Sunday, January 29, 2012

Things Don't Go As Planned

I only managed 3 types of cookies instead of four, as planned. =(

Update as at today: muscles are aching from the hike. I'll need to hike some more to improve my strength!

And look at how time flies, I don't have enough time to bake away. Grrr.

By the way, Nadal FTW for the Australian Open. Cross fingers! =)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baking Frenzy For CNY

 And I'm still not done yet! HELP!!!
Why must I be so ambitious? Why did I think I could do it, bake cookies for Chinese New Year for the families?

.I started since Friday night, before my nose failed me. It was slowly getting blocked, and I knew I was going to lose my sense of smell and tasted.

Or should I have just given up?
I stomped my feet when YB told me to "just buy the cookies".

"I told my family that I'll be baking them cookies," I insisted.

 cornflake cookies

 OK, I confess that my Friday night baking was a disaster, and I blame it on the main ingredient I used. I tried a shortcut and I failed. So, I'll have to redo a fresh batch all over again.

On Saturday, I proceeded to make cornflake cookies instead, which turned out alright. It wasn't the taste that I was going for. YB finds them a bit too sweet and I agree. The sweetness comes from the cornflakes. Hmmm.

 ugly looking pineapple tarts but taste SO good.

 Why must I be so bloody ambitious? Yes, you read me right. Pineapple Rolls, for goodness sake! I'm just a beginner, for crying out loud!

My Sunday evening was spent baking these babies, which turned out ... let me eat one now and see if I can find a justified description of it.

Erm. They DID taste yummy fresh from the oven, I swear!

Now they taste just OK (to me). *frowns*

I need to find the recipe for the melt in your mouth ones... *wails*

But it's not too bad, I guess. If YB likes it, I guess my in-laws will be OK with them, too. Initially he was complaining that they were a bit too sweet, but now they don't. I guess the rolls take a bit of time to settle down or something.

(I can smell Indomie right now ... someone's making supper and it's not me!)

 pumpkin puree soup with fried chicken.

Sooooo much work for pumpkin soup! And yeah, chicken looks pathetic. I'm really bad at frying stuff. But I love pumpkin and the soup was yummy, but definitely not for someone who's on a diet. Tsk tsk.

That was our dinner on Sunday night. The chicken was marinated with cumin seeds, garam masala, dark soy sauce, pepper and salt. It was stuck in the fridge for 3-4 hours before cooking.

Mushroom Lasagna and beetroot with white beans salad thingy.

Let's look at food which are much better presented.

The other day, YB wanted to eat out at Ben's General Food Store, at Publika. I think it's because he keeps seeing pictures of the food there on Facebook, or because I kept telling him about it?

Well, I've only been there once and I thought there was no harm in going there to try something new. YB chose the lasagna, which I think needs to be shared. It's rich and filling, definitely best shared.

chicken pie with limey barley and white mushroom salad thingy.

I opted for something else, although there was nothing else I wanted to try. Oh, I wanted to try the pizza but wasn't too sure if we could finish it.

The chicken pie was a bit dry inside, I won't recommend it. A friend of mine once ordered the Moroccan Lamb Pie and found it a bit dry, too. 

The salad was very interesting. I can't imagine serving it as a salad for my family or the in-laws, though. Hehe.

Happy Chinese New Year to you, if I don't catch you online again before then!

Work was ridiculously CRAZY the past 2 weeks that I'm so relieved it's over! We were busy computing whether we achieved our KPI for 2011 and completing our appraisal. I just had mine today with my supervisor and he has submitted it to the unit head who will review it with the head of department. Bah!

p.s. I hope I don't get mopey during CNY ... it will be different. I miss home soooo much! My sister has reminded me that I'll be the last to have met my niece (her daughter)! SIGH!!!! But we'll be back in KK during the Thaipusam weekend, anyway. ;)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We Saw a Whale Shark!

Yes, I do know that this post is a quarter of a year late, but it is only now that I manage to find the time to go through the pictures and arrange my thoughts a bit more clearly.

 Of course, with my poor memory, I may tend to forget bits and pieces of it.

But oh, this must be how it felt like three years ago when I hadn't started this running habit - more time to do other things! And probably get fat in the process, with all this sitting around, slouching over the laptop...

Oh and if sometimes you happen to read a blog post that sounds jumbled up and incoherent, that's probably because I was nodding off while trying to write! I've been so lethargic these days that I crash onto the bed by 10pm.

