bbmm shunde 02

No social or other obligations, so we stayed in to enjoy our tea and coffee. Played a bit of marble game too. Still full from last night so we ended up skipping lunch.

The main itinerary for today was to go to the massage place. Had full body and foot massage for 4hrs. Ate 3 oranges and 2 bowls of herbal jelly as sort of lunch substitute. My muscles completely ache all over now. Surprisingly, I thought my left leg where the ITBS is would hurt, but it didn’t. I got a long lower feet and hand/arm massage though, that was sorely needed.

sde012lambhotpot sde013lambhotpot

On the way to town we saw a sign for a lamb place so we went there for dinner. Hotpot with all sorts of lamb parts that can be ordered. We had the set, which included sliced lamb, bones, belly, offal, claypot rice and green vegetables. Would have loved to try some more, like blood or marrow or placenta, but too full.

The gas meter was fixed, so there’s hot water. And now the washing machine isn’t working. Argh. Too sore from the massage, and no internet so I was asleep by 10pm.

hip stretches

I decided that my ITBS and loss of pace are both partially due to hip issues. The tightening of the hip flexor makes the legs feel heavy and severely limit the range of motion around the hips and knees. Started training for a week now and each run is accompanied by either hip or knee pain, sometimes both.

This is the first time I’ve had hip pain. So I added hips to my foam roller routine. I’ve also been doing some of the back stretches I found earlier this year when I had lower back pain, because it’s all connected. The hip flexor group of muscles goes from the lower spine through the pelvis and to the thigh. The hours spent sitting on a chair all day fix the muscles at a compressed position. Obviously the less time sitting the better, but other than that I need to find a way to release the shorted muscle group.

This is one hip flexor exercise I found on youtube. Initially I was only able to hold the position for 10 seconds, especially with the problematic left side. The purpose is to reverse the chair sitting posture.

crescentlunge

Looks similar to some yoga poses, like crescent or low lunges.

It’s hard to tell whether any of this is effective. The weekend run was faster, although I’m pretty sure it’s because it was absolutely pouring and I was hurrying home. The long run today was just as slow as before–there was knee pain but minimum hip pain.

massage that hurts

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I went over to the massage place to have a body massage—I haven’t been for probably 1-2 years and there’s still credit on my account.

It’s not one of those soothing massage that makes you go ahhhh and fall asleep. This one hurt. The therapist focused on my problem areas—lower back, arms and calves. He hit the pressure points way too well, some spots were really painful. But I know it’s for the good.

Even though I roller my back all the time, there’s still a lot of stiffness and soreness all around because of modern living, posture and running. I wish I can remember to go more often, if only to get my lower legs and especially the IT band loosened occasionally. The left arm and wrist, well they won’t get better so quickly or readily unfortunately.

30in30 #8: mindfulness 20mins

Task #8 of 30in30 is to do mindfulness meditation for 20mins.

I’ve been diligently doing sb&t daily and although I’m not sure I’m seeing results, it’s a nice way to close my eyes and slow down for 10mins. I particularly enjoy the body scan meditations, which is just slowly becoming aware of parts of our body moving through head, neck, shoulders, back, arms and legs.

I found this 20min guided mindfulness exercise that is 100% body scan. It took me a few beats to get used to a new voice — this one is a British guy vs the usual American woman on sb&t. Once I got past that, I was able to follow the meditation.

I even tried a few steps of mindful walking when I was walking to the bus stop. May be I’ll download something to the iphone to listen to next time I’m out and about.

30in30 #9: sleep early

clock1010

Task #9 of 30in30 is to sleep early.

I haven’t been sleeping well. I wake up in the middle of the night, usually 3 or 4am, then can’t get back to sleep until 5 or 6am. I don’t know why. I don’t think I’m stressed. I don’t drink anything with caffeine after around 3pm, I don’t eat anything substantial after 8pm and because I don’t need to get up for work there are days when I’m in bed till 9 or 10am.

There’s so much research on sleep. Every so often there will be articles on why we can’t sleep, how many hours of sleep we really need and the science behind sleeping. All sort of interesting, but doesn’t solve my can’t sleep problem.

I’m going to bed early tonight. I hope I get some quality sleep.

30in30 #7: mindfulness 10mins

stopbreathethinkapp

Task #7 of 30 in 30 is to do mindfulness meditation for 10mins.

