Thursday, February 28, 2008

Asics Reading Half Marathon

To running friend Raymond Hee, this event should be pocket change to him now. First of all, congrats to him for finishing the world's toughest race- an Ironman competition!

I hope he has stopped flaunting about his achievement writing the "I" word with font-size 1000 (in bold) where glaucoma patients can even read it from the moon!... Or head-banding his reptilian eyewear and giving thumbs up in almost every picture in his blog. My RSS feed is almost bursting out of the monitor! I was 0.00002mm from un-subscribing his feed if not for the feed from Cambridge that topped the list now! Oh well, I think he deserved it after all the hard work and sacrifice. You can never stop admiring the feat of an Ironman...

To me, this is my first running competition for the year since I relocated to Reading. There will be 17,000 runners doing the half marathon. So, pocket change to some, a fantastic event to many others including myself!

I have since trained in gym running on tread mills. I haven't done any outdoor trainings and it's a shame. I can't blame the weather entirely. Part of the reason is me - lack of discipline.

I received my running bib and champion chip early this month and never spent any time looking at it yet. I didn't even have a clue about my number; whether it was 4 or 5 digit! This evening when I read the Evening Post, 3/4 of the papers were dedicated to the event and half of that published the list of runners this Sunday.

It was out of curiosity to check for my name that compelled me to take a peep at my running bib. I flipped through the pages, I saw the number and then my name. Yes, there it is. I'm in! I noticed there are not many foreign runners (read Asian). I think the level of competition will be high. That's really good! At least I can test new limits.

I'm so looking forward to getting my first running medal in the UK for 2008. Pray for good weather and health!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I was reading my emails just now when my room shook. It lasted a couple of seconds. I was numbed and didn't know what to do. The only thing running in my mind was..."Oh that an earthquake? Should I sit still or should I move?"

Somehow the only thing that I thought of grabbing if I needed to run, was my passport!

I'm fine but it was a scary experience...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Malaysian Night 2008

Yesterday I attended the Malaysian Night organised by the Malaysian and Singaporean students of Reading University. I went with my colleagues, half of whom I only met yesterday. What started off as an after-work chat on Thursday with a colleague ended up with six of us going to the event the next day. Only two of us were Malaysians, the rest were from Hong Kong.

L to R: Diane, Michelle, Tas, Alan, Horace and me

The event started with a nasi lemak dinner. Even though I was used to eating spicy food, the sambal proved too much for my other colleagues. I must attest the spicy-o-meter was actually above average even for Malaysian standards. One of them only ate the rice, and that's for dinner!
..with rendang chicken

Nasi lemak dinner

What damage the dinner has done to my colleagues' taste buds, a performance afterwards sort of made up for it. They told me they enjoyed the performance a lot. The students presented a play entitled "Sepadu" which reenacted the 1969 May 13th racial riots in Malaysia. The show was interjected with dance performance, singing and lots of humour despite presenting a dark spot of the country's history. It was a production well choreographed, I must say. It's no mean feat to produce a 2-hour play and juggle with time to study.

Snapshots of an "uprising"

What I do like seeing Malaysians here is that we do not see each other as a Chinese, Malay or Indian Malaysian. We see ourselves as Malaysians. If only all Malaysians have the chance to see ourselves from outside the country, then I do not see the relevance of having coalition parties that represent each race group. If I can take anything from "Sepadu", it would be "...after all, when we cut ourselves, don't we all bleed red?"

Monday, February 18, 2008

The day Maths died...

I was queuing to check out after a quick grab in Tesco. I noticed another Asian in front of me holding two bottles of whiskey.

The cashier asked for his ID. Probably he looked too young to be buying that. The guy showed his ID card but the cashier took awhile to decipher the numbers. I would have thought she tried looking for the date of birth.

Then I realised she has found it. She was just struggling to count his age when she leaned over to her colleague at the other till and asked, "Excuse me Gloria, old is that?"

Gloria paused her item scanning for a while and looked blank. She murmured, "Wait..1979...79...err...that would be 19 years old."

Sensing something was wrong, Gloria turned herself to her colleague again and said "Oh wait...that can't be right. I am 82 and that's 25. 79 should be 22! That's fine. Give it to him...."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year!!

Gong Xi Fa Chai!!

I am having a good time here.

