Posts

Koh Chang “kick ass” trip (Feb 2016)

2016-02-04
  • Learnt at the check in counter that we actually had a business class ticket to Bangkok and not a cattle class ticket. I don’t know how that happened because I could have sworn we clicked on “Economy”. HKD 4013 for a return business class ticket from Hong Kong to Bangkok
Stylist business class travel

Stylist business class travel

  • Strategically and immediately made use of the business class boarding facilities including the business class lounge (might as well! Who knows when the heck I may fly business again!)
  • Saw Hannes’ Thailand Arrival immigration card where he had marked “Toilet Cleaner” as his occupation. He told me that he had been marking “Toilet Cleaner” as his occupation on immigration cards for 25 years! (No, he’s not a toilet cleaner in real life although I guess he does clean his own toilet). Apparently, it was just “Cleaner” first until the immigration officers in the Philippines questioned him. Then he thoughtfully prefixed that very accurate description with the word “Toilet” to make it “Toilet Cleaner” to give it full meaning. The immigration authorities in the Philippines were then placated
"Toilet Cleaner" marked as occupation

“Toilet Cleaner” marked as occupation on Hannes’ form

  • Buses to Koh Chang were full. After much haggling, we got an airport taxi for 4,700 Bahts. Some weird looking guy who looked like a pimp carried my luggage (without asking me) to the taxi and spontaneously asked for a tip. I told him I didn’t have any change and offered him the few coins I did have. He scoffed at me, I think he even swore at me, and off we went!
  • Took a ferry from the pier to Koh Chang after the four hour car ride. Ferry took less than 30 minutes to get to Koh Chang. First impressions: crowded, commercial and busy. It took a while to find our hotel “Magic House” which had an “ok” look to it on the outside. White Sand Beach, the beach we went to for dinner, was only a 10-minute walk away
On the Ferry to Koh Chang

On the Ferry to Koh Chang

Welcome to Koh CHang

Welcome to Koh CHang

Beach was 5 mins away from "Magic House"

Beach was 5 mins away from “Magic House”

  • After a sumptuous dinner by the beach, it was time to retire for the day
  • In the room at Magic House, during the night it felt like there was indeed some magic happening – black magic! I thought we had some sort of ghost rattling all the windows and doors. It felt like we were somehow in the midst of a severe storm. I barely slept because I felt like the shaking windows would come crashing down in shards of glass. The next day morning, after some examination of the premises with little sleep, we discovered that it was just the power of the wind in a tropical place combined with some shoddy construction work at not-so-magic house.
View from Magic House

View from Magic House

View from Magic House

View from Magic House

Selfie on the beach

Selfie on the beach

2016-02-05
  • The French host at “Magic House” (our humble abode which had nothing magical about it), made us some croissants in the morning. Hannes, who lives around a French neighborhood back in Hong Kong felt like he was at home. He even started to show off some of his French language skills
  • Got three scooters for 600 Bahts in total and went on a 110km trip around the island
Saw this bee on the elephant rock

Saw this bee on the elephant rock

Scooting away Exploring island on scooter

  • Riding about 20km away, we saw the scenery transition from being that of a busy, chaotic little city to that of a clean and green island. It was perfect for the soul and a “chillaxing” experience!
  • Later, we went to another white sand beach, I think it was cold Long Beach, where we had a filling lunch (I did most of the eating!)
This is what rubber feels like after a while

This is what rubber feels like after a while

Rubber Plantation

Rubber Plantation

One of many beaches

One of many beaches

  • Then we went past a temple that supposedly cost 18M Bahts to build. There was a 20 Baht entrance fee but I decided to have a buko (coconut) for that price instead. Had two in fact!

One of many bukos

18M temple

18M temple

  • I wanted to try my hands at firing some weapons in a shooting range we rode past but then, once we got there, it just felt wrong to shoot! (Yes, harmless I know but still!) I saw the guns again and the price tag to fire them. Something like 2000 Bahts for firing 16 rounds on a M4. I decided against it. I think it was because it felt like I was indulging in the art of needless destruction. Or maybe I was overthinking it. (What do you think?) I’m not sure I would have fired those things even if it was free. But wait, whom am I kidding! Had it been free I’d probably have had a crack at it! But I would have probably regretted it soon after, so it was just as well I decided against it!
  • There were two other beaches we drove past before refilling the scooter with more petrol and riding down two the end of the island
  • Got some glorious sunset views on the way back and by the time we returned to our “Magic House”, it was close to 6.30pm which meant it was time to end the day with some good food and beer.
  • I’ve got to say – the number of European tourists in Thailand is a pretty staggering number. In fact, the first currency I saw in the Money Changers was always Russian Rubble to Bahts!
  • History repeated itself during the night and the rattling of the windows and doors meant little sleep. The power of the wind was simply incredible. To add to the cacophony of noises, the asbestos roof of the structure opposite to us was vibrating like a tuning fork which meant even more noise and even less sleep than the previous night!
Gorgeous sunset

