A lifetime ago when I was doing the 101 tasks in 1001 days challenge, one of the tasks was make a list and photoset of 101 bucket list food items I’ve already tried. Food and drink like absinthe, century egg, deep dish pizza, insect. I had 101 items which I’ve tried but there were a handful of pics pending because I ate them so long ago, before the age of taking pics of food. Imagine having food in front of us and not taking out a camera or phone, quelle horreur!
One was bird’s nest soup.
And finally I’m able to add to the photoset; we tried it at the streetfood market at Bangkok Chinatown.
Bird’s nest soup is made from the solidified saliva nests of swiftlets, and expensive due to the rarity and difficulty in harvesting the nests. With all these weird foods, it’s supposed to be good for health. Usually eaten as a soup flavoured with a little rock sugar, the nests pretty much have no flavour. Texture like soft gelatin, or as the marketing folks say, caviar-like. The overwhelming taste is the sugar syrup. The last time I had it was probably 10+ years ago and I think the frequency of once every 10 or so years is enough for me.
The one task I didn’t fully complete from 101.1001 was #46, to go wall climbing. I counted it as complete because I made the booking before the end of the challenge. So today was the booking.
I got to the ymca around 20mins before the course, to fill in forms and give them a couple of photos. There are 2 sections there, and one of the sections had a kid’s birthday party going on. It was a small class, just me and 3 young women, friends from Singapore I think. The first hour was going over rules, safety and first of all learning how to fall. Then it was earning how to use the harness and belaying system. Learning how to make knots, use a carabiner, use a <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigri_(climbing)” title=”wiki’>grigri. We could climb up to 3m without a harness but anything above that we need someone to belay.
We were then paired off for our first climb as a team. Learned how to belay and steady our teammate. Checking each other’s equipment was paramount, as were the signals we have to give. Also learned how to fall and brace someone who is falling. The first time I did the fall I pushed off using my arms only and fell upside down, hahaha.
Climbed up and down a few times. I got stuck at the bit that was an outcrop but it didn’t matter. It was fun.
After 2 hours’ instruction was the assessment. Went through everything that we learned so far and made sure we did everything correctly. I was nervous and didn’t do too well. Was tired at that point too so couldn’t even climb very far. But I passed the assessment, so yay! Now I can book climbing sessions myself, but obviously without a teammate can only do the 3m or less bouldering. Definitely need more practice.
So I set out on 1 December 2013 on this 101.1001 challenge. I was determined to finish, having failed the last time in 2007 because I was actually doing 232 tasks.
The tasks varied between easy and more involved. I added 1001 posts to the website, 1001 pics on flickr and 1001 posts on instagram. I read a bunch of books, went to an art exhibition and saw a couple of musicals. Completed both nanos that coincided with the challenge, finally finished LL and designed its cover. Writing a short story was more difficult, but I got it done.
New countries, new US states, new World Heritage sites visited. New restaurants, new recipes and new whiskies too. Ate some insects. Ran and walked 1001 miles, then the 1779 miles of the Walk to Mordor challenge. Did some activities with family and mm, sorted out finances and achieved some other personal goals.
The one task that isn’t 100%, but I’ve checked it off as done, is go wall climbing. Because the courses are fully booked, I’m going in October. But I went and made the reservation and paid the fee before the end of this challenge, so I will definitely go.
Here for the final time, are the tasks with links to the posts corresponding to their completion:
mission: complete 101 preset tasks in 1001 days criteria: tasks must be realistic and specific, requiring actual effort and with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined rollover: incomplete tasks from original 2007 list are marked with **
start: Sunday 1 December 2013 end: Sunday 28 August 2016
be more…grateful and patient with family // done 25-mar-2016
Time to set a new challenge? Not sure. I can’t think of 101 new tasks to do, and repeating some of these ones is kinda boring-souding. I have started making a list of 101 things I never want to do, like bungee jumping, eat durian or do the iditarod. It’s an interesting list.
#74: put away $10 (or equivalent) for each goal achieved and #75: set aside $1 for each goal achieved and donate to charity. At first I started doing it, then I thought I’d just allocate a portion of my account at the end of the challenge for these. Interestingly I never thought about which currency. Local dollars? USD? AUD? Or even GBP / EUR?
Putting away $10 will give me $1010. I’m going to use this towards buying a new macbook later this year, when hopefully the new model comes out. I may get the new model or I may get a refurbished one year old model, depends on what’s available.
$101 for charity, but which charity? I have in mind two. Initially I thought of pAge drinking paper, which was #79 of this challenge. They’re no longer a non-profit and have set up a for profit company to distribute the book. I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s still a very important cause, to make sure people in need get clean water.
I’ll probably end up giving to the charity mm helps out with, that deals with mental health issues. They are quite small scale and fairly new, so every little counts. She puts in a good deal of work so I want to show my support.
Task #46 of 101.1001 is to go wall climbing. I have researched, and one of the best places to go is the YMCA. To begin with, everyone must go through an introductory course, which is great. Unfortunately they don’t accept bookings on the phone or online. It’s stupid. Anyway we were going pokéhunting in the area so I got off the bus one stop early and went up to the office.
They’re fully booked. The earliest available class is in October. There was a class of young kids when I was there and it looked like a lot of fun.
I’ll check it off, because it’s the last task. I’ll update after the class.
edit: completed 08-oct-2016, went to introductory class and passed assessment.
Pretty standard romantic tale. For some reason I decided to write it like the narrator is telling the story back to the two MCs so second person pronouns are used. I don’t know if it works. I have no idea if I’ll even submit it because of possible conflict of interest.
2,871 words written between tuesday and saturday. That’s slow for my standard but I can’t compare with the writer!me of 10 years ago.
Task #16 of 101.1001 is to finish LL. Actually finished a while ago, but still not 100% happy.
I have a deadline now. I need to get it ready and submit it by next summer. One of the best publishers I’ve ever met asked me. Face to face. There is no excuse.
There are parts in the middle that need to be expanded and better explained. Probably need more character growth too. I should stop tinkering with it and let good editors take a look so I can learn and improve.
I have to start working on writing again. Task #18 of 101.1001 is to design a book cover. I had in mind to take some pics in NYC for LL. Not as many or as good potential as I wanted.
The background is of stock market quotes in a newspaper from flickr user andreas poike under cc by 2.0. If/when I get a chance to submit a cover myself I’ll get a copy of FT and substitute my own image, I just didn’t have any newspaper at hand.
The Wall Street street sign and SMELLS graffiti are my own, from the most recent trip. I have a couple of pics of the charging bull but there were so many tourists I had to borrow from someone, this from flickr user sam valadi also under cc by 2.0.
The play on the son of man is based on a pic of me taken at Carleen’s friend Tom’s costume shop last year. The apple is also my own image and the frame from a random google image search for free images. Photoshopped to make it blurry and more like a painting. It’s something that will be referenced in LL, which I’ll need to edit in.
Is it a good cover? A passable attempt I guess. Can be so much better in the hands of a professional.
