Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cheapskate

A couple of weeks after his mother's funeral, a man was packing some of his mother's old stuff, and he stumbled upon many of her old diaries. Curiosity got the better of him, and he started reading some pages randomly. He came upon an interesting entry from many years ago. 

It said:

"Today I've learnt a very important lesson—Sometimes, it's not worth to save a few cents by buying cheap and low-quality stuff because it might just fail to do what it's supposed to do. It's OK to spend a few cents more for the sake of quality!"

That entry made the man pause for a bit; he wondered what was that all about, and he kept thinking and thinking about it to no avail. It wasn't until much later when it suddenly occurred to him that the date of that entry was about 9 months before he was born!

Well, I have a story to tell about buying cheap stuff too. But in my story, although I'm not the one buying the cheap stuff, in the end I'm the one who paid for the consequences.

You see, I bought a smart phone for JJ, which was in itself an irony, really, because JJ is not so smart about taking good care of her stuff. She brought her phone to school one day and then left it lying around unattended, and eventually it was stolen. So daddy came in for the rescue with a new smart phone. That was almost 2 years ago. Although JJ has dropped her cellphone like a million times, the phone survived the torture somehow. It was quite an expensive cellphone, but it's not waterproof.

Then recently, while Mia was passing a phone accessories shop in a mall, a plastic casing for smartphones caught her eyes. It was designed to contain smartphones which can then be submerged into water. It was selling at a price of just RM10. Such a cheap item with the function of protecting a cellphone worth at least 6 months of my lunch allowance.

So JJ was excited. Last week, she went swimming at Sutera Harbour. She put her cellphone into that forsaken plastic casing and then took selfies in the pool. And then came the painful part of the story. After JJ had had her fun taking selfies, she noticed that water went into the plastic casing after all. What followed next were numerous attempts to revive the phone, including putting it into the rice container (not sure where she got that silly idea). But to make the long story short, her cellphone is dead. Like "DEAD" dead!

So JJ was the not-so-smart user of a smart phone; Mia was the cheapskate buyer of the miserable plastic casing at RM10; and now daddy is the one having to get JJ a new cellphone. After about a week without a cellphone, JJ finally got a new phone today. After checking out some of its features, she said to daddy, "Wow! it's cool dad!"

So JJ is happy; her mommy is happy; and I'm happy for both of them. But I'm rather sad for myself. But unlike the dead mother in the story above, I doubt that Mia has learnt anything from this episode. I bet if she sees another plastic casing selling at RM5, she'd buy it in a heartbeat...sigh.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Walking Bible

A priest was driving his old sedan into town one day, and a young beautiful nun asked for a ride. On the way, they stopped briefly at a red light, and the priest's hand started to wander and come to rest on the nun's knee. The nun remained calm, but said, "Father, remember Matthew 7:7?" The priest withdrew his hand apologetically.

They made several more brief stops, and at each stop the priest's hand wandered and rested on the nun's knee. And each time the nun uttered that same line, "Father, remember Matthew 7:7?" When they finally arrived at the town, the nun alighted the car, and the priest said, "Please accept my sincere apology, sometimes the mind is strong, but the flesh is weak!"

When the priest finally got home, however, he rushed to his Bible to look up Matthew 7:7, King James Version. It said:

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you"

Moral of the story is that whatever's one profession or expertise, he should make sure that he knows his business well. Otherwise, he is bound to miss rare opportunities to strike big!

Such is the story I'd sometimes tell younger people. I have quite many such stories that are quite often amusing, but contain valuable life lessons. Truth be told, I'm a non-believer of religions, and although I know some of the stories in the Bible, I only know Matthew 7:7 by heart; simply because I have the above story in my arsenal of life lessons for my younger friends.

