Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008

2008 can be broken into 2 stages; before Auckland and after Auckland. Because i think the Karen in both stages are 2 completely different Karens...

Before Auckland was a whole slew of one oddjob after another. Having graduated fresh from Metropolitan College, armed with a business degree in hand and a new attained sense of purpose in life, I was actually pretty determined to find myself in the working world. I didn't have any plans whatsoever except to dip my feet in as many things possible in the 6 months that I had before i flew. January saw me racing up and down PWTC working for YouthMalaysia, at my wit's end trying to pull together a celebrity talk show and an Animax fashion show for Youth 08. And then, there was trying my hand at what was supposedly something I had dreamed of doing - personal training. Guess what? I stayed for 3 weeks and I couldn't have been unhappier. Didn't get to train anyone, felt like I was under pressure eventhough I had no specific job description at that point, and I missed out on a LOT of my social life because working hours were weird. I gave that up, wanted to kick back and relax for a couple of months, but i landed myself a 6 week job at Cosmotots. To be honest, teaching kids is still the job I am happiest with. I had some pretty good laughs during those classes and I miss those kids dearly. But teaching kids kinda stumps your mind a bit someitmes. Like there is no challenge, no room for going further, making bigger decisions, stuff like that...

Before Auckland, I had a thirst for ambition and I was so darned sure that I was on the right track to chasing my dreams. I was determined, full of passion and readiness to commit, and had great faith that I was going to start one of the best times of my life in just a couple of months, weeks, days...

And then I came to Auckland...

For those of you whom I've met up with over this past month, I think you can sense the melancholy that came in the tone of my voice when I spoke of Auckland. And perhaps I may have given off the idea that I'm not happy in Auckland.

To be honest, the first couple of months at least, that I was in Auckland were the gloomiest, loneliest days of my life. I had never felt so lonely, so homesick, so lovesick before. And Auckland, was very much NOT like the picture I painted for myself. Freedom and living alone abroad, wasn't either. There were sad days, and there were days that I coped better. And I guess some of you are rolling your eyeballs, and spitting out "I told you so"s. I think I had hoped for so much out of this that I when it was all not like that, I fell harder than I would've had I not had any expectations.

But I believe that I am building a life for myself there, slowly but surely. And I can assure you, that I have not regretted going there. When I set my foot down on doing this, I knew that life was not going to be a bed of roses and I knew that it was going to be hard living by all by myself. I just didn't think reality would hit me so soon (and so coldly too). But that being said, reality did and I went through some pretty lonesome moments, but that's just the beginning. It can only get better from here forth, I'm pretty sure.

As for Sport and Exercise Science, it is exactly the kind of course I should be doing. There is still that bitterness at the back of my throat as I wish again and again rhetorically, that I had done this first before anything else. But no regrets in the path that I have walked till now. What matters is the path that go on from here.

And I intend to make that an adventure race.=)

Have a great 2009 everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lobsterman

Dennis brought me to have some big big shell fish for dinner last night. And it was good food with good fun.
Got complimentary photo some more..=)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

what i've been up to

I've been so busy since i got home from Auckland, i haven't really found time to sit down n blog a decent post. strangely though, when people ask me "what have u been up to?" i always fail to come up with something better than "nothing much" because when I think of it, i've really been doing nothing much. So let's just recap on some of the things I've been poking my butt into in the past month. omg have i been home for a month already?

First, there is, of course, the girlie's night out with Lyn n Rosie, which is always always always fun. Night filled with laughter and warm moments to touch our hearts as we sit around a cosy little restaurant in Bangsar and savour the yumminess of Chocolate Mixed Berries Meringue, catching up with each other's lives.
Then, naturally there's going out with muh homies, Julie, Anne, Ven Nee, Weng Lum, Pei Jien, Kenny and Han Yang. The silly witty conversations that go on among these silly witty friends are definitely what I wish I could can and bring to Auckland with me.
Somewhere amidst the days I managed to squeeze in Julie-Karen hang outs, which was always refreshing and definitely something I had always been able to count on. There was even a Julie-Karen-Soonseng hang out one night which was pretty fun too.
And then there was the one night Ashwin asked me out for a drink, and it became a different sort of meet up because before we could sit, we were joined by my friends, and then when they left we went and joined my boyfriend and his friends, so Ashwin, sorry about that. :P we'll go out and talk long long another night ok? I was also previleged to catch up with Su Yi and Kevin who were in PJ when I was in PJ, so i managed to have a brief catching up sessions with these 2 Pharmacists.On one of the nights, I was talked into whipping up some pasta in my kitchen for some fellow mates who have been with me through thick and thin albeit in just recent years. Joey, Yanyee, Dektos, Nick and Kailash were around with their usual slightly askewed track of mind jokes and all. Fun time nonetheless.

There is also that great big Family Vacation to Langkawi that was much talked about in the family group email, ping ponged around discussing dates and flight details and what nots. That finally came, and sadly, went. It was an enjoyable trip, and perhaps my being away from my loved ones has made me appreciate the finer things in life because I felt a deep sense of comfort with my family and a slow radiating bitterness that rise up my throat ever so mildly when I think about leaving them again in February.
Christmas was a busy holiday this year as i started the season on the eve with my family's annual dinner at my uncle's house in Ara damansara. It was bustling with kids of all age and size and I couldn't be any happier toddling around with them =) Then it was 10 in the morning on Christmas day with the ACT's The Big Christmas Show. After that a huge sumptuous lunch at Uncle Peter's, as it is every year.

Boxing day saw me up at 7.15 am to prepare for a photoshoot! yeah, earliest photo shoot ever. It was my extended family protrait photoshoot which was different than any other shoot because this time it was outdoors, and my cousin Caryn had gotten her seniors to help out. Everything ran really professionally and I am very impressed by it all.

