Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival

Various Singapore international dragon boat teams joined forces as the 'Singapore Barabarians' in the 11th Boracay International Dragon Boat festival, racing against 35 other teams from across the world over a long-weekend in paradise.

Although we paddled alongside other DB teams most weekends in Singapore, the teams never really interact much. One of the reasons why BIDBF was so incredible was that we had the opportunity to get to know loads of new people from the British, American Dragons, AustCham and the Spanish Armada teams.

As is now tradition, the opening ceremony takes the format of a sort of talent contest, with teams performing a choreographed dance on stage. There's no obligation to participate but of course Phil and I were got stuck in, and consequently found ourselves dancing around with coconuts and being launched into the air with a Filipino flag in front of hundreds of people on the first night. The whole experience from practising after work before the trip, through until the performance itself was so much fun and the effort paid off when we were ultimately crowned first place!

We weren't needed for training until lunchtime the next day so we managed to squeeze in a dive with a few other DBers. We did a 28m plane wreck and reef dive which was pretty cool then raced over for a quick test paddle with the rest of the team.

The next day was race day. Up before the sun and on the beach getting nervous for the first 500m heat. I was put up front as pacer for a couple of races and also drummed in another which was a great experience...but also quite scary feeling like I was about to be thrown off the front of the boat by the force of the paddlers!

Paddling in the sea is incomparable to our regular mirky Kallang river training. All the teams were out in the shallows cheering the racers, the sun was shining and the sea was crystal clear. Everytime a wave came in the boats were at risk of capsizing and I'm pretty sure it happened to the Singapore Barbarians more than any other team!

The second day was 250m race day and a hell of a lot easier and quicker than day one at 500m. The mens and mixed boats didn't place but some of the women brought in some medals.

The whole weekend was fantastic. We ate like kings with fresh meat and fish from the market (thanks to our Filipino Captain) and partied till the wee hours every evening. The locals, the other DB teams, the ocean, beach and food made my time there feel like paradise!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Melbourne and Sydney

I recently went to Australia for the first time and had an absolute blast - it must be one of the best places I've ever visited and a trip I'll remember for ever. 

Saying that.. it didn't start off too well. If you're a Brit, the first thing you should know is that a visa is required to enter Australia. You don't want to make the same mistake I made by turning up at the airport, running to get a visa, and getting back to check-in to find it was closed and I couldn't board my flight.

It was a bummer, but I eventually managed to get a flight 24 hours later and arrived in sunny Melbourne. We spent the day walking around the Laneways laughing at all the tourists taking edgy shots of each other in Flinders Lane.. and then joining in.

Flinders Lane

Flinders Lane

We went to Kew for a friend's BBQ then headed to the recommended bar in Fitzroy called 'Naked for Satan' to watch the sunset, finishing the night at 'Black Cat' for cocktails and live music.

Melbourne sunset

The next day we started our road trip in St Kilda (with a delicious brunch at Dr Jekyll) then got onto the Great Ocean Road. We stopped in Apollo Bay for some grub at La Bimba then went on to the Twelve Apostles. The scenery along the GOR is stunning!

Great Ocean Road

Twelve Apostles

The next day we drove over to Philip Island. Seeing the Nobbies was yet another moment where we were blown away by the beauty of Australia. Endless blue and lots of little penguins. 

The Nobbies

We had organised a tour with a guide as the sun set, to witness all the penguins coming back from fishing. We sat on the beach with our night vision binoculars and watched them all waddle up towards us. I'd highly recommend it to anyone as it's super cute. 

We were back on the road again early the next day and made our way over to Yarra Valley to taste all the local wines and visit a friend who lives in the Dandenongs.

Yarra Valley

Yarra Valley

We were stayed in an air bnb right on the top of the hill overlooking the valley and as the sun rose the next day, I walked out onto the front lawn to see two kangeroos grazing in front of the house. 

That was the end of our Victoria trip and I remember thinking that anywhere else would be hard pressed to beat it... but we then caught a flight over to Sydney and I feel in love all over again.

We hopped on and off ferries, saw the cannon fire at Fort Denison, tried to by trendy in Manly, had drinks at the Opera Bar, had a cheese fondue in Martin's Place, went up the sky tower, wandered around Paddington Market, sunbathed at Bondi Beach and met friends at Octupus for dinner. 

Fort Denison


Sydney Opera House

Bondi Beach

Great trip and I can't wait to go back!