Today, I was at the High Court to appear as an Assessor to assist the judge in a property dispute. During a short recess, some of us made a beeline to the toilet. Although there were separate male and female toilets on that floor, the male toilet was out of order, and we had to share the female toilets. It happened that the female toilet door was closed, and I thought there was someone in it. So we waited for a while. However, the wait became too long, and an old man started knocking on the door. No answer, and after a few more knocks, he opened the door. Turned out that the toilet was empty.

The old man remarked absent-mindedly, "Luckily I knocked on the door; otherwise we would have waited for nothing," and then added, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

Upon hearing that line, I was reminded of my story above. So I said, "Matthew 7:7?"

The old man was extremely surprised. He exclaimed, "Wow! You know your Bible very well, young man! I'm very impressed!"

And I turned red in the face. I'm not exactly a young man at 52, and neither am I any good at the Bible. But thankfully, he did not ask me to cite other verses of the Bible. Tomorrow, I'm appearing in court again, and I hope I won't be meeting him in the toilet, just in case he might be tempted to quote other lines of the Bible, and expect me to name the specific Chapter.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ironman Malaysia 2017

I did the Ironman Malaysia (IMMY) last year, and it was something of a disaster for me. And shortly after that race, I decided to come back for a second attempt this year. I had originally wanted to focus fully on this race. But for a long time it seemed like there would be no more Ironman Malaysia. I therefore started scouting around for other Ironman races in the region, and my friend Anslem told me about Ironman Gurye in South Korea. I didn't think very long; I registered for that race and embarked on serious training for it.

However, very shortly after I registered for Gurye, IMMY opened for registration, to be held on 11 November 2017. So I registered for it too. I achieved a personal best (PB) in Gurye as reported here. And then I became lazy to continue the hard training for IMMY. I finally arrived in Langkawi at my heaviest in recent years; just a little shy of 75kg during the weigh-in at racepack collection the day before the race. Thinking of the hills, I knew that I would be in trouble.

Mia came along for this trip as she had registered for the 70.3 event which was to run simultaneously with the Ironman race. We were having lunch at the Happy Happy Cenang Seafood Restaurant the day before the race, and as I was chewing my seafood fried rice, I was suddenly attracted to a significant figure walking at the adjacent Mali Mali Resort. It was none other than Wendy Tan; she was obviously prepared for the race. There she walked with that trademark huge hair and dark sunglasses, shoulders held high up like The Rock, and a painfully straight back. She reminded me of someone at the back of my mind, but I couldn't for the moment tell who that someone was. It wasn't until much later that I thought she reminded me of C3PO of the Star Wars saga; very, very straight back and walking very stiff, full of muscles. For a brief moment, I had the crazy idea of calling out to her, but I checked myself. After all, the prospect of Mia stabbing me in my sleep with a huge Rambo knife wasn't very amusing, you see.

After lunch, we walked the street of Cenang and I bumped into Dr Yap Eng Hui. What a small world! Or maybe it's just Langkawi that's small. But anyway, he took the opportunity to take this photo of us.


Now where was I? Oh yes, about the Ironman race. We found ourselves at the swim start at about 6am the next morning. And after making final checks on our bikes, there was a slow procession of a bunch of fools to the beach. The 70.3 event was to be flagged off first, but I lost sight of Mia in the huge crowd. 

Although there was a significant gap between the 70.3 and the Ironman flag offs, it felt like time was ticking extremely fast. Very soon, I found myself queuing for the start of the swim. My friend Quintin was there too, and we started the race at more or less the same time.

Now the swim is my weakest discipline, and I have always had a kind of fear of it. This race was no exception. However, as soon as I got into the water, I felt surprisingly calm. I've never been any good at swimming, and throughout the months leading up to the race, my longest session at the pool was just 1.5km, and that was with many stops too. When I got to shore and about the make a second entry into the water for the second loop, suddenly Dr Yap came alongside me. But he left me behind in no time at all. I eventually emerged from the sea in about 1:36 for a distance of just under 4km.

