Singapore Top Travel, Beauty, Food, Lifestyle Blog

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Road to Greatness

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As the sister of a national athlete, I've seen how much hard work goes into training relentlessly, week after week, month after month and year after year.

Here's my sissy Lina, when our national women's softball team won bronze medals during the SEA Games in 2015! Do we look alike in the above photos with Nila the Lion? I was really proud of my sister placing bronze not because they won a medal, but because I know how much sweat, blood and tears she went through during training for the competition.

Lina has been playing softball on the school team since secondary school, and carried on the sport even after she went on to junior college and university! She joined the national team as one of the youngest members, and has been actively playing for the team since then. 

This is Lina during SEA Games 2015! Look at that intense look of concentration on her face and that seasoned posture in her stance.

That's 12 years of undying passion and handwork dedicated to softball, and I've seen her always awake at the break of dawn for years, ready for practice despite rain or shine. Let's not talk about the kind of injuries sustained from sports, she's gotten herself hurt on more than one occasion due to accidents on the pitch, but I've never seen her throw in the towel or even contemplate the thought of giving up her sport no matter what.

Her weekends are always sacrificed for training, even though she has a full-time job now! It's really not easy to be a professional athlete, especially in Singapore, but I truly believe that passion and dedication can produce greatness.

Greatness is not just about winning, it is really about the months and years of perseverance, dedication, pain and struggle! As a nation, we need to cheer on our athletes, not just to win a medal, but to celebrate all that they go through for the nation.

Although I don't play sports competitively myself, I am very much a patriotic Singaporean and was more than happy to be there at Olympic Day 2016 where the Team Singapore Rio 2016 Flag Presentation Ceremony was held in conjunction with a non-competitive 3.6KM walk and other activities to celebrate Singapore's participation in the Rio Olympics 2016!

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I woke up really bright and early on a Saturday morning and was rewarded with the fine weather and magnificent view at Marina Bay.

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Posing with these limited edition cans that were created specially to commemorate Singapore's participation in Rio Olympics 2016!



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Fun little stations were scattered around the area such as this cute machine. Give our athletes a high five and get surprised with a little gift, I got a Nila the Lion fan!

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Looking at all the excited kids at the event, taking photos with Nila!

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What really heartened me was also seeing the athletes involved in the Paralympic Games that will also be happening in Rio after the Olympics as well! They have my greatest respect for their determination and passion for their sport.

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Loved seeing all the happy and excited faces and camaraderie going on at the event!!

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Our minister for Social and Family Development, as well as the President of Singapore National Olympic Council, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, starting off with a speech at the Flag Presentation Ceremony!

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Did you know that there will be 25 athletes representing Singapore in Rio de Janeiro this August? A month later in September, a record 11 athletes will represent Singapore in five sports at the Paralympic Games in the same city. Whoop whoop! What a major achievement for our tiny little island city!

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Starting the 3.6KM non-competitive walk armed with an ice-cold drink! Let's go!!

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YZ and I half-way through the walk, the view was incredible at the Bay, especially with the fine weather!

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Love these installations put around the bay. D-R-E-A-M!

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Our scenic walk ended with this lovely view of Marina Bay. This view makes me so proud of our beautiful nation :')

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Back at the finishing line!

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Oh, I thought it was really fun that there were various activities such as this Sailing station set up for participants to take a ride out on a sail boat!

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It was so nice to see everyone enjoying themselves!


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Cooling down and hydrating ourselves with more drinks!



The best way to stay hydrated!

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So happy to be part of the excitement and celebrations for Rio Olympics 2016!

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Brought home these limited edition cans! I love how they depict the three sports that Singapore will be participating in for Rio Olympics 2016 and that interconnected design!

 I'm wishing my fellow Singaporean athletes all the very best! No matter what the end results may be, enjoy the process and always treasure the experience on this Road to Greatness! So proud of Team Singapore!!

GO TEAM SINGAPORE!
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fiji Day 2: Sigatoka River Safari & Mavua Village Experience

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What really makes Fiji stand apart from other beautiful isles with blue waters and skies must be the Fijian people. Hearing a loud and happy "Bula!!!" wherever we went and experiencing the warm smiles and hospitality of the Fijians made this visit so memorable!

One of the most culturally meaningful and fun activity to do in Fiji would be the Sigatoka River Safari and Village experience, a half-day river boat ride and village visit, which provides guests like us an insight into the traditional Fijian culture and way of life.

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With Jess and Christina!

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A group photo before our boat ride! Everyone was all bundled up in the life jackets and ponchos cuz it was a cold and rainy day buuuhuuuu. Our river safari ride was so fun though!

