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TL;DR: First Ironman, trained well, had great support, did a mock swim in my hotel bed (officially hitting a new low in my classiness), completed in 11:55, did not hear “you are an ironman”.

Now the long version (seriously, I mean LONG)…..

Ahh, how time passes and replaces confident claims with hypocritical actions. Just last year, I was preaching how an Ironman distance triathlon would never be something to entice me, and now here I am now, on a train from Kalmar to Stockholm, writing away a race report of my experience of a full-distance Ironman.

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I would have loved to attribute this journey to an idealistic sense of drive and ambition, but unfortunately I primarily have post-race euphoria (Mandurah 70.3 in Nov, 2015) coupled with beer to blame for the registration. The resolve to commit to this “mistake” came from a fallen relationship last year, worsened by an expanding waistline and topped by a desire to feel proud of myself. The healthy foundations to any major endeavour of course.

So I made up my mind in Jan, 2016, to focus on this goal and teach myself some discipline in hopes of a sense of accomplishment at the end. I could tell from the start list that there were only 3 Australians taking part in this race, including me. I was able to reach out to one of them, Pernilla, who lived in Melbourne. Through the coming months, we exchanged our experiences and kept each other going through the chilling winter and solo goals. Unfortunately, a couple of months before the race, she decided to pull out of the event for personal reasons. However, I’m quite grateful for all the support she gave me before and after this decision, all the way to my race day.

Considering the only half Ironman I had experienced had given me a 05:57 finish time, I started off with a target of 12:30 for my Ironman. At the time, I considered this to be safely aggressive since the rule of thumb was to double your half Ironman time and add an hour.

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1) Busselton 70.3

Ironman Busselton 70.3 fell straight at the half-way mark to IM Sweden, so I figured this would be a great opportunity to shave my 70.3 time. But I was late to the party and ended up being on the waitlist. Not dissuaded though, since I was told that pretty much everyone on the waitlist typically got the entry. With only 11 weeks to go, I chalked out a plan and joined Perth Triathlon Club with a mission to kill.

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It ain’t serious if it ain’t colour coded

Squad training with PTC did wonders to improve my swim endurance and speed, and strength training in the gym got my muscles working stronger during runs and bikes. Nothing makes you feel empowered like visible gains after the efforts put in.

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PTC gang

With a few weeks to go and an upcoming taper period, I received a notification from TWA stating that my waitlist entry hadn’t progressed and I wouldn’t get a shot at Busso 70.3.

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Anticlimactic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a major buzzkill and made me drop all training and get bummed out for a while. 3 weeks of downtime followed by my parents visiting me in Australia for the first time. Took some time later to re-evaluate my main goal of IM Sweden and decided to get back on the horse with a new zeal. Targets upgraded from 12:30 to 12:00. Ambitious? Very much so. Realistic? Why the hell not! Doesn’t hurt to aim big, just meant I had less room to slack in the coming months. Consistency over intensity. Always!

PTC was going into off season and considering there weren’t many upcoming matching triathlon goals for the other members, I would have to either go solo or find another way to get myself training efficiently.

 

2) Road to Sweden

With 15 weeks to go, I decided to pick a coach for myself. The intention was to be held accountable and have a plan with a clear purpose. 140.6 is a very different beast to a 70.3. No guesswork, no random volumes of ineffective workouts, no over-training at the risk of injury… none of that! And not just any coach, but someone I knew to be great to get along with, and someone I knew for a fact was a kick-arse triathlete himself. Enter James Debenham (JD), the beautiful combination of meticulous discipline, pure hard work and an insatiable love for beer.

The winter was picking up in full swing as well, with rains on their way. This did not make the coming months any more fun but on the flip-side, I do believe it helped toughen me up for the cold waters and strong winds of Kalmar.

16/05/2016 (13 weeks to go) – Got my plans sorted, got a bike fit done and figured out my strength training strategy for the coming weeks. Lock and load mothaafuckkaaaa!

