Sunday, 28 February 2010

Slide show from the Standard Chartered Hong Kong 10k race

The Hong Kong 10k race - My story

The alarm went off very early this morning, but actually I was already awake by then with Linnea who had been complaining about an ear ache and had trouble settling.
Suited up and packed the last few things into our bag, and off we went at 03.30 this morning, down to the MTR.
It was such a cool feeling to be in the MTR this morning, since everybody else who was on the train were also going to the race. There was race t-shirts, sneakers, time chips and power bars galore on the train! Ha ha! Probably the only time nobody cared if there was eating going on on the train, something that normally is against the law here in HK.

We got up to the start area rather early, and since Nathan was with us we didn't need to go and use the drop-bag service. Instead we used the porta-loos (!) quite a few times!
The start was on the high way, on top of a big rise. We were early so we saw the first group set off, and got first in line for our start. We had signed up in the group "Can complete 10k in 1h10-1h20".

And - off we went, under some fireworks and by lots of cheering! It was still dark outside (the start was at 05.40), and actually for most of the race. We ran along the highway and could see the mist lift off the sea, it was quite a sight.
The first kilometer I ran like the wind, trying to create some space for myself at the same time as I was concentrating on not getting run over. The 2nd to 4th kilometer were probably the worst, and then there was the first water station and a turn point.

Starting to run back made slightly perkier, but not much... I experienced some groin pain which made it painful to go especially down-hill (yes, there were hills!), and as fast as I would've wanted.
At 8k we passed the starting point so after that it was unknown route. Just before the finish it was one last, big hill and then I tried a big sprint into goal! I'm not sure what the official timing will be, but my watch stopped at 1h05:45!
The fastest 10k I've done yet - and I nearly met my goal of under 1h05.

At the finish I stood waiting for Vicky for quite a while. I thought she was behind me since I hadn't seen her go past, but she had (sneaky!) already at 4k! She came in on 1h01! Well done!
After the confusion we finally met up, got our goodie bags with water, bananas and müesli bars etc - and found Nathan too.

Imagine the masses though - there was 37 000 participants, in just the 10k race! 37 000!!!
And at least two of them were very happy with their efforts!

Very early this morning...

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Shopping day

Today was shopping day here in HK, my favourite! Vicky, Linnea and I went to a big mall called Festival Walk, for one sole reason: it had H&M.

As you can see, the day brought on desired result with lots of shopping bags hanging off the buggy - but unfortunately H&M was a big disappointment, at least for me. I didn't get anything there, only the kids. I managed to find a few things in other shops though, so it wasn't a total disaster..!

Friday, 26 February 2010

A magic day

We've survived the first of this weekend's two big challenges today: a whole day at Disneyland! (Vicky thinks this might actually have been the bigger challenge of the two.. ha ha!)

It's been a great day though, especially for the kids. They weren't too impressed with the Space Mountain (inside roller coaster in the dark...) but apart from that, they had a magical day!

Lucas got to meet Buzz Lightyear and liked the rides in the 'Tomorrowland'. Linnea finally got to meet not just her favourite princess Snow White, but also Cinderella! Oh happy day!

What surprised me though, was how full the park was of groups of adults - without any children with them! They even went on all the rides, by themselves... very odd. It was kind of creepy and slightly annoying too, since it made the wait for the children so much longer at every attraction.

The Disneyland visit wouldn't have been complete without the big Disney Parade, although we watched the middle-of-the-day one since we (very rightly) didn't think either one of us would last until the evening one.

Instead all the kids got to choose some presents, and off we went back home all tired and happy!

Guess where!

I'm ready!

Went in to the race area downtown today to pick up my race pack, I'm now officially ready!

I'm wearing shoes!

It's very, very rare - but I'm wearing proper shoes! AND jeans!
It's great!

Give me strength!

We are visiting this guy today:

Actually, I think I'm the most excited! The kids don't really know what to expect, but are still very geared up of course - Linnea is looking forward to meeting Snow White and Lucas wants to go on the roller coasters.