It’s taken me almost to the end of the challenge to complete #88 of 101.1001: make a list of 101 favourite things that make me smile. I didn’t want to list a whole bunch of food or places visited, so I tried to be a little more casual. Had to get help.
air-conditoning in summer
heating in winter
alaska daily life / survival programs
all you can eat japanese buffet
the amazing race
bag of clothes and stuff for charity
bbc good food magazine calendar
bless the lord my soul at the end of mass
bouncing on huge hotel beds
checking things off lists, completing lists
“chicago” from licence plates I bought from my ex-landlady
clean crisp sheets
clear skies, no pollution
clothes that just came out of the tumble-dryer
cookery competition programs
cycling along the lake
darth maul double lightsaber I made at disney world
duvet “fluffy” that mm bought for me
eating an ice cream cone huddled together outside in the freezing wind
fizz in soft drinks (was coke zero, now more likely to be soda water)
flying first class
flying with entire empty row
foam-rollering my back and hearing it crack back into place
food that need all fingers to eat
giant fruit — giant mangoes, giant peaches
mini fruit — mini watermelon
good investment return
half my hair gone after haircut
homemade jam & marmalade
homemade butternut squash soup
leaving/escaping the region, no matter how short
maps on a road trip
menthol crystals that have been in my family for decades
no need to talk
no plans is the best plan
noise isolating headphones on the plane
o holy night
oncoming runner who waves or smiles at me
onsen in japan (hot springs)
paddington recreation ground, maida vale
panettone at christmas
parking perfectly into a narrow space (“one hand wheel”)
peace and quiet
perfectly poured pint of beer
photograph that just works
playing old school games–scrabble, marble checkers, trivial pursuit
playing with excel
propping my knees with a pillow in bed
rachmaninoff piano concerto #3
rain after a hot day
recipe successfully executed
reading a new book, discovering a good author
re-reading a favourite book
retreat houses and convent stays in italy
running along the lake in chicago with snow still on the ground, in shorts
running around hyde park in the pouring rain, water dripping down my cap and everything completely soaked
running around reservoir park except at weekends when it gets crowded with baseball players
running: completing a race
saying thank you at 11:11 or 1:11
seafood so fresh, you can taste the sea
skiing on fresh snow in the alps
smell of baking in the kitchen
smell of freshly mowed grass
soft, fluffy, thick bathrobe
steak at hawksmoor with a glass of blanton’s
steak from less popular cuts
sunset over water
surprise presents from abroad
tech that follows me everywhere — iphone, ipad, mba
travelling — anywhere
uniform of hard rock cafe polo shirt, jeans, sneakers
vegetables I can’t get readily — kale, savoy cabbage, fennel, parsnips
view of british hedgerows and farms from the plane
wallpaper of queenstown nz at sunset, still not tired of looking at it
warming my hands on the radiator
watching bbc programs outside the uk
watching cricket, wishing I can play
whisky — japanese whisky from nikka distillery
whisky — wee dram of highland park, doesn’t matter which year
Completed a couple of 101.1001 tasks during the trip.
Task #8 is to go see an old musical. I saw Matilda, which I’d seen in 2012 in London. Love the production, I can see myself seeing it even more times in London again, in other locations and if it goes on tour. Although based on a children’s book and targetted at children, it has a lot going for adults too. I’m still humming When I Grow Up.
Task #61 is to plan, cook and serve an three-course meal, with wine. I had an idea of what I’d like to cook when at home, which I may still do so another time. This meal was actually a 4-course meal I planned at the last moment when I was in the huge seafood store in Chelsea Market. The sheer variety of seafood there was enough to make anyone want to make a feast.
For starter I had a mixture of topneck and littleneck clams. I preferred the small littlenecks, with their sweeter flavour but the entire dish was fresh and fabulous.
For mains I panfried a skate wing with spot prawns and kale. I haven’t had skate for a while, can’t get it at home. Probably overcooked it a little, but still tasty. The prawns were wonderful.
A small cheese board of cranberry and goat’s cheese I got from the supermarket, a Paymaster goat’s cheese from Brooklyn that was washed in chocolate whiskey and an Alderney hard cheese made from raw organic hard cheese, from a creamery in the Catskills.
Dessert was stuff I had in the fridge: blackberries and raspberry sorbet.
Funny when I posted on fb, people were congratulating me on my cooking. The clams were simply boiled in water until they opened and seasoned with a little fennel tops. The fish, prawns and kale had the most cooking but, er, pan-frying is one of the easiest things to do. Cheese and dessert were putting food on plates. But all in all, I’m very satisfied with the meal. Since it was only me, I couldn’t go crazy with wine and stuck with the one bottle.
Task #60 of 101.1001 is to open a cookbook to a random page and make whatever comes up.
Because of differences in terminology and how ingredients are measured, I never use American recipes. For the longest time the only American food website I visit was simply recipes because of the old MT-loyalty thing. Gradually I added smitten kitchen, especially after Ms Perelman added proper measurements to her recipes. I bought her book when it came out, even got an autographed copy.
So when I decided I should start cooking again, as in not just day-to-day cooking, I grabbed the book and opened it up. There, on page 250, is a recipe for tiny but intense chocolate cake. Looks divine, and very simple to make with easy ingredients. Can’t find it on her website, but it was on house and garden. I love the description:
In the short list of recipes I think any baker should have – or simply any person with friends, who delights in making those friends happy – is a chocolate cake to be thrown together just because I… Well, actually I did not know today was your birthday. Of course I am free tonight!
85g butter – the book says 85g, online recipe says 115g
3 eggs, separated
65g sugar – online recipe says 45g
vanilla extract – i made it myself
pinch of sea salt
pinch of cinnamon
Melt the butter in a small saucepan until almost brown. Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted. Let the mixture cool.
Whisk egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon until smooth. I only used about 10g sugar because I was using toblerone instead of 70% chocolate. Add chocolate mixture. Whisk egg whites separately until stiff peaks, then fold into chocolate mixture.
Bake at 180ºC for 15-20mins until skewer comes out clean.
Remove from oven, allow to cool inside tin. The cake will deflate and come away from the side of the tin, at which time it’s okay to take out.
The recipe says to use one 15cm/6-inch tin, but I only have the standard sized ones so I used even smaller 12cm/5-inch tins. Yielded 3 cakes.
Very, very light! It was like biting into air. Flourless cake, that’s why. I used barely any sugar so it wasn’t too sweet. From start to finish, less than 1 hr and it took that long because I couldn’t be bothered to get the electric whisk out and whisked the egg whites by hand.
Excellent last minute recipe and definitely worth making again.
Tasks #64-68 of 101.1001 are to try 5 new whiskies. This is the last one.
I finished both the Laphroaig PX and Bunnahabhain Cruach-Mhona. Wanted something to fill my flask that I keep with me on my desk. Decided to open this one that I bought at TWE from their “fill your own bottle” casks.
It’s a blended whisky called Arras. Cask strength at 54.2%. I can’t find much info on it online, the only pages point to TWE’s own promotion. No tasting notes anywhere I can find either.
Pleasant on the nose, slight sherry sweetness. Not smoky or peaty at all. Since it’s cask strength, I find the first sip fairly strong. Once it settles down, I taste fruitiness: pineapple and citrus primarily. Add a drop of water and the aroma spreads. Reasonably smooth, with more citrus aftertaste. Medium tail.
IIRC it was £40 for 500ml, which puts it in the expensive range, especially for a blend. Worth it, though. TWE obviously select their casks carefully. I may not get this one next time, but I’ll definitely think about their other “fill your own bottle” options.
So on this Good Friday, I want to express my gratitude for my family. My dad has been feeling poorly the last few days with what we initially thought was the flu. His temperature was still up this morning when he went for a repeat consultation at the doctor’s. I was out at lunch with mm when Mum called to say doc said it’s pneumonia. Ack. I went home asap.
Apparently it’s community-acquired bronchopneumonia. Coughing, tiredness and not enough oxygen leading to shortness of breath and increased heart rate. Doc actually recommended an overnight hospital stay but there weren’t any beds so dad got a shot instead. He slept for a couple of hours in the afternoon and wow, the shot was good. Temp down to 37.4ºC and he felt good enough to walk around, take a bath and even attempted to wash dishes before we shooed him away.
Mum and I made dinner. Congee with veg for dad and leftover noodles for us. We called Sis to update her. Doctor’s orders were that no one visits, so we told sis to stay put. Doc also said mum and I are likely already infected but our bodies may be able to fight it. Reminds me of that Plague game I play. I had a sore throat a couple of days ago and right now I feel a little discomfort in my chest and have a slight cough. Went running with no problems though and have been drinking water.