I took my time rinsing off the salt water, and then made my way to the changing tent. My heart was still racing like crazy, and by the time that I got to my bike, I noticed that Quintin and another friend, Felix, had already left T1. My heart sank, but there was no time to think about all those.

I started pedalling slow as I tried to catch my breath. But very soon after the bike start, I entered to Jalan Datai where the nightmare began. Hills, hills and more hills. At 75kg, I felt like I was hauling a ton of bricks. It was just ridiculous. I merely shifted to the lightest gear and took my sweet time going uphill. When I finally emerged back from Jln Datai, I felt a little relieved. For about an hour or so, it was a pleasant workout. And then came the nightmare of the 3 famous hills, apparently known as Bukit Hantu. In my mind, I was like, "Memangpun sial macam hantu ni bukit semua!", and I calmly pedalled uphill with my lightest gear. There, I saw Tey Eng Tiong, waiting with his camera, and he took this photo of me (Thanks bro).


It was at the second big climb that I saw Wendy Tan coming through; out of her saddle and literally dancing on her pedals going uphill. I could only look in awe. But I didn't look for too long, mind you; or I would be in danger of falling off my bike because of too engrossed looking at her! Then came the third hill. Again a very slow climb. Several people were pushing their bikes uphill, but I refused to give in to the temptation of doing the same. 

The most painful part of it all was that we had to repeat the whole thing again during the second loop, and during the second visit to Bukit Hantu, I felt like kerasukan hantu to be able to climb those hills. But thankfully, I survived all the hills without pushing my bike on foot.

I finally finished the bike torture in about 7:10. Again my heart sank when it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't seen Quintin since the start of the race that morning. I have of course run many marathons before, but running 42km with an empty tank is quite a different story altogether. Coming out of T2, my legs felt like jelly, and I dreaded the thought of the miles upon miles of torture for me to reach the finish line. The mind was willing, the legs weren't cooperating.

One step at a time; a slow jog, a brisk walk, counting in my head. I tried everything, but it was no good. Fatigue was setting in. It was perhaps 8km into the run leg when I finally caught up with my friend Sandi. She, too, was lack of training and was obvious struggling. I merely jogged slow and steady. And then to my surprise, I caught sight of Quintin not very far ahead. I eventually overtook him too, perhaps a little over 10km into the run. But by then I wasn't really running; more like a fast walk, and a very slow jog.

I caught sight of Quintin again at the U-turn at MIEC. He was all smiles, and I reminded him not to be too happy, as we had to repeat the whole loop again for the second time. That went on for a while; I would jog slowly and Quintin would be hot on my heels. When I finally reached the MIEC again for the final U-turn (roughly about 7km to the finish line), Quintin was still tagging along very close behind. He shouted out, asking me why was I going very slow. I responded by reminding him that I was still ahead of him! It was already nightfall, and as I was approaching the finish line, my whole body was aching. I crossed the finish line in about 15:10, not very impressive, but more than half an hour faster than my finishing time last year. Quintin arrived at the finish line shortly after. I'm getting too old for this shit, but then again if I can still finish within 17 hours, why not, right?

All the pain, and in the end, this was what I got for spending a lot of my hard-earned money and torturing myself:


It's supposed to be fun, but I don't know how to explain it. While I was doing it, I must have done it wrongly, as I didn't feel like it was fun at all. The fun was only when I had already crossed the finish line, showered and admiring my medal on the bed in the hotel room. 

Mia said she enjoyed herself. She had quite a race; although she did just half the distance that I did, she struggled up the hills, and failed at the final hill of Bukit Hantu. She fell to the ground, but was lucky that she wasn't seriously injured. She went on to finish the race and got the finisher medal and finisher T-shirt. And now she says she wants to do it again next year!

Dumb, really dumb! See you again next year, Ironman Malaysia!


