Monday, June 28, 2010

The Day I Really Found Out That 'Impossible IS Nothing'

The long awaited SC-KL Marathon 2010 finally came and went yesterday.

Did I finish?

Did I get my 10K finisher's medal?

Did I finish under 1:30?
NO! I timed myself and it's around 1:34. I think they were being generous or had an abundance of stock. But it's 10.383 km okay. Why there is an extra few hundred metres I don't know. They can easily trim that distance from somewhere along the route. The hilly bits were kinda awful.

Shiny, plated steel. My 3rd medal.
(Please ignore the doodle on my palm)

My legs are feeling a bit sore today, but nothing unbearable.

My trip started on Friday afternoon, was at the airport early at 1330 hrs for my 1545 flight. Anyway, the weather was bad and affected our aircraft from KL and we were delayed first to 1645, then finally took off at close to 1730. I arrived at BackHome at around 2150 hrs. Gahhhh. I felt really tired and hungry.

Went out to look for something to eat - wanted some pizza - but nothing was available in the neighbourhood. Tuty told me there's a big screen at the Dataran so that was where I walked over to. Watched a bit of the first half of POR v BRA. The screen was so clear and sharp you could see CR the Queen's beads of perspiration. Anyway, sadly my dinner ended up to be a bun and a bottle of water from Carrefour Express.

I wish they have this in KK, Football Under the Stars. But we know who will hog the field la :)

SATURDAY : Queue to collect race pack at Stadium Titiwangsa - fast and efficient. I went with Boyd and Ryan after meeting up with them at KL Sentral. Took the monorail to Titiwangsa and got a little lost looking for the shuttle van, no signage seen. Best part is the pakcik told us 'Stadium Titiwangsa? Sini takde stadium'. OOOOOkayyyyyy. But we weren't lost actually; just on the wrong side of the road.

Sponsors' booths with stuff for sale. I, er, bought something.

At the stadium we met up with new friends Kaydee (running the Half) and Pui San (running the Full). Kaydee got the adiNation vest for me, thanks! After dropping off Boyd and Ryan near TAR area for them to find a hotel, we proceeded to CapSquare. As I haven't had lunch yet they kindly teman me to eat.

Back at the hostel later in the evening - unpacked and got the gear ready. Nothing fancy at all in the race pack. Just your bib, vest, D-Tag, runner's booklet, and an NB voucher in the event sling bag. The Full had a face towel. BIM was better I thought. Anyway I chose to wear the adiNation white vest. The SCKLM vest was a white New Balance.

The back of my vest.

D-Tag on.

SUNDAY : The LED screen welcoming runners. Finally drifted to sleep at around 2200 after tossing for an hour plus. Woke up at 0350 ahead of my alarm. By 0415 I was out of the hostel, only to turn back to get my cap because it started drizzling.

Runners were walking around, waiting around, warming up. Then the heavens opened up and showered the Full Marathoners as they were flagged off at 0500 hrs.

Yeay for the pacers! From 3 hours to 6 hours.

Managed to bump into Kaydee in the crowd. Boyd was already in the pen. Eh why is my face shiny so early in the morning? (I think it's the sunblock)

There he is, smack in the middle!

I think this was the Half start. Taken from the big screen. Very clear oh..

Yes, sometimes we need a friendly reminder :)

The before-race pic. Waiting and killing time before our respective turns. By the time 0700 hrs came by just before the flag-off, I had been on my feet for three hours! I should've sat down somewhere.

The after-race pic. Both pics from Kaydee :) thanks, Girl. I had to quickly rush back to the hostel as this was already close to 1100 hrs. Bade farewell to Kaydee who went to look for Pui San and Boyd. Oh, the queue for the bag collection was horrible. I was getting fidgety because I was so hungry!

I believe I inhaled this Whopper Jr in three breaths. Finally had food at 1100hrs.

My mantra for the week was at first 'Impossible Is Nothing'. Then it was 'Just Do It'. Then I settled for 'No Fear'. Finally, on race day, it was reduced to one word - FIGHT. Yes :)
(please excuse the wobbly penmanship, it was kind of dark) Every time I felt like stopping I lifted my hand, looked at it and chanted. Next time I will write it with a big bold permanent marker.

The marathon had its share of unfortunate incidents - RIP dear runner :(.

Good Things :
  • I had fun! 3rd medal!
  • Met new friends!
  • Met old friends!
  • Freebies from sponsors - Breathe Right, 1/2 power bar before race, Anlene pack, Tiger Balm rub.
  • Nice cool weather.
  • We (10K) were flagged off by M Rajagopal! Yeay! (Not some overweight VIP)
  • Overall, in the grand scheme of things, the event was okay.
Not So Good Things :
  • race pack was very basic
  • very crowded stations, only on one side of the road. I had to skip the 2nd station.
  • no water/100plus left at finishing line
  • no bananas (free or for sale)
  • no food! (food-deprived me)
  • big event = many runners = congestion + human jam
  • I didn't camwhore that much. Tired ba..
Worst Things :
  • queuing up for over an hour to collect our bags. Boo!
Would I do it again? Yes, two more events this year, as I've promised myself. And, maybe next year is the time to aim for something bigger :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jala Neti : The Quest for Squeaky Clean Sinuses?

