january 2015 challenge final


All done. Happiest about the running mileage, other tasks are pretty standard.


  • run 80 km (50 miles) // done 96km (60 miles)
  • run/walk/bike 120 km (75 miles) // done 166km (103 miles)
  • weights or circuit x4 // done x4
  • crunch 50 reps in 1 set // done
  • check out wall climbing / boxing / tai-chi course // done
  • food

  • non alcohol days x20 // done x22
  • vegetables x24 // done x31 — veg every day
  • fruit or juice x24 // done x30 — missed one day when I forgot to have fruit after dinner
  • within daily calorie goal x 24 // done x26
  • family

  • visit parents x20 // done x21
  • cook for family x2 // done x2
  • family activity x1 // done
  • bbmm activity x1 // done
  • misc

  • 3 completed 101.1001 tasks // done [1] [2] [3]
  • random from photo-a-day // done — did the whole challenge
  • photofriday x1 // done
  • lookback post x1 // done
  • LL edits x5 chapters // done x8 chapters


jan-2015 runwalkbike total 100 miles


Yay, I broke 100 miles of run/walk/bike in january. Actual total 103 miles, of which 60 miles was running. That works out to be 15 miles a week, so there’s a long way to go in terms of marathon training—I need to get to 25-30 miles a week by the time the proper 18-week training program begins. Most of the walking was at the end of a run, when I go to the market near the parks and walk back after grabbing some fruit & veg or coke zero. So-called biking is on mum’s stationary bike.

I know it’s only the 30th and I could go tomorrow for an easy 4km to get to 100km running total. It doesn’t matter, I’ll get to 100km running soon enough, long runs in february are ramping up to 8miles/13km.

edit: did a couple miles walking on the 31st, bringing the monthly total to 105 miles / 169 km.

two inspiring running stories

Couple of inspiring running-related stories in the news, one in humid Miami and one in snowy Boston.

Miami: twin pushes disabled sister at half marathon


Spotted via runnersworld, the inspiring story of how a runner pushed her disabled sister to finish a half marathon together.

Twins Nichole and Jennifer Rider were both runners and athletes through school. In 1995, Nichole was in a car accident that paralysed her from the neck down. Eventually she regained enough mobility to kayak and handcycle. At last week’s Miami Half Marathon, Jennifer and a friend took turns pushing Nichole, the trio finishing the race in 2:06. They were racing to raise awareness for a new organisation Thumbs Up International that aims to match able-bodied runners, swimmers and cyclists with those who need help in participating in races.

I really like this idea, this is something I’d rather do than sign up for a charity place. I’m slow, so pushing or guiding someone will definitely slow me down even more, but I don’t mind. It’s also potentially challenging to match personalities too. Hmm, reminds me of a story idea I have on the backburner, of two people forced together to train and race in exactly the same scenario (able-bodied and less able-bodied).

Thumbs Up is Miami-based only right now, won’t be it great if the idea is picked up by one of the big races?

Boston: local bartender shovels Boston Marathon finish line


Boston and other parts of the northeast part of the US got hammered by snow this week. Someone took a pic of a good samaritan shoveling snow from the Boston Marathon finish line, which is permanently painted on a street. This led to a twitter search for #WhoShoveledTheFinishLine.


Boston Marathon has a very special place in the hearts of both the people of Boston and to runners, moreso after the bombing in 2013. The good samaritan was eventually identified as Chris Laudani, a local bartender, who said he cleared the finish line because it:

isn’t just a strip of paint in the road. It means so much more to us as a community of Boston and of runners

Ironically 4 out of 5 of his Boston Marathon finishes were as a bandit. There is a long tradition of banditing Boston, but that’s another discussion. He’s been offered an official place this year, so there’s a happy ending to the story.


#theidearoom photo-a-day jan-2015

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

The problem with doing 30 day photo challenges is finding interesting material when I spend most of my time at home. I can only take so many pictures of my desk. That said, I thought I’d go through this month’s instagram to see if I can fit them into this photo-a-day challenge. It’s not the right way of doing a challenge, so the results are mediocre at best. Anyway, start with the list:


01 new is the january 2015 calendar page; for #02 change I scattered some coins on my desk (the desk had to make an appearance somehow); #03 organise is dragonboats stacked up at Stanley beach. And so on. Applied a bit of creative licence on a few, like #05 clean is laundry hanging to dry, #19 ice/icy is space food ice cream and #21 noise is an empty stand at the track (think about the noise when it’s full of people).

12texture 16happy
22whereistand 28traitquiet

A few were decent attempts. #12 texture is the mat we have on the balcony, it turned out quite texture-y; #16 happy is halves of two pastries I shared with mm, it was only when I looked at the pic that I realised they made a smiley face; #22 from where I stand is a shadow. #28 is supposed to be a personality trait. I think you’re allowed to be creative, so I used one of the water bird perched on a log at sunset. I thought it was quiet and peaceful.

strange new twitter followers


Two of my newest twitter followers are from strange accounts, but they haven’t interacted with me or spammed me so I’ll keep them for the time being.

One is probably a spoof / fake Bieber-like account, with a username like @justinbiber with a Bieber avatar. This one has 17k followers and says the goal is 10million followers. Almost all links to some sort of funny pic site that I won’t click on.

The most recent one is @epicmantips. Most tweets are some inspirational quotes but the account description is scary:

Epic tips for the modern male. We’re here to help you become a legend. Download our ‘69 Epic Sex Tips’ guide for FREE: [redacted]

WTF did I do to deserve this one?

p.s. the other new one is a verified Guardian journalist, not surprising since I follow the Guardian and a few Guardian and Indy journos.


graphic designers will get these puns

If there’s one creative thing I like doing and wish I were better at it, it’s graphic design. I can play around with photoshop to make decent-ish posters and templates and such like. I’m not confident enough, I feel a little intimidated and insecure because I’ve never had any training. I’m also a little hampered by old software. I try my best, and people seem to like the results.

designcard01mad designcard02keming

One thing that I’ve learned is the importance of layout. So I find myself nodding at these graphic design pun cards I spotted via adweek. Anyone with an eye for aesthetics will get the joke, and I especially like the one about keming.

designcard03comicsans designcard04helvetica

Probably my favourite font ever is frutiger. Like most people, I hate Comic Sans, which should only be used for children’s birthday parties. For day to day use, I stick with Helvetica or, gasp, Arial. I’ve even taught myself how to tell the difference:



race registration by cheque and SAE #stupid


This weekend is when the major running race will be held. 10k with 4 separate start times, HM and FM. I used to fly back just to participate but ever since I experienced, and found out, how corrupt the race is, I’m boycotting it.

I came across a small 10k to be held in March. I clicked on the pdf document and couldn’t believe my eyes. To register involved:

  • printing, filling in and mailing a paper form to what looks like someone’s home address
  • paying by cheque
  • including a stamped addressed envelope, presumably for confirmation

I ran a disasterous 10k with no training in 2006, proper racing started in 2009. All the races I’ve entered had online registration. And the races that I’ve seen that involved a paper form accepted credit cards. I mean, paying by cheque? It’s so backwards and ridiculous. I had to ask my dad to write the cheque for me, the last time I used a chequebook was probably for my US account because Americans are probably the only people using cheques regularly nowadays. Cheques don’t exist in Switzerland, Germany, Australia and many countries. There’s talk that they will be phased out in the UK by 2018.

