Thursday, January 19, 2017

Orange Hotel - Guanqian @ Taipei

Sponsored Review

When the opportunity knocks for a short trip to one of our favourite country, we immediately checked for our leave approvals, booked the flight and planned the itinerary!

Thanks to the nicest people from Omy, Kless and I were transported to the land of 珍珠奶茶 and 滷肉飯.
Best of all, we do not need to worry about our accommodation, as we were hosted by the Forte Hotel Group(福泰饭店集团).

If you are traveling to Taipei in the coming months, do consider the Orange Hotel @ Guanqian 桔子商旅—馆前店(台北)

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It’s like most of the budget hotels in Taipei, small but fully equipped, truly living up to the name of 麻雀虽小,五脏俱全.

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The place seems to be renovated just recently and I was pleasantly surprised to find a safe in the room.

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Down at the lobby area, there are fresh fruits prepared for all guests and coffee tea. The fruits were a great welcome especially all the “sinful” street food in the night markets.

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One thing new in this hotel is the breakfast system. Since the hotel is small, they saved the space from a dining restaurant for more rooms. Instead, we were given breakfast coupons for a few nearby eateries.

This was totally my type of service, because personally I prefer to eat breakfast with the locals rather than with a group of tourists.

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So, we choose Yoshinoya!

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And one funny incident during breakfast was witnessing an elderly Taiwanese man arguing in the Taiwan dialect, regarding why can’t he order Lemon Tea for takeaway. Seriously I didn’t understand the explanation as well, but I was more than amused to see how livid the elderly man was and how his wife just sat there watching the drama like it happens everyday.

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So where is this hotel located? Glad you asked.

The nearest MRT station is Taipei Main Station. This is by far the most convenient station you can live near to. From this station we took the High Speed Rail (HSR) to Kaohsiung, and we didn’t have to drag our luggage too far from the hotel to the station. Walking distance within 5mins.

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And just opposite the hotel is a shopping mall with almost everything you need, from stationeries to electrical, to fashion, to food, to beauty services, to massages and more.

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It is really nice to see all these chinese signboards all around us. Gives us the “at home” feeling.

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Overall experience
Since I do not wish to stay in any hotel room for a long time when I am traveling, the size of the hotel rooms is not my primary concern. As long as it is clean and relatively new, I am more than happy.

Orange Hotel @ Guanqian is conveniently located (near to one of the main MRT station and the one for HSR if you are planning to travel to another city within Taiwan). I could be greedier and ask for a place nearer to a night market, but I’m fine.

The amenities are much and with variety to choose from. 7-11, Family Mart, Watson, Cafes, Shopping Malls, McDonalds, Japanese Restaurants, etc. Should be good enough to curb any late night hunger pangs. Actually with 7-11, the 黑轮 is more than enough.

Staff are nice, though the cleaners are way friendlier than the front desk girls. Quite a surprise.

Wifi is available and signal is okay. Air-conditioning in the room is strong. We had to wear a sweater to bed (but that could just be me).

Security is excellent, even the main door at L1 is opened only by access card aka room key.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year Old Resolution

2017 is here, as usual all of us will for a moment think about the resolutions we want to make for the new year.

In the past, I used to say “new year new resolution”, but as I grow older, I realised that this statement is actually not entirely true. We tend to make the same old resolution year after year.

1. Spend more time with family.
2. Eat well, exercise more, have a balanced lifestyle.
3. Spiritually (for those who has a religion), walk closer with God, do our QT, etc.

Are these resolutions useless? Are they new? NO! But we keep setting these resolutions every beginning of a new year, and maybe fail to do it and another new year has arrived.

Here is my take. Do not be afraid of making “old” resolutions, as long as we continue to have the mentality to improve and work on it. Most projects in life is a WIP thing, we hardly achieve something great overnight, it all takes time.

Take for example, my quest to run a full marathon. I have this dream since my secondary school days, discarded the dream in 2010, picked it up again in 2016. Now after one year’s of “hard work” (I’ve actually grown to like running), I have achieved something (completed 2 half marathons). So my 2017 resolution is to complete the full marathon before my 43rd birthday!

New shoes, Old resolution!

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Another old resolution is writing. Precisely why I am updating this blog post is because I used to like to write. I am the first to admit that I am not a good writer like my wife and many other bloggers out there. But writing has always been a form of stress relieve for me. Writing is my way of bring brutally honest with myself, and leaving behind no regrets.

So I’ve picked up a nice leather notebook (need some motivation) on my recent trip to Ipoh.

New notebook, Old resolution!

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One more resolution that I have made every single year for the past 30 over years, is to read the bible more. As a Christian, there is no other book more important than the Bible. For my own spiritual growth, I need to read the Word more and understand my Father in a deeper way.

So for this year, I am embarking on this new app “Reading Scripture” recommended by another good friend of mine. To read through the Bible from cover to cover in a year. And I have encouraged my wife, my cell group friends to join me. So far, it has been very exciting as we go through the same readings and sharing what we have learnt. Another I learnt, to successfully complete a task or resolution, get others to join in and motivate one another.