As you know, we finally found the time after the wedding to pursue our Advanced Open Water licence last September.

14th - 18th September 2011.

Wednesday afternoon – Leech and Ch’ng picked us up and we headed to Bukit Tinggi for lunch with GK. Lunch was OK, I suppose, I can't find the food pictures anymore.

Next, Ch’ng got into GK’s car and proceeded to lead the way towards Kemaman. With a walkie-talkie in each car, we could communicate and make silly remarks, laughing at each other and that kept us awake throughout the journey.

I insisted we dropped by Chukai for coffee/tea at Hai Peng coffeeshop, despite the idea being vetoed by Ch’ng. He wanted us to save space for dinner but come on, I rarely come by this part of Malaysia so it’s considered a must for me to drop by.

Shortly after, we somehow reached our dinner destination very early. Oops. I was still a bit stuffed but unfortunately, it was time for our early dinner before we headed off to Awana Kijal to spend the night. 

Thursday - We woke up before 6am to head off to arrive at Kuala Merang jetty to wait for our ferry.

We thought we could grab breakfast along the way but unfortunately, much to GK's annoyance, we were running late. In the end we had to eat at one of the stalls near the jetty. Not great, I’m afraid.

 At the Kuala Merang Jetty.

YB says I look like a mad person in the top right picture but I love it!

It took us about an hour to arrive at Redang Island. We were so excited! Blue skies and the clear blue seas and wind in your face … aaaah, it smelled like a holiday.

We stayed at Ayu Mayang Resort which was simple enough to cater for our needs. At least the water heater works and there’s air conditioning. ;)

After lunch we went for our first dive. The first one always gives YB and I the jitters, because clearly we weren’t water babies and it takes us a while to ‘warm up’ to the whole diving thing. Once we got comfortable underwater, it was lovely to enjoy the view and wave at the fishies. OK, I’m not sure who else waves at the fishies, but sometimes I do that. I mean, they’re staring at me as if to say hello, it would be rude not to acknowledge their presence, no? ;D
The things we do after lunch.
YB is very diligent at filling up his log book while mine is half filled.

Fast forward, we were knackered after dinner but we had to stay up to surprise YB for his birthday the next day (16th). Our instructor said there was a briefing at 9pm so we made our way to the chalet he was staying at (Coral Redang).

[Pictures from the surprise party are here.]

Anyway, everyone was so relieved to sing the birthday song, posed for pictures and finish up their slice of cake, (which was pretty good!!) before quickly running off to bed. I don’t know about you, but diving can be quite tiring! It must be the sea water …
At Coral Redang Island Resort.

People bring their own stash of beer. YB lazing in the hammock while waiting for our next dive.

Friday – Everyone greeted YB with a happy birthday greeting. It was a deep dive that morning at Big Mount.

As we descended slowly and got used to our surroundings, we saw a huge shadow on our right. YB and I both swam towards it, wondering what it was. As we inched nearer, we saw the silhouette of the whale shark.

YB gripped my arm and we both looked at each other. Excitement shone in our eyes as we nodded at each other, giving each other the thumbs’ up sign.

I could swear there were tears in my eyes, but who’s to know? ;D

We started gesturing to our fellow divers. Pretty lamely, I must say.

I mean, what on earth is the underwater sign for a whale shark?? When I saw Leech hovering slightly beneath me, I waved frantically at him and he gestured, “What?”

I frantically pointed at the direction of the whale shark and swam towards it, hoping he would follow me.

It was honestly a sight to behold. It was like, woahhhh.

I didn’t dare got near it but I was still near enough to see the spots on its body. YB, Ch’ng and everyone else swam as close as they could to touch it gently, while the photographers kept their distance in order to capture snapshots of it.
YB swimming alongside.

We swam it for a while, going wherever it was going. It was almost 10 minutes, I think.

And then, GK tapped it a bit too hard on its tail and the whale shark shot off.

Everyone glared at him as best as they could through their masks. I’m sure someone waved a fist at him, too.

Thereafter, our instructor took YB and I down to the seabed to continue with our deep dive – basically doing Maths underwater. I took a little longer just because I wanted to double check my answer. Ha!

As we ascended and got onto the boat, Ivan & GK were first, followed by YB and I, then Leech. We told our boat driver excitedly, “WHALE SHARK!!! WHALE SHARK!!!”

