Staycation & Chambers Bar and Grill Hilton

Sneaking in a food post which is way past due.

This is about our date at Chambers Bar and Grill at Hilton KL.

In December 2015, we decided to book a room for a night at Hilton KL for our staycation. I had accumulated some points in my HHonors card due to my extended stay at Hilton whilst in Netherlands, and thought it would be great to use up some points. After an bitter, eventful check in (room not ready even at 4 pm(!), and Daniel crying at the reception), we finally got an upgrade to our deluxe room. I also made a booking earlier on to dine at its infamous Chambers Bar and Grill.

2.5 months old baby Daniel didn’t want his pre-requested babycot. Only wants fluffy pillows and white sheets.

Though not as famous and therefore (probably) less expensive than Prime at Le Meridien right next door, we decided to go for the steakhouse at Hilton because I wanted to use my HHonors for further discount. Smart consumerism ok.

The steak did make a statement. 300 g Porterhouse T-bone steak from NZ sounded small, but when the waiter brought it in, I was like”WAHH ZAHH, huge gilerrr!!” I had it medium-well because my erythrocytes-phobic hubby will not have a share of my gigantic steak if he sees blood. See see, when I cut open the steak, still quite pink inside. Opps. He and I know it’s silly to eat premium steak above the medium-rare temperature, but oh well.

We knew one beef steak was enough, so hubby ordered fish: black cod steak. Our mains came with fragrant baked garlic and that garlic did make a lot of difference. Who knew baked garlic goes well with both been and fish steaks!

FYI, the mains does not come with sides, so we ordered sides. I had the grilled asparagus while hubby ordered the usual suspects – simple grilled vegetables – turned out to be surprisingly yummy. I also ordered the sauce to come with the mains – trio of mustards. Well, not all mustard suited well with my tastes nor goes well with steak, although technically mustard would be ‘smartest’ sauce to choose from the various sauces. In a very Malaysian way, I secretly wished I had Kimball chili sauce with my steak. ūüėõ Honorable mention are the array Himalayan salts provided at each table, but did wonder in which part of my dish would I sprinkle salts on, as the steak was perfect enough.

Try eating steak with a sticky baby on one hand and a knife on the other

Pefectly grilled cod for hubs. Melts

Back to the T-bone steak: it was absolutely yummy. ¬†Maybe I was hungry, but I managed to gobble the steak up within an hour and hubby just had a bite or two of my steak (because he sees pink). Had a bite of his black cod and it was so juicy. I thought a steak house serves perfect T-bones, but didn’t know they could make a fish meat melt in my mouth. Wah,…I secretly wished I had that fish instead (of beef) when I had that bite.

Mind you, I am never a foodie, so you know that I have limited vocabulary when describing good food. What I can write is that service was brisk, the ambiance was great albeit rather dark but romantic (and definitely not Instagram-friendly), food and sides were made skillfully, and I didn’t feel a pinch when I foot the bill (=worth the money). The staff also found us a table where I can dock my gigantic stroller. With such classy service and restaurant, you wouldn’t think eating here would be a challenge, but with a baby in one hand and a knife in another, the dining experience was still amazing.

My son would not have remembered that day at 2.5 months old. I shall bring him back here but only when I see my son is old enough to tell me he would share a medium-rare steak with his mummy (and not papa).

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May The 4th Be With You! – Borneo Int. Marathon

As I am writing to you now, both my quads and calf are screaming in pain, I can’t walk down any staircase and there’s this never-ending hunger pang (like even now). Nothing unusual as I get this ‘finisher’ syndrome every time I completed a full marathons.¬†This is¬†my 5th¬†Full Marathon, but first for year 2014 in the vibrant city of Kota Kinabalu.¬†¬†I am back to office today, and tried (act!) to walk straight because I didn’t like to invite comments from my boss/colleagues¬†on my ducky-walk or comments¬†such as¬†“See, what good would it make to run¬†a full marathon, walking like you’ve got pain in the ass??”