Today was a travelling day. We did tons of walking, shopping and pushing suitcases along the streets of Tokyo before flying home. Got home around 11pm, unpacked and showered. So it was good to sit quietly, close my eyes and listen to the meditation for 10mins.

#100: try meditation

stopbreathethinkapp

Task #100 of 101 in 1001 is to try meditation.

Most people will agree on the benefits of meditation. There are many different types and practices of meditation, some relating to religious practices. I didn’t want to get into religious meditation, and didn’t want anything too fancy or new age-y or deep. A free app is perfect for trying. Stop, breathe and think is

a friendly, simple tool to guide people of all ages and backgrounds through meditations for mindfulness and compassion

I’ve used the app daily for a week now. It’s a simple process — check in, note physical, mental and emotional status and the app will present a few meditations to follow. For a few minutes, it tells me to close my eyes and be aware of my breathing, then it tells me to think about happiness and compassion and noticing what is around me. It may tell me to think about my current position, then expand to the room, the city and then the whole world.

Before I started reading up on the app, I thought meditation was basically sitting there with your eyes closed and not thinking. As usual, that’s over-simplification. The SB&T app teaches mindfulness, which a fellow user aptly describes as a non-judgmental, neutral state of mind:

mindfulness is all about acceptance. Feeling shitty? Want to rip your hair out? Waiting for Tylenol to kick in? Super jealous of your friend’s new car? Want to punch that guy in the face? Well, ok then. Just feel that for now

I like the just let it be part of the teaching. If I had to state a goal for trying meditation (aside from checking off another 101.1001), it’s to temper my constant anger towards people, because they exist. Whenever I have to venture outside, I look at all the people around me and I wish they could be exterminated. The other extreme is I completely don’t care about anything or anybody. I think I need to find some middle ground that acknowledges that, like it or not, other people exist in this world and I have to tolerate them. May be mindfulness meditation can help.

It’s only been a week, too early to tell if it works. I try to focus and follow the app, but i must admit I still get distracted sometimes. Instead of getting uptight about it, I allow myself to be distracted while the rest of the meditation plays and I can usually get back to it. If I don’t want to follow the recommended meditation I can go to the main menu and select another one. There are longer meditations available as IAP but for the time being I’m sticking with the free ones.

There are loads of mediation apps, including best selling mindfulness meditation and headspace. I already have apps that play relaxing melodies or white noise. Lots of resources.

30in30 #10: sleep early

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Task #10 in 30 in 30 is to sleep early.

Woke up early today, and fit a lot in: onsen before breakfast, drive around jozankei, drive to lake shikotsu, check into onsen ryokan, more onsen, scrumptious dinner. The hotel we woke up in and the hotel we ended the day in are actually only 5mins’ drive from each other although very different in style.

A lot of waking up early, lots of travelling, a lot of spa, all in all it meant I was really really tired. No internet so after dinner I read for about 15mins before flopping down on the tatami bed and falling asleep at 10pm.

hokkaido day 3: sapporo, jozankei

Woke up to mm wishing me happy birthday, yay. Breakfast was a the café denmark inside the station shopping complex — egg curry roll, brioche and I had a royal milk tea which was basically normal tea made stronger than their normal weak standards. Checked out of the hotel, not before trying the free massage chair at the lift lobby and also discovering they had a lounge with free coffee. Ah well. Had some difficulty finding the car rental place, we were a little confused with google maps before realising that the office was next to Sapporo subway station and not the JR station. It was actually just a couple of blocks from our hotel on the same side of the street. Ah well.

sap184curbmkt sap191curbcrab

Drove 20mins to curb market and found a parking space around the shops. Unlike the covered nijo market, curb market had seafood shops lining both sides of a stretch of the road. Lots and lots of crab, crab and more crab. We had lunch at an upstairs restaurant, which we remember from last time. Uni & ikura rice, grilled cuttlefish, grilled corn and a bottle of beer to share. Yummy. Dessert was melon slices from one of the shops on the street.

joz011cafe joz014cake

After lunch it was off to leg 2 of our trip, to Jozankei onsen. It’s only about 45mins’ drive from Sapporo, on a regular main road. Small village with several hotels, a couple of shops and some cafés. It was too early for check in so we stopped at a traditional café. Tea, coffee, toast and pound cake. Very quaint and European style, down to the delicate china and wooden tables.