Our family tends to not communicate; we can sit around the dinner table in total silence. Sometimes communication takes the form of irritated words. A small illness like this made us work better together. I’m doing my very best to be patient and understanding. Mum is also stepping up. I know Sis will pitch in immediately whenever she is needed. We spend too much time normally arguing about tiny things, it’s not worth it and I should always try to be positive and supporting.
The trip to Europe is at risk. We’ll see how it goes over the Easter weekend. Mum will probably cancel her ticket so now it’s up to me to decide if I want to continue the trip on my own or shorten it.
Tasks #28-30 of 101.1001 is to visit 3 new countries. Did greece and israel on the cruise in 2014. Although strictly speaking, visiting Bethlehem meant I could add Palestine too, I wanted to add a new country during another trip. So, here is Vietnam.
Arrived at Halong Bay at 8am. Miserable, misty day that did very little to highlight the beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage site. We joined the ship’s excursion so duly showed up at the theatre at 9am. It was organised chaos with hundreds of people waiting for their tours. We got a small sticker and waited for our number to be called. The ship was moored in the bay itself, instead of getting a tender and boarding the tour boat, we went straight on our tour boat.
Total 31 people on our tour, so not too bad. Everyone seemed fairly quiet and educated. The guide spoke mandarin, a feature on this cruise, so I didn’t listen and went outside to try to take pictures. The weather didn’t help. Most of these have been photoshopped. I can imagine how the rock formations will look like when there’s no fog and the sun is out. One of our tourmates described the scenery as like a watercolour painting. He was being generous.
Still quite spectacular, especially the pillars that simply jut out of the water.
Possibly the most iconic image of Halong Bay is the one of two chicken-shaped rocks, popularly called either the kissing rocks or the fighting rocks. Other tour boats were in the way, it’s useful to use them as a scale. These are two of the smaller rock formations in the bay.
Stopped off at thien cung cave, a steep walk up into the 10,000 sq meter cave with several floors and high ceiling.
Impressive limestone stalactites and stalagmites lit in several places by lights. Too dark to successfully take pictures, I’m glad I got a few that were in focus.
At one point our guide pointed out an opening to the outside. Probably that was where the cave was first discovered. I dunno, I didn’t understand what he was saying.
After the tour of the bay and cave, we returned to Halong town. The excursion became bizarre. We got off the boat into a coach, about 10mins drive to what looked to be a newly developed…street. We were escorted into a building, given badges and were shown around a department store. Salespeople flocked around us trying to hawk pillows, mattresses, towels, clothes and even toothbrushes. Everything looked cheap, outdated and tacky. Felt like we time travelled back to a 1970s communist store, any moment an official will demand our ID book and shopping permit.
The street outside the store was empty and devoid of people, except tourists bundled off coaches. The street ended abruptly with tarmac one minute and muddy fields the next. There was a market one block down selling souvenirs. Most people opted to buy food–coffee (including civet cat coffee) and cashew nuts. The cashews were pretty good, so we bought a couple of packets too.
By then everyone was hungry and looking for food. Not many options, the only one seemed to be a bar café whose enterprising staff set up a table outside cooking noodles. I guess this is our experience of pho in Vietnam. The noodles were okay, no different from what I’ve had all around the world. A sign of the times, they accepted CNY. But we only had large notes and didn’t want to accept change in local currency. Somehow we got the waitress to tell us the price in USD. We calculated the meal to be $7, she quoted $8. Was quite happy to give them the extra dollar.
This whole last part of the excursion was weird and staged. Definitely were brought to an area dedicated solely for unsuspecting tourists. On the way back to the tender, we passed by real local streets and I wish we had the time to walk around there instead.
Impression of Vietnam: not enough to gauge really, a guided excursion where we were spoonfed stuff is not the best way to experience a new country. Halong Bay was beautiful, although I was a little underwhelmed. Too crowded and too little free time to truly take everything in. There was a part of the town I saw on the coach that had narrow, colourful colonial houses. There were small tiny local eateries too, as well as giant luxurious hotels. Felt like a developing SE Asian country, somewhere between mainland China and Thailand.
Dinner was now a theme: barely edible overcooked food. Spicy chicken where the chicken was dry, watery salad, green minestrone (I’ve never come across green minestrone), spaghetti arrabiatta that was not spicy, green crème brûlée that had no custard or brûlée topping–it was yet another mousse-like concoction. Cheesecake was passable. Our routine after dinner: salad on 11/f then back to cabin.
When I started the challenge, I thought I’d be able to get a PR at one of the races if I pushed myself to do marathon training. It’s been very difficult to gain speed, and I’ve all but given up.
The weekend long run went well, so while I had a little time before we need to set off for our cruise, I went off for a quick run. It was pretty good, even a little flow-like. Felt like old times.
The problem was the GPS. There is no way I did km 3 in 1.37. That’s equivalent to running 100m in 9.7 seconds. Km 4 and 6 were weird too. Luckily I was running at the baseball park so I was able to estimate distances. I think the GPS overestimated my run by around 1km.
wonky GPS: 8.0km 46.59min 5.52min/km
more realistic: 7.0km 46.59 6.43min/km
If we believe the GPS, it’s a PR by 1 second. Of course, it’s more realistic to stick with the 6.43 number, which is close to what used to be my baseline of 6.40. This is the best since I started 101.1001 and is basically telling me not to write myself off. May be there’s time to get a real PR in the next few months.
With today’s long run, I’m now at 1786 miles / 2874km, so I’ve reached the target. This is the last part, when the fellowship broke up at Rauros. Frodo and Sam travelled 470 miles to Mt Doom in a tough 30 day journey, first paddling and then climbing, climbing, climbing. Plus meeting and fighting Gollum.
It’s taken 26 and a bit months to do this. Some months I clocked more than others. Initially I was just getting through the minimum and then marathon training helped a lot–probably if I weren’t training for 2 marathons I may find if hard to finish.
458 miles: from Hobbiton to Rivendell
462 miles: set out with the Fellowship from Rivendell through Moria to Lothlorien = 920 miles total
389 miles: from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls = 1309 miles total
470 miles: Frodo and Sam on the quest from Rauros to Mt. Doom = 1779 miles total
101.1001 challenge done, but the overall challenge continues. I wonder how long it’ll take me to complete the remaining 1618 miles / 2604km that takes the fellowship from Minas Tirith back to Bag End especially since there’s no deadline. I work best with a target date.
Task #1 of 101.1001 is to upgrade macOS at least once. When I set the challenge, I thought I’d follow the normal upgrade route to 10.7, 10.8 etc. We’re at 10.11 now.
I’m still running 10.6, because of old software and old hardware. I normally upgrade when I get a new mac, and credit to the little mba, it’s still running well after more than 5 years. I’m quite happy with status quo, making me one of around 5% of mac users still on 10.6.
In a way this is a slight cheat, but my challenge…my rules. Last week there was an upgrade to snow leopard, a small patch to ensure continual compatibility with the mac store. Not that I use the mac store, but I upgraded anyway.
This is all because I want to delay getting a new machine for as long as possible.
Task #80 of 101.1001 is to scan 101 family pics. The idea is to slowly scan the boxes and boxes of photo albums.
This album has small format 3.5”x2.5” pics of me and sis, from when I was around 4 to 9 years old. Quality still good, well preserved. Each page has 8 pics, so scanning all 16 pages = 128 pics in total.
Compared with 101 squats, this took longer to achieve because I’m poorer at crunches than at squats. What helped a great deal was I’ve been following a 30-day challenge that focused on crunches, squats, lunges and wall-sits. Started with 10 crunches on day 01 and reached 100 crunches (plus 75 squats and 100 lunges) on day 30. Not a problem to add one extra to get to 101.