Looking forward to a very long, but fun-filled day!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

In the real world

We are in Hong Kong, hourray! I was so ready to get out of Brunei for a while!

Brunei is a very special place and I enjoy living there, every time I've been away I'm always happy to return. I do like living there and we have a very rich, relaxed and happy life as a family. Lot's of time together as a family, which was the main reason we moved out there in the first place.
But as just me, sometimes it's hard.

Brunei is a very small country, and the expat community is even smaller and very close; something which can be both good and bad. It's nice to have an extensive safety net and friends wherever you go, but when you can't even change your hair colour without people knowing before you've even left the salon, it gets a bit too intense.

So, it's nice to be out in the "real" world, where there are a bit more people, a bit more diversity and where you don't know every expat you meet on the street!

An un-fun morning

I don't know if there actually is such a thing as unemployment benefits in Brunei, anybody knows?
It is kind of hard to believe there is though, after you have had the pleasure of a morning at any government building here, like the 'Imigrasi' f.e - the Immigration Department. I had to go there yesterday to sort out the kids' student passes, and apparently I was lucky as it only took me about 20 minutes! It could be a lot longer if you were coming on a bad day.

Being there makes you question if anyone in Brunei is actually unemployed, because it seems like they have at least four or five people doing one persons job!

First you had to go and ask for a number. Yes, from a machine, but you are not taking it yourself - there is a nice lady who pushes the button, takes the number and gives it to you... Then you wait.

After your number is called you'll go and see one of the officers, who looks at your papers, stamps a little bit here and there and sends you two desks down to see another lady. She then looks at your papers, stamps a bit more on the papers and in the passports - and sends you back to see one of the officers again. Finally he then signs the papers, stamps a bit again, and you're done!
-"Finish, lah!"
You really have no idea what's going on, just go where they point you to, ha ha, and hope that it won't take all day...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

A different hash

Every Tuesday at 5.15 pm the horn goes at the hash and off we trot into the jungle. Yesterday was no different.

We had quite a normal albeit a bit 'commando' (lots of crawling under and over tree branches and other rubble) at one of our usual sites. As we had some trouble finding one of the checks, it took us longer than normal to complete the whole route. Normally the front-runners are out after about 45 minutes (even though every hash is different, we try to keep them the same length, more or less) - last night we weren't out until nearly 6.30, after an hour and fifteen minutes.

We felt rather worn afterward and thoroughly enjoyed our 100plus drinks. It had been a lot of ups and downs and our legs had gotten a good workout.

Normally that's the end of the run; after the front-runners have come out, the 'walkie-talkies' come trickling after in small groups and after about an hour and a half everybody normally are out.
That's normally.
Not yesterday...

Yesterday was a totally different story.
While we were sitting there huffing and puffing a bit, we realized that two of our eldest hash members (they both have over 1000 (!) hashes under their belt) for some strange reason had decided to go all the way around, and they were still in there! It was about to get dark, and we knew that neither one of them carried water (as they normally just go in for a bit, turn around and come out again) so we had to send a few people back in to bring water and flash lights, and help them out.
A few of the more experienced hashers went back in, and the rest of us got on with the proceedings meanwhile, with the on-on and the food.
We got some reports along the way that it was taking a lot time than they had expected, because both ladies by now were very tired and dehydrated. One of them had lots of pain in her knees, but they were moving, one step at the time.

At 10.15 pm they came out!
Nearly (as they always start about 45 mins before the rest of us to get a head start, as they are slow walkers at the best of times) SIX hours later! Six hours (five for the rescuers) in the jungle, mostly in the dark... can you imagine!
They were both fine, and their "rescuers", when they got out, dehydrated, but ok.

So, some drama at the hash yesterday, a bit different to normal. Not that they ever were lost as such, but still I'm glad it wasn't me. I don't think I would be so keen on the jungle in the dark..!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

In the meantime...