Last night I rode all the way down to Kajang to meet Melanie and Li Fu and Sophia and a few other friends. Tim was my designated sober driver as we played "100 shots in 100 minute". I only had 18. Epic fail. But it was good fun which led me to sleeping with my lights on last night.And then, it was just spending time with you whenever possible. I know I have been rather selfish by calling you at every spare moment I can get my hands on, but it's been really great just hanging out with you again. And it'll definitely be a lot harder to leave u again in February, but let's talk about that another day. =)
photo compliments of Caryn Yeo/Jing Tzer

I think I've lost my affinity for photo taking. Should start taking more photos again. Anyway..here's wishing all of you a great brand spanking new 2009! Work hard, play harder and enjoy yourselves! =)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chin Woo Biathlon 2008

Big family day out for the Siahs yesterday as we all headed to Chin Woo Association in KL for the annual Biathlon. I'm just gonna say it. My family is so cool. All of us took part in the race, even ME who kept complaining about swimming 800m after not touching the pool for more than 6 months. Mummy was there as support crew, and I gotta say, as much as I like being independent and handling stuff all on my own, having a mum to fuss over us, bring us food and water, keeping our wet clothes aside, watching over our things, cheering for us and everything else is pretty pampering. It's not something every racer has on race day, so gotta soak it all in!! =)SO anyway, the race was a first for me as well as for my dad and my big brother. But Keith was the defending champion, and my brother was targeting a podium finish so we were all pretty gung ho about it.
To cut things short, I felt like the wind was kicked out of me after I completed the swim. Was the 3rd last person out of the swimming pool. Took me a while to start running normally. When I finally got my pace and my breathing right, I managed to overtake some runners and finally completed my race. To my surprise, the Astro #304 TV crew wanted to interview me, in Cantonese some more. In the end they spoke to me in English, except when they asked me to say Gong Hei Fatt Choy, San Lin Fai Lok. haha...don't know when they will air it though, if you people watch Astro #304 please keep a look out k?
I found out later I got 2nd place! Surprise surprise. Keith defended his Champion title. Big bro got 2nd as well. =] Had heaps of fun...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Singapore Marathon 2008

*edit*
This is a really cool site which tells my position, pace, location on race map and other statistics! Singapore Marathon is SO COOL!

The last time i ran 42.195 km was the KL International Marathon in March this year. It was my maiden marathon and I had targeted 4:30. People gave me the she-has-no-idea look. I ended up clocking 4:52. People said it was not too shabby for a first time. I was left in a lot of pain, could barely walk, yet I had to suck it all in and go to work right after the race.

This time, i figured the following.
1. Singapore's flat, not hilly.
2. Kauri run was an amazing strength training.
3. My running route in Auckland is a tad longer and has hills as wells.
4. I had lost some weight, hence I'm lighter.

So I thought 4:40 was a good target. In the morning I spotted Andy, Sue and co, which was amazing coz the place was packed like sardines in a tin. 15,000 marathon runners, so I heard. Walking in, I spotted Sam! Yay, I didn't have to run alone! =)

There were so many people, that when the gun fired, Sam and I were still miles away from the start line. We only reached the start line about 6 minutes after gunstart. In the beginning it was all good. Sam had his usual antics, making smart comments about other runners, talking about life and all. Weather was great.

First 10km and I clocked about 1:12 according to my watch. Hmm...that's not too good, I thought. But i kept at that pace anyway. It wasn't until Sam pointed out somewhere along the way, that I realised I had subconsciously upped my speed progressively.

Running in Singapore is really an experience. For one thing, there were sooooo many runners, that 25 km into the race, I was still running with the pack. I think it only trickled down at about the 30 km mark. Also, there are sooooo many trees! The whole route is shaded and we ran along the coast so it was nice n breezey. And, the women! The women were really really good. I'm not used to seeing so many women who were so hard to overtake! I was constantly thrashed by hot, sexy women in mini mid riffs, and even minier shorts. Princess looking girls in Singapore are NOT what they seem.

At about 18 km or so, I lost Sam at the drinking station. At about 23 km or so, I caught up with Andy and Sue. I was feeling really strong that morning, for some reason. I wasn't feeling any pain or fatigue, nothing! I just felt stronger and stronger. And when I realised I can definitely meet a 4:35 target, I was so happy I ran even faster. I was on an overtaking spree, and the great support from the audience (there were heaps of people all the way along the running route, cheering for their own loved ones) were boosters too!

I ran on, and spotted Alex Au-Yong somewhere ahead, and I tried to catch up, but amidst the crowd he disappeared!! Later on I found out I had overtaken him without realising it. I was running alone, but I never felt so motivated before. I just kept on going, taking quick sips at every drink station but never stopping for more than 30 seconds.

My toes were a little painful but apart from that I felt no pain. And no fatigue. I could run forever! It was amazing. I ran past the 4:45 Adidas pacers. I overtook every Team Monash runner I could see, and every other Princess looking girl. Ain't no way I'm losing to someone who looks like THAT, I always say. I was on a roll~!

Finally, I came in through to the finish. The official clock showed 4:33, but my own watch showed a time far sweeter. I really couldn't believe it...
04:27:34 baby~!
After the race, naturally every ounce of pain came over me like a ton of bricks. My legs felt almost paralysed, my heart banged against my rib cage, my throat felt coarse, but my spirits were high!!! =)

Best.race.ever.