Gorgeous sunset

2016-02-06
  • We joined a 700B / pp snorkeling trip which involved being picked up at 8am from Magic House with the intention of taking a boat ride to four different neighboring islands for snorkeling
  • It was 9.20am before someone showed up to pick us up. We were then driven to a pier about 25km away where we boarded a rather crowded boat
Rather crowded snorkeling boat

Rather crowded snorkeling boat

Beautiful island en route

Beautiful island en route

Getting ready to snorkel

Getting ready to snorkel

  • The blue skies and soothing waters soon set the stage for a day out in the serenity of the sea
  • In one of the islands, I stepped on a “sea hedgehog” which was a rather prickly experience. Later on, I had to remove two needles from my foot. (Luckily there were only two). Back on the boat, I observed the foot of another lady who had more needles periced on the base of our foot than I could count! Nasty things those sea hedgehogs
Small fish to fry

Small fish to fry

Big fish to fry

Big fish to fry

Not sure what you call them but I had two needles stuck in my feet because of them

Not sure what you call them but I had two needles stuck in my feet because of them

Coral Reef

Coral Reef

  • After retuning home to Magic House at a about 7pm, it was time for yet another Thai food eating marathon and some live music plus beers for dessert
  • The wind returned in full vigor during the night as though it had been given some sort of a steroid boost. The upper floor of Magic House shook every time the wind swept through. It felt like a typhoon 10. With every fierce swoosh of the wind, it felt like a jumbo jet was passing overhead. Reminded me of a Batman quote: “what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” Answer: probably a crumbling Magic House because its questionable construction work hardly makes it immovable. We had to rely on its magic to stay in one piece
2016-02-07
  • After putting countless amount of calories in the body, today it was finally time for some exercise
  • With Dom leading the way on a hiking route he found on Strava, we were on our way on our 20km hike. An old village lady came outside to charge us money for a public trail. When we refused to pay, she threw stones at us but we carried along as though nothing had happened
Impolite Driver complaint

Impolite Driver complaint

Not Waterfalls but Water Fulls

Not Waterfalls but Water Fulls

Tall beautiful canopy

Tall beautiful canopy

Some sort of grinding gizmo en route

Some sort of grinding gizmo en route

Dry mushroom

Dry mushroom

Hannes' team

Hannes’ team

  • Hannes got a quick team together (three stray dogs who seemed to totally love him). They followed us all the way and stood guard at every junction of the trail
  • At some point, we couldn’t find the trail anymore and had to turn back. On the way back, we somehow seemed to bypass the old lady and escaped being hit by stones again
  • After another great meal, we put on our engineering hats to try and fix the Magic House window. We struck many pieces of cardboard in the gap between the window frame and the window. The wind speed also dropped. Meaning, there was finally some “magic” 8-hour sleep!
2016-02-08
  • More exercise was needed after consuming way more calories than we were expending. So, today it was time for some mountain biking
  • We got three mountain bikes at a place around 4km away from Magic House. The shopkeeper’s neighbor was an Indian guy who spoke fluent Thai. While waiting for our bikes, I indulged in two more coconuts. I was boasting off my ability to speak Thai by using what I thought was the equivalent for coconut in Thai, “buko”. Later, after many confused stares and an embarrassing reminder of those stares by Dom, I realized that “buko” is the Philippines word for coconut, not Thai
  • We did 77km on the bike in about 6 hours (including lunch). There were some mammoth hills on the way where I was forced to push the bike up the hill whereas Hannes and Dom were like fish in water
Going Biking