We are happy today for the short rain fall we had this morning, was hoping for more, but at least the hash wont be wet this afternoon!

In the meantime in Sweden, the 'snow chaos' continues. It has been a freaky cold winter back home, with lots and lots and lots of snow in the whole country - and it's not over yet. (I think "Ha! Good on all you guys who bragged about your 'White Christmas' and made me homesick - you can keep having the snow now!)

In some places it has been the coldest winter in 50 years - and in most of Sweden, it hasn't been so cold since the 1980s! The amount of snow they are having hasn't been seen in decades either, it's crazy!
The recent days, all trains in Sweden have been canceled and the subway traffic in Stockholm has also been severely disturbed. It's total mayhem!

I'm happy I'm here not there right now - but I sure hope it's calmed down a bit in a months time!

Yay for rain!

We are having an extra day off today, since it's Brunei's National Day. Last year I was at the stadium to watch the parade and the celebrations, in baking sun... I remember vividly it was sooo hot...

Today we have rain! For the first time in over a month I think! It's awesome and really needed for both vegetation and animals.
The kids had Malthe and Daniel over for a play earlier this morning, and all four of them instantly undressed and ran outside to play in the pouring rain! Lovely!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Glitter girl

This is how Linnea looked yesterday, after having fallen asleep on the sofa with one of her Chinese NY creations from school still in her hands, and apparently over her face...

Friday, 19 February 2010

My best effort so far!

I reached the end of my program (for this time) today, which meant a full 10k run without stopping. I set out thinking it would be interesting to see how the time would differ to the run I did a couple of weeks ago, when I did the 6-1 intervals the whole way.

Actually, I might not be able to compare because the first 5,7k today I ran with Misuzu, so I didn't do all the pacing myself. Also, I got a stitch at 8,5k and had to slow down considerably; couldn't give it my all as I had planned.
I finished at a time 2 1/2 minutes slower than last time. Still not bad, I'm happy.

Plus - now I've done it! Now I've run 10k without stopping, so now I know I can do it! I might actually take another approach next weekend to the race, than I had initially planned. I'm not too sure yet.
I'm sure about one thing though: I'm ready!

A great last day

Our friends Henrik & Jette are on their way back to Denmark again tonight. It's been lovely having them here, and I hope and think they've had a fantastic time.
This morning before leaving, they even had time to join us at school to watch both the Assembly and the Chinese NY parade; something they enjoyed a lot!

Jette has been to the hash, they've seen the mosque, the beach, the Yacht Club, the museum, the Ulu Temburong National Park and the Sultan's regalia; they've eaten sushi, arabic, thai, indian and home cooked; they've had massage and been shopping a bit too!
Of course, they also spent most of last week in Sabah: four days diving at Sipidan island and a couple of days in Kota Kinabalu. They've really done a lot!

On our last afternoon together yesterday, we just hung out at home with the kids after they got home from swimming lessons and football. Henrik got loured up onto the trampoline and we had some nice take-away and sat outside and enjoyed their last night.

The kids adopted Henrik & Jette as their extra grandparents, and got a lot of brownie points when they said they were going to miss them now..!

Flower Assembly

This morning we were invited to see Lucas' class assembly they were doing about flowers. They have been studying plants, seeds and flowers for a couple of weeks now. They even did an excursion last week to the Rimba Nursery and each bought a plant to look after for the rest of the term.
This is how beautfully they had decorated the assembly room in their flower theme:

And here is Lucas' pink little plant:

They told us a little bit about seeds, plants and flowers; sang a few songs about flowers and also told us a story - accompanied with some nice performances by Lucas and his friends.
The story was about five little seeds (Lucas being one of them) who flew in the wind. One of them flew up on the top of the snowy mountain, and of course couldn't live there as it was too cold, one ended up in the sea and drowned and one flew out in the desert and couldn't grow of lack of water.
Lucas was the fourth seed, who landed in nice soil. He started to grow a little bit...

... but he was next to a big weed, that took all his light...

... so he died too!