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Draw me like one of your French girls

 

As the training picks up, JD constantly tries to gauge how I’m doing mentally and physically. I am really appreciative of how he took the importance of this race to me as importance to him as well. It wasn’t just him dishing out workouts. This was personal to us both, and he was always looking to step the training intensities up or down based on how I was going. Good coaching 101.

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The whole journey as part of James’s team has been an amazing experience. It gave me a stronger attitude to keep pushing myself no matter what, with amazingly supportive team mates on the side and a whole lot of fun to go with it all.

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Much more than just a training team

During the final month, James had to head to Europe for a couple of races, so we decided to catch up over a few beers and have a long chat about my race week and race day execution. This is the first time it ever felt this real and a part of me got a tad emotional. Not boo-hoo emotional but more like WHOAAA… kinda emotional.

Although this whole venture has been based around my personal goals and motivations, I was keen to make it more than just that. With that in mind, I started up a fundraiser page for a cause that was close to my heart: dealing with homelessness. To help push that further, I also committed to personally match 33c for every dollar donated.

If you’re reading this before Aug 31 2016, there’s still time! Please have a look at the link below.

Link: https://give.everydayhero.com/au/fredbigissue

 

There are other aspects of this journey that I would have loved to describe like THE DOUBLE PAGANONI, runs through hail, bike rides at 11pm, exploding tubes on long rides, swimming on 2 degree mornings etc., but I would need many more pages to get through it all.

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I was glad when I reached my final 4 week block, lovingly called the “hell month”. Weeks with ~21 hours of workouts and over 5000 calories of eating a day! GERONIMO!!! Started slipping up near the end of this and was feeling mentally exhausted and beaten down. All I could do then was whinge to my coach and keep begging for the taper to start.

The week before my departure, my heart rate monitor stopped working and the swim goggles started leaking at every swim…. not the best time for these things to happen but then again, better now than while in Sweden. Bought a new pair of googles and my mate Dan gave me his spare HRM. I remember this inspirational story at 2009 Kona of an athlete that raced 3 years after a heart transplant surgery. I may not be running another man’s heart but goddammit I’ve got another man’s heart……….. rate monitor. #inspo

Final bike tune-up, test out the race wheels, and we’re good for race week!

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3) Pre-Race

From the moment I took off from Perth, I had a travel bag, a backpack, a camera bag and a bike case with me for 2 flights and 3 train journeys. This wasn’t my idea of fun and arm workouts were not part of the plan. With one train ride to go, I somehow lost the count of my bags and left my main travel bag in the train from Stockholm to Kalmar. DISASTER.

What followed was a bit of worry, quickly followed by the decision to assume my race gear was gone. I started practising swimming in 16 degrees Swedish water with no wetsuit and a borrowed pair of goggles.

The Garmin charger was in the bag as well, so was prepared to bike & run with a dead watch with no idea of speeds or heart rate, but I thankfully met an American triathlete, Steve, who offered me his spare 910XT! I was shocked he would offer it to me without knowing me at all, and not even caring about how or when I would return it to him. Greatly taken aback by the generosity and forever grateful for it. I hope that I can be that guy for someone some day. Worked out the data fields on it the night before and synced it my HRM.

Also bought some random shoes before the race and ran a couple of times to help break them in. They ended up making my ankles bleed which was easily fixed by having some band-aids around the key spots on race day.

The cherry on top was finding a place at the expo where I could rent a wetsuit for the day! Unfortunately didn’t have the time to try it out in water. This is me practising in the bed the night before the race.

I know…. I’m not proud.

 

There was one single race briefing with 3000 people, followed by a good carb-y dinner. I’ve never seen this before since most Australian IM races have multiple race briefings running everyday to spread out the audience. Although I must say there was something electric about having so many eager and strong athletes all in a room with the same goal.

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3,000 eager faces

Checked in everything the day after that and in a way, I was glad to get rid of the bike and know that it was where it needed to be. Before getting here I expected the red/blue bag issues to be a complex one that required thinking but it really ended up being very simple. Both of these bags were half empty for me with just the things I needed. No spare stuff, no fancy backups, no special needs bags.