Going Biking

Hannes and Dom trying Jinhwa's Frog Stretch

Hannes and Dom trying Jinhwa’s Frog Stretch

Coconut drinking marathon

Coconut drinking marathon

Beautiful scenery en route

Beautiful scenery en route

Beautiful scenery en route

Beautiful scenery en route

Red flowers at our lunch place

Red flowers at our lunch place

The lunch place

The lunch place

Saw this quote on a book

Saw this quote on a book

Temple decoration

Temple decoration

  • As usual, the evening concluded with food plus drinks and the night was relatively noise-free as the wind stopped its onslaught. However, the noise from roosters, construction guys, dogs and occasional traffic took its place
2016-02-09
  • It was time to see the crocodile and snake show before departing for Hong Kong. Hannes and Dom reminded me that it would likely be a disappointment – more of a freak show than an educational experience. We decided to go anyway (largely me)
Snake and Crocodile show

Snake and Crocodile show

  • And, what a freak show that was! Some guy brought out a cobra, a python and a coconut snake and started irritating them. Every time the annoyed snake would strike back in defense, he’d exaggerate the effect by making an alarmed sound. He then brought the snake to the audience (a grand total of 6 of us) and it was our turn to touch the snakes. I passed despite plenty of prodding and “no bite” protests from the guy. Just felt uneasy with the snakes. The crocodiles were then given a similar treatment. He used a bamboo stick to pry open their mouths and got them snapping their jaws shut quickly to create a hollow noise. He then prayed (the music changed appropriately – all port of the show) and then put his finger / hand and also part of his head into the jaws of the crocodile. What a freak show that was! Oh, by the way, when he was demonstrating the Burmese python to the 6 of us, it peed and pooped on him. Some whitish colored feces oozed out of the snake and dropped on the ground. Pretty disgusting to watch! It wasn’t really worth the 900B we paid for it just to watch the animals being disturbed
The finale - the guy prayed and kissed the croc

The finale – the guy prayed and kissed the croc

Putting his finger in the snake's mouth

Putting his finger in the snake’s mouth

Dom holding young croc

Dom holding young croc

There was this iguana in the cage

There was this iguana in the cage

This python pooed on him

This python pooed on him

Dom showing off his snake skills

Dom showing off his snake skills

Poking the snake to get it to bite

Poking the snake to get it to bite

Prodding the croc

Prodding the croc

Croc watched the show too

Croc watched the show too

  • After the snake and croc show, we made our 6 hour journey to Bangkok airport
2016-02-10
  • We arrived in style and it was now time to depart in style, by business class, back to Hong Kong
Summary: 
Thailand is quite a place. The pace of life drops, the warmth of the sunshine is soothing and the beaches are inviting. The people are largely happy, friendly and polite. (You get weird ones too but that’s outside the scope of this blog!) We had two “cold” days – about 17 degrees but other than that, it was the typical palm tree tropical weather. I’d give Koh Chang a 6/10. Although it had its pristine parts, it was also congested and full of tourists. Cat Ba in Vietnam gets a higher score from me as far as places go.
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#HKTRP #38 – Conversation with Jeremy Ritcey – Part 1/2

Part 1/2: This podcast will profile runner Jeremy Ritcey, one of Hong Kong’s most prolific and elite trail runners. We will attempt to paint a picture of what lead him to start trail running and how he managed to become one of the top runners in Hong Kong.