(Of course all the seeds who didn't make it, "died" in true Hollywood-fashion... It was very entertaining to watch!)

But in the end of the story, finally one little seed made it and grew up to be a tall, pretty flower that all the butterflies and bees came to visit. The end.

They also told jokes about flowers. I didn't quite get Lucas' allocated joke at first though:

- If April showers bring May flowers - what does May flowers bring?
- ?
- Pilgrims!

I had to Google, and the 'Mayflower' was a famous ship, that brought pilgrims from the UK to the USA back in 1620. Aha..!

Chinese NY Parade

Linnea celebrated Chinese New Year in school today, with a parade together with the other Kindy class and the little Unicorns - all around school.
Just like last year, they had a big dragon and some kids got to walk in/under the dragon, while the others were bashing pots and pans, shaking bells and making as much noise as possible!

(The story goes, the dragon came down from his mountain every year at New Year, to eat the people. Until one day when they realized, he was afraid of light, noise and the colour red! That's why they have so many lanterns, fire crackers and all dress in red - for the Chinese New Year.)

Here they are, getting the dragon ready:

Here's all the noise makers:

Off they go!

Bash, bash, bash!

The Kindy Kampung Ayer

Following the excursion the Kindy classes did to the water village a couple of weeks back, this is what they have made:

Isn't it just great? A whole water village, with water and a bridge and everything! Absolutely amazing! The teachers have so much imagination and they are great with the kids, they do so many things like this. It's amazing how talented the kids are too!

Dangerous favourites

These are my new vice:

Banana fritters.
I've always liked them. My addiction is new since I discovered that the Yacht Club actually has them on the menu... Far too accessible and not very good for the figure... but very yummy!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

I don't do cold!

No, no, no - what is going on?!
We're off to Hong Kong in a week, and my friend there is telling me that today it's only +7° C and raining! They are wearing woolly jumpers, mittens, hats and winter jackets! No, no, no...

And it's not much better in Sweden, they still have tons of snow, with more coming, and plenty of minus degrees, brrr! Apparently the meteorologists have said that spring is not coming for the next six weeks! Hey - that's not until after we're gone again!
No, no, no...

S-u-n, people, I want sun. Not too hot, but at least sun! Pretty please?


I'm not very involved in how the justice system works in detail here in Brunei, but have caught a slight glimpse of it the last few months.
We have all closely followed the ongoing court case about our friend who lost her life in the hit-and-run accident last year.
It's been a long and very drawn out process but finally yesterday the lady who hit her, got her sentence: 18 months in prison.
Only 18 months!

Consider that this lady didn't have a valid drivers license and had made no attempt for the last three years to renew it.
Consider that she already had TWO previous convictions for careless driving.
Consider that she tried to conceal the damage made to her car in the accident, by taking it to a work shop.
Consider finally that although she didn't have a valid license to drive - she was still driving herself to court every day of the case!

Does only 18 months in jail seem fair? Is that really justice?
I don't think so.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Lion Dancing

Today we spent all afternoon at the Yacht Club, enjoying our first extra day off with some swimming and play. It was completely crammed there today, because they had Lion Dancers coming in!
The kids were very excited, but didn't quite know what to expect. Lucas only vaguely remembered last years performance, and Linnea not really.

Poor Linnea got totally frightened when they started and no wonder, cause the music was so, so loud and the lions were really boisterous and in everybody's face. But then she came around and fed the lion with her ang paow and even cuddled it a bit!
Lucas digged the music and also fed a lion. He also managed to get a cheeky sneak peak under the lion..! As curious as ever.

Lucas feeding the lion:

The music:

Lucas checking out the lion:

Linnea giving the lion a pat:

Waiting for the lions to eat the oranges:

Just like last year, it was loud and fascinating, mesmerizing and engaging - I love it!