joz022hotel joz046honey

We were staying at two different onsen hotels at Jozankei. The first is the Shogetsu Grand, a more commercial and larger place. Lovely view of the river valley from our tatami room. We unpacked and made our way to the lounge for tea, coffee and to sample their honey bar. They had something like 15-20 different types of honey to try, from flowery ones like lavender and rose to fruity ones like apple and pomegranate to odd ones like sunflower and something woody. Crackers and yogurt were available to go with the honey. So relaxing, just sitting there at the lounge.

joz065spa

joz070spaoutdoor joz072spaoutdoor

Even more relaxing was the onsen itself. A very large spa with 3 indoor pools at different temperatures, an outdoor spa and a steam room. Obviously you’re not supposed to take pictures in an onsen, but we sneaked them while no one was around. Great soak for about an hour until it was time for dinner.

joz083setting joz101papillote
joz115riceeggsoup joz122dessert

Dinner was amazing. It was served in our room, and like all kaseki meals it consisted of neverending courses. Umeshu appetiser with small plates of starters, fish, sashimi, pork meatballs cooked in broth at the table, pumpkin and pork rib en papillote, chawanmushi, flavoured rice, soup and a seasonal sakura pudding with blueberry vinegar. Even though we were full it wasn’t the type of bloaty fullness associated with overeating. Most of the dishes were vegetable or seafood, only a small amount of red meat.

After laying around and allowing the food to digest, we headed down to the onsen for another soak. The relaxation was topped off with 10mins at the massage chair (¥100) and then it was time for bed. What a great day.

30in30 #9: something relaxing

00sap05onsen

Task #9 in 30 in 30 is to do something relaxing.

Day three of our vacation, drove a short 45min down from sapporo to jozankei where we have 2 nights at 2 different onsen hotels. Today is at shogetsu grand. We visited the onsen before and after dinner. The onsen has 4 different spas and a steam room. One large spa, a cooler one with space to lie down, a really hot one and our favourite, the outdoor spa. Although outside, it is covered and secluded so there is privacy. Very important since at japanese onsens no clothes are allowed. We’re also not supposed to take cameras and mobile phones inside but we sneaked our iphones and took some pics and video while the place was empty.

quietest places on earth

hok376forest

Close your eyes, sit still, breathe slowly. What do you hear?

Unfortunately for me, it’s not just the clock ticking or the faint turn of the fan on the computer, it’s a constant, inescapable cachophony of traffic and people noises. I can’t hear myself think, I can’t relax, it’s very disruptive and annoying. If I had to lose a sense (and no disrespect to those who have) I have always said I’d rather be hard of hearing.

Where to find quiet places? Truly quiet, tranquil places free of human or human-made sounds. Surprisingly, it’s not Antarctica because of all the tourist and research activities. Not the North Pole or Canada or Siberia due to commercial aircraft routes. In order for an area to qualify as a quiet place, it has to be at least 1,200 square miles, large

enough to create a sound buffer around a central point of absolute quiet

According to bbc future, only about 12 of these places exist in the US and there are more in South America and Scandanavia.

Seems that to experience true quiet, these places have to be built. Called anechoic chambers, they are both sound proof and sound wave-absorbing. The quietest place on earth is a room at Orfield Laboratories, Minneapolis, which can apparently drive people mad. With no sounds, the only sounds a person hears are heartbeat, breathing and the rushing noise made inside the ear. May be we could all do with a sound absorbing room in our lives.

japan trip day 2 part 2

shirahama — coastal sights, sunset, onsen

shira168sandanbeki shira183senjojiki

After a leisurely lunch, we drove south along the coast to see the sights there. First it was a brief stop at the marine lookout tower. Just a quick snap from the entrance. Then it was sandanbeki 三段壁 which means three parts cliff. A short walk brought us to a lookout platform with 180° views of both sets of cliffs. There was a tunnel inside one of the cliffs that led to underground caves, but we didn’t have time to explore them.

Parking at the cliffs was ¥500, which would be refunded if we spent at least ¥1,000 at the shop. Thinking that we didn’t have anything particular to buy, we thought we’d walk around the shop anyway. Ha! Ended up spending over ¥4,000 on a bag of green satsumas and bottles of blueberry vinegar. At least the bottles were plastic, our liquid haul was beginning to build up. We had 30kg allowance, but we were still relatively restrained in our shopping, there were still whiskies to buy.

