Saturday, July 29, 2006

Swimming Training Update

The improvement on my swimming has been slow but steady, I got a coach to train me once a week and over the last few weeks we have identified what the problems were with my technique. The kicking was lazy but the most critical error was that I overturn my body when I breath, result in breaking up of the kicking rhythm and shorter stretch of my hand after the breathing in the recovery stroke (i.e. I don't stick my hand forward enough). Though the correction is still in progress.
On the positive side, my fitness has improved by a long way. Last Saturday, we went for a boat trip and I swam from boat to shore, it was only a 15 mins journey but I did it entirely on freestyle. I got no idea how far the distance was, the boatman said it was 1km but 15mins of continuous swim in a swimming pool for me will be 600m. Then during the week, I had a breakthough on my speed and did a 49sec lap. It was only a sec down from my previous result but it was still monumental to see the figure "4" on my watch! Not to mention that I achieve this after swimming for 2km in the pool.
This weekend, I am hoping to do a openwater swim of around 2km. But the weather is crap today and hopefully the rain will stop tomorrow.

Here is something to show that swimming can be an adventure, I saw on A1 Channel this week about Mike Horn's adventure in the Amazon, he trekked to the source of the Amazon up on the Andes and followed the entire length of it from there to the Atlantic Ocean. It was a solo journey and for more than 90% of the time, he swam with a Hydrospeed, a body board with the shape of the front of canoe, and propelled by kicking with a pair of fins. That is how he got through some grade 5-6 white water rapids or staying on water for up to ten days.
More from Freeyasoul on :


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Flying on the Shoulder of Giants

I've been saying that I wanted to learn paragliding for years, last time when I did my research, I found out that the two flying school in Asia that is to be recommended by a veterant pilot are "Exo-fly" in Bali, Indonesia and "Nirvana Adventures" in Kamshet, near Bombay India. To learn flying in either places would make a great holidays but something feels missing.
Today I read an article in Action Asia about a flying school, Sunrise Paragliding, in Nepal, based in, not just anywhere in Nepal, but Pokhara at the heart of the Annapurna region. Now, I realised this is the missing element, when I hear about manic paragliding off the peak of Everest, I kind of thought this would be nice to do, but it will take me years to learn to fly that good let alone being fit enough to scale Everest. But with this flying school, you learn paragliding by reading thermals coming off terrace rice fields and picking 8,000m peaks as your point of reference. What a wonderful idea. The basic training last for 9 days with International Certificate.
Then you can move on to do some amazing adventures in the form of Paratrekking. It is a tour of ten days, in which everyday you trek to a launch site and take off, and then fly around the Himalaya, supported by porters in transporting your gears, you moved deeper and deeper into the Abode of Snow each day.
Another adventure is Parahawking, you get to fly with specialist trained falcons who can glide you to the thermals. Another thing to add to the to-do-list for my strife to have an adventurous life.
More from Freeyasoul on :


Friday, July 21, 2006

Tibetan Mastiff

Just finished this novel called <藏獒> (Tibetan Mastiff) which I felt it deserved much recommendation, the story is set among tribes of Tibetan shepherds on the Qinghai Plateau, at the begining of the Communist era in China. The book recreated a lost era when giant dogs, Tibetan Mastiff, roamed the grassland of Qinghai. They freely take on ferocious beasts such as snow leopard, mountain bears and packs of wolves, yet they co-habited with the Tibetan folks as family members. The dogs served human as guard dogs, shepherd dogs or in the case of the wandering dogs, assumed the role of protectors of human in the countryside, rescuing them from the mouth of wild beasts. The story in a nut shell is about a Han Chinese reporter newly assigned to a shepherd village and a Tibetan Mastiff from another area who ventured into this 'enermy territories' were caught among webs of tribal hatred. Much of the story was about this duo attempting to rescue the dog's masters (7 kids from another tribe with generation of blood score with the people in this area). The hero and the hero dog had to relentlessly fought a series of killed or be killed battles with the strongest local Tibetan Mastiff. Their adventure showed the nobel characters of this breed of dogs, who are much like the medieval knights who took pride in loyalty, bravery and superb fighting skills. What really captured me is the final chapter of the book, when I have come to be so admire the Tibetan Mastiff and was so absorbed into the way of live of the Tibetan shepherds, then in just one chapter the author tored everything apart with the torrent of history. Cultural revolution and market reforms has erased the old customs and the special relationship between men and beasts. Even today, pure breed Tibetan Mastiff has become hard to find and we no longer see the beasts running around the grassland freely as kings. Reading this novel is like going back to an lost era which I felt like I have once lived.