And an SAE? What are we? 1980s Blue Peter? What’s wrong with email confirmation? Or factoring the cost of envelopes and stamps into the fee. Luckily we had some stamps at home. The problem is I have no idea where the nearest postbox is located. I can just picture the race organisers as luddites who use Windows XP desktops. I bet there are no timing tags. I’ll register and go just to experience something from the last century.


farmfest with mum

farmfest003romanesco farmfest015beetroot
farmfest010mushroom farmfest021turmeric

full set: flickr

Went with mum to an event called farmfest, an organic farming exhibition organised by the department of agriculture and fisheries. The event was split into roughly 3 sections: 1) organic vegetables as an exhibit and stalls selling them; 2) dried goods stalls selling mainly dried fish; 3) household goods stalls like kitchenware, tea and snacks.

We didn’t buy too many things. The organic veg looked good, but at double the price of the market, we weren’t tempted. Bought some dried fruit, dried vegetarian food (a bit like diced quorn) and some natural powder that can be used for cleaning or even shampooing. Everything was for mum or the household, I didn’t get anything for myself.

Walked through a park to the cheapest michelin-starred restaurant in the world. We got there before 6pm so there was no wait, although we had to share a table. This is a neighbourhood place after all. Eight baskets or plates of dim sum (we ordered extra pork buns to takeaway) for US$20, no service charge. 

check out wall climbing course

Organic Wall
flickr / steve oliver

I called the YMCA about their indoor climbing wall. For anyone to use it, they must show that they are competent by being a member of a climbing club, or having gotten a certification from the YMCA themselves. The introductory course is on tuesday evening or saturday afternoon, for 3 hours, and very reasonably priced.

When I was very young, I loved climbing on rocks and stuff. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at wall climbing. I hope I have enough upper body strength for it, but apparently it’s leg strength and coordination. I’m okay with leg strength—at least what I’ve built up whilst running. My only reservation is the current state of my wrist; my left wrist has always been problematic and it’s been swollen with sudden sharp pain for a couple of weeks. The pain manifests in certain situations and positions like taking the laundry from the washing machine, or doing bentover rows. Seems to be fine when gripping.

Anyway, I have the details now. 

instagram temp tattoos #picattoo


I bought a box of boomf marshmallows for my niece’s birthday last year and she was so pleased with it that she still hasn’t opened the box. The idea is to order 9 marshmallows on the boomf website based on 9 instagram pics; or 9 marshmallows from the same instagram pic; or a composite of 9 marshmallows from one instagram pic.

Anyway, the idea is to link instagram with products. Nothing new, we’ve been able to order all sorts of products from cups to caps to calendars from pics for ages.

The newest fun thing to do with instagram is via Rotterdam-based picattoo. For $15 including worldwide shipping we get 12 temporary tattoos sourced from instagram. Lots of potential fun for these cute tattoos, or even useful for marketing. Interesting. 

wetlands outing

nam002farmbridge nam014farmlily

Good day for an outing to the countryside. We drove out to near the wetlands area (actual wetlands is enclosed and needs a ticket). First stop was an organic farm. They have vegetables in a hydroponics system, vegetable patches all over the place that were growing lettuce, carrot, turnip, beetroot, bok choy and even a jackfruit tree. They also have goats, rabbits and carp, more like for pets I think. The main attraction of the farm is a lily pond that has a rickety walkbridge made from wooden crates and plastic pontoons. We were trying to spot lilies hidden amongst the leaves. Nice.

nam032pier nam059house

A short drive along a single lane road brought us to a dead end lane with a small parking area for 5-6 cars. Just beyond that end point is a walking path along ponds and fields. A rickety broken wooden pier is a popular spot for wedding photographers. Beyond that we could see tin huts of a village through the tall weeds.

nam067boat nam091fisherwoman

The village has a few houses and a store selling soft drinks, sandwiches and noodles. The village sits on a narrow river (more like a stream) with a sign advertising the shortest ferry crossing. And the crossing is very short. A boat takes passengers and bikes across in 1 min. Seems to be quite busy, while we were there 3 sets of people crossed already, two sets on bikes, we think it’s because it’s on a popular bike route. Next time we’ll explore where to rent bikes.

The area has many shallow ponds. We spotted an elderly woman casting her nets from her little boat. She was wearing the distinctive fishing hat worn by the local people.


It was almost sunset when we left. Birds were beginning to stir and we saw some water birds around. Not having enough knowledge we guess they are herons?

We loved our day out. Good weather. Clean air. Greenery. Lots of wildlife, we could hear cicadas, birds, crickets along our walk. Great to get out of the polluted city.

#58 new recipe: double chocolate tart


Tasks #49-58 of 101.1001 are to try 10 new recipes. It’s great that the 10th one turned out so nice.

I’ve mentioned before that even though I’ve been baking for a long time, it’s usually cakes and biscuits. I only tried bread a few months ago and choux is the only pastry I’m comfortable with. I rarely work with the most basic pastry of them all: shortcrust.

So we were watching MKR4 repeat and I decided to try the double chocolate tart one team made, because it looked so indulgent.

for the pastry:
150g cold butter
185g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk

for the filling:
350g chocolate
80ml cream
50g brown sugar
2 eggs + 4 egg yolks

Sift the flour, cocoa and icing sugar into a large bowl, mix butter until resembling breadcrumbs. In the recipe they use a food processor but I couldn’t find mine, and besides I’m not sure it works anymore. Takes longer using hands but it’s not too bad. Put the mixture back in the fridge for 5mins to cool, then add the egg yolk. Combine into a dough. Initially I thought one egg yolk surely wasn’t enough to bind so much dry ingredients, but it worked after a bit of elbow grease. Knead on a flat surface briefly. Chill dough in fridge for 30mins.

Roll out dough to a tart tin. Well, I don’t have a tart tin, so I used half the dough and rolled out into a regular small cake tin, mending gaps where necessary. I tried to trim the side so it was flat. Cool the pastry in the fridge for 5mins, then blind bake at 180°C for 15mins with baking beans, followed by 10mins without. Didn’t have baking beans at parents’ place, so substituted with rice.

While the baked pastry case cools, make the filling. Melt chocolate and cream in a bain marie. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk and sugar until frothy. Combine with melted chocolate carefully then pour into pastry case. Bake at 160°C for 30mins. Cool at room temperature, then in fridge until set.


The pastry was quite short, may be a tad too short, but I like it. The filling was rich and, yes, indulgent. Should have served it with strawberries or raspberries but didn’t have it. Added to the richness by pouring a little cream over. I’ll have to buy a proper tart tin, it’s one of those desserts I’m going to add to my repertoire.

marathon wishlist


I’m trying to compile a list of marathons I’d like to try. There are a lot of marathons: at least one every weekend somewhere in the world. I’m sorting by the date registrations open, but sometimes the websites are coy about it, either it’s not the right time of year or they want people to sign up for their email newsletters. We all know it’s not the newsletter but the email address that matters.