Another few minutes’ drive from sandanbeki was senjojiki 千畳敷, flat slate-like rock formations on the coast. Worth spending a few minutes taking pictures and walking down to the bottom. No car park fees or shop temptations.

shira197sunset shira204onsen

We had a voucher for one of the public onsens, and we had about 1.5-2hrs till dinner back at the hotel. We had assumed that everything was provided for, but forgot towels. Ah well, ¥250 on a towel souvenir is okay.

This onsen was spread over a large hill, with spas at different levels. We started with the indoor one next to the showers and quickly moved onto a secluded one outdoors. That one was very nice and peaceful, sitting in the hot spring we could hear the wind through the trees and birds calling too. Well, until the peace and quiet was shattered by a group of mainland tourists. Ugh. These idiots are everywhere, can’t escape them.

We changed back to street clothes and went to explore the spas at the upper levels. What a shame we didn’t have time to try them out, some had great views and seemed a lot quieter than the main ones downhill. What we did manage to catch, with perfect timing, was the sunset. Spectacular colours over the bay witnessed from a wonderful vantage point, it was fate.

shirakan060sukiyaki shirakan061sukiyaki

Dinner back at the hotel was sukiyaki tonight. A huge platter of one small lobster, a variety of fish, squid, pork, chicken, beef, mushrooms and green vegetables. Sashimi, small plates and pickles at the side of course. There was enough for 4 people, especially if we took up the offer of additional rice. Could only try a small amount of udon at the end. Umeshu with the meal, as usual.

After dinner, we re-organised our bags. It was funny, we didn’t discuss it, didn’t agree on anything, but as soon as we got back to our room, we went to our respective corners and started the repacking process. It was a good use of the rest time between a meal and going to the onsen.

We didn’t have exclusive use of the onsen tonight, a few other people came and went. One woman brought her baby to shower and soak in the indoor spa for a while. We still went through each of the spas, even when it started raining we stayed at the outdoor one. Didn’t want to leave the comfortable hot springs, a bit sad, our final night at the onsen.

brown noise sleep

I haven’t been sleeping well. I wake up constantly during the night and get woken up at 7am by the slightest noise outside, and I can’t go back to sleep. Yes, yes I know some people have to wake up earlier than 7am to go to work and I shouldn’t be complaining. This is about quality of sleep.

Anyway, I did some research into colour noises and how pink noise helps sleep. The low hum of static noise such as coming from a fan or on an unused radio frequency appears to pacify busy parts of the brain. It’s summer so the aircon is on at night, but I thought I should supplement it since obviously it’s not sufficient.

There are white noise machines, 10 hour youtube videos, downloadable mp3s, and free streaming services. Lots of choices.

At the end, I downloaded the app from simplynoise, and placed my old iphone on my pillow so the noise was close to my ear all night. I used the brown noise option, and had it on low oscillation. Brown noise has lower frequencies and with the oscillation it sounded like gentle waves. (One minute example above.) Did it help? I managed to sleep a little later than usual, so perhaps. The iphone battery lasted all night, so it was good. Time will tell.

love

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It’s Father’s Day weekend. We went to anticipatory mass at a faraway church (because mm wanted to catch up with one of the Fathers from the church she was baptised), the theme was love and the reading was from Luke.

Then Jesus took him up and said, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He replied, “Say on, Master.”
“There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty.
“They were unable to pay, so he let them both off. Which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered, “The one who was let off more, I suppose.” Jesus said, “You are right.”
4Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.
You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in.
You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
For this reason I tell you that her sins, many as they are, have been forgiven her, because she has shown such great love. It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love.”

The Father who conducted the mass today is one of the most senior and well known fathers, and his homily was simple. Do you deserve more of God’s love because you have forgiven more; or do you give more love and so God will love you?

There seem to be several lessons to be learnt here. Simon the Pharisee’s preconceived idea about the woman sinner, he can’t see her love for her great sins. The woman displayed great love for Jesus, despite her sins, and for that she was loved and forgiven.

For me, it seems to be a matter of intentions. Forgiveness as a currency of sin, yes. But do you forgive so you get love; or do you love anyway with no regard for the amount of love you get back?

