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Saturday, December 19, 2015

2015 Year in Review

It's the end of the year again (so fast...). Time to sit down and think back what had happen in the past 11+ months...or what is left in my memory of it.

First of all, 2015 is the year where I am 100% self-employed. Quit my "steel-plate" rice bowl in April 2014. Since then, I have been working full force, I work all the time; I work week day, and I work weekend. I do occasionally take some off time on Monday and Tuesday. I am everything in the company; from Director and CFO making decisions, to Customer Relations, to Accountant and IT personnel, to Purchaser, to kuli and driver. Everything "bao ka liao". There are some things that I like to do more than other, but at the end of the day, I have to be involved in all the job scope.

I am happy that the company has grown in the past year, even though it is still only a 2-staff company. It has been a busy year for us. It has been at times, the 2 of us got so frustrated for being too busy. Maybe it is the mindset from the environment we are brought up in, "Chinese" mindset, that you don't push away business when they came knocking. Perhaps for those that grow-up in more chillout environment would just reject business if they think they have hit their personal target of that month, or that year.

Despite the busy work schedule, I manage to squeeze in some travel throughout the year. Well, I didn't willingly sign-up for those travels because in my opinion, I am too busy for holiday. It is my business partner that pulls me along on those travel. I think I am not capable to time an event without her around anyway, so if she's not around I can't do much also. So I went along with her plans.

Early of the year I went on a 1-week holiday and ran the Tokyo Marathon. I ran to my Personal Best of 4 hr 38 mins despite the over distance course of 43.23km shown on my watch. It was quite an enjoyable run as the whole of 43km route, it was lined with people cheering and spectating.

Happy to complete the run in 4hr 38mins, my fastest marathon time to date

Tokyo was freezing cold in that time of the year, brrrr! Quite a lot of rain too! It was also a busy work period because it was the preparation week towards Malaysia Women Marathon (MWM). Even while we were away, we still make the effort to check email occasionally.


In July, I join a group of friends to hike the volcanic mountain called Rinjani in Lombok, a smaller island near Bali. It is a 4D3N hiking trip, involving a lot of nature like camping, peeing and shitting in the natural environment and no shower facilities.

The group

It is by far my most luxurious camping trip ever. Our only task is to walk/hike...lol!

Our spacious tent shared 2 person

The porters carry our heavy stuff, we only carry what we need on us like water, snack and perhaps a jacket. When we reach destination of the day, the tent were already setup by the porters which walk ahead of us, they also cook and prepare food for us, and they build us toilet tent and dig hole in the toilet tent for our businesses. Haha.

Simple yet very tasty meal prepared by our porters

Rinjani is at quite a high elevation and therefore it can be cold and windy. I feel ok when walking, but if we were to stop for a while, I would start to feel cold. On the day when we were supposed to summit the peak, it was exceptionally windy. The wind even collapse one of our tent that night, the poor porters had to fix the tent in the middle of the night. Our guide decided that it was not safe for us to summit the peak and we get to sleep in that morning. We were sad for that, it makes the hike incomplete not able to even try. In a way, I was glad we don't have to do it because the hike to the peak looked really tough, at the same time, I felt like it was such a waste I don't get take on the challenge.

On the third day where we camp, there is a hot spring nearby, there's where we get our first shower of the trip!

Spectacular view of Segara Anak lake from the top

After the hike, we stayed back a few days to enjoy Lombok beach.


The Rinjani holiday also clashes with one of the event we were supposed to timed. Fortunately, Elliot was available that weekend to help out. Young talented fella he is, with a great interest in timing. It is a lost to our company that he decided to leave Malaysia back to the UK for good. Else, we would be looking at more partnership in the future.

To wrap up the holiday of the year 2015, I went on a 2-week Europe tour. This is the first time I am stepping into Europe region. It's not the best time of the year to visit Europe because few months before that, our dear Malaysia currency drop to it's lowest value against all other foreign currency. Well, no choice, flight ticket bought, accommodation booked, the trip has to go on. The trip started with Amsterdam Marathon! I think this could just be my most under-trained marathon ever. Glad I still manage to complete it under 5hours.

Painful to run due to under-train condition. It also doesn't help that it drizzles all the way from the start to finish

I enjoyed Amsterdam very much in terms of the people and the atmosphere, I love that most people there uses bicycle as their mode of transport, it's so convenient. I don't like that Amsterdam is so cold and gloomy. Our supplier from MyLaps who based out of Netherlands said that the weather is cloudy and wet most time of the year. That's quite depressing. After the marathon, I make the trip to the windmills area of Zaanse Schans about 16km away from Amsterdam, cycling.