New reading plan, Old resolution!

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Hope this short post will inspire some of you to keep on keeping on. Don’t give up yet!

“The Champion you want to be tomorrow is created by the training you do TODAY!”

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Running in 2016

17 races (fun and competitive). Total of 186.45km (this is the races I have run in this year). From the Jan-Dec, the total distance covered was 709.45km. In October Challenge (a one month min. 5km daily challenge), I ran 203.05km.

My girls asked me why do I run so much? Why do I like to run? Friends around me questioned why do I pay so much to join the races when I can run for free if I truly like to run?

To be honest, running is not my favourite sports. Coupled with my flat-foot condition, running was never an easy task. The fact was I quitted running more than 6 years back when my last run was a 10km race in SCMS 2009. After that race, I injured my left knee and after a series of X-rays, MRIs, Physio, what the doctor told me was to stop running. My dream of completing a Full Marathon (42km) was dashed and life went on.

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What changed my mind was a family tragic that happened in 2014, my dad suddenly passed away. His death was so sudden, we were all caught surprised and none of us had a proper chance to even say goodbye. This incident taught me a huge life lesson – stay fit for your family. From then on, I purpose in my heart to stay fit, not just for myself, but just so that I can stay healthy and alive to enjoy my time with my wife and children. To be able to see my girls grow up, be married, have their own kids, etc.

So in 2016, I finally picked up the dream of running again. I will turn 42 in Dec 2016. I told myself that I can once again fulfil the Full Marathon (42km) dream. I will pace myself, start slow and small, get myself running again in 2016, then in Dec 2017, before I officially turn 43, I will complete the 42km Full Marathon race.
#42running42

So why do I run?
There are 2 parts to that question. One, to keep fit for my family & to fulfil my 42km dream. Two, I want to show my girls the power of determination and discipline, although I may be older now, and I am not as strong as before, but if I am determined to fulfil something, plus discipline to do it, I can achieve it!

Why do I need to pay and run in races?
Simple, I join the races to get the medals. Because the medals served as a reminder and encouragement to myself that I can moving step-by-step towards my dream. Setting a target without interim success points is just a bit too difficult to achieve. Plus running in a proper race will give me the experience to understand what to expect when the time comes for the 42km.

As I look back this year, I thank many different ones who have come along my running journey and gave me a pat on the shoulder, ran with me, cheered me on. This year’s journey all started when my running “shifu” Benjamin, asked me to join him in the Compressport Rail Corridor Run. It will be the last time any organiser will plan a race along this railway corridor and after that, it will be closed in preparation for future development. And from here, the rest is history. Back then my timing for completing 10km was 1hr 33mins 11secs (I was just glad to finish).

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Met up with Daddy Blogger (Steven) in one of the fun runs.

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With Church members.

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The happiest run is when my family joined me in this year’s Sundown Run. We did a 5km fun run together, and Joey completed it with me, jogging for most of the entire race. So proud of her!

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Then in October, inspired by another Daddy Blogger (Nick), I embarked on a one-month challenge to run at least 5km a day, rain or shine, day or night. Initially the runs were quite okay, until the second week, tired legs, aching backs, and worst of all, finding time to run, all these were becoming serious considering factors for me to quit. Thankfully, for a super supportive wife, she will do her best to arrange everything else at home or at work, so that I can have no excuse but to fulfil my challenge. And I did it! Thanks to all my friends who lent me your support on IG, FB or when you met me during that month.

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Some of the more memorable runs I have participated this year.

The Performance Series – Singapore’s 1st Race Series
A total of 5 races (10km) across Singapore.
Race #1 - Coney Island / Punggol Waterway
Race #2 - Jurong Lake
Race #3 - Gardens By The Bay
Race #4 - Bedok Reservoir
Race #5 - Kranji Farm

After completing the 5 races, the medals can be used to form the map of Singapore.

Race #5 at Kranji Farm was my last run in 2016, a 10km race. Since the first 10km in Jan, I have ran another 9 more 10km race, and on my final and 10th 10km race, I broke my Personal Best (PB) at 55mins 46secs. That is a 37mins 25secs improvement. Nothing is impossible!

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I was prepared to run any Half Marathon (21km) this year, but I tried and ran in the Army Half and Standard Chartered (SCMS). To put into perspective, the last time I ran in a HM, my timing was about 3hrs (that is almost 8 years back). For the Army Half, I was expecting myself to finish within 3.5hrs, my target was 3hrs. And I completed in 2hrs 26mins 25secs.

SCMS was like my mid-year exam. If I can do well, then I am on par to do well next December for my FM.
PTL! I ran 2hrs 17mins 26secs, even better than Army Half.

All these unexpected good results (for an amateur), enhanced my belief that hard work pays off.

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Thankful to end the year well. On to more runs in 2017, better timing (I pray), and more discipline and determination.

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