Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Little Madness ...

With no races planned in the near future, I've been finding it a lot more difficult to get my sorry ass out on the roads to train. Kicking myself out of bed has been the toughest bit of training I've been doing! When the cell phone dishes its military styled bugle themed alarm, I find myself making tons of excuses and wondering why it isn't raining or something so I could pull the sheets closer and just continue to sleep in.

Actually, I'm not being entirely honest when I say I don't have races in the near future. I do have them but they're mostly 5k and 10k races closer to home and at the risk of sounding cocky, I don't really feel the need to wake up so early everyday to train for them which is why I don't have the motivation to train these days. My daily mileage when I do drag myself out of bed more than covers the training needed for that.

What next ...?

But I know that will have to change soon. One 'huge' race I have planned is slated for November. I've always said I will never sign up for it but I keep doing it year on year like the idiot that I am. And that race happens to be the Toyo Tires Putrajaya 100 Miles. Wait, before anyone jumps to any insane conclusions, it's not the 100 miles and neither is it the 100km distances that I've signed up for. The past two editions saw me running the 52km category but this year I've opted to be even more idiotic and sign up for the 78km category!

Don't ask me why I pull stunts like this cos if I knew the answer to that I'd be able to solve the worlds problems at one go too. Maybe it's cos I like the way the Pacat team organize their races. I took part in their first ever 50km race eons ago when the sport of ultra running wasn't all that much of a thing. Back then I could count the participants with my fingers and toes. I suffered like hell that day and swore to every God that would listen I was never going to join one of these 'sick' races again.


But there I was, cheerily clicking away like no tomorrow when entries opened up again the following year in 2014. Then once again in 2015, this time I even suckered Jeanie and Foo to join me in my stupidity. Oh boy, how I suffered through those 3 years. I never learn!

The first year was the worst cos it was done in the morning and by 12 noon (we all know how blisteringly hot Putrajaya can get at noon), I was walking aimlessly around some highway in Putrajaya hallucinating and talking to myself. The second year, I had Jamie along to get lost with and go the wrong way, with both of us ending up doing 56.5km instead of 52km. The third year, being held at night didn't make one goddamn difference cos I still suffered like crazy!

The first ever P50K, note the number of participants.

Then like the silly fool I still am, I go and sign up again, this time for the 78km category ... sigh! Why I insist on displaying my foolishness to the public at large is beyond me. But at least, I won't go this alone. I've got two equally insane fellows (you know who you are) to keep me company and hear me me swear once again to never sign up for races like these.

But silliness aside, the Toyo Tires Putrajaya 100 Miles is really a very well organized event run by the Pacat Adventure Team, a group of highly passionate ultra runners who knows what running is all about. The race is not a competitive one, the only competition you'll have, mind you, is with your inner self screaming at you for being so dumb. It's more of an event to give wannabe ultra pretenders like me a chance to taste what the pros go through. The cut off time is incredibly generous, in fact too generous if you ask me. But that's the whole concept of this race anyway.

P52K 2014

Now, I'm no ultra runner, never claimed to be one and never will be either. I'm between marathons at the moment and signing up for this would give me the chance to work the legs for really long distances of running, something that was solely lacking in my previous training. My legs have gotten 'soft' and this is one way to kick start them again before I embark on my next phase of marathon training targeting a March 2017 marathon.

Competitive or non-competitive, the training will still be needed to be put in to get through the race in one piece and hopefully that will build up my motivation to run again. I've always taken all my training seriously and having a goal to train for makes training a little more fun. So here's to finding my running mojo back again soon!

P52K 2015

*I can't remember who took the pictures so photo credit to respective photographers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Come For The Run, Stay For The Fun: Days 6 & 7

Day six of our stay in the Gold Coast saw us heading out of Surfer's Paradise and heading towards the mountains once again. This time it was a visit to the small township of Canungra. A visit to Canungra was initially planned for when we visited Mount Tamborine and we would have taken a different route back down the mountains and stop here for some pies at the Outpost Cafe but unfortunately the weather put paid to those plans.

