Sunday, August 31, 2008

So I'm here, but...

...for some reason my computer's being funny and won't load either my Blogger or Picasa home pages. So no blogging till I figure that problem out.
Check my room pix at Later!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ahoy, St. Francis Bay! The Yogis are coming!

In about 4 days' time, I'm headed to St. Francis Bay on the Eastern Cape where I'll be spending the entire month of September at a yoga teacher training course (that's a month of unpaid leave, mind you!). It's accredited by the International Yoga Alliance, and at the end of the course I'll be certified under their RYT-200hr program (RYT = Registered Yoga Teacher).

It's no walk in the park - from Mondays to Saturdays, 7am - 6pm for 4 weeks we'll go through everything from our own ashtanga practice, to sequencing a class, to physiology & anatomy, to breaking down the poses, to yoga philosophy...

A part of me's excited to finally be doing this course (it's been almost a year of planning in the making), and although at this point I have no guts to start teaching, I'm hoping this course will help me gain a deeper understanding of my own practice. If nothing else, I can't wait to eat, sleep, breathe and talk yoga for a full month!

I'm just going through my little checklist of things to bring now and it's a weird list - very different from the usual packing lists for work or holidays... I've got stuff like:
- Golf Ball (laying down on this helps relieve chronic shoulder knots I've got)
- Traumeel cream (homeopathic anti-inflammatory)
- TransAct pads (kinda like Deep Heat "koyok" pads)
- Deep Freeze cream (instead of that "hot" feeling, it's a minty version)

Almost feels like I'm prepping for bootcamp... guess who's deathly afraid of injuries!

There are 12 of us on this course and I'll be sharing a house with 4 other yogis. We're staying on a house by one of the canals in St. Francis Bay, so I'm hoping it'll be one of the thatch-roof houses they're famous for.

I'll try and post regular updates and pictures from here so if you'd like to know what's going on and what I've been up to, please subscribe to email updates or RSS Feed updates (subscription info on the top right-hand corner of the main blog page).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Putter Princesses

Every once in a while when both Robyn and Margarita are away, Kelly & I house-sit for them coz their dogs, Abigail & Jezebel are super people-dependent and can't go a night without human contact.

They're sooooooo cute, just found more pictures of them when we house-sat a couple months ago (and I also almost had an asthma attack from them).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Only in Africa Part 9: Dr. Cure-All

Every now and again, a random dude walks up to you in the street and hands out a flyer like in the pictures below.

While the Sangorma, or witch doctor, exists here... somehow I don't quite believe this guy's the real thing especially when there's no money back guarantee after the promised 7-day cure! I like how everything from penis expansion to removing ghosts from the home can be cured "with herbs from Jamaica". :)

Click on photos to view a larger version.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I am Coupon Queen

Yes, it's true. In my old age, I've gone from Dancing Queen to Coupon Queen. I'm turning into my Grandma!! I never thought there'd be a day when I'd be pleased as punch to go to the mailbox and find cashback rebates from Clicks Pharmacy. (it's like "Watson's... your perrrrr-sonal stooore") *sung to the tune of the cheezy 90s jingle*

They're giving me back R41, OK! That's like an almost-free box of multi-vitamins! (R48) Or 4 free orange juices at the pub! Or parking on the streets in Cape Town without having to tip the car guards up to 8 times! (or maybe up to 16 times, depending what a cheapskate you are) Woohoo, now I know why Ama was always so excited with her coupons, I've hit the motherload!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Manduka Eko Lite, Where have you been all my life?

*This mat didn't turn out to be as great as I thought. Updated review after 1 month of intensive use, click HERE*

What's a girl to do when her trusty yoga mat starts flaking to pieces? ...if you're mildly OCD like me, you research yoga mats to high heaven to find the perfect one.

After 6 years of continuous ashtanga/ vinyasa practice (a vigorous flow practice) about 4 - 5 times a week, I've gone through many a yoga mat. The flimsy Nike mat didn't last more than 3 months, the typical 6mm PVC mat, though nice and cushy for ashtanga, was too heavy to transport to and from class and inevitably ended up flaking too. I ended up compromising with the generic 3mm PVC mat which is light enough to pack for frequent work trips away, but it mildly annoyed me coz apart from it bunching up every now and again during practice (coz it was so thin), I would also go through an average of one a year.

