Tuesday, December 30

We interupt this special programme ...

to post a video that Vic found. Finally, Sting and Edin Karamazov with "In My Life" by the Beatles. Scrumptious. It sounds better in real life tho, trust me.

Monday, December 29

Climb Malaysia (II)

[Ah, nothing better to start your overcast Monday than Beethoven's 9th. Irony, I likes!]

After the disappointing experiment of Gua Kelam it's no wonder that the next days found us in Bukit Keteri. On the first day, what started out as a rainy, let's-get-back-to-the-hotel-and-sleep-the-whole-day thing ended up in very nice routes. And we climbed and we climbed ... The rock was nice and sharp and the routes much harder than the routes in Thailand with the same difficulty. From this point of view, I hate thailand, it made me think I can climb hard(er) routes, only to be thrashed by Malaysia...

In the afternoon, Doris and I went up into the caves of Bukit Keteri. The view from upstairs was magnificent. Other than that, nothing spectacular except I banged my head on one of the cave's ceilings. Stupid, I am.

We goofed around in the caves

Watched the guys get whacked by a 8c+ ...

The next day while the rest of the team went Thailand which was just across the border, Sandra was kind enough (Thanks, SAN!!!) to stay with me in the wonderful town of Padang Besar, where there was. N.O.T.H.I.N.G to do. Abso-fucking-lutely nothing to do. We went around some shops in the bazaar and then settled (with Cassandra who also stayed back) in a nice halal (did I mention perlis is a very strict muslim state) Thai coffee shop for about 2-3 hours. The food was very good, especially the Tom Yam, and I got to exercise my super power of ordering-by-pointing (where you point to the food on somebody else's table and say "Satu" (one) with the additional raising of your index finger, just in case). Next we found the bus driver and retreated to the air-con comfort of the bus, where we slept/read until the team came back.

Tuesday, December 23

Climb Malaysia (I)

So after a grueling 14 hour bus ride in which we sang and most of the team slept,

and after a very good night's sleep in Hotel Federal in Kangar, in which i switched off within 10 minutes of lying down, the first climbing day found us in Gua Kelam Park. Or whatever it is. The routes were un-eventful climb-wise. The climbs were easy, but!

My first climb of the trip found me on a route that was next to a route that Planet was climbing. And that route. had. a wasps'. nest. So I got stung twice. No biggie.

We switched to some other short and easy routes. My leading mental was good. Much better since I've realized that my inner talk was bad.

Lunch and a short rain found us eating inside a chinese temple. I was probably the first caucasian to visit those remote parts because people really never stopped staring at me. Ah well ...

The second part of the day found us going through this very very nice and big cave to some other crag. Yet again we found wasps (they were to disappear later), so we retreated to our morning climbing spot.

I started leading a 6b but by the second bolt it started to pour again so I had to downclimb. We spent the rest of the day just bumming around and watching our team mates play silly yet enjoyable card games.

All in all, the first day was disappointing. I wouldn't go back to gua kelam for anything, not even for the chili plants or for the fake waterfalls.

Monday, December 22


Safe and sound, only bitten by two wasps. Updates asap.

Sunday, December 14

Dropping by for a quickie

Leaving for Malaysia for 1 week to climb in about 6 hours. It is now 01:01 am and I am not asleep which spells trouble for whomever will be close to me during the 16 hour bus ride (OMFG) from Singapore to Perlis. Thank goodness we are chartering a bus!! I am looking forward to 4 glorious days of climbing, even though I feel bad because I am leaving Marian to move the both of us (yes we are moving, but this is another post). On the other side, I will come back a saner me, and from this benefit he will. These days have been full of cleaning, saying goodbye to friends, buying new pairs of shoes (1 orange, 1 golden, and 1 black) and new blouses (3 green). The sales have hit town and so I am recycling my old shoes and buying new ones (happens every two years). I miss climbing and I hope to get enough of it in the next days.
Rope - check

Runners - check

Money - check

Shoes - check

Passport - check

Tuesday, December 9

In my life

Heard this song last night (duh, 28 years since John Lennon was shot) sung by Sting and accompanied by Edin Karamazov on the lute. It was amazing!! Spent the whole morning searching for it, but I wasn't able to find sting's version on youtube. It gives a very mellow tempo to my very slow and sore (from the marathon) day. Sting is [still] hott!

Monday, December 8


Amazingly, we finished. I had a stitch about the 17km mark, brought on by the fact that I drank to much. Note to self: MODERATION!! We got at 21 km after about 2 hrs. I gave Marian my knee guard at around 22 km. He hit the wall at around 27km. He says that he couldn't hear me when I was talking to him. At all. Brr, horrible. Anyhow, we had a power gel, we walked, we dragged our feet, had some more water, some more 100 plus, i told him what was happening, why he was hitting the wall (they say your body runs out of glycogen from carbs and has to switch to fats) He was running but more walking that running. Anyhow, I think what got him through the end of the wall and running again was one particular runspirator. He was a big caucasian with a bell. Yup. one of those bells that you see on cows in Switzerland (or so they say). This marathoner was walking and this guy was right behind him banging the bell in the marathoner's ear yelling "I'M NOT GONNA STOP TILL YOU START RUNNING!! I WILL NOT STOP TILL YOU STOP RUNNING!!" ... So the poor guy finally started running and the runspirator finally stopped but told him "YOU'D BETTER NOT STOP, I'M WATCHING YOU!!!!" After seeing this, Marian started running :)) Better run through the wall than have somebody bang your brains dead, I always say. Marian hit a second wall at around 37 km. I'm not sure if this was a wall or he only had breathing problems - from the 35km mark to 37 we run only on one side of the road, while the other was FULL of cars, buses and stuff. It was horrible. Exhaustion gases are not something you want to breathe in so far down in a run. I am very proud of us that we finished. Am very proud of Marian for enduring what he did and still finding the strength to run just a little bit more, and then a little bit more again.