A bunch of other people on fb are also following the program, which makes it more fun. It’s well known that crunches, squats and lunges are beneficial for all levels of fitness. I should continue the program to help strengthen my hips and core for running.
Task #25 of 101.1001 is one of the incomplete ones from the 2007 challenge. This was from tues, find colour in an unusual place:
any color, bright or drab that you wouldn’t normally find in place. (example, on a steel gray manhole cover a small scrap of brilliant pink colored wrapping paper)
I’m not a very observant person when I’m out and about. Mostly I want to get to my destination with the minimum interaction with the external environment. I also keep forgetting this task. Sometimes I do see possibilities, like flower petals on a concrete slope, or oddly coloured flowers we saw at the market last year.
This was on my run today. A bunch of blue and white balloons were stuck underneath a park bench. The blue and white are not colours we expect to see at a park, especially the blue which was more aquamarine. I’m thinking someone had a wedding or graduation photoshoot there and left the balloons. All the better for my challenge.
It’s also poignant. tues set this assignment in 2007, and I took this on an iphone and instagrammed it. In 2007 the iphone just came out and instagram wouldn’t appear until 2010.
Task #90 of 101.1001 is to leave an inspirational note for someone to find.
Originally I envisioned getting a postcard with a motivational message and leaving it in a random book at a bookstore. I forgot to get it done at Powell’s in Portland, which would have been really great seeing that it’s a huge bookstore.
For once, I’m glad I procrastinated. Two things happened in parallel.
Task #17 of 101.1001 is to outline book / story ideas.
Since nano is done this year, it’s worth using some of the momentum for writing and related. I have ideas dating back a long time, yet I never get round to starting, let alone finishing them. It’s not good. As time goes by, I get more ideas and the backlog gets bigger. Definitely not good. Anyway, it’s all in Evernote:
lamplight follow-up with Kian and Anna in Albania and the Balkans
shep (nano 2009)
the house on the lake (nano 2013) — indy and pete building indy’s dream house with a green roof
party planner (nano 2014) — melody is trying to organise a retirement party for her dad and meets restaurant manager samantha
melody on church (tight, nano 2005) — sam’s dream of starting her own restaurant becomes embroiled with melody’s strange obsession and sam’s own family weirdness
in pieces (nano 2006) — sam’s descent into insanity while melody decides she wants to be a nun, needs a happy ending
short story prequel, robot sheepdog project, how they met
short story ghost
the actual novel where MC1 goes to oxford to gain closure with joey’s parents and meets MC2 in bath
drive (nano 2011) — minicab driver and missing child
tips (nano 2012) — heir hunters at harrow road
work travel go (nano 2015) — tech startup CEO goes undercover at travel destination, meets volunteer
how the hosts met — 1990s story of how dee and sm met, why sm needed wheelchair 25yrs later
master will universe (obviously need to change names)
days of innocence lost (earth as a short story prequel) — may be expand to novella length?
days of innocence returned — 150 years from now, w has been a good vampire, reinventing herself every few decades, enrolling in universities to try to find a cure for cancer. and then t comes back
there was a third planned but I can’t remember what it’s about
summer into winter — inspired by david harsent’s book
bigtown — post apocalypse universe, hacker vs tyrannical dictator
magic — need to find the outline
12 races in chicago (nano 2010)
spotter — what if the world’s most tragic person invented a time machine to go back to history to eliminate disease, disasters and wars? the world’s population has grown to the point where it is impossible to sustain, and going to the future reveals everyone dies of famine; spotters are sent out to mark people out for elimination or retention, what if a spotter spots the wrong person
unmasked — short story, starts in a blind restaurant
Task #15 of 101.1001 is to complete nano 2015. Got to 50k on day 15, but to truly complete means having it validated on the nanosite and getting the winner’s badge. Validation started today, and I validated at 52,219. Scrivener gives me 52,282 and google docs 52,199—there’s always a discreprency when using different tools.
There’s an achievement badge for updating wordcount 30 days in a row, so I’ve been writing a few hundred words a day to keep it going. I’ll try to remember to continue until the 30th. I think badges reset every year so I’m not entirely sure why I’m so keen to get the badge. I suspect it’s OCD, that I can’t bear to have one greyed out badge amongst the entire set.
Today I reached milestone 3: from lothlorien down the anduin to rauros falls at 1309 miles / 2106km. According to people who keep track of such things, this part of the journey took 11 days and was mostly paddling on the river. From then on the fellowship breaks up and continue independently: frodo and sam 470 miles to mt doom; merry and pippin 355 miles to isengard; aragorn, legolas and gimli takes a longer route of 484 miles to isengard.
There are only 470 miles left on the task, I will be able to complete this. A goal is by the end of the year; B goal is by the end of Q1 next year. I’ll probably do the back part of there and back again: after being rescued by giant eagles there is the 1625 miles from minas tirith back to bag end.
Task #7 of 101.1001 is to go to a new musical. Today I went to see on your feet at the oriental theatre in chicago.
There are so many new musicals that I’ve lost touch at what is showing and which one is new. On Your Feet is a show about Gloria Estafan and her husband Emilio: how they met, how they worked to become successful in the music business and how a bus accident almost derailed their lives and careers. Some reviews likened it to a feel-good tv movie. Although there are similarities to a tv movie, the energy, the music and the overall production pushed the standard much higher.
I can’t name a single Gloria Estafan (with or without Miami Sound Machine) song, but I could recognise the bigger hits when I hear them. And I did, the bigger hits. The songs I hadn’t heard of before were a revelation to me, I enjoyed them too. The dancing was great and the energy was infectious.
The singing. Wow, the singing. Ana Villafane plays Gloria, looks like Gloria, and sounds like Gloria. Superb. The other cast members were memorable too, from Josh Segarra who played Emilio and the family members: Gloria’s mom, grandmother, father and sister all excelled. The boy who played both her son and a dancing bar mitzvah boy was wonderful. At the end of both acts, the audience were on their feet, clapping and dancing, that was how much everyone enjoyed the show.
Task #45 of 101.1001 is to take a tai chi, yoga or martial arts class. This is one of the ones carried over from the 2007 challenge. This time I was determined to sign up and attend at least one class. The opportunity came when Sis said to come with her to kickboxing class. That counts as a martial arts, right?
The gym looked pretty serious, with separate men’s and women’s sections separated by the reception area. There is a small changing room with showers. Sis had spare gloves for me but I had to get wrapping bandages for my hands and ankle protectors. The class was definitely a beginners’ class and it was more like using kickboxing moves in a cardio routine. Punching with or without gloves, kicking in the air or against the punchbag, squats, pushups, and combinations. The first part of the class was easy enough, and then the instructor started giving us more complex routines. Burpees combined with punching and kicking; crouching (as if to avoid an opponent) and crunches.
All in all, an intense workout. I got tired towards the end. Not sure if I’ll go again, perhaps. Some people like class exercises, I don’t. I prefer running and doing weights at home so I don’t need to be in the company of other people. Plus, I don’t see the point of paying so much for gym or kickboxing studio membership and class fees.
Task #97 of 101.1001 is to stop using as much salt and substitute with herbs & spices.
One of the biggest advantages of staying at an airbnb is home comforts like a kitchen. The flat we stayed in London had a nice kitchen with proper hob, oven and utensils. The downside is that you’re limited to what is already present, unless you buy or bring your own flavourings. I was making roast lamb shoulder. There were olive oil, salt and pepper. Although half a drawer was full of herbs & spices it was chilli, curry powder, star anise and the like. I could use them, of course, but what I really wanted was rosemary, which wasn’t available. I didn’t get any fresh sprigs when I bought the lamb, so I improvised with other dried and fresh ingredients.
