A Cool Morning Run – Safra Bay Run and Army Half Marathon 2012

September 23, 2012 at 1:09 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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I must be outta my mind. At 3:30 am, when most people were still in their slumberland, I was already up getting ready to have brekky…Not that I could sleep much in the first place…

For the past few days, the sky had been hazy and the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) that measures ambient air quality was rising…all thanks to the annual slash-and-burn activities in the forests of Indonesia. It was announced in the news that if the PSI continued to rise, the organiser would have to cancel the event. Uncertainty made it hard to fall asleep. To make it worse, it started to thunder…I was getting worried. “Please, rain now and stop in time…” Cos if it doesn’t rain now, it would get so humid later, or worse, pour heavily during the race…It was supposed to be my second “proper” Half Marathon, and I really hoped that it would be a cool morning after a light shower. Well, actually it was my third attempt, but the second time I had to walk almost half the distance and took long breaks in between as I was still recovering from a bad flu. So I was hoping for a better running experience this time round and if possible, a better timing.

In the end, the sky didn’t manage to squeeze out any droplet, at least at my side, which is near the city where the starting point would be.

This time, Tisu Boy didn’t join me as he didn’t like pushing and squeezing among the sweaty army guys. But then which race doesn’t have sweaty and pushy guys? The first Half Marathon I did was a night event, so I just wanted to see if I could finish one in the day time within a reasonable time. Good thing the starting time was 5.15 am, and hopefully by the time this slow coach finishes her run, it would still be fairly cool. I wasn’t too sure if I could finish in a reasonable timing or have to resort to walking or limping most of the distances cos I didn’t manage to train adequately…Luckily, it was fairly cool and not very humid, at least that gave me a bit of comfort…

A different half marathon route from what Tisu Boy did 

The first few kilometres went fairly smoothly. I didn’t want to push too hard and slowed down slightly after the first two kilometers to conserve energy for the long way ahead. But towards 8km, suddenly there were lots of people crowding around and not moving. Initially I thought some accident had happened, but I didn’t take long to realise that there was a bottleneck…Alamak…anti-climax…Felt so warm and humid once you stopped and trapped among so many sweaty bodies!

Just as we were still jammed up here, a champion was about to emerge at the finishing point!

It was still so dark, and out of nowhere, these two Kenyan runners ran past
like flash of lightning! Both timing were so amazingly close! It must had been
so exciting to witness the moment the eventual winner crossed the finishing
line! The winner of the Men’s Open won by a split 0:01 sec, finishing ahead
of everyone with a 1:04:23 hr time!!!

And over here, I only managed to clear through the jam and probably just past 8km!!!

Although our first Singaporean runner Soh Rui Yong came in only eight
minutes later after the Kenyans, he displayed true sportsmanship when he
stopped to wait for his closest competitor after the latter tripped at the 8km 
point. Now I remembered it was a dark patch and probably because they were 
among the first to run across, there weren’t any warnings about the kerb. 
No wonder the volunteers were shouting to pre-empt us of the kerb later!

Last year’s champion, Mok Ying Ren, came in third in his first competitive
race after nursing a persistent injury…

But his sister did him proud by coming in second in the Women’s Closed
category. Qi Hui (Ann Date) was the fastest woman this year. Too fast
that Tisu Boy missed her! :p

The guy must be feeling very stressed up running alongside our veteran
runner, Vivian Tang, who came up first in the Women’s Master…Luckily
for him, he eventually caught up by a 0.01 sec

Oooo….Why two watches? 😀

Wow…her GPS watch looked so huge and weighed a tonne… 😀

She was running very hard but instinctively posed for the camera when she
saw the photographers ahead…hahah… 😀

The tape that was all the rage at the recent London Olympics

No, Handsome, unfortunately you were not number one… :p

A better pose – the thumbs up! :p Oh…I wanna try those Fivefingers shoes…

Wow! Power! 😀

Last few metres…Chiong ah! 😀

Cheers! Hmmm…her wrist pouch looked interesting…

Took an energy gel after 8km as I was starting to feel hungry. Was shocked to see my half way timing at 10km exceeding my usual speed. I didn’t know we were stuck for so long…! Or did I slow down by that much? I was a bit anxious as the clock ticked away…cos I knew once the hot sun comes out, it would be a tougher run for me. So I had to make full use of the time between dawn and sunrise to run as far as I could…But alas, there were a few more bottlenecks though it cleared pretty fast.

