Friday, 24 July 2015

Cycling Tour of Vietnam # 3

Tour # 3
6th to 18th November 2015

Cycling buddies being sought for this epic trip of  life time which includes passing by the Hai Van pass and the worlds biggest caves! 
Checklist:
1) Bike 
2) Smart phone GPS & Charger
3) Spares
That's it!... Food and drinks are available on the road. 

The point of these rides is that they are unsupported but not unplanned. 
They retain a large element of unknown with out being unsafe. 
They remove some of the 'easy out' options in life to force you to test yourself.


Don't worry - I am always extremely well prepared and hardly ever get lost.!  :) 

If you have any doubt of the excitement to be realized by joining this ride with me then watch this Gopro footage descending the Hai Van Pass from last years tour.



I expect this trip to be the icing on the cake after 2 previous multi day tours and many single day tours which were all incredible in different ways. Actually I am quite unfamiliar with this region of Vietnam which adds to the excitement for me.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Miri,Taman Awam, Seria, Brunei and other places...


Things I have seen and done exploring Miri and surrounds over the past week...

1 - RUN  to Taman Awam
2 - BIKE to Seria, Brunei.
3 - EAT Steam boat at 883 BBQ Buffett
4 - SING Karaoke at "The Island"

Taman Awan in a public space in Miri close to town - on the way to the airport. Although I live close I had not visited before... and I was quite impressed. It has a SkatePark, kids playgrounds, pool, walking paths and a cool elevated walkway.


The park features a series of elevated walk ways.. pretty cool actually.!
This week's ride went a little further into Brunei to Seria. However I was not quite aware of the strict fasting laws during Ramadan. No food to be eaten at cafe's or anywhere outdoors during day time. I bought a take out coffee and some eggs and hid in a bush to eat them. The laws are enforced by special police who will fine locals and foreigners if you break them. In hindsight, the extremely large snake I encountered on the ride over may have been a good meal option if I knew the difficulties getting a bite in Brunei.
 
The road to / from Brunei is flat but usually low traffic and relatively safe. I have avoided riding at night so far in Borneo, 1) because there is reportedly a high incidences of drink driving here..but 2) because of these guys. My understanding (may be wrong) from my time working in the desert in NW Australia was that snakes often come to the roads at night to soak up some of the heat still in the road surface after the sun goes down. When the roads are poorly lit the chances of running over one of these speed bumps is possibly a bit higher after sunset. And ALL the road kill I see is first thing in the morning- which sort of supports that theory right.
Anyway - Truth be known,  I more afraid of the drunk drivers that I am of snakes.
Road Kill Borneo Style - This guy was about 2m long 





..And for my whacky story of the week..drawing a very long bow to anything to do with sport.. This has been one of my high participation activities of late.
The talent pool is quite shallow in these parts - Karaoke at 'the Island' 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Fremantle Esplanade Skate Park

Skate parks are now dominated not by skate boards - but by scooters.
Over the past few months the boys have talked me into purchasing the best trick scooters for them - Shay rides the ENVY Prodigy , bought at the scooter hut and Levi's weapon of choice is the Grit Elite 2015.  We hit the new Esplanade Skate park  in Freo.. A brilliant venue right in middle of Fremantle.



Saturday, 20 June 2015

Saturday morning (everywhere) in Australia...

'Working in Asia I miss a lot of the kids weekend sports. Its the worst thing about working abroad'.
But Today I woke up on Saturday morning back in my home town. I got the kids ready, took my daughter to netball and the boys to footy. While sport in Asia is all about  travelling, trekking and social football and cricket matches with transient friends, sport in Australia is about families, communities and  basically passing on what we know to our kids.
GPS confirms 6km covered in referring under 11's soccer match


Just so happens I timed this visit with the annual 'Dads match'... A great excuse to pack the boots and have a run after the Auskick games are over and the kids asking for money for the sausage sizzle. What a great day.  A great Saturday.