Enjoying ride to Zaanse Schans for the windmills

From Amsterdam, I made my way to small quaint town of Bruges. I love the building architecture. Bruges used to be an important city in the olden days. It is now a tourist attraction.

Shophouses in Bruges

From Bruges, it's a train ride away to Brussels. The city of Brussels is very dirty in my opinion, there are shit all over the street and it is littered with rubbish. The street smell nasty in certain places too...

Most people in Brussels don't speak English. However, Brussels street is filled with many street art to be discover on foot. Like all other European city, there are many churches to explore. From Brussels, it is yet another train ride to the city of Paris.

There are many things to see and do in Paris. Museums, church, art gallery, castle, and many many more for to explore. I spend the most days in Paris because of that, and walk my legs off too! In terms of food, there are a lot of great food to try as well.

The city of Paris, with magnificent Eiffel Tower in the background

The last city of my Europe Trip is London. I like that in London, museums and art galleries are free admission. They do collect donation and sell souvenirs to collect fund to maintain the place. Food in London is great as well, from street food to Indian Restaurant, there are many varieties to choose from.

Spectre premieres tonight! 26 Oct in London (sorry date too small on the bus)

Bike commuting to work is quite popular in London as well, but the bicycle here are more high-end, mostly racing bike. In Amsterdam, they uses single-speed bike like those my grandfather used to go to the kopitiam with. The roads in London are very busy, and there are so many big double-decker buses. I would find it rather scary to bike in London.

In front of Buckingham Palace, with hoards of other tourist

2 week felt like a really long holiday. At the end of the trip, I longed to go back to work already. Workaholic? Yea, I think you got that right.

Europe, I would say, is not my kind of holiday destination. European countries are so full of history, I am too overwhelm with a few hundred years of history, artist and paintings and churches. That said, it doesn't mean that I don't enjoy Europe. Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels, Paris, London, I truly enjoyed what all these cities have to offer. I enjoy just walking on the street, looking at locals going through their daily life and just taking in the sight and sound of the city.

Year 2015 sounds like a great year in a glance. There are ups and downs of course, as life always do, but I am glad that what is in memory are more of the good ones than the bad ones. But then again, bad ones I don't share :-P

2 more week to welcome year 2016. I am going to start off 2016 with the NZ gang in SC's hometown of Batu Pahat. Let's toast to a better year ahead! Cheers...!

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Friday, October 09, 2015

Vacation, worth it?

Sometimes I do wonder why people wants to go on vacation.

Before the trip, you have to either rush like mad to finish off all your task on hand or passed it down to co-worker (if there is one for you to pass over).

After the trip, you have to come back to more work, catch back up to what you have missed when you were away, read a lot of emails that you have missed while away.

Maybe one should consider going on a virtual vacation instead. With Internet, it is possible to "travel" the world just by sitting in front of the computer. Google Map has street view, you get to see 360 view of anywhere just by dropping the little yellow man. You can read a lot of reviews and other people's experience by blog surfing. You can learn all the history of a place by reading articles in Wiki and TripAdvisor. Best of all, no worries of exchange rate and no budget worry about.

This is the modern world.

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Sunday, October 04, 2015

Haze and the weekend

It's the weekend again.

We have an event to time on Sat, albeit a small one of less than 600 runners. It's just a 10km run, so we should be able to wrap up pretty early. The run was flagged off at 6:30am with just one outside checkpoint.

There was a bit of haze in the morning, I'd think it is quite a bad haze to be running 10km competitively. If it was me who had signed up, I'd really be on the fence whether to run or not. After all, registration fee had been paid. Anyway, true enough, we manage to wrap up everything before 9.30am.

As always, after completing an event we always reward ourselves with a hearty meal. We went for western breakfast at Macallum Connoisseurs. I opt for the Connoisseur's Breakfast which consist of a sausage, 2 pcs of bacon, salad with passion fruit dressing, poached eggs, 2 slices of bread with avocado spread and my favourite of all, portobello mushroom! No coffee for me because I was trying to cut down expenses saving money for the up-coming Europe Trip. Save RM10 :P

Verdict: Portobello mushroom is the best. Huge and juicy in its original taste. Perfect! The salad is nice as well, I especially love the passion fruit dressing. It is unique. The passion fruit taste really nice and refreshing. The poached eggs were very well done as well. On the other hand, the rest on the plate are only so-so. The sausage and the bacon are tasty, but they were too salty, The avocado spread were not original, they added something that makes it very sour, not to my liking. I'd prefer avocado in it's original form with just some pepper and salt. The toasted bread were too hard.

