Monday, June 28, 2010

Travelog Series: Hong Kong June 2010

Hong Kong was never really a place I was excited to see. I’ve always thought of it as just a huge city with nothing really much to offer but expensive shopping and tall skyscrapers. I saw those alright, but then what I discovered was that there’s more to Hong Kong than the usual clichés. Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of stories about items going on sale for as much as 80% on a good season, but then I really am a thrifty traveler, and shopping doesn’t appeal much to me when I go visit a place. The most that I’ve shopped was when I went to Thailand, and even then I just bought a handful of trinkets and sweets to give away, an overpriced souvenir hat from a tribeswoman, and a nice yellow shirt that says “I conquered Chiang-mai” written in the unmistakable and wiggly Thai letters. 

So when my travel buddy Marie volunteered to book a flight for us to Macau, I bought in because of the cheap flight and the appeal of being away from work. I haven’t flown out of the country in a year and my first thought was that it’s going to be nice to just be at an airport again. I suggested we go to Hong Kong by ferry and check out the place as well.

Back Story: There’s something about airports that appeals to me. It’s my happy place. I remember being at the Frankfurt International several years back on my way to Brnik, alone and clueless and naturally petrified at the enormity of the place. I’ve been to Narita Airport in Japan for a trip to Tokyo prior to that, and that airport is intimidating, but nothing compares to the German behemoth.  There was traffic inside the freaking place! Golf cart-like vehicles full of old ladies plying all over its winding length, bicycles carrying airport personnel pass by at an almost regular interval. I will never forget the sight of an Emirates Airline flight crew walking the hall to their gate, and thought I was watching movie stars in crisp uniforms. Those gals (and the pilot) were all just gorgeous. A fleet of gigantic 747’s just right outside the window, duty free shops that looked more like enormous shopping centers, people of every possible nationality milling about, probably as amazed as I was of the place. Imagine a 23 year old from the third world, being thrust into such a scene. It was for me, such a magical, and needless to say, unforgettable time.  Thus my love affair with airports began.  

I was blown away by this mega city. I love it that it is a place that effortlessly blends both old and new. Combining tradition with technology, and old school beliefs with a futuristic outlook towards everything.  It is cosmopolitan in every sense of the word, but then it is also old world, the charm of its history highlighted more against shiny metal and glass towers as high as the eyes can see. You get it not just in some designated corner of the city (think Manila’s Binondo), but you feel this vibe in just about every place you go and visit. 

Hong Kong under my camera's eye pales in comparison to actually being there experiencing the thrill yourself. Here's but a tiny fraction of the things I've seen.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Independence Day Run: First 15K.

My first 15K run happened at the Independence Day Run, of course that was June 12, at the Fort organized by...I don't even know what group. 

I registered because 1.) at 300 pesos, it was pretty cheap for 15K and 2.) I haven't run a race for quite some time. After successfully finishing, I just realized that I can do long distance runs, but REALLY long distance runs can be a little bit too much. After finishing the 10 km mark, I was just about ready to give up. My feet were burning, I was panting like a dog, and I swear my legs felt like they were numb. Yeah I can finish it alright, but do I really have to endure the torture of an extra 5? They say it's all in the mind. I say nah, it's in your feet (they take a life of their own, separate from the rest of your body while running) and how cooperative they decide to be on the day itself! I'm just glad I finished. Time was around 1:46:00. 

And yeah, don't even get me started on how late the race started. Or how hot it was to run at around 7 in the morning sans sunscreen. That will get me writing a whole new entry. 

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Nature Valley Run 2010

We waited for almost a month to run this race. It's the second leg of the RunRio Trilogy, and I ran my 4th 10K. With absolutely minimal training, and an allergic rhinitis attack the night prior to worry about, I wasn't able to beat my personal record of a little over 1 hour. I was huffing and puffing and felt my lungs were at their bursting point at the halfway mark. Luckily, I managed to to cross the finish line with only 2 minutes off my record at 1:02:05.

But then it's always fun to run for cause (a tree was planted for each runner who joined), with a whole bunch of friends to keep you company (new runners Aimee, Irish and Yong joined). 

Next race will be a milestone for me. I will be running 15K at the Independence Day run on the 12th. It feels like it's the first time all over again. 

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