Show Notes:
  • Who’s Jeremy Ritcey?
  • Intro – Started hiking/running
  • What is his day job?
Trivia for Jeremy:
  • What is Jeremy’s favorite trail in Hong Kong and why?
  • What in Jeremy’s view is his best accomplishment in the field of running
  • In his running career, has he had any mentors? Who has had the most influence on him?
  • Does Jeremy have role models in the field of running? Who are they and why?
Questions for Jeremy:
  • Humble beginnings: where it all started
  • Road running/trail running philosophy and why he does it. When did he start doing it?
  • Does he have any unforgettable experiences in the course of trail running and racing? Something or someone that has shaped him and his thoughts?
Jeremy’s Accomplishments (We are going to limit our discussion to three Ultras):
  • Came 2nd in the Canadian Death Race (125km): 2012
  • 2nd OTW team in 2012 – with Samir Tamang and Ram Khatr and Michael Maddess beaten by Solomon France by 4 minutes
  • 4th in HK100 2011
  • Walk us through the top 3 races, the preparation, the training, the nutrition
  • What was it like?
  • Walk us through the journey. What was it like? You slept during the race. What happened? Did you want to stop?
  • Did he put a lot of pressure on himself to complete? What was the “outside” pressure like on him?
  • What were the up and down moments of this race? Describe the race to us and what more impressed you about the race
Training: (physical)
  • How often does he train and how? Does he have a routine?
  • Has his training resulted in injuries and if so how does he deal with them?
  • How competitive is Jeremy? How important is it to him to best himself? Would he risk injuries in order to achieve certain goals?
  • What’s his philosophy on team runs like the OTW? Would he push his team to do better or would they do it “just for fun” ?
  • Does Jeremy take any painkillers during runs? What’s his philosophy on that? What’s been his most painful run?
  • How does he balance his family time vs running / training? How supporting is his family?
  • Talk to us about injuries, what he learnt from it. Does he believe in the needle guy?
Training (mental)
  • How does he do such long distances during painful moments? What’s been his most painful mental moment?
  • What is his philosophy on pain? When does he know when to persist and when not to?
  • What does he tell himself mentally when he has to persist through pain and continue to the finish line?
  • During long distance runs, does he listen to music? How do you maintain your focus?
  • Is he scared that someday he might not be able to defend his top spots?
  • Is he scared he will even run out of challenges?
  • Is he scared he will someday lose his passion for running? What keeps him passionate about running?
  • When he is running, does he view competition as targets he has to overtake? Are there people he wants to overtake and be ahead of?
  • What are his downtimes in running? When he didn’t want to run and felt miserable?
Nutrition / Gear strategy:
  • How does he do his long runs? Is his cold weather strategy significantly different from his hot weather strategy?
  • Does he swear by certain gear?
Philosophies:
  • Does he believe in taking medicines? If so, when and how? Has he taken medicines before during a race in order to finish the race?
  • What does he think about DNF-ing?
Personality:
  • If he could not run, what else would he do?
  • Does he have any strategies for mental training?
Goals:
  • As far as running is concerned what are his goals for 2016?
  • Has he even thought of attempting the Grand Slam (either HK or USA) or doing the 4 Trails?
Advice:
  • For beginners getting into 100km+ running, what kind of advice does he have?
  • How can someone who has plateaued develop themselves further? How do you get from becoming a good trail runner to a great trail runner?
Parting words of wisdom:
  • #1 key to success in running that can be applicable to life
  • What is the creed he lives by?

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

4Trails

#HKTRP #37 – Conversation with the Four Trails Survivors

Summary:

Today on the podcast, we have the survivors of the 2016th edition of Andre’s 4 Trails Ultra Challenge. Just to ensure that we leave no runner behind, let me remind you of what Andre’s challenge is about. One needs to complete the 4 trails of Hong Kong (Maclehose, Wilson, HK Trail and Lantau Trail) in reverse order within 60 hours. Finishers are those who have successfully done this (we have none) and survivors are those who have managed to survive the 4 trails but took longer than 60 hours. 11 survived in 2016 and we have 4 of them today on the podcast.
Tom Robertshaw survived this this year in 60 hours and 38 minutes. The famous John Ellis did 63 hours and 47 minutes. Mark Green took 73 hours hours, 43 minutes and Jeri, the first female survivor took 77 hours and 10 minutes.
To talk more about this and to co-host today’s podcast, we have with us the very founder of the 4 trails challenge, Mr. Andre Blumberg

Before the challenge:
  • A bit of an intro. How long they’ve been running for and why did they want to do the 4 Trails Ultra Challenge?
  • When did they decide they wanted to do it?
  • How did they prepare for it?
  • What were they hoping to get out of it? Why do it?
  • What was the pressure on them like on the start line?
During the challenge:
  • Each one’s experience
  • How they felt about the whole adventure
  • What about not making the 60 hour cutoff? What was that like?
  • Talk about preparation (food/water)
  • Talk about chaffing / hallucination
  • Did they do power naps?
  • Talk about strategy
  • Talk about up and down moments
  • Talk about most difficult / happiest moment
  • What was the postbox kiss like?
Analysis:
  • Where could they make up time?
  • How did they recover?
  • What what they do differently next time around?
  • Will they do it again?
  • How much of a difference did the public support make?
  • How long does the high of the accomplishment last?

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

IMG_4244

#HKTRP #36 – Discussing our 2015 Oxfam Trailwalker experience

Summary:

Jeremy, Valerie, Michael and I did the Trailwalker in 2015 in 14 hours and 18 minutes. We came first in the Mixed Team category. In this podcast, we will talk about our journey through the Trailwalker.


We will cover these topics:
  • How the team was formed
  • What the pressure was like on us
Preparation:
  • What is takes to do a Sub 15 OTW
  • Preparation (physical / mental)
  • Support (Static / Mules)
  • Defining the team goal
The event:
  • Before the race
  • Stages 1-10
  • How did we feel at the finish?