You see, when we arrived at the island, there was word around that a whale shark had been spotted recently and since then, every dive group was on the lookout for it. So we considered ourselves one of the LUCKIEST people to have witnessed such a beautiful gentle creature.

Our boat driver was excited, too. He insisted that Ivan showed him the pictures, to the extent that he forgot to help other divers up into the boat.

He immediately called up his friend on his phone to tell them, “Yoh, whale shark spotted here at Big Mount!”

IT WAS AWESOME, I cannot tell you just how awesome it is but YEAH!!!

I was just relieved that my mask didn’t fog up as much as it did the day before.

Everyone thanked YB for his birthday wish, i.e. seeing the whale shark. We were grateful for being a part of that special moment. Hehe.

 Food's not that great, you can tell. But sometimes if you're lucky, one or two dishes could be good.

Chilling out at the neighbouring resort.

Saturday – We had to do a wreck dive which turned out pretty disastrous in a funny way. The visibility was so bad that we couldn’t see beyond 3 metres. I spent too long studying a dead fish under a log and when I looked up, YB was gone. The only person left was Leech. Everyone else were at the wrecks.
I gestured to Leech to go left, as I recalled the instructor saying that the wrecks were on the left as you descend along the rope.
But men being men, they don’t take directions from women well. You know that, right?
He insisted we go right. I shook my head and gestured left, but he INSISTED that it was right.
Fine. I shrugged and followed him, knowing that we were definitely going the wrong way.
The water was so sandy that you really wouldn’t know where you’re going. The wrecks were on a sandy bed, devoid of corals or anything else. 
We spent 30 minutes trying to find our way towards the wreck but we were clearly off the track. I kept smiling to myself, because I wanted to laugh. Leech was doing his kick cycle to see if he could retrace his steps but I could tell we were definitely way off track.
Eventually we ascended to the surface.
We saw our boat far far far away. We also saw YB on the other far side. Our instructor was already on the boat.

Apparently YB decided to look for me when he couldn’t spot me at the wrecks. Ch’ng saw our instructors signaling to each other that 3 people were missing, so one of them headed out to look for these 3 people.

But because visibility was SO bad, he got lost, too!
We all had a good laugh, really. Leech was worried that I’d freak out and panic but if I panicked, I think I would have resurfaced immediately!
Finally, we could all drink ourselves silly that night. But YB and I ended up playing some telematch games on the beach with a group of snorkelers. I’m sure there’s an embarrassing photo of me somewhere … let me check with PL.

One of the few things we saw: blue spotted stingray, nudibranch and a green turtle.

On the last night, our dive instructors organised a lucky draw among their divers/snorkelers as well as a prize giving ceremony for the winners of the telematch games.

My lucky draw got me a TUSA tshirt! Ch'ng was jealous. =P

Sunday – oh bugger it was a week before our River Jungle Marathon so I made myself get out of bed early to go for a run. YB was already up early, taking pictures of the sunrise. PL and I had arranged to run that morning but she didn’t wait for me and by the time I arrived, she was doing her 2nd lap.

We found out on the boat the other day that we both took part in running events. ;)

The ferry on the way back was packed with people.

By the time we arrived in the evening, we met up with Des and Mae for dinner to regale them with our stories, especially our encounter with the whale shark.

We had text them the same afternoon we saw the whale shark, urging them to join us immediately.

YB and I can’t wait to go diving again but looking at our calendar, goodness knows how we’ll be able to fit in a quick weekend trip. I really hope we can because my buoyancy is still a bloody problem for me!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pantry Magic

Location: 49, Jalan Telawi Tiga, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

I was mesmerised by the candy striped awning. I felt like I was walking along the streets in England. I'm not sure why I associated it with England but it didn't look like a store belonging to Malaysia, if you asked me.

It was just sooooo quaint, like an old toy store in England, don't you think?

Like a kid spotting a toy store, my eyes couldn't leave the store and I found my legs walking towards it.

But like a dirty beggar, I was hesitant. It looked so posh, fragile and expensive that I was terrified I would break something should I step in.

I stood outside and lingered for a while, before entering the store.

 Bright coloured moulds! Stainless steel utensils! Cupcake tier! Aaaaahhhhh how delightful!

All neatly arranged.

If this were my kitchen, the tidiness wouldn't last - it would be in a mess in no time at all!

