Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Virgin 10KM Bay Run

My results

On a hot, sunny 16th August Sunday Morning, at around 0838hours, with all my might & remaining reserve of energy, I gathered up speed and raced through the finishing line. The time was 01:08:33, flashing above me at the finishing line.

The feeling after? Cool, slightly tired, & accomplished! I've completed my very 1st Virgin 10KM RUN!! N I survived, with not too bad a timing (tho slightly off my expectation). N u knw what, I don't feel too much of a muscle ache after the race. Nope. I was expecting tired muscles, aching muscles, but none of those! Surprise Surprise!

The race itself - The road was long, very long. The crowd was big, very big. Too many pple, alot of army boys & guys (apparently, it's compulsory for them to run the race) So u see alot of these army pple, slacking off during the race, taking breaks at suntec city, short-cut the route, apparently my friend said some even took a cab!!

The Starting point

The day started really early for me. At 0535hrs, I woke up, washed up, ate breakfast & went out to hail a cab. Luckily for me, there was a cab just stopping by, if not, i have no idea how long i had to wait. It was a nice experience to drive along the roads at such early hours. There was absolutely NO TRAFFIC!!! The surrounding looked so peaceful, and the car juz whizzed past at full speed! Within no time, i reached the place. 0645hrs. Sun not up yet, but already, loads of pple were stretching and preparing. Also, the elite half marathoners had already completed their race! Apparently, the winner of the men's half marathon took 1hr08mins (the same time I took for my 10KM race). N They started 0530hrs, so they were already lazing ard by the time i just reach the venue!!

After depositing my bag, stretching n waiting, finally at 0730hrs, we were allowed to start our race, a full 15mins later than originally stated. Damn u!! By the time i was thr to my 1st 2km, the sun was shining bright & hot. Luckily I had my cap on, to shade my eyes from the sun, but still the tremendous heat & blazing sun still affected my run. It's one of the reason, not an excuse. Also, I was sick for the 2 weeks b4 the race, so I was out of action (no exercise of any sort) for 2 whole weeks. & I tell u, for a leisure runner like me, this affected my stamina greatly. It just goes to show that U have to train continuously n consistently.

There were over 2000 women runner for the event (statistics from the after race event). I had to squeeze my way out of the crowd to be close to the starting line. Of cos, the seeded runners were given top priority to be in front. We wun want to be competing with them & blocking them. After long moments of waiting, finally at 0730hrs the gun sounded and off we ran. It was a slow 2-3mins of brisk walking n jogging to be rid of the crowd n into some space for running. I started off well enuff, trying not to over-exert myself in the beginning. Then came the bridge & the sun by the 2km mark, & I felt the strain of the heat. Of cos I was still fresh in mind, body n soul & a little sun is nth to hurt me! 1st water stop at the 2km mark and e'ryone juz rushed and blocked the route. Damn u! It was quite a mess...

COntinue on, and on and on. More army boys slacking off, stopping by suntec. They are not taking this seriously. Oh well, i don think they paid to take part, & by the looks of it, they pretty much DID NOT seem willing participants. Cut, Cut, overtake, overtake. It felt good to overtake pple hahahah!

The Finishing line!!

Me looking tired & messy with my tab 81361 and medal (it's all the same)

After a long, arduous run, i finally reached the 8km mark! It was not easy. I was used to running with distance & timing displayed b4 me (i.e. treadmill in the gym) but now, I don hv the distance marker at every second & only relaying on my analogue watch for rough timing. To speed or not to speed? I was waiting for the 9km mark to speed up but it nvr came. Until I saw that we were close to the starting point did i try to speed up. It was a relief, achievement n great feeling to run past the finishing line & seeing the display at 01:08. At least I didn't do too badly off mark. I thot I was hitting 1hr 20mins! Lucky ah!!

Race statistics. I'm 198th place out of 2000 over women 11% percentile!

More analysis. Tells u who r in front n behind u when u cross the line

Ave speed of the race. The map shows where I was when the winner completed the race. She won in ard 38mins

Of cos, if not for the heat, if not for me being sick the 2 wks b4... I may have run faster and closer to 1hr 3mins mark, but still I'm proud & happy to have completed the race! Maybe I shld hv trained by running outside in the heat, but seriously i Don't really like tt...