I wore the romanian flag on my back. For the first 20 km or so, it also had a piece of paper on it saying "Romania", but because I kept putting water on my head, the paper finally tore. Nonetheless, 200 meters or so from the finish (and going a bit uphill on esplanade bridge) another runner (singaporean) told me "Good job, Romania!" : I was yet again encouraging people around me run - this is an achievement, I am very shy towards strangers, so sometimes I just say in a very little voice, "come on, come on" ...

I'll just make a list of people/things that I saw. I am too tired to write coherently (next year I will try to run under 4 hrs. Running for 5 hrs is gruelsome).

  • Somebody's printed t-shirt saying "Running for presidency next"

  • Somebody's piece of paper saying "I am running on the power of my own farts" - he ran out of fart-o-power around 30 km (if you are going to write something that stupid, at least make sure you are damn fast)

  • Somebody limping wearing horribly worn out shoes; poor guy looked in PAIN. Good thing a friend was walking with him. A new pair of shoes would have gotten him a long way.

  • Somebody carrying a backpack (not a water-camelback), but a big school bag. I'm pretty sure we overtook him, I would be very upset with me if we didn't.

  • The bell guy moved just before the 41km mark. Thank you.

  • The Kenyans or whatever, running in east coast park. The then first two guys were literally running shoulder to shoulder. FAST!!!! Whoa!!!

  • The guy in the brown singlet. He would be walking and us running behind him. I would say come on, come on, seven/six/five to go! He would start running, then we would stop to walk, he would overtake us, then he would stop to walk, i would coax Marian into running some more, then we would overtake him again, I would say come on, come on ... and so on...

  • Doris just before the finish line. THANKS for: being there, texting me at 3 plus am, taking the above pic, cheering for all the runners!!! I also cheered the kenyans with a big ALLEZ!!!! So sad to have missed Cherlyn, but at least we had a good excuse!!!

  • One runner was bouncing a tennis ball from time to time. I guess it was a good distraction. I don't know about other people, but a marathon is definitely not boring.

  • The very pro looking evacuation SUVs. Around 39 km people were dropping like flies. Must've been the Ferraris.

  • The Ferrari expo at 39km. Oh why?

Friday, December 5

A nice odd number

Queued up for 2 hours to get the race entry pack for this year's Standard Chartered Marathon! The queue started from the MRT, and it had about 150m until entering the expo hall where you were in the queueing pens. No pasta this year unfortunately, I was looking forward to cooking it. Goodie bag is also a bit disappointing, you can see that we are going through recession. Ah, life is cruel. As always, the guys' running singlet is much nicer than the girls' one. It definitely has a material that I like more, and a nicer blue.

Tuesday, December 2

First nightmare

After my previous foray into almost missing out on important events for which i've trained and trained, it is no wonder what last night's nightmare was about: You see, it was marathon day you see, and, see, the marathon started at 05:30 am see, but um, we woke up at 1:30 pm. So I wailed and I screamed and I wailed some more, and I screamed some more. Not only that, but rushing to the marathon I had forgotten not only my watch and iPod but we didn't have any food! (looking back, this is a totally different scenario, isn't it?)

And I say to these nightmares: Bring them on, sista!!

Monday, December 1


[Took a break from blogging because my wisdom tooth is finally out and I have been enjoying the benefits of solid food. Good, solid food, mmmm.... Like breadsticks, rice, veggies, meat, mmmm ... Went to climb asia on Friday to buy myself a pair of green climbing pants, yupee!]

Why is it that inventors don't name the things they invent using such that the name reflects their own name? Is it modesty or they don't think that the products will survive? Or is it because they know they would sound bad? Like EdisonWire, Beller etc. Or is it because they invent so many things that their names will confuse people? Like DaVincier would it be an airplane or a submarine? Or are you considered an inventor iif you build and work your prototype, and it is accepted by the general public as it is? Why isn't the rabies vaccine called Pasteurite? (quite a good name, right??) Then like that everybody know who invented what, and CREDIT will be given (a good sign of a good future academia is their sensitivity to giving credit, i guess :D)

On an utterly unrelated thread, Doris named my left fat thigh John and my right fat thigh Tucker. I am now officially eating for three. I have tried to google John Tucker but all I can come up with is "John Tucker Must Die", and to that, I fully agree. May we have a very short life together.

Tuesday, November 25


Last year, this was me:

Nita's sms about Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon on 8th december raised some nerve-wrecking questions. See, the problem with performing well the first time around you do something, is that you expect to do the same or even better the next time you try to do it. Well, that isn't the case for me, and I usually don't.

Although the focus of this year's race is for us (marian and i) to finish together (or should I say together finish, with an emphasis on together), I can't stop fretting about our performance. Will we be faster? (not really, haven't trained that much, i feel) Will we be slower? (i think so) By how much? Will we make it? AAAAAAAA!

Monday, November 24


Had the most horrible weekend in the history of IR. The whole of my right lower wisdom tooth is coming out. It had emerged about six months ago but now the whole volcano is rising. My jaw is huge. I didn't sleep at all friday night. Barely slept on Saturday night, and last night I managed to go to sleep at 1:30am and woke up at 4 am again only to fall asleep fitfully until seven. I cannot function with sleep deprivation. I have been eating soup for the past three days, and even though I love soup, I am now officially sick of it.

In order to forget about the pain for a bit I went climbing on Saturday and managed to finish my 3x20 minutes endurance sets, even though I was distracted by Jia Wei and his routes. Saturday night Marian finally found out what's wrong with me, and he advised me to chew on something tough (his dentist had advised him to chew on a bread crust) on the wisdom tooth such that the gums will cut and the tooth will be free!! free! I tell ya!!. No bread crust chez Claudia, so I chewed on four almonds. And I remember every one of them. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

Sunday morning found me with a jaw the size of China thanks to the augmenting effect of the almonds. Went to yoga, had some soup (yay!), then crawled back home. Couldn't focus to read or write so I went running. Yesterday was the first day of my interval training. Did 5 minutes jog, 3 minutes sprint (and the sprint was proportional to my tooth ache). Did only four repeats (instead of six) because I ran out of track and I didn't want to turn back. So far so good, I love it.