So, my wishlist. Mostly I like bigger marathons because of organisation and crucial crowd support. Otherwise the route has to be an attraction by itself.

    world marathon majors:

  • chicago — I’ve done chicago and it’ll always be my home race
  • london — I try, and I try, and I try the lottery, I’ll get in one of these days; I’d love to call london my home race but I can’t do that until I’ve actually run it at least once
  • new york — registration opened this week and I got as far as the final page before realising they charge $11 just to enter the lottery and the race fee for 2015 is $255. Can I just say, daylight robbery? Yes, I am aware of the enormous amount of resources needed to organise a major marathon; I’m also aware that the NYC marathon is worth $340million and the NYRR reports $55million in revenue. So, the $11+$255 price tag? They charge it because they can, ugh
  • tokyo — I’ve heard great things about tokyo, in terms of organisation (no surprise) and the fantastic crowd support, may be I’ll try the lottery for 2016
  • I’m less keen on berlin, because it’s more important to get into london
  • I’ll never get into boston so I won’t even think about it

    city marathons:

  • uk — brighton which I’m glad has shaken off the London consolation price image; stratford-upon-avon, windermere and others with scenic route; islay single malt marathon (whisky, yay!); may be not perhaps more boring locations like milton keynes, sorry
  • europe — amsterdam; copenhagen; paris because of the route; vienna; zurich—any major city will be great; smaller places like seville and malta could be great to combine with a trip
  • americas — big sur, MCM, niagara—mostly for the scenic routes, there are way too many marathons in us and canada, my eyes glazed over the list
  • asia — any japan marathon like osaka, kyoto, hokkaido; not singapore or hong kong because of weather, inferior organisation and terrible routes through empty highways, tunnels and car parks—outside of japan there will be very little crowd or organisational support so it’s not worth considering
  • ANZ — melbourne great ocean road, sydney, rotorua
    destination marathons:

  • easter island — just imagine
  • arctic circle in finland or midnight sun in norway
  • marathon du médoc — oh the wine
  • tarawera — it’s actually a 50k ultra, but it combines stunning new zealand features like geysers, waterfalls with cream tea, that’s worth the extra training to get to 50k


That was just marathons. The list for half marathons is even bigger.


#thisgirlcan ad campaign wants women to exercise

It’s January. People make resolutions which inevitably include losing weight and exercising more. Newspapers and magazines are full of articles about the 10 ways to start running or 5 foods to eat instead of cake. The intentions are noble and grand; the tone of these articles at times seem condescending, but if it inspires someone, then it’s all for the good.

Except, apparently, women in the UK aged 14-40 are not exercising. Sport England conducted extensive research to find out that 2 million fewer women than men regularly participate in sports. Worryingly, there doesn’t seem to be such a big disparity in other European countries. They heard that one of the main reasons is that of body image and fear of judgement. With that in mind, they launched a campaign called this girl can:

to inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome


The campaign includes videos showing real women of all ages, shapes and sizes exercising and enjoying the exercise. The beat of Missy Eliott’s Get Ur Freak On is combined with catchy inspiration quotes like “I jiggle, therefore I am” and “hot and not bothered” to get the inactive off their couches.

There are criticisms for the campaign. The ads have been described as clumsy and and having some of the worst typographic design you’ve seen in ages. The Guardian is disappointed that the campaign still plays into the norms of objectifying female flesh by referring to women of all ages as girls and using the familiar video formula

where highly mobile, athletic female bodies are performing for a male audience

I think that any campaign that gets people exercising and watching their health is a good thing. Healthcare shouldn’t be just about curing illness; it should also focus on improving health to prevent illness. Not enough money, resources or focus goes to the latter. With binge drinking in women increasing at an alarming rate, any effort to get them from the pub to the gym is worthwhile.


Will the campaign succeed? Let’s hope so. It needs more positive images and messages. I guess they had to use innuendos like “I kick balls” to grab attention when they should have focused on the friendship and camaderie of participating in a team sports. I like the one of the cyclist lapping everyone on the couch. I also like the one where a mum exercises in the living room with her kids [youtube]. There should be more emphasis on the benefits of exercise besides looks.

Will it change people’s attitude towards body image? That’s a longer battle to fight. I never understand the issues behind body image concern, although I know plenty of people who are worried about how other people see and judge them. I’m puzzled at why, for instance, mum spends so much money on eye gel, goes for dubious skin treatments and stands in front of the mirror for what seems like hours before going out. I try to tell her that no one on the street will give a damn about how her, and why on earth is she bothered about what the shop assistant thinks. I’ve come to the conclusion that people believe certain things and act in certain ways because they themselves are like that—people who are afraid of being judged on how they look are the ones who are guilty of judging others. This type of attitude is what needs to change.

Anyway, I have 6 miles to run this weekend. In my tatty t-shirt and cheap shorts. I will end up covered in sweat with my hair like a rat’s nest underneath my cap. I won’t look at anyone and I don’t think anyone will look at me.


january 2015 challenge — mid-month update


Running and exercise on schedule. Food & drink on schedule. Family activities on schedule. Need to get started on LL edits and call the YMCA about wall climbing.



  • run 80 km (50 miles) // 45km (30 miles)
  • run/walk/bike 120 km (75 miles) // 75km (46 miles)
  • weights or circuit x4 // 2 done
  • crunch 50 reps in 1 set // done
  • check out wall climbing / boxing / tai-chi course // not started


  • non alcohol days x20 // 10
  • vegetables x24 // 15
  • fruit or juice x24 // 14
  • within daily calorie goal x 24 // 12


  • visit parents x20 // 10
  • cook for family x2 // 1
  • family activity x1 // not started
  • bbmm activity x1 // done


  • 3 completed 101.1001 tasks // done [1] [2] [3]
  • random from photo-a-day // shortlist started
  • photofriday x1 // done
  • lookback post x1 // done
  • LL edits x5 chapters // not started


lookback 14-jan

One of the tasks for the 30 day challenge is to look back on old posts.

one year agolookback

I deliberately chose today because the post on 14-jan-2014 was…a lookback post hahaha. One year ago, the lookback post looked back to 2013 with a delightful video series of Rino the Japanese gourmet toddler. To 2011 with a surfing video, to 2009 with thoughts about BRICs and to 2004 about bonuses.
Yep, meta.


three years agorestaurant: goodman


Three years ago, I was in London. RM and I visited Goodman steakhouse at Canary Wharf. We’d visited Hawksmoor previously and wanted to try the other well-known steakhouse. Similar cuts, but instead of sourced from one farm, the steaks were sourced from around the world. I had a charcoal-grilled 650g (23oz) bone-in sirloin and a side of truffle mac-n-cheese. I was in the middle of Brighton marathon training so that big a meal was okay for me then. I note from the post that I enjoyed the steak, but thought Hawksmoor was better.

I miss London.


five years agoweekend plans

eggpotatoskin02 muffinblueberry02

Five years ago, I was in Chicago. It was a friday and I was making plans for the long weekend. I was quite excited about the Martin Luther King holiday because I never had it (although not getting Boxing Day the December before was horrible). I wanted to do some cooking, and I ending up making tons of stuff including braised turkey legs, roasted brussel sprouts, eggs baked in potato skin, chicken & mashed potato for the rest of the week, and blueberry muffins.


As if that wasn’t enough, I also planned, and managed to go skiing at Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin. Well, it’s more like a hill covered with man-made snow, but I hadn’t skiied for a while, I missed it and it was a nice day out. Turned out, I didn’t get many more opportunities to ski since then.

I miss skiing.


ten years agoback to the gym

Heh, I forgot I used to be a member of the gym near my then office. That was before I started properly running. I went for a few months, mostly at lunch time. No record of my speed or distance from then; I hadn’t started keeping track. Most of the post was about this woman at the elliptical who was impeccably made up, with a fancy watch and loads of jewellery. Apparently she was also wearing tights underneath her shorts, plus socks and the obligatory cute sneakers. Unfotunately, even ten years on, there are people who go to the gym like that.

Sometimes I miss having the facilities of a gym, especially a treadmill with intervals setting. But I’ll make do with going to sis’ place occasionally.


#67 new whisky bunnahabhain cruach-mhona


Tasks #64-68 of 101.1001 are to try 5 new whiskies. This is #4 of 5.

