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.

Advertisements

MGZ Visits, Part 2: Siem Reap

After Miranda and I spent a few days trying to get our tan on, we recovered with a quick workout at Primal Ape, then hopped on a plane to Siem Reap.  Mark joined for this trip and we met Miranda’s friend from med-school at the airport in Siem Reap.

Our hotel sent a tuk tuk to pick us up and opened the door to a huge room complete with a sitting area, queen bed, double sink, shower, full bath, and balcony.  Unfortunately, the A/C didn’t do a great job cooling the large room.  We went to sleep early so we could be ready for a full day exploring temples.

Day 1: Angkor Wat

We paid for an air conditioned car and set off to Angkor Wat, the most famous temple.  On our way in we met a guide who we decided to pay to tell us about the history.  He was helpful at the time, spoke English very well, but there were still a number of things that were unclear – I still have to look them up for clarification.  I think I’ll do that after this.

We had to wear pants past our knees and a shirt that covered our shoulders to climb to the top, so we put on the layers and headed up.  The stairs had been rebuilt for safety, but they were still steep.  It was close to 100 degrees, but the view from the top was worth it.  We got to look down on the ruins surrounded by a jungle.
After a quick lunch, we went to the Tomb Raider Temple, better known as Ta Prohm.  It was here that we learned you can take a vertical panoramic picture.  The ruins were engulfed in the roots of trees. We were able to get closer to the stone and felt more inside of the temple here.  It was pretty cool to look at, definitely one to stop by.

Visiting two temples in one session/day was plenty, so we headed back and took a nap.  We walked over to Pub Street for dinner.  It’s definitely a tourist trap, but we were able to get a good meal, cheap drinks, and good people watching.  I wish we had been a little less tired so we could stay out and see the party scene later in the night.

Day 2: Bayon

Miranda and her friend from med-school, Michelle, woke up early to catch the infamous sunrise over Siem Reap.  Mark and I opted to skip the 4:30am wake up call and crowds and slept in.  The sunrise that morning wasn’t as impressive as some of the pictures online, so, no regrets.

Since I qualified to regional, I needed to get a workout in.  We asked a tuk tuk driver to take us to a gym.  We were dropped off at Angkor Muscle Gym – the Angkor Body Building Association gym.  Needless to say, there were lots of guys flexing in the mirror right after sit ups to see if they magically got abs after that one exercise.  It was stinky, there was no real squat rack, only a smith machine, which I don’t even know how to use.  I was able to get pretty much everything done, though I felt very out of place wearing shoes and being a female.

We left the gym and found at tuk tuk driver to take us to Bayon.  I, personally, preferred this temple over Angkor Wat.  It felt more like ruins and we could walk through more of it than Angkor.  The stone was not as clean, so it felt more like we had just found it.  Something about it seemed cooler to me, I can’t explain why exactly.  Anyway, if you go to Siem Reap, make the time for Bayon.

That night, we got on a late plane and headed back to Manila. Two days was enough to see Temples and not get burnt out by it, any more than three and I think you’d have to leave the city and explore to find stuff to do.

I would post pictures, but I accidentally deleted all of the photos on my phone.

CrossFit Games Pacific Regional 2016

Before I continue my 3 part series about my trip with MGZ, I have a nice little update on my previous post, Playing The Leaderboard.  At the end of the five week online qualifier, the CrossFit Open, I finished in 8th place in the Asia Region.

My score was not solidified until I sent in the requested video.  I sat anxiously until I was told it was accepted and I received my invite to the CrossFit Games Pacific Regionals.  I will compete in Wollongong, Australia the weekend of May 13th.  In addition to my advancement to Regionals, I was also named the “Fittest Female in the Philippines.”  I will receive a certificate and shirt…well maybe, last year people just got a certificate, womp womp.

I am very excited to compete in Australia, unfortunately, athletes must pay for the travel, hotel, and entrance fee for the event, so I’ve started a Go Fund Me.  To my surprise, I was able to raise almost my entire goal in 24 hours, but haven’t had much movement since.  If I reach my goal, I plan on increasing it to raise money to fly a coach in with me.  It would be sad and lonely to be in the athletes area without a coach.

