Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One of the greatest things about our wonderful sport is its sheer worldwide nature. One thing the last 24 hours has emphasised is that the Gooner part is graced with incredible passion in this part of the globe.

Kuala Lumpur is no different to most major cities in the fact it is a mixture of the old, hectic, hot and traditional and the towering, sleek, air-conditioned and modern.

Frank Stubbs Towers

Sunday night's entertainment took in a bit of both with a walk round the very modern centre followed by the sights and sounds of the many bars and eateries in an area of Kuala Lumpur known as Bukit Bintang.

The liquid refreshment is relatively easy to deal with as a beer is a beer wherever you are in the world it seems. I am not embarrassed to say my grip of the Malaysian language has not improved since last year's visit, so while I am all for trying to eat in areas where the locals tend to, ordering food is still a bit of a gamble at times!

Yesterday arrived without too many 'troubles' so any risks taken on the consumption front seemed worthwhile and it was off in a taxi to the players' hotel, some 25 kilometres outside the city centre.

While I have seen many Arsenal shirts (of varying shapes and colours) only when reaching the hotel did the incredible enthusiasm of our many thousands of Asian Gooners hit home.

A 'Fans Party' in the hotel's ballroom saw incredible scenes of screaming, shouting and singing, the majority of the audience made up of Gooners from Singapore, Indonesia and of course Malaysia.

Those from Hong Kong and the Philippines were joined by representatives from places such as Australia, Norway and the UK making for an incredibly diverse room of Gooner passion.

A question and answer session and a quiz with 11 of the players pretty made up what was a highly-relaxing event, and for me it was worth attending to meet, chat to and admire our 'crazy' fans from this part of the world.

Rush hour in Kuala Lumpur is not pretty! Consequently heading back to the city for training at the city's vast Bukit Jalil Stadium wasn't easy but once achieved it gave the same fans a chance to see our squad put through their pre-season routine.

Hot and humid conditions must test even the fittest humans, but that can only prove advantageous at this early stage in the team's preparations.

Frank Stubbs Training

The Hard Rock Cafe played host to post-training refreshment on this occasion, a real case of 'putting out the fire' after an extremely energy-sapping day.

Writing these notes sat by my hotel pool we now turn to tonight's first match of the tour. If last year is anything to go by it should be a noisy and colourful affair.

There are not too many of us UK Gooners out here but among the many (and huge!) flags and banners on show will be my well-travelled example!

Dealing with the heat and humidity I can't help but think back to some of the other places it has visited down the years. The sub-zero conditions of the likes of Moscow, Donetsk and Berne seem a long, long way from here!!

Frank @stubbsy70

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24 Jul 2012