Parental love, that’s the latter. It’s unconditional. At the end of the mass, he asked all dads to line up in the middle aisle and he blessed them all one by one. They each got a small gift too. How wonderful.

massage

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Spa day. Was shopping with mm a few weeks ago and she stopped at one of those aromatherapy places. They had a trial promotion for massages, so we booked for a trial at < a href=”http://www.alqvimia.com” title=”alqvimia”>alqvimia. I’m more used to standard massages that are more muscle manipulation (ie more painful) than these oil-slathering type of massage. First, the therapist checked for which type of oil would suit my type, then she put on soothing music and I got 60mins of a nice relaxing massage. It was okay, I felt no different afterwards. I probably won’t go again, too expensive.

massage day

queenspa

We took the train, 45mins, went through two vastly different immigration checkpoints (one side fully electronic with fingerprint sensor, the other a scramble and long queue), checked in with the counter at the station and within minutes were at the queen spa complex. Seven levels of relaxation, wow.

First, we were directed to the lockers where we were given a security wristband with a number. This number will be used at the end to settle up. Then it was time for sauna, steam room and a shower before changing into the uniform pajamas. Then the fun begins. The menu had a selection of body massage, facial, hand, foot, head, back massages as well as manicures, pedicures and even hairdressing. One floor was massage, another was the pool, the main lobby had huge armchairs with personal tv sets.

We opted for 90min body massage. It’s pretty standard, my muscles were sore afterwards because it’s been a while for me. There were free fruit, ice cream, snacks, tea, coffee and soft drinks. After the massage it was time for dinner. Again there were choices — the main restaurant upstairs, the smaller restaurant on the main floor or sit at the armchairs and order noodles. The food was good, relatively expensive.

Head and foot massage for 90mins after dinner. By then it was 10.30pm and we’d been there over 5hrs. Total bill including tips worked out to be just over £100 for 2 people. The tip situation is always awkward, they push for big tips and give limited choice on the slip you sign at the end of each procedure. The smallest amount is already 30% of the cost of the massage and it goes up to several times the cost. Reading the reviews it seems to be a persistent issue and I won’t be surprised that westerners or people who can’t read have been scammed into giving a biggest available tip amount.

Although called a spa, and having the usual spa facilities, it’s too family like, noisy and busy to be truly relaxing. Staff are polite but quite in-your-face. It’s the nature of the beast I suppose. Go without expectations, know what you want and it will be a good experience.

#55 get a facial

I went for massage in some shape or form for 4 days in a row. Foot massage, spa massage, lymphatic drainage and then facial at L’Occitane. I was feeling quite miserable cos of the throat infection. It was a “Velvety Apple Almond” course. Cleanser, then…oh sweetness…10mins of STEAM treatment!!! It was supposed to be for my face, and both my face and my throat was ever so grateful. A little bit of pain as the therapist squeezed the blackheads off my nose, then a couple of masks. Feeling good afterwards.

spa day

It’s mm’s birthday. We went to a spa at one of the big hotels. Very tastefully and serenely decorated, with tea served as soon as we arrived and peaceful ambient music throughout.

We went for a 3 hour package. Started with foot massage — foot spa, massage itself then a mud wrap. Then hot stone massage and facial. The first time we had hot stone massage was in Bangkok after the Kenya trip. It was much needed, really great and relaxing. Nothing since then has compared. I fell asleep somewhere between the massage and facial, totally missing the facial experience. The next thing I knew, the therapist was peeling the mask off. Heh.

We had a little time to spare so we enjoyed the hot pool, sauna and steam room. Pretty decent.

Dinner with her family at the usual restaurant. Good to have a pampering day.

birthday pampering

spafourseasons

Met mm for lunch at our usual Korean restaurant, but that wasn’t the pampering for the day. After lunch we went to our hairdresser’s to get our hair cut, but that wasn’t the pampering for the day.

mm treated me to spa at the Four Seasons; and I treated her to dinner at the Marriott — those were the pampering for the day.

She’d booked a 90-minute relaxation massage for both of us. We got there 1.5hrs early to use the other amenities. The pampering started with the shower — not only rainforest, but 6 jets from the side. Then it was soaking in a large semi-oval whirlpool with waterfall feature. Sauna and aromatherapy steam room too. The relaxation room had reclining beds, personal TV screen and 3 choices of juices.

When it was time for the massage, we were led to the treatment area and allowed for rest for a few minutes. Initially we booked a double room but for some reason it wasn’t possible. It didn’t matter cos basically I fell asleep shortly after the massage started. I dunno, sometimes I wish I could stay awake during massages to fully appreciate it but other times I’m glad I’m relaxed enough to sleep. It included a hot stone treatment and I woke up for a minute during that.