Seaview from Suria Mall
Seaview from atop Suria Mall

Tell you this: you lose like tonnes of fluids and salts from your system during the race, but replenishing them with a single banana and a couple of power gels during the race doesn’t do any good, especially in Kota Kinabalu, on a May weather. Just as you thought you start your race damn early at 3.00AM, dawn breaks¬†as early as 5.30AM (hello, forgotten we are in East Malaysia heh). At that time, I have already completed my first 22 km. And by 6.00AM the sun is already high in the east and begin doing what it does best – scorch your skin into crispiness. Any sign of sea breeze (which you kinda expect in KK) seems non-existent.

When¬†I reached the¬†30 km mark, the sun has soared high and I stopped to pile my sun-block on my shoulders. Hey, it¬†took 6 months for¬†my tan-lines to fade for my wedding and I can’t afford for them to return. 31 km was when the I felt my skin and flesh burn like a well-done beef. What’s worst is that this full marathon route has no ‘hiding’ spots. “Hiding” spots, in my own running dictionary, is when there are shadows from huge trees or scrubs or lanes that are blocked from direct sun shine. At least you get these shadowy refuges at Standard Chartered KL or PJ Half-Marathon routes, but these hiding spots are simply non-existence in KK from KM31-KM42. That’s 10 km¬†under the direct sun.

My pace was faster than my last FM in KL, I know, because I just know! (I’ve been running long-distance since 2009, so kinda know your pace). But the last 5 km was super messed up cause I started screaming curses at the scorching sun and my face has this¬†layer of salt that builds up tragically on my eyes/nose. Any cardiologist would thank the Lord for lost of sodium salts and fats from the systems, but I almost faint¬†of dehydration. ¬†But when I drank so much water, it was¬†pointless too¬†because I felt like pee-ing. Like SUPER-Pee. Like that Donnie Yen character in Ice Man. Every part of me screamed contradictions.

It was 40km and my watch hit 4hrs 55min. 2KM more….wei….but damn, I took 20¬†freaking minutes¬†for that last 2 KM!!! SHIT. I cursed myself into the finish line, but smiled when I saw my hubby congratulated me at the finish line. Plus, I cursed because unconsiderate¬†pasar-malam strollers were blocking my finished line. “SHIT, Why why¬†do you have to block the finish line!!!”¬†And I was also not smiling when I saw some cheerleaders holding placards written: “SMILE if you are wearing underwear”. Oh well, take a guess. *the benefit of compression running pants is to¬†run light*.

It was still a personal best for me as I finished an over-distanced full marathon at 5 HRS 20 MINS. I wasn’t happy because I returned with tan-lines as a souvenir and I was so hungry, and I also needed a bath, and I also need a nap, and I also need to go to the airport, but I also have a blister on my toe. ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Salmon Bruschetta at the famous Little Italy, KK.
Carbo-loading at Little Italy – Salmon Bruschetta
Teh Tarik ice & Teh ais masala - which means lots of foam even on cold drinks.
Teh Tarik ice & Teh ais masala – which means lots of foam even on cold drinks.
We just follow the crowd. Many people = good food.
We just follow the crowd. Many people = good food.

 

Okay, the next full marathon is in October. Let’s see how much time I will improve there. I will need more training but I don’t know why I blurted to¬†my hubby, in a horrible mood I guess,¬†that I will give running a rest. More Karaoke and music sessions for the soul. Did I mention shopping? ¬† 4th of May be with you (in Malaysia style).

The REAL wedding story

http://www.mywedding.com/chongyitivy/index.html

I have heard of little girls dreaming of their BIG DAY. I wonder why I never had such dreams. Mum say I have male testosterone overwhelming in my system since I was a kid. I hated Barbie. And her partner Ken. All I dreamt of when I was a little girl was how to beat up my elder brother who was a bully at home, and win a gold medal in swimming, and be a doctor.

As my wedding drew near, I still did not keep my nails long; I broke the longest nail on my middle finger all because it broke while I opened up stubborn little lids of tin-boxes a.k.a. favours (but still, 500 boxes!)  to put in chocolate Kisses and hearts. Never thought wedding favours was ever in my favour, but it just happen. I saw it online and I immediately wanted this door gift for my guests.

