Wearable Muscles

Dropped by Hua Hin, Thailand, for a short escapade last week and although my bod wasn’t beach ready, I found a lifesaver at the local night market…

For 250bht (bargained from 279bht), I became an instant hunk… and hung too in front of Hua Hin Hilton Hotel!

When you cannot make it, fake it… until it becomes real. Heh heh.

What if washboard pecs and abs can happen instantly without sweating buckets in the gym? To me, it is not about wearing a nice bod, having rippling muscles and all but the ultimate reward of a healthier physiological system in earning those solid humps through regular bodybuilding exercises (provided the gains are not drugs-induced).

Oh-la-la… if only my real buns look that good in G-string, I would clap with my butt cheeks instead of hands!

I was in Hua Hin and Bangkok for about a week and vacations usually disrupt an exercise routine. Wandi was supposed to devised a set of strength training exercises for me to do in the hotel room but he was still recovering from a flu and took medical leave so I didn’t get to have a personal training session before I leave.

But instead of relying on somebody else and letting the holiday be an excuse to skive, I worked on my stamina and endurance by jogging on the beach.

It wasn’t easy fighting the drowsiness and sightseeing plans to make time for exercise. It was so much easier to sleep in than wake up to burn at the hotel’s gym or a jog. That’s when the t-shirt became a motivation rather than just a piece of hilarious fashion. I want that bod printed on it. Front and back.

Since I tend to overeat on vacations (I think I’m not the only one), jogging on the beach is a great cardio workout to melt those excess calories. Compared to jogging on a treadmill, stadium or paved trails, running on the beach definitely presented more challenges for the body due to the uneven ground and shifting sand.

Jogging on the beach works the calf, shin and thigh muscles harder than the aforementioned running surfaces and it also strengthens the rotary tendons and tissues around the ankle to tackle challenging terrains.

If you’re training for a marathon such as the Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon, consider incorporating jogging sessions on the beach to build up your leg muscles to run longer and go further during the race!

Day 261 : Bangkok Dangerous

Was almost robbed in the wee hours of this morning. Returning from supper around 1:30am, I walked along the main road leading to my hotel. It was drizzling and all the shops were closed. I saw 2 young guys sitting in front of a shopfront.

On seeing me, one of them sprang to his feet and approached me to sell tidbits. He was holding a big bunch of transparent plastic bags containing packeted chips of sorts in a green packaging with his left hand. His right hand was behind him. He spoke Thai and was very insistent on me to buy something.

I almost relented because I felt kind of bad for this guy to be selling tidbits under the rain so late at night. However, I took a glance to the side of the road and noticed that his friend was on a bike and trailing us.

Immediately an alarm went off in my head. Pity turned to panic as I realised they could be robbers. I hastened my pace and at this point, the guy came in front of me to block my path. Fear was mounting and half-blinded by panic, I pushed past the guy and jogged away.

After some distance, I turned back to see the 2 guys by the roadside chatting, under the rain. I shudder to think that the guys could’ve planned on robbing me had I stopped and took out my wallet then getting away on the bike. Maybe that guy who approached me was holding a knife in his right hand. So always be suspicious and not let compassion cloud logic when approached by strangers on the streets of Bangkok at night.

Day 260 : Silom Road

The streets of Bangkok are often lined with interesting subjects and photographic moments. Saw this dog and owner by the side of Silom Road seeking donation. I don’t understand a word on the signage but the sullen pooch and jovial auntie made such an odd couple, I parted with 20baht to take their portraits.

Day 259 : Chatuchak

Chatuchak or Jatuchak, they both mean the same thing… a black hole for my wallet. I’m not a fan of shopping but Bangkok has this power that moves my feet and fingers through throngs of shops and retail stalls at the many shopping districts and enclaves. I can walk for hours on end here but back in Singapore, shopping is something of a blue moon event.

As I was roaming the weekend market today, I saw this peddler with a load of blown up toys over his shoulders. Air suddenly seemed heavy. And although the toys were bright and cheery, the seller has this pained expression most of the time. What a contrast. An unhappy man selling joy.

Day 258 : Call of the Wow

Always a “wow” time in Bangkok with good food, great bargains, affordable massages, friendly faces, heartfelt moments and loads of shock therapy.

Day 257 : Bangkok

Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.

Translation : City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s behest.

And that’s the full name of Bangkok.

Day 183 : Colour Me Fluorescent

A daringly fashionable friend who could very well be Singapore’s version of Lady Gaga told me that luminous colours are the IN shades this season. Call it ‘bad’ influence, but the normally unfashionable me suddenly became very sensitive to all things neon during this Bangkok trip.