Monday, October 9, 2017

NSiX Tupong Duathlon 2017

A few months ago, a friend told me about the NSiX Tupong Duathlon 2017 in Kuching. My racing calendar for the second half of this year is rather packed. 2 weeks after the Ironman Gurye, in September, I raced the Challenge Iskandar Puteri in Johor. It was a tough race for me as my body had not fully recovered from the full IM distance. There was another short duathlon organized by University Malaysia Sabah on the following weekend, but I decided against it, as I thought it would be too stressful for my body. Instead, I allowed for another week's rest and joined the Kuching duathlon event.

I was a little concerned about finding my way to the race venue from the hotel, and I posted a short paragraph on the organizer's facebook page, seeking help from other participants. Shortly later, a lady by the name of Wendy Ng (not to be mistaken with the goddess, Wendy Tan, who has the habit of turning up at almost all the races in Malaysia) offered to help me out.

I arrived in Kuching late morning last Saturday, and the driver from the hotel was late by about 45  minutes. Wendy drove me to the race pack collection and we duly collected our race packs. I met my friend Rizal Ahmad Banjar there. Later, Wendy brought me to lunch where we met her friend Trevor, and we spent the time talking about races. We got a little carried away with the carboloading however by having ABC for dessert.

The next morning, I rode from the hotel at about 5:15am, and reached the race venue at about 5:30am. It's a very small event with just a little over 100 participants. I met Jazel Chiew as she was setting up her bike. I have known her for quite a long time, of course, since I've seen her in many of Coach Vachel's cycling photos on facebook. But I'm rather sad that she didn't realise all this while that I ever existed in KK! And I thought I'm a famous chap!

It was just a short race; 5km run; 38km bike; 5km run. But truth be told, I'm not a big fan of short races because I have to race hard, and my heart rate would shoot through the roof! The flag off was delayed for about 15 minutes. But immediately after the start horn at 6:45am, I tried to break away from the crowd. For the first 200m or so, I was running at 4:30min/km pace, and then settled to about 5min/km thereafter.

As I had expected, I was gasping for air by 3km into the run, and I had to slow down a little. I was trying to keep up with the front pack in the hope of catching the leading peloton during the bike leg. But I just did not have it in my legs to keep up. Accordingly, when I finished the 5km run, the leading bike peloton had already left.

I started the bike leg with about 32kph, and then shortly later, Rizal overtook me with a few other riders. I decided to keep calm to bring my heart rate down a bit. We had to pass a residential area where there were many roadhumps. But by the time I was ready to get into my normal cruising speed, Rizal was already too far ahead. I maintained an average 34-35kph and there were some other cyclists drafting behind me.

During the run, I was aware of some strong cyclists behind me. You see, most cyclists don't like to run. They would ride practically every day, but not run. I decided to just maintain my bike speed and wait for the cyclists to come. At about 10km into the bike leg, a whole bunch of cyclists came from behind, riding at around 40kph. I let them pass, and then took the chance to draft at the back. I'm so used to training solo on the bike, and I very, very rarely get to draft. But now I had the opportunity to draft behind a big group of cyclists at 40kph, and it felt so easy!

I had expected to take turns to take the lead. But there was no need. As usually is the case with cyclists, everyone seemed eager to lead, so I remained steady at the back. I had a phobia about drafting however, as I was afraid that if anything happened in front, I would be involved also. Along the way, I saw some bike crashes from the corner of my eyes, but I remained focused on the cyclists ahead.

I'm so used to training long for the bike. So when I finished the bike leg in just over an hour, I felt like it was too short a workout. I got down from my bike and there was a bit of a congestion at the narrow path in the transition area. But eventually I was able to start on my final 5km run. Because of the high intensity, I was fast becoming tired about halfway through the run. On my second loop, I overtook Jazel. I was keeping an eye open for Rizal, but he was probably too far ahead of me by then.

Photo credit: Journie Chong

I crossed the finish line in just under 2 hours and was second in my category. And then later I saw Rizal. He was unfortunate to have crashed a few kilometres before the end of the bike leg, but thankfully he was OK apart from a few minor bruises.