I finished the dalmore 18 fairly quickly, about 6 months, probably because I didn’t quite like it. The next in the mainland rotation should be either the magnificent dalwhinnie, a strangely-named ancnoc from my sis, or perhaps mortlach 16. But I opened a bunnahabhain cruach-mhona instead, because…I don’t know why. May be it’s because I had 2 bottles? Anyway it means I currently have 2 islays open, this one and laphroaig PX. Co-incidence much? Both are duty free only.

Bunnahabhain and laphroaig are like heaven and earth when it comes to peatiness. Bunnas’ peatiness is subtle, while laphroaigs are peat monsters. I loved visiting both distilleries though. Bunna was closed when we went there, but the location and the weather that day brought home how wild and unfettered the distillery was. I’d love to go back there when it is open.

Anyway, I love Bunna 12 and I completely adore Bunna 18. Cruach-mhona in gaelic means peat stack, although its peatiness is nowhere near laphroaig or ardbeg. It’s un-chill filtered and uncoloured, resulting in a very light golden colour, like sunflower oil without the viscocity. NAS and doesn’t taste very old, may be 10-12 years. Peaty and seaweed on the nose. In terms of taste, slightly smoky, sweet, smooth with a long finish. Reviews are average and Mr Murray gave it a not terribly mind-blowing 83 points. I like it myself, I’m sold on the smoothness and the long finish.

walking around stanley


We met with a couple of college friends for tapas lunch, then took a bus ride to the southern beaches, finding ourselves in Stanley. Weather wasn’t great, it started raining the minute we got off the bus. We took cover in the indoor mall and then mcdonalds for a while.

201501stanley01 201501stanley02

It was also sunset when we came out. Cold but the rain had gone. We walked around the stalls (not full of tourists, must have all gone), the harbour and the watersports beach. Stayed a while at St Anne’s church, mm wanted to see the inside and say some prayers.

Took another bus back out to the central area and had noodles for dinner. Raining again.

running new shoes


9.51km 1.12.09hr 7.35min/km

Opened a new pair of running shoes and braved the crowded weekend route. A little surprised at the discipline of the people running and walking there today; the majority were able to keep to one side of the path and share happily with other users. Except one idiot dog owner who was playing catch ball with her two medium-sized dogs on a narrow path that barely accommodates 3 people abreast. What did I expect? It’s a dog owner, dog owners are the shits.

The new shoes are nike frees that I bought either at an outlet or as a running warehouse special. Can’t remember: I’ve had them a while. They are 3.0, and even though the newest versions are already 5.0, I’m happy with these older versions. Most of the time, it’s worth buying one generation back because they are a lot cheaper. They feel a bit long, fit comfortably and definitely light. I like lightweight neutral shoes and these are exactly what I want.

bamboo noodles


Every travel and food show has been there: Bourdain, Bizarre Foods, nomad chefs, adventurous chefs, Hairy Bikers, even Samantha Brown. In a cramped, unassuming kitchen a thin, middle-aged man in grubby t-shirt and shorts kneads and presses noodle dough by bouncing a bamboo pole up and down using his bodyweight. Every single visitor then proceeds to sing their praises for said noodles, which have a smooth, fine and al dente texture. A far cry from mass produced noodles.

There’s a mesmerising quality in watching the sifu make the noodles. Or it’s Bourdain’s narration. Or the edgy cinematography. Or the haunting score. It seems…romantic.

Parents thought it’d be a good idea to try, after watching an episode of the Hairy Bikers. The branch is opposite the big messy computer centre and near the food court where we get chili prawns. I had the basic wonton noodles. Always go for the most commonplace item, because if they can’t get the staples right, they shouldn’t be in business. It was good. The noodles had a great chewy yet smooth mouth feel, the wontons were decent and the broth was light. There were jars of pickled turnips that was a bonus. Since it’s where I sometimes go for computer stuff or gadgets or to the market I’ll likely visit again. 

#47 101 foods tried

Task #47 of 101.1001 is to make a list and photoset of 101 food & drink items that are on popular bucket lists. These lists are subjective: exotic to one person may be normal for another. I’ve tried a number of items from the ominvore’s 100 and various food challenge lists, i’m at 92/100 on the foodie list. This list combines typical bucket list foods with food from a specific place.

Pics are clickable thumbnails, there’s also the full size set

    hksaikung022abalone praha096absinthe hknamahbakedalaska gre498baklava

  1. abalone — they can be expensive even in canned form, very nice steamed on the shell
  2. absinthe — tried in France, don’t like the aniseed taste, can’t say I’ll drink it again
  3. baked alaska — flambéd at the table
  4. baklava — comes in different sizes and varieties, first experience was from my local shops in London, have also tried ones in Greece and the middle east
  5. banh mi — before it became hipster food, we took the overnight ferry (no channel tunnel yet) and drove to the 13th arrondissement in Paris just to get them
    hok422kumagera osa096belly dal146dfwbeerita bittergourdomelette

  7. beef: kobe beef — in Osaka, was very tender and tasty
  8. beef: wagyu beef: again in Osaka, grilled at our table
  9. beer above 15% — 16% beer at the Zeughauskeller that may have also been the one that was flambéd
  10. beerita — tried at DFW, a corona inverted into a frozen margarita, now that’s a cocktail I can sink into
  11. bird’s nest soup — the bird’s nest doesn’t taste of anything, it’s the sweet soup that gives the dish flavour
  12. bitter gourd — didn’t like the taste when I was younger, but I quite like it now and it gives an extra flavour when mixed with apples and carrots in a fresh juice
    islay713bfastday2 stj015marrow strawberrypbsandwich sisuk039publunch

  14. blood — back pudding is something you can get at Tesco so it’s not really a bucket list item for me, but I guess it’s unusual for people outside of UK and Ireland; other blood products include pig’s and chicken blood tofu in congee, blood sausage in korea
  15. bone marrow — nose-to-tail at fergus henderson’s st john restaurant and at hawksmoor with steak, utterly delicious
  16. bread from poilane — best.bread.ever, yes I’m aware I put strawberry on the best sourdough bread ever
  17. british dishes with unusual names but common ingredients — see these on bucket lists all the time: bangers & mash, bubble & squeak, neeps & tatties, ploughman’s, toad in a hole, welsh rarebit
    etonmess01 shun043qqtea uni115butterbeer chikiki003cassoulet

  19. british puddings — apple crumble, arctic roll, bread & butter pudding, eton mess, jam roly-poly, spotted dick, sticky toffee pudding, suet pudding, summer pudding, trifle—yummy yummy yummy
  20. bubble tea — hot or cold, in sweet tea or milk tea or fruit tea, or even not tea like juice or milkshake, these bubbles are pretty versatile
  21. butterbeer — at hogwarts
  22. cassoulet — at a french restaurant in chicago, very classic
    vegcaviar centuryegg lou02sausage citic003chickenfeet

  24. caviar — it’s nice, though not something I’d order because of its price, I’ve tried vegetarian caviar and I quite like it
  25. century egg — black, quite soft, nice in congee or with pickled ginger as an appetiser
  26. chicago deep dish pizza — I prefer Lou Malnati, though Gino’s East is okay
  27. chicken feet — shrug, it’s dim sum food, can be eaten steamed with black beans or pickled until they turn white
    goodchickenrice01 sg061seafood brus395hotchoc pt245chowder

  29. chicken rice — tender chicken poached then blanched in ice water, the chicken juices and fat used to cook the rice, the trio of sauces — i used to buy them at the hawker centre, transfer to tupperware and take them home with me on the plane
  30. chilli crab at singapore’s east coast — holy cow those are good, expect to get sauce over all 10 fingers and have no shame at licking it all off
  31. chocolate in belgium — best hot chocolate at wittamer, and all the other stores too
  32. clam chowder at cape cod — they do taste different in new england, and they taste great
    cwall166creamtea mb051thali green curry vegetable durian

