Category Archives: travel

Defying Summer Storm at Fortune Island

“Every storm that comes, also comes to an end.” – Author Unknown

Been wanting to visit Fortune Island  after seeing the beautiful pictures a friend has posted. So when the invitation came from a runner friend Reggie via a simple post online, it was perfect.   I knew I had to see the place myself.

I love to travel. As what a former mentor said to me a long time ago, “travel will teach you something beyond what you have learned in class.” What better way to explore this beautiful country of ours than by taking a trip either solo or with friends. But there are times when you are traveling solo, it’s not always a breeze to strike up a conversation with a stranger.

Soleus Team at the Parthenon-like ruins for some photo shoots (Photo by Running Jack Morales)
Soleus Team at the Parthenon-like ruins for some photo shoots (Photo by Running Jack Morales)

Good thing the invite came from a runner friend of team Soleus. Since I’ve met most (if not all) Soleus team members, I can honestly say I’ve never felt so lucky to be in the best company around.

Meet up time was early to catch the early morning ferry from a resort in Nasugbu to Fortune Island. The trip was (to most of us) a bit of a last hurrah to summer.

We took the single-day trip with a boat ride of about an hour. The waves got rougher though as we near the beach landing.  From afar, the Parthenon-like structure could be seen resting on top of a hill.  The boat would return to pick us up around four in the afternoon.  

By the time we got there, the sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. We found a good spot to pitch the tent that Mirjam brought with her and got settled for an early lunch.  Cloudless skies could mean extremely hot weather but that didn’t stop us from taking pictures of ourselves, the nice scenery, and enjoying the beach in the next three hours or so.

Is this Greece? Nope.  Taken at Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas (Photo by Running Jack Morales)
Is this Greece? Nope. Taken at Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas (Photo by Running Jack Morales)

After almost half a day of frolicking under the sun, the weather suddenly changed–from sunny to a bit cloudy.  Then it rained so heavily in the next 10 to 15 minutes that we could only hang on to each other big time! The big umbrella and the dilapidated nipa shed  were our only protection from the rains and the cold swirling winds. We’ve never prayed so hard until that fateful afternoon. When the rains somehow slowed down, one by one, off we ran quickly to the nearest structure–a vacant restroom–our only refuge. Then there was a sudden change in the wind direction. What started off as heavy rains escalated into a full-blown hail storm.  After a few minutes, the weather shifted again as if nothing happened.  

Enjoying the sun, the beach, and friendship.  (Photo by Pido Reggie)
Enjoying the sun, the beach, and friendship. (Photo by Pido Reggie)
The umbrella that saved us. Photographer Reggie held on to this for us to be shielded from the rains and winds. (Photo by Pido Reggie)
The umbrella that saved us. Photographer Reggie held on to this for us to be shielded from the rains and winds. (Photo by Pido Reggie)

The hail storm highlighted our first visit to the island.  Second-timer Inja said, “There wouldn’t be a next time for me after this.” To most of us, we were wondering and thinking, “Did it really happen?”  In the end, we were extremely grateful that neither from our group nor the visitors of the island were hurt during the storm.  We survived!

The beach after the hail storm. (Photo by Running Jack Morales)
The beach after the hail storm. (Photo by Running Jack Morales)
The ruins after.
The ruins after the hail storm.   As if nothing happened at all. (Photo by Running Jack Morales)

“Every storm that comes, also comes to an end.” If we are to compare the hardships of life (whether big or small) to a storm, all it takes is to have faith, to be strong and courageous. Defying it is one for the books!

Thank you Reggie, Janno, Inja, Running Jack, Bilson, Flordeliza, Mirjam, and Val for having me in this trip.  Till next time!

Enjoying the photo shoot led by Soleus/Running Photographers Pido Reggie and Running Jack.