MGZ Visits, Part 1: Boracay

My friend from college had a month off between medschool and residency, so she booked a trip out to the Philippines. For the first part of our trip, we headed out to Boracay.  Boracay is known for its white sand beaches and is the most popular getaway in the Philippines. We booked a room in station 3 at my friend’s hotel for a discount. We had a large room with two double beds and amazing air conditioning.

Boracay is the perfect place for doing nothing and feeling totally ok about that. We spent the first day laying on the beach and attempting to get our tan on. It was hot though, so we absolutely needed to dip into the water. We got dinner and sunset drinks at Kasbah. After sunset we went to bed early, it had been a long day in the sun, plus a 5am wake up. 

  

On our second day, we got out on paddle boards in the morning, and laid in the sun for pretty much the entire rest of the day. We found an AMAZING breakfast spot that morning, too. 

For our third day, we checked out Puka Beach. The waters were clearer than White Beach and there were not as many obnoxious vendors. We got two lounge chairs, coconuts, and enjoyed the sun, view, and breeze for the afternoon. 

  

We finished off the trip at Spider House. This laid back, bamboo beach resort had great drinks, snacks, and view. You could jump off or climb down a ladder to cool off in the ocean. As a bonus, there were puppies. 

   
 
Overall, I enjoyed my lazy time in Boracay. To be fair, I did workout at CrossFit Boracay, where I did pull ups on bamboo bars, but overall it was lazy. I would stay in station 1 if I return though, less crowded and fewer vendors. 

Playing The Leaderboard Games

Almost two years ago we found out we would be moving to Asia.  As soon as we got the news, I thought I could try to qualify for the CrossFit Regionals in Asia.  Shortly after, I found out that they had changed the regions.  Asia would be included in the Pacific Regional (a super strong region) and only the top 10 athletes from Asia would compete.  So, I adjusted my goals and hoped to qualify by my second year, in 2017.

As the year progressed, I was told that I may actually have a shot at qualifying to Regionals this year, but it still didn’t seem real.  I hired a coach from DC to write my strength and weightlifting program, and saw huge gains.  From a 215 backsquat to 265, 150 clean and jerk to 180, 95 snatch to 140, and much more. February rolled around and the CrossFit Open began.

Week 1

As Many Rounds in 20 Minutes As possible of:

25ft Overhead Walking Lunges @65lbs

8 Bar Facing Burpees

25ft Overhead Walking Lunges

8 Chest to Bar Pull Ups

I crashed and burned.  It was hot, I could hardly breath, and I felt awful the whole time.  I finished with 210 reps (each 5ft segment for OH Lunges counts as 1 rep).  I redid the workout three days later at a cooler time of day, and took it slower at the beginning.  219 reps.  I finished 20th overall in the Asia Region.

Week 2

4 minutes to complete:

25 Toes to Bar

50 Double Unders

15 Squat Cleans at 85lbs

If completed in under 4 minutes, 4 more minutes to complete:

25 Toes to Bar

50 Double Unders

13 Squat cleans at 115lbs

etc. 11 Squat cleans at 145lbs, 9 at 175lbs, 7 at 205lbs

I was able to get 2 squat cleans at 175 before I ran out of time, over 90% of my 1 rep max squat clean.  I finished 4th in Asia on this workout, 11th overall in Asia.

Week 3

As many rounds as possible in 7 minutes of

10 Power Snatches at 55lbs

3 Bar Muscle Ups

Everyone saw Muscle ups and thought I’d crush this, but the ratio of snatches to muscle ups was not in my favor.  My first attempt I got 86 total reps, or 6 rounds and 8 snatches.  I redid in air conditioning and got 91 reps, 7 rounds. I watched the scores come in on the leaderboard and knew it wasn’t good enough.  So with 13 minutes remaining to submit scores, I redid it.  I got 98 reps, 7 rounds and 6 snatches.  I placed 8th on the workout in Asia and 6th overall.

Week 4

As many rounds as possible in 13 minutes of

55 Dead lifts at 155lbs

55 wall balls to a 9ft target with a 14lb ball

55 Calorie Row

55 Handstand Pushups

I got 203 reps, 17 reps shy of finishing on round.  I wasn’t happy, and neither were my hamstrings.  I did everything I could to recover for a redo 3 days later and gave it my best shot – 209 reps.  It put me 14th in Asia for the workout, dropping me to 7th overall.