Our day started late since we slept in a little longer. The wife was initially a little hesitant to go since it was pretty late in the morning but I convinced her that we had all day and I was keen to drive out of Surfer's Paradise once again. The day was a beautiful sunny day and it would be a waste if we didn't take advantage of it. I mean, we had lots of places nearby that we wanted to go but I wanted to eat the apparently famous pies being served at the Outpost Cafe.

Lahey's Tramway Tunnel

So, after a quick breakfast at the apartment, we took a slow drive out towards Canungra. The drive itself was beautiful and scenic. It took us past areas and residential suburbs we never passed before (of cos, it made me long to stay here even more). We soon left the residential suburbs and hit the mountain roads which was devoid of traffic, save for one or two cars.

I loved the drive here and the surrounding foliage was simply so calming. You didn't have crazy lorries or cars trying to overtake dangerously like the drivers back home. Here, when a vehicle was tailing you, they kept at a respectable distance and only overtook at designated overtaking zones. This made driving so stress free!

The entrance was sadly barricaded

Just before we reached Canungra, we passed by a military training zone that sternly warned the public from stopping by the side of the road or trespassing into the woods. There was the Kokoda Military Barracks just around here and I'm guessing they used the surrounding area for military training. Being a military buff, I was actually excited by this and was telling the wife I hope we get stopped by a tank or something .. Haha!

The path to the tunnel

Our first stop before arriving at Canungra itself was at this place called Lahey's Tramway Tunnel. The tunnel was built in 1903 by the Lahey brothers back in the days when the timber industry was rife here and used for transporting timber to the surrounding areas. The line itself extended for 26 kilometers and in its heydays skirted around wonderful scenery and waterfalls. It was used to store ammunition for the Kokoda Barracks during WWII before finally being officially reopened to the public in 2001 and was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 2005.

We found the tunnel on our first try, in part thanks to Google maps. The place was deserted save for the two of us. It was a short hike down and we were at the start of the tunnel. Sadly, the entrance was fenced off for safety but it would have been great if we could just go through it. Oh well, at least we can cross off one more thing on our list. We spent about half an hour or so there scouting the place and taking some pics and then we were off to Canungra town itself which was literally just down the road.

Outpost Cafe

Canungra, is a rural town situated just 30km plus inland from Surfers Paradise. It is situated on Canungra Creek (a tributary of the Albert River), in the foothills of the McPherson Range. The name 'Canungra' is thought to derive from an Aboriginal expression describing a small owl. The town used to be well known for timber back in the old days, or so I was told by the friendly locals there. It was a really nice cozy town that depended on tourism for its economy these days.

Our first stop was of course the Outpost Cafe for some pies. Story had it they made deliciously huge pies here and I am after all a pie lover :D. The place looked cozy enough and was full of patrons. I had a hard time deciding on what pie to order cos I wanted everything! The pies were really in large portions. My wife couldn't finish hers and I gamely helped her finished it for her!

Don't let the picture fool you. The pie was really filling!

After the pie guzzling, we took a walk around the row of shops on both sides of the road checking out stuff. The weather was simply heavenly to be outside, sunny yet cool. Did I mention I could live here forever? My wife informed me that we did pass the area on our first year (2014) on the way up to Lamington National Park. It only then dawned on me that this place looked familiar.

Canungra Hotel

After an hour or so walking around, we headed back to the car and it was time to leave. We had a few more places to visit for the day namely the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens and followed by the Evandale Lake and Sculpture Walk before we head back to Surfers Paradise and a visit to the Spit.

Our first stop was the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens located on Ashmore Road, Benowa. It was a little of a disappointment for my wife though once we got there. While the Gardens itself was nice and all but it was hardly very botanical. It was just a huge park, that's all. Nevertheless, we scoured the entire place, took in the sun, had ice-cream which was lovely, took pictures and headed off to our next destination, the Evandale Lake and Sculpture Walk.

The small cozy church in Canungra

The Evandale Lake and Sculpture Walk is situated behind the Council Chambers and the Gold Coast Arts Centre and set throughout the Evandale Parklands. Here you'd find 49 art pieces by both local and international artists. Unfortunately we encountered another letdown as the place was semi closed for some renovation and refurbishment and we ended up only being able to see one solitary sculpture. Maybe next year I'd be a lot more luckier.

I just had to have a shot with him!