I used some italian seasoning, s&p. The side dishes with the lamb were roasted fennel and asparagus. I finely chopped bits of fennel and asparagus offcuts, and used those as the fresh herbs.
It’s definitely the quality of lamb, but I’m hoping the improvised seasoning helped too. The lamb was roasted to perfection and the side vegetables were really good.
Tasks #69-73 of 101.1001 are to try 5 new restaurants in 5 different cities. This is #5 of 5.
Our friend invited us to dishoom behind king’s cross for lunch. Our first impression was how the area had completely changed. Where it used to be dangerous and derelict, it’s now modern and stylish full of office buildings and fancy restaurants.
Dishoom’s theme is Indian street food. The restaurant’s decoration is a mix of old school colonial train station, gentrified godown and steampunk. Great atmosphere. There were a large number of small plates to share. We ordered chilli cheese toast, okra fries, calamari, lamb boti kabab, greens with a fabulous chilli & lime dressing, daal, naan and roti. Everything was delicious, we ordered extra lamb. For drinks I had a bhang lassi, which had mint, ginger, candied fennel and coconut milk.
The small plates were less than £6, the lamb less than £10 so pretty good for London prices. Lots of flavour, and different flavours too, to the usual curries and biryanis. Indian food has been described as Britain’s national dish, and if all Indian food were like Dishoom’s, then it’s not a surprise. Definitely worth returning. Repeatedly.
Tasks #69-73 of 101.1001 are to try 5 new restaurants in 5 different cities. This is #4 of 5.
We were in Dublin for my birthday and based on previous experience, I picked butcher grill in ranelagh and made a reservation a few weeks in advance. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed the oysters and côte de boeuf, even though the service was quite arms-length. We didn’t have a lot of time in Dublin and when I read about a new-ish restaurant specialising in less popular cuts of meat, I was afraid we wouldn’t have time to try it out.
As it happened, we made time to go to bear in south william street just west of grafton street. Having read that they didn’t take reservations for two, we went early and got a nice windowside table. There was a bar parallel to the front of the restaurant with the rest of the tables on a mezzanine behind. The wait staff, who were the poster boys & girls of hipserhood, were a little distracted preparing for guests but we’d just come from Italy so were in slow food mode.
Aside from the usual ribeye, sirloin, chicken and ribs they also had, as expected, some unusual steak like rosary cut, feather, bavette, flank and onglet. Well, actually I thought bavette and flank are the same, obviously not. I’ve cooked bavette before and liked the flavour. It was what the waiter suggested so we ordered that, to share. For sides we had cauliflower cheese and crispy kale.
Yes, the bavette was tougher than sirloin. I’d say it was even tougher than rump. It was quite lean and the grain more pronounced than on other steaks. With lesser chefs and lesser quality meat, it’d be more a stir-frying or stewing beef. For us, it was perfect. Bags of flavour and didn’t need any sauce. Slightly underseasoned, solved by a little s&p.
I was very good (or mm was an effective controller), didn’t have any wine or beer. That said, we’d been at tullamore dew earlier so I’d had a couple of whiskies already.
The steak was €40, with sides the bill came to €50, good value for steak dinner in a city centre. We’ve been talking about it since, and will be one of the first places to stop if we visit Dublin again.
There’s a reason why these places are on so many bucket lists. We spent almost a week in florence and 4 days in assisi and barely scratched the surface of what there was to see and experience. We also were very blessed with the people we met, and got to take part in palm sunday in assisi. We agreed that we could have stayed much, much longer. Weeks, months. Tuscany has everything: beautiful scenery, culture, food, a magical vibe. Assisi has the spirituality, and beautiful scenery too.
Task #39 of 101.1001 is to run/walk/bike 1001 miles. I originally put 1001km, then I upped it to miles. I went past 1001km in novembe. The red line shows the growth in mileage lately as I’m building base for marathon training, it looks like a taper for the last datapoint, but bear in mind March is only halfway gone.
I crashed my knee on sunday’s race which scuppered the planned 10 mile weekend long run. I should be resting but I did a fast 5k around the neighbourhood:
I noticed I was only 3 miles from the 1001 milestone and I’m not going to let poxy ITBS stop me from getting there
I don’t know how much time I’ll have to run on the trip, so it’s like a final run before we fly tomorrow
I wanted to stretch the knee out a little
The initial 1km up the hill was uncomfortable, the knee kept wanting to give out. I changed to a flatter route and by the end of the run the knee was sort of okay. I rollered the IT band together with my back and boy, it was painful.
This task is done, but there’s still #40 walk to Mordor, next milestone is 1309 miles from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls. If I can consistently hit 80-100 miles a month, I’ll get there hopefully by June or July.
Task #3 of 101.1001 is to become proficient in evernote.
As a nano winner, I got 3 months of evernote premium, which just ended. I’ve been using EN for a while, and now have over 250 notes. I know, I know, proficiency isn’t measured by quantity. However I think that I can claim to have at least basic proficiency. Like many tech services, I signed up for an account ages ago but never got round to using it until later. When I did get started it was just playing around with to-do lists. I read up on how other people use it and I really appreciated its power and functionality when i started using it to organise travel. And then I started using it more. The rest of this post is how I currently use EN. Warning: may be boring for some, not everyone is into organising their lives in such detail.
travel planning and research
I started using EN to plan the cruise to eastern Mediterranean. There were too many new places and too many important places to see on that trip that organised research was necessary. The 201302 cruise notebook has 6 notes: 1 for itinerary, maps and general information, and then one for each stop. Each one had information about docking and all-aboard times, sights to see, transportation, places to eat and anything else interesting. The whole notebook printed out to a 9-page doc which proved invaluable during the trip.
I have similar notebooks for the alaskan cruise and trips to hokkaido, tokyo and seoul. A simple illustration is my tokyo notebook with 4 notes: hotel, things to do, day trips, food&drink. What I like is how I can keep the notebook and pdf in my files for another time. I didn’t do one for the big US trip last summer, mainly because it was too long, and we weren’t really planning a particular route.
Here is where EN is so easy to use, especially cross platform. I keep all sorts of lists: grocery shopping list, presents for people, wishlists, important information like phone numbers and scanned copies of documents. I also have my running PR (although I haven’t transferred the master running spreadsheet from google docs yet), my whisky inventory, restaurants worth remembering as well as other random lists I keep for myself.
goal setting / challenges
I keep track of challenges in EN. For example I can know with one click that I’m 65 tasks into 101.10001, with 36 left. I can keep track of my progress for tasks that are cumulative, like walking to mordor, or reading 101 books. If I’m doing a 30 day challenge, I’m constantly referring to the list throughout the month. Each completed task has a link to the writeup.
Whilst I don’t think EN is a good writing tool because its text editing functionality is poor, it combines well with scrivener. Do the research and store information on EN, then do the writing itself in scrivener. It’s also a depository for my list of ideas, random writing and other useful links. I started to use EN more when I was writing PP for nano.
EN is also useful to store photography too, even though obviously the main bulk of my photography is at flickr. I have a scanned copy of the Oldie magazine article, the one where I got £60 for my picture of Wheelers in Whitstable.
reading: combining feedly, instapaper, evernote
It took a while, but I finally transferred all my instapaper and pocket links to evernote.
Way back when, at the beginning of the internet, when we found a page we were interested in, we bookmarked it. Those of us who were a little more OCD organised our bookmarks in folders. But the web grew and amount of content grew. It wasn’t just blindly clicking on links to search for stuff to read. Blogging became popular and the de rigeur thing to do. With blogging software came RSS feeds. Enter bloglines.
Google entered the fray and gave us the wonderful google reader. It killed bloglines but was then killed off a couple of years ago for no good reason. I moved to feedly.