Chocolates into wedding favours. Stupid lid. Too tight.

My manicurist complaints that my nails were too short to be a bride, therefore solid colours are a no-no.

I don’t exactly know why girls would enjoy preparing for their wedding, because I totally hated it.¬†At first.¬†I screamed murder when I had to buy and bring back 2000 pieces of chocolates from Langkawi. And thanks to bloody-kiss-my-ass AirAsia, I had to pay RM75 for the extra check-in chocolates due its policy. But I must say, I love the Bachelorette hang-out at Langkawi’s Rebak Island resort with my besties – Kim, Pink, Raine, Cal. Like,¬†A LOT.

Groupfie: My besties and I at Langkawi. More post on Langkawi, next!

Then I realised that I put on around 1 kg three weeks before my wedding. I blame it on Beijing’s sub-temperatures that made me eat tonnes of food. Also the lack of any forms of exercise over the whole month. And the Chinese New Year cookies. Oh well, it’s just a wedding, whatever works. I tried on my wedding gowns and was like – hmmppphhh….not working: the lace sleeved gown I did really, really like was bulking my up shoulders and my breast looked too awesome to be me, while my Qipao was suddenly tight at the ass. Damn.

Was my number.1 dress. Did love it a lot: laces and bare-back. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t fiting on my shoulders. Blah.

Then I realised I should just wear a Princess-cut ball gown to conceal my tummy fats and increased weight at the thigh area. Puffy stuffs, but works for all body shapes. Thank God for Taobao.com, I carefully purchase a stunning wedding ball-gown online for a-price-you-cannot-believe-it-is-so-damn-cheap in Beijing with the help of my Chinese colleagues.

I like it super simple. This is a princess-cut ball gown.

And then came the games for the¬†jip-san-leong. Can’t make the games too easy, can’t be too difficult also. So how? My besties helped me up. Thank God for Levene and sis and at the end of the day, plus every single¬†chi-mui¬†and¬†chi-kor¬†that volunteered, the games plans was finally laid out.

“The Pledge”

Then, I realised I have no small notes to give angpow. All RM50. Luckilly brother works in the bank.

Then, I realised I no make up artist for my actual morning as I do not want to rush to the bridal shop and back home again on my wedding morning. Okay, grab Fong’s cousin, Jane. She’s good!

Almost forgotten to re-dye my hair. No more burgundy red, but this time it went wayyyyy too blonde. Chi-muis complaint, so I had to had a temporary dark brown spray across my hair done by Jane on the morning itself.

Then, I realised, guest list still not jive yet. Not synchro at all. Some not yet RSVP. Headache giler wei. 500 guests in total. And 70% of the guests I have no idea who they are. The hardest part of the wedding planning is THIS.

Then I realised my cousins need to sing. Because I want them to. What if the DVD player doesn’t play out the songs?

What if no one turns up for the Sek Chao Fun, when I ordered a lot? What if my outstation guests couldn’t find my new house?

Amazing buffet food and decor by Best Cathering, Ipoh

All the way from Iran for my sek-chao-fun.

Chi mui and Chi kor were briefed on the games for next day by Maid-of Honour – Levene

My long, long friend – Mike who takes great pictures. Okay, I miss my long hair now.

  

SO, WHO SAYS WEDDING IS ENJOYABLE!?!!?!

The planning isn’t, but the actual wedding day was pretty enjoyable. My actual day photographers, Jeremy and Cronus made it work. They made me feel calm as they give good directions throughout the day. My make up artist made me into perfection. My mum panicked, but she managed it at the end of the morning. All chi muis were all helpful. My lead chi mui, Levene is the BEST!!!! I give her all the credit for the WHOLE DAY!

Undeniably, both my sis-in-laws are amazing – Vivien and Meagan. They have gone through wedding process, therefore experiences play a huge role here. Helpful is an understatement. Vivien conducted the whole wedding dinner, while Meagan played a huge role during in the morning to pack my stuffs to my ‘new’ home and during dinner, handled the guests and seatings.

I was tired due to the many gold chains and bangles and rings all over my body. Not that I am complaining, but I was really tired as I didn’t sleep the night before. I was more worried of whether I could last through my wedding dinner. I fear I might turn into a Bridezilla at night.