Running Kota Kinabalu: the Borneo International Marathon 2012

6 May 2012 — Marathon running during the first quarter and by the end of the year, I think, is pretty achievable.  I wanted to try running a full marathon or an ultramarathon in Singapore for the past two years, but the opportunity kept eluding me.  Either the time to go there was not right or that my training wasn’t enough prior to race date.  I decided to forgo running there indefinitely. 
By coincidence, the prospect of running in Kota Kinabalu (KK), Malaysia just happened early this year.  Thanks to a colleague of mine who informed me on airfare promos. With a marathon race still in mind, I reserved a flight to KK for the Borneo International Marathon (BIM).  It was some sort of a spur-of-the-moment choice.  Marathon training for me would take four months, at the very least.   Who would have thought that Ellen, a fellow runner (and take note: a fast one, too), would say YES to my invite even on such short notice.  It sparked her interest to run the KK marathon, and voilà she reserved her ticket right away.  I was elated with this turn of events, especially, when Ellen invited Jinoe, owner of blog, to join us.   We signed up for the full marathon.  Surprisingly, we never trained together.  There were times though we bumped into each other during our weekend long runs but that was it. 
With just a few weeks left prior to travel date, in our e-mail exchanges we’re far more excited with the edits on our itinerary than discussing about the usual stuff about race preparation, training, target, etc.  I, for one, didn’t have any clear-cut goal in mind.  All I looked forward to was what KK can offer and how the race there would be conducted and organized. 
Arrival and Exploring Kota Kinabalu
Taxis are readily available at KK airport and the standard rate from the airport to the city is RM30 or MYR30 (1 Malaysian Ringgit = PHP 13.6614502 or PHP14).
We arrived in the early evening and had enough time to go directly to Suria Sabah Shopping Mall, the venue for race kit claiming.  The race staff was very accommodating and claiming our race kits turned out to be real quick.  We stayed a bit to take some photos and dined at the food court before going to our individual hotels.
Malaysia is a right-hand drive country, which means they drive on the left side of the road.  Initially, it was a bit confusing, especially, when you came from a left-hand drive country like ours.  You only needed to remind yourself how and where to properly cross the streets and eventually you’d get used to seeing cars coming from the opposite side. 
The hotel where we stayed is relatively new, modern, and strategically located within minutes to financial business centers, close to main shopping, dining, some tourist attractions that can be reached on foot, and the area is lovely to walk around.  