I'm happy because this week I've completed my beginner's yoga.

Did ten weeks fly past just like that? After learning most of the basic beginner's poses (a lot more to go) our instructor also taught us about jala neti and how to use a neti pot.

Jala neti is basically a yoga as well as an Ayuverdic cleansing practice for our sinuses in the head, or our ENT system. This is how you do it for both nostrils; does it look gross?

(Source :
No picture of me doing it as I am in the bathroom laa..

My neti pot is exactly like the one above, which was ordered from India by our instructor. It's made of plastic and there are copper, glass as well as ceramic options available. This is the most convenient and cheapest. So far I have tried using it on alternate days for the past week, it is recommended to do it daily. We used 500 ml of lukewarm water with a teaspoon of salt added.

I was quite scared to try it out initially as I was worried I might choke on the water! Haha, unfounded fears; I still need to perfect my technique however the water flows out well so it's working. My right side is better than my left so I wonder if my internal nose structure is normal or my technique needs refining? I hope it's the latter. Sometimes the water flows out to my mouth, which is okay as it is actually Stage 2 of jala neti.

My verdict? I do feel more clear headed and my nose is rid of mucus (yes you can say 'yuck!'). I don't actually have a sinus problem, except there was one time when I suffered from maxillary sinusitis which was awful (my face hurt soooo baddd); after that infection I had to be more careful around dust and dusty enclosed spaces with no/poor ventilation.

For more on jala neti, you know Mr Google is your best friend, as he is mine :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Kips Don't Lie : Adventures in Laos - The Final Part

This is the final instalment of my Laos trip.

Now back in Vientiane, no longer relying on the street map and just walked around. Here's a mish-mash of pictures of places in the city.

I enjoyed the history of the Lao empire. Although maintenance is lacking, the museum worth a visit. Entrance fee 10,000 kips if I remember correctly.
In the ASEAN section, it showed that Malaysia's PM was 'Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Babawi' (sic). I wrote a short note to the Museum Director on this outdated info and informed the staff on duty as well. Then later I found out that current PM Najib visited Laos the week after!

Lao National Cultural Centre, across the road from the museum.

Ho Pra Keo, I did not enter.

Wat Sisaket.

Passing Patuxai on the way to Phra That Luang.

I think this was the Prime Minister's office complex.

The United Nations building - UNDP, UNESCO etc are all based here.

At the gates of Phra That Luang.

Statue of King Setthatirat in front of Phra That Luang

It was already closed when I reached there :( . Entrance fee applies, 5000 kips.

The gleaming stupa of Phra That Luang (The Great Stupa). The pride and symbol of Laos. At certain moments its surface catches and reflects the sunlight beautifully. I think I snapped this at the right angle or light or whatever the technical term is. It was stunning.

These are around the Phra That Luang compound where there were a few other wats.

None of the signages were in English so I do not know who/what these statues were.

Buddhas under the bhodi tree.

History of the bodhi tree from India.

This picture was taken by a local who was jogging in that area.

The tuk-tuk driver's ID and price list. You can try to bargain the rates, to maybe 60% or even half. I wasn't that bold.

That Dam in broad daylight is not as scary as it is in the dark.

Signposts for streets look like this.

Fresh fruit juices cost 7,000 - 10,000 kips. Very refreshing especially on a hot day! There are many such juice shops.

Laos was a nice surprise, especially Luang Prabang. The only thing was that I seemed to have spent more for this trip as it is not as cheap as Cambodia or Vietnam.

With this trip, my travel around the main destinations in Indo China is almost complete - only Myanmar (and I still want to go to Hanoi) remain. Air Asia just announced its direct flights to Yangon, so we'll see :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Viva La Furia Roja

In the spirit of World Cup 2010, please allow me a moment of indulgence ;-)

Time to unleash the (Red) Fury.

Which team are you rooting for?

(Pics from :

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mile High Crosswords

This is my must-do when aboard AirAsia.

After completing it I sign off, doodle something and give myself a star :)

(Oh. By the way, I still can't finish any sudoku. At best so far I'm usually stuck with the last two boxes)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kips Don't Lie : Adventures in Laos - Part 3

Sunday morning I awoke to the beat of drums from the nearby temple.

Surprisingly I felt fresh and decided to get up early and see the monks again.

This time I went to the other street.

What are you looking at?

These monks had brownish robes. Wonder if that indicates anything.

Later I walked to the main street in search of breakfast and stumbled on the morning market, off the food alley.

Tiny garlic bulbs. I think.