Friday, December 05, 2008

to the Lion City

I'm all packed for Singapore. Leaving tomorrow morning at 7.50 am by Tiger Airways with Dennis. Frankly, I have a small expectation of myself to achieve and I really hope I do. I think I had done slightly more training for this compared to the previous marathon, plus with the boyfriend going along, I foresee myself doing a little better than KLIM where i clocked 4 hours 52 minutes. This time i'm targeting 4 hours 40 minutes or below.

I've got new shoes too~! Bought new Asics during the weekend at the RSH warehouse sale. Don't know if it's too late to break in the shoes, but I've used it about 3 times and it feels quite comfy now. Though, 3 of my right toes have turned black (1st, 4th and 5th) because of the Kauri Run. I just hope they'll be alright throughout this marathon.

I'm pretty stoked about this trip. I've got Dennis with me, it's a marathon cum holiday. Been waiting for it all year. See u guys there!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Lucy in the sky

Took this photo from my room window. Summit appeared so majestic with the big cottony clouds in the background.

Weather has been sweltering hot ever since i got back and I have been showering 3-4 times a day because of that. I never stop sweating throughout the day, and on top of that I've been doing the daily house chores.

mehhh i miss Auckland's spring weather. :P

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Bangkok Story

I have actually been wanting to reenact my Bangkok drama here on this blog, but I've told it so many times to so many different people that honestly I've become quite sick of it. It was nothing heroic or anything anyway. But I guess I'll indulge you readers one last time.

It was Tuesday night 8.50 pm Bangkok time when we landed in Bangkok. It was a long 12 hours flight and I had watched 3 movies and 2 TV episodes, listened to 2 whole albums, slept very little, ate quite a lot, and was insanely tired. It was 3 am Auckland time by then and I was just dying to bathe and hop into bed. After taking my 27kg suitcase from the belt, passed immigration, I made my way to the Novotel Hotel counter where I was supposed to board a shuttle to the hotel. I was given a free night's stay in a Deluxe room with free breakfast the next morn and I had been bragging about that non stop to whoever I spoke to online before I left. I had seen pictures of the rooms from the Novotel website and I was pretty excited. =)

There were a group of us and we waited. 5 mins. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. No bus came. This Latin speaking guy started phoning Novotel Hotel and shortly after a hotel bellboy came to greet us. He said the shuttle bus could not come (I didn't bother asking why) and so we had to walk across to the hotel which was about 10 minutes away on foot. Okla...i thought. My bags had wheels anyway.

Got myself checked into the hotel, I still had no idea what was going on, and apparently neither did the hotel staff. I asked what time breakfast started, reconfirmed if there was going to be a shuttle service tomorrow morning since it didn't come tonight and when I was reassured that it operated every 10 minutes 24/7, I was happy. Went to my room, ran a nice warm bubble bath, played the music on my laptop and soaked forever. After the shower I felt quite fresh, no longer that sleepy. I waltzed around the room restlessly, wrote a note to Dennis, then decided to call it a night at about midnight.

At 3 am my eyes opened. It was insane. I was still jetlagged obviously. I tried going back to sleep but i kept waking up again at 3.30 am, 4 am, 4.20 am until finally at 4.30 am I bounced out of bed and decided to take yet another ultra long bath. I took time to decide what to wear, and even applied on make up thinking that in less than a few hours I'd be seeing my family and then my favourite boy. I wanted to look good. When I was finally satisfied with the way I looked, i made my way down for breakfast at 6 am. I had a hearty breakfast (thank God). I stuffed myself with an array of international delights and was the first time i was truly truly satisfied in a long long time. Happy, I went back to the room, packed up my things and proceeded to check out.

And then, the nightmare begun. The bell boy came to help me with my luggage and asked me where I was headed. I said I wanted to check out and he looked at me half sorry, half wondering what a idiot i was, and told me "Sorry cannot check out, madame. Airport closed." My jaw dropped in disbelief. I double checked with Reception. And then it hit me. There were people sitting around the lobby with bags in tow looking...lost. I spun on my heel to face a big plasma screen on the wall showing CNN. To my horror I saw what was going on in the airport. I asked the Reception what could I do, and they told me to go back to my room, relax, and check back again in midday.

Feeling rather uneasy, not scared, just uncomfortable, I went back to the room and flipped on the news. It was about 7 am and there was a good 4 hours till noon and I felt so lost. I texted my parents using my Vodafone and asked them to text Dennis for me. I paced around the room, tried sleeping for a bit but all I could think of was what if I never got home? I grew more and more anxious. Never have I felt so clueless.

Noon came after what seemed forever. But a very sorry voice told me on the phone that the airport was still closed and they had no idea when it would be open. And then they told me that I needed to let them know if i wanted to extend my stay by 2 pm. Obviously, I wasn't going to. So once again I paced around the room, stared out at the airport, until 2 pm came and I checked out. I plomped myself down on the lobby couch and stared off into space.

About 30 minutes later this Vietnamese guy, Tung sat down next to me. He was on the same flight as I was from Auckland. We soon became friends, chit chatting and sharing our predicamant. We played battleship (he taught me how) and tic tac toe (which he called somethind else) to pass time. We munched on my NZ strawberries and cookie time cookies. By 6 pm, we were famished and Tung said there was a food court just at the entrance of the airport that was waaaay cheaper than eating in the hotel. So I lugged my heavy bags and we both went for dinner.

After dinner, I lounged around the airport, but on the ground level, so i saw nothing of the riot. But i heard them loud and clear. They were singing their national anthem over and over, cheering and yelling following this speaker. Both Tung and I tried to get some sleep on the airport benches but they were hard cold metal and I had my laptop with me and the yelling and cheering woke me up every 5 minutes so I gave up trying to sleep. After a couple of hours, I told Tung I wanted to go back to the hotel. I wanted to sleep in the hotel lobby coz it'll be much more comfortable. I thought I'd be going back alone, but he came along.

