A Week in Melbourne

This week is not by any means like every other week, but it definitely has many similarities to others. It seems like the less I plan things, the more fun I end up having!

Friday
It is a public holiday, since it’s the Grand Final of Aussie rules football (AFL) the following day. Wait, what? So no work on Friday, and everything has weird opening hours. I am lucky enough to have a friend lend me his bike since he bought a new one, so I need to learn how to a) ride a road racer and b) learn how to obey the rules. Luckily enough there are heaps of bike lanes in the city.

I go to South Melbourne market, have a bike ride, and spend the evening with a friend in a huge artists’ market browsing through all the wonderful things that would be cool to have but I cannot afford. It’s about 30 degrees warm during the day, so I can easily walk home at night with just one shirt.

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Saturday
The Big Game Day, and I have no clue what to do. A nice bike ride in the morning sun, Southbank-Albert Park-Saint Kilda-Prahran-South Melbourne-Southbank. I do stop at Prahran market as well as stock up on Questbars in the awesome hidden gem, Prahran convenience. Afterwards I decide to join a friend to a pub in Richmond to “watch the game”, more like observe all the interesting Aussie spectacle sports behavior. During the game we come up with plans for the next steps, and decide to head to a random house party in Fitzroy. We take a pitstop in Little Saigon to fill ourselves for the ride and the night. The party turns out to be in a massive dream house that has a sweet sweet pool, and we leave only when we can’t keep our eyes open anymore at 2am. First bikeride in the dark, empty city feels good, probably because it’s again t-shirt weather.

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Sunday
Picnic day. I spend the morning baking stuff (not smart to keep the oven on in the heat), and head to the Carlton Gardens around 2. All other people are pretty much late, so I get pretty frustrated with all the lying down and not doing anything. All in all I end up spending 5 hours at the park, hanging out with friends and meeting new ones. Afterwards we go to St. Kilda to a funky party with singers walking in the crowd while singing. Decent end for the long weekend. And I didn’t even burn in the sun!

Monday
After work I have a dreaded dentists’ appointment, and they suggest they take my wisdom tooth out. Half an hour later I walk out to the heat with one less tooth that they refused to give back me due to Australian law (wtf), and stitches in my swollen mouth. I have banana ice cream for dinner, and wonder if the numbness wears out by the next day.

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Tuesday
After work I go to a bar to work for a few hours, after which I spend the evening with a friend who always makes me want to improve myself in many ways. I miss my wisdom tooth, physically. It hurts.

Wednesday
Free coffee in the park after work, yay! I feel sluggish after not working out for 3 days, so I decide to go to a TRX class. I love the sneaky burn with no jumping and running around.

Thursday
I work 10 hours and find out my F45 class I was looking forward to is cancelled. I get frustrated, go to pilates instead, and don’t feel like I’ve done anything. I take a “little” detour on my way home and decide to bike trough South Yarra and Prahran to Southbank.

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Friday
I have a PT appointment after work and have to ride on some scary roads and a bridge to get there. Worth it, though! I rush to the city to go the Asian food truck festival in Queen Victoria market. What a summery night – warm, good music, loads of people, food!

 

And this was just the beginning of the weekend! (Ok fair enough I worked on Saturday so weekend was just Sunday for me, but I did manage to have a swim, dinner date, and go to a Japanese festival where I wore a kimono and did tea ceremony. Success.)

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On running

Friends, I suppose I could tell you stories about my adventures in lovely melbourne, but for some reason a topic popped to my mind that has not been a part of my life for a year (or much ever for that matter), running. I was training for half marathon a bit over a year ago, and the experience taught me a lot. I have not run once after one or two poor attempts in Bali, and I have no intention whatsoever to get on track. However, those more or less miserable (though sometimes far from miserable) times I did run, I now want to go back to.

Strength in group. Adidas Heimo (Adidas Tribe), was the supportive group of people who were all in the shit together – some less than others, having several marathons under their belt already. I must admit, going to group trainings was the reason I kept on pushing myself, the reason why I did not stop and the reason why I wanted to not finish last. I might have been a shit of a runner, but I wanted to feel like I was doing something, and getting better at it, which I was.

Having some fun in our uniforms.
Having some fun in our uniforms.