I just sit through the night, thinking…hhmmmphhh….how can I go table by table to toast? A total of 50. I also knew that I need to at least have one sip of that ‘Buddha Jump Over The Wall’¬†(second dish). It was hearty and delicious! I also had a bite of the roast suckling pig and it was awesome. I knew¬†this¬†was the¬†restaurant¬†if you wanted good food. However and sadly, I didn’t get to try any other dishes that was served out. Time is luxury.

“Buddha Jump Over the Wall”

Loh Mai fun

Mix vege

Big prawn head

Suckling pig and chicken

Oh well, weddings are a pain if you look at it like how I looked at it in the beginning. But the joy came naturally when you see yourself like a princess and never before looking so stunning. My estrogen hormones took over and I began to enjoy the process of a wedding. My wedding. Tiredness is secondary when you see your relatives, friends and family having fun during your wedding. Effects and make-up does make a lot of difference, and is a necessity; look for a good and professional photographer and/or make up artist to help you out throughout the day.

 

If you are still not married, you will scream at me when I say this: “Planning a wedding is a pain. Thank God for this once-in-a-lifetime event”. But looking back, I wouldn’t do anything different for my wedding. Oh well, maybe lose a bit of weight.

*we women are never satisfied*

Special thanks to:

1. Levene Wong (million hugs and kisses to my Maid-of-Honour!)

2. Tan Vee Vien (million kisses and amazing voice)

3. Tan Vee Nie a.k.a. Katniss Everdeen

4. Janice & Siow Nee (really help out throughout the day without complain)

5. Kimberley

6. Sua Jo Nie

7. Lorraine

8. Callie

9. Fipink (Thank you besties no.5,6,7,8, 9 for the never ending support and love throughout the years)

10. Ow

11. Kenny

12. Beh (Thank you chi-kor no. 10, 11, 12 for the effort and daring to help up)

13. Arshia (Thank you for all the many years of honest opinions, sobs and joy together. You have never fail me)

14. Ardavan (You will be better than your brother soon)

15. Yeng Pooi (my supposed-to-be Maid of Honour. Really really wished things would turned out differently and you could be here. Thank you for background support)

16. Jeremy L. & Cronus, & Jane Fong (macam directors to me that altogether created the stunning, princess me *kowtow*)

17. Uncle George and Wife for his timeliness and his super, super beautiful Bentley

18. Other friends which I wish could name them all here.

19. Both sides of my family and all relatives.

Amen to these great friends, family, relatives who are supportive and really helpful to my mum and dad, that came from near and far. God bless you all.

Btw, we have no honeymoon planned out yet. Suggestions appreciated.

** photos courtesy of friends and family personal shots.

There will only be one shot at this

Unlike those times (yes, your mum and dad’s time) where wedding consisted only of a:

1. Wedding reception/day/dinner/luncheon in a restaurant/community hall.

2. Studio photo which photographs you and your spouse, and it only consist of 2 frames:

    i) First frame: Bride and Groom standing hand in hand with each other.

    ii) Second frame: Bride sits on a chair and Groom standing next to her.

3. All with camera film rolls. Photoshop does not exist yet.

….while in this decade, a wedding gets much more complicated.

Reception

This is one part you cannot avoid if you’re Chinese. But hey, exceptions exists whereby I’ve got this colleague who has not conducted her wedding reception since 5 years back. She’s legally married, but no reception. Well, not a problem actually. It was for the reason of cost and hassle. Wedding receptions ain’t cheap anymore. If ambient is your choice i.e. hotel, then there might be a trade-off in terms of food quality and taste, and¬†vice versa. No doubt some places have the best of both worlds.

Customs like tea ceremony for the Chinese is unavoidable. I’ve not seen a Chinese wedding that has not had their tea ceremony done. But many Chinese (many Gen X and Y who has had their knowledge of Chinese customs diluted) do not perform the traditional¬†guo dai lei¬†(betrothal gifts)¬†anymore. Also many Chinese has followed the western tradition completely – which is completely fine – though I find the traditional Chinese customs still relevant, symbolical, and personally – a¬†must. Nothing to do with religion, mind you. It’s all customs that I believe should be kept through the generations and not get adulterated by other wedding styles.

