Friday, January 29, 2010

Wakeboarding and Then Some


My arms are hurting from wakeboarding yesterday. Major pains on my left and right forearms, while the right one feels worse. This morning, I washed my hair and body with my left hand. What a struggle considering that I'm right handed. I also washed my face with my left hand. Brushing my teeth was a chore. In a few minutes I'm going to this badminton place, "Smash and Drop" to play badminton with fellow bloggers. I'm not sure how they'll react to see me limping like an old man coz usually I'm the energetic one in the group.

I have yet to get the hang of wakeboarding. It was my second time to try it yesterday. I tried the jumpstart technique, which Bianca (who I just met) suggested to me. She said it was the way she learned it, albeit after a month of trial and error. Basically jumpstart is to stand on a ledge and jump into the water when the rope starts pulling you in. It's more graceful but not necessarily easier. I'd call my attempts a modest success. I was able to glide farther before I fell compared to last week's failure. I spoke to all the "bros" who worked there and they told me that I just needed to find my balance. I hope to be able to do that next week. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

The year 2010, early as it is, has not been good to me. Fortunately I am the type of person that doesn't let his problems become a preoccupation to the point of ruining his life. There are more things to be thankful for than to cry about, I realize. I have a great family, great friends and a great job. My life could not be better. Ok, maybe just a little. To do that, here are my resolutions for the New Year, Chattee style:

1. Have a complete set of abs. It's a frustration of mine that will no longer be a frustration! Going to the gym and being healthy never fail to cheer me up.

2. Shop less, give more. I looked at my closet and saw just how much clothes and shoes I have. Last month I cleared out 20% of it and gave them away to my cousins Jofer and Marc. I want to reduce it by another 20% by February. I will also shop less frequently. In other words, buy only what I need with occasional splurges.

3. Reduce my bills. Cellphone bills, credit card bills, hosting expenses, yes you! I wanna change my cellphone plan and spend only P500 a month for calls and text messages. I need to rethink my hosting arrangements as well.

4. Travel less. I guess it's the year of the less. Last year I visited 6 countries! This year I'll visit two at most.

5. Learn a new skill. I'm thinking wakeboarding or ... I dunno yet.

6. Make more friends. Sungit ko no? LOL

7. Run a marathon. I love running and what better way to add a feather on my cap by completing a marathon. Or... win it? (ASA!!)

8. Design more. DFAT, Wordcamp Philippines... you'll see more of my work this year.

9. Play Dota again. Not so sure about this one but I really really want to play again.

10. Play badminton again. Made a "pact" with some blogger pals. We'll "try" to play badminton once or twice a week. Hehehehe.

Friday, January 15, 2010

21 Kilometers

Today I hit the gym with an unwavering resolve to finish the 21 kilometer challenge. My gym, Holiday Gym 'n' Spa (lol), organized the 21km challenge to get our asses moving instead of sitting around lifting weights (which for me is boring as hell). The gym has a 200 meter track around its facilities. The challenge involves running around the track 105 times, which is roughly equivalent to, that's right, 21 kilometers. Running 21 kilometers is no easy task. We were given 6 days to complete it. If we do, we're rewarded with a 1-week extension to our monthly memberships!!! Woooot!

I was able to finish it in 5 days. For the most part, I ran 20 rounds straight without walking for 4 days. That's 16 kilometers! Apparently, they also count the rounds wherein I walked. Yes we can walk if we wanted to, and we'll still get the prize so long as we complete 105 laps. But I pushed myself to run instead coz it wouldn't be much of a challenge if I just walked. So.. that's 16 kilometers plus another 3 today = 19 kilometers of pure running! To think before I ran those last 3 kilometers I went spinning for an hour with my cousin. Intense!! *faints*

Anyway I'm helping my cousin lose weight. She asserts that she's overweight but seriously she looks fine to me. Yet she is at that age where she needs to have a regular exercise regimen. I'm glad she decided to take the plunge and I hope she sticks with it. We ended the day with a light dinner and some yoghurt at Coffee Cat. Yum!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Dork's Guide to Versailles

Sorry for the long delay. I've been meaning to write about Versailles since my post on the Louvre, but stuff got in the way and I was forced to hold it back many, many times.