We headed back to the apartment for a short rest before planning to head out just before sunset to get some vain shots of myself at the Spit Sand Pumping Pier along main beach. Unfortunately we forgot how early the sun sets here and by the time we got there and even then we headed to the wrong place, which was a little further which I dubbed the Phlegm since it was just a spitting (pun not intended) distance away from the Spit Pier!

Trying my luck at being a model at the Lighthouse in the Spit

The view of Surfer's Paradise from the Lighthouse

There was a lighthouse here and vain shots opportunity were still aplenty though lighting conditions weren't ideal what with the sun having already set! Note to doofus self, remember the sun sets way earlier over here. We still had a great time looking out into the sea and admiring the Pier from a distance.  We finally headed back as we had to start packing for our departure the next day but not before stopping at the Philip Park signage to take a picture. I wanted to get a picture here ever since 2014 and I wasn't going to be denied one now!

I've waited 3 whole years for this pic!


Day 7

Sadly, it was time to head back home today. It's been a fun filled week but our flight back home was scheduled for 10.10pm so we still had loads of time on our hands and the car was also booked till 8.00pm. That gave us time for lots more places to visit nearby before we'd finally need to be at Coolangata for our flight home. We checked out with a heavy heart from the apartment and decided that we must go back to the Spit again since we had loads of time on our hands.

The Sand Pumping jetty in the background just called for a vain shot!


Off we went and found the correct entrance this time round that was actually an 800m walkway that lead to the sand pumping jetty, a pier that's quite popular for fishing and is a great place for some lovely pictures. You need to pay a small fee to walk on the pier which we declined as the beach underneath it was where we headed. The place was full of ocean loving dogs playing in the ocean and being a dog loving person, I was thrilled to see them have such fun. Took loads of pics and after an hour or so, we headed off for lunch.

Pelican feeding time at Charis Seafood

Next on the list was to catch the Pelican feeding at Charis Seafood, Labrador. We reached there about half an hour early and had to endure the ... errr, horde of mainland Chinese tourists who doing their best to scare the Pelicans away with their 'impeccable' behavior. No further explanation needed. It was finally time for the feeding and the Staff of Charis had to clear a way for the Pelicans. It was fun watching and I've never been this close to a Pelican (a mere 6 inches away) before. I'm glad we came here to watch the feeding.

The view at Paradise Point was so calming!

Next, we drove towards Paradise Point, a nice little suburb fronting Stradbroke Island. We ordered some coffee and cakes and walked over to the esplanade parklands along the east side of the suburb and took in the beautiful view. After more picture taking, it was time to finally head out of Surfers Paradise and head towards Coolangata. We wanted to beat the busy Surfer's Paradise evening traffic.

Sob! Sob!

Since we still had loads of time before our flight, we stopped by Currumbin beach, wandered around the Wallace Nicoll Park and climbed up the Elephant Rocks Lookout point. The view was spectacular from the top and I was reluctant to leave!

Best bikini clad girl I could find with the wife watching!

After dragging ourselves away from here, we drove past Coolangata Airport heading towards Rainbow Bay. I kinda misheard the Google maps notification for a turn and almost ended up a whisker away from New South Wales. After getting our bearings right and paying a little more attention to Google maps, we found the right route again and was soon at Snapper's Rock, Rainbow Bay.

We could see Surfer's Paradise all the way from here and it made us miss the place again. The time for us to be heading home was drawing nearer again. We found a nice bench and sat down enjoying the late evening breeze from the ocean in the quiet neighbourhood. Rainbow Bay is a total opposite of the bustle of Surfer's Paradise. As always, you'll see people running along the beach which made me want to just join them!

Till next year!

We eventually drove to the airport where I returned the rental car and made our way in the airport building to check in and wait for our long 8 hour flight back home. As much as I would miss the place, I also missed home, the boys and Pebbles. We had an incredible time in the Gold Coast this year. I may not have achieved much for my marathon but I took in a lifetime worth of memories!