After the massage we lounged around munching on dried fruit and hot tea. Then it was back to the steam room for one final soak before showering. Everything was available — robes, towels, shampoo, lotion, mousse.

Dinner wasn’t as pampering. We hadn’t been to lunch or dinner buffet for a long time. We agreed that even though it was at the Marriott, the standard isn’t as high as before. Or our expectations have risen up several notches. There was a giant seafood counter, but that was about it as far as wow factor went. It was a nice dinner though, it was great to spend time together and do something special to celebrate our birthdays.

eat and sleep

It’s one of those indulgence days.

Met mm for lunch. We were talking about it on Thursday and agreed on the Korean restaurant. Now looking back, we never actually talked about which Korean restaurant (out of many in the area) but we both knew where to go. We had cold noodles and oxtail soup. The noodles were very nice, and we’d order it again definitely.

After lunch we took the bus to the acupuncturist’s place. I hadn’t been since November, and got a small disapproving look from the nurse. My original reason — a terrible unending migraine — hadn’t returned. But I’m sure the reason behind the headache — stress — is still there.

We could have gone shopping but we decided to go for foot massage instead. Ah, so nice. I fell asleep, as usual.

Dinner at a wood-smoke oven place. The starters, Waldorf salad and cream of pumpkin soup, were good. But the wood-smoked steak was horrible. Not tough, the other way round and that’s because it’s been treated with baking soda to make it tender. Problem is, it takes the flavour and texture completely away. Disappointing. Even a free tiramisu won’t persuade us to return.

So, simple day full of eating and pampering. Nice.

relax home

relax nude

When I was looking for the hammock graphic for yesterday’s post I put in “relax home” in a google image search. This came up on the first page, in fact it was on the top line. Clicking on the image brought me to the uk durex site, which was um surprising. The reason is that the alt of the image is relax_home.jpg.

Anyway, I studied it for a little while and realised that I wasn’t offended by the nudity. In fact, I began to appreciate the photography — in particular the composition and how the head, arms and legs are positioned. It did show a relaxed body, but there was also something anticipatory about the pose. Normally I’m clueless about art, classifying everything under “like” or “don’t like” — this definitely falls under the “like” pile.

There’s too much stigma in society about nakedness, we should put away the prudishness and start noticing the how natural the human form can be.

back, neck, wrist

I visited an orthopedic chiropractor today, to have my neck and wrist pain looked at. No surprise that I’m stiff and my vertabrae are out of place. In fact, my #4, 5 and 6 vertebrae seem to have slipped from their positions. I know the area around my lower back is problematic too, but that wasn’t the focus today.

First a technician (that’s the best description I can come up with for the lady in the white coat) “worked” me up — a 15 minute therapeutic massage on my neck, shoulder and arms. Not the comfortable spa massages, oh no. This one was painful. She was strong.

Then to the doctor’s office. I sat in what looked like a barber’s chair while he manipulated and pressed on what was presumably acupuncture points all along my neck, the joint between my upper arm and my shoulder and down along my arm. Then he rubbed some “energy” into the top of my head and my left ear. It felt hot and stinging actually. Right now I hurt all over, but I think I will sleep easy tonight and will be better in the morning. Going back on Thursday.

nap in the afternoon

Now that I have almost all weekends to myself I’ve gotten into the habit of napping in the afternoon. If I’m sleeping in my chair, it’ll only be about 15-20 mins but I tend to sleep on the sofa in which case it’ll be about half an hour to an hour. Today I slept from 2.30 to almost 6pm!!! My first reaction was “a whole afternoon wasted” but then again, how better to spend my free time than to get some rest and catch up on sleep?

Don’t think it’ll eat into my night-time sleeping patterns, I don’t feel more energetic or less sleepy. Actually I have a bit of a headache, sigh.

pain in healing

We go for foot massages regularly, well we try to anyway. The massage place also offers body and other forms of massage. Today I had a body massage, but I was so stiff that the therapist suggested that I tried cupping, followed by ear candling / lymphatic massage. Not the usual.

Now, what is cupping? I’d read about it before, but never tried. watch a video demonstration.

The therapist put the vacuumed cup on my back and pushed it up and down. Dude, that hurt! Then he put the individual cups on the skin and pumped out the air. I could feel the skin tighten up and heat up. It was a little painful but manageable. Anyway I only had them on for about 5 minutes. At any one time there was about 5 cups, then he released them and moved to another spot.