Wendy Ng emerged champion in the women's category, and Jazel got third. Coming down from the stage after receiving my trophy and mock cheque, I was intercepted by the Race Director. I thought there was some sort of mistake somehow with my position. But actually, he just wanted to tell me that there was a printing error with the mock cheque—it said RM400 on the cheque, but actually it was RM500 in the envelope. I'm not complaining!

Then a quick ride back to the hotel to repack my bike and prepare for my flight home. It was like a dream—out from KK on Saturday morning, race on Sunday and fly home the same day; and then back to work on Monday morning!

But now back to the dreadful Ironman training routine. about a month left for the Ironman in Langkawi... gulp!


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ironman Gurye—Part 2: The Race

At the beginning of this year, I was waiting for the announcement of the Ironman Malaysia (IMMY) in Langkawi. I joined the race in November last year, and although I finished the race, I wasn't happy with my performance, and I was hoping to be able to have another chance to redeem myself. Unfortunately, many people said that there will be no more IMMY. I therefore started looking for other Ironman races in the region. For a while I was seriously contemplating doing the Ironman Western Australia again. But then I received a Whatsapp message from my friend, Anslem, about the Ironman Gurye, and before long I found myself in a Whatsapp chat group for the event. The funny thing was that just shortly after I registered for Ironman Gurye, it was announced that IMMY is on again this November, and so I registered for that race too.

Anyway, I found myself at Lake Jirisan in Gurye last Sunday morning. Of all my Malaysian friends, I could only remember Quintine's race number, and I could remember the location of his bike because it was in the same row as mine. I had no idea where the rest of my friends were. Later, however, I saw Anslem when I was queuing for the toilet; and let me tell you that too few toilets were provided!

It was just about 10 minutes before the flag off when I was done with the toilet visit, and I took my time getting into my wetsuit. And then I bumped into Amy, and she took this shot.


I've never really felt comfortable in a wetsuit as it's very tight; and I'm not such a big fan of wearing the swimming cap as the top of my head looks quite a lot like the tip of a condom! Yes, I know what you must be thinking, but I can't change the fact that I'm born with a very creative imagination!

Anyway, participants were flagged off in waves, and I watched from afar as the first few jumped into the water at 6:40am. I was still a little nervous of the swim leg. It didn't help that it was a misty morning, and standing there in the crowd, I couldn't even see the far end of the swim course. I felt like I was up for a huge challenge to even finish the 3.8km swim. It must have been close to 7am when I finally entered the water, and as I had expected it was so chaotic. Too many people were blocking me; and I dare say I was blocking other people behind me too. As always in the swim leg of the triathlon, I received a few blows to  my body from unruly hands and ridiculous kicks of breaststrokes swimmers. I tried to remain calm as best as I could, but it's not so easy to remain focused for over 1.5 hours!

One would imagine that in such a chaotic situation, I would be occupied in solely focusing on survival—and only survival. But then some of my loyal readers are aware of the disease commonly known as KIASUNISIS which I'm suffering from. In between the slapping and kicking and swallowing a few gulps of the murky lake water, I still had the time to worry about the rest of my friends being ahead of me! I remember telling myself that whatever happens the rest of the day, I must make sure that I won't be the last guy to cross the finish line. Kiasunisis, as you can see, is a terrible disease! Well, eventually I emerged from the lake after 1 hour 41 minutes of nightmare, and once I was up on the pontoon, running towards transition, I felt a huge relief. Thank god I survived the swim leg.

As I was running towards Transition 1, I spent the time to wriggle myself out of my wetsuit, and when I reached my T1 bag, I only had the lower half of the wetsuit to deal with. Then I put on the socks, my cycling shoes, wetsuit into the bag, and I was ready for the bike leg. But first I made a quick visit to the toilet. In the end, I spent roughly 10 minutes for T1. As I was pushing my bike from the transition area to the mount line, I noticed that Quintine's bike was no longer there, and just for a brief moment, I felt a bit of adrenaline surge in my system! Amy was there to take this shot.