I walked out later, empty-handed. Sigh. It wasn't for me, honestly. I'm such a poor baker that I don't think I'd qualify to indulge myself in such lovely items, =)

For more pictures of their colourful items, check out these sites:
Pantry Magic
My Domestic Bliss
Home Sweet Home

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chickpea Corn Fritters

I love vada or vadai, or what we Malaysians would call or pronounce as "vadeh", that look like this. (There's background music on the blog, so be careful when you click on it.)

Made from dhal, it can look like a doughtnut with a hole in the middle or it could be fritter like. This savoury snack originated from South India.

Sometime in early December last year, I was craving for something spicy (fragrant curry leaves!) and chickpeas. Oh, and sweet corn. I lovvvvvve sweet corn, except not in apom balik, sorry.

Then I thought about falafel, too.

Oh, and corn fritters!

Gosh, I was pretty indecisive that time, I just wanted to eat everything.

With three different recipes as reference - chana dhal, corn fritters and falafel, I thought I'd combine them all and pray for the best.

It was workable, though I'm sure I could have done better with a complete set of ingredients, but ahhh, experiments are called experiments when one isn't too sure about the end results, no?

1 1/2 cup of canned chickpeas, drained.
3/4 cup of canned sweet corn, drained.
1/2 cup of chopped onion.
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
dessicated coconut
2 bird eye chilli, deseeded and chopped.
curry leaves, chopped.
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp pepper
salt to taste
oil for frying

(I can't remember! But I think it went something like this.)
1. Mash chickpeas with a fork. Mix cumin seeds, dessicated coconut, chilli, coriander powder and pepper into the chickpeas.
2. Stir in onions and corn.
3. Make small and flat discs and arrange on the plate.
4. Heat oil for frying.
5. Fry til golden brown.

Erm, yeah, they're not golden brown, I know. I am pretty hopeless with frying fritters as you can see. But they tasted FANTASTIC (curry leaves and cumin seeds, mmmmm) and YB enjoyed them very much.

I would love to make them again some time soon but right now I'm trying to make cookies for Chinese New Year. So far, I've tried making peanut cookies and they were not too shabby! I'll need to make some more this weekend to give away to the family.

I just made pineapple jam for the pineapple tarts (I am such a newbie!) and let's pray they won't turn our disastrous or I'd be very upset. I promised my sisters I'll try to make them for CNY!

Can you believe it's 2 weeks to the Chinese New Year? Holy crap!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Medan To Lake Toba

19th - 21st August 2011.

Friday - We almost missed our flight that morning. The cab that took us, ran out of gas just 10 minutes away from LCCT. He told us that he thought he would have enough gas to take us to the airport, hence didn't see the need of refueling before our journey began.

We stood at the roadside, waiting for the cab driver's friend to save him (or us) by picking us up and dropping us off at the LCCT.

His friend grumbled along the way, wondering why couldn't the guy have sufficiently refueled before the long trip to the airport.

At the airport with 30 minutes before the gates closed, we had to beg the counter to accept our baggage check-in and then made a run towards the departure hall.

Poor parents-in-law! It was like a family version of The Amazing Race with all the stress and running involved. ;D

Arriving at Polonia International Airport Medan, our tour guide and driver whisked us off to visit Istana Maimoon. It was built by Sultan of Deli in 1888. Its unique interior designs reflect the influence of Malay, Indian, Spanish and Italian style.

We left Medan and made our way to Brastagi, stopping by at Mikie Holiday Hotel for lunch. Nothing fancy, just some dishes to be eaten with rice. (see top pic below)

There was another couple who were part of our tour and soon we realised that their presence made it a bit awkward for us: the husband never uttered a word, while the wife would do her best to chat with my in-laws. It was really weird!

After lunch, we proceeded to Brastagi and checked in to our hotel, the Grand Mutiara Hotel. The balcony in our room opened up to the gardens, tempting us to go out and play instead. But it was drizzling.

Our guide brought us to the market selling fresh fruits and vegetables and plants. We looked around but bought nothing.

That hairy puffer fish-like fruit caught my eye. After a quick walk around, we took shelter at a stall selling corn on the cob. The couple sat far from us, and separately. Really weird!

Dinner was the usual awkwardness at the hotel.

Saturday - The next morning, we made our way towards Lake Toba. First stop was the Sipisopiso waterfall, located at the North side of Lake Toba.

Misty morning at the Sipisopiso waterfalls. Everyone took an opportunity to use the loo with small fee.