Levi is a spark in the forward line.
Favorite Position: Full Forward
Favorite Player - Fyfe.
Score today: 3 goals


The boots (and Vietnam swans shorts) get another run in the Annual Wembley Downs Dads match


WDFC Dads en masse
Sunday was more of the same with an early start in for a soccer match I was looking forward to more than any cup final or world cup fixture.  Wemley Downs 11s vs Joonadulp.

The Team lost 3 -2 , but it was a great game against a top side and I got to see Shay score!
Awesome!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Biking Bali... (A good excuse to get off the beach)

A great way to see some of the island of Bali, see and sample the local coffee [on site], turn the legs over and in our case stumble across a once in 5 year burial ceremony, is to get on one of the many bike tours which all drive you up to the Kintimani crater edge and guide you on bikes back down to Ubud. A distance of about 30km. 
Its a great day out and the ride is suitable for anyone between 8 to 80 years old.
Bali Go Bike are one of many operators who will accommodate you. So I say.."get off the beach and give it a go!" 




7 types of coffee including the Luwak ' (digested) bean
A burial ceremony at one of the many temples we passed

Back to Bali

For the first time in around 10 years re-visited Bali. I only had a few days but long enough to get in a bike ride, a surf and a couple of morning runs along Kuta beach.
And the good news was the condition of Kuta beach. 'Clean Up' programs have definitely worked and the beach looked great. Local vendors were very adamant about removing all their rubbish and helping the tourists dispose of theirs. The early morning expat clean up crews seem to be a thing of the past. No longer required.


This was the previous time I was in Bali competing in the Bali International Triathlon 2008


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Age no issue...

I have started to think a lot lately about the inevitable decline of my physical abilities...not to mention all the other things that will decline with age... However today I was blown away by the performance of an over 55 gent who ran an incredible time for a 10km competition run.
The Miri City Run 2015 was a great day out and reported to have over 10,000 participants. The Men's Veterans (over 45) category was taken out in 37 minutes by said gentlemen pictured below. Having run a personal best of 43:54 I was overjoyed with my own performance & more than happy to be in the top 10. But it was the winning time that really impressed me. Good on ya mate - If I'm going anywhere near your speed at your age I'll be very satisfied.

smiling assassin who ran a 37 minute 10km

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Alins work out program... with options

Warm up - Tread mill for up to 20 minutes (Option of skipping)

1 - Walking Lunges: Option with 5kg wieght over head)   21 - 15 - 9

2 - Sit Ups: Using inverted bench  30- 30- 30

3 - Squats/Push Press; Using bar, Squat + Push press with arms extended up. 21 - 15 - 9

4 - Plank: Hold for 60 seconds - x 3

5 - Dip Bar: Legs out horizontal, Hold until fail (time yourself) - x 3

6 - Push ups: Cheat by using knees (not toes)  21-15 - 9


Thursday, 9 April 2015

Trip Home including the ride of the rich and famous

Back to Perth for a School Holiday visit - Hooked up with my mate Al and did the very enjoyable Westcoast > Fremantle > City Loop. Also known as the ride of the rich and famous.





Another great part of visit was trawling thru my old boxes of travel photos and scanning some keepers.  This shot gave me a warm fuzzy feeling....

(BMX WA State Champs - 1984)


Saturday, 14 March 2015

ANZAC Day in Vietnam

If you're in or around Vietnam on ANZAC Day, get down to Vung Tau to watch the Vietnam Swans take on the Singapore Wombats in this years Asian AFL match up.
I've played, attended and even umpired in these matches and I can confirm its a fantastic day all round. This year, as ANZAC Day falls on a Saturday, the games will follow the morning service at Long Tan.
Ill be flying over from Malaysia to play in the 'Legends Match' and drink lots of beer watching my team mates during the Main Event.

Don't take my word for all this - Please visit the Swannies web site for all the details.



Friday, 13 March 2015

Biked to Brunei for brunch

Miri to Kuala Belait, just across the Brunei border, is around 65km. The border crossing takes a few minutes (for Australians anyway) as you need to get a visa - for $20. They only take Brunei currency so its good to prepare and grab some B$ before leaving Miri. The other reason for doing that is there is very limited drink stops between leaving Miri and KB. When you cross the border you may need to re-fuel at the one gas station you will pass. I ran dry and bonked too - by the time I got to KB I was spent and had to scoff 2 danishes and a sweet ice coffee to recover. The ride back was a breeze -admittedly I had a tail wind and with no visa to process coming back in, I was door to door in around 2;20 hrs.