In the months leading up to this race, I had come up with a game plan. I would spend a bit more time working on my bike strength and speed in the hope of leaving a bit extra for the final 42km run at the end. The plan was to ride a steady 33kph-35kph on flat roads, and take my time climbing up the slopes as slow as I can on very light gears to conserve energy. According to my plan, I would target an overall 6:30 to 6:45 for the bike leg, having taken into consideration that the total elevation for the entire course was over 1200m.

Now the hardest thing about having a game plan in any race is of course to stick to that game plan. Most people would abandon their game plan as soon as they are flagged off. On many occasions during the bike leg, I was so very tempted to go all out. When going down the slopes, it was possible to reach 50kph fairly easily, and it was so tempting to keep going at 40 kph thereafter. But no, I kept reminding myself of my plan.


The final 20km or so of the bike leg was through a highway, and I felt like I had the energy to ride at least 35kph on that stretch, but I kept at about 32kph. I eventually finished the bike leg (180km) in about 6:37. As I was crossing the bridge across the lake, leading to the end of the bike leg, I saw Dr Yap running across the bridge. So that would mean he's about 15 mins ahead of me at that point.

I spent another 10 mins in transition as I made another visit to the toilet. I felt a bit of pain on my right foot, but it soon went away, and I was able to run quite comfortably. In fact so comfortable to the extent that after all the hard work of sticking to my plan, I finally lost it at that critical moment. I had planned to keep a steady 6.5 min/km pace, but instead I ran a 6 min/km, and that soon became 5:45 min/km. I felt like I was dreaming to be able to run that fast after the 3.8km swim and 180 km bike. Then about 7km into the run leg, I finally caught up with Quintine. A short while after I overtook him, I saw Anslem on the return leg of the loop, and I estimated that he must have been about 10km ahead of me at that point. After running about 10km or so, the exhaustion finally began to set in, and I realised there and then that I should have remained true to my game plan. But alas, it was too late. I could feel the fatigue quickly building up in my legs, and I could foresee the rest of the run leg will be a run-walk-run-walk affair.

After I made the U-turn of the first loop, I caught up with Dr Yap. By then I was down to about 6.5 min/km. And a few km later, I had to slow down to a walk. Coincidentally, Amy was waiting at the roadside and took this pathetic shot.


I caught another glimpse of Anslem on the second loop, and I also saw Nick on the other side of the road. But for the most part, I had no idea where the rest of my friends were. Soon it was nightfall and although the run course was mostly lighted, there was no hope of finding my friends in the crowd. By then I was walking much more than running, but I tried to at least jog slowly as much as I could. About 1km to the finish line I started a steady jog again, and the pace kept building up until I crossed the finish line.


This was how I performed in the race.


Obviously it's not anything to shout about, but I'm still happy to have achieved a personal best anyway. 

In the end I received this finisher medal.


I'm also glad that I wasn't the last to finish in my group. But actually, just finishing an Ironman race, time regardless, is a big achievement in itself. Been a lot of fun. I mean the race, not the Korean food and the diarrhoea that followed. If ever I'd join this Gurye race again, I think it won't be so soon. I will allow a few years for the organizer to fine-tune on some of the minor points on how they're organizing the race before I even consider if I'd want to make a second visit.

I'd like to mention here a few factors which I think have had some positive effects that had helped me in achieving a better performance in Gurye. First and foremost, I think the slight tweaking in my training programme which shifted the focus from run to bike, as well as sticking to the game plan on race day. As far as the training goes, I must say thanks to a friend, Dennis Tan, who's residing in Perth, Australia, as he was kind enough to share his training programme with me. Although I was unable to follow his programme to the T, I was at least able to mimic some of the schedule. I've also dealt with replenishment of electrolytes, thus correcting my mistake in Langkawi last November. And finally, I must thank my new friend Felix Tan who introduced me to Fitnessdrink of the Fitline brand, which I consumed during the bike leg of the race.