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Gave the chains a quick wash and some lube while checking it in

 

Got 4-5 hours of sleep the 3 nights after getting there, owing to jet lag and all the chaos from the lost gear. Made it #1 priority to wrap up the prep early on Friday and be in bed by 7.30 worst case. Ended up getting 7.5 Hrs on the night before the race and woke up wanting to rip a polar bear apart with my bare hands.

4) RACE DAY!

Swim – 01:19

My left hand’s pinky tends to get a life of its own in cold waters and permanently sticks out from the rest of the wrist. Not the best swimming form, so I wrapped a bit of rubber band to get this in control.

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It was 16 C water but without any choppy waves. Very different to last year which had a lot of competitors throwing up in the water while swimming! My first experience with a rolling start, so got into the 01:20 group hoping I would be somewhere around that. Final time was just a few seconds shy of that.

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No warm up allowed in the water, so I followed JD’s land-based warm up routine to get that heart rate up. Got into the water and stepped right into it.

Happy with the consistency of my swim and I’m pretty sure that I would have never done a pace slower than 02:05 or faster than 02:00 (min/100m) through the whole distance.

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Had my rubber band knocked out of my hand halfway through swim. Few seconds later, the same person kicked me in the jaw to reaffirm his/her dominance. Considering the amount of pulling and kicking I endured, I’m surprised Ironman swims don’t see any full-on mid-swim brawls.

The morning also ended up being pretty misty which made it a bit hard to see the buoys. Just tried to stick to swimmers around me and focused on not swimming too far away from the buoys.

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I got a lot of feedback from others later that they were freezing in the water despite the wetsuit. I honestly felt pretty comfortable in there and I attribute it to the Perth river OWSs and the thick layer of fat under my skin. I recommend the former of those.

Bike – 05:54

The course was flat-ish with a few undulating terrains and maybe 3 or 4 major climbs. The winds are considered to be the main issue on this course but I reckon we didn’t have too bad of a day.

The course took us through viking graveyards, farms and most importantly the Oland Bridge (which gives a fantastic view of the Baltic sea & the Kalmar castle). That was good fun, especially considering that the Oland bridge can be biked on only this day of the year.

The ride was fairly uneventful except for the sticker covering my disc wheel’s valve that kept coming off. I wasted around 5 min in repeatedly trying to tape it back up so it wouldn’t hit the chain with every rev, but had to eventually rip it off. The aerobar grips started coming off later as well, I assume from the excess cosmic energy being generated by the race wheels (yes, I like to science). Thankfully no major mechanical issues to complain of.

Both my bike and run had only one thing on the borrowed 910XT’s screen: heart rate. For the bike, I wanted to stay around 145bpm, and for the run I wanted to stay below 153bpm. I occasionally checked the speeds on my bike when I felt I was going fast, just to feed my ego and give myself a mental edge, but the primary parameter was always the main screen with just the HR.

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The plan was to stick to the numbers because the numbers were direct feedback on how the body was responding to the stress. I had to use this feedback to spread out my ability for the whole course, even if I felt stellar at some specific parts of the race. This wasn’t Dragonball Z where your body got stronger with motivation or focus or anger. You burn your matches up, you pay for it later. Simple as that.

When the watch said 179km, I got my feet out of the shoes for a wannabe pro transition. This was a fail when the course went on for another 2-2.5 km. Not sure if the course was longer than it should have been or if the GPS on the watch was off. Either way, I got a few funny looks and even made myself chuckle at the silliness of riding over 2km in my socks.

Run – 04:30

I had planned on doing the first 10km of the run on a super slow pace irrespective of how I felt. Went by perceived effort and stuck to a slow jog. After that, I picked it up a bit at went by MAF heart rate. Walked every aid station (except the last one) without fail. Initially, it felt forced but eventually I started looking forward to it, but having that plan did help me push past the urge to walk at any other time.

