Never mind what others do; do better than yourself, beat your own record from day to day, and you are a success.

As said by William J. H. Boetcker, this quote sums up how I feel about running.

I have used the Nike Running App since March 2012. Back on the day when it was still a red app that millions have downloaded, even after the new update and the change of the name, I hold on to it. My first run is here, the farthest, the longest, and the fastest are all in this app.

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This app makes it possible to “do better than yourself.” Personally, by seeing how I have done yesterday compared to my run today, and seeing my progress, motivates me to reach the targets I set for myself. The past runs when I used the Nike app have amplified for me why I got hooked on running. All these runs below are in the MacRitchie reservoir loop. From struggling at 8′ min per km pace, I’ve felt lighter and stronger at my recent run with 7’17’ per km pace.

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The MacRitchie Reservoir nature trail is the best place to practice 10km, there is no dull moment in this loop. There is uphill, downhill, muddy rocky trail, boardwalk by the water, the trail even runs through a section of a golf course.

There are two ways to run the trail, a loop starting by the canoeing and kayaking centre or starting from mushroom cafe, to the entrance of the trail. I tried both, and I prefer the latter.

Running the MacRitchie loop from mushroom cafe

When I run this trail, I count it to 10 sections

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  1. Mushroom cafe to the 1st boardwalk; from the cafe to the proper park, you will pass by this twisting bridge, you can even run through it, there are even musicians playing their instruments by the park, as you run further, you will then see the sign for the entrance of the trail. Just a few minutes run from here, you will then see the 1st boardwalk. My suggestion is taking the boardwalk (although there is a sign that running on it is not advisable – there is a lot of trail from your 4km to 10km, that using the 3 boardwalks is a relief!)

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Warning: you might see monitor lizards roaming the park.

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2. 1st Boardwalk/Chemparai trail

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3. 2nd Boardwalk/Jering trail; watch out for low hanging branch. On some days, you can see a lot of students training hard.

4. The golf link; a change of scenery. After the 2nd boardwalk, it is a short trail until you see the seemingly endless roll of green grass. There is a sort of dirt bridge leading to the golf link. Runners path are clearly marked, and there is a sign on where you slightly turn to the right to go back to the MacRitchie trail. When I run here, I was afraid of getting hit by those golf balls, because I once saw one rolled in front of me.

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5. 3rd Boardwalk, up to Jelutong tower ; warning, a lot of monkeys here. After the golf link, there is a bit of a climb/ascent part, the trail though have stones stairs. Get those heart pumping more.

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6. To the ranger station, up to Petaling hut; I think this is the rockiest point of the trail. It is hard to run and watching out for those rocks. The rocks are more exposed in this part, as water seems to slide down here, washing off all dead leaves and soil.

7. After Tree top sign; if you run the loop from the cafe and go first golf link, the sign to tree top is hard to spot, as it points to your let, but there is a hut there and normally a lot of people would be hanging around resting in the hut at the opposite side.

8. Turning right, and the short paved road part of the loop; I always see this point as my halfway point, although at this point, I have run almost 7km. It must be just about 20 steps of paved road, and you go back down to the trail again.

9. To Rambai hut; at this point, you’ll likely begin to think, “when will this end?” lol. This is the part where you dig deeper, dig down to your inner strength to just keep on, as the trail seems long, narrow, and even some hard ascents, which forces you to walk it up, but I personally hate walking, as I tend to get more tired when I stop to walk. So I try to just hop it up, or hop it down.

On the trail, a branch just fell. That just shows how alive this forest is. The Cicadas sound can be a bit frightening as they seem really so loud.

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10. 2 km stretch to the exit; oh the light at that end, and the words in your head repeating “I did it! I did it!”  At this point, you should be running more than 10km already.

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It is then a short run through the reservoir, you will see people fishing, rowing, busy in the water, and you will run back down to the cafe, turning to your right. The complete loop is 11.13KM.

 

 

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Singapore experience is not complete without eating at a hawker. Open-air, inexpensive, and a lot of food choices. They are typically found in city centres, near public housing (HDBs) estates or transport hubs (train stations and bus interchange). I went to only 3 of the most notable hawker centres, and they are more than enough.