More from Freeyasoul on:


Monday, July 17, 2006

Weekend of Music

Cheryl Hayes Eugene Pao Mark Peter

What a weekend it has been, Martina and I attended two very different gigs in just 3 days. Friday night we headed out to Grappas Cellars with Patrick and Joanna for the Summer Jazz Festival. Four local jazz bands were on show that night with two of them led respectively by two of the most well known jazz bands in town, Eugene Pao and Allen Youngblood. I like my jazz with sax and trumpet but Eugene Pao was doing some amazing picking on his guitar that made it sound like a saxophone ready to explode. Eletrifying stuff. Allen Youngblood is your typical New Orlean Afro Blues pianoist, but unfortunatly his band came on at the very last and the previous act by Cherryl Hayes was so overran that I was struggling to stay awake, nonetheless, he played so much good tunes that I can enjoyed then even when half asleep. Jazz gigs are so great when you are so drawn into the music that you don't realise you were even there, when the tempo suddenly changes, for a split second, you don't even know where the hell you are. Well Friday night was one of those nights.

Then Sunday, we turned 180 degrees for the gig by Black Eye Peas. I don't listen to much Hip Hop but for the last 2 months since we got the tickets, we always "pump it on the sterio" and "shake our hums". Well the BEP concerts were a great party, they didn't just sing, they were performing and the audience were not just listen, they were participating. We had a hell of a time there.

Black Eye Pea 1 Black Eye Pea 2 Black Eye Peas 3

More from Freeyasoul on :


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Random Update

Not much big events has happened recently so I am just gonna throw a few things together and make a stir fry out of it.

  • Alain from my Ironman Korea team has to pulled out from the race as it clash with his son's football match in Japan. So we got rescued by a mountian biker called William. More to come when I put out the team fundraising website next week.
  • There was a point when I may have to take up the bike leg of the race, but now with William, I can concentrated on my swimming training once again.
  • I started taking some private swimming lessons, and realise my form was all wrong, poor kicks and poor stroke, and I am even putting powers at the wrong part of the stroke!
  • Did a 50secs 50m lap and a 2min6sec 100m lap on Wednesday's lesson, that was a personal record for me. I thought that was good, but then two days later, after swimming for 1.4km, I timed myself on the last 100m, and I still managed a 2min6sec.
  • Gonna do a aquathon race tomorrow in South Bay as part of the training, 7km run and 500m swim, alternating into 4 sections.
  • On wednesday, I had a offsite at work, each team has to dressed in a specified colour and here is what my team did to win the best dress award.
  • Finally I have handed in my semster assignment and finished another term for my International Development Master. The work was a research proposal, I got good feedback from my lecturer and he urged me to go and do the research. I am a bit two- minded right now. Doing the research is not easy, I have to go to villages in China and collect data, how am I gonna find time for it?
  • My research proposal is something to do with looking at Microfinance and Internal Labour Migration in China, it is very relevant to what I wanted to do in that distant future when I don't have to work for money.
  • Work, running, swimming, climbing, adventure, realising my dream to do something fullfilling in life, so much to do so little time.

More from Freeyasoul on :


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Heart Breaking World Cup Exit

I am so heart broken by England's World Cup exit last night. I felt like vomitting as I watched them slowly losing the penalty shoot out and saw history repeated itself. This has been the most exiting England team in the last decade. Many years ago when England failed even to qualified for the USA World Cup, I saw a BBC documentary about the "Three Lion's" future. It said it had been recgonised by football expert around the world that England had a very talented generation of young footballers moving through the ranks, and predicted that they will peak at the 2006 World Cup. I though then it was complete bullocks. But then over the next decade, this legendary generation did emerged as promised. Yet so full of promise and yet we watch Rooney got himself and red card like Beckham did 8 year ago, then England grind through the remaining time and lose out on penalty shoot out again.

I am not sure if the England team in 4 years time will be as strong as this one. Beckham probably won't be there, Owen may become an obsolete figure after a year of injury and sideline. Gerrad and Lampard may have missed their prime. Though Joe Cole and Rooney will still be young then and I hope some new stars will burst onto the scene in the next few years.