It was always fun to see the beautiful cobblestone roads near the inner town and an AMAZING Kalmar crowd on almost all parts of the run course. So much energy throughout the whole race! Hearing the “HEJA FREDERICK” (‘Heja’ means ‘Go’ in Svenska) chant was encouraging and you heard it at every corner of the run. I also managed to run alongside the race winner for about 0.3 seconds on my first lap. #Winning

There was a moment where my stomach didn’t feel too flash and I figured I could either take a dump or run/walk the last 15km feeling rubbish. Did the math and figured that if I lost 5min in taking a dump, that’s losing 00:20min/km for the remaining distance, but there was a chance of me making that up by just feeling comfortable. Took a 4min dump (timed it) and I have no idea if the rise in pace justified it, but damn it felt good! No regrets.

Left the nutrition to continuous judgement. Not sure how wise this was but it worked well. If I felt bloated with too much solids, I would increase the water intake and switch to coke for fuel. If I felt “hungry” with an empty stomach, bananas would be the go. Just kept playing with these three in different combinations and the body responded well.

The 3 lap course is a bit of a torture since you see the finish line thrice by the time you’re heading out for another lap of pain, but in a way it’s also really liberating to run those cobblestone roads towards that red carpet when you know this time it has your name on it

The 1st lap felt quick. the 2nd felt long, and the 3rd lasted for eternity. I didn’t how to bring up the time of the day on the 910XT, but had a pretty strong feeling that my swim was around 01:20 or below and that with the sub-6 slack created on my bike, I should be able to grab a sub 12 time with a 04:30 run.

Loved stepping on the red carpet and was so stuck in my own world that I never even heard the words “You are an Ironman”.

FINAL TIME: 11:55:20

Finisher Pic

Too cheap to actually buy the pic

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5) Post-Race

How ridiculously amazing is it that they had an icebath for the finishers, and served you beer while you rested your lazy arse in it?!! I should add though that the beer was non-alcoholic which pretty much makes it barley water. Not quite as appealing.

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I came back for the heroes hour after getting my bike checked out and safely tucked away with the rest of my gear. These were the 15:00-16:00 finishers, the guys who endured the most amount of pain and pushed when the support and morale was at the lowest.

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The final guy to cross through and not make it within cut off was a Frederick coincidentally. Felt bad for the guy considering he endured the most pain that day, and also because he lost out on the medal despite having an amazing name.

 

Looking back, this has been a truly remarkable journey. I owe James a big one. I had plenty of faith in the process he laid out for me and offloaded the planning to his experience. In return he helped me smash my goals before setting new targets and repeating.

I’ll be catching up with him in the UK in a few days and sharing some war stories over a pint or five. Gotta love having a coach who’s not only badarse in the sport but damn good fun to chill with as well.

During this preparation, I’ve swum in chilling waters in the rain, gone on a 2.30am bike ride and run through a hailstorm. I set out to make me proud of myself, and I think I kinda did that with the help of some amazing friends and family. Becoming an Ironman was cool, but feeling proud of myself while becoming one was even cooler.

 

Time to enjoy a month in Europe and then to the next challenge, whatever that is!

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P.S. Stockholm lost & found my bag the day before I left Sweden!! The world is too good to me!

(This is going to be a long post and a gist of my experience for my own future reference, so if you’re interested in reading my experience, hop along and don’t complain!)

I’ve always said to my juniors, ” If you’re at IIT, don’t miss out on two things: ‘RD’ & ‘FT’ “. RD (short for RDC, which is short for ‘Rural Development Center’) refers to a virtually zero-workload course that hands out grades like they grew on trees, while FT (short for ‘Foreign Training’) is the opportunity of attaining an internship abroad, spending most of the time exploring rather than working. Since I must practice what I preach, I landed up in Shanghai for my 3rd & final internship (Yes, I’ve already taken up RD). Being interested in working for an automotive industry, I applied for an industrial training at auto-manufacturers and was lucky enough to land with Volkswagen (although my primary choice was Wolfsburg, not Shanghai).