The only high lights of this ride were the big bridge just before the border on the Malaysian side and KB itself was interesting, other wise its fairly flat and uninspiring scenery.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Move to Malaysia. Biking Borneo

Another 3 years ticks by and another country posting - This time the east Malaysian state of Sarawak.
With limited things to do here, I suddenly have lots of time to run, ride and swim. My increased Strava activities can testify to to my decreased non strava activities. So this weekend I took on a round trip to Niah National Park.  Perfect for a first up 'Biking Borneo' experience.
Drivers; Having moved directly here from Manila, and prior to that Vietnam I have to say the drivers here are ultra conservative. So much so that sometimes, instead of passing a cyclist, they will slow down to cycling speed and wait  behind until the oncoming cars have passed. Then go around you with 3m clearance.!
I took the coast road out and the inland road back. Neither earth shattering spectacular but the roads were relatively quiet and air was clean!
Additionally, the Niah National park was very good and well worth the visit. Tourists often do this as a day trip (in cars and buses) from Miri. I stayed the night in the 'cave inn' (hahaha) hotel in Niah.
You can see my Trip advisor review on that. Enough said.










Sunday, 11 January 2015

Manila Cycling - Rides around Manila-Batangas and Laguna

Here is the absolute 3 best cycling routes around Metro Manila:

1. This is easily the best ride out of Manila
'Round the Bay in a day' - Laguna De Bay!


2. Beautiful ride to the top of a volcano  - includes 30km climb


3. Stage 2 of 'Ronda Pilipinas - This is an outstanding route with a tunnel, mountains, the ocean, volcanoes, horses and carts, rice fields, villages and more.! 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

La Mesa Nature Reserve, Quezon City

After much delay I finally got to ride the famous La Mesa trails. It didn't disappoint. Absolutely beautiful area with mildly technical, but highly rewarding single trail. I was particularly impressed by how clean the reserve is. No litter anywhere!A result no doubt of the strict park management which limits numbers of riders, insists on guides and collects funds for park management. I am always happy to pay a few bucks if the money is being used right. This LINK gives all the details of getting there, cost and the rules.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Cycling alone....Its a long and lonely road and there are dangers... Maybe that's why we do it?

Cycling long distances through remote places is obviously not with out its risks. Most risks we can mitigate against. Some we can not. Being ROBBED on a desolate highway is one of those risks. Escape is nearly impossible when you're on a bicycle and your assailants are on motor cycles. Defiance, is in my view far too high a risk to consider. You are really left only to comply and hope you get out of it with out too much expense or injury - or worse.
The people who robbed me appeared to follow me from a small highway town I had just passed though. Their weapon of choice (disconcertingly) was a syringe. Their request of 2 million vnd was fairly aggressively delivered as they stopped their motorbike in front of me to block my path.  I handed over the cash in my pocket - about 800k and they left. I was lucky. I had passport, USD and other valuables on me. With 500km in front of me of very quiet roads and many small, somewhat notorious towns to pass through I made the immediate decision to abandon this leg of my end to end tour of Vietnam.
With the adrenalin pumping immediately after the robbery I pushed hard to the next township which I could see ahead. I was there in 15 minutes and spoke with some people at a tourist stop restaurant who helped me waive down the next bus. The chance arrival of a random, long distance coach with a spare seat and room for my bike was the next small piece of good fortune I encountered that day.
2 hours later I was back in Nha Trang contemplating my next move.  As the ordeal took place on day 1 I quickly restructured my plans to use the next 5 days based in Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue, purchased an overnight sleeper ticket on the 8pm train and boarded after a remedy beer and pizza.

The next 5 days worked out perfectly. Day rides out of Hoi An and Hue, A support vehicle and the company of a fellow rider all allowed me to relax and enjoy immensely a somewhat different adventure than originally planned.