1. Maxwell Food Centre

I rely mostly on gothere.sg when it comes to direction, but I found it sometimes frustrating, like when you search for direction to Maxwell Food Centre, it says Exit G (at Tanjong Pagar MRT) – which is the exit to Telok Ayer Street which was the reason I walked around to Cross St, even coming up to Telok Ayer MRT to Chinatown, and even up to Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum just to find this hawker. I guess starting at Chinatown would be ideal as it would be a feast to the eye for a tourist, and ending up at Erskine Road.

Take Exit B from Tanjong Pagar (from my experience this is the easiest route to go directly to this Hawker). Just to the left side as you walk out of Exit B, you just need to walk the Maxwell road, right opposite is a park, and along the way, you’ll see the Ministry of National Development, and keep walking until you see on your right the Maxwell Food Cente.

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shortest, about 5-minute walk from Tanjong Pagar MRT

If you’ve seen Mike Chen a.k.a Strictly Dumpling, then you’ll have the courage to try as much food as you can. But for me, I only opted for light snacks.

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Oyster cake for $2

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Lao Ban, almond $2

2. Lau Pa Sat

Lau Pa Sat, built in 1894, is historic. It’s amazing how Singapore can be this city-state of high-rises and has a very modern feel, and yet in the middle, there are gems and abundant greens. This food centre has an intricate roof and column structures, an old clock that chimes the hour. Even the birds do not stay out and would peck now and then on some food scraps by the table.

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From Raffle Place MRT, just follow the sign to Lau Pa Sat (EXIT I) – again something amiss at gothere.sg because it says Exit F, Juts follow the signs at the train station and outside.

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amazing roof structures

Here I tried the Seng Keng Local Delights, Fried Hokkien Mee, $5.50 (yum)

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Lau Pa Sat is actually known for Satays, more than 10 satay stalls in its outdoor dining area, starts at 7pm. Its satay stalls provide diners with skewers of chicken, lamb, beef and pork from Chinese to Muslim style. Among those, stalls # 7, # 8 and # 10 are the standouts.

3. Old Airport Road

This is near the Dakota MRT of the circle line, when you exit for old airport, just turn to your left and keep walking until you see the building below.

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Satays of Chuan Kee Satay and Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee are good recommendations. For me, another light snack, for $1.20 for that distinct curry taste.

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Curry Puff

An Unusual Garden

March 6, 2018 — Leave a comment

Singapore truly has everything. From the most photographed buildings to the best airport, to Gardens by the bay, and an unusual garden, the one found in Pasir Panjang Road depicting Chinese folklores and legends. If you take the circle line going to Harbourfront and get off at Haw Par Villa station, just outside, you will find this attraction.

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If you have the time, the attendants inside offer a free tour, and you can learn about the Chinese mythologies. They may appear gruesome though. The ones outside would leave you intrigued about what the hell you are looking at.

Those sculptures are hard to unsee. They look like scenes of nightmares. I did not dare see the attraction they call ten courts of hell, and just took photos of other statues outside.

Alegria – Mt. Lanaya

What I’ve read in most blog posts is that visitors would hike to the camp site first before going to the summit-kalo-kalo peak. And that is what we did. From the registration area in Barangay Legaspi, a little office just beside the road, where you pay a fee to hike the mountain, is about an hour of walking (mostly ascent) to this scenic site. It is an awesome site in between towering mountains of Lanaya and the view of the ocean, the Tañon Strait, with the silhouette of the Negros island in the distance.

 

It was best to start early from Cebu city, as early as 5am maybe, to get to the camp site at lunch time, pitch the tent, get enough rest before the assault. Estimated time to get to Kalo-kalo peak is about 2 hours. Getting back to the camp site just in time for sunset is the best reward of all that steep climb, slippery and sharp rocks almost vertical. The peak will provide a fantastic view of the Tañon strait and it was an awesome feeling to have reached the top, to have made it, that feeling of relief, all those struggles and pain, being there above it all is like having your energy replinished.

When you are at the camp site, in the morning when you’re having coffee, and you look at the mountains, it was impossible to imagine that there were trails inside, where you maybe slipped once or more than twice going down. It’s an accomplishment in itself to have been there. It is easy to get addicted with hiking when it was all so that difficult and then so beautiful at the same time.

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Kalo-kalo peak (when it cleared for a sec)

 

The Negros Adventure

March 1, 2017 — 1 Comment

2 days of laag-laag felt like 5 days. Like thousand kilometers.

1st: getting to the south part of Negros Oriental from Cebu City. 176km.