Day 1 (May 22, 2010): I reach the airport and can’t find the person who is supposed to pick me up (Mr. Yu). Left my luggage in the corner and left to look for him. I returned within half a minute and VOILA!! No more luggage!! I’m thinking
A) Lol, and I thought India was bad!
B) How long was I gone for?
C) Where’s the guy who’s supposed to pick me up ?
D) AAAGGHH!!! WTF!! WHERE’S MY LUGGAGE!??!!
in that order.

So much for a walm welcome! Ran around looking for it but in vain. Found Mr. Yu finally and explained my situation. He searched along with me, then contacted the police, who checked the surveillance cameras and found a group of people scooting away with my stuff as soon as I left it! I was told they would try to track them down, and that I should be happy for atleast having my wallet and my passport with me. How could I be happy being a stranger with no belongings in a land where most of the people don’t even get what I’m saying! Long story short, the people with my luggage were tracked down by the license plates of the vehicle they left in (Surveillance cameras FTW!) and contacted. Turns out it was some douchebag tourist group that just took up all the luggage trolleys they could find around their people! Got my luggage within a day…KUDOS to Shanghai Airport Cops \m/ .

Day 3: My first day at work. My supervisor is a German guy who moved in from the main VW office in Wolfsburg recently, and boy, is he one hell-of-a-guy!! He laughs all the time and explains everything with so much passion and fun (Quote: “Sometimes we test them by overcharging them, but some of the batteries aren’t too happy about it & explode”) and he’s german for sure. He gives me hints and tips on partying and having fun here, explains the company goals and how they plan to take over a major share of the market with awesome passion, gives me a ride in his…..yeah, Volkswagen, and rides like a maniac with his ass on fire! I LOVE THIS GUY!

Day 4: My work is based on new energy and hybrid vehicles (ones that use both fuel and electricity). Not gonna bore you with the details. The weather continues to keep my happy. Temperature never goes above 23 and is windy some of the times. Socializing is a bitch, though. Other than the students and the people at work, the locals have no clue of wtf I’m saying. I have to point at stuff to buy them and yet they look at me like I’m standing naked, doing the hula dance.

Day 6: Chinese Television is just plain sad for foreigners! Not even a single English channel. Turns out the Chinese government has banned all non-Chinese channels and has made dish antennas that can catch international channels illegal!! That’s pure BS!! This was one of the many instances I found myself cursing the Chinese government during my stay. Even the locals loath the government and have repeatedly expressed their hatred for it to me.
Check out this Youtube vid I made in dedication to the Chinese television………

Day 8: One word: LOUD! That’s what Chinese are. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that as an offensive statement. It’s just the way they are accustomed to. A phone conversation, a chat in a restaurant….whatever the case may be, you’ll see them shouting away to the point that it seems to be an argument rather than a conversation.
Moved into an international dorm today, which should help me with meeting new people. Made some German & American friends who are exchange students here for the semester. How they interact in the classes, let alone learn the courses offered, is beyond me.

Day 10: Checked out the main city today, including the famous “Bund” or as its known in Chinese, “Wai Tan”. In one mile, you can see fifty-two buildings of many architectural styles, such as Renaissance, Romanesque, Gothic, Beaux-Arts, Neo-Classical, Baroque, and Art Deco. Had company of a Chinese friend, Henry (his “English name” obviously), who was visiting Shanghai as well. A ferry ride along the river, a walk in the park and some snaps with a newly wed couple later, I decided to head back.

Day 13: Its surprisingly hard to find a huge person around here! Guess thats the effect the chinese cuisine has. Don’t get me wrong, it is great! It tastes wonderful but I guess its the fact that most of the stuff is steamed or boiled, that makes it so good for you. You’ll rarely find fried food here. If you see a fat Chinese, he’s probably been to the local KFC one too many times.

Day 15: Weekend#2!! The day started with me heading downtown to Shanghai Tattoo (http://www.shanghaitattoo.com/), to have a chat with Zhuo Dan Ting, one of the best tattoo artists in the country. Later met up with my friend Rong ( and not-so-surprisingly, she is often wrong, which is why we got lost in the subway on all the wrong trains :/ ) for a trip around the city. Had a great time with her, having traditional Chinese cuisine, and visiting Hongqiao (an art gallery, her idea…) and Dapuqiao, a commercial circle with very tight alleys , busy with foreigners and filled with restaurants, art shops etc.