They all eventually ended up peeling and flaking, and by the end of a hot, sweaty class, I'd find icky bits of mat stuck all over me.

Not a very good look.

Also, the thought of all those mats filling up garbage dumps, never to break down any further made me feel a tad guilty.

For some reason, I'd always resisted splashing out on what they call the "Rolls Royce" of yoga mats - THE Manduka Mat. Don't get me wrong. I practised at Pure Yoga in Singapore for 2 years and every studio they had came with prefixed rows of Manduka Purple Lite and Black mats, so I've had lots of practice on them. They're still by far the top-most quality mats you'll find... but I guess they've just always been far too expensive and too heavy for me. If I'm going to pay THAT much on any mat, it better be PERFECT and not "still too heavy". At almost 3.5kg, I'd have to workout before carrying the Black mat to class!

Enter my yoga mat saviour: the new-ish Manduka Eko Lite mat. It's been getting rave reviews on the net. Try reviews here and here too. (I've got more links where these came from - told you I researched it to death!) Since it's all of 3.5lbs (approx. 1.5kg)... it's light enough for me to consider. Also, it's eco-friendly, with no carcinogenic PVC and at half the price of the original Black mat - this bargain hunter knows a deal when she sees one!

Lucky for you if you live in the US where Amazon delivers for free. Sorry for you if you live in South Africa where Amazon has just stopped all deliveries to because of postal theft (?!) So what's a girl to do? Call in her trusty sister in the US to help!

Yes, I can't believe she agreed to let me send her the mat through Amazon (Free Super Saver Shipping!), then she painstakingly re-boxed it so no Amazon logos showed, and offered to post it to me on her account. It was only after the mat got here that I realized the postage to here cost more than the mat itself. Gulp.

I can't really say more than what's already been written about the mat in all those reviews and anyway, all I can say is: PHWOAAAAARR! For a skinny 3mm mat (and I'm the queen of thin mats), it sure is one heckuva solid thing. It's not as light as I thought it would be, but I can't believe how firm and solid yet stable it feels! It's kinda-sorta-almost like the Purple Lite in the way it absorbs your weight. And although it looked like some parts of the mat were not completely flat against the floor, it felt completely stable and didn't bunch up. It's also more grippy than the Purple mat.

Tammy had already taken it out of its original wrapping to check it before posting it to me, but this is what the wrapper looks like:

(Yes, what every review says about the "rubber smell" is true. But it's not a bad smell... kinda smells like new rubber tyres on your car.)

Like all Manduka mats, they've branded it with their tag on the side of the mat so that it goes on both the front and bottom of the mat.

What struck me about the mat at first was the sheen on it - it looked so shiny I almost expected the texture to feel cloth-like, like a satin weave of sorts. So it's quite a disconnect when you touch it and realize it's a really tightly woven type of rubber that's very grippy. The front part of the mat has long wavy lines on it, which makes the mat feel nice and sticky.

And the back has a rougher, more pronounced pattern on it.

The other plus point is since it's a closed-cell mat and doesn't absorb water - it's completely dry now, 3hrs after washing it. The old open-cell mat took more than a day to dry sometimes (which made me not want to wash it in case it didn't dry in time for the next day's practice. How gross?)

Now that I'm finally over my sickness, I can't wait to get back on my spanking new mat tomorrow!

*This mat didn't turn out to be as great as I thought. Updated Review after 1 month of intensive use, click HERE*

I still haven't killed the plants...

The last time I wrote about our plants was when I'd pruned the lavender bush. More like hacked it up. Only to discover later in some gardening website that over-pruning lavender would cause it to never ever flower again. Ever.


So since November last year until now, I thought I'd pretty much damaged the plant for good since all the other plants continued flowering except that damn lavender.

...Until now, right in the middle of winter, I'm suddenly seeing the appearance of tiny flower buds starting to appear. YAY! I feel like such a proud parent, maybe I do have green thumbs after all. Yeah right. It's more likely this thing only flowers once a year.

On the other hand, the Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow plant has gone cuckoo. It's right in the middle of winter and it has decided to flower like there's no tomorrow (or yesterday and today?). OK, bad joke. I'd recently pruned it (again like the lavender, it was "anyhow whack!") and I guess it liked shedding the excess.

Some stalks had no leaves, just flowers galore. It's really gone mad!

