Sunday, 16 September 2018

Singapore, the Lion City Continues to Make Me Smile

After we left Vietnam, we headed South to Brunei. It was an important visit for the ship as we were hosting His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei. It was a big deal, as the UK has very important links with Brunei and it is one they want to keep secure. Sadly our stay wasn't for very long and the only time I had off the ship was to go and keep my self in date for shooting rifles. So I along with others spent the day down the ranges keeping us in date. It was stupidly hot and humid, but it meant I wouldn't have my post deployment leave disrupted by having to go to the ranges once back home. 

Ship's Company photograph whilst at anchor in Brunei pic by Ship's Phot (edited by me)
Once all the Brunei stuff was completed we departed and made our transit to our final port of call in the Far East. Outside of Brunei territorial waters was our friends waiting to shadow our movements as we expected. We headed Westwards to Singapore, I am so excited by this for a few reasons. 

Shooting at the ranges in Brunei
1. The most important reason is, it means after we leave we are making our slow way back in the right direct of home. 

2. The Formula 1 Grand Prix! I'm not going to lie I am stupidly excited by this. Ever since I found out we were coming here again and it was at the same time as GP, I had my tickets booked. Months and Months of waiting for this. I've had friends that went to Silverstone to watch it and I have missed out. Being an F1 fan and a runner has given me the opportunity to run around some of the GP tracks. I doubt I will be able to on this Street Course, but to be able to go watch the Singapore Night Street race will be awesome. Along with the various music acts etc, it's going to be an amazing memory to take away with me. 

Getting up early for our transit around the Island of Singapore to get to our berth, it was going be a long day. This will be my 9th time of visiting this wonderful place during my Naval Career. I'm very fortunate in doing so. I hope to visit here on holiday one year so I can experience it with out the limitations of work added. 

Seriously I love this place! On top of the GP my fingers are crossed to make one of the three parkruns in Singapore. I did manage to last time, but I was staying in a hotel nearby, where this time I am on board the ship at the top of the Island. However since my last visit there is a new parkrun in the centre of the island, to which I am looking at participating in. It maybe the better option. The East Coast Park parkrun which I did last time was a beautiful parkrun along the coast, so it will be hard to beat for sure. You'll have to read on to find out. 




I made it to Bishan parkrun
After the first night at the F1 for the practice sessions I got up early to grab a taxi to the nearest parkrun. I left the ship about 6.30am, by the time I got the main gate and got in a taxi it was about 6.55am. I started to think I wouldn't make it to even the nearest one in time, but luckily I did with about 10 mins to spare. 

I heard the RD Brief and the 80 odd of us, soon lined up. It was a nice small gathering of runners including two school running teams. The temperature was very warm and really humid, before I even started I was soaked with sweat. 

In stride
The RD started us and we were off at 7.30am, making our way around the park. It was a two lap course and a very beautiful city park it was. Loads going on around us, with other runners, walkers, exercise groups. It so nice to see a wonderful spare being used by so many at so early in the morning for exercise of various forms. 

I made my first lap around and my calf was a little sore but it was holding up. The taping I did was doing the trick. I was taking it reasonably easy any way due to the heats so my calf was manageable. 

Like anywhere there is a parkrun, the marshals are brilliant, and the fact that there is now 3 here in Singapore is brilliant. This island is the same size as the Isle of Wight and is packed so much with so many things.

I finished the second lap to the cheers of the runners who were already finished. I took my token and scanned my barcode in with the token. Like any parkrun, where there is a parkrun there usually follows coffee, cake and chat. Some of us went to the nearest park cafe and socialised. A mix of locals and tourists gathered to chat and it was nice. A great way to end my parkrun journey in the Far East.
Who doesn't like cake after a run?

My agenda then switched back to the F1, with Saturday being the Qualifying Sessions. OMG what a day that turned out to be. Not only was qualifying awesome but the whole atmosphere was great. Liam Gallagher and The Killers were the two main acts playing that day. I was buzzing from the whole thing. 

First night of the F1
It was to be surpassed by the actual race day! I chilled out in the hotel that I was staying at in the morning, making the most of the infinity pool. Eventually we headed out for the big race. The place was buzzing, with various music acts on like Due Lipa and Martin Garrix on the main stage. 

We took our seats for the drivers parade, my opponent was drinking Tiger Beer, I had a pint of G & T and you could feel the anticipation for the race in the air. 

Sun going down on the second night
Just gone 8pm the starting lights were out and we were watching an awesome spectacular race. I was in my element. By far one of the best sporting events for the whole package I've witnessed. I am so lucky it fell on the same date we were due in to Singapore. What a way to finish this Asian/Pacific part of the trip. 

Due to not sailing when expected, it allowed me to pound the streets of Sembawang (the area we are berthed at the north of the Island). It's so easy to run around here, traffic isn't very busy, the pavements are wide and not very crowded.

Giving my legs a good stretched, still nursing a niggle in the calf but life goes on. 

Now it's over we start to make our way back home, we still have 2 months to go, 8 months done but at least we're on our way home! 

In other news if you've not seen it yet here is the link to my latest video, from my Vietnamese stop >> Click here

Well thanks for reading, thank you too Tailwind Nutrition UK for their continuing support. Until next time!




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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Can the Land of the Blue Dragon Be as Wonderful as I Can Remember?

Good Morning Vietnam!

Now say that out loud like Robin Williams did in the film! After what has been 18 years since my last visit to this country. I was looking forward to this stop. It had been touch and go with regards to whether we'd make it here in time due to the issues that were keeping us in Japan (see last blog) but eventually we sailed from Yokosuka leaving finally the Land of the Rising Sun and on our way to the Land of the Blue Dragon. Vietnam isn't called the the Land of the Blue Dragon because of it's shape but because it was one of 4 countries that were known as Asia's Dragons. 

My first ever run in Vietnam!
Before we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City formally known as Saigon we had some national tasking to do by order of the Government. This would mean we'd have our lovely little friend back shadowing us as we sailed around. It also meant spending some more time in Defence Watches during that period. The silver lining to this meant I was able to get into the gym when it was really quiet! I had the gym often to myself and I was able to put in some good sessions. I was pretty pleased how my runs went. Yes it meant the dreadmill once more, however I found an app that made it more interesting/enjoyable. Is that even possible?

It's called RunSocial, and it allows me to run in various countries and various events such as the London Marathon. You can run either a section of the race or the entire section. As you run you are either over taken buy other users who are running faster at that point or you may even over take others. During the London Marathon you hear all the cheers and atmosphere as you pass the crowds. 
New motivation on the treadmill!
It has given me a little bit of an incentive to use on the treadmill, I will admit I have slightly enjoyed using the app. Although all the runs have been going well, I may have over pushed it slightly and caused a slightly niggle in my right calf on the inside of the leg. A couple of rests days should now hopefully see it alright, before I go for a run in Vietnam. 

If I'm not on the upperdeck at sea, I'm on the treadmill FML
So we came alongside the port in Ho Chi Minh City, the same one I visited 18 years ago. Much has changed though. At night now it's a beautiful looking sky line, compared to 18 years ago when it wasn't so. It appears to have changed for the better in my opinion. 

As I was planning on heading out early with others from the mess, I went for a run as soon as I could. Now after reading up on running around in Vietnam, most comments mention it's too difficult, so use a gym. Well I thought I'd find out for my self. I looked on google roughly where we were so I had an idea of my out and back route. 

This trip has aged me going by this pic from the gym
Off I went, off the ship, out through the port gate with many locals laughing saying "exercise, exercise" mainly because I was saying this as I didn't need their moped taxi rides (that is a must do experience lol). I turned right and remembered from the map the road followed the river. So I did exactly that followed the river. 

I saw many locals fishing as I passed by, all looking at me as if I was some weirdo. To be fair I probably did look very weird to them. The heavens opened and soon it was raining, lightly at first. I continued on my route, not having to many issues. The road crossings were a bit hairy but to be honest, as long as you have your wits about you,  it's not that hard. 

I eventually got to my turn around point and headed back. The loudest thunder crack I have ever heard (louder than Concorde breaking the sound barrier) followed a bright flash of light and it then rained heavier. 

I ran along despite the rain, as it cooled down the temperature. I took in as much of the atmosphere as possible. I still had my niggle in the calf, so I took the run easy. Not wanting to aggravate it too much, which seem to do the trick. I strapped it up with rock tape once I got back. 

The streets of Ho Chi Minh
I finished back at the port, and I really enjoyed my run. It really wasn't as bad as they made out on the internet to be honest. Like I said as long as you have your wits about you and happy to take your time when it comes to the crossing, then all is good. Yes they are lunatics, red lights mean nothing to them but it's doable. 

So I went out that night had a few too many drinks and had a good time. Visited an old haunt called "Apocalypse Now" which was like I remembered. Suffered the morning after as expected. The following day I went out to the market it area where there was the biggest market of "genuine" goods I've ever seen. You name it they have it, and the quality is getting far better than it used to be. 

On the third day I went off on a trip I did 18 years ago. I visited the Chu Chi Tunnels. it's tunnel system used by the Viet Cong during the war with the Americans. Our tour guide's Grandfather served with the South Vietnam army as a Lieutenant. He was a really good tour guide with a great sense of humour. It was a just as I remembered i.e bloody brill. Highly recommended for sure. It was so interesting and you understand why they were so good at Gorilla warfare compared to the Yanks. 

These trails would be awesome to run on!
As I was walking around with the group, it go me thinking how great it would be to have a little trail race around the area of that Jungle. I reckon they would make a great 5k or 10K route there if not more. 

I also got to fire an M1 Garand rifle, the last time I did this trip I fired an AK47 and M16. This time I wanted something different and it was ace. What a rifle! I can see why it was a legend of a WW2 weapon that continued long after. 

So that brings me to the end of this blog once more. I hope you enjoyed a brief insight to Vietnam. For a communist country apart from all the flags and military dotted about, you wouldn't have known, considering how much this place has changed. it has a lot of western brands and products now, so it's communism has moved on a lot compared to the communism of say North Korea. The people seem happy, it's very tourist attractive now and it appears to be receiving a lot of investment. 
The 18 years difference! (Yep I had hair once)
Thank you all for reading and the continued support. I will be releasing a video of my run around Vietnam in the near future so please pop over to my youtube channel and subscribe. Thank you to Tailwind Nutrition for their continue support. Until Next time!


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Didn't know Tony Stark lived in Vietnam???