Watched CSI Miami before going to bed at 10pm. I used to like Horatio about three years ago when I was watching CSI, but now I think he looks and acts like a very spooky Cheshire cat. And now starts my agony. I couldn't sleep, so I played with marian's iphone until it ran out of batteries, listened to music, heated a sock in the microwave oven (to make it hot to apply on the jaw of death - about 1,2 seconds are enough), chewed on a banana, walked around, changed my sleeping (ha!) position, moved on the floor, moved back on the bed, cried, then i finally fell asleep around 1:48 am.

Weekends, I hate.

Thursday, November 20

The smart[er] post I promised last time

I think too much. Not necessary smart thoughts or anything, it's just that I really think too much. Every move that I do while I climb, every action that I take, I must think about it. Generally, this happens after I climb or I do something, at which time I think about how stupid I was.

Like when I saw a notebook with "Exercise your right to free speech" stamped on every page, I laughed. Why? Because it's ironic that in such a tight-lipped society like this one, the way to exercise your right to free speech is by writing things down on your personal notebook, which nobody will read (or hear) - is speech vocal or not, btw? Or is it a pun like really "exercise" as in practice? See, I think too much. Again, not necessary smart thoughts.

So, I finally realized that I think too much when I lead climb. And I think wrongly, which leads me (get it?!:) ) to not committing fully, or to giving up, or to finding excuses and so on. This and my previous observation about how some people are ego/comparison-driven climbers has been my food for thought these past days.

Did a bit of research (reading up a very nice book) and here (TADA!!) are some things that indeed, do distract me when I lead climb:

  • negative inner dialogue - "shit, I'm too far from the next clip", "this crimp is shit", "mayday, mayday, mayday", "abort, abort, abort", "omg, this is hard", "shit, just get to where sandra fell then you are can fall too"[1], "shit [2], i can't do this move", "i am not flexible/dynamic", "i can't reach"

  • reacting - this happens rarely and not while climbing, but in real life, when i am upset about some stuff and take it out on people (like my mom, for example), whom i know can take my behavior. [3]

  • hoping and wishing - "i wish the hold was better, then I can hold it", "i hope i can finish this climb"

[1] - Comparison, you evil bitch! Although in this particular case, it is somewhat positive, because it helps me get past the already shitty holds that sandra, (bless her crimping power, woo hoo!!!) held, it is still, comparison, an evil bitch.
[2] - A lot of "shit" in this post, ain't it?
[3] - Just realized that "reacting" happened while mountaineering. When we were going down Matterhorn and I was frustrated that a) we didn't summit and b) it was taking horrendously long to come down and c) we had a very good chance of not living, I told our rookie "We're lucky if we make it out of here alive", a totally unnecessary remark which would have troubled the poor soul had he heard it.

Wednesday, November 19

Totally shacked

Climbed today from 09:30am (exactly) till 11:10 am (exactly). Did 20 minutes ARC around the gym with 20 minutes rest. Would not have been able to make it past the first set without the company of San, Dor, and Teck Chew. It's amazing how the presence and absence of people can influence a training session. Now I am totally sapped, my forearms and biceps (do they really exist?) are still quasi-pumped. It is definitely not the best time to start strengthening my Related Work section. My supervisor says it needs to be stronger. Titanium? How can i strengthen something when i'm so weak? [enter here 5 minutes of self pity].

Wanted to write something smarttt todae but i. just. can't.

Forgot to mention the elusive presence of Jiasheng who stopped by just to watch us bicker and bully Doris. And also to make me chase him barefoot, but the story about that particular revenge will be the subject of another post :)

Monday, November 17


BIRTHDAY!!!! To Marian!!! Woohoo!! happie 27th (a nice odd, cube number too!)!!!!

Ran about 20 clicks yesterday for Marian's birthday. It was a "ok" run. We got to see Orchard and North Bridge Road full (and I mean FULL) of hookers and drunk people [puking]. A different sight from your normal, septic Singapore. At Clark Quay we even saw a police team by the side of the road. They were watching the hookers on the other side, not doing anything. The hookers were watching them too. Hey, do you think we walked into a stare-down?! Would hate for that to happen!!

The best thing was watching the sunrise from the Merlion. Really really nice and peaceful. This was our last big run before the standard chartered marathon on the 7th of december. Would have wanted it to be longer, but we were tired and cranky, and hell, bored! so we put the run to sleep around harbour front. Had a drink and dried up, then took the bus home to a nice breakfast cooked by yours truly.

Later lunch and movie with our friends, hanging out and laughing. Talking with mom in the evening and frantically searching for our house key which we forever lost apparently.

Weekends, I like.

Thursday, November 13


The Ego is a mental entity, a crude and ruthless ghost masquerading as our "self". It is a mental construct, produced by socialization, which rewards and punishes us with feelings of self-worth. The Ego lives by comparison. It identifies with events in our past and then compares our history to the histories of others. This comparison leaves us feeling better or worse than, but not equal to, others.

Tuesday, November 11

While I was in the woods ...

it seems like the whole world decided to post blog posts, emails, articles and stuffs.

Been stuck in the land of project submissions for the whole day yesterday. By the end of the day my brain was mush. By the end of the night's training, my body was mush as well. We did (in this order, designed to sap you of any energy you have left): pull-up contest (we didn't lose, yay!) to which i contributed with 20 pull-ups (2x10), some PT that I seem to be blocking out of my mind, and flash comp. It's been a long time since we really climbed and I had a lot of fun. The open men had to climb with us and they didn't seem to be having any fun (our routes were boring and easy, i guess), but too bad for them! IR really enjoyed herself. Afterwards crawled home and into bed.

SUNDAY!! We had the most amazing run ever! Ran for about an hour and 15 minutes on the Macritchie reservoir 12 km route. This means that we did trail running! It was such a pleasure to run in the cool jungle, with absolutely nobody on the trail, away from cars, exhaustion gas and traffic lights!

