A Child Again

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There was a rope course in the resort we went to the other day. I have always liked this activity. The first time was in the UpsideDown House in Orlando, Florida. It was scary fun. I didn’t finish the whole course but I satisfied my curiosity of balancing high up in the sky (ceiling in this case). So when I saw the rope course here in my hometown, I had to try it. Maybe I would have less fear this time around.

There was a slight apprehension on the first step. You know that feeling when you want to do something but you are scared to take the first step? I overcame that and it was exhilarating. And then I got to the cargo net obstacle. I was fine until I got to the middle, I was probably doing it wrong or my arms just did not have enough strength to support my body. My biceps and forearm muscles started quivering on the halfway mark. By the time I got 3/4 of the way, my arms were so tired that I just stopped, holding on to the netting. O told me to let go since I had a harness anyway. I didn’t want to but my arms were burning. I let go and I pulled myself across towards the rest stop. And even then, I couldn’t pull myself up to the platform. My son helped me up and all I could think of was “So this is how it feels when you are holding on to a ledge or onto another person and you feel your hand slipping …”

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When I finally pulled myself up the platform, I told the watcher that I wanted to stop. It took all the remaining strength left to climb down from the rope course. My arms were burning and quivering uncontrollably. But it was fun 🙂

It took more than an hour before my arms felt normal and then I saw the bungee trampoline. Hmmm, another of my dream activity. I’ve always wanted to do a front or back flip but lost my nerve. I did get to do my splits and the height that I got to was also exhilarating. I would’ve gone on jumping but the harness was digging into my thighs and starting to be uncomfortable.

The height I reached put a wide smile on my face.

I planned to go back the following day but like most childhood activities, my exuberance ended with a scraped knee and palms when I tripped on a stone as I hop-skipped my way along the winding path and hurtled towards the ground.

Oh well, accidents happen. So here I am with a bleeding knee. But I sure had fun before the accident. I might do the trampoline thing again but that is it with the rope course. Curiosity definitely satisfied.

Breathing Easy

Now I can finally breathe easy. The race is over. Two finished. One skidded. One got lost twice and missed a stamp from a checkpoint. Husband’s official time: 14hours 13minutes. And that’s because they doubled back to check on the fallen teammate. They lost about 30min there. Teammate’s ok although he still has to do the x-rays to rule out anything broken.

I got worried when husband didn’t call on the estimated time they would arrive on the last checkpoint. After an hour past the estimated time, I took to carrying my mobile everywhere I went. Everywhere. After 2 hours, I hoped I wouldn’t be receiving any call from any of his teammates or his teammates’ wives. After another 30 minutes, I prayed – please let it be low battery on his part or maybe a busted comm. That gave me fortitude to last until another 30min when I expected them to have crossed the finish line. 30 min after I expected them to finish, and still no communication, I started having bad thoughts. Finally, he sent an sms. Race over.

Whoo! And finally I could rejoice that second son got into his first choice Uni. I didn’t want to get excited earlier today when I found out he got a place at the premier Jesuit U in the Philippines. I didn’t want to jinx husband’s race.

I’m weird that way. I believe that no one can have it all good all the way. Something has to give.
In this case, I think the accident yesterday on our parked car where a motorcycle fell on our car’s back portion and broke the tail light plus gouged out a nasty dent on the rear end was in exchange for husband’s safety.

All is good for now.

Cannonball Run – Motorcycle Endurance Race

The husband will be off on an endurance race in a few minutes from now. Four of them from their club have joined the Cannonball Race; 1200km in 24 hours. The race starts at a minute past midnight.

Slight apprehension on my part since their group leader is riding to win. I would’ve preferred if their goal was simply ride to finish. But … Oh well.

The husband is on his R1200 GS. Chairman is on a Goldwing and the two other riders in their group are also on BMW 1200s. All of them have extra fuel tanks to lessen gas-up times. They all had extra lights fitted since highways here in the Philippines are not well lit.