Helloooo, we even sought Mak Seng Loong for their timing and date selections. Again, nothing religious. Just culture.

Don’t ask me the content. All in chinese wei.

The great outdoors

The biggest trend setter in the current wedding scene. To say this trend is ‘current’ is not entirely correct either. Indoor studio photoshoot has always been a normal thing to do. But the biggest wedding trend is to bring your outdoor photoshoot to some scenic or¬†lomo¬†places, and trendier still – a foreign land where glaciers, trees, seas and sand are considered exquisite and exotic. Many couples has gone the distance to personalized their pre-wedding shoot in some alien country or location, somehow to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. NZ, Melbourne, Bali, Taiwan, Korea, Italy, etc. are no longer a dream-come-true but rather an affordable and practical feat for many couples.

I’ve got my pre-wedding shoot in a¬†distant¬†place (disctant from KL lah) but not a foreign land.We chose this place as to capture pre-wedding photo with my husband because this was where we had our first out-of-KL&Ipoh holiday trip and how we together hike up the hills and took paths that no normal person would do. Regular people will just drive up there, but because we both ain’t ‘regular people’, we walked up miles to get to that scenic site. Albeit the local venue, it was one of my¬†most memorable trip¬†ever. It was our¬†connection¬†to that location. The cooling weather was also one reason I select this location. When you’ve got cool weather, the whole tedious photoshoot process becomes bearable and pleasurable. My elaborated dress has got¬†no sweat!¬†We brought our own props to personalize our outdoor shoot. On that day, rain clouds are missing (yay!), the sun gave just the right amount of light (to the photographer’s delight), the crowd and traffic was forgiving (it was non-peak period, puasa month), and the sunset was amazing!

Baby boomers just like my parents never had such chance to go to a outdoor photoshooting found such trends intimidating and a waste of money. Oh well, how could they understand when their marriage consisted only of 2 studio photos – one with their bodies in it and another with my late grandparents and their….err…tai-kam-che¬†in it. wtf!

Copy-paste, Alt-delete

One of the greatest invention ever(?) is the digital camera. So I thought. Then, came Instagram with various lomo filters. Those already brought great differences between the baby-boomers compared to the present Gen X and Y. We now have many options in photography:

Those times, camera film rolls are expensive and processing them into prints requires at least a week (dark blue room, remember?). Photographers at those times take every shot extremely cautiously so that they don’t waste frames. One chance only. Nowadays, photographers go frenzy with the snapping.¬†If don’t like…just delete. Actually, if don’t like….can Photoshop.

So these Bridal Shop offers you packages that has >100 shots, indoor and outdoor. Plus giving you the option to choose your photos to photoshop before printing them out in albums. They photoshopped out my mole. wth. That’s like….travesty ok! I knew my albums would be nicely wrapped and collect dust until one day my grandchildren finds them under the bed or on top of the cupboard and decided to sell them off at a junkyard sale, therefore I didn’t splurge on our pre-wedding shoot although we’ve gotten ourselves a great bargain from this bridal shop in Ipoh.

Any bridal package comes with makeup and hairdo, of course. Make up for the photoshoot was purportedly done¬†unnatural¬†(read: OTT) because in pre-wedding shoots, the background elements and picturesque scenery may drown your looks. Imagine a leafy tea bush looking nicer than my beautiful face? I can’t. So my make up artist (FYI, she’s patient and amazing!) put on tonnes of foundation and concealer and spent 3 hours/day mainly on my eyes alone – carving out my brows, bringing out my lashes, and reinforced my double eye-lids. Total: 3 hours X 2 days of photoshoot = 6 hours. I had this huge big eyes that even my mum can’t recognize me. Plus, you can Photoshop everything, so…imagine the outcome?!

Argh, a blurry handphone pic of me. Love the hairdo
One of the 7 dresses. SEVEN!
Getting ready for family shoot

We’ve gotten ourselves¬†an award-winning photographer for my actual wedding day and night (Read:¬†mahal¬†giler). My justification: I tone down on my pre-wedding, but I splurge on my actual day wedding photographer.

