happy too.

3) Most people in a bubble, Largest Frozen bubble, Certificate of Honour (from Indonesian Government).

4) Most impressing publicities:

a)    The pictures I suggested to you of the giant bubble (from Barcroft Media ) – these got printed one day in August 2009 and was subsequently printed in 57 different countries newspapers.

b)   2 hour live appearance on BBC national radio for DJ Chris Evans – audience figure of approx. 3 million UK professionals – generated huge amount of work for us, and Chris Evans Radio Show went on to win prestigious Sony award for best entertainment. I was then invited back onto the show to celebrate my part in this. He called me “The Willy Wonka of bubbles!”

c) Olympic Opening Ceremony – I was given creative control of a 40 second segment of London’s Opening Olympic Ceremony last year and ran a team of 355 people making bubbles

d) Japanese tv show in 2010 with audience of 20,000,000 – see edited clip here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysGnLPyMvIQ

 

5)    UK, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait, Nigeria, South Africa, Hong Kong, Indonesia.

 

6)    I performed once in HK back in 2008 – for Sony festival at HK exhibition centre.

 

7)    see 1 b), plus more UK based celebrities such as Jarvis Cocker, Lily Allen, Tim Minchin, Chris Evans, Mohammed Al Fayed, Philip Schofield, Russell Howard,

Written by Sam Heath • July 10, 2013

Last Show!

It’s the last weekend of the Jakarta leg of my world bubble tour. I’m 38 shows down, 62 to go, but only 6 left in Jakarta. I figured it was about time you got a flavour of one of my shows! (Youtube links below – I hope you enjoy it!)

Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucajRpf6wJg&feature=youtu.be

Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuXLzK5wo-M&feature=youtu.be

 

Funny in a way,.. I LOVE performing here, but it’s not a great city. For a start, there’s no metro, and 30 million people, so it’s pretty congested. Also it’s not like there’s lots of sights or parks here… look it up in the Lonely Planet, and it only gets about 5 pages.

But to work here is kinda magnificent for me. Mostly because of the people – they love it when I try to speak Indonesian (‘Bahasa’); eagerly step into my bubble world without any pretence or hesitation; and show their appreciation in a very open way. Actually it’s more like adulation! The reaction at the end of my shows is startling. Makes me feel like some kind of pop star!

 

Also the venue give me a lot of creative freedom, and like to get involved with ideas for my show, so it’s constantly developing and we’re often trying things out.

It’s not always like this everywhere I perform. I don’t know how my next set of (41) shows in Abu Dhabi will be, and I’m sure my last shows in Hong Kong will follow a much more structured format, with a bit more strict time keeping! My shows here can go on pretty much as long as I like… J

 

And these last 2 days, they definitely WILL go on a lot longer than the original 30-40 minutes planned. I have been pretty busy organising the details of my last shows and want to share it with you!

So for a start, you may have seen on Facebook, I’ve set up a photographic competition – best photograph sent in of my bubble show wins: tea with me; gets to go in a bubble in my last show; bubble prizes; a blown up copy of their photo; and one of my Samsam Bubbleman t-shirts. You should check out the photos if you haven’t already – there’s some great ones in there! Let me know your favourites!

https://www.facebook.com/samsambubbleman/media_set?set=a.10151708213635295.1073741828.740155294&type=1

The venue are also making hundreds of giant stickers for me to sign and give out in the last show…! Gonna take me some time…

 

Also planned for the last show is we’re going to set up a big screen and show a couple of short movies:

1)    My latest bubble documentary “The Bubbleologist” made by Jan Bednarz http://buzzfilms.co.uk/projects/  - it's in the third row down!

 

2)    I’m dedicating the show to OPF Orangutan Foundation (http://opf.org) and the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (http://orangutan.or.id)  and showing their wonderful movie about Orangutans and bubbles (http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3202377/the_gentle_apes/)

 

I read the Indonesian newspaper every day at breakfast and you can tell that there is the grass roots of a culture that is becoming more environmentally and socially aware. Reports about the smog and traffic talk about how awful it is and finding solutions to it run alongside articles about how the Government is no longer treating drug users as criminals, but as victims who need help.