So for the fun of it, I picked up these really loud colours around the city of angels… hope I didn’t blind the fairies in the process! Not sure if I’ll dare to replicate this outfit in Singapore though. Heh heh.

Yellow Sunglasses – MBK Centre (150 baht); Cross Necklace – Silom (100 baht); Neon Yellow Singlet – Terminal 21 (100 baht); Neon Pink Suspenders – Platinum Mall (150 baht); Neon Green Watch – Shibuya19 Mall (100 baht); Neon Blue Bermudas – Shibuya19 Mall (280 baht).

Day 182 : Asiatique

Bangkok’s status as a shopping paradise got a mega uplift recently with the opening of a new retail haven, Asiatique. Curious what differentiation Asiatique can offer after the uber creative Terminal 21, I popped by for a browse.

Although the irrepressible spirit of Thai creativity continues to be evident at Asiatique, I wasn’t too impressed with the character of this godown-turned-shopping enclave. On a reductionist term, it resembles a more organised, cleaner version of the Jatuchak Weekend Market, or Mahboonkrong (MBK) Center without air conditioning.  Will share more about the place in Explore Life Lah!.

Before Asiatique, I went to MBK Centre and saw this huge pooch slumped at the entrance of National Stadium BTS Station. It looked adorable but a tinge of sadness seemed to surround it.

It didn’t move at all even though many people walked past it and took photos of it. I wonder if it was in eternal slumber.

Day 181 : Thank God It’s Friday?

TGIF. No, make it TGIT. What’s better than it being Friday but a Friday holidaying in Bangkok, Thailand?! The weather was all smiles in the land of smiles, ushering a beautiful time ahead in this megalopolis. And what a splendid opportunity to practice my 2-week-old Thai tongue. Phom chawp mak mak!

Day 148 : Back Soon

Farewell for now, but not for long. Photo taken at Bangkok Airport Rail Link (Express Line), Makkasan Station. The express train leaves according to a schedule and takes only 15 minutes to reach the airport for 90bht (S$3.75) per person one way. It’s affordable and a great way to beat the Bangkok jam.

Day 147 : Big Food

Good food never ends in Thailand and my steamboat craving was vastly satisfied at MK Steamboat Restaurant at Terminal 21. I enjoyed the mall so much after yesterday’s visit, I came again today. Had wanted to just take some photos and leave but we ended up having lunch there because the mall’s ambience is simply terrific.

Steamboat is one of my biggest gastro-weakness and I’ve always found MK Steamboat’s ingredients to be fresh and the sauce tasty. And the price is reasonable too. Other than the lot of steamboat dishes (prawns, beef, veg, etc), we ordered a platter of roast duck as well and the bill came up to only 759bht (approx. S$32)! A-roy khrup!

Day 146 : Terminal 21 Bangkok

Bringing the world to Bangkok takes on a whole new meaning with Terminal 21 – a gorgeous lifestyle mall with an airport theme at the heart of the city’s Sukhumvit business district.

Bangkok may have no lack of swanky, glossy malls but the toilets alone make Terminal 21 a winner and a place definitely worth checking out. Or well, in this case, checking in!

View of Terminal 21 through the open roof of Asok BTS Station.

I wouldn’t have known about Terminal 21 if not for my Thai colleague, Jan, who brought me here for lunch. The poor gal has been working so hard on some of the projects I handle that I’m compelled to treat her to a good meal.

The mall has a different country theme for each level.

From London to San Francisco all in a matter of minutes.

A colourful constellation of Turkish lamps at the Istanbul level.

Great attention to detail and synergy in decor between Terminal 21’s developer and retail tenants.

I’ve never been to Japan but it seems I’ve seen the best part here at Terminal 21. Love the abundance of set pieces to pose with.

Even the toilets are elaborately and thematically dressed up. I can’t believe this is a passageway leading to the toilet!

I didn’t need the loo but I went to almost all the toilets and loitered around to take photos. I must’ve seem weird. But I wasn’t the only one. Heh heh…

Not into stuffed toys and animals, especially at my age where being seen with something cutesy like this is vomit inducing, but this hedgehog from the shop Anee Park is just too irresistable! So I departed with 250bht and brought back a piece of Terminal 21 with me.

I’m so glad to discover Terminal 21 during this Bangkok trip. Really love the strong concept and creativity in both the mall design and eclectic merchandise offered by the shopowners.

Generally, I’m not a big fan of retail therapy and find window shopping pointless. But Terminal 21 is definitely my gateway to becoming a shopping king!