Standard chartered race - OUT for me. Too exp (missed the early bird) & it starts at 0830hrs so bloody late!

I think I'm aiming for the Adidas Sundown Marathon next yr. RUnning at night should be fun cooling & much more comfy! & Their t-shirt is so much cooler & nicer!! Yes, the SBR (Singapore Bay Run) race pack is a huge letdown. Nth i can use, just a bloody fugly t-shirt, tt is not even dryfit! Hahahah...

SOmeone mentioned that i shld take up 21km nxt. But seriously, it's not for me. 10Km, i'm ok, more than tt, i seriously don think i can or even want to! I know myself, & my limit. 10km is the limit. 21km def is not! Imagine 10km multiply by 2 and add 1km, torture man!!!

Special thanks to Wong Kailit for taking the wonder & nice photo of me with my BIB tag & medal. Good Job! Also thanks to him, I got a ride home FOC!! No need to walk to the MRT, wait for the train, sit on the train for 40mins, transfer to the bus and another 5-10mins ride, and walk the long road home. Instead, his kind offer got me home in 20mins in a comfy air-con nice car!! Thanks! I'll make sure to jio u or any1 with a car the next time!!

Snapshot of me during the race by the official photographer. Hehe actually I knew i was being shot, but I acted like i didnt see the camera.....Believe me I was running NOT strolling

Monday, August 17, 2009

Manado Diveologue Adventure Tour

Venue: Manado, Indonesia
Duration: 7-12 Aug 2009
Resort: Tasik Ria Resort

2nd Dive of the year! Yes, I didn't expect that myself, but hey, what have I got to lose! I mean it’s MANADO!! One of THE diving spots in SEA! Also ‘cos of the persuasion ‘powers’ of DX, I agreed to accompany her on the journey to the Indonesian waters! She to complete her Advanced Open water (FINALLY!!!) & I to explore the underwater world of Bunaken & Lembeh!

The planning & preparation for the trip was a MESS! For reasons known only to us 2, & selected few, it was not smooth sailing at all! But at least our ultimate aim of GOING there was materialized… All these unhappiness can be compensated by the place itself.

It all started with direct flight via Silkair to Manado (3hrs), followed by bus journey of 1hr from the airport to the resort. The resort is situated in a rather ulu part of Manado, close to the waters (beach resort), away from the bustle of the city life (BTW, there isn’t much city life in Manado anyway, but more on that later). By the time we checked in, it was close to 3pm. Checking in to our nice resort, with a pool view! Well, I say nice only ‘cos for the price u pay for the stay, I personally Don’t think it as worthwhile… Go figure.. Sipadan Kapalai resort is so so so so much bter!! But we paid a premium for that! Anyway, the resort is only nice! I think the premium we paid is for the place rather than the resort… Hahhaha.. Sorry Daniel (more on that later).

The reception area of the resort

Finally got beach! Tho it's quite a deserted beach & we didnt hv time to laze ard as well

Me with my name marked on the beach! It says 'Dian Shan @ Manado'

Remember this slogan!!!

WE had to separately check into the Dive center (Tasik Ria Dive Center). Yes, they are the same. Resort & Dive center same same, not like a lot of other places where the dive center operate as a separate entity from the resort. After lots of fussing & fumbling over form filling & communication with the dive staff, we finally got our things settled.. It was not a good start to the day, we were slightly pissed off with some of the things. E.g. we were promised a check out dive on arrival, but unfortch, seemed like the dive center had no idea abt it. Then they told us there’s NO check out dive, but at the end of the day (b4 our dinner), the lady staff came to find us & asked y we disappeared & didn't got for the check out dive. Idiot! Plenty of mis-communication!

Poolside bar!

Playing in the pool.

No i didnt drink. ANyway there's no 'Swim don't drink' rule

Anyway, we went swimming in the nice pool instead! Then head off for a hotel & dive briefing b4 our BBQ dinner commenced at 7pm.