The jungle was so cool and free of people (not of animals, mind you) because we started our run around 7pm. Yup. It was pitch dark people, there be no lights in the jungle. But! I had my trusty Petzl headlamp (pictured). This gave us about 1 - 2 m visibility. At one point we were sprinting (running the polar zones training - this requires you to run at about 60% of your maximum heart rate for a while - 30 mins, at 70% for another while - 30 mins, then at 80%-90% for yet another while - 5 - 15 mins) uphill and/or downhill, jumping on/from protruding roots, rocks, stumbling into mud puddles. All while we could only see 1 m or so in front of us. So exciting!!! (just realized how much i enjoy getting dirty while running - gives me such a REAL feeling compared to running on singapore's clean streets)

We saw 2-3 birds with red eyes (because of our light, but still very freaky to see one flying towards you). One bat flew past us (too close for comfort). We scared the shit out of one toad who was taking a stroll on the human-free path. We confused a lot of moths with our light. It was fabulous.

Thursday, November 6

News in the geek world

  • Dumbo aka TickCross aka CrossTick learned about perfect numbers!! After she learns about Fermat's last theorem, maybe we can talk about the greatest number in history ... 42 ... And we could then figure out how my Nike+ sensor functions.

  • Marian got his SSD hard drive today!! An early birthday and XMas present from all of us (this is the problem with geeks, you'd better not surprise them if instead you can share the burden of a expensive gadget)

  • The deadline for the software engineering project I am supervising is tomorrow. My students are marveling me with their unfounded confidence in their programming skills. All would have been much easier if they had started coding early and would have asked me stuffs.

  • Windows 3.x era is over. For most of us (not me, I had System 7.0. Snob!!) it was our first graphical/windows based operating system. One of the most stable Windows versions, too!

Monday, November 3


Just general thoughts. Will not start writing here about why I climb and so on (save you all the mushy stuff) but I seriously gotta get this off my chest before I explode. Ok.

A question that really ticks me off is something along the lines of "what was the hardest (in terms of grade) route that you did today?" I hate that question. Not "what was the nicest/funniest/challenging/great sequence route that you did today?". Not "what was the route that showed you where you need to improve?". But "what was the hardest". That and "I clinched x place". I do understand that for other people the only way in which they can improve is in a "friendly" (my ass!) competition with other climbers, but it just gets on my nerves sometimes.

Other than the scales of value imposed on us by society, the only scale(s) that I will live by in this life are those that I impose on myself. And the only person that I allow to raise the level of the scale is myself. You are not a better climber than X if you can climb 9a or 12a or V15 or what have you and X cannot. You are not a better climber than X if you spend a week learning the moves on one 8a and then drop like a fly at the first bolt on a 6c, while X has been climbing "with the girls". You are a better climber because last month you couldn't climb 12a because you just couldn't get your mind around dyno-ing from crimps to crimps and now you have improved and you can! The only one that "you" can compare yourself with is you. Period. You are a great climber if you know just how far to push yourself. If you know where your limit is such that you rest and relax even when others are still trying the route. You are a smart mountaineer for example if you know when to call it quits (but that is another lesson).

The scale is not 6c,7a, 7b, 7c etc because when you will not have time to train you will have a meltdown. The scale is easy, ok, still ok, hard, "omg this is not for me". It's "comfortable, challenging, uncomfortable, MENTAL, "I seriously need to improve"". Climbing mates are not A - "climbs 8a", B - "climbs 6c", C - "climbs better than me, still", D - "i don't take climbing advice from her cause she climbs only 6a", ... X - "one of this days I will climb better than him/her", Y - "I did this route and he couldn't". Climbing friends are (will spare the names so as not to get mushy) A - "will not take any bullshit from me so I have to try my best", B - "gives crazy routes", C - "gives routes with crammed moves that I can span, woo hoo", etc.


Friday, October 31

Sometimes, I surprise myself

Last night's training was a deadly killer one for me. Not only was I sleepy sleepy, but my left elbow is really acting up and so I was back to that stage where I can do something but I really can't do anything. Forget about jumping with my left hand (and because sandra's right elbow is injured, these are all the routes that I get) ... Welcome to looser/injury land, Claudia!!! Woohoo!!

We did round on specific holds (crimps, pinches, pockets) and finally I saw some progress: on the lizard wall I hanged on the designated holds and! I only dropped about half way on the 38 degrees wall (I usually drop when I get on that section because I am so hardcoded that I can't adapt to not using the specific hold that I've been using for ages now). Then we went upstairs to do assisted one-arm pull-ups (only right hand for me, yay! and! progress!! Doris the TickCross only had to push me up for a little wittle bit :) ), hangs with weights, laddering and some locks with weights, woohoo!!).

But this is not what I want to talk about. We went to dinner/supper afterwards at some food court. And guess what! I realized that I HEART prime numbers!!! Yup. My locker at the yoga gym is always 53. Used to have 53 and 51 but I ditched 51 because I had an epiphany yesterday and realized it was not prime. Then, last night, when we sat down at our table (number 16), I remember thinking "too bad we're not sitting at the next one" (17). I am so boring, right? It could be worse!!!! I could like perfect numbers (6, 28, 496, 8128, ...) which would leave me stuck on only two lockers at the gym!! Crawling back into my hole now ...

Tuesday, October 28

Crazy long weekend, whew!

So. To sum it up. Ran 21 km on Friday night. For Marian's sake I took a power gel (2xcaffeine) so I ended up sleeping fitfully all night. No biggie, it's not like I didn't have a tutorial to teach on Saturday (make-up for the Deepavali holiday on Monday). It was horrible (the tutorial I mean). Attendance: 9am -10am: 3/21, 10am - 11am: 3/17, 11am - 12am: 6/20. By the last hour I was very tired and very aggressive. So much for being born to be a teacher, like my chinese sign says. I'm a dog. Sunday, two hours of yoga and then a whole day of window shopping... Wanted to go eat durians with the team but I was so damn tired. Lied to them, told them I was working. Working hard to stay awake, that is.