Getting at about 12am from Cebu south bus terminal will get you to Lilo-an Port of Santander about 4am. (Bus fare, p200) The Ceres bus will stop at the port and you should be able to get tickets for the ferry right away (Ferry fare, p62). It takes only 15 mins and you will arrive at Sibulan port of Negros. From there just walk outside the port to the highway where the Birdees bakeshop is, no need to cross the road. As buses going to Bais city (the nearest starting point for Manjuyod sandbar) pass by the port side (bus fare, p48).  The bus stop at Bais city is across Jollibee. Your guide should be waiting for you there. Our contact for the boat is Hadji, +63 999 522 6152. He can fetch you at that bus stop. His trike takes 8-10 people. He can take you to breakfast, & market just beside the Jollibee to buy lunch. His contact boats to the sandbar are docked at Canibol port. Most blog post I’ve read about Manjuyod starts at Capiñahan wharf. This Canibol must be an alternative. I’m not sure, the guide says it is now at Canibol. Anyways, the best time to really see the sandbar must be earlier than 7am or 6am. As when we arrived at about 7am, it was already knee high water. Hadji also waited for us back at Canibol port and took us to a house where we washed off for p20. 

The next leg of our trip is Bais city to Bacolod city (Oriental to Occidental) 169km. (Bus fare P298)


After we washed off and changed, the guide (Hadji) took us back to the bus stop, and we waited for an ac-ceres bus going to Bacolod city via Kabankalan. We arrived shortly after 4pm at south bus terminal and we actually just told the driver to take us to the nearest inn/hostel/pension house near lacson street. He took us to Pleasant Travellers at 13th aguinaldo street. It was good enough for us who only stayed for a night and good rate as well. Clean room and sheets. It was just a walking distance to the main Lacson street. The next morning we packed up and checked out at 7am.

We did the usual Bacolod tour, but I suggest to do it it with a private transport is much better than DIY. The rate for an adventure is p1,500 for 25 hours + fuel p700. That’s good enough for 8 to 10 people to split. 1st stop was Silay City and the ancestral houses/museums. They have guides that makes the tour interesting as they tell stories about rich families and their cultures. 2nd stop was Campuestohan resort, it was at Talisay and we passed by the express airport road. Vast lands of sugarcane and growing subdivisions and housings are sprouting in that area. And the looming presence of mountains and their silhouette is what stays with me in that whole ride. 


When we arrived at Campuestohan at around 10am, it was scorching hot. It was humid as well. That is why the pools look so inviting for anyone visiting that park. There are a lot of activities one can do like zip-biking or zip lining, and others. There is also an obstacle course which looks so challenging and fun.

Our 3rd stop was at Mambukal resort. I will never forget the hot more-than-lukewarm spring. It was p50 for entrance at the main gate. Inside there are 2 pools for kids and 1 for adults. And 2 hot springs. Restaurants are next to each other. There are cottages as well. It is P50 fee for taking a dip on that hot spring. Beleieve me it was hot but it was also good. I certainly recommend more cold flowing water at the side to make the heat bearable. After about 5 minutes in that hot water, was all that we can take. But it was good experience. One of the most memorable indeed in that Negros trip. 

Our last stop is The Ruins. We wanted to see it by sunset. Before going there, we went to have coffee at this little place called Butchok’s. They serve iced coffee and this dish called nacho fries (which was gone in 60 seconds). The Ruins was full of tourists, and there was a wedding, so you can imagine the crowd. Nevertheless it was quite spectacular, it has an eerie sense of both abandonment and mystery. 


Before we head off to the bus terminal we had lunch at a pala-pala place, called the 18th street Palapala seafood restaurant which turned out to be just very near the place we stayed at 13th aguinaldo street. There are other palapala place like near the local market. We also visited Pendy’s and bought some Negros “Napoliones”, which turns out to be a best-seller as not of all us is able to buy.

And finally to end the trip, we made the 218km ceres bus trip via escalante city from bacolod north bus terminal to cebu north bus terminal.  It was already about 9pm when we arrived at that huge, modern and clean Ceres bus terminal. Nothing compared to what Cebu has. Cebu is a little behind when it comes to local transportation! Tsk! Cebu Local Government?!!!!!!!!

The trip was about 7 hours, which we just slept off. (P420 bus fare and roro/barge fare of p130)  And we arrived at cebu at 5am, when there was still no sun and it was quite good to arrive so early. Overall distance of all that ceres bus rides = 563km. That’s it. 500+ miles of 53 hours something of butt-numbing ride, all new places we’ve never been to. Sea water and volcanic water dip! Good times with good company. A group of people that never complains and outdone each other. We silently agreed to have fun and go with the flow and enjoy the ride! 