FYI, they sorta have themed dinners on certain nights. We arrived on a Friday, & it was BBQ night, so it was held at the beach. On the saturaday, it was international buffet, on Sunday it was local buffet & then followed by Ala Carte ordering etc. We had some cultural dance performances by the local village kids as well. Dinner was so-so. Only good thing that night was the BBQ fish & only 1 type of BBQ fish was good enuff. Our 2nd helping of BBQ fish was of a different type, hence the flavour was not as good! But that night, we had a taste of the different local sauces to go with our food – Black pepper, Achar, chilli, black sweet sauce with chilli etc.. Also, that night was our 1st glimpse at the ‘popularity’ of the resort & well we were disappointed. We sorta felt the ‘coldness’ of the resort when we arrived to an almost empty place. There were about 7 (3 groups) + us 2 new guests on that day itself & we did not see any other guests during the day. Until dinner, there were like maybe 9 tables set up, and I would say only 1 table was empty throughout. Out of the 8 occupied tables, 2 were occupied by the resort owners & staff, so u can imagine how empty the resort was! Slightly disappointed by the turnout. Was kinda expecting more pple, more vibrant guests. Turned out, we were like the youngest of the bunch. Surrounded by middle-aged pple…

It was as usual an early night for us. It always happens to be early nights whenever we go diving. Yes, there was TV in the room with international channels, but it just so happen that when we head back to the room, we juz fall asleep rather quickly! Before 10pm, we were in slumberland! Come to think of it, it is actually a good habit to sleep early! Anyways, we had to get up early each morning for diving. Sorta like the time we get up for work on weekdays.

Our 1st diving day started at 745am, with the boat leaving at 8am. Good thing about these rather commercialized and more international diving places – they do everything for u! Tanks are loaded to the boats, gears are prepared and strapped for u. U just need to show up, & check. Not like in redang or perhentian where u had to carry your own eqpt to the boats, or even gear up ursef!

Our daily diving boat

Eqpt area

Me with my eqpt, which was nicely geared up for us daily

Dx with hers! All our rental was from S'pore (except our own fins, bootie & mask)

Each diving day is a full day out at sea. Boat leaves at 8am, and by the time it reaches Bunaken National Park, it’ll be ard 930am or so. 2 dives follow, each lasting abt 60mins, with 1hr resting time in between, then lunch, then 3rd dive would be back to mainland, closer to resort. By the time we unload at the resort, it’ll be close to 5pm. & it’s a big boat, like a yacht where u can either choose to remind indoors on 1st deck or up the sundeck for some sun & breeze. Of cos, we choose upstairs, with the breeze & abit of sun! It helps to keep seasickness at bay.

Me at the sundeck of the boat

The angmohs suntanning...

Pretty lady (Iris) from Germany.

Caught him red-handed peeing into the open sea!! Eeks! He thot nobody saw him...

We had the benefit and luck of being part of a commercial shooting for the resort. A senior cameraman, Chris Tan, from Scubazoo (from Borneo) was there for 2 days to shoot the activities of the resort. So he basically followed us out on the 1st day & filmed us in action. Not underwater though. He was filming us during dinner as well, basically all resort activities.

Anyway, about the waters of Manado. The wall dives at Bunaken is pretty much like Sipadan, but I feel that the visibility is better than Sipadan. No sharks this time, but we saw more of different types of fish, & micro stuff. Water there is warm, which makes it good for diving! Don’t have to shiver underwater. The diving ratio is 4-1, meaning 1 DM to at most 4 divers. Which is good! More personalized attention.

It was on this day that we met with Daniel, the in charge of the place! Nice and helpful guy! He was apparently ‘tasked’ with the job of taking care & looking after us, well according to him anyway. But he actually identified us as the girls from Singapore & DX being the one taking the adv course! Apparently, our agent from Singapore pointed it out to him. But he helped us out a lot! If not for him, we would have met with more problems with the dive center & more miscommuncation. & we called him D1 (between ourselves) cos there are 2 Daniels in the resort. We’ll get to there…

Us with CoCo (2nd day DM)

My 1st day DM Deyyti

DX with her adv course instructor Monica

2nd diving day proceeded as the 1st. But DX sat out the 3rd dive as she had a night dive on the same day. I didn't go for night dive (it’s extra charge). Dinner that night was blar, nth to talk about.. International buffet night.

3rd day, we opted for Lembeh Straits upgrade, at USD45 each. It’s actually at the other side of Manado, & took abt 2hrs to drive there. Initially, it was s’posed to be 2nd diving day but due to some miscommunication (AGAIN) we had to postpone it. But oh well, maybe it wasn't that bad!