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

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Koh Chang “kick ass” trip (Feb 2016)

2016-02-04
  • Learnt at the check in counter that we actually had a business class ticket to Bangkok and not a cattle class ticket. I don’t know how that happened because I could have sworn we clicked on “Economy”. HKD 4013 for a return business class ticket from Hong Kong to Bangkok
Stylist business class travel

Stylist business class travel

  • Strategically and immediately made use of the business class boarding facilities including the business class lounge (might as well! Who knows when the heck I may fly business again!)
  • Saw Hannes’ Thailand Arrival immigration card where he had marked “Toilet Cleaner” as his occupation. He told me that he had been marking “Toilet Cleaner” as his occupation on immigration cards for 25 years! (No, he’s not a toilet cleaner in real life although I guess he does clean his own toilet). Apparently, it was just “Cleaner” first until the immigration officers in the Philippines questioned him. Then he thoughtfully prefixed that very accurate description with the word “Toilet” to make it “Toilet Cleaner” to give it full meaning. The immigration authorities in the Philippines were then placated
"Toilet Cleaner" marked as occupation

“Toilet Cleaner” marked as occupation on Hannes’ form

  • Buses to Koh Chang were full. After much haggling, we got an airport taxi for 4,700 Bahts. Some weird looking guy who looked like a pimp carried my luggage (without asking me) to the taxi and spontaneously asked for a tip. I told him I didn’t have any change and offered him the few coins I did have. He scoffed at me, I think he even swore at me, and off we went!
  • Took a ferry from the pier to Koh Chang after the four hour car ride. Ferry took less than 30 minutes to get to Koh Chang. First impressions: crowded, commercial and busy. It took a while to find our hotel “Magic House” which had an “ok” look to it on the outside. White Sand Beach, the beach we went to for dinner, was only a 10-minute walk away
On the Ferry to Koh Chang

On the Ferry to Koh Chang

Welcome to Koh CHang

Welcome to Koh CHang

Beach was 5 mins away from "Magic House"

Beach was 5 mins away from “Magic House”

  • After a sumptuous dinner by the beach, it was time to retire for the day
  • In the room at Magic House, during the night it felt like there was indeed some magic happening – black magic! I thought we had some sort of ghost rattling all the windows and doors. It felt like we were somehow in the midst of a severe storm. I barely slept because I felt like the shaking windows would come crashing down in shards of glass. The next day morning, after some examination of the premises with little sleep, we discovered that it was just the power of the wind in a tropical place combined with some shoddy construction work at not-so-magic house.
View from Magic House

View from Magic House

View from Magic House

View from Magic House

Selfie on the beach

Selfie on the beach

2016-02-05
  • The French host at “Magic House” (our humble abode which had nothing magical about it), made us some croissants in the morning. Hannes, who lives around a French neighborhood back in Hong Kong felt like he was at home. He even started to show off some of his French language skills
  • Got three scooters for 600 Bahts in total and went on a 110km trip around the island
Saw this bee on the elephant rock

Saw this bee on the elephant rock

Scooting away Exploring island on scooter

  • Riding about 20km away, we saw the scenery transition from being that of a busy, chaotic little city to that of a clean and green island. It was perfect for the soul and a “chillaxing” experience!
  • Later, we went to another white sand beach, I think it was cold Long Beach, where we had a filling lunch (I did most of the eating!)
This is what rubber feels like after a while

This is what rubber feels like after a while

Rubber Plantation

Rubber Plantation

One of many beaches

One of many beaches

  • Then we went past a temple that supposedly cost 18M Bahts to build. There was a 20 Baht entrance fee but I decided to have a buko (coconut) for that price instead. Had two in fact!

One of many bukos

18M temple

18M temple

  • I wanted to try my hands at firing some weapons in a shooting range we rode past but then, once we got there, it just felt wrong to shoot! (Yes, harmless I know but still!) I saw the guns again and the price tag to fire them. Something like 2000 Bahts for firing 16 rounds on a M4. I decided against it. I think it was because it felt like I was indulging in the art of needless destruction. Or maybe I was overthinking it. (What do you think?) I’m not sure I would have fired those things even if it was free. But wait, whom am I kidding! Had it been free I’d probably have had a crack at it! But I would have probably regretted it soon after, so it was just as well I decided against it!
  • There were two other beaches we drove past before refilling the scooter with more petrol and riding down two the end of the island
  • Got some glorious sunset views on the way back and by the time we returned to our “Magic House”, it was close to 6.30pm which meant it was time to end the day with some good food and beer.
  • I’ve got to say – the number of European tourists in Thailand is a pretty staggering number. In fact, the first currency I saw in the Money Changers was always Russian Rubble to Bahts!
  • History repeated itself during the night and the rattling of the windows and doors meant little sleep. The power of the wind was simply incredible. To add to the cacophony of noises, the asbestos roof of the structure opposite to us was vibrating like a tuning fork which meant even more noise and even less sleep than the previous night!
Gorgeous sunset