I'm not through yet. I will be back again next year. Like I said before, the Gold Coast is like my second home and I've yet to explore more of its beautiful places. Till we meet again #GCAM17, it's been a blast!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Come For The Run, Stay For The Fun: Days 4 & 5

We woke up to the sounds of rain on the fourth day of our stay in the Gold Coast; our first rainy experience here. This didn't bode well for our planned trip for the day. The wife and me planned to head up to Mount Tamborine for some fun up in the mountains. The rain was a little bothersome. 

Waking up to a rainy morning ..

Choon Yuen, Yang Leng & hubby and Jeannie, hubby & son were also joining us up on Mount Tamborine. My wife was a little skeptical about having to drive up a mountain road in the rain but I decided we'd still go on with the trip. I had complete faith in my driving abilities up a mountain in the rain. I've always wanted to visit Mount Tamborine since the first time we went up there in 2014. We went with a tour back then and really only had a half hour to explore the place which was nowhere near enough time for us. We swore we would go back there again and the rain wasn't going to ruin my plans!

The convoy heading up to Mount Tamborine

Some texts were exchanged and we discovered Richi and Jamie along with their families had to cancel their planned Currumbin visit due to the rain. We then decided to invite them along but there was a slight problem with space in the car. So, Choon Yuen, Jamie and myself drove around looking for car rentals for Jamie and after almost giving up hope, we finally got one that had available cars for hire which was a good thing cos it wouldn't have been all that much fun without the whole gang joining us for the drive up to Mount Tamborine. 

These damn Malaysians just don't know how to behave! Tsk! Tsk!

We were finally off as a convoy of three cars heading out to Mount Tamborine with Jeanie's hubby, Andrew leading the way. After close to 30 minutes or so we were heading up the narrow mountain road which was shrouded in mist towards Gallery Walk on Mount Tamborine. It was a nice slow drive since it was still raining intermittently. I loved the view (what we could see through the mist anyway) and countless times fantasized of retiring here one day!

Finally up on Gallery Walk

We stopped along the way for pictures just before we reached Gallery Walk. The weather was really cold and wet and good thing I was dressed appropriately this time unlike the first time we came here in 2014 where Choon Yuen and me were in shorts and freezing our butts off! Well, this time around it was Yan Leng & Jeanie's hubbies who were doing the shivering in their shorts ... LOL!

Grabbing some much needed hot food and drinks

After the photo-taking and monkeying around, we finally made it up to Gallery Walk. I was super excited cos I've been waiting for two years to get back up here again. We parked the cars, made a toilet stop and started our walkabout along Gallery Walk but not before grabbing some food and hot drinks. We were all pretty hungry from the drive up. Besides, the cold, rainy weather does contribute to making you hungry a lot more.

Wherever these two go, they're bound to be up to no good!

We found a cozy little restaurant just around the corner and proceeded to order some food and hot drinks. The food and drinks were served pretty quick and we all dug in. The rains started again so we sat in the warmth of the place a little longer to wait for it to die down. It was still drizzly but we decided we'd head out anyway to explore the place. 

My yummy omelette 

Now, Gallery Walk boasts of around 60 over vibrantly coloured shops, art galleries, wineries, restaurants and cafes. There really is quite a lot you can see and do on Gallery Walk with each shop offering a variety of items to purchase such as glass works, pottery, sculptures, painting, sweets, food and loads more. We started exploring each and every shop along, taking our time to take in the beauty and ambiance of the place. 

Some of the cute colorful shops

Andrew purchased a bottle of wine and we shared in the drinking. It helps to keep the body warm after all! My wife wanted to visit one of the shops we went to in 2014, where we bought some nuts and fudge back then to get some more cos she loved them the first time round. After browsing and sampling some of the fudge samples, she bought some which I really can't remember the flavours. 

She was the only one willing to let me take a pic with her ... sigh...

The rainy weather wasn't letting up and was a bit of a bother really. My wife had planned a few more places to visit in the surrounding areas but with the weather not really cooperating, we had to trim the list down as time was also not really on our side. We wanted to head down before it got too dark to drive so we opted for one more place to go to which was Witches Falls. It was just a short drive away and had a trail that led to a lookout point.

The two hardcore short pants fellows!