Lymphatic massage went with the ear candling. It was quite painful too, especially when the therapist moved to the nodes under my arms. She said I was quite tight there. By the time she moved to the ear candling, I was fast asleep.

flickrcupping

Now I can still feel the effects of the cupping. There are angry looking circles all over my upper back and they feel sore and hot. Having said that it was an interesting experience. I’m sure it’s good for me too.

yoga me

She took me to yoga class today, she’d taken it up recently and already she is singing its praises. I’m not at first glance someone that does yoga, but I went along. It was good, the session wasn’t as tough as I thought and the instructor had a nice and relaxing voice.

Some stupid woman in the locker room pissed me off by shoving her way to the locker I was still using, that ruined all the relaxation that I gained from the session.

We went for a haircut afterwards, then sushi dinner. Relaxing. My hairdresser took half my hair off so it’s less thick and feels lighter now. Funny thing is he commented that my hair is becoming more curly. I mean, curly? Huh? I’ve always had straight hair and usually it’s not long enough to be curly. Hmm.

I washed my hair 3 times today — at the yoga place, at the hairdresser’s and then at home. It’s very clean now.

nice day

We met for lunch, then walked aimlessly around in the middle of the crowds. I’m less anxious today and have less of a desire to magic all the people on the street into an alternate dimension, some of them I still consider space wasters.

I’ve been looking for a new pair of sneakers, after the pair I’d been wearing since 1999 developed a hole in the right sole. I lurve that old pair, but it’s time to get a new pair. Been looking and looking. Don’t want one that’s too sporty, don’t want white or black or weird colours. Been seriously considering an Adidas Gazelle but I’ve never been an Adidas fan. Imagine how happy I was to find a pair I like today. And she bought it for me. SWOON!

nike sneakers

We got a bit hot walking around, so we went for foot massage again. At our old place. The therapist says my feet and legs were very stiff, she’s great, though she’s the most painful.

Dinner at a Korean bbq restaurant, it’s one of those ones that has been at its location forever. It was past 9pm and it was crowded. People kept coming in after us too. We had a set dinner for two: assorted small dishes, chicken, pork, beef, fish, squid, rice, soup, orange and a stick of chewing gum. I was dehydrated so I had a diet coke. We shared a small bottle of Korean wine. Good meal, excellent food.

Problem with korean bbq is, the minute I got home I headed straight for the shower. Everything about me smelled of the food — hair, skin, nails, teeth. All the clothes I was wearing today are right now in the washing machine as well as some of hers. She normally washes her hair in the morning but tonight, she washed herself from top to toe too.

All in all, a nice lovely day.

pain and pleasure

My back hurts. It’s the not sleeping properly, the no exercise, the sitting in front of the computers all day, the elbow hurting cos of keyboard and mouse usage.

It’s not the most pain I’ve had, but since it wasn’t so busy, I went for 2 hours of massage today. Not the gentle push type of massge, this is where they press very hard at joints and points. Still hurting but much better now.

relax day 2

We slept in and didn’t get up till after 10am. I wish I can do that every day, sigh. After the spa yesterday we were given a couple of coupons for complimentary drinks, so we went to the café and had tea (for me) and coffee (for her). Real tea leaves albeit lipton, which I had to abandon after one cup, I like real tea leaves but lipton sucks.

She wanted to go to a buddhist temple to ask for her fortune. Though skeptical at whether someone who is (?) regularly (?) going to doctrine lessons should be asking for fortunes in the temple of another religion, I was happy that the result was excellent. She asked for guidance on career and the outcome is that she is in a good position, with good prospect and people looking out for her. I’m relieved.

It was extremely hot and I was dripping inside, didn’t improve when we got outside and had to walk a way to the bus stop. There we found out that the next bus was in 15 mins time. We lucked out a bit, we found somewhere to sit under shelter, and the supervisor at the bus stop said she’d look out for the bus for us. In the end, I spotted it first!! Yay me! It was a long ride, 35 mins, to the end of another island, but it was worth it. We had lunch at a really famous Portuguese restaurant, Fernando’s, it’s motto is “no airconditioning, no high chairs, no ketchup, but we have food and drink.”

It was already 2pm and still we had to wait, I can’t imagine what it would have been like earlier, or at dinner time. We had chorizo sausages, garlic prawns, whole roasted squid and a green salad. Came with yummy bread that I bought half a dozen of, to the surprise of the waitress who had to ask the manager. I also had, like, 3 bottles of beer, yikes. Hey! It was hot and I was thirsty.