The king of dress-ups

Our favourite little neighbour Oliver (or maybe rather his parents...) has set the bar high when it comes to dressing up for holidays and special days. He's only 9 months, but so far he has already been a Halloween pumpkin, a Santa's helper, and a Superman.
Today he came over to say hi before he went to a Chinese NY Open House, and of course he was dressed in a traditional Chinese outfit... complete with a little black queue and everything! How cute is he!

Another weekend, another birthday party

Yes, it's really a never-ending story here in Brunei, these birthday parties. I guess especially in the young ages of our kids, it's often parties with the whole class, or even bigger! Often siblings are welcomed along, so it means double up on the parties.

Yesterday Linnea and I went to celebrate a little girl from her class, and had a lovely morning. They had lots of toys and games set up outside, and the usual bouncy castle and water slide - but I must say the most popular thing was this:

A huge playhouse they had had built! The Dad had designed it, and it was built by the same carpenter that built ours. But what a great idea - a two-storey one, and open, it was really amazing!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The year of the Tiger

As I mentioned in my previous post about the Chinese New Year, we are now going into the year of the Tiger:

The Chinese believe that you take on some of the characteristics of the animal in whoose year you are born. 'Tigers' are supposed to be magnetic, passionate and grand! When the Tiger does anything, it’s noticed! On the one hand generous, on the other hand a little mean, it’s sometimes hard to know where you stands with the Tiger. He is said to be lucky, engaging and brave. A Tiger is also flexible, honest and truly entertaining; and often a friend for life.
So there you go Kamilla, Linda and the rest of you who are going to have little "tigers" this year - now you know what to expect!

If you want to read more about the Chinese zodiac, or get some predictions of what the year of the Tiger has in store for you, you can read more here f.e.

In our family we have two oxes (Nathan and I), a goat (Lucas) and a rooster (Linnea)... interesting combo!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

We are having a long weekend off school this weekend, due to the Chinese New Year that is happening tomorrow. We are going into the Year of the Tiger.
The Chinese (or Lunar) New Year, is the biggest holiday of the year for the Chinese and can probably best be compared to our Christmas, and that's not just because of the red colour. ;) More because it's all about family and food!

Every year for New Year, the Chinese return to their homes to celebrate with family. It's important to clean the houses thoroughly and every corner of the home gets decorated in red. For Chinese the colour red equals prosperity and happiness. New clothes are often bought to wear especially for New Year and other important parts of the celebration is fireworks and ang paows (red envelopes).

We will be celebrating this New Year at the Yacht Club on Monday, with some lion dancing. Last year we saw that on the kids' hash, and it was great, so I'm really looking forward to seeing it again!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Swimming gala 2010

Today the kids took part in the yearly Swimming Gala at school. This year it took place over two days, and the older kids from Year 2-5 did theirs on Friday - which meant it was not so busy around the pool nor for kids nor parents this year.
Lucas' year group came out first, and they got split in two groups; one that did their thing in the shallow pool and one that were confident enough to swim 25 meters. Lucas got sorted to swim, and they were supposed to swim two races in heats of three or four people at a time. Boys and girls in different heats.
Here he is waiting his turn:

First race was freestyle, and he sat off beautifully:

He has got a very nice stroke! He got quite preoccupied with his friends being faster than him though, and fell behind quite a bit...

Unfortunately (well...) he came in last in his heat, and being Lucas and someone who likes to win, he didn't take to that to well at all... When it was time for him to do his second race - he just backed out and didn't want to go. *Sigh* He was "tired"... Mhm...
So, he was the only child who sat out a race, sulking. It was such a shame. (We talked about it when we got home, and he said he didn't want to do it because he knew he was going to be last again... So we had to have a big chat about winning and loosing, participating and trying - and having fun etc etc...) He only ruined the day for himself - and boy is life going to be hard, if he is going to sulk every time he doesn't win!

Linnea and her friends came out a bit later, here she is waiting, rearing to go!

They did four quick heats, without any timing, and without any winners or loosers.

They all got a ribbon, and a chocolate medal. (I personally think that the older kids should all have gotten something too, after all, they are only five/six years old...)
She was very happy!

With her whole class: