Monday, 16 April 2018

The adventure takes me to the heart of Asia...

Where the last blog left off, I was waiting at Port Said at the northern point of the Suez Canal waiting to go through. We did indeed go through the Suez and made our way South towards the Red Sea, soon enough we went from the warm Mediterranean temperatures to the hot and sweat temperatures of Egypt and the Red Sea.

Going through the Suez has changed a lot over the years compared to when I first went through back in 1999. Back then we were on the Forecastle of the ship in shorts and deck shoes working, now we have guys fully manning the guns in body armour etc and no one else is allowed on the upper deck. We were at an enhanced posture all the way down the canal.

After a fair trek, we eventually popped out. The canal is approximately 120 miles long, and all the way down I was thinking, I'd love to run it and try to beat the ship through (Well just get there and the ship pick me up at the end will do). Not do it on a treadmill and do the distance but actually run the length of the canal. Alas I don't think that will ever happen whilst I work within the RN.

So we are in the Red Sea, and my training continues either on the treadmill or around the upper deck. We were slowly sailing down as we were waiting for an American task group and French ship to come through with us. There has recently been attacks in the area on vessels so were were all going though the Bam el Mandeb known as the BAM the choke point of the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden.

This time our posture would be further enhanced and we'd be closing up into Defence Watches firstly (a 1 in 2 routine) prior to the 12 hour BAM transit where we would then go to Action Stations which is our highest state of readiness, should we be unlucky and be attacked. Luckily we weren't and all was well. It was a long ass day though because some were unlucky to have to say on watch for another 6 hours or more after falling back into Defence Watches.

Bam el Mandeb choke point (pic taken off google)
As we go out of the other side and so forth rumours of where we were heading starting to creep around the ship. Eventually we got told the Far East, but still unsure of whether after Singapore we would be turning right to Australia or left northwards to Japan etc.

With thousands of mile to go across the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, it was going to be a long transit. Training sessions in the gym in the early hours when it was cooler although still very warm or on the upper deck when it was a little cooler either first thing or last thing before sunset. Sessions are now on running, cross trainer, bike and stepper. The stepper is in mind of the Arc of Attrition I have early on in the year next year.

It was also confirmed to us when we were looking at getting back and yes it is now pretty much 10 months away from home. I'm sad that I won't be seeing my family for pretty the whole of the year, but I have to find silver linings and going to the Far East, where I have been luckily with work a few times in the past, I get to go again to. Then the thought of running in some of these places makes me smile. We are just awaiting confirmation of the ship's programme so we can plan things, and for me to be able to see if there is any races I could enter.

Training in the gym
As time went on, we made our way across the Indian Ocean, seeing various things like Flying Fish leaping out of the water, lightening storms of great proportions and beautiful sunsets. We had flight sports and BBQ's in the lovely weather. Occasionally it would rain which was well need to 1. freshen the air and 2. wash down the upper deck of all the sand that built up from the sand storms.

Then we got told where we were going and finally we had a programme, the Government want us to left. So after Singapore left is where we were heading.

I can't tell you off all the places we are going yet, but as I visit them I will continue to update you on my adventure runs.

We made it down the Malacca Strait and finally have about 3 and half weeks we came alongside in Sembewang, Singapore. I've visited here 6 times in total, the first time in 1999 and the last time in 2000 pretty much 18 years ago. The wife had booked me into a hotel for a couple of nights so I could get some time off the ship, abuse their wifi to update my phone etc and so I could be close to one of the parkruns here in Singapore. They have two, 1 in West Coast Park and the other in East Coast Park. The hotel is near the East Coast one. It's an earlier start out here compared to back home, most likely due to the temperatures, they have.
Sunset somewhere along our transit in the Indian Ocean
I'm not going to lie, I'm a little excited to do it. I never thought I'd ever return here to be able to do one here so I'm pretty happy. I woke up early in the hotel my lovely wife booked for me for a couple of nights, and I got my self ready. I made my to the start of the East Coast Park parkrun, as the sun just started to rise. The start was at 7.30am here due to the humidity and the temperatures in the country. Even at that time it was still very hot and humid. Knowing this, I was happy to just go and enjoy the sights as I bumbled along as an easy pace. Soon enough plenty of other runners turned up and and we given the standard pre run briefing, and the tourists like myself had a really nice welcome. I wasn't the only person from the UK, there were about 6 or 7 of us in total. Some on holiday and others like myself there on work reasons.
At the start of the parkrun in Singapore
We walked down to the start and we were off, down the path along the coast. It's a very flat course much like Southsea in Portsmouth but much nicer scenery. Looking out sea you could see the 100's of ships at anchor. I also passed groups doing yoga, Thai Che, etc. It was a very busy park especially at that time in morning.

We soon hit the turnaround point, I high 5'd the marshal thanked her and made my way back to the finish. I crossed the line and scanned my barcodes. Thanking the team I soon left, I had a busy day sort of planned ahead so I didn't hang around to grab a coffee and cake at the nearby Starbucks with the other park runners. Shocking I know, but I had to make my way back to the hotel and get myself sorted. I'm so glad I go out of my air conditioned hotel room and ran it. It was nice to have a little organised event to go to as well. If you're ever out here you can't go wrong with a parkrun.
The view along the way of route of the parkrun
I nailed about a litre of tailwind not for the fuel but for the electrolytes, due to excess sweating thanks to the humidity and the exercise I wanted to make sure I replaced them. Lemon was my choice and it was quite refreshing.


Rehydrating
So my adventures went on into the evening in the various bars and clubs into the early hours with a friend off ship. I had a pretty epic time to be honest, I love it out here and my whole stay reminded me why it's one of my fav places in the world to visit. Highly recommended to be honest!

So we leave soon from here and continue our journey, so until next time when I update you all on my adventures away with work.

Out on the streets of Singapore

Thanks for reading

Owain
#gotailwind #tailwindtrailblazer

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