The waterfall is a 110m drop from a cave opening. There were steps leading closer to the waterfall but as we weren't given much time to explore, YB and I couldn't get close enough to the bottom.

Next, we dropped by Pematang Purba to visit the old Simalungun Batak Long House. Only Batak tribe chiefs display a bull's head on their roof.

The Simalungun Batak Long House is also known as Rumah Bolon.

We proceeded to Parapat and stopped at Simarjarunjung to taste their ginger tea, served with banana fritter.

It was the banana fritter that was the deciding factor for us. Well, my in-laws enjoyed their ginger tea. It was too strong for me, honestly.  Brrr!

It cost Rupiah 14,000 per serving, I think.

Arriving at Parapat shortly, we took the ferry/boat to cross the lake to Samosir Island.

We soaked in the sights of Lake Toba.

And then the boys started singing ... which was quite bad, to be honest. I knew they were going to ask for donations. =P

We first visited the Ambarita village to see chair stones.

A different type of longhouse, compared to the Rumah Bolon.

Don't you think the statue overseeing the donation box reminds you of Punch, of Punch & Judy?

From there, we stopped by the Tomok village to see .. erm ... something.

There were many souvenir stalls along the way but nothing fancy really caught our eye. I bought a scarf, along with the mum-in-law, who did her best to haggle. I also bought a tshirt from an old lady, although I really didn't want to buy it as she refused to give me a new one.

Another stall owner wanted to exchange money with us as she had accepted Malaysian Ringgit from a previous customer. The MIL obliged her.

We then checked in to Niagara Hotel, which offers a great view of the lake.

We realised that both the hotels we stayed had no lifts, causing us to walk up and down the stairs. Pity the porters and old folks.

We also wondered why their notes tend to end up disgustingly 'kiam chai' (preserved vegetable) like. Ugh.

Dinner was no biggie. We couldn't find a place to sit around and chat as there was no lobby for guests to mingle. There was only a lounge for guests to mingle, provided you ordered a drink.

Sunday - The next morning after breakfast, we had to check out to make our way back to Medan.

The breakfast buffet was full with rowdy visitors, queuing up for fried vermicelli and rice, eggs and cereal.

It was long and bumpy ride back to Medan, about 4 hours of torture. We only stopped along the way to buy some souvenir biscuits/candy from Teng Teng.

We didn't get to visit the kuih lapis or kuih bika bakeries. =(

There was plenty of trishaws on the road but I think it would be madness to take the trishaw and get stuck in traffic. 

Our guide dropped us at one of the shopping malls in town where we found a food court to partake our lunch. Hmmm, it was the only time we could get a taste of their Indonesian dishes like soto, fried ikan keli and ayam penyet.

The 3 days 2 nights trip was just right, with too much free time on our hands. Besides Lake Toba, there really wasn't much to see along the way. It so happened that a few of my colleagues had also recently went to Medan to visit Lake Toba as well and they too, shared the view.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fubon Taipei Marathon 2011

Thursday, 15th December 2011. 

We made our way to Taipei City Hall in search of the Fubon Cafe to pick up our race kits. We stood by the crossroads in front of the City Hall for a moment, and I felt that rush of adrenaline as I stared at the blue banners.

YB and I clung to each others' arms, "Oh my gawd, it's happening! We're going to run the marathon right here!!"

The race kit collection was a quiet affair, compared to our Malaysian ones. 
Ready or not, here we come!

Race Day - Sunday, 18th De cember 2011.

It was hard to rouse ourselves out of the comfortable hotel bed when the alarm rang at 430am. By the time we jostled ourselves out and prepared to leave, it was already 540am. We were like hesitant children, reluctant to attend the first day of school.

We walked towards the nearest MRT station and soon enough we could spot the runners from the non-runners. The runners had a maroon bag each slung over their shoulders, a clear requirement by the Taiwan Running Association that you MUST use only the maroon CTRRA bags for storage deposit at the events organized by them.

On the MRT.

Buzzing at 6am.

It was still dark when we arrived at the Taipei City Hall at 610am. We purchased the maroon bag for NT$100, changed, deposited the bag and used the portaloo. By the time we were ready to head towards the Start/Finish line, it was inching to 650am.

As runners for the full and half marathons and 9km categories started together, it was so crowded that I feared I was going to take 20 minutes just to cross the Start line. It’s requirement for the runners to cross the finish line within 15 minutes of flag off, but how would it be possible with about 120,000 people?