  34. cream tea in devon and cornwall — scones with clotted cream and jam, can’t get more English than this
  35. curry in india — colleague took us to an all-vegetarian restaurant where we got a thali each, with rice and dishes being served to us constantly
  36. curry in thailand — green curry, red curry, yellow curry, at small places as well as higher end restaurants
  37. durian — probably my #1 most hated food. my grandparents, sis and mm all love durian so I tried one bite and I spit it out
    gold331escargot dragonfruit02 kangaroosteak02 stk398meatball

  39. escargot — used to buy them in large bags at the hypermarket in Calais or Boulogne, love it with lots of garlic and butter
  40. exotic fruit — dragon fruit, jackfruit, kalamansi, kumquat, mangosteen, quince, rambutan, star fruit, sugar apple
  41. exotic meat — camel burger—quite tough, crocodile, goat, horsemeat, kangaroo steak from the tail—like good quality beef, llama—like coarse mince beef, ostrich—which we’re eating a lot of nowadays, pigeon, rabbit, venison—normal venison is widely available, but I’ve also tried other deer like hartbeest, elan & springbok, zebra—at Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi
  42. faggots — meatballs, basically
    gold354fishtaco ldn145goldhind courgetteflowers06 bluebutcher032foie

  44. fish taco — first experience was in san francisco when I visited my friend tues at a hole-in-the-wall place, it was great
  45. fish and chips — is a very popular bucket list entry, and you have to have it wrapped in newspaper, smothered with salt and vinegar with mushy peas
  46. flowers — courgette (zucchini) flowers cooked by Carleen’s Grandma that were sublime
  47. foie gras — I have a couple of blocks in my cupboard, it’s now a sunday brunch item
    beetchicken03 hk206ricepot tok0028puffer praha312gelato

  49. fried green tomato — made it myself
  50. frog’s legs — like tender chicken, can be stir-fried, steamed on rice or in hot pot
  51. fugu — aka puffer fish or blowfish, the slightly poisonous fish that requires chefs to be specially trained and certified, shared a set at a fugu restaurant of sashimi and shabu shabu fugu, quite expensive and nice texture, no sign of the tingling some people report
  52. gelato in italy — is definitely the real deal
    hklym15geoduck ediblegoldcake hkgcrab002inside hawaiianroll

  54. geoduck — as sashimi or quickly cooked in a hotpot
  55. gold — edible gold found sprinkled on top of some desserts, don’t see the point
  56. hairy crab — small freshwater crabs that have little meat but lots of brown roe in their shell, can’t have too much because of the cholesterol
  57. hawaiian rolls — king’s, which I could get at my local supermarket in chicago, it’s your typical american non-bread bread
    stk017bfastherring nyc112papaya hok492tomita silkwormbeondegi

  59. herring — one of our favourite snacks in amsterdam was pickled herring, also had it at breakfast in stockholm
  60. hot dog at Papaya King NYC — there’s a branch at 86th and 3rd; I used to live at 96th and 3rd so I used to walk down at weekends just to get the hot dog and papaya smoothie combo
  61. ice cream made from vegetables — tried potato and pumpkin ice cream at hokkaido
  62. insect — a 101.1001 challenge on its own — silkworm pupae from a street vendor in seoul
    tky069kitkat korfood003kimchi kopiluwak lassisweet

  64. japanese chocolate — for instance, kitkats that come in all sorts of flavours
  65. jellied eel — tasted fine if a bit slimy, I didn’t like the bones
  66. kimchi — it’s now an intangible heritage as determined by unesco
  67. kopi luak (civet cat coffee) — tried a couple of sips from mm’s cup, not enough of a coffee drinker to tell either way
  68. lassi — both sweet mango and savoury, no wonder it’s a perfect accompaniment to curry
    pt248lobsterbefore vegemite01 frontera003trio 18before

  70. maine lobster — new year’s eve 1999, I met with some friends of a friend and they had a whole bucket of main lobsters, totally scrumptious
  71. marmite / vegemite — either one, I like them both and yes, it’s an acquired taste
  72. mexican at frontera grill — just walked in by myself, even got into a twitter exchange with rick bayless (or his social media people)
  73. noodles — laksa (both singapore style and penang style), pho, wonton noodles—japanese ramen is its own category
    ducktongue szhyatt017okra nz1548waitomo kent022oysters

  75. offal — pretty much tried them all: chicken gizzards, chitterlings, pig’s ears, tongue, kidney, heart, tripe, calf’s liver, brain
  76. okra — they are great grilled, not slimy at all, this is one of the food on this list that I have regularly, now that okra is easy to find at the market
  77. ostrich egg — one ostrich egg = 24 hen eggs, bought a quarter portion and made omelette
  78. oyster — I think people who don’t like the sliminess or texture haven’t tried delicate, sweet oysters
    paczki ldn174mktpaella pannacottayogurt007 2012hkpeking03duck

  80. paczki — my colleague treated me
  81. paella — we went skiing in andorra and were so tempted to buy our own paella pan
  82. panna cotta — i make it occasionally
  83. peking duck — it is more a special occasion food
    ctaste018goat ldnstrfood013hogroast purplesprouts02 kan012kyotoramen

  85. plantain — at taste of chicago, interesting texture and taste, don’t know if I’ll know how to cook with it
  86. pork crackling — way too yummy and way too unhealthy, when I tried making pork belly myself, had to slice the skin off and fry separately to get crackling
  87. purple vegetables — purple cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, purple peppers, purple sweet potato, love love love purple vegetables
  88. ramen in japan — authentic ramen from a hole-in-the-wall where you buy the appropriate ticket and pass to the server or chef, the sort of place david chang will approve
    sisuk006bday whbbq013pig quaileggmkt01 sushiuni

  90. red velvet cake — red velvet cheesecake is our favourite at cheesecake factory, also got sis a giant red velvet cupcake for her birthday one year
  91. roast suckling pig — the crispy skin and the tender meat, a dangerous combination, especially when we barbequed it ourselves
  92. quail’s eggs — so fiddly to shell, delicate taste but too high in cholesterol
  93. sea urchin — uni sashimi, sushi or handroll, yummy
    gcls13291inout sprdeer002shark snakesoup kan015calpis

  95. secret menu — at in-n-out: double double, mustard grilled with well done fries and peppers on the side
  96. shark’s fin soup — it’s become highly controversial and people are substituting for other soup, which is a good thing, the flavour comes from the chicken and herbs rather than the shark’s fin anyway
  97. sichan spicy hot pot 麻辣火鍋 — can I say, hot hot hot
  98. snake — good stuff, especially in a soup on a cold winter’s day, and yes it tastes like chicken (may be it’s because the soup base is chicken soup and there is a lot of shredded chicken in the bowl)
  99. soft drinks that are slightly unusual — gunner (ginger beer+ginger ale), arnold palmer (iced tea+lemonade), irn bru, watermelon soda, pocari sweat, bikkle, yakult, coffee pepsi, calpis, soft drink served in a plastic bag in singapore
    hk420nhacrabroll tx123babe spacefood01 paris101beeftartine

  101. soft shell crab — I like it as a handroll
  102. southern fried chicken — the greasy, crunchy, big-plated kind you find in Texas
  103. space food — they all have the same consistency and look like a freeze dried block, but it definitely taste like what it says on the package, I’d like to sprinkle space mint choc chip ice cream on real mint choc chip ice cream
  104. steak tartare — there’s a place in Paris near pompidou called Dame Tartine that serves the best steak and fish tartare, so good we went there twice
    goodstickyrice01 tw234stinkytofu praha031ham kor653snack