I managed to make myself pretty comfortable on a couch. I was just dozing off when suddenly Tung woke me up, cursing and swearing in his mother tongue. He said he just blew his year's savings on a hotel room. Then he took my bag and said "Come. Let's go." I was kinda in a daze and i tried my best to tell him that I'd rather sleep in the lobby, simply because I wasn't keen to pay him half the room rental which would come up to almost 100 USD. But he took none of my excuses and dragged my big heavy bag up so I just followed. It was already close to midnight then and my head was spinning. In the room, still cursing and swearing, Tung threw his bags aside, kicked off hsi shoes and just said "I left, you right". And then he collapsed on his bed and that was all I heard from him for that night.

I tried to sleep but I couldnt help feeling more and more homesick. In my head I kept thinking of what I could've done had i reached home then. I kept picturing Dennis and I, hanging out. Not being able to contact him was killing me. I started thinking and all of a sudden the idea struck me. I could bus from Bangkok to Hatyai! I was so sure that was possible! I literally watched the sky brighten and waited till about 6 am. Then i freshened up a bit and texted my mum asking her to call the hotel room. When she did, when I heard my dad's voice, my own started to shake and quiver. I felt so frustrated to be stuck there with no money and no answer as to when I will be going home. I told them I wanted to bus home. And to my disappointment, my idea was shot down. My parents were worried it was too dangerous. They wanted me to get in touch with Thai Air to get me a place to stay in the city. And wait for further notice. And then the floodgates opened and I cried for every ounze of frustration that had build up over the hours and days. I hadn't even realized that Tung had woken up until he slipped me some tissue. I wanted to go home so badly at that point...

What happened after that was a series of phonecalls to the Malaysian embassy and Thai Air, both of which passed me from ear to ear but nothing was gained from them. I bugged the concierge downstairs for info on bus tickets and they told me it took 13 hours to travel to Hatyai, and the cost was about 830 Baht. I managed to withdraw some cash from an ATM machine from my kiwi account. My mind was pretty set on taking the bus but i continued to bug Thai Air for my parents' sake. And then, in the midst of my frantic phonecalls, a phonecall came in and a chinese man asked me in Mandarin if my father was Mr Siah. I was surprised. But I was ready to take a chance on anything at that point.

My Mandarin was never very good but on that day it somehow came out flawlessly. I arranged with the man to be picked out and taken out of Novotel as soon as possible. While waiting I spoke to some Singaporeans who then led me to a Malaysian girl who wanted to get back to KL as well. I told her my bus plan but she didn't seem too keen. I tried to help her but she said she couldn't leave just then, so i had to wish her all the best.

I sat anxiously and waited. A white Kiwi man sat next to me and I told him my dad managed to get someone to come get me. He told me I was very lucky and I couldn't agree with him more. And then a firm hand touched my shoulder, and Mr Neo, that chinese man, was as much of as hero as Superman was at that point. He took me out, back to his office. With internet connection i was able to communicate with my parents and with Dennis!

Things went on well after that. Mr Neo got his staff to purchase a bus ticket for me. He brought me out for some food, then later got someone to send me to the bus station. Our meeting was brief, but Mr Neo and his staff were my knights in shining armour at that time. =)

The bus journey to Hatyai was long - 13 hours. But something Mr Neo's staff told the bus driver, made him treat me like VVIP. I somehow got a little more attention than other passengers in the bus, which was quite funny.

Anyway, my solo journey ended when my parents met me at the Hat Yai bus terminal. I hugged them like I never hugged them before. I was so extremely relieved.

And then it was another 6-7 hour drive back, where I spoke relentlessly to mum and dad all the way back. haha...

That was my little adventure. I learned a lot from it. I learned that I'm not as strong as I'd like myself to be. I learned I was able to do things I was usually too afraid to do. I learned my Mandarin is pretty decent. I learned that I am actually a relatively calm and clear headed person when it came to making decisions. I learned that my family goes through great lengths to save me. I learned how much I loved Dennis. I learned people are kind.=)

Monday, December 01, 2008

kindness

It's been a roller-coaster of events since i left on a jet plane on Tuesday 3.30 pm Auckland time to come home.

What was supposed to be a 27 hour journey (including a night's layover in a luxurious hotel room) became more than a 3 day anxiety laden stay in Bangkok. Well, it actually wasn't as bad as most people thought it was. All that I've been asked since i touched home soil was "Were you scared?" and honestly, I wasn't. there was nothing terrifying where I was, simply because I was stuck in the hotel rather than the airport. I was frustrated. I missed home so much and the homesickness compounded progressively as time crept and crawled in Bangkok. It drove me to tears when I heard my mum and dad's voices on the phone. I just broke down because I really really really wanted to go home. Anyway, long story short, I wasn't in any actual threat. I was merely desperate to go home. And I had heaps of help from many kind souls. My dad's friend's partner in Bangkok took me out of the airport area, brought me to eat, got me a bus ticket from Bangkok to Hatyai and sent me to the bus station on Thursday evening. My parents met me at Hatyai and if I've never known what relief felt like, I knew it the moment I saw my parents.

If at all, this incident has helped me see the light in a lot of people. It renewed my faith in the goodness of mankind and the credibility of kindness. People are kind. I saw people go out of their way to help complete strangers. I saw people just amalgamate with random people and helped other random people. I saw food being shared, personal handphones passed around to be used, hotel staff from the manager right down to the room cleaners rushing about just doing anything they can to make stranded tourists and guests more comfortable. It was really comforting, amidst all the chaos, watching everyone switch into hero mode.