And articles about the rich and amazing wildlife and how it should be protected more… there’s a strong sense of something changing here. But it’s also mixed up with money which is often no.1,… and a nothing else matters kind of attitude is the challenger which could easily halt any advances.

But at least people are becoming aware.

 

You may have heard about the terrible smoke pollution that Singapore and Malaysia have recently experienced, making people physically ill, and even dying! This was caused by the illegal technique of clearing rain forest in Indonesian Sumatra to make way for Palm Oil plantation.  Fires burnt out of control, and are destroying not just the forests, or the health of the Singaporeans, but also the natural habitat for 1000’s of species of rare and endangered animals.

 

F***ing Palm Oil!?! Do you even know what it looks like? I don’t but it comes in toothpastes, and biscuits and all kinds of everyday items that you and I use all the time! Even soap L

There is a move to clean up this industry and it’s growing rapidly in popularity, but only because it’s so small at the moment.

One organisation I highly recommend you check out is called “The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil”, but it’s spelt out more clearly at their sub-site: http://www.betterpalmoil.org/ where you can get information on which big companies have signed up and lots more info to help you and i not consume at the cost of Orangutans.

Do yourself and all of us a favour – probably one of the biggest things you can do to help save the planet right now – check out their website.

 

Anyway, apologies for the overly long preachy blog! I hope it means something to you, as it does to me.

 

Happy bubbling!

 

Samsam Bubbleman

www.samsambubbleman.com

 

ps don’t forget to SHARE this and please leave a comment!     -     On here and on the youtube videos!!

Written by Sam Heath • July 06, 2013

Traffic and Toilets - Jakarta June 30th 2013

The middle weekend of my Jakarta shows has been picked to peak by packing my normal shows in with the Grand Opening of my host’s new giant Mall at Berkasi. I have been picked to be their opening act, 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.

This is fine and kinda exciting, except for the fact that it’s on COMPLETELY the other side of 30 MILLION people, and there’s no Metro system here. No Metro = Matcheet (Indonesian for “Traffic”).

It’s bad. I mean REALLY bad. The kind of country where you regularly have to abandon plans because you may well be stuck in a jam for 6 hours +.  The situation has gotten so poor, our driver AVOIDS the toll road because it’s too jammed up. The day that Jakarta gets an Underground system, will be the beginning of a new age of prosperity for this city.

 

Traffic is one example of the kind of cultural differences that change from country to country, and the kind of thing I love to identify. The whole way they approach vehicles is different here… people pull out when you’re going at speed, and you just move out the way. Crossing the street is different too, as it is in many countries. I remember when I performed in Japan, people don’t cross the street unless it’s a) at a crossing and b) the pedestrian light is green…even if it’s 2 in the morning and there wasn’t a car in sight. Why? It was explained to me that it’s standard behaviour here no matter what time of day, to make sure that children don’t get set a bad example of taking risks on crossing the street. Makes sense actually.

They don’t do that here. You have to have faith (in the lord?) and follow everyone else!

 

Another cultural difference is the gents loos. The urinals are side by side as they are in most other countries, but the people get so close to them, they practically climb into the things! Assumedly Westerners stand back a bit just to keep some distance from the potentially urine splattered porcelain, but literally they’re almost inside! Apparently to make sure no one sees your todger. And the weirdest thing is, I realise as I’m taking a leak, that I’m the unusual one here.

Which probably explains why the person peeing next to me is staring at my willy.

I love the note in the toilet too - a sign carefully printed in Bahasa and English asks “Please check you’re belonging before you leave”

 

Anyway, back to my crazy weekend. So I’ve got up early and clambered aboard our mini tour coach with the 12 crew. Dancers, MC’s stage hands, my liason, sound and light engineers chat to each other as we begin the drive across the city. I’m still on 5 hours sleep a night and so take the chance to zone out.

The journey takes around 3 hours, and we’re late by the time we drive into the area. A big poster with me at the top of the bill get’s my heart pumping and my excitement grows. We step off the coach and I’m immediately greeted by the managers and politely shown to the stage. A quick look sees that the entrance to the stage is unlikely to fit “Barbara” through the door (Barbara is my 8foot inflatable ball that I begin my show in), and I immediately set to work to make sure. After a lot of twisting and turning, we figure out we can just about do it if I roll in on it’s side. I’m sharing the stage with another show that’s here for longer – The Transformer’s show – a kind of meet and greet/stage show with giant robots.