Bamboo shoots. Boiled. I think. A lot of dishes based on this.

These looked like maggots. Tiny white ones. Crawling. Alive.

Bamboo shoots. Fermented? Pickled? Not sure, but the smell was quite overpowering.

I think these are dried and smoked fish fillets of some kind.

In KK I can only find these in Merdeka supermarket.

Dried and cured buffalo skin.

Fermented whole fishes.

Fermented/pickled fish of some kind.

Belacan. Eaten with raw side salad. I tried it with the long beans. Tasted the same like our belacan.

Noodles again for breakfast.

After breakfast I felt reenergised and decided to walk up Phou Si Hill. It's also referred to as Phou Si Mountain. It's more of a hill.

Huff and puff - this is just about half way where you buy a ticket. I like the use of the word 'still' here :). Entrance tickets 20,000 kips.

Arrgh. My legs were getting wobbly.

Turn around and you can see the Mekong.

To the right there is an old temple, Wat Pha Huak, interesting intricate details, though faded.

Finally reached Wat Chom Si, the landmark temple, right on top of the hill.

View to the right from the hill. Khan River, I think?

Through the door : Black cat. Wat Chom Si.

Through the window : Offerings. Black cat. Wat Chom Si.

As you walk around the Wat, offerings are a plenty here and there.

I continued walking wherever the steps took me - there are a number of Buddha images and after a while I realised they 'represented' (?) the days of the week. They were not in sequence though. There was also a large reclining Buddha.

Sunday Buddha.

Wednesday Buddha.

Thursday Buddha.

Monday Buddha.

Saturday Buddha.

Tuesday Buddha.

Friday Buddha.

A painted layout map of the hill - seen from the Phou Si side.

Then I came to a temple grotto - that has a small cave. I thought hard whether I wanted to go inside - since I was alone, it was dark and I'm a mild claustrophobe. I stepped in, hesitated and thought again. Silly, you know what was going through my mind? Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark! Haha. I shrugged off my doubts, took a deep breath and just continued to walk in.

Wat Tham Phou Si. If I'm not mistaken.

Buddha outside the cave.

Wall paintings depicting Buddha's life.

"5.1.1958. Entrance The Cave."

You have to duck. It looks dark from the outside.

As my eyes got used to the darkness, I saw where the altar was. There was a small light/candle.

And I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw an old man sitting there. Phew! It was a sculpture/figure/statue that looked kinda real. And I think he was smiling. (?) Made me feel creepy...sorryy...

Figures in a small garden.

Silver and black dragons 'guarding' the steps and wats.

Golden ones just opposite.

Another stupa on the way down.

The way down? Again?

After hundreds more of steps I finally reached the spot.

The foot imprint is inside.

Can you see it? It's quite big, looks like the imprint of the left foot, more than two feet long and a foot in width.

Another smaller foot imprint nearby.

It was a good workout going up and down the steps on Phou Si, I slowly made my way back and rested at the ticketing point.

This bodhi tree was donated by the government of India in 1957.

Little chirpy birds for sale, to be released.

After Phou Si, I walked back to my guesthouse to take a shower and a short rest. On the way I found a tuk-tuk man who was looking for guests to go in a group to Kuang Xi Waterfalls, so I booked a seat with him. We left on time and reached the waterfalls in 45 minutes sharp!

The main entrance - fee was 20,000 kips.

Layout plan. You have to walk in about 5 minutes or less.

First you will pass the Bear Rescue Centre. There were some bears lazing around and sleeping.

Learn about the types of bears.

Another four here.

The waterfall has a few levels or sections, so I just walked through first before deciding where to bathe.It felt very cooling under the shades. There were many people already there, including locals, all trying to escape the dreadfully hot midday.

My favourite spot. Although it wasn't a designated swimming area. The rocks were sharp and slippery so one has to be very careful. But so worth it! The water was deliciously cold!

Why is the water turquoise like that? I don't know. The riverbed was a little bit sludgy in some places.

A nice, naturally formed 'pool'. The daredevils jumped off the tree, swinging from a rope, tarzan-style.

I swear this guy looked like the younger brother of Fernando Torres. :P He jumped in with style and put on quite a show.

I can't say the same for this silly girl who almost drowned after she jumped off. She was struggling after coming up to surface and luckily someone noticed and started shouting. Wrong place to show off, stupid risk to take if one is not a strong swimmer.

Approaching the last level where the main waterfall is.

The main waterfall. I like the sound of waterfalls. But maybe not Niagara-sized ones.

Facing the waterfall. Got someone to snap this. Was waiting for my hair to dry.

By mid-afternoon the tuk-tuk driver was waiting for us at the gate, and we reached town at about 3:00 pm. I had a quick lunch at Nazim's, got back to my guesthouse, packed and got ready to return to Vientiane on the overnight bus.

Back to Vientiane on the long winding road. Another epic bus ride!