When we got there, the place was again shrouded with mist and we were skeptical we would be able to see anything when we reached the lookout point. Nevertheless, we hiked the short 1.5km trail in the direction of the lookout point. The air was cool and the weather was simply beautiful but halfway through the rain got a little heavier and we opted to head back to the car cos there really wouldn't have been any point to hike all the way to the lookout point, not in this kind of weather. I was a tad bit disappointed but gamely made my way back to the car with the rest.

The mist shrouding Witches Fall ..

Some of us, the gluttony ones like me were hungry again and it was decided that we'd head back down the mountain and stop by Peter's Fish Market for some fresh seafood. The drive back was uneventful and I was feeling a fair bit tired. We got to Peter's Fish Market and the sun was finally beginning to show itself. We ordered our food and dug in hungrily before deciding that we'd all head back to the apartment to get some rest.

Something about Witches Falls makes one do crazy dance moves!

We planned to meet up for dinner again at Yan Leng's apartment since they had loads of food leftover from the day before (#iamacheapskate). My wife was too tired and opted not to join Choon Yuen and me for dinner but asked to get some pie from Pie Story on our way back after dinner. Dinner was the usual cheerful banter and soon enough we all called it a night since it had been a long day. Choon Yuen, who would be bunking in with the wife and me for the night and together with Jamie headed out to get the pies on our way back. It was lights out pretty early for me cos I was beat and we had another long day planned the next day.

Even Jeanie wasn't spared doing the weird dance!


Day Five

Today's menu called for a visit to the Coombabah Lake Nature Reserve. The nature reserve is part of an estuarine corridor extending from Lake Coombabah to the Broadwater and Southern Moreton Bay. Choon Yuen who would sadly be flying off later at night joined both my wife and me for this excursion. It was an easy drive getting there since it really was just less than 10km drive away from the bustle of Surfer's Paradise but the moment you get there you'd be forgiven for thinking you were a world away. It's purely magical cos here you were in a natural metropolis oblivious to the surrounding city.

Joey the kangaroo

The Coombabah Lake Nature Reserve is a 12 thousand hectare haven for dozens of threatened species and is an authentic bushland in the centre of the city complete with free roaming kangaroos and koalas while hosting a mosaic of almost a dozen ecosystems and hundreds of various species within the enclosure. I kid you not, if you're an outdoor lover, the place is really magical and quite breathtaking.

Suspiciously watching us!

The moment we parked the car, we were immediately welcomed by a kangaroo! I was super excited, what with never having seen a real life wild kangaroo in my entire existence. We got some tips about how to approach a kangaroo by a warm and friendly Aussie guy with his kids who were leaving the reserve. Choon Yuen christened the kangaroo, Joey. He did look like a Joey anyway. We approached Joey very slowly and got as close to him as we dared before grabbing a few pictures.

Choon Yuen with his kangaroo!

We headed down the vast field and that was when we saw tons of kangaroos lazing about in the sun. They immediately and instinctively raised their heads and warily kept an eye on us. We didn't dare approach them any nearer for fear of being ambushed by a horde (is that was you call them?) of kangaroos. We'd never live it down with the gang if that happened!

Wife and Choon Yuen worshiping the sun!

After getting our fill of wild kangaroos, the wife, Choon Yuen and me headed off across the vast field into a trail path near the car park in search of koalas. The trail was lovely and looked ripe for a nice run. Unfortunately neither of us were trail equipped so it was just a slow hike for us. The three of us walked silently enjoying the serenity of the reserve.

Part of the trails into the reserve

Of course, when opportunities to fool around arose, we didn't skimp on the fun. We took loads of pictures and continued along the path. The foliage transformed and changed as we wandered deeper into the woods. We met a few hikers and asked if they spotted any koalas yet but all said none was forthcoming.

Wild animals frolicking in the reserve!

Soon we reached the eucalyptus forest and our koala spotting mode was in full swing. We were craning our necks up the eucalyptus trees trying our best to spot an elusive koala or two. Sadly we couldn't spot a single one but nevertheless we kept looking. The scenery though was spectacular with the scent of eucalyptus wafting in the air and the serenity of the place was deafening. Just as we were giving up hope of ever seeing a koala, Choon Yuen and his eagle eye spotted a koala hugging a branch on one of the tree. I was thrilled to say the least. Although all we could really see was its cute butt, it was a koala nonetheless. My life was now complete!

It's hard to describe the serenity of the place

After getting our fill of staring at a koala's butt we continued the journey through the ever changing foliage. We eventually headed back towards the car cos we were tired and also cos we wanted to get to the other end of the reserve where the mangrove boardwalks were located. That would require a short drive and we drove off in search of it.

These two birds followed my wife for quite a distance

It didn't take us long and soon we were at the other end of the reserve and made our way to the wooden boardwalk built over the mangroves on Lake Coombabah. The place was deserted save for the three of us and I was more concerned about a crocodile or anaconda having us for lunch!

The various plants spotted in the reserve

This boardwalk presented lots of vain shot opportunities and we didn't waste a single moment of it. We spent about 40 minutes or so for this entire boardwalk stretch and made our way to Harbour Town nearby to get our rumbling tummies filled. We really hadn't had anything except for a McDonald's breakfast earlier in the morning. It would be good to take note that the reserve doesn't have any toilets or food places so it's best to bring your own.

Looking for Koalas

Harbour Town was packed with cars but we managed to eventually find a parking and head to Grill'z for lunch. We were here the previous year and loved the food so it was only natural to head here for lunch. Coincidentally Jamie and family had the same idea since they also came over for lunch at the same place. After lunch it was a quick walk around before heading to Woolworths to get some stuff for dinner before heading back to Surfer's Paradise. Choon Yuen had a flight to catch back for home.

The mangrove boardwalk.

The past two days has been exhaustive but extremely fun. The places on our list were slowly being ticked off and we were both really happy. The trip this time was being maximized to the fullest and we still had lots to see and two more days to do it in. I couldn't be any happier!

Looking out to Lake Coombabah from the boardwalk

Final 2 days coming up.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Come For The Run, Stay For The Fun: Days 1-3

The Gold Coast is a place my wife and me simply love since our first visit in 2014. There is something about the place that I simply cannot explain that draws us back year after year. Which is why the moment I got confirmation of the marathon dates, plans for another trip this year were put into motion.

Dinner before the long flight
Our flight tickets and accommodation were booked way in advance, which got us a good deal. We decided to stay at the Sun Tower Holiday apartments again since we had a pleasant stay there last year. We made some changes to our arrival and departure times this year as opposed to last year. This year, we flew in a day before the race (which in hindsight may have been a bad call) and kept the holiday aspect of things for after the race. I wanted to get the race out of the way so that I could really enjoy the holiday after that.

I left the entire holiday planning to my wife. She's a whiz at researching and planning for holidays. She managed to dig up some interesting places for us to visit and planned it out nicely over the 5 full days we had for sightseeing. Me on the other hand was more interested in planning the kind of vain shots I would be taking at all these locations ... hahaha!

Can't wait to get started


Day One 

Our flight to the Gold Coast was pushed back by two hours from 9.00pm 11.55pm, which was damn annoying but no big deal seeing as how we'd arrive a little later than expected unlike last year where I lost an entire day due to the flight rescheduling. I'm watching you, Air Asia! We met up with Choon Yuen, Yan Leng and hubby, Monica for a quick dinner, some team photo taking and then made our way for departure.

The flight was a difficult flight for me as I found it really hard to fall asleep in the small confines of my seats. It was toss here and there, doze on and off, all the while trying to find some form of a comfortable position. I swear, one of these days I'll fly premium! 

We arrived in Gold Coast around 10.30am, local time. Made our way quite fast through immigration and I went off to get my rental car. This year, both my wife and me weighed the option of renting a car for the duration of our stay against having to take an airport transfer to the apartment and also having to take a tour to the places we wanted to go. In the end we found it more economical and gave us a better handle of our time than having to be rushed around by a tour company. 

My cute little Getz for the duration of my stay

I was a little skeptical of the car rental cos I've read both good and bad reviews about this particular car rental company, Cut Price Car Rentals. Furthermore, their 'office' was located in a van in the secondary car park. I kept my fingers' crossed that my booking would have no issues and as fate would have it, everything was in order and I was in and out with my car in a matter of 10 minutes. The guy manning the office was warm and friendly and I got a nice, cute little yellow Hyundai Getz for my stay.

Just before leaving, I gave Choon Yuen a call to tell him that he could put both his and Yan Leng's luggage in my car since they were heading to the race expo and I wasn't. At least they wouldn't have to lug their bags all over the expo. I've been to the expo before and didn't intend to go this year to stop me from buying more stuff that I really didn't need over there. Jamie so kindly helped me with my race kit pick up.

An unplanned stop

My first experience driving in a foreign country was a little unnerving. I read up all the rules and regulations about driving in Australia and armed with some tips from Yvonne, I was as ready as I could be for my first drive in a foreign land. Remember, I'm from Malaysia and over here half the people don't follow any road rules whatsoever. My first agenda of the day was to look for a Petrol station, which is called a 'Service Station or Servo' in Australia. 

Even then, I was clueless as to how to fill up petrol at these servos. Were they serviced? Or were they self serviced? In the end, my wife and me ended up looking for the emptiest station and sheepishly tried figuring out how to fill up our tank. It turned out to be easy peasy. You just need to fill up, then walk in and pay in cash or card. Simple as that. You can't really blame me, I'm a clueless foreigner over there :P

I have no idea what I'm pointing at

Our first place of interest wasn't in our initial list but decided to do a detour since we had a lot of time to spare. It was this place called the Beree Badalla Boardwalk, a wetland reserve for mangrove trees, just a 10 minute drive from Coolangatta airport. The boardwalk is just beyond the Tarrabora Reserve right under the Currumbin bridge. It's about 2.4km out and back along the Currumbin Creek Estuary. You're given a stunning view through the mangroves and out over Currumbin Creek. Apparently when it's high tide, some sections of the boardwalk gives you the sensation of walking over water. Unfortunately it wasn't high tide when we were there but it did produce lots of vain shot opportunities for me!

The beautiful view, too bad it was low tide
The sun was a little biting this time around, it wasn't as cold as we expected it to be. Either that or we're getting used to the conditions here and becoming Aussies ... LOL! We spent quite a bit of time here since check-in was still a ways off. Once we were satisfied with our walk, we headed straight for Surfer's Paradise towards the apartment. By this time, I was settling down to driving in Gold Coast and things got a little less stressful, driving wise. It was a nice slow easy drive as we took in the view. Hunger was also slowly creeping up on us by this time. 

We reached Sun Tower Apartments an hour before check-in time. We parked our car at the outdoor carpark after speaking with the friendly manager who gave us permission to park there until it was check-in time where we could move the car inside the apartment. We headed to Woolworths, our favourite shopping place, to get some stuff for dinner and also find some food to eat. All I had in my mind was anything to do with bacon, I would be fine with it!

The spacious living area of our apartment 

Soon after, we headed back to check-in and settle ourselves into the apartment. We booked a beach front unit this time around and were treated to a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. The apartment was as we expected it to be. Though it had slightly aged furniture, everything was clean and it was fully equipped with a kitchen, utensils and laundry and drying facilities. No complaints from us. Loved the place, especially the location which was just a short 5 minute walk to all the food places in Surfer's Paradise.

Choon Yuen, Yan Leng and hubby dropped by to get their luggage and I drove them back to their respective accommodations before heading back for a short rest before the shakedown. I was seriously feeling lethargic due to the long flight and though excited about the shakedown, I wasn't really up to any running. Come 4.30pm, I joined the rest of the Malaysian contingent who were there for the run and after some photo taking sessions, we made our way for a short and easy run. Choon Yuen, Yan Leng, Jeanie, Yeehoo and me decided we'd just walk/run the shakedown cos most of us were still fatigued by the flight.

The very weird looking carvings on our bed ...

After the shakedown run, we all headed our own way and I was back at the apartment to start getting my gear laid out for the race the next day. I was being difficult with the wife about the race and even contemplated not turning up for it. I kept spewing out excuses after excuses to justify not turning up. But she knows me and my nonsense well enough and took the time to ease my mind about the race and soon enough the fire in me started up again. Yes, I was being and acting like a child! With that out of the way, it was a quick dinner of prepacked pasta with bacon (what else) and soon after it was lights off.