I'm also grateful for making new friends from West Malaysia. It's been fun chatting through Whatsapp, and I couldn't help providing the entertainment to the group. Now a short rest, and then will be back in action again next Saturday in the Challenge Iskandar Puteri. I'll be seeing some of you there!


Ironman Gurye 2017—Part 1: The Journey

The inaugural Ironman Gurye 2017 was my fourth Ironman, and it was quite an experience like never before for me. 

As you can see from the heading of this post, I'm posting the story in two parts: Part 1 will be mainly about The Journey, and related events along the way, to the race venue in Gurye up to the eve of the race; whereas Part 2 will be about the race itself.

I had expected to have some difficulties to communicate with the Koreans, but it was worse than my expectation. Of course Google translate helped to a certain extent, but at times I found that South Korea was even worse than France. They kept speaking Korean to me even though I said I couldn't speak the language. I'm beginning to believe what my friends said to me—that I look a lot like a Korean?

Then the food—oh! Korean food was just awful for my taste buds—I'd say it's safe to estimate perhaps 80% to 90%  of so-called Korean food is hot; like really hot. Chili, chili and more chili. I don't know if the Ironman God up in the heavens had wanted me to hydrate myself well before the race; I drank jugs upon jugs of iced-cold water each time I eat those food. I felt like I was eating dynamites!

Generally, hotel rooms in South Korea provide coffee and tea sachets and tiny cups. And when I said tiny, I really mean tiny. Not to mention the tiny towels which were actually just face towels as far as I'm concerned. Although I did not try to search in the departmental store, I bet it would have been quite a challenge to find a decent bathing towel in South Korea.

I landed at the Incheon International Airport in the morning of the 6th of September, having departed Kota Kinabalu International Airport in the evening of the 5th. I spent the night in a nearby guesthouse named Harumi. I would usually stay in a hotel when I travel overseas, but Harumi was a convenient place which was just about 7km from the airport. I was the only guest at the time, and I was greeted by a tiny furry dog which had some sort of pathetic condition with its voicebox—its barks were almost comical! I spent almost the whole day trying to catch up on my sleep, as I didn't get any sleep throughout the flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 the night before. 

Before nightfall, however, I walked to a nearby shop for an early dinner. I don't even know what I ordered, but of course it was hot; I could almost sense that I was venting steam through my ears. 


After dinner I stopped at a pharmacy on my way back to Harumi where I picked up a pack of Vaseline lotion for the race. I had wanted to buy Vaseline in KK before the flight. But as Murphy's Law would have it, when I was rushing in the last few hours before my flight, the pharmacy that I went to had run out of Vaseline lotion. The only available lubricant was KY Jelly, but I decided against it. I thought it's not a good idea to provoke too many questions from my wife, if you know what I mean?

The next day, I made my way back to Incheon Airport where I met the rest of my group from Malaysia. I had known Anslem and Amy, of course, but the rest of them were only friends that I've "met" through the Whatsapp chat group that we had created specifically for this trip to Gurye. Quintine and Victor were there at the airport, and I can confirm that they looked like what I had imagined them to be, that is to say not as handsome as me. Their respective spouses were there too. Nick and Wee Wong were there too, and Dr Yap Eng Hui was also there. Kenny Tan, the young lamp post from KL, arrived just shortly before 10am. Apparently he enjoys making a big last-minute entry to add to the thrill of his travel itinerary, you see. 


We have all reserved our seats in the 10am shuttle bus to Gurye, but the South Koreans are not generally known to be punctual people. I was at the airport as early as 7:15am, and I took my time having breakfast at KFC. I was the at bus counter way before 10am, but to make the long story short, it was about a quarter to 12pm before we finally embarked on our journey to Gurye. We were travelling together in the same bus, except for Kenny. He was somehow put into an earlier bus, but of course that bus was also delayed.