The Polygala's been the only steadfast plant. This is one plant that can really withstand abuse and still keep on going. I kept forgetting to water the plants everyday in the summer, and at one point all the flowers and some leaves were turning yellow and then black. I thought I'd completely killed it but all it took was some pruning of the dead stuff (again, "anyhow whack!") and it's still flowering now.

My only beef is it's still so 'twiggy' looking and bent sideways. We tried re-potting it but the wind kept blowing it crooked again so we've just given up on it.

Not a bad progression from our last apartment in Singapore where we single-handedly killed two plants in less than two months. (But of course that's gonna happen when you don't water the plants. Duh.)

Here's what they look like now.

For what they looked like when we first got them, click here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Getting back to your roots...?

Like almost everyone else in the world, our office took a time-out to watch the Beijing Olympics opening last Friday. 8.08pm Beijing time = 2.08pm Cape Town time (just nice for some post-lunch relaxation)...

What I found really funny was some people actually said to me "you must be proud of your people, what a display!" I didn't want to be rude by getting into a lesson of China versus Singapore and how though I'm Chinese by ethnicity that really has nothing to do with my affinity for China, since I am after all from Singapore.

It was too heavy a conversation to get into while trying to figure out how they did that LED floor display...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Baby Misha is here!

Since I'm bored to tears at home and full of germs, I might as well post something else up that's better news: My bestest friend in the whole wide world, Samira, gave birth a week ago!

Misha Ashidiq was delivered 24th July and was 3.72kg (BIG BABY!)

Congrats Sam & Ash, I can't wait to meet the gorgeous cutie!

(Photos courtesy of Sam's Facebook album.)
The first week of parenthood described as "it's like coming out of a K-hole". Haha!

It's no fun being sick

It started as a sore throat on Saturday, kinda went away on Sunday, but became a fever and sinus-something as soon as I walked into the office on Monday and I had to take half the day off. Didn't feel better on Tuesday - it was like I'd hit my head into the wall and was walking around in a fog. It felt like a mild fever would creep up every now and again but wouldn't really "break".

Felt much better yesterday and as much as I love all E! True Hollywood Stories, I couldn't really lie on the couch watching anymore E! anyway, so I went back into the office. Bad idea. Within a couple of hours I started fading again. My boss is down with the same thing as is my Production Assistant, and being in an air-con office with 6 floors of windows that are sealed shut can't exactly be good for you. By the time 5pm came, the head-fog was back along with the fever chills. ARGHH!

This morning, not only did I have a bleeding nose along with a fever and runny nose, my eyes were BOTH blood-shot red with icky, gunky stuff in it. Dammit! Finally hauled my ass to the doctor who diagnosed "upper respiratory infection that has spread to the eyes". How gross is that?! "Yes, I can see your middle ear and ear drums are very inflamed too." Double gross.

Interestingly, it's my first visit to a medical doctor since being here, and I'm amazed that you have call to make an appointment before you can see anyone.
Receptionist: "Hello, Dr. Wolhuter's office?"
Me: *koff* "Hi, I need to see the doctor"
Receptionist: "Dr. Wolhuter's next available appointment is 3.15pm"
Me: "HAR? But it's 8am now and my head's about to explode and you're telling me I have to wait more than 6 hours to see the doctor?!" (what kind of fascist regime is this?!) (...of course I didn't really say this - was just thinking it)

The receptionist then booked me in with the other doctor whose next available appointment was a more acceptable 9am.

I'm now on antibiotics, cortizone, antibiotic eye drops, with a nasal spray thrown in for good measure. Oh, doctors here don't dispense medication either. You have to take the prescription to the nearest pharmacy to have it filled (no, there wasn't one next door - I had to drive to the nearest mall to find one). Leh-cheh.

The total cost of this (Doctor's consultation + medication from pharmacy) was about R520... almost S$100! Daaaaaamn. Healthcare back home is cheap - my visits to Raffles Medical Clinic never cost more than S$40 including all medication dispensed. On-the-spot! (would've uploaded a picture of my eyes too, but they're so hideous I couldn't even look at the photo much less upload it)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Oldskool Cape Town

Gaye sent me an email with pictures of Cape Town from days of yore. It's pretty amazing to see what these places looked like a long time ago.






(Wonder if this now the N1 or N2 highway?)

NOW (N2 Highway?):




(or is it Kalk Bay?)

NOW (V&A Waterfront):





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