There is now so much content that if I don’t look at my feedly for a few days, thousands of posts accumulate. Feedly isn’t my only source of discovery, I use digg, flipboard, reddit, metafilter, twitter and others. As a result of this huge volume, read later apps were developed to let us clip pages we want to read later. Pocket (which used to be called, literally, readitlater), instapaper, readability, tumblr and pinterest can be used to store and sort posts.
Even though EN developed a web clipper for reading later, like others I don’t use it as my read later app. I’ve settled on a workflow that works for me, h/t to jamie todd rubin for diagram format.
I use instapaper as triage. Once in a while I review instapaper and move articles to EN using clearly. Yes, it’s time consuming and I could use an IFTTT recipe to save directly to EN. I do this because: a) if an article is still interesting after a couple of reviews, then it’s worth keeping and b) I sometimes want to save the full post rather than just a link.
An aside about EN Clearly. With just one click it converts a page to a clutterfree format for easy reading. No ads, no headers & footers, no sidebars. The example above, of a random guardian article. The one on the left is the regular page—I have ABP, otherwise there would have been ads too; the one on the left is on Clearly. It’s clearly spectacular, pun intended.
tags vs notebooks
Initially I only used the notebook filing system. 3-tiers that went from stacks to notebooks to notes, examples:
travel > 201408 tokyo > things to do
food&drink > whisky > whisky tasted
Then I read Michael Hyatt’s article that advocated using both notebook filing and tagging to make cross-referencing better. I started tagging, blatantly coping his nested tag scheme. It seems to work fine.
There are other functionalities I don’t use. I don’t use scheduling because I don’t keep a diary. When I was at work, I just used Outlook (or Lotus Notes, ugh) to keep calendar invites. I hardly blocked off timeslots or budget my time. I remember personal schedules in my head, or write them on my trusty wall calendar.
I don’t use contacts either, so EN’s OCR ability to store business cards is wasted on me. This is related to my not being very contactable and not having a wide network.
For the same reason I’ve always been inbox zero (even at work when I get hundreds of email), I don’t need the integration with email.
I wish I’m one of those talented people who can sketch on their cool moleskin notebook and transfer to EN. But alas I can’t draw. I ogle at the pics on the moleskin fb page though. Anyway, moleskines are expensive.
get even better
Yes, I have a 4 drawer filing cabinet at home that is very full. I have been quite good at going paperless though, switching to e-statements whenever possible. I’d like to scan more physical documents and EN seems to be a natural repository. May be not super confidential documents but definitely receipts, instructions and bits of paper. I was excited when EN released its own scanning app, and was disappointed when I saw that it’s ios 8 and above. I’ll keep with scanner pro for the time being.
I’m continually trying to streamline my workflow. Getting feedly, instapaper/pocket and EN to work together is an achievement. There are other IFTTT EN recipes to explore, like saving tweets, crossposting from instagram, iphone camera integration, even fb status integration. Not that I’m that keen to store my fb statuses, although twitter integration will be useful—instead of saving to google docs like right now, tweets can go to EN. Then again, its text and table handling need to get better first. We all have room for improvement, EN included.
My nano-sponsored premium account just expired. Will I start paying for a premium account? Right now the answer is no. The feature I appreciated most was additional bandwidth, I barely used the other premium features. I don’t use EN so much that I’m in danger of exceeding my quota, I’ll continue with the free account and monitor my usage.
Task #20 of 101.1001 is to reach 1001 instagram/vine/snapchat total. I tried vine and it was fine, but instagram offered similar videoing functionality and I’m used to using instagram, so my vine count is still under 10. I never got round to using snapchat.
Without me noticing it, I reached 1001 instagrams a couple of weeks ago. This was taken when mm and I drove out to South Bay on a nice cool evening and the place was empty. The lifeguard towers looked sad and forlorn on the beach.
Mum felt like onion soup so she bought a ton of onions. I don’t like onions so I usually relegate it to a flavouring as a component in mirepoix. Although IIRC I never made onion soup, I don’t think it’s something that requires a recipe. I mean, cook the onions, add liquid and simmer, right?
There’s a good discussion about the various methods for making onion soup. The type of onions to use, how long to caramelise the onions (from Michel Roux Jr’s 30-40mins to Thomas Keller’s 5 hours), the type of stock, additional seasoning (balsamic) and even what alcohol to add (cider, brandy).
Here’s what I did. I chopped 6 large onions and cooked them in butter for about 1.5hrs. I stirred like crazy towards the end, and left the lid off to reduce the liquid and break down the onion further. Most recipes call for beef stock which I didn’t have, I compromised by adding about 100g total of cubed beef with the onions.
After 1.5hrs the onions were soft and mushy and turned a nice medium brown. I then added vegetable stock I had in the freezer. Brought the whole lot to a boil and kept at a rolling boil for 20mins. Seasoned with s&p, thyme, worcestershire sauce, a dash of balsamic and soy sauce. Recipes tend not to include worcestershire or soy sauce, but they are my secret ingredients for adding umami to soups.
The cheese toast was made from baguette and shredded cheese. Proper cheeses like gruyere or comteé are simply too expensive and difficult to find so I used processed, sigh. I toasted the croutons on both sides before melting the cheese on top. Sprinkled more cheese onto the soup.
I was fairly pleased with the results. A tad too watery, I could have done with another 10-15mins reduction at the end, or taken half the soup and blitzed it. Still not a fan of onions.
I reached milestone 1: hobbiton to rivendell or 458 miles in august-2014. Today, as I reached 87 miles for the month of feb-2015, I passed milestone 2: rivendell through moria to lothlorien for a total of 920 miles. More than halfway, 859 miles to go. I’m ahead of scheule—marathon training has me running a lot, and I’m still only at the base building phase. Proper training starts in june.
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.