The elite runners started at 6:57am. We were stuck here and couldn't up any further so we stood still to made sure we could hear the flag off.

The first 8km or so was pretty crowded but fun. There were many supporters along the way, some dressed in funny outfits, cheered the runners wholeheartedly. It was a different atmosphere altogether. I drank in the sights, taking in the crowd, the cheers and cool weather.

I lost sight of YB the minute we crossed the start line. Dressed in a black long sleeve cotton top over my Nike We Run KL dry fit tee with arm warmers, I was getting a bit warm. I rolled up my sleeves but still felt warm.

The 9km runners headed left after 4km or so, leaving the route a little less crowded. The half and full marathoners continued on until about 8km, where they headed up an overheard bridge, whilst we took a right turn to run along the river.

We saw some male runners peeing into the bushes on the right side of the road. A few uncles behind me, laughed and exclaimed, "Wah! Look at them!!"

We saw a half marathoner coming towards our direction, grinning from ear to ear, "Ooops! I followed the wrong crowd!"
The uncles behind me chuckled.

A few steps later, we saw a young boy coming towards us, clearly a lost 9km runner.

"Wah!! This one is worse! He has a longer way to go!" one uncle commented.

I was doing pretty OK right up to the 20km, clocking 2:06 thereabouts. I thought I was going to do a decent time (oh, such overconfidence!) but it took a downhill turn from there.

The top of my right thigh (where it meets the hip) started to cramp, and I have ALWAYS had difficulty in loosening up that part. I always have problems dealing with a cramp at that spot during my long rounds (> 20km).

But I wasn't the only person having problems, so I wasn't alone. There were others who would stop along the way to stretch. But that didn't make me feel better! 

I stopped to put on my iPod, as I finally needed some distraction for the rest of the route.

It was a lovely day with the blue canopy. But it didn't make me feel any better. 

The cramps, argh.

I took off my arm warmers and tied it to my pouch. It's funny, you know. Sometimes I was warm and I'd roll up my sleeves, but once the wind blew, I would feel a bit chilly again and I'd roll down my sleeves. What a dilemma.

Completing every km thereafter was an accomplishment I could not even sustain. My left calf cramped, and I tried to stretch. And there was a point where my right thigh cramped at the same time, and I was like, "What. The. Hell. This is ridiculous."

I kept repeating to myself, "Thisisridiculous, thisisridiculous, THIS IS RIDICULOUS!" because I didn't know what else to do. I looked out for medical assistants with Perskindol spray or something but there were none. I guess I'd really have to ask them for help, instead of expecting them to offer help?

As I was stretching by the railing when an uncle told me to pose for his camera. He then ran ahead and upon reaching a guy who was stretching by the railing, he did the same.

"He'll probably show his friends later how hopeless we were," I mused.

The river route was a long one. We ran for about 7km on one side and then climbed up a bridge to cross over to run on the other side to run another 13km. I was getting tired of the view and running on the bicycle path. 

Thankfully, I could stop every 2.5km to hydrate myself, but then again, I was already walking and running most of the way.

I was very very very frustrated. 

Even my right foot cramped!

I wanted my 4:40 but in my condition, I knew I was not going to achieve it.

You know, the Taiwanese are generally friendly people? Apparently I dropped my arm warmers along the way and one guy told me. I smiled my thanks and stopped in my tracks, not knowing what to do.

I could see that I'd have to run back 10 metres to retrieve it, but I didn't want to waste my energy. But I felt bad because it would mean I was littering.

With a sigh, I trudged back to pick it up, but only to find it was only one side. I couldn't see the other one.

Did I mention that the supporters along the way were still energetic people? Most runners, including myself would wave at them - they had to be acknowledged, of course. Too bad I wasn't running with a camera in hand, I should have thought about it!

My Garmin reset itself at 20 something km, adding to my frustration. I don't know how long it was out, but I knew for a fact that either I had to run quicker to make up for lost time (I couldn't rely on it any more for a good time).

At the 30km checkpoint, I checked the clock which read 10:38am, I think. Bad.

I shook my head in despair. I wanted to quit! But I berated myself and sighed, "Which joker told me that marathoners are no quitters?"

"Fine. I can't complete the damn thing in 4:40 but at least a sub-5, right?" I asked myself.