All in all, it was a filling breakfast at RM25.

Connoisseur's Breakfast

Then it was back home to get a much needed nap. I only managed a 3 hr sleep the night before. As I step out of shower and look out the window, the haze has suddenly become so much more worse than in the morning. "Oh no, there goes my LSD plan tomorrow morning". I am supposed to run my one and only 30km LSD in preparation for Amsterdam Marathon.

Can't see much of the condo in the distance, and the hills are totally out of sight

When I woke up at 3pm, the haze condition only becomes worse. I decided to stay indoor and eat whatever I can find in my kitchen, which is just maggi mee and some biscuits. And I found out that the gas of my stove has reach its end of life. I'll just have to settle for coffee and biscuit then. I spent the rest of my day in bed, alternating between COC and FB on phone and reading Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl. This book belongs to Leang, she borrowed me few years back and I still haven't flip a single page! Since I am most likely going to visit Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam, I think it'd be nice to start with the book.

And so my Sat and Sun were spent mostly on the bed. Haze condition didn't improve any bit. I was not inspired to go out at all. I had maggi mee in the morning, went out to QB for lunch with Liza and Kenneth, and spent the rest of Sun again in bed. And I still haven't finish the book....

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Of wine and dine...

Perfectly done, melt in your mouth pork belly

It started out as a nice dinner; fine dining with wine and good food. Then the story that I took it badly, I can't help but felt truly disappointed by it. And so, the night didn't end as well as it started...

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Another half marathon

It's been awhile since I last wrote a post here, 13 months, that's how long it has been. A lot has change since then. I am no longer an engineer. I am not working in corporate world anymore. I am not writing so much anymore. I think I should start collecting memories again, life and experience came and went too fast. I need to slow it down and enjoy it more. So here I am today, trying to start penning again.

So, I have a full marathon race coming soon in 1 month time. I have not been running enough to complete 42km comfortably; i.e. I am under train for this marathon. I have lost my motivation in running. My longest distance so far is 19.5km, prior to this was 15km. Because of that, I sign up for a half marathon to encourage myself to cover longer distance. I haven't been running half marathon races for awhile now, so it is kinda exciting to be running one.

Chin Chin found us a half marathon, it was the Fire Fighter Cyberjaya Night Half Marathon. Wei Koon was also interested so all 3 of us signed up. We travel to KL on Sat morning in Wei Koon's comfy little Jazz. Chin Chin has a pacer photo shoot and pacer briefing in Mid Valley that same day, so we hang out in Mid Valley until her thing is over at 3pm. Then we had a short rest in her sibling's house before driving to Cyberjaya for the run, starting at 8pm. Visibility was not great, but it didn't look too bad. Haze haze haze :(

A fallen tanker on the highway causing traffic jam, near Bukit Merah

My plan for this run? Run it like a LSD. No racing. Cap at a usual easy LSD pace of 6:25 to 6:40 mins/km. At the start line we met Hui Sung, fast runner from Penang. I wasn't feeling well then, I don't know why, perhaps nervous? Even with a LSD plan in mind, I am still quite kiasu. Can't finish too slow...I have a reputation to keep...haha. 2hr 30mins is the max time I gave myself. Cannot be slower than that.

So off we go at 8pm sharp. The first km was hard to run at my own pace. Everyone around me ran so fast! My watch was showing a sub 6mins pace. I can't possibly maintain that kind of pace for 21km. NO way, slow down! It's hard to slow down when people around are running so fast. You just kind of go with the flow. I manage a 6:11 mins/km average in the first km. I keep reminding myself to slow down. The road was very dark too, no street lamp at all. There were lamp post but all not working. After a while, I got into my own comfortable pace maintaining between 6:20 to 6:30.

At the first water station, I saw people crouching on the ground helping themselves with drinks, there were no tables and I don't see water. Only 1.5l bottles of 100 plus. I decided to skip that water station even though I felt quite thirsty. A few km more, I started to see people walking. Haiz, can't understand why people would want to sign up for a running event and start walking after 5km. What's the point? Should just save the RM70 and walk in nearby park. Not far after the 5km mark, our 21km route merge with 10km and I was regretting not taking a sip at the first water station. With the 10km merging in, I am quite sure water is going to run low in the coming water station if the first one is so badly managed.