Now, if my parents are reading this, they are sure to mutilate me.

One chance to do this in this lifetime. Tell you honestly, I didn’t think earlier I would have enjoyed planning my wedding this much¬†. It’ ain’t going to be a royal, dreamy or a fantasy wedding like Kim Kardashian’s. In fact, I don’t have a dream wedding in mind since young. But it’s good enough for me. Personalized.

3rd Marathon – The Hilly One

I made up my mind to blog all Full Marathons that I’ve completed.

42.195 ain’t a big number for mathematicians, but it’s a damn big deal to runners. Of course, there are are 84km, 100km ultra-distances out there, but these are optional kilometres to achieve. To many ‘common runners’, we just want to finish a 42.195, and cross it out from our buckets list.

Though I’ve done 2 other full marathons prior to this, I get chills every time I hear the word ‘Full Marathon’ because every FM is just¬†as tough as the first. This 3rd FM was the inaugural¬†Malaysia Women Marathon, where it is (supposed) to be a all-women marathon event, but you will see the some Martians pacers tagging along. I asked Fong to be my FM pacer for this race as I knew I needed virtual whipping on my butt to keep me going ’til I reach the finish line. It’s not easy to run a FM alone, if you’re an amateur like me.

Indeed, we have no definitive strategy. The night prior to this FM, we had a pre-talk about the race, and our ‘strategy’ was to run comfortably at our own pace (slower than 21km pace), and rest at every water-stops after the 10th km. I reminded myself not to curse !*X^#!$&%^ at the 30th km, and enjoy the company of each other.

The route in Shah Alam is super duper hilly. Take for instance the route in front of UiTM is a looooong (feels like neverending) inclination – a steeper version of Penang Bridge (on the bridge going up). If you know Shah Alam, you will know that there are many roundabouts, which I think pose safety issue to runners, especially when most of the cars there are very non-obliging to runners. You can tell that Shah Alam folks ain’t used to having runners clogging up their roads. Of course there are Rela/Police trying to stop traffic, but the drivers in Shah Alam are…..hnmmphhhh…..non-accommodating¬†and doesn’t bother to stop at all; some cars were spotted to have tailgatted runners. &#&%$@&!

I was happy during the race as I realised all my body parts were fine at 30th km, even though I’ve been through countless hills. I broke the barrier of not cursing profanities at my pacer and myself (which happened in my previous 2 FMs). Nevertheless, in this race, my legs felt the wrath of FM at the 35th km¬†onward¬† My right foot (which people has earlier indicated having stride problems) suffered the worst. The sole was giving me pains, but for which you have to ignore…and when the mind comes stronger than you body….you just pushed on, ignoring the pain, just wanting to reach the finish line.

Albeit the hilly route, this race was well organized with water stations/fruits/snacks station every 2 km after the 10th km. Many pro-marathoners turned supporters and came up with their own water/snack booth for the ladies. The supporters were very supportive(?!), and there were drums and positive cheers at selected corners of the race, though I do empathize the residences in Shah Alam having Indian & Chinese drums playing their roads at 5.40am. I felt great with the multitude support that was given to runners before, during and after the race. And at the back of my mind, was thankful for Miss Kathrine Swtizer, the first women to enter the Boston Marathon, empowering women like I to run a marathon. She was there to flag off the women for this race, and just glad that this race means as much to her as is to me.

Deo’s group provided oranges, chocolates and Coke to runners. Thank you. (35km)

I finished the race with a smile, hand-in-hand with my pacer. He was tolerant with me/supportive, and just glad he’s not the curse-r like I am. He’s still can jump around, did Gangnam and some gymastics after the race. For me, I died-ed upon crossing the finish line. My right foot yearns for some TLC.

This is kilometer no: 42.192
Almost finish. i-City, Shah Alam.