It felt as if The River Jungle Marathon was less of a torture compared to this one, but why? It was puzzling. Perhaps I was tired from walking around Taipei during the first 3 days? Or was I just unprepared? Definitely both.

My muscles are pretty funny, I must say. I felt a tad bit better by the 37th km and I had to shake myself out of this gloom and trudge on.

Back in the city,  a shop proprietor and relatives/friends were serving fruits by the road, just outside their shop. I saw mandarin oranges, and I wanted to grab some, but I hesitated. 

I continued on, instead, and focused on the last 5km. It was a long one.

An uncle supporter called out to me, causing me turn back to acknowledge him with a wave,"Pretty lady, keep it up!"  

I think I hit the 40km checkpoint at 11:45am or so, I honestly can't remember now. I tried my best to muster up the energy since the finish line getting nearer and nearer. I wanted to make sure I finished the race with a sub-5 gun time.

Everyone was picking up during the last km. Supporters on the road continued cheering and the runners waved in return.


I crossed the finish line at 5:01:07.

Nooooooooooooo ...

I mustered a smile and said thanks to the volunteers who handed me the medal and towel. I limped towards our designated meeting spot to wait for YB, exhausted.

I was relieved that the race was over, just plain relieved. I dug deep into the recesses of my brain to see if I was excited or not, but I came up empty handed.

YB and I congratulated each other as he managed to cross the finish line at 4:35 ... lucky fella!

The skies were grey by 1230pm. I still had to redeem my goodie bag.

The queue for the full marathoners' food distribution.

Although I didn't feel any sense of achievement, I felt I still had to take a pic as it was our last marathon ever! (Ever!)

Inside our food pack.

A local band had been performing for the crowd for a while, and it was slowly wrapping up the event.

We got someone to take the obligatory pic (with our medals) of us. We usually don't take pictures with event backdrops but we thought, ah might as well.

We slowly made our way to the MRT to return to our hotel. It was a very slow walk.

Back at the hotel room, I devoured the pork chop while YB watched the news on telly. There was a mention on the Taipei Marathon with some shots of colourful supporters along the way.

My legs were in pain and I was numb. I felt no buzz from completing the marathon but I couldn't figure out whether it was really disappointment or plain denial - I was slowly blocking out how I felt during the run.

But let's talk about the race.

The good things:
1. Although they said that water stations were only located every 5km after the first one, water and isotonic drinks were also provided at their sponge stations, making hydration available every 2.5km.

2. The supporters, the people along the way. I have never ever seen SO MANY smiling faces cheering the runners on. It must be the weather, I tell you. And their funny costumes would cheer you up.

3. As the 9km, half and full marathoners begin the race the same time, they cross the finish line at different times. The full marathoners were last to complete the race so the volunteers are able to focus their attention on them. You won't have to avoid bumping into the 9km or half marathoners as you race towards the finish line.

4. The event area is divided into sections, to avoid unnecessary overcrowding. The full marathoners deposit/collect their bag at one area while the 9km & half marathoners have their own section, situated on the other side.

5. Returning the championship chip entitles you to a refund of NT$100 on the spot. ;D

6. Medals, certificate and towels for half and full marathon finishers. We love our towel! That's considered our souvenir from Taipei. ;D

The bad stuff:
1. The route along the river eventually became very boring. We had to run on one side, make a u-turn on the overhead bridge to run along the other side. It was about 25km worth. Some live music would have been good, honestly.

2. At some points along the river, we had to run on the bicycle lanes which was very crowded. It was hard to run without bumping into anyone, nor would you have sufficient space to overtake someone. I almost tripped onto the uneven ground as I tried to manouvre myself around a boy. Grrr.

3. The medical people do not stand outside their tent with Perskindol spray (or whatever Taiwanese equivalent) or offer any help. Instead, they sat in their chairs and waited for runners to approach them for help. I tried looking for Deep Heat rub or any form of ointment but they didn't bother asking me what was it I wanted so I left.

Overall, it was very well organised event. Enjoyed their well-planned organisation!

Lele's pictures will give you a gist of how the run was. I'm sorry I wasn't running with a camera in hand. Check out the picture of girls in bunny ears holding a cardboard carrot each - that was my favourite 'support' group.

 p.s. Try as I may, I really can't recall much about the race. Talk about selective amnesia!

And here's the Altitude Diagram, just in case you're interested. Hah!