Gorgeous sunset

2016-02-06
  • We joined a 700B / pp snorkeling trip which involved being picked up at 8am from Magic House with the intention of taking a boat ride to four different neighboring islands for snorkeling
  • It was 9.20am before someone showed up to pick us up. We were then driven to a pier about 25km away where we boarded a rather crowded boat
Rather crowded snorkeling boat

Rather crowded snorkeling boat

Beautiful island en route

Beautiful island en route

Getting ready to snorkel

Getting ready to snorkel

  • The blue skies and soothing waters soon set the stage for a day out in the serenity of the sea
  • In one of the islands, I stepped on a “sea hedgehog” which was a rather prickly experience. Later on, I had to remove two needles from my foot. (Luckily there were only two). Back on the boat, I observed the foot of another lady who had more needles periced on the base of our foot than I could count! Nasty things those sea hedgehogs
Small fish to fry

Small fish to fry

Big fish to fry

Big fish to fry

Not sure what you call them but I had two needles stuck in my feet because of them

Not sure what you call them but I had two needles stuck in my feet because of them

Coral Reef

Coral Reef

  • After retuning home to Magic House at a about 7pm, it was time for yet another Thai food eating marathon and some live music plus beers for dessert
  • The wind returned in full vigor during the night as though it had been given some sort of a steroid boost. The upper floor of Magic House shook every time the wind swept through. It felt like a typhoon 10. With every fierce swoosh of the wind, it felt like a jumbo jet was passing overhead. Reminded me of a Batman quote: “what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” Answer: probably a crumbling Magic House because its questionable construction work hardly makes it immovable. We had to rely on its magic to stay in one piece
2016-02-07
  • After putting countless amount of calories in the body, today it was finally time for some exercise
  • With Dom leading the way on a hiking route he found on Strava, we were on our way on our 20km hike. An old village lady came outside to charge us money for a public trail. When we refused to pay, she threw stones at us but we carried along as though nothing had happened
Impolite Driver complaint

Impolite Driver complaint

Not Waterfalls but Water Fulls

Not Waterfalls but Water Fulls

Tall beautiful canopy

Tall beautiful canopy

Some sort of grinding gizmo en route

Some sort of grinding gizmo en route

Dry mushroom

Dry mushroom

Hannes' team

Hannes’ team

  • Hannes got a quick team together (three stray dogs who seemed to totally love him). They followed us all the way and stood guard at every junction of the trail
  • At some point, we couldn’t find the trail anymore and had to turn back. On the way back, we somehow seemed to bypass the old lady and escaped being hit by stones again
  • After another great meal, we put on our engineering hats to try and fix the Magic House window. We struck many pieces of cardboard in the gap between the window frame and the window. The wind speed also dropped. Meaning, there was finally some “magic” 8-hour sleep!
2016-02-08
  • More exercise was needed after consuming way more calories than we were expending. So, today it was time for some mountain biking
  • We got three mountain bikes at a place around 4km away from Magic House. The shopkeeper’s neighbor was an Indian guy who spoke fluent Thai. While waiting for our bikes, I indulged in two more coconuts. I was boasting off my ability to speak Thai by using what I thought was the equivalent for coconut in Thai, “buko”. Later, after many confused stares and an embarrassing reminder of those stares by Dom, I realized that “buko” is the Philippines word for coconut, not Thai
  • We did 77km on the bike in about 6 hours (including lunch). There were some mammoth hills on the way where I was forced to push the bike up the hill whereas Hannes and Dom were like fish in water
Going Biking