El Nido 4D3N

January 26, 2017 — Leave a comment

 

  1. Cebu Pacific Air – thank you for promo fare, but then, we learned that you cancel and force re-bookings a lot. So instead of flying direct we have to go by connecting flights, therefore getting ready;  neck pillows, light baggages, scarves, power banks are all a must. Our travel took up the whole first day (left home at 4am and arrived in El Nido by 8pm), and the whole day of the 4th/last day (left El Nido at 5am and arrived in Cebu by 8pm). That’s 16-18 hours of home to destination. Good thing we were prepared.
  2. As getting to El Nido as soon as landing at Puerto Princesa airport is top priority, arranging the transport ahead is a must and we highly recommend Faith of Viaje Pilipinas. She can arrange as well the island tours and everything else that a visitor needs to enjoy El Nido. She is friendly, approachable and very kind.
  3.  Agoda – read the reviews. We learned that when they say a bit far from the centre, it gets really far on situations wherein you left something and must go back to get it and you can’t seem to really get a ride on local motorcycles. January seems to be a peak season so the ones we liked to book with were already full, so we booked at Antonio Village which is in Sitio Caalan. If you’re walking by the shore of Bacuit Bay, just keep walking past the SAVA and Coco Bar, and keep walking until you think the sand ends and you will see Bacuit Grill (which we highly recommend) and if you look ahead, it looks like a dead end, but no, there is actually a bend and the narrow road turns right and you can see another resort. There are more resorts further down the road. It’s quiet back there, away from the hustles of the town and the walk provides exercise. The thing is right by the corner after this french resort with tables and candle light set up restaurant by the beach, there is a cemetery. So for 3 days, we were walking by that lovely resting place of the dead. It is not really that creepy. I didn’t even notice it when we walked back from our first dinner in town.
  4. Food – an hour wait for that grilled fish to be served, or that sweet chili crab, is average. El Nido was bursting with tourists. We’ve tried the crowded restaurants by the aplaya/shore. We’ve roamed and tried breakfast at places we cannot remember the names but the best one we’ve tried is the one near where we stayed, the Bacuit Grill. We passed by it everyday and it would have been good to know that we need not go into town. But I guess what we’ve learned there is giving any place a try, because you’ll never really know.
  5. Kayaking – in Big Lagoon is awesom, But it would have been better to have done so in small lagoon and snorkle instead in the big one. The entrance to big lagoon has shallow spots at the sides which is perfect for snorkeling. But paddling in that big lagoon is really a work, we did not have the energy anymore to swim by the many boats blocking the entrance of small lagoon by the time we arrived there. So ask your boatman & tour guide, they’ll know how best to enjoy the islands and stops.
  6. Nacpan – going early is really heaven. Paradise. There is no other word. When the place is so quiet, that hour or two when you feel like you have the place on your own. 8 to 9am arrival there is the best time. I am afraid now to go at any beaches after seeing the beauty of that place because any beach I see will not be as beautiful, and any beach I’ll see now will surely just remind me of the very fine, smooth, and white sand of Nacpan. It’s perfect for swimming, the waves will not batter you at all, what they do is bring out the kid in you. You can play with those gentle waves. It’s the openness of the the whole scenery, the wide blue sky, the wide beach, like you can run and run on it, and the hills near. It is such an unforgettable sight. Nothing compares to Nacpan.
  7. This is now really long. Just one more thing to share. Take the Canopy Walk. Just ask around where it is. It’s right by the town. It’s 400 per person. You will be provided with a guide, harness and helmets and the hike up has stairs of steel and metal bars fashioned to make the climb safe and you will be rewarded with a view of Bacuit bay and all the surrounding limestones of El Nido.

#fortheloveofpasta

November 5, 2016 — Leave a comment

There’s nothing like…

Nothing beats…

It’s like heaven when…

Aah, should I just say, pasta is the ultimate comfort good food.

Easy to prepare. No hassle. Tasty.

The one-pot pasta.

 
1. Just put everything in – pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, some basil (I used green and dried), salt & pepper, or add some chili, and olive oil. And then water (some uses broth).

2. Let boil to cook. Stir every now and then.
Now sit down. Watch your favorite tv series and enjoy. Gracias. God Bless.