Day 21: My boss leaves for Germany for a week on official business. The opportunity is too tempting, so I end up skipping work and on a trip to Beijing :D. A wonderful place and I must say, the great wall is REALLY GREAT! Was approached by random asian folks quite a few times who wanted to have a snap taken with me! Closest I’ll get to feeling like a celebrity I guess….. A 3 day stay at Beijing took care of Ming Tombs, The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace and the Tiananmen Square. The nights were spent in my hotel bar getting to know new people and playing foosball. After all this time in China, the best time I had was while having drinks with my new friends from around the world and watching the first game of the FIFA World Cup 2010.


On my last day in Beijing, took a trip to the Donghua Yeshi Night market for feasting on delicacies such as scorpions, squids, frog legs, snakes etc. Ummmm…. OM NOM NOM NOM!! Check out the vid:
Was also approached by a bunch of hookers, inviting me for a “massage” xP

Day 28: Another weekend in Shanghai…. this one was quite a quiet one with me hanging with some friends and travelling to the People’s Square and Nanjing Road for passing some time. Great places to go shopping and check out one of the biggest commercial hubs in Shanghai. Turns out its one of the world’s busiest shopping streets. Later I head to a tattoo studio to talk to a tatt artist about some issues I’ve been having regarding my tatt design.

It saddens me to not be able to experience Shanghai at night since I hear the city is just stunning after dark. I live quite far from downtown, in order to be close to my workplace. So I’m never able to stay late in the city. I plan to rent a room in some hotel downtown for one of the weekends for a night city tour, night photography of this amazing city, and some clubbing at one of the many happening places here.

Day 35: This is THE DAY! The day I get inked!! But first I head to the Grand Mercure to meet my friend from college, Rohan, who is visiting China before starting work at Singapore a month later. Not due for my tatt appointment till noon, so decided to visit the Shanghai Zoo with my Chinese friend, Rong, for killing some time. But alas, fate had other plans! Lot of mishap on the subway where I found out the station I intended to use was closed for construction, the station for changing to another line was closed and being used via another one blah blah…. Was too late for the zoo so just spent some time with Rong at Zongshan Park and got to the Tattoo Studio after lunch.

After a little discussion with the artist and a few changes from my part to the design, we got down to it. Two and a half hours of needles piercing my upper arm like a sewing machine and finally was pleased with the outcome. My idea to create this design was for the tribal pattern to depict the the energy/forces running through us and the Yin Yang symbol (a.k.a Tai-Chi in Chinese) to show the balance between different aspects of everything. So basically the design denotes the balance necessary in life in everything we do which makes the things perfect.

Day 41: Got off work and got dressed for one hell of a night. Met up with my Australian friend Chen downtown at 2130. We met up with Paul (French) & Philip (Canadian) and had a few drinks before heading on to Murals for a crazy night. Got drunk, grooved with the girls, and woke up the next day in some hotel in the city with a bad headache. I leave a note for my other friends cause they are too stoned to be waking up anytime soon, and leave for my place. A hot bath and a nap later, I check my mail to find Chen talking about another party we should check out soon.



Later that night I catch the football game between Germany & Argentina with some of my Chinese friends, and damn!! Was that an ass whooping or what! 4-0 with Argentina! Deutschland is sure on fire this world cup… Maybe its time to bring up the issue of a raise with my boss xP

Day 49: And it ends….the football world cup ends with Spain taking the throne. Certainly not the kind of world cup everyone predicted. No Brazil, no Argentina, no Portugal, no France, no England……But fun nevertheless! On a side note, I was at H&M with Rong the other day and I looked at a few shirts to find this written : “Made in Bangladesh” and I’m like “WTF! They make stuff for the whole world but get their stuff from Bangladesh!?” (o.0)… Spent this weekend meeting my few close friends downtown, and having my last drinks and goodbyes with them, since this is going to be the last weekend for me in Shanghai city. Irrespective of what my overall experience in China may have been, I’m going to miss Rong & Amy after I head back.