Going Biking

Hannes and Dom trying Jinhwa's Frog Stretch

Hannes and Dom trying Jinhwa’s Frog Stretch

Coconut drinking marathon

Coconut drinking marathon

Beautiful scenery en route

Beautiful scenery en route

Beautiful scenery en route

Beautiful scenery en route

Red flowers at our lunch place

Red flowers at our lunch place

The lunch place

The lunch place

Saw this quote on a book

Saw this quote on a book

Temple decoration

Temple decoration

  • As usual, the evening concluded with food plus drinks and the night was relatively noise-free as the wind stopped its onslaught. However, the noise from roosters, construction guys, dogs and occasional traffic took its place
2016-02-09
  • It was time to see the crocodile and snake show before departing for Hong Kong. Hannes and Dom reminded me that it would likely be a disappointment – more of a freak show than an educational experience. We decided to go anyway (largely me)
Snake and Crocodile show

Snake and Crocodile show

  • And, what a freak show that was! Some guy brought out a cobra, a python and a coconut snake and started irritating them. Every time the annoyed snake would strike back in defense, he’d exaggerate the effect by making an alarmed sound. He then brought the snake to the audience (a grand total of 6 of us) and it was our turn to touch the snakes. I passed despite plenty of prodding and “no bite” protests from the guy. Just felt uneasy with the snakes. The crocodiles were then given a similar treatment. He used a bamboo stick to pry open their mouths and got them snapping their jaws shut quickly to create a hollow noise. He then prayed (the music changed appropriately – all port of the show) and then put his finger / hand and also part of his head into the jaws of the crocodile. What a freak show that was! Oh, by the way, when he was demonstrating the Burmese python to the 6 of us, it peed and pooped on him. Some whitish colored feces oozed out of the snake and dropped on the ground. Pretty disgusting to watch! It wasn’t really worth the 900B we paid for it just to watch the animals being disturbed
The finale - the guy prayed and kissed the croc

The finale – the guy prayed and kissed the croc

Putting his finger in the snake's mouth

Putting his finger in the snake’s mouth

Dom holding young croc

Dom holding young croc

There was this iguana in the cage

There was this iguana in the cage

This python pooed on him

This python pooed on him

Dom showing off his snake skills

Dom showing off his snake skills

Poking the snake to get it to bite

Poking the snake to get it to bite

Prodding the croc

Prodding the croc

Croc watched the show too

Croc watched the show too

  • After the snake and croc show, we made our 6 hour journey to Bangkok airport
2016-02-10
  • We arrived in style and it was now time to depart in style, by business class, back to Hong Kong
Summary: 
Thailand is quite a place. The pace of life drops, the warmth of the sunshine is soothing and the beaches are inviting. The people are largely happy, friendly and polite. (You get weird ones too but that’s outside the scope of this blog!) We had two “cold” days – about 17 degrees but other than that, it was the typical palm tree tropical weather. I’d give Koh Chang a 6/10. Although it had its pristine parts, it was also congested and full of tourists. Cat Ba in Vietnam gets a higher score from me as far as places go.
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#HKTRP #38 – Conversation with Jeremy Ritcey – Part 1/2

Part 1/2: This podcast will profile runner Jeremy Ritcey, one of Hong Kong’s most prolific and elite trail runners. We will attempt to paint a picture of what lead him to start trail running and how he managed to become one of the top runners in Hong Kong.

Show Notes:
  • Who’s Jeremy Ritcey?
  • Intro – Started hiking/running
  • What is his day job?
Trivia for Jeremy:
  • What is Jeremy’s favorite trail in Hong Kong and why?
  • What in Jeremy’s view is his best accomplishment in the field of running
  • In his running career, has he had any mentors? Who has had the most influence on him?
  • Does Jeremy have role models in the field of running? Who are they and why?
Questions for Jeremy:
  • Humble beginnings: where it all started
  • Road running/trail running philosophy and why he does it. When did he start doing it?
  • Does he have any unforgettable experiences in the course of trail running and racing? Something or someone that has shaped him and his thoughts?
Jeremy’s Accomplishments (We are going to limit our discussion to three Ultras):
  • Came 2nd in the Canadian Death Race (125km): 2012
  • 2nd OTW team in 2012 – with Samir Tamang and Ram Khatr and Michael Maddess beaten by Solomon France by 4 minutes
  • 4th in HK100 2011
  • Walk us through the top 3 races, the preparation, the training, the nutrition
  • What was it like?
  • Walk us through the journey. What was it like? You slept during the race. What happened? Did you want to stop?
  • Did he put a lot of pressure on himself to complete? What was the “outside” pressure like on him?
  • What were the up and down moments of this race? Describe the race to us and what more impressed you about the race
Training: (physical)
  • How often does he train and how? Does he have a routine?
  • Has his training resulted in injuries and if so how does he deal with them?
  • How competitive is Jeremy? How important is it to him to best himself? Would he risk injuries in order to achieve certain goals?
  • What’s his philosophy on team runs like the OTW? Would he push his team to do better or would they do it “just for fun” ?
  • Does Jeremy take any painkillers during runs? What’s his philosophy on that? What’s been his most painful run?
  • How does he balance his family time vs running / training? How supporting is his family?
  • Talk to us about injuries, what he learnt from it. Does he believe in the needle guy?
Training (mental)
  • How does he do such long distances during painful moments? What’s been his most painful mental moment?
  • What is his philosophy on pain? When does he know when to persist and when not to?
  • What does he tell himself mentally when he has to persist through pain and continue to the finish line?
  • During long distance runs, does he listen to music? How do you maintain your focus?
  • Is he scared that someday he might not be able to defend his top spots?
  • Is he scared he will even run out of challenges?
  • Is he scared he will someday lose his passion for running? What keeps him passionate about running?
  • When he is running, does he view competition as targets he has to overtake? Are there people he wants to overtake and be ahead of?
  • What are his downtimes in running? When he didn’t want to run and felt miserable?
Nutrition / Gear strategy:
  • How does he do his long runs? Is his cold weather strategy significantly different from his hot weather strategy?
  • Does he swear by certain gear?
Philosophies:
  • Does he believe in taking medicines? If so, when and how? Has he taken medicines before during a race in order to finish the race?
  • What does he think about DNF-ing?
Personality:
  • If he could not run, what else would he do?
  • Does he have any strategies for mental training?
Goals:
  • As far as running is concerned what are his goals for 2016?
  • Has he even thought of attempting the Grand Slam (either HK or USA) or doing the 4 Trails?
Advice:
  • For beginners getting into 100km+ running, what kind of advice does he have?
  • How can someone who has plateaued develop themselves further? How do you get from becoming a good trail runner to a great trail runner?
Parting words of wisdom:
  • #1 key to success in running that can be applicable to life
  • What is the creed he lives by?

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

4Trails

#HKTRP #37 – Conversation with the Four Trails Survivors

Summary:

Today on the podcast, we have the survivors of the 2016th edition of Andre’s 4 Trails Ultra Challenge. Just to ensure that we leave no runner behind, let me remind you of what Andre’s challenge is about. One needs to complete the 4 trails of Hong Kong (Maclehose, Wilson, HK Trail and Lantau Trail) in reverse order within 60 hours. Finishers are those who have successfully done this (we have none) and survivors are those who have managed to survive the 4 trails but took longer than 60 hours. 11 survived in 2016 and we have 4 of them today on the podcast.
Tom Robertshaw survived this this year in 60 hours and 38 minutes. The famous John Ellis did 63 hours and 47 minutes. Mark Green took 73 hours hours, 43 minutes and Jeri, the first female survivor took 77 hours and 10 minutes.
To talk more about this and to co-host today’s podcast, we have with us the very founder of the 4 trails challenge, Mr. Andre Blumberg

Before the challenge:
  • A bit of an intro. How long they’ve been running for and why did they want to do the 4 Trails Ultra Challenge?
  • When did they decide they wanted to do it?
  • How did they prepare for it?
  • What were they hoping to get out of it? Why do it?
  • What was the pressure on them like on the start line?
During the challenge:
  • Each one’s experience
  • How they felt about the whole adventure
  • What about not making the 60 hour cutoff? What was that like?
  • Talk about preparation (food/water)
  • Talk about chaffing / hallucination
  • Did they do power naps?
  • Talk about strategy
  • Talk about up and down moments
  • Talk about most difficult / happiest moment
  • What was the postbox kiss like?
Analysis:
  • Where could they make up time?
  • How did they recover?
  • What what they do differently next time around?
  • Will they do it again?
  • How much of a difference did the public support make?
  • How long does the high of the accomplishment last?

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

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#HKTRP #36 – Discussing our 2015 Oxfam Trailwalker experience

Summary:

Jeremy, Valerie, Michael and I did the Trailwalker in 2015 in 14 hours and 18 minutes. We came first in the Mixed Team category. In this podcast, we will talk about our journey through the Trailwalker.


We will cover these topics:
  • How the team was formed
  • What the pressure was like on us
Preparation:
  • What is takes to do a Sub 15 OTW
  • Preparation (physical / mental)
  • Support (Static / Mules)
  • Defining the team goal
The event:
  • Before the race
  • Stages 1-10
  • How did we feel at the finish?

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).