  106. sticky rice — white and black sticky rice with mango = one of the best south-east asian sweets
  107. stinky tofu — it just smells funny, in terms of taste it’s deep fried tofu, crunchy on the outside and soft inside
  108. street food — in nyc, in portland, in most asian cities, eastern europe, in london there is a street food festival on the south bank every weekend during the summer; street food is big nowadays
    tok026chirashi hk273sashimi ledbury011asparagus ledbury030souffle

  110. sushi at Tsukiji market tokyo, fish market osaka, fish market sapporo — having sushi at the top fish markets in the world is special
  111. sushi from live fish ikizukuri — and lobster too; still moving when we ate the flesh, then the carcass was used to make soup
  112. tagine — with cous cous or bulgar wheat, was almost tempted to buy a tagine myself
  113. tasting menu at a michelin star restaurant — both lunch and dinner, the first time at the ledbury was for mum’s birthday and they gave us a brilliant soufflé to celebrate
    tehtarik syd104harrys ldngoodman018mac xmas11007plate

  115. teh tarik — india and singapore, there’s something about the pulling that gives the tea its signature lightness
  116. tiger at harry’s café de wheels sydney — beef pie, mash, peas and gravy, can’t find a better combination anywhere in the world
  117. truffle — one time when we were still poor students, we went to Carlucci’s and splurged out on white truffle omelette, lately there’s a lot of truffle macaroni cheese in restaurants
  118. turducken — instead of chicken in duck in turkey, I had guinea fowl, duck & pheasant
    twinkies wasabipeas ork00highlandpark sd128winery

  120. twinkies — THE American snack food, I thought it tasted sweet and like processed sponge, unlikely to try again unless starving
  121. wasabi peas — i can eat the whole packet
  122. watermelon vodka — took a week to make, very interesting taste, easy to get drunk on it, also was in charge of making caipirinha at the same party, parts of which I have no memory of
  123. whisky more than 30 years old — highland park 30 and 40, plus held a 50yr HP bottle
  124. wine made from peach, pear, rhubarb, blackcurrant, preserved plums, rice, soaked with snake, vampire wine, wine in a bottle shaped like a lighthouse, writers tears irish whiskey, and soju, the world’s best selling liquor — if it has alcohol, I’ll try it



#87: 101 things done

Task #87 of 101.1001 is to make a list of 101 notable things and activities achieved, excluding food and travel. These are tasks/goals that are popular on bucket lists—when I started putting this challenge together I was like, “drat I’ve done this, it can’t go on my list.” Sometimes referred to as a reverse bucket list.

  1. act in a play — extremely amateur college group, for 2 nights only; i was the leader of some sort of rebel group and started off being prisoners in chains (aka grey cardboard rings around our necks), I can’t remember the rest
  2. acupuncture — I used to have back pain and had to go to this doctor who would stretch my neck using a traction machine, acupunture my back, then manipulate my spine until it cracked, it was temporary fix. Interestingly the back pain went away when I started running
  3. appear on the news — I was walking on the street behind the reporter on the way to college, didn’t notice anything and only knew about it because mum saw me on tv
    kerrautograph amberbenson01

  5. author autographed book — i have a lot of writer friends and when I was buying physical books I was lucky enough to have them signed; the first author signing I went to was Katherine Kerr in London, the one that brought out the fangirl was Amber Benson in Chicago
  6. be on a tv show — when I was very young, like may be 5 years old, my sis and I were on an episode of a children’s program, that’s all i remember
  7. burn spaghetti cooking in a pot of water — I wasn’t much of a cook then
  8. buy a car — took me a long time to buy a car with my own money
  9. buy a house / apartment — bought before the bubble burst, took forever for the price to come back up to breakeven
    nz0491fishing nz0525salmon

  11. catch, cook, eat a fish — lake wanaka new zealand, we went salmon fishing then prepared it in our little hotel room, sashimi and other parts microwaved
  12. character in a book — won a charity auction, and the lovely writer wrote a character who was so endearingly me, wearing a shirt I want to own and in a scene with a good friend that was incredibly realistic
  13. collect things — stamps, coins, banknotes, leather bookmarks, stationery, pencils, rubbers (american: erasers), pencil cases matchboxes, swatches, whisky miniatures. Only swatches, some banknotes and whisky miniatures are left, I’m trying to figure out how to dispose of my leather bookmark and stamp collections profitably
  14. crack an egg with one hand — I can cut stuff up the chef-y way too, and cut onions fast enough without crying
  15. cut my thumb with a bread knife, blood all over the kitchen, wrapped the injury in a dish towel, remembered to set the timer to record X-files, got a taxi to the hospital and had 5 stitches—still have a slight fear of bread knives and have permanent numbness of said thumb but didn’t miss that X-files episode—I got my priorities right
  16. do something from the analog age — rotary phone, pay phone that you had to put in 2p before the pips ran out, 35mm film, vinyl record, record music off the radio onto cassette tapes
    nyc128nobu ky207wildwarehouse

  18. do stuff alone — went to the cinema, ate at Nobu, moved around the world all on my own; did the bourbon trail on my own too, taking the samples with me in the car to enjoy back at the hotel
  19. dress up in fancy costume — there’s a picture of me at 3 years old in a cute indian (as in cowboys and indians) costume; there’s also one of me at 10 years old dressed as a tree, both for school
  20. drive stick shift — this shows up on so many bucket lists. I can drive any car as long as I can reach the pedals/controls, manual or auto transmission, on both sides of the road
  21. drive 120mph on the motorway — don’t do this, kids
  22. donate blood — just once in London, to get my blood type, other countries don’t want my blood because they think people from uk have mad cow’s disease
  23. eat at a Michelin star restaurant — one star: l’atelier de joel robuchon | two stars: the ledbury
    nz1612zorb scan05gun

  25. extreme sport — did one run in a zorb in new zealand
  26. famous encounter — went to college with Viscount Newry and Mourne—actually was in the same MBA study group and didn’t know Rob was a peer until very late in the school year. Also was in the same school year as Bobby Moore’s daughter, Dinah Rose QC and once queued behind Gary Lineker at a sandwich shop—none of these people will remember me
  27. fire a gun — first term in my undergraduate year I joined the gun club and learned how to shoot a handgun; the club closed when someone accidentally shot someone else in the foot
  28. flat stanley project — for my niece, her paper doll was called flat neena
    cx1st02salad a38017landing

  30. fly first class — did that a few times, so luxurious I didn’t want to leave the plane
  31. fly in an A380 — from singapore to sydney, and on Emirates, not such a big deal now
  32. garage sale — made over USD150
  33. get a degree — yep
  34. get a postgraduate degree — yep
  35. have a portrait drawn — had a caricature drawn in Paris, it’s around someplace
  36. help a charity — my money has been working hard at kiva for a few years helping microfinance several small businesses
  37. hold a snake — at one of those shops that sell snake soup, I was too fascinated to be scared
  38. jump off a diving board — way back when I was a teenager, at the school pool
  39. jump into a pool of icy water straight from a sauna — it’s what they recommended, but omg it was sooo cold
  40. knit a scarf — can’t knit or sew; this was part of a school homework and my grandmother had to help me finish it, I’m sad that I can’t find it anymore
  41. live in a foreign country — yep, but I’m not sure what is foreign, my definition of home used to be where my furniture is and now it’s where my electronics are
  42. lose x pounds — between late 2008 and 2009, I started running and counting calories, max weight loss was closer to 30 pounds but I’ve gained some back
  43. mad scientist — walked around most of my college years in a lab coat with spatulas and pens and goggles hanging out of the pockets, played with liquid nitrogen, sniffed chloroform, poured conc. sulphuric acid from one bottle to another without gloves and without a drop spilling (do not do this EVER, kids)
  44. make a snowman — very cold winter in London, we had over 12 inches of snow that year and was the first time i saw snow
    lemoncurd201302 beet eggs day 1