It is amazing how some runners can dress fancifully while running. But I guess they have to be of a certain fitness level in order to do that, otherwise I think most would suffer a heat stroke… :p Tisu Boy didn’t capture anyone with over the top costumes, but there were still some who tried to stand out among the rest… :p

The Hulk?…

The Afro…

The Clown…she forgot her pink nose or did she drop it?  :p

Oh, Kai Kai took leave or ran out of River Safari to join in the Men’s Open…
Hahahah….Where’s Jia Jia? 

For those who dunu…Kai Kai and Jia Jia are the two Giant Pandas on loan to Singapore for 10 years. They just arrived two weeks ago and supposed to “start work” this coming December..Hahahah

Wow running barefoot for a full 21 km is not easy! Not pain?

Sponge Bob the colour pants…Joking…

Some lady runners can run with full make up on without getting any smudges 
and still run pretty fast! Damn I’m jealous! Hahahah…

Wow neon green compression socks! Where to buy? 😀

These looked more like leggings then compression socks…

Wow his shirt seemed a bit tight huh? Won’t cause abrasion to the nipples meh? 😀
Some guys suffered from nipple bleeding after running a marathon cos the
shirts were too tight… :p

It’s good to bring-your-own-bag…Saves time and you don’t waste that many
paper cups…But this kind of bag just looked so uncomfortable hanging in
front of the chest…looked like ladies’ bras...:p But he still managed to run
fast… :O

Wow striking hair colour!

Oooo….a tattoo of the inaugural Singapore National Game!

They say running gives you a high…probably cos of the hormone, adrenaline, produced….See how happy these runners looked…hahah…

Yeah yeah yeah! I see the finishing line! 😀 Yeah yeah yeah! I like your
Fivefingers shoes! 😀

Yeah yeah yeah! I can eat the banana now! 😀 For the first time, there were
plenty of bananas for runners…I didn’t take any cos I was worried that I 
would get stitches…

Before I knew it, I have already reached the 16km marker where I took a second gel…feeling hungry again! :p  I couldn’t believe that I was running at a rather consistent speed as I passed one after another distance marker…I thought I would need to walk, but I was feeling surprisingly good. I guess the weather had been merciful. Soon it was day break…it must be around 7 am now, but I dared not look at my watch…I had to hasten my pace…When I passed the 18km marker, a peep at my watch told me that I might be able to do better than the previous race! Unfortunately my calves were also starting to give me cramps…Had to stop twice to stretch…Then finally I saw the 20 km marker!!! I tried to speed up but my calves were really cramping up. Called Tisu Boy to tell him to look out for me while doing a last stretch before running slowly towards the finishing line!

I thought I was smart to wear red so that Tisu Boy can spot me more easily
but I forgot the Army guys were given red running tees as well! Luckily I 
called…Incidentally I also wore this Great Eastern Women Run‘s tee for
my first Half Marathon at Sundown

In the end, I finished my race faster than Sundown, but only with four minutes of improvement, thanks to the bottlenecks and the cramps! Otherwise, I could have at least a 10 minutes improvement. Such a waste cos the weather was really good! But I think consider the fact that I didn’t really train for it, I shouldn’t be complaining…haha…The most important thing is to enjoy the process of the run! 😀 It was really hard to imagine that so many crazy people were willing to give up their beauty sleep on a Sunday morning and come out for a run in the city!

Why? Cos running makes you feel good!

Very very good!