 

We’re late for the show now, and as we have to get back across Jakarta for my 5pm and 7pm shows, everyone helps set up all my equipment. Before I know it, my show starts and I’m on stage. It goes well, and the large crowd flock to the bubbles.

 

Gig done, we pack up and are ready to go, it’s 2.45, leaving us only an hour and a half to get back. But, the organisers have managed to arrange us a police escort for the return journey so we are accompanied by two very large motorcycle cops on serious motorbikes who weave from side to side and direct the cars to make space for us to slip through, much to the delight of all the crew!

 

I have to admit this is the highlight of my weekend and I can’t resist sticking on the Blues Brothers classic “Peter Gunn theme” on the coach stereo.

It compliments the view!

http://youtu.be/QCV0mW_ZVNM

 

We’re back by 4pm

 

Written by Sam Heath • July 01, 2013

I LOVE BUBBLES!

16 shows down, 84 to go!

I'm backstage about to begin no.17...

The compere, Defri is on stage warming the crowd up. Not that they need much warming up, but he has a natural talent for this kind of stuff - he gets the kids doing all kinds of silly things, much to the delight of the audience! He's a fun guy and even his physical appearance says 'entertainer'... something like a cross between Joe Pesci and Mr. Tumble.

Robbie and Adri, my 2 stage hands are filling up rocket balloons (http://www.bubbleinc.co.uk/products/rocket-balloons-1) and have the stage all set. They finish what they're doing and get ready to inflate "Barbara," my 8 foot inflatable bubble ball which i enter the stage in.

The two dancers, Dewi and Mona, (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10201535484058010&set=pcb.10201535484898031&type=1&theater) go out to get ready to begin their dance which preceedes my show.It begins!

As soon as their music begins, we get out the giant fans backstage and Robbie and Adri inflate Barbara enough for me to clamber inside.

Biggles hat... check. Goggles... check. New "bubbles inside of bubbles" bubble guns... check! (get them here! http://www.bubbleinc.co.uk/products/new-bubble-inside-a-bubble-gun). Penknife in case the zip breaks and i can't get out... check!

The dancers music concludes and Defri comes back on stage to introduce me...

My music starts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tT6Cl1slJbI)....

The curtain pushes forward as i begin to roll out.

Here i go!

"Let me hear you say 'I LOVE BUBBLES!'"

Written by Sam Heath • June 27, 2013

98 to go!

21st June, 2013

To whom it may concern,

 

 

 I loved my second Jakarta show today!

 

It filled me with excitement about the 43 shows left. If we can do that at 4 o’ clock in the afternoon on first day, then what the 10th, 25th or 45th or 95th show be?

 

The great thing about the Indonesian people is how you give them a little, and they give you back a LOT! They really enjoy the entertainment, and their reaction is startling! They make me feel like a pop star!

 

Perhaps you know – company mottofor Bubble Inc is “Finding our inner bubble, and helping others find theirs (since 1989).”

 

Actually I don't normally say the year, but it is my 25th Bubble Birthday next Wednesday! I hope you will raise a glass of bubbly with me!

 

This is the 2nd time I perform in Indonesia, and I hope that it will cement me as their Bubbleman in their hearts. For sure, a couple of them who came last year, I think this has already happened! They come back again and again, to see every show, and now they are already here.

 

2 down, 98 to go!

 

Sampai Joompah!

 

Samsam

 

 

Written by Sam Heath • June 21, 2013

5am Indonesia

Phew...

5 am and i only just finished setting  up all my equipment, training the stage hands, discussing details with the venue owners and the event organisers...

We couldn't start till 10am when the venue closed and the public left, and then everything just took so long. Hopefully it's going to be a great show, and not a case of 'too much planning'

The team's not as big as last year, maybe only 10 people in all, but still, great to have a team dedicated to lil' ol' me! It makes such a difference to know that there's support there.

First shows tomorrow at 1pm, then 4pm and 7!

0 down, 100 to go...

 

 

Written by Sam Heath • June 20, 2013