Catching Up: Australia, Singapore, and Under Armour

I’ve been MIA, but not because things have not happened.

After Regionals, Mark and I took a few days to travel around Australia.  We headed up to Port Stephens where we spent a couple days kayaking around, eating good food, and relaxing.

 

Before heading over to the Blue Mountains, we stopped by Oakvale Farm and Fauna to feed some kangaroos.

We arrived at cute little AirBnB cottage in the mountains where I felt cold for the first time since my visit to the states.  We hiked the national trail the next day to see some waterfalls.  Then we popped into a CrossFit gym for a quick session of deadlifts and kettlebell swings.  One of the coaches was search and rescue and gave us a fantastic hiking itinerary for the next day.

The final day of hiking was long, but beautiful.  We looked out on valleys, hiked down, down, down into the valley, walked through a gum tree forest, walked along a creek, then hiked back up to the top.  What a perfect end to a fantastic trip.

Full day of hiking thanks to a search and rescue CrossFitter

The next weekend I had a trip to Singapore for the Under Armour South East Asia Test of Will.  I wasn’t mentally prepared for another competition, but I had won the free trip during the qualifiers in Manila, so I figured I would go see Singapore.  Then I got sick, so I was both mentally and physically unprepared, I was even on antibiotics.  I landed in Singapore, went to the athletes briefing, dinner with all the UA Athletes and Brand Athletes and quickly headed to bed hoping to feel better in the morning.  I didn’t.

The day was a struggle, antibiotics, advil, and athletics – not a great combo.  I managed to pull out a win though.  I won a bunch of goodies along with a 12 month contract with Under Armour and a feature in a magazine.  So, say hello to the newest Under Armour South East Asia Brand Athlete! Since the win, I’ve had a lot of firsts: First Glamour Photoshoot, ok first real photoshoot ever, first TV inverview (CNN Philippines Sports Desk), and first press conference.  Crazy couple weeks!  Oh, also, apparently I’m a filipina.

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MGZ Visits, Part 3: Baguio

The third, and final, destination for Miranda’s SE Asia trip was Baguio. I booked a cabin owned by the U.S. in Camp John Hay. We packed up the car with lots of food for three days and our bags, and headed out.

The first part of the drive we got stuck in some traffic due to a bike accident, then it was smooth sailing. NLEX, a new highway, was wonderful.  It was smooth and traffic free.  We opted to take the “adventurous” older road after NLEX since it claimed to be 30 minutes faster.

As we were ascending a hill, the car began to lose acceleration power.  Just before some construction, it turned off.  We could not get it back on and had no idea what to do.  We had limited cell signal, and opted to just try and call the embassy.  They worked to get in touch with a towing company in Baguio to bring us up, but could not get a hold of them at first.  After about an hour, the car turned back on.  There was a light on, when the car turned on.  We looked in the manual and it said we could drive slowly with the light on, so we did.  Very, very slowly.  Then we hit a hill again and the car began smoking.  I turned it off an we quickly exited the car.

We were able to get in touch with the mechanic/towing company, they got our location and sent a private car and tow truck.  We were in the middle of the road, but thankfully in a position where we could be seen from a distance.  I got out of the car and pushed it a bit further off the road, I guess it helps to be fit.  An hour and a half later, we were sweaty and tired, but the private car found us.  The car was taken to a trusted mechanic, and we were taken to the cabin.  I was extremely thankful for all the help we got from the embassy, they even stayed in touch with the mechanic for the duration of our trip to ensure we would be able to return to Manila.

It wasn’t even too bad not having a car in Baguio.  We arrived a large “cabin” (house) in the middle of the forest.  For the first time since I arrived in the Philippines, I was in a place that felt peaceful.  The windows were open and a breeze blew through the cabin all day, the porch looked out on a forest and well kept garden, and each morning it was quiet.

Garden Outside the Cabin

 

View From the Porch

 

We ventured out to Baguio to see the most well known parks and Mansion, but we found that our time was best spent at the compound.  There were hiking trails, gardens, a historic house, and plenty of time for relaxation.  I will be back, hopefully often.

Wright Park in Baguio with the Mansion in the Background

The mechanic worked tirelessly on the car and got it fixed in just under three days.  He said  the radiator cap was not installed correctly, which caused the car to overheat.  Plus, he found a small crack in the radiator.  He was extremely helpful, they kept the parts to show the issues, and even called the check in on the drive home.  I have to say, it was the best experience I’ve ever had with a mechanic.

Mt. Balagbag

I’ve been trying to come up with more adventures for the weekends.  I decided to hike Mt. Balagbag because it’s not too far from Manila. The top of the peak overlooks Manila and there’s a waterfall.  Plus, it’s ranked a 3/9 on the difficulty scale, so it seemed like a nice active recovery day.

We were surprised the day before the hike with a dog.  A friend’s friend shows dogs and one of the huskies was not show eligible, so he was up for adoption.  We brought Xena over to meet him, there was lots of tail wagging, and he came home with us that day.  The next day, we decided to continue with our plan to hike and bring both the pups.

Meet Conan! Our 2.5yr old Husky

Waze stopped working so we switched over to google maps, which led us onto a dirt road.  This made the hour and a half trip to the trail head about a 2 hour trip.  We hopped out and began trekking the mountain.  Although the trail was not challenging, the heat and sun beaming down made it a little strenuous.  Within five minutes we were sweating and the dogs needed water.

We came to a fork in the road and were told one way led to the waterfall and one led to the summit.  We hadn’t gone all that way to NOT go to the summit, so we decided to head up and then go to the waterfall.  We arrived at the summit and were told there was a path to one waterfall from the top, but it was steep.  We figured we would be ok and went for it.  Better to go that way than back down to the fork in the road.

Tired pups at the top of the summit.


Now, normally when someone in the Philippines says something is a far walk it’s not actually that far, it’s just that people are used to driving.  So, we assumed that when he said it was steep, it was an exaggeration.  This was no exaggeration.  It was steep, and slippery.  We were walking in a muddy creek bed, straight down hill.  The dogs were pulling us down full speed, I think nervous about the path and falling.  Conan is a husky, so he had some fur to cover his paws and stomach down the rocks, but poor Xena got beat up.  Whenever there was shade, she would lay down and refuse to get up.

The downhill trek to the waterfall took over an hour, probably closer to two.  We arrived, shocked to see a huge crowd of people.  Within seconds, we learned that Conan swims.  He walked right down to the water and got in, we’re fairly sure it was his first swim.  We enjoyed the cool water on our (my) sunburned skin.  We discussed the fact that the trek was harder than expected and so we were low on water – our 2 hour hike was already at a 4 hour hike and we had to get back.  We asked how to get to the easier path and were told there wasn’t one, we would have to go back the way we came.  But what about the easy path leading to that fork in the road?  That’s another waterfall.  Oh.  Shit.

 

Finally, some cool water!


We began heading back up the mountain, thankfully it was easier to go up than down, but we were VERY low on water.  After an hour we arrived at a house with a little store in it.  We bought ALL of their Gatorade, including the display bottle and guzzled it down.  It was the best damn Gatorade I’ve ever had.  Then we were happy to continue walking.  We took a path that didn’t go back up to the summit, but rather around the side, so it wasn’t too hard.

 

The hiking crew at the top of the mountain and the river at the end of the trek.


We arrived back at the trailhead six and a half hours after we started.  Hungry and ready to eat.  All in all though, it was worth the adventure.  The dogs did great, the company was fantastic, and it’s a good story.  We later found out we had hiked two summits, Mt. Balagbag and Mt. Maranat where the Maranat Falls are, instead of the Kaytitinga Falls.