Which other sports allow you to say hi to your friends while you are in it? 😀

Which other sports allow you to act suave while you are at it? Actually
he was wiping his sweat…hahah... 😀

And which other sports allow you to cover your face while you are at it? 
Alamak, he was wiping his sweat too! Wahahah….

Seriously, which other sports can you see seniors enjoying it among the young?

Some of these older runners run so much faster than their younger 
counterparts! Bravo!

We have a japanese runner among us…

We also have workers, security guards and executives from the same
construction company, Tiong Seng, joining in! All 861 of them! 😀

It’s one of the best way to have so many guys chasing after you! Wahahah…

It’s also when a girl can be called Daniel….Actually she was running with 
someone else’s bib! Not to be encouraged cos the bib carried important
information and emergency contact…

It’s when being disabled doesn’t mean unable….I finally had a chance to 
meet the Singapore Blade Runner at a race. He was initially running in front
of me but stopped to adjust his prosthetic twice. I was kinda spurred to 
push myself harder after seeing him in action

Wow a regular face at the canal where I run regularly!

Yeah! My third Half Marathon medal!

Kinda sums it up why people do marathon…Distance is nothing if you’re
loving it! Doesn’t matter if you are fast or slow, what’s matter is to do your

Also see related:
> Pink Ladies – Shape Run 2012
Run for a Cause – Jurong Lake Run
Running Wild
> No-Standard Chartered Singapore Walkathon 2011
> A Refreshing Run – Safra Bay Run and Army Half Marathon 2011
> Men Don’t Get It – Great Eastern Women 10k
> Sleep Can Wait. Beat the Sunrise


Permanent Resident #2

September 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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I can’t remember when was the first time I saw this, it must have been when I was on a bus  many years ago? If you drive from Tiong Bahru Road towards Outram Road, I think you would not miss this too. Right on a small little hill lies a big tomb that I always wondered who was being buried there.

See this tomb on top?

This day, Itchyfingers decided to drop by for a visit…

We could only find our way up via some steps at the other end near a
big fig tree….

And what we saw really shocked us…We really didn’t expect this…

When we climbed up the steps, what lied in front was a bigger grave than
the one we were supposed to check out….Didn’t expect to see this really…

It was a such a big grave…Although it seemed to be bigger than many big
ones we saw at Bukit Brown Cemetery, it still paled in comparison to the 
biggest grave in Singapore – the one that belonged to Mr Ong Sam Leong
also at the Bukit Brown Cemetery…

Just who was this person who had such a big grave tucked in the middle of the city up on a small hill?

A look at the words showed that it belonged to a lady surnamed Chua, who
was married into the Tan Family…Could this person be related to the one
that we were supposed to visit? Why was she buried here? Was this place
an unknown cemetery before? This looked well-maintained with fresh coat
of paint

A side tomb for offering normally to the Earth God, but I think in this case
it is for the Mountain Deity….

One of the four animal statues that guard the tomb…

Lion on the left

Lion on the right…

We then proceeded to check out the other tomb….I had heard and read that it may belong to a prominent Singapore pioneer…

This tomb looked relatively modest compared to the other lady’s…But the
location was much better….

And it was indeed for a Mr Tan….

A paper sign attached to the fence in front confirmed what I had read.
This tomb belongs to our
 Singapore pioneer, Mr Tan Tock Seng!  

We didn’t recognise the name on the tomb because many Chinese people at that time had two names…

Although it sat at such a prominent location, it was still a relatively simple
tomb. The lion statues were small too. The red paints on the eyes and lips
made them look scary…

Right below is a bus-stop and there is a petrol station here…Turning right
goes towards Kim Seng Road….

I used to work freelance at this building opposite…Those on the second
floor onwards should be able to see this tomb very clearly…This road
leads to Outram Park and the city area….We didn’t stay that long cos it was

humid and there were lots of mozzies. 