Also bought a tripod from a photography heaven at Luban Road, after struggling through the 24/7 rains that Shanghai has suddenly started showering on me(which is how I ended up buying an overpriced umbrella from a smirking street vendor). Must say, it is quite a sight to see hundreds of Chinese hustle on the roads with their umbrellas. Tried my hands on a few night shots, but it may be a while before I get the hang of getting good night snaps. Looking forward to my Xi’An trip next weekend, which would put an end to my China sight-seeing spree.


Day 52: Quote of the day: “We try to design a strong interior cabin for the driver so that during a crash, it does not deform and hence, protects the driver. But since Chinese don’t wear seat-belts, it doesn’t matter cause after the crash they’re not in the cabin anyway..”
This was my boss’s colleague from ‘Accident Research’ who just came down for a day from Germany.

I’ve decided not to visit the World Expo. It’ll probably get me some raised eyebrows back home but I’m not interested in wasting my entire day standing in ridiculously long queues just to visit 3-4 pavilions of other countries, while being pushed and shoved around by swarms of Chinese people (speaking from experience of some of my friends)…. It just doesn’t make sense when there’s so much more that can be done instead!!

Day 59: Back from Xi’An. Must say that after witnessing Beijing, I didn’t find Xi’An as special as I hoped. Sure, the Terracotta warriors have a rich history and look magnificent, but when I saw everything that is around those statues for promoting them, it just seems like milking the hell out of a frail dying cow. Then came the Big Goose Pagoda, followed by a bike ride on the City Wall, which was the only real fun part here, unfortunately. I can’t help it but I’m just not a history buff.

Spent the night hanging out with some new friends I made at my hotel and the next day checking out the city and the Muslim Street. In case you couldn’t figure, its a street comprising mostly of muslim shops (SURPRISE SURPISE!) which range from eateries to souvenirs. That was it for Xi’An. I can conclude now that for those who want to witness the modern China, Shanghai is the place to be. If you fancy more for the China a few hundred years old but in a balance with the modern world, go to Beijing. For the ones who wish to experience a few thousand years old China, visit Xi’An, cause there are many parts there which have not been “modernized” yet, and this can really give you the feel which you might have expected before coming to China. Time to head back to Shanghai for my final week at work!

Day 64 (July 24, 2010): Hectic week. Was given the most important assignments at work during the last week. The fact that a hot new German trainee joined this week did not help speed up my task.

The final day wound up pretty well. Got some good work done and my boss surprised me by taking me and a couple of other colleagues working with us to a great place for a nice traditional Chinese lunch, at the end of which he thanked me for my contributions and gifted me with a Volkswagen Souvenir 🙂 . One can only dream of having such a great guy for a superior. At the end of the day, I took a few snaps with them and parted ways.

I write this last part as my flight takes me home. Time to bid adieu to this unique country. The language can be an issue, the people are loud, the queues can be long, the goods may be duplicate 😉 ; but at the end of the day, the locals are immensely friendly and benevolent, the provinces beautiful with a rich culture and heritage, the cities vibrant with energy, the customs unique and intriguing, and the country ever so inviting…..

Booooring Winter :(

Posted: December 16, 2008 in holiday
Tags: , , , ,

This winter has sure been a wild ride. First of all on my way back on train to bangalore for hols, the Ticket Checker gives my ticket a glance and says “Alright get off the train at the next station”. Im like “WTF!!”. apparently my ticket was dated for the next day!! Never thought I would get on a train a day early!!! A few guys heading to bangalore were there to help me out fortunately. We talked to the T.T and bribed him till he would let me have a berth in the sleeper compartment. The guys kept offering me beer during the “negotiations” 🙂 . Talk bout having a good time even in the worst cases. In the end, I had to leave the AC compartment but it was getting off the train 😀 .Got my ticket cancelled at Visakhapatnam the next day and got some 500 buks bak. So in all, had to just spend around 300 buks extra to reach home a day earlier. Not a bad deal if you ask me 🙂 .