Me at the sampan boat in Lembeh

The day started at 715am, with the van transporting only the 2 of us to Lembeh. Actually, the dive center requires at least 4 pax to upgrade, but we’ve got connections (i.e. agent in Singapore) so we got to go even though only the 2 of us! It took us 2hrs in the van to reach Lembeh, where we boarded a small sampan boat for our dives! It was a sunny & hot day as usual, but once we jumped into the water for the 1st dive, HOLY SHIT! The water was freezing cold! It was 26 degrees down there! Lucky I’m in Long wetsuit, but still u could feel the icy waters! After each dive, we were to stay on the boat, with the big waves crashing & the boat behaving like a crazed swing. FYI, if u want to dive in Lembeh, try to avoid Aug, as this is the mth of windy big waves with cold water.

All geared up ready to jump! It's act not so heavy aft a few times on ur back

DX with CoCo all geared up!

Oh yea, & I have to mention this weird crazy boat man. Part of the dive team for Lembeh Straits. He looks creepy & he is crazy! He kept taking photos of the 2 of us the moment we stepped on the boat! Us boarding the boat, Us wearing our wetsuit, us putting on our gear etc.. stupid crazy old man!

The weird man in question!!! Look, he's admiring the photos he took

Our day at Lembeh ended at 430pm, & we opted to drop off at Manado Town Square for a night of some shopping & look see. Thanks to Daniel, he helped to arrange for the driver to drop us there. Traffic is terrible in Manado! It took us ages to finally reach the hypermart! Once we entered the Shopping center, we finally acknowledged what Daniel told us earlier – There is nothing to shop about in Manado! Seriously! We were given 1hr to shop, & most of that hour was spent in the hypermart, shopping for snacks & food!

The Padang place

Everything ranging from fish, chicken, beef to eggs, organs, veges chilli etc

Look at our happy faces! Good food equals happy us!

Us with Daniel (aka D1) Thanks to him for the good food!

D1 took us out for dinner after our mini shopping for some REAL local food! Yes, we went for Padang food! It was those local street stall housed in the owners house. U don’t actually order, they will put everything on ur table & u take ur pick! If u don’t want to eat it, u can reject it the moment that dish is presented. Each plate has 2 pieces, and if during the course of ur meal, u don’t touch any of the 2 pieces, u’r not charged! If u take only 1 piece, u’r charged for that 1 piece. So meaning, u get charged only for the food u eat, not more, not less. Interesting! This DOES NOT happen here in Singapore. & we’re assuming that they ‘recycle’ the food not eaten. Hahaha… Supposedly, it’s spicy, especially the green chilli (according to D1 anyway), but for me, it was just ok. Not that spicy! Haha, he cldnt believe that we did not find it spicy enuff! FYI, the resort does not have sambal chilli!! The closet thing they have it the Achar… So sad rite! But at least it was the best meal we’ve had for the past few nites in Manado!

Lembeh straits was our last day of diving! Our 4th day was F&E adventure tour! Enuff was the sea, time to conquer the land! Thanks to our DM CoCO, he managed to get his fren Eric (who happens to be a DM as well) to bring us ard. So we paid for car rental & their services, which is so much cheaper than joining a land tour to the places we went! It was HALF PRICE!! We paid Rupiah 750K for the WHOLE day! Whereas a tour would cost us about USD 70-75 each pax juz for a 6hr tour of the volcano & lake & lunch! Hehe, guess we’ve the correct PR skills to make frens with the pple there for all these good deals!

Our day started at 8am, with an almost 2hr drive to the Tomohon village. Our 1st stop was the local market! Not very big but they sell everything! All sorts of beasts! Haha for real! Bats, snakes, dogs, rats, pork etc.. They kill it in front of u, & pple buy it home for cooking! It was a bloody scene & smelly too!

The market place. Some roasted meat with a very enthusiastic uncle!

Snake & bats!

They sell lots of fruits & veges, esp BANANAS!!! Haha it’s like banana heaven there! Plenty!!

Bananas! They come in all sizes!

Enroute to Mt Mahawu. View point of the town!