The race route takes them through the northern loop; the northern most point of the country.

I send a plea to the heavens to keep them safe.

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Sunday Ride

O and me in our 1200 together with Benj in his 800 did a short ride to the mountains of Don Salvador Benedicto yesterday. We left early at 7am. We enjoy the roads here. The town has great twisties (some almost 180degrees in different levels) and good roads and few traffic. And somewhere up in the mountains is a regular roadside haunt; Virgie’s. Because the owner’s name is Virgie.

ImageThe view from Virgie’s.

We had breakfast up in the cool air at 8:30am. The food is really good and inexpensive. Very rustic. Both guys had local coffee and “ibos” – a sweet sticky rice dessert that one pairs with brown sugar. We got hard boiled eggs too and chicken soup and “adobo” – braised meat in soy sauce. It was a good morning. Very relaxing.

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Very simple breakfast in rustic surroundings.  Ibos is the one wrapped in banana leaves.

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We bought two bunches of Señorita bananas from Virgie’s.  About 65cents US dollars per bunch.  Everything is inexpensive in the mountains.  We did not haggle and even paid extra.  

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And the local transport passes us by as we were getting ready to go back to the city after breakfast.  The water buffalo was too quick for my camera.  I wanted to take his photo as he passed by our motorcycles.

 

Aborted

Our flight home from Manila had two aborted landings before being diverted to a neighboring island.

It didn’t help that my seat mate kept on praying audibly; alternately clasping her hands in prayer or putting her hand to her heart.  When she lifted both her hands to beseech a higher power, that’s when I decided I was going to transfer seats.  Good thing the row of seats across was empty.

I wasn’t scared or anything but her demeanor affected me.  I don’t know if she was afraid but whatever she was feeling was palpable and it was not positive and it was very disturbing.

It was a very bumpy descent.  I was hoping the clouds would clear but the landing gear was down and still I could not see the ground.  I had never been in a flight with an aborted landing so I did not expect one.  I did worry if we would land.  15 minutes after the gears came down and we still had not landed, I knew something was wrong.  The pilot comes on and announces that we had aborted a landing due to bad weather.  We were going for another try.  It was very bumpy and I was starting to feel nauseous.  O, me and eldest son were seated separately.  

If we were going to crash, I would be away from them.  I looked at the back of O’s head.  I turned to the row behind me to look at eldest son.  Oh well, if it’s our time, it’s our time.  I settled back in my seat and tried to ignore my praying seat mate.  A thought did occur to me that dying would not be so bad but this air turbulence was bad.  And there was no discomfort bag in my seat pocket.  I quickly rummaged through my bag for anything that I could puke in.  That’s the thing I don’t like.  You’re going to crash and you have to go through this nauseating feeling.  Yuck.

The second try was not going well.  The clouds were still thick even as I heard the landing gears deploy a second time.  Down, down we went.  Still no sight of the ground.  Suddenly I felt the nose of the plane go up.  Aah, the plane was climbing.  Another aborted landing.

I was thinking we were probably going to land in another airport.  I wondered which city.  I wondered if the airline would give us free hotel stays.  I debated whether to take the bus home or take another flight from the diverted landing.

Then the pilot comes on again to announce the second aborted landing due to very bad weather and that we would be diverted to Cebu City (a city 20minutes away by plane from home).  As we climbed up to cruising speed, I could see the clouds disappearing.  I took the opportunity to transfer.  I felt so much better away from my seat mate.

As we landed in clear Cebu, the atmosphere surprisingly was not one of panic.  The pilot announces that we would be refueling before going back home when the weather clears.  I thought they would let us deplane, but no, we stayed onboard.  Everyone started to get up to use the bathroom.  Once that was out of the way, the atmosphere was quite lively.  Most everyone was joking.  Strangers started to talk to each other.  Well except for the praying seat mate.  I did not attempt to talk to her and she didn’t attempt to engage other people in conversation.

Water was passed around – certainly helped the mood.  4 people requested to deplane and not continue on to our original destination.  They were accommodated.  There were good natured jokes about them wanting to visit the casino in Cebu City.  

After 30minutes or so, the plane was done with refueling and we were back on the air.  This time around, the landing was good.  Visibility 8km.  I could clearly see the ground.  I knew we would be landing soon.

That was a very interesting flight.  There was actually no panic on my part.  In fact, I was quite ready to go while we were on a roller coaster ride during our descent but I guess it’s not my time.  

I am glad that our pilot had our safety in mind when he decided to abort the landing.  Other passengers were telling the story of how another airline had 3 aborted landings before landing on the 4th try.  Some were applauding the fact that the pilot of the other airline was very gung-ho but hearing them compare the two airlines, I am glad I am with the airline I chose.  I would rather the hassle of a delay when our safety is on the table than putting lives at risk just to keep a schedule.

Saigon

On the strength of the interest of the boys in the Cu Chi tunnels, we decided on Saigon for our bonus travel courtesy of our award tickets from accumulated mileage.

And I thought two hours would be enough.  I was wrong.  We were there almost 3 hours and I still think we could’ve stayed longer.  As it is the tour was kind of rushed.  In this instance, we joined a tour to better understand and learn about the Vietnam War and the famous tunnels.

I never thought the tunnel networks, and we only saw a sample, would be so interesting.  

War is of course never welcome and brings untold miseries and sufferings.  But it has happened and we learned a lot on the tactics the Vietcongs used to fight the war.  Their torture traps and hideaways made for a very interesting tour.  

We chose to go down the shortest tunnel to see how it felt living underneath the ground.  And to think they had widened the entrance to accommodate Westerners, still it was very oppressive down there.  The air was dank and humid.  I was crouching while moving forward, sometimes squatting – like a duck walk.  It would probably have been better if we crawled but I didn’t want to dirty my knees.  That was only 20 meters but was I glad when we got to the steps going up.  The fresh air was delicious.  And the sunshine …  good.

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Afterwards we went to the War Museum, which was of course pro-Vietcong.  The bias is very obvious but as a good tourist, I kept quiet and just rushed through some of the photos that were very one sided.  The uniforms, guns, bomb fragments and other memorabilia made for an educational hour.  That is the most I could stand reading about the war.  Afterwards the boys posed with the tanks, aircrafts and other war machines outside while I browsed their mini bookstore.  I wanted to buy a book to better understand what happened to the country.  I didn’t want a foreigner’s point of view.  I didn’t want a military point of view.  One book caught my eye.  I don’t know why.  I bought it and when the guide saw the book I bought, she told me that it was one of the more popular books in the country.  It is taken from a diary of a doctor who was killed during the war.  Her diaries were found on her person.

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I read it when I got home.  Very poignant.  She doesn’t speak ill of both sides.  She mostly talks about the people she treats.  She also talks about the hardships of being a doctor in the jungle.  All in all, a riveting book but sad.  I was tired after reading the book.  It’s one of those that makes you think and sigh.

And not to forget that one of the reasons we chose Saigon is for the food.  It did not disappoint.  Well the fancy restaurant disappointed.  It was the street foods that captivated me.  I don’t know how many germs we ingested by eating food that was cooked on the sidewalk and prepared by the vendors with nary a glove in sight.  But hey, it tasted good.  And our tummies were ok the whole trip.

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I liked Saigon.  Someday, I will return.

Devil Sunday

We spent last Sunday with the Ducati Diavel. It was the first time we would be taking the mistress out for a longish ride. The route would take us from Bacolod City through the back twisty roads towards the east to Canlaon where we would have breakfast then on to San Carlos City for lunch. A 240km ride. The original route that is.

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 9.45.25 PM   The actual route we took.  320km.

A group of 14 bikers, members of the Thunderbugs met up at 8am for a group ride. I was the only pillion rider. I confess I had an ulterior motive for tagging along with O. It has been 5 years since I had been to Canlaon and we were thinking of opening a branch in that town.

Off we went. At first it was a good ride. Not much traffic and good cement roads. I loved it. I was close to O, unlike the GS1200 where the pillion seemed to be in a different world from the driver. We made good time and was having breakfast of chicken soup, rice and noodles (this is Asia after all). I had enough time to see the place and the group met up with a rider from a nearby city. He convinced the group to do a sidetrip to this 400yr old Balete (Banyan) tree. So off we went after breakfast with him leading the way in his pick-up.

Wow, rough roads galore, and some mud too. But magnificent views. We rode slowly. It wasn’t so bad. But of course I felt every rock and pothole we passed unlike the GS1200 where we would probably have coasted through with nary an ouch. Unspoiled nature, green rice fields, a small lake – it was nice weather too. All in all it was a good side trip. 

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On the way back to the main road, the guys suggested I ride the pick-up so that 1. primarily for O to have a lighter load while going through the rough roads and 2. for me to protect my behind. I think number 2 was just an afterthought. We were crammed in that pick-up with our gear, I think I was more comfy riding pillion with O. There were 4 other guys who had left their bikes at the breakfast place and had decided to go with the pick-up. I didn’t know that. I thought everyone was on their bikes. So yeah, it wasn’t that comfy a ride in the pick-up.

Next stop was supposed to be San Carlos just an hour away. The guys had a quick huddle. They wanted to check out a new beach resort in another city several kilometers away. Everyone agreed, so a change of plan.

The several kilometers turned out to be almost 35kms one way. What was bad was that the rough roads were in between really good ones. So you have O at more than 100kph when suddenly uh-oh, unpaved roads ahead. I flew off the seat several times there. As in my feet were off the pegs and not a few times the pegs flipped up and I had to feel around with my feet to redeploy them. By the time we got to the resort, we were all hungry and my knees were in pain I could not support my body on one leg to dismount. My knees on the Diavel were slightly higher than my hips plus I was leaning forward, it put quite a strain on the knees. My goodness, I felt so old as I had to put the other leg on the seat and slowly slide down to dismount. Kind of embarrassing.

Close to an hour of rest and a pizza meal (that was the fastest meal to prepare) had me almost as good as new. Doubling back towards the original San Carlos destination, I was better prepared and supported my body on the pegs every time we got to a bridge approach or to what I think are rough patches. That eliminated flying off the seat. I had more control. But then I didn’t expect the next hurdle, bumpy roads. There I was rapidly bouncing on the seat and almost vibrated off to one side. I had to hold on to O and haul myself back to the center of the seat. That was bad. During that time I certainly missed our GS1200, which we have chirstened Bruni, short for Brunhilde.

When we had our gasoline stop at San Carlos, at least I was able to dismount properly. The knees weren’t so bad. But I told O that I hope we take the last leg of the journey leisurely – as in below 100kph. Funny Benji jokingly asked if my libido had increased with all that vibration. I told him that even with the increased libido, the body most certainly will not cooperate what with the soreness on the butt, the shoulders (from holding on to O) and the knees.

And when there was no pressure to keep up on the way back home, the ride was again enjoyable.

I must say I love the Diavel on the turns, some almost 180 degrees. There was none of the trepidation that I had while riding pillion on Bruni. It is a good ride even on rough roads, if riding alone, without a group to keep up. It is an exciting ride. Fun. Exhilirating. But for long rides, I guess I would have to stick with our Bruni.

As O would reiterate, the GS1200 feeds his hunger. The Diavel feeds his soul.

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Lone Wolf

O and I are kind of lone wolves.  We are not members of any civic organizations or any friendly clubs.  Even when we travelled, it has always been the two of us – and now of course with the kids.  We never joined any tour groups.  Well, one time we travelled with O’s cousin and his family.  Although it was an ok trip, I realized that they wanted different things out of the travel.  Experiences that are not the same as what we seek.

