Monday, 28 November 2011

Singularly Singapore - the 29th Annual Dragonboat River Regatta...

Team Taylor Deportation/Repatriation Countdown

Days left in Singapore: 25

Days left until arrival in the Queen City: 32


The starting area for the 200m sprint.  These guys blast out
of the starting area like rabid banshees - Usain Bolt style.
And a good evening to you all from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City.  The Bull had a great workout tonight, logging 4 miles in exactly 32 minutes.  I'd been sticking to the 5K's recently, but in the last week or so I've felt a real surge of confidence in my running, and I honestly feel like I'm starting to see some results on the efforts for the first time in a long time.  I've given up the bike and am currently sticking just with running, sit-ups (please keep the laughter to a minimum), and light weights (please keep the guffawing to a minimum), and so far it honestly does seem to be paying off.  That's odd, because 5-7 years ago running every day tended to depress my times.  Granted, I was going longer then, but still - it's interesting.  And whilst I am LOATHE to give him any credit, maybe Matt "el Burro Jefe Gigante" was right - cross-training is a myth. :-)

So yesterday was a great one for the Bull.  For starters, I managed to log 30 minutes outside, running between NOON AND 12:30.  That's right, baby!!!  The Bull FINALLY did the unthinkable and went for a midday run.  The rains have definitely cooled off this corner of the globe, and it actually felt pretty good out there!  I reckon I did about 3.6, and I'm pleased with that.

The Temple of Quality Ale - Red Dot on Boat Quay.
After the run, the Bull headed over to Boat Quay for the two main activities of the day:  drinking beer with Emma at Red Dot, and watching the 29th annual Singapore Dragonboat River Regatta.  I tell ya what - throw in some Green Monster, BBQ chicken pizza, and a downpour of EPIC proportions, and you've got a good day out.

So here's the deal:  dragonboat racing is one of the most popular sports in Singapore, and the locals are VERY good at it.  The national team moves like a jetboat on the Shotover River, screaming and shouting the entire time.  You've got teams of 12 and teams of 22, with pairs of rowers lined up down the boat (which does have a dragon's head and tail, for the record), while a lone cat steers the vessel and the person on the front of the boat pounds on a drum to indicate the stroke rhythm (huh, said stroke).  The typicall scene was 21 MASSIVELY strong dudes and then a tiny little wood sprite of a girl sitting by the drum (which was twice her size), screaming the entire time and hanging on for dear life near the finish (as the drummer's not strapped in).

Much like running, cycling, and any other sport, there was definitely a culture of athletes along the riverbanks.  A few things you'll notice:

1.  EVERYBODY has Havianas.  It's almost as though it's part of the uniform.

2.  The life jackets that folks are wearing appear as though they were made in World War II.  I'm pretty sure they wouldn't keep a beer can afloat.

Team warm ups - basically these cats are just SCREAMING
as if they're being shocked by cattle prods whilst they simulate
the movement of rowing.  It's kind of like watching the Haka,
only minus the fear of being eaten by 6'8", 270 pound humans.
3.  Dragon boat racing involves a lot of screaming - at yourself, at your opponents, at each other.  For example, when the race is about to start, the instructor says:  "Rowers, are you ready?"  At which all of them go total code of bushido and yell "HAAAAAAA!!!!"  And then, when the horn goes and the rowing begins, they are screaming out the count whilst the little half pint manning the drums beats the membrane to within an inch of its life.  You get the feeling as though you're watching some ancient ritual the Khmer, Siamese, Burmese, and Malay kings used to impose on their slaves - it really is pretty intense.

Also interesting is noting all the different nationalities and how they prepare:

1.  Singaporeans - eating chicken rice together between races, and then SCREAMING at each other in formation to loosen up again.
The view about 1/3 of the way down the chute.  The team in
the foreground is making their way to the starting area.
2.  Hong Kong - running around the river non-stop (because I guess all day rowing just wasn't enough cardio for them.  Either that, or they hadn't seen air this clean in years and felt compelled to suck in as much of it as possible).
3.  Germany - cheeks painted with the flag, laying in perfect arrangement to conserve their strength until the next event.  I didn't hear any David Hasselhoff playing in the background, but I'm sure they each had a photo of him tucked into their life jackets.
4.  Australia - just happy to be there, all in straw hats and sponsored by Brewerkz.  Their rudder dude looked STRAIGHT OUT of the Outback - Drover style.
5.  Britain - fielding about 40 teams, but much more time was spent at the buffet than in the boat.  What a spread!
The tents were the loading area - it was nuts over there, as
races were going off every 5 minutes for EIGHT HOURS. 
All the team tents were there as well - the whole place had a
great carnival atmosphere to it.
6.  America - the "official meeting point" was the bar by the start line.  I mean really, guys?  REALLY?  At least TRY TO LOOK LIKE WE'RE NOT GONNA BOOZE. 

Emma and I watched 3 hours of it, complete with a 90 minute TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR that stopped the proceedings.  The length of time was perfect, as it enabled me to sample a 3/4 pint of every beer on offer.  It also gave me ample opportunities to watch Emma BEG for a full pint of beer, whilst they continued bringing her half pints.  I was enjoying myself immensely every time she'd try a different approach.  These included (all to no avail, mind you):

1.  "Can I have a pint, please?"

2.  "Can I have a FULL pint, please?"
I just simply had to throw this in, as this is THE GREATEST
pic of the weekend:  David in a pool at the top of Singapore,
beer (bought in cash) in hand in a monsoon, with a look that
says, "Singapore security my ass - here's to livin' the dream!"
3.  "Last time you brought me a half.  Could you bring me a full this time?"

4.  "I want what he's having (pointing at my beer), but I'd like the summer ale."  (note - she STILL gets a half pint, but she gets my beer instead of the one she asked for).

After the boating, it was back to the house, where I tucked into some sushi and hit the sack early.  I had sushi as well tonight, complete with oranges and cheese because, well - there is no better combination.

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print.  Chat tomorrow!


Sam and (successful in her quest to tackle the Coogee Beach swim and hike, as well as a 5 hour hike in Manly today - capped off by a pint of Pale Ale at 4 Pines Brewing!) Jenny

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