  46. make my own jam — marmalade and lemon curd too
  47. make something pickled — beet eggs, so delicious
  48. mile high club — totally meaningless
  49. money: be debt free — apart from mortgage and car loan I took out for credit rating, have never been in debt and since both are paid off, is debt free
  50. money: earn more than x a year — a popular milestone set by many people
  51. money: have more than x total — another popular miestone
  52. money: invest in shares — the first shares I bought were BT shares when they were privatised, have a few more since then
    huntingknife02 ldnpara00T54

  54. own a weapon — excluding baseball bat, I have this rather lethal looking hunting knife i bought in switzerland
  55. participate in a lifesaving drill — at school, i was the victim and had to be rescued by my friend who was taking the test
  56. participate in a mexican wave — at the athletics stadium during the london 2012 paralympics
  57. participate in a protest — the day after June 4th 1989, there was a massive spontaneous protest at chinatown, the march to the chinese embassy stretched from the top of regent’s street all the way to piccadilly circus [edit: #umbrellamovement recently, of course]
  58. photo challenge: did numerous 26things, a day in the life and 31in31 challenges, check flickr sets

  60. pin all countries visited on a map of the world — it’s the home page of my travel section
  61. play a musical instrument — piano lessons when I was a kid, got to grade 6
  62. play in a school sports team — i was basketball captain even though I was the youngest, probably the shortest and wore glasses
  63. play paintball — on a cold december day, the ground was frozen so even more pain
  64. pray at the vatican — at the side of the main area at st peter’s is a peaceful, pretty chapel for praying only
    kent001wheelers scan02whitstable

  66. publish in a magazine — my picture of Wheeler’s restaurant at Whitstable was published in the oldie magazine, I got £60 out of it
  67. publish in a magazine 2 — a picture of my hands holding a separating funnel once appeared in the new scientist
  68. publish in an academic journal — there are 7 papers at the Journal of Organic Chemistry, although my supervisor wrote them, I only did the work
  69. read a banned book — American Psycho, Animal Farm, Grapes of Wrath, Nineteen Eighty-Four — surprised I haven’t read more
  70. read all the books by an author — the earliest example was Desmond Bagley
  71. register as an organ donor — problem with living in multiple countries is that it is different everywhere, anyway my NHS donor card is always in my wallet
  72. ride a camel — at the great wall, I think, it was a long time ago
  73. ride a chair lift — lots of those on ski slopes
    scan16heli wdwdhs054rock

  75. ride a helicopter — at a fair (Welwyn Garden City or Hatfield) with mum, it cost £20 or 25 per person for a 15min ride, worth every penny
  76. ride a horse — there are stables at hyde park and you can take a ride with an instructor for a few hours, can’t say I’m in any hurry to do it again
  77. ride a rollercoaster — I got dragged into trying the rock’n’roller coaster and tower of terror at walt disney world, ack never again, too scary
  78. ride a routemaster — or, jump on and off a routemaster, better known as the red london buses that have a platform in place of a door at the back
  79. ride a segway — when my friend RM came to chicago for a visit, we went on a segway tour, it was a lot of fun
  80. ride a sled — still own that sled that sis gave me
  81. ride in a stretch limo — only in New York, with fellow interns
  82. run through a sprinkler or fountain — in Singapore and at Orlando, had to quit because i was competing against kids
  83. running: charity run — don’t do a lot of running for charities, the one where I raised the most money was AIDS runwalk 5k, where I raised USD1,400
  84. running: run a marathon — chicago 2010, chicago 2011, brighton 2012
  85. running: sub-30 5k — 29:53 mins at Ravenswood 5k, one of my favourite races, it was through my local neighbourhood
  86. saw a ghost (possibly) — or may be it was just a woman in a flowing white dress walking at the side of a dimly lit road with no houses nearby
  87. see a ballet/opera/classical music concert — yep, done all of these, the most memorable was a marathon of Beethoven symphonies 1-9 at the festival hall, a whole day event
  88. see a broadway play/musical — saw rent and phantom of the opera when I was living in NYC
  89. see a cirque du soleil show — quidam I think, they were touring in switzerland in 2000-2001 and the entire staff of UBS Zurich were treated to a performance
  90. see a west end play/musical — can probably have its own mini-list — phantom, les miserables, chess, cats, miss saigon, love never dies, chicago, wicked, singin’ in the rain, matilda are the ones off the top of my head
  91. shuck an oyster — surprisingly easy
  92. sing karaoke — don’t like it, but I have done it
  93. sit for a professional photograph — I had graduation photos done when I got my first degree; and when mm got hers done I had a couple of portraits done at the same time
  94. speak another language — I would stop short of saying I’m fully bilingual; in terms of speaking I can do both, reading I’m one and a bit, as for writing it’s only english
    scan17archery stg014kski

  96. sport: archery — did a couple of times, thought it was great fun
  97. sport: fencing — went to a few fencing club lessons during my first year as an undergraduate, still remember some of the moves
  98. sport: ski or snowboard — I got to be quite a good skiier in Switzerland; tried snowboarding and never liked it
  99. sport: ski or snowboard on a dry slope — there used to be a dry ski slope in Beckton on the A13, it was the earliest experience; lately tried some indoor ski and board slopes where the slopes are like huge conveyor belts, the perspective is very different when the ground is moving
  100. survived an accident — ski accident at Flumserberg of all places; luckily no bones broken, but I was brought down the slope by mountain rescue in a sled-stretcher and now own a pair of purple crutches
  101. swim in the sea — don’t like how I can’t see the bottom, but went swimming when I used to go on boat rides
  102. teach a class — used to teach primary school level language for a bunch of kids, same class for about 4 years
  103. tech: have a website — yes, this is a website, i’ve had it since 2003
  104. tech: write a blog — the entire website is built using movabletype, i’ve written a blog post every day since july 2007
  105. travel internationally without a passport — it was pre-9/11, i’d lost my passport that day with no chance of getting a replacement. the first leg was domestic LGA—>SFO and I got by with a photo ID; international out of SFO there was no additional security, I just had to present my boarding pass
  106. volunteer — visited and helped some OAPs as part of a school thing, it was a really great experience
  107. walk away from an unsatisfactory job — did that without anything else lined up, but things worked out pretty well at the end
  108. walk behind a waterfall — did that with mum at niagara
  109. win an academic prize — won a couple of year prizes at school, we could pick a book of our choice and get a nice certificate stuck inside
  110. win nanowrimo — every year since 2004, except 2007
  111. win the lottery — small amounts here and there, nothing more than £25
  112. work at a call centre — did a few days’ temp work picking people’s names and numbers out of the telephone directory and asking them something (can’t remember the script) when I was in college


#59 make vanilla extract


Task #59 of 101.1001 is to make vanilla extract.

Vanilla beans are expensive, so it’s a waste to discard the pods after using the beans. (In my case the beans went into some really creamy homemade vanilla ice cream.) Vanilla extract, the good stuff, is also quite expensive. It’s actually really easy to make from vanilla beans and some alcohol. Most recipes use vodka because it’s flavourless, but bourbon, brandy or rum can also be used to impart an extra flavour dimension.