This brings us to Monday, yesterday, in which we went cycling in Pulau Ubin. Woke up at 6, we finally made it out of the house by 7am. Sprinted back home to get the mozzie spray that Maria forgot. I hate running in the morning and I could not have made it had it not been for "Eye of the tiger" playing on my iPod. Cycling was fun, fun, fun!! Pretty adventurous too! See this guy in the picture? Well, I was standing right in that spot ten minutes later when I didn't want to let him go fish out his camera that he dropped after slipping in the water... I ended up in the water as well, of course. So much for showing off. Nike running shoes slip just as much as Adidas ones, apparently.

It was a pretty nice trek, we even spotted wild life in the form of a pretty bored wild (?) pig and one BIG spider.

And one dragonfly from last time's cycling trip.

This is called "lipstick plant". Imagine kissing lips like these, man! Smack!!

And my most favorites of the favorites of the ever favorites, coffee beans!!

Note to self: When I dressed on monday morning I had two t-shirts to chose from: my marathon finisher t-shirt or my "beware of falling climbers" t-shirt. Took the marathon one because I reasoned it is inspirational. Morale: when you're gonna fall, you're gonna fall!

Thursday, October 23

Three girls and one guy

Yup. This is the name of our climbing team for this year's Climb On 2008 festival. The unfortunate guy is Jiasheng (the one that thinks we should crimp harder!) and the three lucky ladies are Sandra, Charlene and I. This year I am planning a hard core approach. Will climb till I die. Will pack lunch. Will not leave the climbing area. Will take Bobby for some shots. Will climb till I die. Will not leave climbing area. Will ask Sandra to buy lunch. Will go with Sandra to make sure she buys the right thing seeing how I am a foreigner here and she has been living here for 21 years and thus I know stuff much better than she does. Yup.

Tuesday, October 21

Small world

Whoa, check out the photos here! These are the photos from the Nikon Small World Prize. Whoa! Pictured is the
Marine diatoms, Pleurosigma (200x)

Diatoms are plankton with glass-like silica shells and play a major role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Monday, October 20

Climbaprix 2008

Whoa, believe it or not but I wasn't last for climbaprix. Actually 11 or 10, which put me in the middle of the pack. Even flashed 2 routes!!! Yay, there is hope for me!!! And now for the bad parts.

  • the 2 routes, they were easy ...

  • first route taught me that I (still) can't jump/deadpoint for the life of me

  • second route taught me that I don't know what to do on/under a roof. I just hanged there and kicked my legs without any clue. Must do leg raises while hanging. My ass is (still) too big.

  • third route taught me that my power endurance sucks. On both of my attempts I got to the 7th tile (a green pocket) but couldn't move from there. Was nervous but hearing Jensen from the crowd ("Claud, relax!") amazingly helped a lot (until now, whenever i heard somebody tell me to relax it would only exacerbate my sewing machine feet).

  • fifth route taught me that yes! I can finish two routes in a row. I was so nervous with my left hand on the shitty ending tile and with flashbacks from last week's mock comp when I couldn't match ... but I did it in the end. Could hear YX's encouragements. This is rare, cause I normally don't hear anything at all.

Watched my friend cry again. This spiked primal instincts in me, but this time there is nothing i can do. You can't bully people into getting back together and that's that. Reminded me of how lucky I was once when I was able not to meet the person that made me cry. This allowed me to move on even when I didn't want to. Cherlyn texted me this morning saying that she had dreamed of them getting back together. So sad.

Friday, October 17

A story about shoes

I don't know if I wrote this here before ... but here goes. A while back a friend of mine told me this story about a relative of his. So this relative was taking the train from the north part of the country to the capital. Or I should say, the Capital. And this was a very long train ride, in the middle of the hot hot summer. The older train models in Romania do not have any cooling, only heating. Gasp! I know it sounds impossible, but that's the story. So it is a hot hot summer day and our train has no air con.

It is thus to no surprise that our relative friend falls asleep and sleeps for the whole 4 hours it takes him to get to the Big City, the Capital. He sleeps with his feet up on his brand new suitcase. He wakes up when the train reaches its destination (probably sleeps as sound as me) only to find that somebody has stolen his shoes and his wallet. They didn't steal his suitcase because it was heavy, I suppose. So he find himself shoe-less in the middle of the nations biggest, most crowded, hottest, train station, i.e. the Capital's Train Station. In Romania, when you go on the subway and people give you the eye-over, what they will stare most will be your shoes. Being barefoot or wearing ugly/cheap shoes is like being naked. What follows is a lengthly adventure of him walking barefoot through the train station, convincing people to give him money (he is barefoot and thus unreliable) to call my friend, etc. I'll spare you that because it's not what I want to say.

Throughout his entire life, at Christmas parties, Easter specials, birthdays, family gatherings, BBQs with friends, etc., the ONLY story that my friend's relative had to say and would say was about how his shoes got stolen on that fateful train ride. Any adventure, anything that his friends would share, he would say "aah, that's nothing, wait till you hear what happened to me on that train ride ...". Do you want to have a single story to say?

Thursday, October 16

Climba, Climba, Climbaprix!

A bit nervous about this year's first competition. My left elbow is acting up because i might've sort've overtrained it?! But! My plan for this competition is NOT to be the last (like I was in this weekend's mock comp and for rockmaster). I am a bit turned off by the fact that they are going for bonus system which means that after you get the bonus tile (somewhere in the middle of the route), it won't matter how far you go unless you finish. Which I know I can't finish. So maybe I'll just go for the bonuses. However, if i do this, I will end up feeling that I cheated myself (no point in joining a competition if you are not dead pumped at the end of it). I love pump.

Am planning to go down on Saturday morning to cheer for the novices since our reporting time is somewhere around 6pm. Will go armed with books and laptop, not like the last time when I thought I will die of boredom.

Tuesday, October 14

We have a long way to go

Just found out that the first ever official marathon took place yesterday in my home town of Bucharest, the capital of Romania. Approximately 150 people started. 150. Wow. I am number 39703 for the standard chartered marathon. We (still) have a long way to go. Here's to many many more marathons in Bucharest! Hope I get a chance to take part in one too!

Reviewing again

There are two main functional interfaces: ImageIn (client) and ImageOut (server) which consume and supply images respectfully.