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
abalone — they can be expensive even in canned form, very nice steamed on the shell
absinthe — tried in France, don’t like the aniseed taste, can’t say I’ll drink it again
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
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
beef: kobe beef — in Osaka, was very tender and tasty
beef: wagyu beef: again in Osaka, grilled at our table
beer above 15% — 16% beer at the Zeughauskeller that may have also been the one that was flambéd
beerita — tried at DFW, a corona inverted into a frozen margarita, now that’s a cocktail I can sink into
bird’s nest soup — the bird’s nest doesn’t taste of anything, it’s the sweet soup that gives the dish flavour
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
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
bone marrow — nose-to-tail at fergus henderson’s st john restaurant and at hawksmoor with steak, utterly delicious
bread from poilane — best.bread.ever, yes I’m aware I put strawberry on the best sourdough bread ever
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
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
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
butterbeer — at hogwarts
cassoulet — at a french restaurant in chicago, very classic
caviar — it’s nice, though not something I’d order because of its price, I’ve tried vegetarian caviar and I quite like it
century egg — black, quite soft, nice in congee or with pickled ginger as an appetiser
chicago deep dish pizza — I prefer Lou Malnati, though Gino’s East is okay
chicken feet — shrug, it’s dim sum food, can be eaten steamed with black beans or pickled until they turn white
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
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
chocolate in belgium — best hot chocolate at wittamer, and all the other stores too
clam chowder at cape cod — they do taste different in new england, and they taste great
cream tea in devon and cornwall — scones with clotted cream and jam, can’t get more English than this
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
curry in thailand — green curry, red curry, yellow curry, at small places as well as higher end restaurants
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
escargot — used to buy them in large bags at the hypermarket in Calais or Boulogne, love it with lots of garlic and butter
exotic fruit — dragon fruit, jackfruit, kalamansi, kumquat, mangosteen, quince, rambutan, star fruit, sugar apple
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
faggots — meatballs, basically
fish taco — first experience was in san francisco when I visited my friend tues at a hole-in-the-wall place, it was great
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
flowers — courgette (zucchini) flowers cooked by Carleen’s Grandma that were sublime
foie gras — I have a couple of blocks in my cupboard, it’s now a sunday brunch item
fried green tomato — made it myself
frog’s legs — like tender chicken, can be stir-fried, steamed on rice or in hot pot
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
gelato in italy — is definitely the real deal
geoduck — as sashimi or quickly cooked in a hotpot
gold — edible gold found sprinkled on top of some desserts, don’t see the point
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
hawaiian rolls — king’s, which I could get at my local supermarket in chicago, it’s your typical american non-bread bread
herring — one of our favourite snacks in amsterdam was pickled herring, also had it at breakfast in stockholm
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
ice cream made from vegetables — tried potato and pumpkin ice cream at hokkaido
insect — a 101.1001 challenge on its own — silkworm pupae from a street vendor in seoul
japanese chocolate — for instance, kitkats that come in all sorts of flavours
jellied eel — tasted fine if a bit slimy, I didn’t like the bones
kimchi — it’s now an intangible heritage as determined by unesco
kopi luak (civet cat coffee) — tried a couple of sips from mm’s cup, not enough of a coffee drinker to tell either way
lassi — both sweet mango and savoury, no wonder it’s a perfect accompaniment to curry
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
marmite / vegemite — either one, I like them both and yes, it’s an acquired taste
mexican at frontera grill — just walked in by myself, even got into a twitter exchange with rick bayless (or his social media people)
noodles — laksa (both singapore style and penang style), pho, wonton noodles—japanese ramen is its own category
offal — pretty much tried them all: chicken gizzards, chitterlings, pig’s ears, tongue, kidney, heart, tripe, calf’s liver, brain
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
ostrich egg — one ostrich egg = 24 hen eggs, bought a quarter portion and made omelette
oyster — I think people who don’t like the sliminess or texture haven’t tried delicate, sweet oysters
plantain — at taste of chicago, interesting texture and taste, don’t know if I’ll know how to cook with it
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
purple vegetables — purple cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, purple peppers, purple sweet potato, love love love purple vegetables
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
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
roast suckling pig — the crispy skin and the tender meat, a dangerous combination, especially when we barbequed it ourselves
quail’s eggs — so fiddly to shell, delicate taste but too high in cholesterol
sea urchin — uni sashimi, sushi or handroll, yummy
secret menu — at in-n-out: double double, mustard grilled with well done fries and peppers on the side
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
sichan spicy hot pot 麻辣火鍋 — can I say, hot hot hot
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)
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
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
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
sticky rice — white and black sticky rice with mango = one of the best south-east asian sweets
stinky tofu — it just smells funny, in terms of taste it’s deep fried tofu, crunchy on the outside and soft inside
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
sushi at Tsukiji market tokyo, fish market osaka, fish market sapporo — having sushi at the top fish markets in the world is special
sushi from live fish ikizukuri — and lobster too; still moving when we ate the flesh, then the carcass was used to make soup
tagine — with cous cous or bulgar wheat, was almost tempted to buy a tagine myself
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
teh tarik — india and singapore, there’s something about the pulling that gives the tea its signature lightness
tiger at harry’s café de wheels sydney — beef pie, mash, peas and gravy, can’t find a better combination anywhere in the world
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
twinkies — THE American snack food, I thought it tasted sweet and like processed sponge, unlikely to try again unless starving
wasabi peas — i can eat the whole packet
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
whisky more than 30 years old — highland park 30 and 40, plus held a 50yr HP bottle
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
burn spaghetti cooking in a pot of water — I wasn’t much of a cook then
buy a car — took me a long time to buy a car with my own money
buy a house / apartment — bought before the bubble burst, took forever for the price to come back up to breakeven
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
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
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
crack an egg with one hand — I can cut stuff up the chef-y way too, and cut onions fast enough without crying
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
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
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
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
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
drive 120mph on the motorway — don’t do this, kids
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
extreme sport — did one run in a zorb in new zealand
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
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
flat stanley project — for my niece, her paper doll was called flat neena
fly first class — did that a few times, so luxurious I didn’t want to leave the plane
fly in an A380 — from singapore to sydney, and on Emirates, not such a big deal now
have a portrait drawn — had a caricature drawn in Paris, it’s around someplace
help a charity — my money has been working hard at kiva for a few years helping microfinance several small businesses
hold a snake — at one of those shops that sell snake soup, I was too fascinated to be scared
jump off a diving board — way back when I was a teenager, at the school pool
jump into a pool of icy water straight from a sauna — it’s what they recommended, but omg it was sooo cold
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
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
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
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)
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
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
money: earn more than x a year — a popular milestone set by many people
money: have more than x total — another popular miestone
money: invest in shares — the first shares I bought were BT shares when they were privatised, have a few more since then
own a weapon — excluding baseball bat, I have this rather lethal looking hunting knife i bought in switzerland
participate in a lifesaving drill — at school, i was the victim and had to be rescued by my friend who was taking the test
participate in a mexican wave — at the athletics stadium during the london 2012 paralympics
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]
photo challenge: did numerous 26things, a day in the life and 31in31 challenges, check flickr sets
pin all countries visited on a map of the world — it’s the home page of my travel section
play a musical instrument — piano lessons when I was a kid, got to grade 6
play in a school sports team — i was basketball captain even though I was the youngest, probably the shortest and wore glasses
play paintball — on a cold december day, the ground was frozen so even more pain
pray at the vatican — at the side of the main area at st peter’s is a peaceful, pretty chapel for praying only
publish in a magazine — my picture of Wheeler’s restaurant at Whitstable was published in the oldie magazine, I got £60 out of it
publish in a magazine 2 — a picture of my hands holding a separating funnel once appeared in the new scientist
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
read a banned book — American Psycho, Animal Farm, Grapes of Wrath, Nineteen Eighty-Four — surprised I haven’t read more
read all the books by an author — the earliest example was Desmond Bagley
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
ride a camel — at the great wall, I think, it was a long time ago
ride a chair lift — lots of those on ski slopes
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
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
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
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
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
ride a sled — still own that sled that sis gave me
ride in a stretch limo — only in New York, with fellow interns
run through a sprinkler or fountain — in Singapore and at Orlando, had to quit because i was competing against kids
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
running: run a marathon — chicago 2010, chicago 2011, brighton 2012
running: sub-30 5k — 29:53 mins at Ravenswood 5k, one of my favourite races, it was through my local neighbourhood
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
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
see a broadway play/musical — saw rent and phantom of the opera when I was living in NYC
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
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
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
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
sport: archery — did a couple of times, thought it was great fun
sport: fencing — went to a few fencing club lessons during my first year as an undergraduate, still remember some of the moves
sport: ski or snowboard — I got to be quite a good skiier in Switzerland; tried snowboarding and never liked it
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
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
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
teach a class — used to teach primary school level language for a bunch of kids, same class for about 4 years
tech: have a website — yes, this is a website, i’ve had it since 2003
tech: write a blog — the entire website is built using movabletype, i’ve written a blog post every day since july 2007
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
volunteer — visited and helped some OAPs as part of a school thing, it was a really great experience
walk away from an unsatisfactory job — did that without anything else lined up, but things worked out pretty well at the end
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.
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
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.