After a short stop at the market, we headed to Mt Mahawu, a s’posedly inactive volcano. Apparently, a volcano is considered dormant if it had not erupted for the past 10,000 years!! We stopped rather near to the base, & took a 10mins hike up to the top. Not a difficult hike up! There u c the entire crater! Very cooling & beautiful view! The 4 of us then took a hike around the entire crater!! It was like trekking the forest, with bushes as tall or even taller than us! Suffered some scratches & cuts from the hike! From the view point, u can see the whole Manado town & the Tomohon village! The entire trek took 1hr to complete. Slightly tiring esp for the 3 other pple but nice workout!

Our guides panting on the way up to the crater

Us at the top! HUGE crater!

Small lake at the bottom. Apparently locals climb down to carve their names!

Our guides at the top, acting cool

View of the town. Splendid!

That is Mt Lokon at the far end, an active volcano! Maybe next time can try to mount that!

Nxt stop was Lake Tomohon. It was a HUGE lake! & it was damn cooling standing by the lake! WE stopped for lunch at one of the more popular restaurant for local food. No or little English was spoken so we ordered by looking at what others were having & point! & we got e’vrything rite! Our food came & they were delicious!! The lunch came up to about Rupiah 48k, cheap!!

Settlement around Lake Tomohon

Road along Lake Tomohon

Achar! This is wicked!!

Our lunch of Ikan Goreng, Ikan P.Nike and KangKong (left to right). Place is called Tondano

After lunch we headed out, but there were road blocks here & there. Ended up, we got lost ard the Lake area, turning here n there but cldnt find the way out. After about 1hr of trial & error, we finally made our way out for Manado town! By the time we reach the Hypermart, it was already 6pm! Yes, we spent about 2-3hrs on the road from Lake TOmohon to town! & yes, hypermart again! More shopping! The ‘Hello Panda’ biscuits are damn cheap, only 60cents SGD & they have flavours like cheese, cookies & cream!

Buffalo transporting owner

DX on a swing

Apparently the town is famous for its peanuts! Nope didnt buy

Scenery along the way, trying to find our way out of Lake Tomohon

By the time we reach the resort it was past 7pm, all tired & worn out. The dinner that nite was Ala carte, & it sucked! Sorry, we think the best food from the resort was from the Local buffet nite, & those were the soto ayam soup & the beans & tofu stir fry!

This is my order of some fish cooked in coconut milk, local style. NOT NICE!

The next day was the day of departure. The end of the road for our holiday! After settling our bill with the dive center & the resort separately, we were on our way to the airport. But not b4 we stopped by a roadside stall for some Nasi Kuning (Yellow Rice), as recommended by D1. Cos we complained the food not spicy enuff, so he suggested we tried this!

The auntie manning the stall

The end result - Rice, egg, potato strip, floss, meat, missing the chilli in the pict. BAGUS!!

DX, the hotel staff & the driver had theirs in the stall, while I tapao (not hungry). It was yellow rice, with fried potato strips, some pork floss, some potatos with meat & egg. & u have to eat it with the chilli!! Yes, without the chilli it doesn't taste as nice! & I must say the chilli is really really good! I admit that the chilli is spicy!! Finally sth spicy enuff! The only bummer was the 2 other pple (hotel staff & driver) basically assumed we’re paying for everything, so in the end, we had to fork out Rupiah 45K for the 4 of us. How dare they! Granted it was cheap but still…. Not too happy abt it.

p/s: DX LS when she touched down in Singapore twice! Hahaha… The effects of the nasi kuning probably. Not for me though.

Anyway, apparently towards our last 2 days, more pple started to flow into the resort! Well maybe Tasik Ria is not so empty afterall! Heard from the DM that Aug normally is less crowded. Good in the sense that u get to dive almost without crowd! Yes, true. When we dived in Bunaken, there was almost no other boats ard & most of the divers were from our boat!
& this marks the end of our dive trip! It was fun while it lasted! DX complained about the 60mins dive & 3 dives per day.. Yes, by calculation, it is actually abit over according to the dive plan. But well, I’m actually fine with it!

& we made a friend in Manado! Yes D1 keke.. Anyway nxt time, any of u interested in gg Manado for dive can let me knw! I've got lobang! Yea, & mayb u cld mention my name to D1 & get some special treatment... Hahahha... Any1 interested in buying the Oceanic Geo Dive comp?? Got lobang also...

Next up, we'll go Pulau Weh next year!! Interested party please contact me! Should be in Aug ard national day.