Monday, October 13

I hate black sandals

Not sure if I hate this Monday's black sandals or Saturday's black sandals more. And yes I own exactly 2 pairs of fancy sandals. And, yes, both are black, what can I say? Today's ones had straps that cut deep into my swollen get-up-at-7-rush-to-school-to-have-coffee-such-that-you-don't-kill-your-students-during-tutorials feet. Needless to say I ditched them and now I am wearing formal skirt + blouse and my orange flip flops, woohooo!!! Saturday's ones made me stagger onto the stage and almost, ALMOST trip on it. Why oh why do they give the award and one end of the stage then require you to walk the entire stage to get off at the other end?! WHY?! Anyhow, I survived.

Not so many people at the awards and I don't have the pictures (yet) and the food was bad, but it was still nice. Climbed in the morning (I won't get into how I got last again for a competition) then had a quick cold shower, changed into my one and only dress (black of course) and headed for the reception. When we got there I was absolutely famished. So we (Adrian, Doris, Teck Chew, Edwin) ate TWO plates of tortilla chips. Yup. Ok, I confess, I did most of the eating. I bet they didn't know I had such speed in me :))

One picture I got off the team blog. See if you can find me, shouldn't be too difficult.

Wednesday, October 8

Putting my feet up

In an unprecedented attack of procrastination (with respect to running, that is) Marian and I decided to postpone our 21 km run scheduled for last night to Friday night. Friday we will run, rain or no rain, pain or no pain. The hours last night were well spent having fun and eating dinner with our two bestest friends. We will not see them for a long time starting from this December, but that is the subject of a future rant.

Part of Project Elephant, tonight I'm going for yoga AND! shopping with Cristina for her yoga pants and yoga stuffs. I so love shopping trips when I am not shopping for anything. Actually, those are the only shopping trips that I DO like. When I buy something for myself I take the blitzkrieg approach: ponder for about two weeks on what I want to buy, then go and buy it from the first shop that I enter. Dun let my eyes wonder on anything. In and out in half an hour.

Saturday, October 4

Plonk, plonk, plonk

This would be the sound that I make when I try to swim. Would be because I don't think anybody is there to hear it considering that my movements are very hectic. This and a horrible coughing noise once my lungs decide I've swallowed enough water for the day. Today's climbing training was 10 laps (25m) of the swimming pool (yes, swimming, not walking around it, even though the thought did cross my mind) followed by SEVEN endurance routes in the gym (easy-hard-easy-hard-easy-hard-easy).
I think I swallowed half the pool. I don't know how to swim but I try! YAY! Also, girls here do not wear a two piece bathing suit when going to the pool. Need to remember that. I felt naked.

The endurance routes were horrible especially the last ones. Especially after last night Marian and I ran 19 km. I am now officially beat. Going to crawl in a hole and cough the rest of the water out of my lungs.

Wednesday, October 1

Tuesdays are evil

Seriously. Climbed with San yesterday. Yesterday was the first time in history when I went down to the gym specifically to do fingerboard/campus board. Here is a description of the exercises that we did. For the last set though, I sort of kinda fell from the campus board. Unfortunately, a flap of about 1cm of skin from my left ring finger wanted to hang around the board rungs. Like this, a loose skin flap is born. I'm going to call it Flappy. Flappy hurts like hell.

Next, while we were climbing in the super packed gym, San fell and hurt her elbow. Pretty much like I hurt mine a year or so ago. I guess with this injury and the arrival of Flappy climbing on Thursday (tomorrow) is definitely out.

Next, when we were leaving the gym, it really really started raining. I finally managed to swim home only to realize when I reached a locked gate that a) I didn't have a card and b) I didn't have a phone to call marian to come pick me up. So, I did what any other normal human being would do in the pouring rain, I climbed over the gate. Yup. Three security cameras on it but nobody came to say anything to me. Then, because i didn't want to spoil my brand new colorful slippers, I took them off and walked through the parking lot barefoot. I walked until I reached a puddle of water of course. I promptly slipped on it of course. I was holding the slippers so I tried to balance myself and hit my right forearm on some steel rails. Really bad. I even have a bruise (and I never bruise).

Be warned friends! Tuesdays are not for everybody.

Tuesday, September 30

Surviving the Monday

Pfft! And I thought my next post will be about how I survived the weekend when it should be about how I survived this Monday. Woke up at 7am to reach school at 8 plus just to give me enough time to drink my coffee before my tutorials start. The first tutorial group apparently reacted to my threats from the week before and were prepared. The second and third however really got on my nerves. Absolutely no preparation whatsoever. It really annoys me to the point of almost losing it. Anyhow, survived that too. I only threatened them like I did with my first group, so let's see how that will turn out. Students here have an amazing ability of memorizing stuff and an awesome knack of not being able to think. Like when I ask them what are the two types of something, they all answer instantly. But when I ask next what is the difference between them the silence is so silent you can hear a fly scratch itself.

Next came the second episode in my teacher-student mishaps when I ended up freeing one hour of my time before their midterm just to answer one student's questions. Turns out he had 2 (TWO) questions and I had to spend the next 50 minutes just hanging out outside the midterm lecture theatre. And I survived the midterm too! Though I don't know how they survived it, cause they had a lot of questions. To my satisfaction some of the questions were those that I insisted on discussing during the tutorial. I'm curious though about how many of them actually paid attention and remembered. Probably none.

Friday, September 26

I love tropical countries

Rain, rain, come again

Oh boy oh boy was it raining cats and dogs and lizards and what not this morning at 6:30 am. I love the rain. More precisely, I love the sound of rain. And the thunders, lightning and all that .... love 'em love 'em love 'em. When I am indoors sleeping/reading, that is. Not when I am outdoors climbing or wanting to climb, mind you. Then, yeah ... there are no words to describe what I feel then.

To come back to the sound of rain. I love it so much that when I was little (10-12 years old) I used to let the water run in the bathtub and sit (yes sit) on the margin and do my homework. Back then the water bill was divided among all residents of the block. I had no problems about wasting water and killing the planet back then. Now I don't do it anymore, except sometimes when I really really want to relax. Then I hop in the tub and read.