Map shows exact point where I was robbed by 2 (male) individuals on a motorcycle. Time of robbery was around 3pm, November 8th. I had received some warnings about this coast from Nha Trang all the way to Quang Ngai. If cycling alone or with out vehicle support please take extra care.


On the third day of my revised schedule I took on the famous Hai Van Pass. Nowhere near as tough as the ride up to DaLat - This climb is around 11km long to the summit. The views are fantastic and descent was a real blast!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Amazing Mount Mayon, Bicol

Another must do activity around Mt Mayon is Quad biking. The Kids absolutely loved this! They all got a huge buzz out of being in charge of their own powered go anywhere bikes! Awesome.





Friday, 17 October 2014

1 More Asian Champs

An unlikely goal realized for me to compete in 1 more Asian champs. The Philippine Eagles played well - not making the dizzying heights of the final as they did in 2013 - but getting to a semi where we were defeated by the HongKong Dragons. Singapore Wombats eventual champions of 2014.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Meeting the greats

The Final PAFL match of the year was played on Friday 26th Sep (GF eve) and in attendance - and in fact coaching my Dingoes team was the 1987 Norm Smith Medalist Davis Rhys Jones.
Dingoes won a tight match 11.7 to 9.8 - I managed 3 goals :)  ..cool.   It was a great season once again with around 12 games played .


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Wake Boarding @ CWC - Camsur Water Complex - Bicol

One of the best holidays in my 3 years in Manila was a trip down to Bicol which included a visit to CWC wake boarding park. Its a huge facility and parts of it are a little run down (the accommodation) but the cables and lakes are good and we ripped it up for 2 days!  Such a joy for me to get all the kids up on the knee boards or wake boards! Even Levi went solo.


    
Taught myself the 'standing jump start'


Yes there were some FAILS of course!
Tom persisted with the Wake board.......(See the video below to see if he made it up!)
This was a great moment for Tom..and me.. (But see the video below to see if he made it all the way!)
..then Levi went solo on the Knee board!..


Some more EPIC FAILs.!



Sunday, 17 August 2014

Cycling Vietnam - tour of DaLat and Nha Trang

Descending.  After the births of my 3 kids this is possibly the best 3 minutes of my life! Actually I descended for 2 hours, this is a particularly exciting section. Not the best road surface but little traffic and enough good road to hit big speeds;

Monday, 11 August 2014

Mountain bike River crossing in Yangshuo

This was an awesome day out - Getting completely drenched and covered in mud around Yangsuo and the Li river




Thursday, 7 August 2014

China P3 - Rock climbing in Yangshuo

...have to admit I felt a little anxious here being so high up a (real) rock face for once, instead of the climbing wall at our local shopping mall - and here you are really relying on just one bolt...Then the same anxiety 10 times over watching the kids climb... but really great fun and a very beautiful location.


Saturday, 2 August 2014

CHINA ~ Part 2

During a 3 week trip through China I was able to get into a number of things which classify as sport including Road Cycling and Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing and Trekking along the great wall. But for me it was the the early morning running I enjoyed the most. And one of the most beautiful early morning running routes anyone could take is a lap of central Beijing.! Really!
From the Ascot apartments I went West along Wangfujing / E Chang an Road (Subway line 1), Thru Tienanmen Square followed by a lap around the forbidden city then home. The side streets in the area are beautiful, shaded cobble stone lanes called Hutongs with loads of cool looking old style houses and small shops . The surrounds of the forbidden city are spectacular. There is a walled palaces with motes and gardens to follow all the way around. The locals are out on the streets from very early practicing tha-chi, dance or other types of movement and meditation. Its so authentic and surreal and...Chinese! Then almost as spectacular is a lap around the walled city of Xian. Take the paths at ground level of run (or ride) atop the wall itself for an awesome view of the city... its a 14km circumference of perfect running track.
Xi'an is a great city to visit - famous for the Terracotta warriors.

...around the walled old city of Xian...



outdoor pingpong


early morning running past the forbidden city palace

outside the forbidden city

Tienanmen Square