I’ve managed to complete at least one task in each of the 11 sections, and have made a start on some of the ongoing tasks. Of the remaining 43 tasks, some are potentially harder than others. Need to do a bit of strategising.
on track — ongoing or cumulative tasks:
3. become proficient with Evernote — I’ve done a lot with EN this year, and I’m in the process of migrating my instapaper clippings to EN
5. 1001 posts on website — currently at 439, since I aim for at least one post a day, this is one of the tasks that will go almost all the way to the end
16. finish Lamplight — the second (or third?) draft is done, so technically I can claim this task is complete, once the current round of rewriting is done I’ll claim the goal
17. outline book ideas — mostly done
20. 1001 instagram/vine pics — at 367, which averages to just over 1 day day, need to do better but should be on track
39. run/walk/bike 1001 km/miles — 1001km is done, at 660 miles with 341 to go should be no problem
40. complete walk to mordor challenge — at 660 miles, with 1119 to go, been averaging over the required mileage, so don’t forsee a problem
47. make a list and photoset of 101 food already tried — list is done, just need to revisit a few foods and take pics
59. make vanilla extract — vanilla pod has been soaking in bourbon for a few weeks, need to add a few more used pods
74. put away $10 for every goal achieved — this will be a task to be completed on the last day, but no big issue
75. set aside $1 for every goal achieved for charity — again, a last day completiong, no big issue
Task #39 of 101.1001 is to run/walk/bike 1001 km/miles. It started off as 1001 km, but then I changed to 1001 miles, since I was going for the 1779 mile walk to mordor (task #40) anyway.
Of course there’s a spreadsheet, keeping track of actual km/miles as well as progress needed to complete the 3 goals of 1001 km, 1001 miles and 1779 miles in 1001 days. I count running, walking, cycling and swimming too.
I’ve tried to follow the mordor target (green line), so the actual (red line) fairly mimics it. Today’s run of 5km brought me past the 1001km mark. Almost 1 year, from 01-dec-2013. More walking and stationary bike during the summer months, more running to come with winter and marathon training.
I started 101.1001 on 01-dec-2013 and I finished reading the first book on 04-dec-2013. So it’s taken around 10 months. In other words 10 books a month or 2.5 books a week or around 3 days per book. Of course sometimes I finish a book in one day and some books take longer to read. I finally finished all Harry Potter books as well as one from the 2007 challenge, mythology for dummies. I would say 70:30 new vs re-reads; when I buy a new book from an author sometimes I go back and read all the previous books, especially if it is part of a series.
Book #101 was Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan. It’s all because I was looking at sci-fi books for my niece and I’ve had the hardback since it was published.
The book is set in an alternate, steampunk, universe of WW1. The blurb:<
It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.
Marketed as a YA book, I must admit I really, really, really enjoyed it. The book had everything — smartly written story, fun main characters, realistic side characters, fantastic clanker machines, amazing darwinist beasties and great setting. There was a real sense of adventure and wonder, made me want to be Alek or Deryn. Barking spiders! Plus a side of history too, even though it only skirted with actual history. Unlike the other book I was reading for my niece, Death’s Daughter, I’m happy to recommend Leviathan. Not just for kids, adults too.
Since it’s #1 of a trilogy, I’m faced with the same dilemma as before. Complete the series by buying secondhand print books (under $10 for even hardbacks) or switch to ebooks ($30 for all three). Sigh, sigh, sigh.
So anyway, I’m already on books #102 and 103. I have a bunch of new books to read, and every month there are more new books. I sat on my sis’ armchair reading for a couple of hours the other day and she remarked that I could happily stay there for a long time. Absolutely true.
Task #48 of 101.1001 is to eat an insect and task #17 of 30in30 is to try a new food. I’ve never knowingly tried insects before, so we bought a small cup of beondegi or silkworm pupae at namdaemun market. This is a typical Korean street food, the pupae were boiled and eaten with toothpicks. One small cup was KRW2,000 or two dollars so it was worth trying.
When I initially set this challenge, I envisioned trying the cricket chocolate from Wittamer, but the box went mouldy on me. I have been reading a lot of articles about the benefits of eating bugs — they are sustainable, nutritious and 80% of the world’s cultures already eat insects. As global population grows exponentially, there is a lot of thinking that the future human population will turn to insects for protein source. I guess people in 200, 500, 1000 year’s time will look back on our diet with the same shock as us looking at the diets of people hundreds of years ago.
I wasn’t really prepared to try bugs that look scary. I don’t think I’ll let anything with legs come near me, so spiders, grasshoppers and ants were out. I was okay about trying mealworms so when I read about beondegi in the course of my seoul research, I thought it may be alright to try.
First, it’s served hot, in a seasoned sauce. People complain about the smell, but it was no worse than other meat-based street food. You eat the whole thing, just pick it up with a toothpick and pop one in your mouth. The outside had the texture of boiled peanuts, a little crunchy, a little soggy. The inside was a little gamey, like mild liver. I won’t say I’m in any hurry to try it again, but if offered I won’t refuse it.
Task #83 of 101.1001 and task #19 of 30in30 is to do a new activity with mm. We are in seoul for holiday and as soon as we got off the plane and deposited our luggage at the hotel, we headed to a jjimjibang spa to rest and pamper ourselves. We got the deluxe package at KRW100,000 (USD100). We ended up staying from 10am to 5pm so it was worth it.
The spa says it’s the largest in Korea. At a sprawling 7 floors I can believe it. There are sauna, steam areas, baths, massage rooms, sleeping rooms, relaxation hall, restaurants, a rooftop garden, internet café even a cinema.
First we got keys to our locker. The key was a regular locker key as well as a smartchip that recorded any purchases or treatments. We had a quick shower at the large bath area. Korean baths are like Japanese baths, sexes are segregated and you don’t wear anything inside except a small towel to strategically cover certain areas.
First stop of our treatment was the herbal steam bath. We were seated on wooden stools with an opening in the middle. The herbs and water were heated and the steam rose up through the opening. We were covered in a sort of plastic tent to keep the steam in. Quite surreal, the herbs smelled really nice though.
After the shower and steam we changed into standard issue pajamas—t-shirt and shorts. Everyone inside the facility was dressed in these pajamas. The massage part was 90mins of a mix of acupressure and thai style. The young technician got almost every troublesome spot in my shoulders, lower back, arms and definitely hit the ITB around my left knee.
At the end of the massage it was around 1pm so time for lunch. The spa had a cafeteria and 2 restaurants. We went to the self-service korean restaurant and had tofu soup and beef rib soup. Came with banchans and I had a tasteless beer.
We found massage chairs in the main hall and fell asleep for around 1.5hrs. One of the features of traditional korean spas is the sight of people asleep at sleeping rooms and areas. Admission is 24hrs so some people stay the night.
Then it was time to check out the heat rooms. The traditional pine scented one was so hot inside we could barely walk, our soles were burning up. Lasted 10 seconds inside there, max. The himalayan salt room was a pleasant 52°C, blankets were provided so we lay down and rested on pink salt crystals. The charcoal heated rooms were good too, we went into the high temperature one, around the same as the salt room. In between rooms, we sat in the ice room to cool down, and then on the floor.
Last stop was the baths area. There was a steam room and half a dozen baths at different temperatures. We like the outdoor ones for the fresh air, the ones with jetstream massage and the cold 24°C cooling pool.
Great day, and the perfect cure for a night spent on a red-eye flight.
A combination of task #96 of 101.1001 and task #13 of 30in30: drink more water, drink mostly water.
We all know that water is good for us and we should drink lots of it every day. I don’t know if it’s circumstances or age or becoming healthier, I don’t mind drinking water as much as before. I’ve always drunk a lot of liquids, when I was working it was soda water and coke zero all day. In the US I bought these gallon containers of arizona green tea. Then of course there were the beer and wine and whisky. And the vital cup of tea in the morning.
Don’t have access to gallon containers of tea anymore, and I’ve cut down the coke zero to one can a day. Alcohol consumption is down too.
I’m making up the quota with water. Here we boil our water then let it cool to room temperature. Tastes bland. I kinda miss the mineral taste of London hard water. I keep my room temperature in a glass bottle I bought at John Lewis. I also keep bottles of water in the fridge. I find cold water tastes much better than room temperature or warm water and I can drink more of it. It’s surprising how quickly I finish a bottle of 500ml ice water.