So, there! 3rd marathon pocketed into my history books, and I would like to give some simple simple simple tips to runners who are doing their first FM. (Disclaimer: personal view/notes)

1. Train for long distance. Clock-in the distance, and not how fast you run.

2. Hydrate before the FM race.

3. Eat well (esp. more carbo) a few days before FM.

4. On race day, discard all your gadgets, as they will kill your pace by running too fast. A watch will do. Enjoy the view.

5. Run slower than your half-marathon pace, but not too slow. Keep your energy for the second half of the race. You can feel ‘EVERYTHING’ at 30km. Beyond 30km (or the last 12km)¬†is where every devil in you¬†arises and your mind starts playing tricks on you (e.g. faking an injury to get to an ambulance, flagging a taxi to the finish line, or fake-hunger pangs, or tendency to go toilet to do No.2, when obviously there’s nothing to pass, but air). And of course, the pain. Well, the pain is very real.

6. Bring your running gels…and a tube of Deep Heat.

My next FM is SCKLM. And I will be running this 42.195 all by myself ūüôā

**Photos are courtesy of Facebook friends/MWM.

I am the Pope

Fumata nera?

 

 or Fumata bianca?

Of course you will understand that these are the smokes that emit from the Sistine chapel’s chimney upon a failed x2 to x10 (nera) or successful x1 (bianca) selection of a new Pope during papal conclave.

Rejoice if you see white smoke! That’s when the new pope will comes out to the infamous balcony and pageant wave to all believers and tourists that patiently awaits, just like Queen E, Kate, or like the Japanese royal family.

Yay, a Pope! Wherever he’s from.

But I don’t get it. Maybe because I am not Catholic (Btw, I am Methodist, whatever, or am I Baptist? *What am I??!* I need to ask Jesus what kinda Christian-type I am). ¬†I don’t get it. I don’t get this papal conclave because I don’t understand why people have to rejoice when a pope is selected. I mean, don’t they¬†always¬†GET¬†selected at the end? No surprise. But yah, maybe if the Pope¬†originates¬†from your country, only then, probably, you (or I) may feel a great difference and I may even feel proud. Otherwise….meh!

But you see, this is tradition. This is process. This is meaningful. Bare in mind, each step in every process as its significance. 95% confidence. May not make sense to you, but make sense to others. I’ll just rejoice, when everyone does. I will also feel sad¬†together-gether¬†with the anxious crowd if no pope¬†pops¬†from the balcony after 20¬†fumata nera¬†(unlikely! 95% confident). I will just do and feel as the masses do. Process. Culture. Tradition.

Oh no, false alarm. No pope?

Let’s relate:

This Sunday will be my first time (once in my entire life!) going through a ‘process’. A tradition. A culture. My own papal conclave. I may be lost in translation but at least when I am an important part of the process, I might be learning faster than normal times. And I just¬†KNOW¬†that my papal conclave will result in a¬†fumata bianca¬†even in the first round of voting.¬†So, already, please rejoice!

My “Sistine Chapel”. Obviously without a balcony.

This is my big FUMATA BIANCA:

White smoke can have many meanings

Disclaimer: This post may touch the sensitivities of some readers. Views are purely personal and unintentional. 

Spot the differences: 1st and 2nd Full Marathons

Last Sunday’s¬†Standard Chartered KL Marathon¬†was my #2 full marathon assignment.

My #1st was, of course, the most memorable one of all – the¬†Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore¬†in Dec 2011. My 1st marathon finish was one fill with emotion; I was angry at myself throughout the race; I was teary when I saw finish line and¬†sobbing¬†when I reached it. What made it possible was my marathon partner – a seasoned marathoner, Kingy, a true¬†sifu¬†and friend who was motivating (read: bluffing) me throughout the race. Was prepared for the marathon physically, but not mentally. Well, let’s just say, I wasn’t prepared¬†physically¬†too in terms of ample training (I did some training, but just 21 km LSD), and I bet nobody’s legs were ever prepared for the dreaded ECP’s 10km concrete¬†pavements. ECP did take a toll on my feet until they gave way at the 30km mark. I remembered taking 4 powergels, drank like a gallon of water, eat some gel stuff, having a stomachache, farting like crazy (my digestion was slowing down, as blood all went to pump the heart), and I think I rubbed¬†a kilogram¬†of Deep-heat into my ‘jelly’ legs. At the end, I managed my first full marathon in 7:00hrs flat, walking the last 10km that took 3hrs.