Back home, was quite boring in the beginning. Taking joy rides on my bro’s bike, playing computer games, hitting the gym and watching movies is what I did all day long . But after a few days, no matter what your schedule is, you will get sick of it if there’s no variation. Later, me and my family headed for Kerala for a week. Then trip was in our car which made it interesting. The trip was through forests and highways. We visited caves and waterfalls on the way. Stayed at a resort where we took a trip on a house boat and also went for canoeing.

On our way back a half drunk half deaf guy was riding his cycle on the wrong lane. We were traveling at 110 kmph and ended up banging him…Thankfully my bro (who was driving at that time) was able to swing the car around a bit at the nick of time whihc avoided any serious injuries. Although the fault was ENTIRELY that faggot’s , the villagers gathered and started pressuring us. Now, we’ve had experiences of such cases before and if this leads to a court case almost ALWAYS the person driving the bigger vehicle pays irrespective of the culprit. So we ended up paying the guy 500 buks and leaving before he could make more fuss of it. Now I’m back home bored again….

Christmas coming up soon and looking forward to it. Its always a great time with such a great festive atmosphere ( not to mention the OOOHHH-SO-HOT girls :D) . Got a great new phone (N79) ( http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1014681 ) as a christams-cum-bday gift, so finding ways to keep myself occupied. 10 more days till I get back to KGP so gotta find some way to kill some more time 😀 .

Here we go….my first blog entry. Judging by most of the events in my life that come close to being termed ‘interesting’, I can presume that many of my posts will have something or the other to do with my life at IIT. So, I’m gonna start with something off track.

In the first week of my summer vacation, I’ve taken 6 flights, 3 train rides, and a million cab rides. That makes my average speed for this week of about 75kmph (Yes, I actually am jobless enough to have calculated this) !! So why don’t I give a snippet of my experience…

My excruciatingly painful 4th semester had just ended. Me and my family had decided to escape from the scorching summer heat by fleeing to Leh (capital of Ladakh). View from the flight After two delayed flights, an unfriendly cabin crew and a sleepless night, we arrived at 6 in the morning at Leh, where the air hostess announced that the temperature outside was 1 degree celsius. That didn’t do much of a good job of improving my mood. On stepping out, the weather made me wonder wether this was really better than the heat….. During the baggage collection, the airport had a power cut!!! Definitely a first in my list of experiences :P. On reaching the guesthouse, we were greeted by my dad’s friend who gave a first impression of being a socio psychopath (but later turned out to be a great guy and helped us throughout our stay there). Due to the high altitude (over 15,000 ft), the oxygen content is pretty low up at such locations. Even a brisk walk leaves you panting like you just ran a mile.So we were asked to rest for a day and not even take a bath so that our bodies could adjust to the new environment. I was more than happy to oblige :D.


Something that I noticed is that all the animals, ranging from a cat to a cow, were extra-ordinarily HAIRY…and I mean REALLY HAIRY (or maybe furry is a better term) !!! I guess that’s nature’s way of helping them adapt to these surroundings. On the bright side, it made even the dirtiest of street dogs look cute. Another keen observation was the nature of the locals. They were disturbingly nice!! Made me almost sad to see how kind and helpful they could be…Always eager to help and even in the tourist hot-spots, they never overcharge you by even a buck. I’m pretty sure that even slapping one of them hard wouldn’t take that smile off their face (I came pretty close to testing this theory).

3rd highest pass in the world
We had a nice time roaming around and having a look at some gorgeous locations. I also had a walk on the third highest mountain pass (18,000 ft above sea level) of the world which is so damn cold and snowy that it can make your head spin in no time.


The last day had us visiting the India-China border near the Pang Ong lake. On the way back it snowed and got us stuck in the middle of nowhere. Although we were freezing to death, I must say it was a delightful experience on a whole. We got back safe and sound at 6 in the evening after leaving at 7 in the morning. The return journey to Bangalore was quite uneventful, and left me thinking “What next??”…..