True enough at the 2nd water station, I heard the volunteer said they are low on water but they have 100 plus. He didn't even pour the water into cup, but holding a 1.5l bottle of water. I take that bottle from him (and surprisingly he hand it to me) and pour some water into my mouth. Pass it back to him after that and continue my journey.

The 21km route was kind of rolling. The climb was long though not very steep, but it was still taxing on my under-trained legs. The distance went by very slowly. At 12km water station, I decided to take a gel. At that point I was still feeling alright. I was over-taking people. There wasn't very many women in sight, so no one for me to chase after. At 15km, we pass by the Lim Kok Wing University. Only 6km to go, I told myself. Can't wait for this to be over, my body was starting to get really tired. I am not breathing hard and not short of breath, just my legs and body tired. Signs of under training. There was a malay lady 200m ahead of me. I make her my target and push on. Slope over slope we had to overcome.

At 3km to finish, I was surprised by a small size lady coming from behind me running strong overtaking me. Right after that came a hill! Hill was never my forte, the distance between this lady and the malay lady got further and further away. I took a deep breath, re-strategise my steps (switching to small step but higher cadence, read that it is better for uphill run). The Malay lady also slowed down and was overtaken by small size lady. I was getting close to her too. I continue to trail behind both of these lady refusing to let go. Ahhh! Finally it was downhill. I pick up my pace, overtake the malay lady and chase after small size lady. 1km to finish, I was just right behind her...and then I was running side by side with her. We pace together for awhile, until when I see the finish line ahead, I give all I have left and pick up my pace. Speeding to the finish line, I can feel the cramp on my left calf and inner thigh of right leg. It was just a few hundreds meter to go, I pushed to the finish line and yes! Made it and was given a 9th placing finish tag! Wow, surprise surprise. I was very happy with myself. 2hr 12mins was my time which average out to 6:22mins/km pace.

Turns out all 3 of us also get placing. Chin Chin got 3rd place and Wei Koon at 10th. We stayed for prize presentation ceremony at 11pm. More good news at prize presentation. I got upgraded to 8th place and Wei Koon at 9th, not sure what happen there but it's good news so I am not complaining. Both of us got a plaque, and Chin Chin had more. She get cash prize RM500 as well as a box of KT Tape. All 3 of us didn't go home empty handed ;)

From Penang: Hui Sung 1st place Women Senior, Wei Koon 9th Men Senior, Chin Chin 3rd Women Open, me at 8th Women Open

Stinky as hell, we stop by Jejantas Sungai Buloh for a quick shower, then head straight back to Penang. Arrived in Penang at about 3:30am.

Whew! What a long and tiring day, but satisfying... :)

This and a finisher is what I get for landing in 8th placing

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Are You Blind? The Embarrassing Truth About Malaysians

How can our country get any nearer to being a develop nation if its people are not opening up their mind? Instead of moving forward, I feel as if we have been stagnant for the past 10 years or worst still, we may actually be moving backwards. Technology may have made its way into Malaysia, but all of these advancement does not mean anything when the mindset of our people were confined within what they believe is correct. So many of my friends have left the country and are residing elsewhere. Some have even given up their citizenship, all disappointed and has loosen hope towards our ruling government.

 

I hope to live to see a better Malaysia. I love my country. 57 years gone, there are still a lot to be done... Selamat Menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

First experience with Penang Run Series

I ran the Penang Run Series today. Penang Run Series is an interesting concept whereby the series consist of 4 half marathon distance races with different route each time. All the races are point-to-point, meaning the start and end point is a different place. By the end of the 4 races, participants would have covered around Penang Island on foot. The 4 races are 2 to 3 months apart.

Today I ran the third series taking me from Sg Pinang in Balik Pulau to Teluk Bahang. It was a tough route as it brings us up the Balik Pulau hill; 5km of continuous uphill. The Nine Emperor God Festival is often associated with rain. True enough to the Chinese belief, the rain started the night before as I was going to bed. When I woke up at 2sth, it was still pouring. When I leave the house at 3.30am, it was still raining!

When I reach Tg Bungah, the rain has slowed to a drizzle. After meeting up with Sam, Gary and AL, we continue in a car to have our car park in Teluk Bahang where the end point is. Gary is the driver. At the time when we leave the car to board the bus, it wasn't raining anymore. We board the bus, and after about 35mins or so, we reach the start point at Sg Pinang. It was 5am. Queued half an hour for toilet and by the time I am done with toilet, I feel the droplets of rain again. The rain was on and off for next half and hour and amazing enough, the rain stopped as we're queuing up at the start line. At 6am sharp, the start gun went off. So was the rain. It was as if the gun broke a hole in the sky and the rain just poured down on the poor runners who are already cold. Instead of starting the run, I ran into the shed for cover.