Getting over yourself. In Finland, the harsh truth is that (from February until April and September onwards) the running conditions are not the best. Still, if you have a goal in mind, you need to have certain steps to achieve that goal. Running in the rain/snow/hail/deep deep darkness isn’t the most ideal way of spending a monday morning/Friday evening, but as soon as you get your feet back indoors, it’s all worth it. Some days, in a deep dark and twisted way, you’ll even notice enjoying it.

Setting goals, and following up. In the past 3 years I have learned about goal setting and their measurability. Unfortunately I confess to being a rather vague person, more likely to go with the gut rather than setting important milestones. In running to a certain achievement, you must have a certain plan to achieve what you aim to reach for. Even if you fail, it is important to know that you had a path to guide you. So yes, spiderman stretches, I get your point.

Running in a sponsored group allows one to have a professional photographer. Thanks Pasi Salminen.
Running in a sponsored group allows one to have a professional photographer. Thanks Pasi Salminen.

Know when enough is enough. Why have I not run after last summer? Well, during the training months I kept on having different injuries in both of my legs. Having had troubles with my feet growing up, I still tried to push myself and not admit that maybe I hate (yes, I could say I hate) running for a reason, and am just not cut out for it. In the end, I was not able to attend Helsinki Half marathon, nor the other shorter race the team did, but I eventually ran 10k midnight Run, which I highly enjoyed. Now I enjoy other sports that make me push my limits, reach higher and feel like I’m accomplishing something. Win!

Hill running drills. Ah how I miss those wobbly feet afterwards.
Hill running interval drills. Ah how I miss those wobbly feet afterwards.

me and a friend decided to write something every day from now on until further notice, so hopefully I’ll be venting myself here more often. Too bad my computer is so utterly shit (sorry, but Apple is not nearly eternal) that it definitely doesn’t make posting easy.

AFL aka Footy aka Aussie rules football

Friends, I have a confession to make: I have never been to any sort of public sports event (kiddie soccer league games don’t count), until yesterday that is. I didn’t start my spectator sport experiences by watching ice hockey, soccer, baseball or football, but AFL: Aussie rules footy. Of course I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but luckily I had a patient friend explaining the rules to me. Apparently it’s a lot about shouting obscurities and drinking beer, and for girls rating the players.

General admission tickets, better than going to a comedy show.
General admission tickets, better than going to a comedy show.

The following is what I gathered about the rules of footy. These are by no means absolute truths, so if you know better, feel free to correct me. Like other team sports, footy game consists of two teams of several players, who run around in an oval field hitting each other, trying to get an oval shaped ball between one of 4 poles that look like they’re from Harry Potter (creating 3 goals: the middle one worth 6 points, the outer ones 1 point) by kicking or throwing it in. One is not allowed to run with the ball into the goals, and running with the ball altogether is prohibited; however it is possible to run the whole field-length if bouncing the ball on the ground every now and then – I witnessed this in the enticing melbourne vs. Essendon game. If a player catches the ball from the air, they get a free toss. If there is a big rumble where the ball gets stuck, the referees get to throw it to re-start the action. There are quite a few dudes in yellow shirts, who toss the ball back into the game, backwards, after it’s gone outside the field (perhaps to the audience). A couple of pink shirted people also run around, providing players with drinks (water?) and strategy tips from the coach. There are 4 quarters, each lasting something between 25 minutes and 32 minutes, and in-between the quarters the audience can enjoy entertainment such as little kids playing footy (and mutilating each other).

In an oval shape stadium, it is rather challenging to keep up with what's happening all the time.
In an oval shape stadium, it is rather challenging to keep up with what’s happening all the time.

For me, the best part of the whole show was hearing the cheering and other shouting from the crowd. Stuff like “C’mon melbourne, they’re not even a real team” and “Josh, take off your pants!” surely kept us entertained. At first I felt bad for the players who kept on smashing to the ground, but after a while I got used to it. Apparently neither melbourne nor Essendon are any good, but at the end the game turned out to be very interesting. It was a tie until 2 mins before the end of the game, when Essendon scored the winning goal. Suspension at its’ best!

Selfies at the games.
Selfies at the games.

Satur-trail and Dragon Boats

I am definitely not an athlete, nor a trail runner, but I do prefer to spend my weekends with some activities rather than lying half dead in a dark room, cursing the world and trying to remember what happened the previous night. Having the chance to take a nice hike and then trying out dragon boat racing, of course I said yes. Well, I have to admit that half way through the 10km hike, and halfway up the over 1000 stair, I definitely questioned myself.