I have always been a believer in the goodness in people. My first idea of every person is that they're good, unless they make me think otherwise. Some of you may say that people are more willing to help a damsel in distress. Some of you may assume that the helper had ulterior motives. Maybe, maybe not. But at the end of the day, if that person has made my life a little easier at the expense of his/hers, and did not ask for anything in return, I say that person's good.

I've been keeping with the news and all I can say is, I'm SO GLAD i'm home. I wish those who are still stranded there the best of luck and I hope they find their way out soonest possible.

Friday, November 28, 2008

home, safe n sound

i'm home. i'm safe. more news about my Bangkok story soon.

i'm using the same number. Just need to get it unbarred. But calls n text message have been received, thanks very much. Will be contacting u soon. =)

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Great Cranleigh Kauri Run 2008

Race report first. Trip report later.

There were many firsts to this race. It was my first race in Auckland. It was my first time running 32 km off road. It was my first time wearing running shoes for a trail run. It was my first time eating Leppin, their sport supplement here. And it was my first time having Jellybeans at the refreshment stations!
The race started at 10 am on Saturday morning. The turn up was good they say, although I thought races in Malaysia attracted more people. If they had given free t shirts perhaps they'd attract more *grumbles*. Anyway, I was feeling a tad nervous before start. I was the only one among my friends who was doing the 32km. And at that point of time I suddenly thought, maybe I wasn't being so smart. Let me remind you how my race profile looked like.Yeah. So I wanted to make the most of my visit there. Owell, no turning back. My target time? 4 and a half hours. Everyone started together. The race started with a 2 km beach run, which didn't turn out that bad in the end. Because we ran at the wetter shores of the beach where the sand was compressed. Weather was hot, and I was soon starting to sweat, and yearning for the shade of the jungle.

Then we came to the trail run. People here are so polite, they don't fuss or hurry people whenever there is an obstacle to go through i.e. causing a bottle neck. They wait patiently in queue. Anyway, the moment i started running on the roots and streams I instantly missed my trail shoes. It makes heaps of difference running with road runners. Mine were pretty worn out, so i slipped a lot. Which made me slow down a lot whenever it came to a creek or a muddy slope. Which I got pretty frustrated about because those are spots I usually am able to overtake people. Could've been a tad faster i guess. Owell, least I had my hydrapak. =)

I was doing quite alright in the first 10km. There were markers every km, and it seemed like the kms were passing by faster than it felt. Somewhere after 10km, the route diverged whereby the 13km runners ran down to finish, and we continued to run up. The view was amazing. I didn't bring my phone with me, for fear I might damage it, but mere photos would not do it justice. You'd just have to see it for yourself. =)

A little after the 12km mark or so, I was running alongside this guy who seemed to be having some difficulty. He stopped a lot but kept moving. I spoke to him and found out he did the race last year. I asked him how he did and he said "5:30...but that was because I pulled my calf muscle". whoa. ok, i need to up my pace if i were going to meet my 4:30 time, I thought. So I ditched him as gracefully as i can and carried on. The route could not get any tougher. We were running on gravel road with loose rocks sliding beneath my feet at a gradient of about 75 degrees! My feet were really sore by then. My little toes felt crushed because the shoe was a little too narrow for me.

At every water and refreshment station I had a banana, a few jellybeans and Leppin water. I was getting pretty hungry by about 1 pm, but the food just didn't seem to get digested. And if I studied it right, it is because your gut stops working when you're doing intensive work out. Blood flow is diverted to areas like your legs to maximise energy production. If that is true, whatever food I shove down my throat would just sit in my gut! I dont know if it did, but my stomach was bloated and aching from hunger. I wasn't feeling very comfortable, to say the least.

At about 20 km into the race, my feet were killing me. every step sent a burning sensation through my feet up to my knees. the sides felt more and more crushed. if i stepped on uneven ground, sharp pangs of pain radiated through my ankles, probably due to previous ankle injuries. and because my steps were heavy and uncoordinated, my knees were pounded on very very intensely. the tip of my nose was officially burnt. I had sunscreen on, but i must've missed my nose.

25 km - I.felt.like.crying. But i think i dried out my tear ducts as well. I was in so much pain and agony that my throat twisted, like it does when u want to cry. I was heaving, almost asthmatically, but no tears fell. My legs were wobbly and weak and I kept on stepping on loose gravel or mud puddles or mossy rock. I kept slipping, but miraculously never fell. I did a hobble-jog-shuffle-run-walk-hobble. I was thirsty but my stomach felt way too bloated to take in anymore fluids. I honestly never felt so miserable during a race in my life. And then i did the inevitable. I tumbled over at some point and rolled into a thorn bush. Got my hands and legs poked all over. There are still splinters in my hands which I've yet to take out.

28km - The "Success Trail" started. Which was all the way downhill. I should be rejoicing but i wasn't. Uphill was exhausting, but downhill was a torture to my legs and feet. Every single step was painful. And I had 4 km of pain to endure. I wasn't in a very good mood then and it must've showed because a lot of people asked me if i were alright. Either that or people here are generally nicer than runners back at home. I started talking to myself. Scolding even. My will power and drive were really put to test here. I gave myself little goals to achieve, but they were getting littler and littler. Like "Ok Karen, run for the next 2 km", became "Okla...run till the next km mark, ok?", and eventually I'd spot a leaf at the furthest end of my sight and go "Idiot, just run to that leaf and then u can bloody walk". I was going delirious. I'd have good stretches where I ran for 5 minutes or so...and I'd have really really bad stretches where I ran for 5 seconds and then double over and took deep breaths to stop myself from crying.