I have friends whom I spoke to two days ago who felt sorry for me for missing yet another Chinese New Year in a foreign country, all by myself. It's really not as bad as you think.

Oh..and thank you for all the SMS-es. I have many repeat SMS greetings using Mickey Mouse, Ratatouille and Minnie Mouse since this is the year of the rat.

Joan, Ian and Bettina. Winson not in pic

Yesterday I had a "reunion" dinner with former coursemates from Cambridge. There were 5 of us and we had Malaysian food in Chinatown. It wasn't the type of dinner you would expect us to have of a reunion dinner like in Malaysia. But it was great meeting everyone again post-Cambridge. We did the typical hawker-type food, which was great.

Then again, I guess reunion dinners have evolved in Malaysia as well. I remember when I was small, we used to have a great feast. Steamed pomfret, braised chicken, Fuzhou dumplings, fish maw, prawns, pork, cookies and crates of mandarins! I noticed this has changed over the years.

For the past two years, the dinners have been simplified to mere hot pots, where we just cook all the fresh ingredients in a broth, scoop them up and eat. There weren't much cooking involved except for getting the broth ready. Oh well, if chopping garlic or wrapping those dumplings count.

But I guess having it simpler has its benefits too even though half the fun is in preparing the dinner. I remember the ladies, like my mum, grandmother and aunts were always doing the washing up after the dinner, while we, the kids would be out and about monkey-ing and playing firecrackers. Now, the simplified version has enabled everyone to sit and talk to each other at a faster "turnaround time". It's so much more appropriate for an occasion like this, meant to get everyone together.
CNY decor in Oxford Street, London

Now guess what, I'll be in London again tomorrow to help prepare a hot pot feast for a bigger group of friends, who are "stuck" in this country. Having it again on a weekend is great because that's when everyone is free and available. Trafalgar Square will be a hive of CNY activities again, just like last year.

Really, it isn't as bad as you fact, I would be happy if people can come over to celebrate CNY with me next will be fun! At least you will feel nice strutting off your new apparels here without soaking in sweat by afternoon. Hmm...that is assuming if I'm still around and not back for CNY instead.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Shrove Tuesday

Last year, my block mates made pancakes for me during Shrove Tuesday. It was also known as the Pancake Day. Today is Shrove Tuesday again. This marks another year of celebrating this occasion and Ash Wednesday in this country.

This year, I took the initiative to make pancakes instead. I have bought flour and other ingredients during the weekend, so I made banana-filled pancakes with honey. I told one of my housemates that if he wasn't offered a pancake, it's because I have messed up. I have intended to use soymilk instead of milk to make the batter. So I wouldn't know if it would turn out well. I thought it was a healthier alternative anyway.
My first trial piece tasted alright. There wasn't even a faint taste of soymilk in the pancake! I was surprised actually. Then I went on to make seven pieces with a bowl of batter. I offered to two of my housemates and asked if they could guess the ingredients I put in the batter. Two of them guessed milk. I am now confident with the soymilk alternative.

After this, marks the beginning of Lent...

Shouldn't have taken photos with the phone. The colour is just hideous!

Like Travelling? Just kill a cow

What I do remember of Owen when he was in Malaysia, was that he once suggested, "Worried about carbon footprint? Just kill a cow."

I was quite amused by the statement at first but after he explained the report that he read, I have gotten on pretty well using it on many occasions to justify my case to travel. I have even used it on people who tried to "pick a fight" (read vilify) on my air travels. Apparently the wind and manure emitted by cows, methane gas, warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide.

Today a colleague who just came back from Australia and an extensive travel to India and Thailand told me how guilty he felt with his carbon footprint. He even calculated and told me the number of trees he had to plant this year!

At an instance, I introduced to him my favourite defence statement, "Forget it Don! Just kill a cow!"

I realised I generated a few blank stares at me. A few heads popped up behind the partition. I thought I made an unpopular suggestion.

Don asked, "What?! Did you say "a cow"?". He continued laughing, as if it was some weird Asian joke or something.

"Yes, that's what I just said...a cow! You could probably do another round trip to Australia with the sacrificial cow!"

Don quipped, "Now that's a lot of steak I have to eat in a year! It's still much easier than planting trees, isn't it?"

I paused and replied, "Err...actually I didn't think of eating it. I thought of pushing it off a ravine."
It's amazing what you can find on the internet nowadays. I tried my luck on the keywords "falling cow" and I found this