As my European adventure was coming to a close, I was asked by my cousins which place in France impressed me the most. And I remember answering "Versailles". Each of them had their favorites too, but they agreed that Versailles, in one way or another, rocked.

Getting to Versailles can be a bit tricky. First, let's try to get your tickets.

Option 1. You can buy your tickets right at Versailles. But check out the line:

A long a winding road...

So let's scrap Option 1. Moving forward...

Option 2. If you are planning your visit to Versailles way ahead of time, you can purchase your tickets from their website. Go to this page. If you want access to all parts of the estate, pick The Passport (Les Passeport). This includes tours of the Palace, the garden, Marie-Antoinette's estate and a portable audio guide. Cost: 16-18 euro (about $25). While purchasing you will be asked what date you are visiting. Pick any day except Monday or any holiday because most if not all parts of the museum will be closed. Be sure to go to Versailles on the specified date!!

Option 3. If you are already in France or simply forgot that Versailles existed before your trip, you may opt to buy your ticket from an FNAC outlet. FNAC is sort of like their Barnes and Noble and CompUSA combined. I found it daunting just figuring out what FNAC was until I got lucky and asked someone who understood what I was saying. I kept asking "What is F-NAC?" or "What is F-N-A-C?". All I got were looks of bewilderment. So I had an epiphany: They say their letters differently! To say FNAC in French you say it like: EF EN AH SAY.. just think of it as if you're mouthing "Effin' I say" with disgust. LOL ... There are many FNAC stores scattered in the city. The one nearest my hotel was the one in Saint Lazare. Google FNAC Versailles to find out what's nearest you. Once you're in the store, approach an FNAC person and ask "Tickets to Versailles?" and pray he'll understand the "Versailles" part and point you to the right direction. You must say "Versailles" correctly or you will fail. It's pronounced ver-'sigh.

Ok, so you think buying tickets is a chore, try taking a train to Versailles.

Versailles is about 45 minutes from Paris. The station you want to get off at is Versailles Rive-Gauche. The only train that goes there is the RER C line. It is the yellow line in the subway map. Do not confuse it with the 9 line, which has a mustard color. The C train has many stops, but depending on where you're billeted, it may or may not be available in your nearest train station. Because the Opera station was the closest to me, I first had to take the 8 train to Balard. Then I got off on Invalides, then caught the C train to Versailles Rive-Gauche (see illustration).

Versailles Map

There are schedules posted in the station for trains leaving for Versailles. If all else fails, approach other tourists and ask which train they are waiting for.

Once you're in Versailles territory, again, follow the flock of tourists until you reach the palace grounds.

Finally!! Can we go back now? LOL

Have your tickets ready and flash them at the unfortunate folks lining up on the left side of the palace. Haha. Go straight to the right side where you'll find the entrance. Pick up your audio guide. From what I recall, this is the very first thing you'll see:


I *think* this is a chapel where Louis married Marie Antoinette. The chapel reflects the expensive taste of the royal couple. It is **just** a chapel but it looks more like a cathedral to me!

Versailles - Hall of Mirrors
This is me standing in the famous Hall of Mirrors. The hall was used by Louis XV to walk from his room to the chapel. Whaaaat? It was later used by his grandson for private functions and weddings.

Versailles - Fireplace
I felt like a dwarf standing next to this gigantic fireplace. >.<

Versailles - Exterior
A view of the back of the palace from outside.

One of the many vast ponds found in the estate gardens.

Versailles - Maze
Me being a dufus and pretending to be lost in the garden maze hehe

I have lots more pictures here that I can show you if we ever meet :P Versailles is a must-see if you're in France. If you're wondering whatever happened to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, well, due to Louis' lameness as a King and Marie's numerous scandals, the masses plotted against them and resulted in the French Revolution. The royal family was arrested, tried and convicted of treason. Louis and Marie were executed by guillotine. Only one of their 4 children survived -- their eldest daughter, Marie Therese, who I believe married some rich guy in Russia :P