This weekend is going to be very full. Last night Marian and I ran 16 km! Wohoo! In about 96 minutes, more or less. Not bad at all for rookies. Today wanted to play tennis, but eh, the rain ... Tomorrow going climbing (hopefully at climb asia, I have a score to settle with a 6b and with my fear of falling). Meeting cristina to check out true yoga to see if we're joining. Sunday (if the weather holds) Marian has planned cycling in Pulau Ubin. Can't wait!! Hope there will be mud. I get a certain high when I think of cycling in the mud. Sounds ... extreme!

Wednesday, September 24

On students

yeah. Wanted to make this a nice, elaborate post but my students are depressing me so yeah. First of all, school is different here. In what? It's not free people! This means that attitudes of the profs back home (i.e. "go and study by yourself, I dun care" or "I have no idea what to talk about, I am here because I know people" or "you will all end up wiping the floors at mcDonald's") are not permitted here. I would not care very much about the latter, but sometimes, I would just love to tell my students to go stick ... their fingers in the keyboard and google it for crying out loud!

I am starting to draw the line at "oh i can't compile and I get errors like "javac -invalid flag" (this is not a compilation error) because they have problems reading and going through instructions that are longer than 3 steps. Or like "can we meet you for consultation? tuesday at 10:15 am?" "Cannot, pls meet me in the alloted slots (i.e. later than 5pm)" (my answer much longer and more polite). "sorry cannot, can we meet you earlier? this is because some of us live in the west and need to get home in time for dinner". "Sure, what time?" And then answer miraculously with "Wednesday, 10 am?" (giving them about 7.5 hours to get home... I guess they are WALKING to Boon Lay?) Top it off with some nice icing and be 25 minutes late. After I had to swim through the rain to get to school on time. Yup. I lost it for one second there. Or "I can't seem to grasp the differences between "nice to have" features and "must have" features". Brr. I do appreciate it when I see that some students really take the time to do some search before they come to me. It shows respect for my wasted time (I am not payed for consultation - I could do research watch climbing videos instead).

And the worst of it all is when I encounter teacher's pets. They annoy the hell out of me. Not really there but not really stupid or lazy either. Trying to make up for it by sucking up. I mean c'mon!!

Students are not as tech-smart (i.e. don't know how to program) as I was expecting, but this is normal considering that they don't do programming from high-school as we are used to. Unfortunately, they are incapable of thinking even 1mm outside the box, lack critical thinking and always expect an yes/no answer. Which is very difficult to give for a software engineering course. I started to tell a group how their report in order to be comprehensible should answer three questions ("what?", "why?", "how?") and they were writing it instead of thinking about what I had said. Pfft!!

I want to write things down for them (as in what's next for their project and so on) but I don't know how many people will read through it, considering that for the last long email that I wrote 50% of the people wrote to me to ask a question that was answered in the second last paragraph of the email. Brr. I wish I had had profs that cared.

Tuesday, September 23


From Tracy from the new Black Diamond catalogue:
In this life, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. [Dalai Lama]

Thursday, September 18

My poster

Wanted to have a permanent memory (not that I'll be able to forget - even Alzheimer won't take this from me) of our failure and success on Matterhorn, so I wanted to buy a poster. I roamed the streets of Zermatt looking for the poster. It's a specific one, with the Horli ridge blown up and the route drawn with a yellow line with markers (in English) showing the important points in the route. You see, I knew which poster I wanted because it dominates the staircase in Marius's home. I have looked at it for years now. My trouble was that I was indeed roaming the streets of Zermatt, but I was doing it at lunchtime when all the shops are closed. Except for a house.

More of a restaurant really, with a crowded souvenir shop at the first floor. I knew it was crowded and crammed because I could peep inside. My poster was shown outside and there was something written in German on top of it. Maybe 20 letter words, anyhow I was confused. The shop was locked but there was an arrow pointing to the restaurant entrance. There, at the bar, the waitress didn't know English and I didn't know German or swiss. The people having lunch were staring at me (my face was burned and because I was so damn tired I would sometimes stumble) but I really didn't care. I finally left. Didn't go far until I realized that maybe the other words written next to a bell meant "Ring really really hard if it's between 12 and 2". So I went back.

And I rang and I rang until an old man showed up at the balcony above (balcony full of flowers, of course). So he came down smelling of lunch and I pointed to the poster. He unlocked the shop and we went in. It was very very crammed with all the possible wood carved artifacts and souvenirs that you could imagine ever buying from Switzerland. Masks, towels, cows, small matterhorns, big matterhorns, edelweisses, flutes, little sheperds, everything. It also had that smell you get from really old, woody houses. The old man asked me if I really wanted the poster, I said yes, payed and left happily.

Today I put it up in my lab. It does take away half of the precious light from my window, but I don't mind. The markers are written in German. It's not the same angle so it doesn't look as BIG as the one I wanted. The lower edge has scissors marks, like those that remain when you can't cut a piece of paper straight and you keep trying to return to your imaginary straight line. I love it.

Tuesday, September 16


  • should start writing up a conference paper but all I can think of is the upcoming trip to Vietnam (December) and then the trip to Krabi in May with Marian (and Vlad if he manages to come).

  • should find music that goes with writing this particular paper, but am listening to Bob Marley and thinking about sunny climbs whether in Thailand or Romania.

  • instant coffee only works as a dessert for me. I need a cup of strong coffee or tea to get my day started. Instant coffee only works in mountaineering trips.

  • perhaps I'm just so tired after last night's training and this busy weekend. I can't need a holiday so soon. Must work hard to graduate and move to Europe. Then I can climb as much as I want and friends from Singapore can come and stay at my place for free! (I hope you read this, Edwin) I'll have a cat, a dog, a house of my (our) own that I can fill up with books and gear as I wish.

  • when I graduated form high-school (after I got into uni) I left home for three months and went to live in the mountains in a tent. After I graduated uni I moved to Asia. These days I am daydreaming about what I will do when I (finally) finish school.

  • got a brand new, empty passport and i'm dying to fill it up with stamps again.