Took the bus back out to town, walked around and bit, bought some custard tarts, then went to take the ferry back.

Funny system with the ferries. They have 4-5 sailings per hour, and when most of the passengers for that sailing had boarded, they let people who have tickets for subsequent sailings on as standby. So the practice is if you bought a ticket for say 8pm, you can turn up at the terminal at 6pm and see if you can get onto the, say 6.30pm. Which is what we did, and we were lucky.

Got home at around 9pm and I was too full from the day to eat dinner.

Sigh. We had a wonderful time, the prospect of going to work tomorrow ……. not keen.

r&r

Went to St Gregory’ spa with AL and RO yesterday — my ex-colleagues from my previous company. Funny that none of us are doing the same job we were when we knew each other, 2 of us have left the company altogether. But we miss the family atmosphere, I’ve been where I am for 2.5 years now and if I think back at the days when I’ve done 2.5 yrs at the previous place, there’s a big difference. I don’t feel loyalty, don’t feel like I belong, no teamwork. We’ve been well and truly spoiled.

Anyway I did a body scrub and hair therapy massage at the spa. The scrub was nothing out of the ordinary, just some scrubbing with gritty bits that are supposed to exfoiliate, then wrapped in plastic and a simple head massage. The hair therapy was fun. Wet hair, then lots and lots of cream massaged into the scalp, with a finger massage. Then as it gets absorbed, a neck, shoulder and hand massage. Then a bit of steaming before more massaging and washing off. My hair was definitely softer afterwards. I was told not to wash it till Monday but I thought to myself there’s no way I can stand not washing my hair for 2 days.

The spa is part of the complex at the Plaza Hotel, there’s also a pool, a gym and a climbing wall I was eyeing, but never had the nerve to try. I was the first to finish, so I got a carrot juice while I waited. Afterwards we took a taxi to Suntec and had prata and gravy at the famous place there. I was already full.

Hung out at my room to play ligretto, wow, it’s been a long long time since I played. Next time I’m back in Switzerland I’ll have to remember to buy a box.

They left around 6pm, I was far too full from the prata to eat, so I took an early shower and turned on the Powerbook. But ezboard was down and I was soon getting tired. Nothing on TV either.

Decided to take a nap around 8.30pm. Next thing I know when I opened my eyes it was nearly 10pm and I was a bit cold. Turned the aircon down and went back to sleep. Woke up this morning at 8.15am, having slept for nearly 12 hours.

I needed that.

Came back from a big breakfast — birchermuseli, fruit, sausages, chee cheong fun, fried bee hoon, kaya toast. Hence the unusual phenomenon of posting at 10.30 in the morning.

No plans today, meeting C&R for early dinner, may be.

mmmbath

We bought these days of the week bath salts many months ago, could even be as much as a year ago. A packet of 7 of course, that’s been sitting idle on my bathroom shelf.

So it’s been cold and suddenly I feel like a bath, so I maxed the hot water heater, put the kettle on (cos the boiler doesn’t give enough hot water for a whole bath) and went about making myself a bath. Or as the Japanese say, a soup.

The Monday bathsalt is “Ocean” and it’s blue. Nice.

I stepped into the tub and had to jump out cos the water was too hot, but I mixed in some more cold water and after some adjustment all was well.

It’s been a while since my last long bath and boy was it nice. The best feeling? When I slid down and I felt the heat on my shoulders and my neck, it’s like I’ve been cold for a long time and finally I can feel the muscles relaxing.

attending to ourselves

By the time we woke up — or more accurately, got out of bed, it was late, real late, cos when we got out to town to eat, it was 2.20 and we had 10 mins to go until the afternoon tea special.

Then she went for a facial with her mentor while I had my hair cut. We’d arranged to meet 6pm at the crab shop. I finished at nearly 5 and originally just planned to hang out at HMV. But my neck was hurting so I did an hour at the massage place.

I got to the shop around 6.20 (SMS’ed to tell her my plans) and after a few phone calls, found out they were still on the other side of town. Sigh. Another hanging around waiting time, how are they part of my life.

Finally they arrived and we bought the crabs. The hairy crabs that are in season. Went to her brother’s place to steam them, we had 2 1/2 each. Very nice, but very high in cholesterol, so have to be careful. Had them with warmed wine, first time I tried, unusual but also real nice.

Just a bit of luxuriating.