Week 5

21-18-15-12-9-6-3

Thrusters at 65lbs

Bar Facing Burpees

This was a repeat from 2014, which I never did.  I completed it in 11:27, a pretty good score, but not regional level (in my mind).  I decided to redo it, but unfortunately I didn’t get a better score.  So here we are, playing the waiting game.

It’s been a stressful 5 weeks, the saying “every rep counts” has never meant more than it does right now.  6 reps was the difference between top 10 and top 20.  Every Monday night I stressed over the leaderboard, checking the scores, seeing where I stood.  For better or worse, for the final week none of us can submit our scores.

So, wish me luck as the scores start rolling in.  If I finish in the top 10, I’ll have to send in a video of one work out, if it looks good, an invitation to Regionals will be sent.  If I finish outside of top 10, I’ll just have to train harder for next year.

 

 

Thailand Part 3: Railay

The final part of our Thailand tour was Railay. We boarded the 3:30 ferry and an hour and a half later we arrived at…another boat.  The small speedboat took us to Railay.  We booked a room at The Sunrise Tropical, a hotel on the east side of Railay. It’s not on a beach, but it’s a short walk over to the two main beaches. The room was HUGE and beautiful , plus the wifi worked. 

  

We hung out at the beach, then grabbed an amazin dinner at an Indian restaurant. It was my birthday so we finished the night off with cocktails on the second story of a bamboo bar, then wine on the patio of our room. 

For our last day in Thailand we sat on the beach. I couldn’t come back without a tan.  The beach was nice and relaxing, huge rocks to either side, and not too crowded.  There was one other beach on the island, so we walked over to catch the sunset. 

  

Phra Nang beach, where we watched the sunset had some interested pieces in the caves. Local fishermen leave phallic offerings to a goddess for safe travels at sea. 

  

Railay was exactly what I wanted, not as touristy, value for money, beaches, and if I had stayed longer I would have gone climbing up the mountain.  There is supposed to be fantastic rock climbing. 

Unfortunately the trip didn’t end well, it finished with a bit of food poisoning for the plane ride back.  I’ll be more careful on my next trip…Cambodia. 

Thailand Part 2: Ko Phi Phi

Our second destination for the Thailand Trip was Ko Phi Phi.  We flew to Krabi where we took a Taxi to the pier, got tickets for a ferry, and at last landed at Ko Phi Phi.

Ko Phi Phi was hit with a Tsunami in 2004, nearly all of the buildings were knocked down.  By 2010 most of the buildings had been restored, now it’s the hot spot destination for young travelers.  The island is packed with stores, tourists, and night life.

It was low tide when we arrived so the Taxi Boat could not take us to the hotel, we got to walk along the path to the end of the beach to the Bay View Resort.  The resort was in the perfect location, walking distance to the restaurants, but away from the noise.

Unfortunately, it was overbooked and they did not have the room I had booked in advance available.  While Tory and Alex enjoyed their stay at the hotel…Mark and I had a very different experience.

On our first full day there we decided to chill on the beach.  We set out on a journey to find long beach.  We walked up through some mountains, stopped for lunch at Viking Nature Resort. Then found our way to Long Beach.  It was a bit further from the crowds with white sand, umbrella’s and beautiful water.


The next day we hopped aboard a large speedboat to go island hopping.  We hit all the famous islands, Monkey Beach, Maya Bay, etc.  It was a long day, but very beautiful.  Followed by a delicious dinner and even some beer pong.


There is only one ferry from Phi Phi Don to Railay, the next destination, so Mark and I decided to wake up early and go scuba diving.  We were paired up with a dive master who worked to get us the best day diving he could.  He took us away from the crowds, showed us the fishes, and kept us entertained.

Although the island has natural beauty, in my opinion, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  I completely understand why tourists began flocking to the Phi Phi islands, the water is amazing, the rocks are beautiful, and the beaches are fantastic.  It’s become too popular though. When they rebuilt after the tsunami, it was because they needed tourists to come back, but it was not built to match the natural beauty.  The streets were dirty, some of the beaches completely lined with boats, and the tours to the most beautiful beaches are so filled with boats and people that it takes effort to get a photo without it all.  I had a fun trip because of the company, but I don’t think I’ll be back.