Sun Tower Apartments in the background

Day Two

With the wife not running the half this year, I didn't have to wake up as early as the previous years. I don't normally take breakfast before a run for fear of upsetting my stomach halfway through the race but this time I did. A first for me. My wife made me a nice ham sandwich and a mug of coffee cos it was a chilly and cold morning. Took my time eating it, and by 5.40 am I was out the door walking to the tram station nearby with a host of other runners. The tram arrived within minutes and after a short 10 minute ride, I was making my way towards the race venue. Caught up with the gang who were buying some hot coffee and we all headed to the pre-arrange meet up point. You can read how my race went over here.

Just before heading out in the cold to the tram station ...
Right after the race where everyone came in with incredible timing, I headed back home to meet the wife for lunch. I was famished and I'm guessing, so was she. But I was too tired to go out for lunch and wife was also too lazy to walk out. So we ate some of the stuff we bought yesterday and decided to wait for the potluck dinner later.

Jamie buzzed me and said we'd be meeting up with Mui Khim for coffee before our potluck dinner a little later at Yan Leng's apartment. I was happy cos I finally get the opportunity to meet Mui Khim in person seeing as how all the interactions we've had were mainly through Facebook. My wife said she'd meet up with me after the coffee meet at Woolworths so we could get some things later for the potluck. The gang were already at the Coffee Place in Surfer's Paradise by the time I got there and a little while later Mui Khim arrived. After a fun-filled coffee session talking about the race and what our plans for the rest of the week were, we parted ways and I went to meet my wife to get our share of the potluck which was ice-cream and headed off to Yan Leng's apartment for dinner.

Before race start

Dinner was a pot-luck affair between the gang. The food was great with Richi, Selin and Jeanie whipping up instant dishes of their own for us. Amidst mouthfuls of food and drinks, we traded war stories, starting plans for #GCAM17 and soon made our way back to our apartments not before planning for a short morning recovery run the next day. I was already feeling the fatigue of the long day.

Day Three

My chance at feeling like a millionaire for a little while

The day started with a short recovery run, well it was more of a recovery walk since everyone was basically walking in pain. A quick stop for coffee and we headed back. The wife and me decided to stay in as we had a complimentary cruise with the gang courtesy of Tourism Queensland in the early evening.

I could get used to this ...
Since Jamie was staying in the same apartment building as the wife and me, the three of us drove to Runaway Bay, the start location of the cruise. We met up with Choon Yuen, Yan Leng and hubby and Jeanie, hubby and son. It was my first time going for a boat cruise and I was a little apprehensive of the cruise. I'm afraid of water (since I can't swim) and being on a little boat in the middle of open waters was not my ideal setting for fun. But surprisingly the cruise ended up being an awesome experience.

Preparing the cheese and biscuits for the cruise

Darryl, the Captain of the boat was a very friendly chap and kept us all entertained throughout the cruise. I eventually got over my fear of being in open waters and started to really enjoy the ride. Darryl provided us with a variety of cheese selections and biscuits as snacks for the cruise and we brought along drinks and fruits for the cruise.

The cruise was expected to be approximately 2 hours out and back. It was a surreal experience and gave me a short taste of living life like a millionaire. The view was spectacular with the setting sun as we sailed along the many magnificent millionaire mansions lining the banks of the waters. As always, with the gang around clowning around was always on the menu. Let's not even start on the amount of vain shots we took during the entire cruise.

My 5 minute stint at being a Captain!

The cruise ended all too soon. I could stay out in the waters forever! We made our way out of the marina and went our own ways since we all had our own plans. I was craving for some home soupy kinda food and told the wife that we'd be having Vietnamese food for dinner. There was a nice little Vietnamese restaurant just a 5 minute walk away from the apartment which we ate in last year and after parking the car for the night, we headed there. Jamie said he might pop by too and went off to his family while the wife and me headed there.

The hot food was really a welcome after having the richer western food for the past few days. Jamie turned up and joined us before we all decided to call it a night. It's been a long day and there was an even longer day planned the next day. The past three days has been exceptional and made me long to just retire here in the Gold Coast!

The cruise was like a a scene right out of a holiday TV advertisement!

Days 4, 5 and 6 coming up as soon as I can find the time to write them ...

Some pictures courtesy of Jamie and Choon Yeun