Before the start (with Boon Wee, Paris and their friend)

Many other runners did the same thing, they hide in shelter hoping the rain would once again stop. It continues to rain cats and dogs not showing any signs of slowing down. 2 mins past before I decided to go for it. Run in the rain, wooohooo!!

Within seconds, my shoes were soak. It was all the way running in the rain. At some point it does slowed to a drizzle, but never for long. It was cold at the beginning, but I warmed up after awhile and it doesn't bother me anymore after that. Whenever I feel thirsty, I just need to close my mouth and swallow. I can feel the fresh water in my mouth already. I choke on water when the rain was too heavy, too much water going into the mouth...hilarious.

It was a really fun run for me thanks to the rain. Enjoyed the route up Balik Pulau. I've bike there often enough, but this is the first time I am going up this road on foot. On the downhill slope - 4.5km of downhill - many people overtook me. You would have think going downhill is effortless and easy, not for me. I was going downhill at almost 7mins pace. I ran the flats faster than my downhill. I had to stop to stretch a couple of times going downhill when I feel my right knee tightening up.

The view was beautiful at Teluk Bahang Dam. We had to run into the dam and u-turn out. It was very windy there. It was another 2km to the finishing line. Went down that slope from the dam to butterfly farm, pass Escape Themepark and there it is, the school which serves as the finishing point. It was not raining anymore at that point. I finish in 2hr 22mins.


It stopped raining when I finish (with Paris who finish in 2hr 12mins)

Took 2 cups of Vico, a couple of photos and splash...there it goes again! Everybody run for cover. Some just don't care anymore. The rain continues on in full mode for the next 2hrs. The performance, and prize presentation ceremony still had to go on, all while the rain is pouring. I don't think anybody can hear what the MC was saying because of the noise coming from the zink roof where we're taking cover.

We stayed until 10 plus in the morning, cold and wet. Car was parked quite far away. Had to walk under the rain to get to the car. The WW gang gathered and enjoyed the superbly tasty Roti Jala near the Teluk Bahang roundabout. Sharing our run stories, and of our friends result in Melbourne who also just completed the Melbourne Marathon.

It was a very well organized event despite the rain. I am glad I decided to run it...

Cheers to running!

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Feb 2013: A chill out month

Feb was a short month but a sweet one. Only 28 days in this month, out of that which I took 2 weeks off from work in separate occasion.

First of all it was Chinese New Year. I took a week off from work where my whole family went for a Road Trip to Koh Samui. We were being adventurous; not truly familiar with the road and can't speak or read Thai , we venture across the Thai border with a map and a borrowed GPS unit. Koh Samui is very far from Taiping, ~600km away. Because it was a free and easy Road Trip, we actually take our time with the drive stopping by cafes when tired with sitting in the car. We also stop by one of the bigger town along the way for a visit and photos. And since it was a bit late when we're done, we spent a night there in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Early the next day we drove to Don Sak to board the ferry over to Koh Samui.

Ferry from Don Sak to Koh Samui, quite similar to Penang ferry but their passenger deck upstairs is air-conditioned

I miss out on school mate gathering again this year as I was away in Koh Samui.
I miss the gathering last year too, being away in New Zealand.
Most of my school mates by now has either gotten married or had babies already. But I am still being a baby myself. But it's ok, I prefer being a baby than making babies anyway.

After a full week off from work, I was back at work for 3 days and I was off again for another week for HK & Macau trip on top of HK Marathon. Weeee....how fun! If only I can do that every month...

Other than a holiday month, it's also a month of spending spree. I bought a new phone (in replacement of my lost iPhone 4S) and bought a new running watch.

Loving my new gadget more each day

Some photo sharing follows... :)

First time dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Robuchon au Dome was located on the top of The Grand Lisboa Hotel, at level 43. I get to sit facing the glass window, it was amazing food with a view. Perfect! (although a bit hazy lar...). This is also my first experience with heated toilet seat and automated toilet seat cover. OK, I admit I am a frog under coconut shell, but those automated things are so cool :-D

Waiting for food to be serve

View of Macau from level 43

"This is where I was..."

Strolling along the UNESCO Heritage trail, you know you're in the UNESCO Heritage zone when you see wavy black and white tiles

Senado Square with Chinese Lantern decorations

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