We finally arrived at our hotel late afternoon. The name of the hotel was S Hotel (not ASS Hotel). Next to that hotel was K Hotel. Kenny was supposed to have reserved a room in K Hotel, but somehow the organizer had messed up with his reservation, and his name was not in the list. When our bus pulled up near S Hotel, Kenny was standing alone at the roadside, looking so pitiful with his bike box and luggage. Eventually he was able to get a room in S Hotel too.

I was still feeling sluggish after the long journey, and I felt like my legs have not fully recovered from the months of training, even though I've had a 2-week taper period. Accordingly, I put on my shoes and went for a very short run. The rest of them decided to assemble their bikes and go to the race venue for athlete's check-in.

As the days got closer and closer to the race, the excitement was mounting. And we had our swim practice session on Friday morning at the lake. We all rode to the lake and put on our wetsuit. It wasn't funny at all. 200m into the swim, I was already gasping for air. I held on to the ropes for a good 5 minutes before making my way back to shore. Everybody was in good spirit though. We met some more friends from Malaysia. Among them was the famous Rupert Chen and his underlings. We took the opportunity for a quick photo session.


And then later that day we went to deposit our transition bags and attended the reception dinner for the participants. We took the opportunity for another photo session, especially to show off our T-shirts sponsored by Ultron.


Back at the hotel room, the plan was to sleep early, as I had planned to wake up at 3:30am the next morning to prepare for the race. But I could hardly get any sleep, as I kept thinking about the 3.8km swim in the Lake...


Friday, August 25, 2017

Strange Priorities

There was once when I went for my grocery shopping in City Mall. As I was pushing my cart out of Giant Supermarket, suddenly there was a commotion. The alarm was blaring and people were running all over the place. Evidently the huge generator in the basement floor of the building had caught fire. Black smoke engulfed a major portion of the basement floor. Those of you who're not familiar with City Mall, the basement floor also accommodates the car park.

There's the so-called "travelator" which Giant's shoppers can use to bring their shopping carts from the ground floor to the car park in the basement floor. But because there's fire in the generator room, all access to the basement floor was blocked for safety reasons. Although I have paid for my groceries, I decided to abandon my cart, and although my car was parked in the basement, my first instinct was to just get out of the mall into the street. 

On my way to the front entrance of the building, however, I noticed a woman arguing with the security guard. She wanted to go to the basement floor to get her car, but the security guard said nobody's allowed to enter the basement until the fire has been put out. The woman continued arguing though. Then the guard raised his voice and said something profound in Malay. 

He said, "You value your life or your car?"

One would expect the woman to change her mind about rescuing her car, but I was surprised to see her insisting to go get her car anyway!

I find it rather strange that some people take very lightly the circumstances which may be life-threatening. They would ignore all well-meant warnings of danger, and go about doing the things they're doing as if there is no danger at all. I guess that that shouldn't bother me if they're risking their own lives, but I sometimes get very annoyed when my life is put into danger too because I have no control of what other people are doing. 

For example, it's quite common that there will be the announcement in the airplane that all cellphones are to be switched off because they may cause interference with the aircraft's equipment. But all too often people don't really care—they won't switch off their cellphones anyway. And I can't help thinking that if the plane crashed because other people have failed to heed the warnings, I may also lose my life due to something that's beyond my control.

How important is it that the cellphones must be left on? I'm guessing maybe it's because people don't really believe that the cellphones can really cause an interference with the aircraft's equipment; or if they do, perhaps the effect won't be significant?

Some people, I've noticed, get their priorities all wrong. These people, for example, demanded to fly home despite a "No. 10 typhoon" warning, i.e. the highest for Hong Kong storm warning system, because their priority is to "return immediately for work or school". I was, like, what's the point of work or school if you end up dead? There are some risks just not worth taking for the sake of work or school. There will be other jobs to secure; there will be other days to learn in school, but when you are dead, you are dead—period.