30 km - The road. Gorgeous, flat, smooth, pavements. I made myself a promise to finish the last 1km + of the race. And I did. I came in just a few seconds shy of 4 hour 45 minutes. Not too bad shabby la. Friends were all there to cheer me on. The organizer (i think) stood at the end of the line and said "Well done, Karen! Well done!" with his arms outstretched. I don't know if he was just welcoming me with open arms, but I just hugged him there and then. More like i collapsed onto him. hahaha...but yea i was dying to be comforted at that point really. So a big white man's hug was pretty good. =)
running in. that's me in a whole lot of pain.the amount of salt that stayed on my face after the run. click on image for large size.post race FREE beer! that's a first too!

Turned out, I came in 18th in my category out of 24 runners. Ok la. Quite happy. =)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

smashed

"i fell into a thorn bush...look"

had a blast. completely knackered now. race report up next!

Friday, November 21, 2008

empty

I think I'm starting to miss this place. Because an empty shelf, a box of your things taped up nicely, and little notes to housemates which say "This is all yours" does that to you. It's been a short 4 and a half months that I've stayed here, but memorable nonetheless. I've felt and seen so much in these past few months, emotions I never knew could be so bitter, cold i never knew could be so paralyzing, and then a familiar sense of belonging i never knew i could find else where apart from home.

I've learned a lot. And for all the times I had doubted myself, for all the times I actually pondered whether or not this was worth it, I have the answers now. It's a whole new life that I'd begun here in Auckland, and only after 4 and a half months have I come to realise and accept that. Only after I decide which things stay behind and which things follow me home, that I accept the fact this is a new chapter of my life, that for the next few years to come, most of my time would be spent here, with new friends, new places to call home, new experiences, new life. I know it sounds kinda silly to be thinking so deep into this, but really for a good long time since the day I touched down, I kept thinking this was only temporary. That it'll be over in a few months, i'll worry about next year when I come to it. I was in denial, so to speak. And I had a tough time, just fitting in. But I'm all good now. Looking forward to go home, and looking forward to coming back here too. =)

***
last night the gym girls brought me out for drinks and it is either I am a really lousy drinker, or whatever poison they shoved down my throat was really strong, but I wasn't walking straight even before midnight. haha...but i love 'em girls. =)
Merin, my manager
Cara "I can't take good photos!", the Sales Exec
Sarah, assistant manager + Kick box instructor
Kate (head trainer) & Claude


I really hope they'll all still be here when I get back next year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

to be loved

I was prepared to face yet another day of moping around the apartment. I got up bright and early about 7.50 am, because i had slept at 9.45 pm the night before. Had a major headache which hung on all evening till night, so I was dying to lie down by nightfall. I had wanted to go for a short run but the weather didnt permit that, so I breathed and sighed and resigned myself to household chores once again. I have been cleaning the apartment almost every other day.

And then Abby, being the saviour that she is all through the semester, texted me and asked if i were keen to visit the museum! So lucky for me, Abby, Alex, Tze May, Tim and myself all made our way to the Auckland Museum. Museums are usually not my thing. History and me do not go hand in hand. But anything was better than staying home. This museum wasn't too bad. There was a dinosaur floor which I kinda liked. And that was about it. haha...the war, the Maori culture and history, the plants and animals and geology were mere photographic opportunies.
abby and i got a little crazy with the explicit figurespole dancing?do frogs hump? i thought they reproduce externally...u know...persenyawaan luar badanA T-Rex named Sue. No kidding...

Then at night was my last day of work! And I had told some of them earlier this week that it was my last day this wednesday so I was gonna work them hard. And some of them came, with presents! I received 2 farewell presents from my clients. I'm honestly quite touched. I totally did not expect that. And I've only known them for a couple of months! And only about half hour to one hour a week. I felt so loved. =) After work, the owner of the gym, my boss, brought me out for a nice fancy dinner! We had wine and steak. It was delicious. And we chatted for a good 2.5 hours, just the two of us. She was really nice. And we spoke about everything under the sun. Including relationships! ahaha...imagine talking about your boyfriend to your boss! =)

Nancy my sweetest clientMoe & Rachel who cracks me up every time they're on...Fiona, the owner of Configure Express Sylvia Park

sigh...i feel so happy today. It's pretty overwhelming, just the thought of how when i first got here I knew only a handful of people, went to work in a completely foreign environment, dealt with everyone BUT asians, and somehow managed to build good friendships with them. It's a nice feeling, something I really want to get out of whatever I do in future. =)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Have you ever had absolutely NOTHING to do? I am bored out of my wits here. I should be doing stuff, but because friends stay far away, and there's practically nothing to do here at night anyway, I'm confined to the four walls of my apartment with nothing left to do. I'm sick out of my skin of Facebook. My 3 email inboxes have been checked. Bank account checked. Vodafone account checked. Trademe surfed. Kauri Run site surfed. Random blogs surfed. Singapore flight and accomodation sorted. I've begun packing for home. I've even packed for my trip this weekend. WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?

A while ago i picked up TV watching. But I had never been a TV person. Don't think I'll ever be one. Perhaps one fine day I'll be driven to it, but that day has yet to come. I just don't like the idea of sitting down in front of the idiot box. Don't know why.

I don't know what else to do. Oh and I have made Black Glutinous Rice dessert. So yup, cooking checked too. And I've cleaned the apartment. Times like this I really hate the time difference because my dear friends at home don't come on till about 4-5 am Auckland time. This stinks.