Day 145 : Good Bangkok Deal

Went on a Bangkok packaged tour with deal.com.sg and even though I had a bad experience with them for a 2D1N Bintan trip bought earlier this year, this offer of S$398 per person (2 to travel) was really a pretty good deal. The package included return airfare on Thai Airways, 2-way airport transfers, 3 nights’ stay at Furama Hotel (Makkasan), a half-day city tour and 30 minutes free massage.

Will put up the experience and highlights of this vacation in my travel blog soon.

清迈情Bye

有时候,事物在结束的刹那比开始时还要美。

望着这清迈的黄昏,我不经觉得情天已阳落,是时候让沉夜来遮伤了。

The end is sometimes more beautiful than the beginning. Because by being conscious that something has come to an end, meant that we acknowledge something wonderful had happened.

Are You a Positive or Negative Person?

In the context of this entry, the merit is in being negative.

This post is a little late. Had wanted to post it to coincide with World AIDS Day 2011 on 1 December but it’s a hard post to write. After all, getting a HIV test is not something to broadcast considering the stigma that surrounds it. It’s easy to say when you’re negative. But what if the result is positive? What does one do then?

I was asked this question during a pre-test interview. My answer was to carry on living because it’s not the end of the world but now I know I have to be careful not to infect others.

I got tested not because I’m a periwinkle snail (believed to be nature’s sluttiest animal with females having around 19 males fertilising her while the guys will fornicate with just about anything in their path including wrong snail species), but as part of an annual health profiling. Plus it’s sort of a gift of love.

Previously, I had my tests done in Singapore. Not with the annonymous testing services provided by DSC Clinic at Kelantan Lane, but part of a health screen package offered at private clinics. 

However, I came across the Bangkok charter of the Thai Red Cross online not too long ago and decided to check it out. It offers HIV testing for both locals and foreigners. This post will document the experience with directions on how to get there and what to expect.

The Bangkok Thai Red Cross is located pretty close to the downtown district of Silom. It’s about 2 BTS stop from Sala Daeng BTS Station which is at the famous Patpong go-go bars district. Here’s how to get to there :

1. Take BTS to Ratchadamri Station.

2. Take Exit 1, the side with a huge green field of the The Royal Bangkok Sports Club golf course.

3. Walk in the direction of S2 (refer to Area Map above) which is along the golf course for about 10 – 15 minutes.

4. You’ll reach the entrance the Thai Red Cross. It’s along the road and very prominent with a watch tower.

The following photos will highlight key sights leading to Thai Red Cross, Bangkok. 

Look for Exit 1 at Ratchadamri BTS Station.

Take the path behind the Exit 1 stairs and ust follow it.

It's a straight path by the road. Takes about 10 - 15 minutes to reach Thai Red Cross, Bangkok.

You'll pass by the sign of The Royal Bangkok Sports Club. It's all walled up and basically, you're just walking along its perimeters until you come to the end of it.

Iconic watch tower of the Thai Red Cross building visible from the roadside.

Reception and administrative centre next to the watch tower. Go there for registration to get tested or to purchase AIDS antiretroviral drugs.

Nothing CUTE about a HIV test. I opted for HIV profile and testing for STDs such as syphilis. Cost : 260bht. Results : Negative.

At the Bangkok Thai Red Cross, AIDS antiretroviral drugs can also be bought for a fraction of the price they cost in Singapore. AIDS patients can get a prescription filled out at Singapore’s Communicable Disease Centre (CDC) and buy the cocktail medications there in person, via a family member or friend. Basically, they don’t have to be there in person in the event they are too weak to travel.

The staff at the centre were really VERY friendly. I was feeling rather uncomfortable and awkward to do a test, and I’m foreigner, but they are ever ready to help. The whole process took about 2 hours which involved filling out a form, letting them scan my passport (so it’s not annonymous although they say it is), going for pre-test counselling by a doctor, drawing blood, and then meeting the doctor again for the result. I can’t remember the female doctor’s name but she was so really nice!

The result is communicated orally but if you want the doctor to issue a certificate of the outcome, it costs another 20bht (I think). Also, they call out your number for testing in Thai but not to worry, if yo sat there clueless like me, the nurse will come and get you. I had the luck of having an English speaking Thai next to me who told me it’s my number they called. The trick is to flash your queue slip prominently for all to see!

AIDS is not a joking matter. But being HIV positive is not a joking matter. Like any chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc, AIDS can be controlled with antiretroviral drugs and patients go on to live productive lives. However, this is not an encouragement for unprotected sex.

I recently heard the news from a friend that an acquaintance contracted HIV. And that bastard acquaintance continues to sleep around, sometimes insisting on unprotected sex.

So be cautioned. Always USE A CONDOM no matter how drunk or in the heat of the moment you are. Play safe. And get tested.

It’s the best love letter to someone you care about.

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