But yesterday, after 6 years of being lone wolves on the road, O was finally convinced to join the local motorcycle club.  They were having a 4-day inter-island trip this July.  Complete with a back-up van and mechanics too.  I don’t know, the thought of all those motorcycles driving together worries me.  Not all know how to maintain their space or to adjust accordingly based on the rider in front of him.

The other day, we took Brunhilde for a ride together with a friend.  Friend was riding solo on his 800.  I was backriding with O.  We were behind him. The route we took had lots of twists/curves.  I was a bit apprehensive every time we took the curve.  Not because of O’s skill but because Friend slowed down considerably every time he negotiated the curve, such that by the time we were to take the curve, Friend was just slightly over a car length away.  Too near.  I was so afraid we would crash into him.  I think it should be 3 car lengths distance from each motorcycle.  We of course tried to lengthen the distance between him and us but he was not consistent with his speed.  Sometimes we would be as much as 5 car lengths away then as we approached a curve, that distance would alarmingly shorten.  The steeper the curve the quicker he slowed down and we would find ourselves too near him again.

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People always shook their heads when they found out we would take motorcycle rides around the island (and even inter island) by ourselves.  They would always admonish us to travel with a group since it would be safer, having back-up and all.  

But after that ride, I think I would feel safer without a group.  Well, maybe if a more experienced rider were in front of us, that’d be ok.  But I think Friend wasn’t that confident of his riding skills yet.

This weekend, he again suggested a ride together.  I told O that we had to be farther away from him or better yet, be in front this time.  We’ll see if my opinion about joining the pack will change.  

 

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The things you see on a mountain road. Taken on another ride … alone

The New Mistress

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After almost 3 years, I rode pillion again.  O has a new mistress.  Catie’s been garaged for the meantime.  Now he has Brunhilde.  We give nicknames to the other women in his lives.  Personally I think this new woman can barely be classified as a woman.  Not in the least bit sexy.  Such a thick waist.  She’s an amazon, a warrior.  None of the sexy curves of Catie. 

Helga Brunhilde, that’s what I call her.

Brunhilde isn’t as exciting as Catie, her with her sense of speed, but Brunhilde is such a smoother and comfier ride on the bridge approaches and the occasional gravel roads.  She took the twisties quite well too.  What can I say?  She is after all an Adventure Tourer.  Brunhilde will be more reliable.  

My post in Nov 2010:
Is there such a thing as a good accident?  as accidents go, what we had was kinda good.  not much incoming traffic, no other party, 15 min away from hospital, no dangerous protrusions to land on – yup, it was a good one.

i am typing with one hand since i injured my middle finger tendon and its now on a splint.  Some abrasions on O’s knees.  Swollen ankles on both our left foot.  of course black and blue bruises on some parts of the body and a general soreness from being thrown about, but other than that i’m feeling fine.  The helmets and the upper body protective gear worked great!

of course i got the whole riot act from my mom.  And O’s dad seconded the motion.  I can say that there will be no motorcycle riding for me in the near future but to be honest, my next thought after getting my wind back is -“I need to get some good riding boots and pants”.  Crazy thoughts.  But out of respect for my mom, I’m not getting back on while she’s around.  Now I know why a friend bought a big bike on his 56th birthday.  I teased him about having a mid life crisis.  His reply was much more practical.  Because his dad is no longer around to express displeasure.

My life didn’t flash before my eyes.  I wasn’t even afraid.  More like- uh oh… then wham.  Thrown off the motorcycle and rolling in the gravel before coming to a stop on my left side.  I looked for O and saw him immediately.  No time to worry since he moved as soon as I saw him.  My sister in law was more scared then we were.  But good thing for them.  We got first aid immediately since they had a kit on board their car.

And so I’m blogging.  I’m kinda sad that I can no longer ride.  I hope I can walk by next week.