Up and down these mountains, no biggie
Up and down these mountains, no biggie

Our trail started from Wan Chai gap, sweet and easy 1km uphill, followed by a nice 4km run to the end of the first leg. That’s when the fun part started – first  up was the Violet Hill mountain, followed by the “Twins”, pictured. The mountain part of the hike included some stunning views of Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay (with some clear blue water), but I was mostly concentrating on putting my feet in front of another and not to trip.

Hong Kong nature, Wong Nai Chung reservoir
Hong Kong nature, Wong Nai Chung reservoir

It made a big difference to be on the trail with a couple of hard core athletes, one of which just did a sweet 86km run in mt. Fuji last week. By myself, I would have had much harder time to keep on going and not stop in the steps – although when you start going, there is no escape.

 

Warm up before the Dragon Boat
Dragon Boaters warming up

After the trail, we made it to Stanley just in time for some coconut water and Dragon Boat training! Some balance for the leg workout, this 2 hr session was great exercise for the arms and upper body (though the legs weren’t lazy, either). The boats fit 20 paddlers (our team had only 10; more work for each person!), plus one person who is steering, and another that pounds a drum to give tact. Key words in this sport are “rotate”, meaning you have to twist your upper body when thrusting the paddle to the water, and “reach”, meaning that you mush reach the paddle far in front of you. I bet I’ll be hearing the coach screaming these two words when I go to sleep.

Ready to roll
Ready to roll

 

On June 12th there is a big Dragon Boat race, where different companies, societies etc. that have formed teams race against each other and have a huge party afterwards. Too bad I’m not going to be able to attend, although maybe this kind of adventuring on a weekly basis would be a bit too much for me. I really liked being in the water, I can’t remember when is the last time I’ve had salt water on my lips and skin! Unfortunately there was no sun anywhere to be seen the whole day (except in the far distance in the mountain), but somehow I still managed to burn my cheeks.

Happy and not knowing what lies ahead
Happy and not knowing what lies ahead

 

These little Saturday morning and afternoon activities made me appreciate the trail/ultra runners even more; the more athletes I meet, the better I understand them and their motives. However, I still prefer intervals to 50km, and pilates to running. To balance out the “hard work” of the day, I rewarded myself with yoga and sauna.

If you are interested in hiking/trekking in Hong Kong, hkwalkers.net is the go-to source. It still amazes me, how much nature and outdoor sports possibilities this place has to offer!

Monthiversary

It’s been a month and a day since I came to Hong Kong. Time flies, though on one hand it seems like much more than just a month that I’ve been here. Besides work, lately my life has been filled with the following.

Nice views from the tram
Nice views from the tram

I took my first tram ride as well as the ferry to Kowloon last week!

Notorious sushi buffet (yes that is ice cream, one third of our order) after paying the rent
Notorious sushi buffet (yes that is ice cream, one third of our order)

Gluttony in sushi buffet after paying the rent. You never know if you’ll order will come or not – they might bring 6 oysters even if you didn’t order anything after the 12 ice creams they brought…

Red wine chocolate macaroons and wine in East Island Markets
Divine red wine chocolate macaroons and wine in East Island Markets

I can never get enough of the New York vibe in East Island Markets and it’s small, often local producers.

Michelin-worthy dining
Michelin-worthy dining

Hanging out with friends; we went to a Michelin renowned dumpling place, where we got to sit in the back room next to bags of who-knows-what. Not bad for 2€ meal, but definitely not worth the Michelin.

Canapés at Libertine
Canapés at Libertine

Foodie club’s event as well as a gallery opening for Adidas – more of that lovely New York atmosphere for me!

People who have eaten or have diarrhea should not go swimming
People who have eaten or have diarrhoea should not go swimming

Yeah, I have done other things than just eat! I went to test the swimming hall, and it surely was an experience! if Chinese people are on your way when walking, they tend to have the same chaos in the water, too. And even at 8 am, the pool has more people than a Finnish pool has in a whole day!

And the happiness continues tomorrow, when I get to see my mom for the first time in over half a year! And I get to spend over a week on the other side in Kowloon, in a hotel! And I don’t have to cook! And I get to go to the gym! And I can finally do all the tourist stuff there is! So much exclamation points that I’ll start getting embarrassed!