Owell. It was my last day at Jester's today. Jester's is the after school program I work for at Meadowbank school, where i teach gymnastics. Well, I don't exactly teach, since it's artistic gymnastics, and I'm probably even newer to it than they are. Anyway, I hadn't like this job very much when I started. Kids here were rude, had the shortest attention span and had no discipline and respect whatsoever. I dreaded every Monday. But through time I seemed to have bonded with some of the littler girls and when they gave me a big fuzzy group hug today I almost wanted to cry. I'd miss the little ones. =)

On a completely random note, I think the saddest thing to see in a child is when the child swears and curses. I wince every time i hear profanities being yelled out from little kids mouths. I think kids should stay as pure as they possibly can, I really do. It's just such a bad reflection on the parents when a little 6 year old goes "F*ck" so nonchalantly. I can't take it. Kids should NOT swear and curse. Not even when they're 10, not even when they're 12. Not ever, if you ask me. I'm 22 and I don't curse and swear. I've picked up "damn" and "shit" recently, but I think I should cut down on that too. I'm reverting back to "darn" and "shoot". It's just NOT COOL when little children swear.

Gah...just thinking about it makes me mad. How can parents sit back and watch their children swear like that? It is beyond me.

Great. 9.52 pm. I've wasted about 6 minutes. So i've got blogging checked too. NOW what else can i do? sigh..

Sunday, November 16, 2008

post exam diary

Gosh I feel so sleepy.

I feel like I haven't quite had proper sleep since Thursday. I was far too excited about the final day of exams that I had a rather restless night on Thursday. Then on Friday, I had a small ceremonious moment with a guitar, a set of drums, a mic, and a whole slew of pretty unheard of rock songs at Shaun's place. Played till close to midnight. I came home, with the beats still stuck in my head, I stayed up...just-because-it's-after-exams...till 1-ish.

Saturday morning I was up at 7.15 am, preparing for work at 8. Work went on till 4 pm, by when i had successfully yawned myself to exhaustion. I came home after closing the gym up at about 4.30, and collapsed on the bed till about 6. Woke up and started preparing dinner. Then there's Skype with the family till about 10. After which I stayed up again...just-because-it's-after-exams...till 1-ish.

This morning, I had work at 8 again. But because I had to make my lunch, I got up at 6.45 am. Prepared, and went to work. Till 4. Again, I yawned myself to exhaustion. I came home and dropped on the bed again, but this time till 5.15 pm. I got up, went for a short run. Then I went out for dinner with Shermayne and dad. Then it's off to Lily's where i ate some more, while talking to her dad. (I seem to be entertaining/entertained by lots of uncles today.)

And now I'm here. Officially spent. I ought to sleep, but I've no work tomorrow. Though I still intend to wake up at about 7 just so I can get a free massage at the gym. Will probably get one, then come back and sleep. :P

Friday, November 14, 2008

blondie says

"one way...or another...*zheng zheng zheng*!"

Guitar Hero rocks.

And i'm done with exams!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

sunshine...

The sun shone bright and hot today. for the first time ever, I actually felt the heat...and almost, almost wished there was a fan in this apartment. but then night came and it's cold again.
***
As i was running, getting my skin burnt (i used sunscreen, don't worry) i saw 2 little boys no taller that my waist. They must be about 6 years old. They were talking to each other rather animatedly. With their eyes big and round, and their hands gesturing all over the place. Then all of a sudden, one of them bent over and started rolling down the grassy slope, in a literally head over heels manner, to his home. My heart almost lurched up my throat. I thought he fell and broke his neck. But then the other kid followed suit, and they erupted in laughter. It was the cutest sight ever. Then they scrambled back up and did it again.

Kids here are so independent. I've seen little 3 feet tall children walking home all by themselves. Nobody walks them home from school. They just know how to. They can wait by the lights for the Green Man to appear, then cross the pedestrian. I think if a kid of Chinese parents stepped so much as 5 steps away from mum and dad, they'll be rudely dragged back in by their parents and given a firm warning to never do it again.

heh. i think we're so spoilt sometimes, do u?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

14 days

By now most of my friends are done with their exams. Shermayne finished hers yesterday. Her last paper for her Sport Science degree. On Saturday I got a text from Navin exclaiming "I'm an Engineer!". On Monday, Wye Yin texts me saying she's "DONE!!!". This is insane. My previous papers were so far away I feel like they were a different term altogether. I've been relatively relaxed over the past couple of weeks, since Sport Sci 104 and 105 are quite common sensical papers which require minimal study. But that doesn't warrant a reason to let loose and kick back for the simple reason that I'm still "having exams". Not that I could if i wanted to. I've got some friends who are still having exams till this Thursday. But even this Thursday doesn't give me the right to party just yet. Not till Friday, 12.30 pm...and even then, work starts at 8 am on saturday AND sunday this weekend. Thats for taking one week off to study. Man...who knew the sacrifices to make for Medsci was this demanding. Until 2 days post exam also still have to "pay back".

On a lighter note...i'm 14 days away from boarding a flight home. that's 2 weeks. that's 2 more pushing of rubbish bin out, 2 more washing of my hair with conditioner (yes i only use conditioner once a week now), 1 more phonecall home to my parents, 1 more rent payment, 1 more day at Meadowbank school and 1 Kauri run away! hmm...i wonder what I should have for lunch on the 26th...pan mee at ss19, wanton mee at Asia Cafe, char kuey tiow at USJ14? mmm....

*big silly green*

Sunday, November 09, 2008

high school

Girls of 5 Usaha 2003

There's something very stimulating about coming across an old photograph of you and your friends back in school. I find that when you see yourself and everyone else clad in the white and blue (olive green for guys) uniform, an intense sense of nostalgia arises and you're left there taking a train down memory lane to everything you went through in school. Only when I see myself in the uniform, for some reason. I feel nostalgic when i see old photos of other things as well, but high school photos...those just hit all the right spots don't they? I reckon high school...5 years of that...is a chapter in life in its own. You just spend so much time in school, you think? It's 5 (sometimes 6) days a week, from the moment the sun rises till your stomach grumbles in the hot scorching afternoon. For busybodies like me, after school programs were plentiful too. That's a LOT of time spent with your friends. I happen to have gone through some of the best and worst moments of my life in high school. After all, isn't adolescence the most difficult time of a person's life? Ah...i dont know. I miss high school so much. School was fun. Really fun.