A check online revealed more…So the bigger tomb belonged to Mr Tan’s daughter-in-law! No wonder the chinese scripts on the left of her tomb said “second daughter-in-law”. These chinese words on old tombstones were normally carved in a compressed form and written in very formal old chinese, so sometimes it is tough to make out what they all mean…This site said, according to fenshui or geomancy, the location is more appropriate for females. So why did they bury the second daughter-in-law here and not the first? Or not his wife or his mother? Initially we had thought that it was his mother’s grave since it was much grander and bigger and they were so close together. Read an earlier survey of Tan Tock Seng’s tomb by API here and a Straits Times report here. According to the reports, there used to be three tombs there! Wonder where did the third one relocate to? We did try to walk around the area to see if there is any more tombs but there seemed to be no more access roads…

The hospital today that bears Tan Tock Seng’s name at Jalan Tan Tock Seng.
In 1844, he contributed
 $5,000 for the construction of the original hospital
on top of Pearl’s Hill.
 Wow…how I wish we can still build a hospital for
a mere $5K today! Then we will have an Itchyfingers’ Hospital…specialising
in curing those with itchy fingers….wahahah….

Another small road bearing the pioneer’s name….

Also see related posts:
> Backyard Cemetery
Night at the Cemetery
Revisiting the Old Residents @ Bukit Brown
Saving the Old Residents at Coffee Hill
Permanent Resident #1
R.I.P – Kranji War Memorial and Cemetery

Backyard Cemetery

September 11, 2012 at 12:18 am | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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If you are staying in the west side of Singapore or have taken the train that passes by Commonwealth Station, you should have noticed the patch of cemetery very near the main road, next to the HDB flats at Holland Close. They looked like Chinese cemetery, but I thought the tombstones were much simpler. I was always curious but never find out more until one fine day when Itchyfingers decided to check it out. Since we are still in the Lunar Seventh Ghost Month, we shall unveil the mystery for those who are curious like me but never tried to find out more…

Rows of neatly and closely arranged tombs against the backdrop of HDB
flats and the
 buildings at Biopolis

Housings for the living and the dead…These are so near to the flats that
I always wonder if it may have any effects on the resale price of these
flats? And why aren’t there any urban tales on the supernatural??

A closer look showed that these tombs were all dated in 1969…They also 
looked like some mass graves similar to the ones we visited at Kranji War
Memorial some time back…The chinese words on the tomb said something
loosely translated as “relocated burial”…

A search online said that this is the Shuang Long Shan Wu Shu Ancestral Hall and this piece of land belonged to the Hakka clan, Ying Fo Fui Kuan (应和会馆) which was established in 1822. Back then, it was used as a burial ground for fellow Hakka kinsmen from Jia Ying prefecture in Canton, China. It was originally much bigger but in 1968, the plot of land was bought back by the government for public housing. The relocated graves and the original ancestral hall now reside on a much smaller plot…

The words said Jia Ying prefecture

So folks staying in those blocks, now you know you are actually staying in
a former cemetery…scared or not? :p

Underneath these graves should be the cremated ashes of the deceased.

Among the sea of tombs, we found one with a photo of the deceased…

At the front was this row of much bigger tombs. These should be from those
more well-to-do families although they were considered simple compared
to those more elaborate ones in other Chinese cemeteries

The tiles used were more colourful than those rows at the back…But
strangely all these had no photos too…

Floral design

This was for the Earth God. This seemed to be for all the tombs here…

But this one had its own little area for offerings to the Earth God…

There was a sign that said only clan members and family members of those buried here are allowed to burn incense and paper money. Seemed like a strange rule to me cos, I don’t think that many people will offer these to the dead if they are unrelated right? Well, unless you are punters trying to get lucky numbers from those who you burnt paper money to…? Haha…

Also see related posts:
> Night at the Cemetery
> Revisiting the Old Residents @ Bukit Brown
> Saving the Old Residents at Coffee Hill
> Permanent Resident #1
> R.I.P – Kranji War Memorial and Cemetery

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