Friday, September 12

An Elephant No More

Yup. The time has come for me to face it. Climb wise, I am as flexible as an elephant. A FAT elephant. Whenever I try to step up, hook or whatever, I really feel that I will break my leg, ass or whatever. I also feel it when I see people the same height as I step at their ear or chest without even the slightest twitch or contorsion.

Therefore I have decided. It's friday 12th, 13:40, a nice number, too. From now on, every night when I get home I will stretch for 30 minutes. No matter how tired, dead meat I will be, I WILL STRETCH! I am also reinforcing my decision with Marian, by giving him permission to kick my ass if I don't do so.

I have spoken.

Wednesday, September 10

Rocks are meant to fall

So we finally managed to get ready, Radu finally woke up (sort of) and proceed to the beginning of the Hornli Ridge route on Matterhorn. I had been dreaming about this route on an off for about 8 years now. And here begins the chase. It was still pitch dark (3:45 am) and we couldn't see the route so we had to really hurry about the teams of guide and client that where very far from us. We were the second last team to climb, followed by a japanese guy and his wife (they would turn back in the end).

Mistake no 1: Instead of going in a team of 2, we went in a team of 3. This meant that our time doubled.

Mistake no. 2: We took a rookie with us. Rookie to the point where I would have to be two or three meters behind Radu just so that I could tell him where to step and what rocks to hold.

We were slow, very very slow. The route was very snowed in, which meant that we couldn't find almost any pitons or anchors or anything. This meant that we were more or less climbing without any safety points. Were Marius to fall, I don't know if our belay station would hold so he had good chances of pulling us off with him. It also meant that by midday when the snow would melt rocks would be tumbling down. But about that later. Just before we got on the ridge (Marius ahead, followed by Radu and then by me), Marius stepped up and entered the ridge, then Radu stepped up too. Only that, instead of stepping exactly where he saw Marius step, he stepped on a BIG flake that was not so solid. The flake dropped away to the right, he slipped, I put my hands on his butt and pushed him back (thank god for spotting at bouldering), japanese woman behind screamed, Marius freaked. Marius would de-freak about 20 hours later.

And there we were. Very slow again, snail like. We had to put on our ice crampons four hours before the point where you normally put on your crampons. Marius wanted to turn back two times but I didn't. I did my best to stay fresh and smiling. Maybe that freaked him out more too.

We passed the Solvay emergency hut. This is where guides get their clients air-lifted when they can't go anymore. It costs 1000 Euro, by the way. I asked Radu if he wanted to stay behind and wait for us at the hut, while at the same time talking to marius (Marius was saying that he should stay behind). But he wouldn't so we continued. Because we were still wearing our crampons we had to do mixed snow-rock climbing, something for which i guess they weren't ready. I know I was.

Very few teams were passing us going down. Most of them said that it was very hard up there. The damn fog was surrounding us. What was creepier was the damn helicopter that was circling the mountain (you could hear it, it was very close but you couldn't see the bastard).

It was 12:30 by now and the french guide that was coming from the summit stopped next to us. He tried to speak in english just for our benefit, telling us it would be better to go down. He wouldn't leave until I assured him we were going down. I started to cry. Marius (who was leading on the slab) turned and asked me what should we do (he had already said once again that he wants to go back). I didn't answer at first, trying to contain the tears from my voice. As I was looking away I remembered all these memorial plaques that we had passed. I cleared my voice and said "FUCK IT, I WANT TO LIVE, LET'S GO!" This is our summit picture, you could say.

And at about 1, 1:30 pm begins our descent. We were again very slow because there were three of us. Radu was also maddeningly slow on the rappel. I know now that I will never go with rookies I don't know. When we couldn't find rappel points I would belay Marius on the descent, then Marius and I would belay Radu, then I would go back. It took us ages. The only thing I am proud about is that we didn't lose the way (I had remembered most of the rappel points that I saw when sunlight came). When we rappelled after the Solvay hut, I was holding the ropes to untie the knot when one stone the size of a fucking plate came down just where we were coming down. One minute before and I would be writing to you from heaven.

Night came. A small snow storm came. We had two survival foils (like the alluminium foil in which chocolate is wrapped), and there were three of us. We stopped on the ledge the size of a table. Marius set up a anchor point. We sat on our backpacks - Marius on his, then Radu and I on the one that Radu initially carried and then I took over (it was my backpack, woohoo). Marius and Radu stayed back to back and Radu held me. My ass is big so I had one buttock on a stone. It was cold. Very cold. Our feet and gloves were wet. Looking back I am surprised how much our bodies can take. In the mean time Vlad was waiting for us and probably going mad with fear and anguish. He tried to light his torch just so we could see where the hut were. Then he was afraid when he didn't see the lights anymore (we were under the foil) that we were gone.

When morning came we were surprised to see that we were exactly on track. And I mean exactly on track. The climbers that were now climbing a much clear Matterhorn were coming straight for us. Even the french guide from yesterday saw us and said hi. Another one said "nice pleasant evening outside?" I said a "yes" and a silent "fuck you". We rappelled the last few parts in a dream like state. I was very exhausted and very dizzy because I hadn't had anything to eat for about 14 hours.

In total, 29 hours and 27 rappels later, we were back in base camp. Vlad was relieved to see us alive. We were extremely glad to be alive. Vlad had bought a plate of rosti with eggs for us the day before. We ate it with our harnesses on (you can see Marius in the picture).

Thinking about Sebi, it makes my hair stand when I think about the fact that they went unroped over there. There are towers of stones and flakes (like in this picture) that are literally waiting for a good excuse to go down. I know that if it weren't for Marius I wouldn't be alive. This time I am proud though that I could hold up my end and at least secure the rear.

Three days later I was still glad to be alive and didn't think so much about the details. Afterwards, when looking back the complete sense of failure would just take the breath out of my lungs and I would be very determined to go back again. Now, after hearing about Sebi, maybe I will take it slowly. Move close to the alps and start slowly again. There are mountains over there that are much more worth it than the Matterhorn. But still...

The rest of the pictures are here.