And boy was i chubby back then...haha...

***
btw i made the most delicious bowl of carbonara pasta today. yum~

Saturday, November 08, 2008

why auckland public transport's such an a**

This is a sign at Britomart train station, which Ben so graciously pointed out to me..now if you could just zoom in on the words just a tad...
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Have a good weekend! =)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Guy Fawkes Night

Today is Guy Fawkes Night. Basically it's a celebration of the night a gunpowder plot to blow up the House of Parliaments in London was foiled. The plot was made by a bunch of Catholics who were against protestants (i think) and Guy Fawkes was the guy who made the explosives.

What has New Zealand got to do with it? Well New Zealand was under the British colony and...yea that's it.

Anyway, Guy Fawkes Night is the only time people can sell, buy and play fireworks legally and the days leading up to today (starting on the 1st i think) there has been fireworks lighting the sky every night. And since i stay on the top floor of an apartment with a balcony overlooking the little town of Mount Wellington, i have a pretty spectacular view of the fireworks and all.

No, this image i stole from the internet because my cybershot phone is awesome...but not that awesome.

Anyway, i took a small video just to show just how many houses were playing with fireworks. it's quite pretty, but i don't know if u can see it clearly...=)
video

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

envy

with every step she takes
with every move she makes
i feel a ticking in my nerves
i feel a tension i try to reserve

with every sweat that trickles down
with every crease upon her frown
i feel my adrenaline kicking in
i feel the need to be there to win

with every picture that she's got
with every tan line that she spot
i feel my patience wearing thin
i feel the bitterness from within

yet with every look of every page
of her every picture that she stage
i feel the resemblance so uncanny
i feel the striking similarity

and perhaps i've gone a bit too far
in leaving my envy gates ajar
but really, she's the girl i truly fear
would take the place that i've held dear

Sunday, November 02, 2008

hill training

Kauri run is about 9 days away. if u haven't heard, i'm going for this crazy-one-way-ticket-to-cramped-calves-and-sore-thighs race on the 22nd of November. And with that looming ahead, I try to do as much uphill training as i can. But not really succeeding actually. Because the weather hasn't been too good...

But anyway, i managed to log a 10 km run on the treadmill today after i closed the gym up. I ran at speed 11 and I raised inclination every 0.5 km by 1.0. Until i reached 3.0 i'd go back down to 0.0 again and repeat the cycle again. which was good...i had a good sweat, something i havent had in quite a while because u don't sweat here. u don't get to. ahhaha

So i was feeling pretty happy, thinking i managed to burn some of the calories i've been piling on to my epidermis...that is till i made myself pizza for dinner...

and i wonder why my weight's going up....*shrug*

Friday, October 31, 2008

the closest thing to crazy

How can I think I'm standing strong,
Yet feel the air beneath my feet?
How can happiness feel so wrong?
How can misery feel so sweet?
How can you let me watch you sleep,
Then break my dreams the way you do?
How can I have got in so deep?
Why did I fall in love with you?
This is the closest thing to crazy I have ever been
Feeling twenty-two, acting seventeen,
This is the nearest thing to crazy I have ever known,
I was never crazy on my own…
And now I know that there's a link between the two,
Being close to craziness and being close to you.
How can you make me fall apart
Then break my fall with loving lies?
It's so easy to break a heart;
It's so easy to close your eyes.
How can you treat me like a child
Yet like a child I yearn for you?
How can anyone feel so wild?
How can anyone feel so blue?
This is the closest thing to crazy I have ever been
Feeling twenty-two, acting seventeen,
This is the nearest thing to crazy I have ever known,
I was never crazy on my own…
And now I know that there's a link between the two,
Being close to craziness and being close to you.
...and being close to you
...and being close to you.

Katie Melua
Call Off The search

Thursday, October 30, 2008

i have no idea

So i sat for my MedSci 142 exam today. And it was really really tough. I guess there were questions which i could do quite easily. There were questions where I had to take a wild guess. And there were questions where even guessing was impossible. And i left them blank. Inevitably.

I have no idea how i fared. I thought I was gonna have that big weight lifted off my chest, but for some reason I feel worse now than I did before the paper. There's a lingering thought/feeling inside of me that is rather negative, that I do not wish to say it aloud, for fear it might come true. All I can say is, what if it's not over yet?

I'll find out in due time I guess...*shrug*

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

chillax

Hey, I am feeling heaps better now after doing another paper and a few more questions, and i went "Hey I know this". so yeah...ego's been boosted again. Sorry about my breakdown yesterday. Panicked a bit. But I'm ok now...=)

A lot of people left me with many wise and comforting words, people from Perth, Kursk, UK, Singapore, home...thanks a bunch, guys. Some of you really helped me put things into perspective, while others just made me renew my own self faith. I'm actually quite glad my exam is tomorrow. After tomorrow I'd be able to breathe much more comfortably...=)

***
Drama aside, Shermayne and I went grocery shopping last night to stock up for this exam-cramming period we're going through. And so with a mission to keep our energy levels up (and to achieve 2 sets of $40 to get the fuel discount at Pak'n'Sav), we loaded our trolley with...
yeah...CHOCOLATES and CHIPS and COOKIES...hey, one man's junk is another girl's BRAINFOOD ;)

btw, are there Kit Kat cookes n cream back at home? Coz they're the bees knees i tell ya! If there aren't any I'm buying a whole bunch of 'em home. =)