Across our hotel is the Sabah Tourism Board We visited this office on our last day in KK and we found out more about KK’s rich culture from the free brochures and maps on display.  Also, what a surprising delight to discover that Sabah Tourism Board is situated in KM0 (Kilometer Zero), a landmark etched outside the building. 
With the limited time and to ensure we wouldn’t be that too tired before race day, we had to pare down our visit in KK city and decided instead to take a journey of rediscovery and appreciation into the heart of Sabah history by spending the whole day of Saturday visiting two great tourist destinations, the North Borneo Railway and Sabah State Museum
We were told by the hotel staff that early booking is required prior to taking a ride in the steam train since it is always full with tourists, but nothing could damp our adventurous spirit.  We only get that one chance to do it at the time and place, so we took our chances, hailed a taxi, and went to the railway station to check whether we could still get a ride or not, and if we couldn’t, we’d just content ourselves taking some pictures as memento. 
North Borneo Railway is the oldest running steam train in Sabah and Borneo The railway train runs twice a week, Wednesday and Saturday.  Passengers board the train at Tanjung Aru passing three more towns: Putatan* (sounds familiar?), Kinarut, Kawang, and ends in Papar, an agricultural town.
*Putatan – We also have this name in Manila, Muntinlupa City, and Rizal
But for some reason, the heavens and the stars cooperated with us that day.  Once at the railway station, we were greeted and accommodated by friendly train stewards.  The ride offered us a unique and interesting experience in Sabah.  In the train, we met newfound friends and we’re treated with a free upgrade to a better seat by train stewards. It was also here where we had a photo op with the ever friendly Miss Universe Malaysia 2012, Kimberley, who joined the Borneo International Marathon 10K category.
The Sabah State Museum, just like what you would expect in a museum, showcased the history of the island.  The visit was purely an educational one, discovering the island’s rich history and age-old traditions.
Sabah is also known as The Land Below the Wind due to being below the typhoon and monsoon belt.   On Saturday morning, the sun shone brightly and hot, yet later in the afternoon and for a few hours in the evening it rained. 
Race Day
We decided to have an early night.  I wanted to go to sleep but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t fall asleep.  I think I only had a two-hour sleep before the race.  The marathon started at 3AM, one hour earlier than the previous year’s marathon, which was a good thing.  With the unexpected rains on Saturday night, early Sunday morning turned out much cooler.  
Ellen and I arrived at the venue with enough time to have some photo ops with runners including a bubbly and energetic pacer named Mohan at the starting line.   We later looked for Jinoe who happened to be just outside of the stadium busy taking pictures.  Together, we did warm up exercises and other photo ops again with some participants. 
Personal record or PR was far from my mind.   All I wanted was to see KK on foot, finish within the cut off time, and just enjoy this run that I even brought my camera, which I never did in any race.   Running at a comfortable pace at the start of the race, I decided to follow the 5:30 group from start up to KM28.
We were running through streets getting loud cheers and encouragement from the marshals themselves.  Our pace group, though silent most the time, acknowledged the cheers by clapping our hands at them.   The course was relatively flat with some slight downhill and uphill stretches.  I’ve learned that the route and start time were changed this year.  From Likas Stadium, we were running the wide road that runs along the beach and bordered by bushes, flowers, and trees; on our right the sea, on our left the trees.   Except for the thudding sound of heavy feet on the ground, silence was broken occasionally by frogs that sounded like cows mooing.  Hydration was not a problem, but I wished the organizer provided a hydration station much nearer the turnaround point instead of the standard three-kilometer distance since it was kind of hard not to drink something after eating a banana.   I dropped from the group to be on my own when I started to feel heaviness on my legs and this uncomfortable feeling of being scratched by something on my right side thigh. I had no idea that the right side of my thigh started chafing after KM27 and the continuous chafing already led to an open wound.  Really weird since this never happened before.  I usually put an anti-chafing jelly on areas prone to chafing.  The real culprit, I’ve found out later, was my camera which I placed in the inside pocket of my running skort (skirt + short = skort).  I think the camera’s weight plus the sweat caused the fabric to rub heavily on my skin.
After the turnaround point, I think I was already running at KM34 when I could no longer bear the pain that I stopped as soon as I saw some medics and asked for Petroleum jelly, but found out this wasn’t available.  The lady medic, however, offered a spray-on formula and when she sprayed it on my wound; I couldn’t help but yowl in pain.  It gave me temporary relief though, which made me run again.  I overtook quite a number of runners but I slowed down when I saw a very tired runner.  I asked if he were OK, chatted with him, and paced him to just rev him up.  Eventually, I had to leave him when he stopped running to check a friend who suffered a leg pain.  Good thing a medic was with them. 
I was about to run past two runners when I realized I knew one of them and decided to pace with them.  We even stopped at the marker with “6 KMs to FINISH” written on it.  Running and exchanging running stories with them made this marathon more enjoyable.  In spite of the sweltering hot summer day, the run-walk strategy got the better of us and made us reach the finish line together.   We congratulated ourselves and hugged each other at the finish line.  What a way to finish! 

Congratulations to the organizer of this race and to all sponsors for making BlM 2012 a successful one.  Kudos to all the cheerers and volunteers as well!  Thank you also to BIM Secretariat Arjie and Jeff for facilitating my request on name entry correction during the registration process.  
Post Race and Departure
After receiving our finisher’s medal and finisher’s shirt, we proceeded to the activity area where runners can get some freebies like a glass of water to drink and a cup of cereal with milk. 
And to our delight and surprise, Ellen’s name was announced.  She won in her category!  Jinoe and I beamed with pride and saw to it that a picture is taken when Ellen received her award.  Jinoe went near the stage faster than I was.  I couldn’t move well because of leg wound.  We didn’t stay long and decided to go back to our respective hotels to rest and meet up later in the afternoon.  We had our late sumptuous lunch at Little Italy, a pasta and pizza corner, and toured afterwards nearby tourist attractions like the Atkinson Clock Tower, and Signal Hill Observatory.  We also walked our way to Jesselton Point ferry terminal to find out if we can still visit either Mamutik or Manukan islands, but with the limited time we had, we couldn’t risk being late from our flight the next day, and decided to go there next time.  We had a light dinner at the Waterfront, a place where lively strips of restaurants near the marina overlooking South China Sea.

I still had an early breakfast the next day at a café across the hotel.  We spent the remaining time before departure strolling around town.
My visit and race in KK will always be treasured.  If given the chance, I would definitely come back to explore the rest of the old town and take a seat at a café or along one of the beaches. 

[Related: Borneo International Marathon guide and race recap]

Macau Marathon: An Unfinished Business

Fast Forward … KM 35

I knew I didn’t have much time after glancing at my Garmin FR 305. So when the Chinese speaking race official raised both his hands signaling me to stop, I was not surprised at all. There was no way I could beat the cut off time even if I attempted to sprint the remaining seven kilometers.  Continuing the run would be futile.  In my mind I silently said, “Oh my this is my first time not to finish a race.” Had I continued to run, at the rate I was going, I would have finished it in approximately 5:10 hours or 5:12 hours.  But still a way, way past the cut off time.

Minutes have gone by before I saw runners approaching to where I was stopped.   Just like me they were also asked to stop.   I only had a few minutes for some pleasantries with these two runners, one an American and the other one a Chinese lady, just before our ride arrived.  Inside the van are race marshals as well as participants who dropped from the race. Glancing around, I noticed that we are one international community in the van.  The marshals then gave each runner a bottle of water, a banana, and a bar of chocolate.

As our ride traversed the bridge, I could see some runners trudging their way, still a few kilometers, to the finish line.  Our van even stopped to let two tired runners to hop in but these runners refused the ride and stubbornly continued to run.   Farther down the bridge, I could still see some of the remaining fast runners who, to my estimate, have greater chances of finishing within the cut off time.  

I arrived at the stadium looking for my bag that I deposited earlier.   It took some time before I get to see my friends.  Thanks to Ellen aka Kelcy, a half marathon finisher, who was outside the stadium looking for me.   True to her word, she did come back to supposedly meet me along the route and planned to pace with me up to the finish line had I made it within the cut off time.  Too bad we didn’t get to meet as agreed.  That was really nice of Ellen.   

What Happened Before Signing Up for this Race?

To run a marathon at the end of the year was never part of my plan.  I just wanted to really rest from racing after finishing the Bataan Death March 102KM Ultramarathon.  Ellen who asked me to join them in this trip sometime in February was really convincing that I should run Macau International Marathon.  It was difficult at first to decide what distance I should participate. But the idea of seeing Macau on foot while running was kind of tempting.  I saw the marathon as my R & R, a relaxation, and racing was only secondary.  When the online registration opened in September, I registered for the full marathon.  

I was half-hearted about the whole thing.   I was preoccupied with things including the death anniversary of my mother.  Yes, it has been only a year since my mother passed away.  The month of December reminds me of our loss as well as not being able to do my half marathon pacer duty last year at the 2nd Quezon City International Marathon. 

With the inclement weather during the last quarter of the year, it also impeded my training days.  I didn’t get to train as hard as before.  I was a slacker.  I only did serious training runs two months before this race.   

I also didn’t get enough sleep or couldn’t get a good night sleep, especially, prior to the race.  Exhausted yet couldn’t sleep.

Race Day

Group Photo of Runners Before the Race at the Hotel Lobby 

Reality hit me right smack on my face when I saw the kind of runners they had at the starting line.  I never was nervous like this than in the previous big races I participated in.  Watching the participants doing their warm up exercises, to me, these are not just regular runners.  These are runners who are really ready to RACE.  

The minimum weather temperature dropped by 1 degree Celsius making it as low as 13 degrees Celsius as we were doing our warmup exercises at the stadium.  And it gradually improved to temperature that I’m comfortable with at between 17-18 degrees Celsius later that day. 

KM 28-29

The Sai Van Bridge (Portuguese: Ponte de Sai Van) is a cable-stayed bridge which features a double-deck design and measures 2.2 kilometers.  Since the marathon takes on two loops, it means one has to cross the sloping bridge four times.  During the second loop and on my second ascent to the bridge, I felt heaviness in my legs.  As I reached the lower part of the second slope (1440m high) of the bridge, I could no longer move my legs.  I had a major spasm in my quadriceps muscle.  The fist-like muscle on both my thighs hindered any movement and it was painful.  I also noticed stiffness in my arms and shoulders because of the cold weather.  Since there was no one to help me, I stopped and massage it myself.  I only started to run again during the descent maintaining a slower pace.    Eventually went back to my race pace up to KM 35.  

Picturesque Sai Van Bridge at Night

KM 1-10 

I attempted a kidney break but I didn’t get to do it.  There was a long line when I reached one of the portable toilets along the route.  I had no recourse but to run so as not to waste time.  It was an uncomfortable run for me the whole time.   It was only during the second loop that I was able to do my kidney break.  What a relief!  

More portalets be added along the route is highly recommended. 

Of Sportsmanship, Friendship, and Lessons Learned

There you go.  You’ve read my noble excuses explaining why I didn’t get to finish.  

I have run the race by its rules.  That’s part of sportsmanship.  Win or lose (or not being able to finish), it is all part of sportsmanship.  Sportsmanship or  the “golden rule” in sports and competition means handling both victory and defeat graciously and taking it all in stride by playing fair, following the rules of the game, respecting the officials, and treating fellow participants with respect.  Although it’s great to be a winner, to me, it’s better to have enjoyed the process of trying to reach the goal while having fun.

I was happy with my first marathon outside the country and quite satisfied with my performance.  I congratulated myself for reaching up to KM 35 with no injury other than the cramps that happened during the initial stage of the race.  It’s not easy to admit I lose this time, but in competition or race—as in life—one may not always win (or get to the finish line) but one can learn something from losing, too. 

This is just a race.  This is just a game.  There are still so many marathon races out there.  In fact, I’m looking forward to running the Macau International Marathon next year, God willing, as I still have an unfinished business with that Sai Van Bridge.  

I will work hard again to bring my groove back in running so that I could finish this marathon next time.  

I congratulate my companions and fellow runners for finishing their half marathon (2:30) and full marathon (5:00) races within the prescribed time. 
If you really want to have a PR or a good competition for your full marathon, I recommend you to try running Macau Galaxy Entertainment International Marathon instead.   

Was the trip worth it?  

Of course! I couldn’t ask for more.  I had a great time touring Macau.  So many things to explore, so little time.

Ruins of St. Paul’s, a World Heritage Site

At the Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre

One of the Streets at the Senado Square, a World Heritage Site

Was it expensive?  

Very reasonable expenses as long as you travel within your budget.  Airfare is more expensive if I travel to my home city than to travel outside the country.  

Travel tips: Be on the lookout for seat sale and promos.  Register early to avail of the early bird registration fees.  Book your accommodations at a reputable backpacker’s hotel. Prepare your own itinerary.  Do your own readings about Macau’s history and research must see places in Macau to make your stay worthwhile.  

From the Bottom of My Heart

Many thanks to Charina Puno, Deputy Marketing Manager, Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO)-Philippines for inviting us at the Finisher’s Party hosted by MGTO-Japan, MGTO-Taiwan, and MGTO-Philippines held at the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Centre.

As Guests of MGTO-Philippines at the Finisher’s Party

A Group Photo with MGTO-Japan During the Finisher’s Party 
Thanks also to Run Rio, Inc. in partnership with MGTO-Philippines for inviting me during the Bloggers Night held last October 20 in Makati City.  The brochures, maps, and guidebook the MGTO Team Philippines gave us were of great help during our visit in Macau.  

A big thank you to Carlo S. aka Drum and Run, Carina aka Flying Boar, and Dhenz aka Running Pinoy for the photos and great shots.  I say the same to my companions—Tere aka El Capitana, Rico aka By Sheer Will, Carina, Marga aka Margalicious, Raff, Ellen, Tracy aka Digital Dash, Carlo, and Dhenz —for having me in this trip.  

I thank Coach John Lozada for providing me training assignments and for supporting me all the time—win or lose.

Until next time! 

A Cool Respite

After doing a lot of running and racing lately, which culminated during the QCIM race, a good break was all I needed, away from the bustle of city life to commune with nature. How lucky our group was, the Fishers of Men Choir, to get a pretty good package to Coron, Palawan. Airfare was availed six months ago when Cebu Pacific offered its famous 1-peso seat sale. For roundtrip ticket, each only spent more or less a thousand pesos. Super cheap!

Travel time to Busuanga took only an hour and a half minutes flight from Manila. From the airport in Busuanga, we were met by an airline ground service representative and a van going to Coron town which is 28 kilometers (hhhmm .. not bad for a practice run, eh?) and about 45 minutes by road.

When choirmate, Gladys (alto), recommended this place to the group for my first trip to Palawan, I didn’t know what to expect. As soon as we hit the town, we had a tasty Filipino lunch and an hour later boarded a pump boat. And the adventure began.

The sky went dark a bit with heavy rains looming ahead then it started to rain heavily while we were in the middle of the sea. Good thing the water was not choppy. Since it was a bit windy, all of us had to huddle in the center of the boat. We arrived safely after an hour to Majika Island Resort.

We arrived a little bit late in the afternoon and spent a good time enjoying the sea with the help of our boatman guide. We learned how to paddle a smaller boat that afternoon. With choirmate, Lito (tenor).

On our second day, we first went to Maynuno Beach, a delightful mixture of white sand beach and limestone cliffs where we took some photos and practiced throwing a disc.

It was on our way back to the boat when the boatman caught a puffer fish. We watched in awe when it grew so big. Of course, we had to put it back to where it should be. Our next stop was at the Twin Lagoon nestled in the largest limestone formation where we had a great time swimming.

The Twin Lagoon is divided by limestone wall and is connected by a narrow passage. The inner lagoon is only visible and can be easily accessed during low tide. One has to swim or dive to get to the inner lagoon during high tide.

The outer lagoon has a number of sea urchins but it was while swimming in the inner lagoon where I got stung by a sea urchin. It was painful but after a few minutes it was gone. (Oh well, Gladys had to pee on the affected part of my foot to lessen the pain). Way to go Fishers!

Swimming through the inner lagoon was like moving into another world. You would be met by a deafening silence. The water was so calm, and blue, there were lots of trees which added color to the environment. It was so relaxing to just float and enjoy the scene. The high cliffs and crystal clear water were amazingly beautiful. Indeed, an awesome experience!

We had our lunch at Kayangan Coron where we had another taste of paradise. Kayangan lake is considered the cleanest lake of the Philippines and in Asia. It is managed and protected by the natives of the island called Tagbanuans. You can see the bottom as far as 15 to 20 ft. deep! A fresh water lake hidden behind limestone rocks amidst small mountains. It is where I saw a school of small swordfish and shrimps. You can reach the lake by taking 125 steps of stairs going up and see a panoramic view of the sea below then you need to go down by taking another 192 steps to see it. For runners, it will just be a short hike. We spent some time swimming, rafting, and exploring. Here with choirmate, Tristan (bass).

After a tiring day of swimming and snorkeling, we headed back to the resort where we were served by the staff with great meals. We had a lot of seafood, all of which were locally caught as well as rice, fried danggit, eggs, pasta, and veggies.

Our third day included swimming, snorkeling, looking down at fishes, corals, sunken Japanese ships from WWII, a trip to a hot spring hidden behind mangrove trees, and a hike to the top of the island for a panoramic view of the island.

Photo 1 ~ On second day, Rodel, the boatman, had to use the smaller boat to be transport us to the bigger boat as it was usually low tide in the morning. We saw a starfish as big as my disc. Of course, we had to put it back to the sea.

Photo 2 ~ The altos Gladys, Joyce, and Decee with Running Diva as the lone soprano.

Photo 3 ~ One of our wacky poses before leaving the island. From L to R are Fishers Christian (tenor), Running Diva, Gladys, Lito, Joyce, Decee, and Tristan.

Photo 4 ~ That was me running for the boat ride. Going up the hill and running this very short distance were my only mileage during my stay in the island.

Photo 5 ~ The last photo taken with our tour guide, Lanie and boatmen, Rodel and Aljun. These boatmen are excellent divers and swimmers.

Our rooms were simple, comfortable, and clean. The bathroom was big enough and the spring water and the shower were welcome amenities after a day out in the ocean. At night we were greeted by some fireflies. We also enjoyed other amenities such as table tennis, billiards, and of course, the videoke. The resort is powered only by a generator. Though we only had fans at night, our stay was still comfortable. There was no Internet, you only got a bar of signal for your mobile phone, no telephone, and no TV. For groceries, you need to take a boat ride to go to the town to buy your stuff.

Throughout our stay, the kitchen staff and boatmen, Aljun and Rodel, treated us like family. They became our friends during our short stay in the island. I would definitely go back in the future and may be for a longer stay.

(Photos Courtesy of Joyce, Gladys, Christian and Decee)

Winter WonderRUN, 14 Dec. 2008

It was 6AM and yet it looked like 5AM back home. I shivered against the cold as I went out of the hotel. This was my first winter practice run. My route would be from my hotel to Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare in Kowloon, Hong Kong to Victoria Harbour.

The harbour is simply the stretch of water that is located between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. Sprawling over an area of about more than 42 square kilometers, the Victoria Harbour is one of the world’s busiest ports, and has now become one of the most sought after tourist spots in Hong Kong, with its breathtaking views, excellent transportation network, bustling sea port, and more than a century old ferry services.

I was a bit scared but I banished the thought from my mind and concentrated instead with my pacing. I saw some young people on their way home after partying perhaps. Finally… A sight to behold! Ahead of me, was a guy doing his early morning run. An hour later, I finally saw more runners along the avenue. There was also a group of old people doing Tai-ichi, and tourists taking some pictures. Running along the harbour would also mean running along the Avenue of Stars and discovering Hollywood in Hong Kong. For one who grew up watching Chinese kung fu films, this run was awesome! A two-hour and a half practice run made my day!

Last night was a blast, too! I watched the Symphony of Lights, a light and laser show in which building found on either sides of the harbor are incredibly illuminated. The charm and beauty of the harbor was double-folded during night.

My first trip to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without the night market shopping along Temple Street, taking a ride on a double-decker bus, MTR and the Peak Tram at Victoria Peak, going to Disneyland, seeing their tallest Christmas tree and most of all, visiting Hong Kong’s financial district. To top it off, I visited one of their information centers.

Who would have thought that 2008 would end up with a travel to Hong Kong? Life, really, is full of surprises!

So many things left to be discovered yet not enough time.

But like the famous catch phrase by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s title character from the 1984 science fiction thriller film, Terminator,

“I’ll be back!”