SCMS – Seasoned marathoner, sifu and good friend BK at the starting line
I hate ECP!
SCMS – Tey captured Kingy and me (in tears) as we were about to reach the finish line.
SCMS – SOB, SOB!!
SCMS – Faking a smile. I am not kidding, but it is fake.

Thinking about my first marathon is like thinking about your first time taking you first SPM paper – the BM paper.¬†It’s your first day into the exam.¬†You cannot comprehend what is going on with you, your mind is soo fixed in the examination mode, you tend to scribble out rubbish on the¬†karangan¬†part. All you wanted is an A1.¬†You just give it your ALL. Halfway through all your remaining 8 papers in SPM, you kinda get it (read: your subsequent marathons). There seem to be less panic. You think: “I can’t get out of this sh*t now, but I can only do my best. Stay calm”.¬†At the end of all the papers (I remember it was Biology paper), you cry-out-loud cause you made it through 2 weeks of hell, and screamed “Merdeka!”. You are eventually judged by your SPM results, but in a marathon, no one judges you by your results are¬†(unless your running are¬†kiasu).¬†That’s the best part of running!

You suffered like hell, but for some reason, you yearn for more even during your painful recovery. It’s like you wanna prove to Death he can’t kill you. Or dare Death to chase you.¬†Thrill.

Secret training:

So yes, my 2nd full marathon attempt: I was initially ‘misled’ by Daryl that I have to beat 6:00hrs to get the finishers tee. :p I am like “What??!” How am I going to beat my first timing by 1 freaking hour? Despite the myth of seeing me not in training (training does not equate LSDs only), I did a lot more (secret) training for my 2nd marathon – I went to gym a lot to do strength training, lifting weights to strengthen both my thighs and calfs muscles. I did push-ups and pumping like 15X6 sets each time I go to the gym (while working at UTP), and I run in burst of fastpace for 1 min for every 5 min run for a total of 45 minutes.

My¬†secret training, which many runners did not notice, took place at Bukit Jalil park, around my housing area (I went up at 300m the inclination at least 10 times making it 3km of hill training), and of course Bukit Aman’s Double hill & LSD. I needed the training, because I’ve suffered much previously and didn’t wanna repeat history for my next full marathon.

What’s different:

The same (they are both by Standard Chartered, of course):

1. 90% flat route in both KL and Singapore marathons.

3. A lot of water, sponges, food, Deep-heat sprays by volunteers. Volunteers are friendly and helpful.

4. Weather was cooling in the morning, sunny-hot after 8.30am.

5. I suffered pain on the right leg at S’pore, but left leg at KL.

6. Loyalty: Me and my baby-blue cap.

The difference:

1. Lesser marathon participants in KL, therefore, so much space and it was a breeze to run in KL. So much less crowd. Good!

2. No concrete pavements in KL (read: I hate ECP!) that badly impacts any runner’s feet.

3. Lacks the mad external supports/drums in KL. Why was it soo quiet at Jln P. Ramlee area; last year  had more cheerleaders. Nobody wan this year? Singapore Рdamn hebat with their cheerleaders.

4. Cheaper to run in KL, soooooooooo much cheaper y’all!

5. I did not cry to the finish line in KL. I was all smiles this time.

All’s still well at 36km mark. Pain is there, but bearable.

I can’t believe I beat my previous marathon time by more than an hour. Must be the secret training.

What’s the¬†real¬†difference in this 2nd marathon? Fong and I strategised to stop at every water station, to walk 100 m, before starting again. We did that and completed the race <6:00 hours mark: in 5hr47min.¬†All because we wanted to get the finisher’s tee, really! Have to thank¬†Fong for being was a good motivator <3 <3.¬†¬†Unexpectedly, there was zero pain at 30km mark this time! (maybe just tired).

**Joke of the year:

My mum thought I won 2nd¬†place in the full marathon for having a¬†silver¬†finisher’s medal.¬†