I’ve had one bottle with bourbon sitting for a couple of months, and it smells divine. The bottle is just a screwtop soft drink bottle, I could use prettier bottles or mason jars but why waste money? I also have another bottle with vodka in the cupboard, that one is newer, about 2-3 weeks. The good thing is I can continue to add used vanilla pods and alcohol and the extract lasts for years.

Haven’t used it in cooking yet, can’t wait. 

sunset at aldrich bay


We were going to get our hair cut together, but mm was too tired and decided to wait for a couple of weeks. So I went on my own. Chatted a little with Sam (our hairdresser) and we calculate that he’s been cutting my hair for more than 15 years, may be even 20. I like him because I don’t have to tell him what to do, and he’s not talkative. He knows I don’t like talking, unlike 95% of the other customers there, so he gets on it.

I went looking for panettone afterwards, but couldn’t find any. Sigh. Bought a couple of pastries to bring to mm for tea—they were really good. She was feeling more energetic and it was a nice day so we went for a walk along the seafront next to her building. Caught the sunset too. I like the colours on this pic.

She had dinner plans with her school friends, so I stopped off at my last resort supermarket to look for the elusive panettone. Yay, found them. Got an apricot & chocolate one for mum and a marron glacé for me.

#94 pack a go bag


Task #94 of 101.1001 is to pack an emergency go-bag. This started with Sis, who is obsessed with survival. She’s had an emergency duffel bag for a long time, and I bought her some survival stuff and a few MRE packs in the US last year.

Supposedly, a go-bag should have enough supplies to survive for 72hrs when evacuating from a disaster. Some people pack for longer, and there are dependencies for factors such as climate and location. Typical survival programs talk about surviving in the wilderness but realistically, I think my go-bag should cater for an urban environment since I live in a city. We can even buy ready packed emergency bags, even deluxe editions, for 1, 2 or 4 persons. Mine is from stuff I already have, supplemented by a few specialist survival items.

  • backpack — one of the company swag I got from Communications, good regular size with outside pockets
  • food — one MRE pack, cereal bars. gu, chewing gum, sweets
  • drink — 500ml water, empty water bottle, lifestraw water filter, tea bags
  • small keychain hipflask with whisky — because whisky is important
  • medicine in a ziploc bag — painkiller, anti-histamine, band-aid, mentholatum, mask, tissues
  • toiletries in a ziploc bag — toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, deodorant
  • spare clothes — t-shirt, zip-off pants, hat, underwear, socks — I should find a lightweight jacket or something long-sleeved to add to the kit
  • spare glasses
  • notebook, pen, sharpie, chalk — the notebook has personal information, contacts, passwords and passport photocopy
  • wallet with money and a few photos — photos for ID and to show people if I need to search for family or mm
  • carabiner with keys for my place and parents’ place
  • flashdrive with documents and personal information
  • hand-cranked radio torch with USB port — supposed to be able to hand-crank enough charge to make phonecalls, which is all that is needed in an evacuation or emergency
  • world adaptor, charger, cables for iphone, ipad, microusb
  • small towel
  • survival blanket
  • survival pouch — flint, waterproof matches, whistle, parachute cord, ties, rubber band, sewing kit
  • swiss knife, nailclipper — may want to swap for a leatherman
  • survival quick guide leaflet

Everything packs neatly inside the backpack and I can carry it comfortably. I’ll need to grab the iphone if I need to run, and I’ll just have to contend with whatever shoes I have on me at the time. It’s not a perfect kit, but it’ll do if there really is an emergency. I could pack more, or use a bigger bag, but I decided a backpack is the easiest and most flexible.

I’ll check and swap out food items every year. The idea is that the bag will never be needed.


exploring the parks I run in


8.22km 69.50min 8.30min/km

If I’m at home I run along Bowen Road, which is a 12km round trip if I go all the way to the end and back. At parents’ place I run at two different parks. Shorter runs I go to a small park nearby (which I’ll call park A) which has a small football field, 2 basketball courts and a jogging path. It’s not even a running path because it’s only 265m around and usually overrun with old people. One circuit of the jogging path together with 2 circuits around the football-and-basketball area just about makes it to 1km.

For longer runs I go to a larger park (park B) that has several full-sized football pitches, a swimming pool, tennis courts and an athletics track. For odd reasons they close the track at weekends, but there is a marked running path that goes all the way around the athletics arena that measures 600m. The trail (pic above) that surrounds the various playing fields in the central area is 1km so between the 2 routes, it’s already 1.6km (1 mile).

Parks A and B are next to each other on the map, separated by the famous checkboard hill, that was where airplanes made the 47° right hand turn before landing at the old airport. As an aside, watch the video, it shows how planes used to make that spectacular (and dangerous) landing in the middle of a crowded city onto a runway that has notorious crosswinds.

Anyway, I tried to look on google map and street view to see if the two parks are connected. Couldn’t really tell, but it seemed like there is a narrow path that goes up the hill and back down. So I went exploring today. The answer is, yes, the two parks are connected. As expected, from park B it’s a steep, narrow path partially hidden by trees that leads to about 100 steps on one side of the hill, then a steep and winding road down the other side that ends up at park A.


What was utterly charming are two discoveries at the top of the hill. The first is a lookout point, now partially blocked by trees. I guess that’s where plane-spotters used to go to look at planes landing at the old airport. The second discovery is an enclosed field with a big open grass/dirt area in front and a few benches at the back. Only one entrance which is gated. The sign says something like water department recreational park (can’t remember exact name, forgot to take a pic) and it’s right next to a few buildings with water department signs on the outside. What a discovery. The pic makes it look bigger, I’d say it’s about the size of a football pitch. Hard to get to, with steep access up and down, there were only about a dozen people there. I’ll try to go there again next long run. 

photofriday: stillness


The first photofriday challenge of 2015 is stillness. This was one of the shortlisted 2014 favourites that didn’t make the final 10.

title: antelope island state park, utah
description: Antelope Island state park is the largest island on the Great Salt lake outside Salt Lake City in Utah. The barren yet beautiful scenery consisted of beaches and deserts; the hot day making it hazy like a painting
date: july 2014
also available to view full-sized

©invisiblecompany 2015, all rights reserved<

2015 run #001: 5k 38.37mins


5.04km 38.37min 7.39min/km

May be it’s the longer distance weekend runs, or may be it’s the modified strides I did the other day. I finally managed a sub-40 5k at week 12 of the 52-week marathon training program.  

I guess I should be cautiously pleased, at the beginning of the program my pace was abysmal, sometimes struggling to reach 9min/km. I can’t be complacent though, I need to shave another min/km to get to my baseline of 6.40min/km and I have to do it in less than 12 weeks. The real challenge is then to take 20 seconds off. A 4:30 marathon is 6.24min/km.


january 2015 challenge


My friend R challenged us to another 30 day challenge. I thought I’d go back to the original TDP challenge format, after doing a couple of 30in30 last year. I realised my life is pretty boring, sometimes it’s tough to find something to do for the day.


  • run 80 km (50 miles)
  • run/walk/bike 120 km (75 miles)
  • weights or circuit x4
  • crunch 50 reps in 1 set
  • check out wall climbing / boxing / tai-chi course


  • non alcohol days x20
  • vegetables x24
  • fruit or juice x24
  • within daily calorie goal x 24


  • visit parents x20
  • cook for family x2
  • family activity x1
  • bbmm activity x1


  • 3 completed 101.1001 tasks
  • random from photo-a-day
  • photofriday x1
  • lookback post x1
  • LL edits x5 chapters