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Meet our boat captain and guide, Captain "Magic" Mike!

Mike is a local Fijian who grew up in the villages near Sigatoka River and he enthralled us with stories of cannibals (many years ago lah) in Fiji and how a white man got eaten by the Fijians because he rudely touched the head of the chief. This poor white man was cooked and eaten, including his leather shoes because the Fijians thought his shoes were part of him!

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Captain Mike kept such a straight face while telling us real stories mixed with ridiculous facts that we couldn't tell whether he was for real or pulling our leg at times! 

But the cannibal story is legit cos he said the leather sole of a shoe is still on display at the Fijian museum wtf. He also told us that the kids swim to school across the river when the tide gets high and the brides are flooded. Rubber tyres are tied together to create a makeshift boat and one kid sitting atop the "boat" takes care of their bags/books while the rest swim and push the floating contraption over!
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Cruising down the river!

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No time to be glamorous when you're on a speedboat ride. HEH.

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The scenery was breath-taking and would have been even more beautiful if it had been a clear day! Along the way, we saw the intriguing sights of villagers taking their horses and cows into the water, or fishing by the river-side, who waved at us merrily as we sped past.

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Atop these mountains are where the cannibalistic tribes are said to have lived a couple hundred years ago!

Our boat ride took us to Mavua Village, one of Fiji's many remaining villages where the local Fijian traditional way of village living and culture is still going strong even up til this day.

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The villagers stay in simple huts and many of their houses do not even have doors, like our olden-day kampungs.

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The kids were very friendly though they were shy at first!

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Adorable young village kid. They were running around barefoot and had no care at all for civilization at all! One little boy just relieved himself on the ground near us and it was the most natural thing to him!

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Running around with the chickens!

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These villagers are making the famed "Kava" drink, which is Fiji's traditional drink that everyone loves! It contains a strange medical property that numbs the tongue and makes the drinker feel dopey and drunk. Sounds incredible too but it's real because we tried it for ourselves! 

Apparently, you need at least x6 the amount that we had to feel the true effects of the Kava drink though.

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There is a Kava ritual, where you have to clap and say "Bula!" before accepting a cup of kava from your host, before finishing it all up and ending with clapping and "Vinaka"!

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Mabel looks very pleased with her drink of Kava. Hahaha. Kava tastes like muddy water with a bit of a herb taste! Not the most pleasant taste but nothing very offensive either. I could feel the effect of my tongue going slightly numb, but we didn't drink enough to truly feel its true effects!

Apparently, kava is even more popular than alcohol and when a villager brings kava back home, it's always a happy occasion 😂It's usually drank together with family members to socialize and relax while drinking kava and too much kava can even make you feel intoxicated! It's not classified as a drug though.

Sigatoka-River-Mavua-Village-31After our Kava initiation ritual, we had a home-made lunch together with the villagers!

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As is traditional in Fiji, a long cloth is placed on the ground, and this cloth serves as the "table". The communal food platters are served on this long cloth and we sit at either side of the cloth to tuck into our meal with fingers and hands!

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Digging right into the food! It was mostly simple fare with home-grown veggies, fruits and meat.

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After lunch, the villagers played the guitar and sang songs for us while everyone danced together in village style! We were also marked with talcum powder on our faces and adorned with grass garlands, before everyone joined in the fun and swayed and danced to the folk singing.

It was a really cool thing to experience the life of the villagers and to mingle with them. Their lives are so different from ours, back home in Singapore.

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Mass dancing session going on after lunch! It was truly a sweet experience to mingle with the locals and have them welcome us with their Fijian hospitality and culture.

I really enjoyed the warmth and hospitality of the villagers, with their rousing music and simple but happy dancing and laughter!

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Cultural exchange going on between some local kids and guests from Australia, you don't need to speak the same language to connect, sometimes ;)

It was a one-of-a-kind experience and also an eye opener to see how the Fijian villages live even in this day, sometime that's completely alien to us Singapore city kids. They didn't even have 3G or reception in the mountains so you can imagine how different it is already!

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The village visits are an effort to preserve the Fijian way of life while sustaining their lifestyles as a portion of the revenue earned by the river safari tour and village visits are given back to the villages.

There are fifteen such villages in partnership with the safari tours and a different village is visited each day to lessen the impact of the "tourism" on the lifestyles of the villagers, while providing them extra income, which is a win-win situation.

In fact, the revenue generated from these partnerships has led to better lives for the villagers, from electrification of their villages, footpaths, kindergartens built, education scholarships, telecommunications, church construction, medical needs and many many more.

That's pretty awesome to me!

This is us on the speedboat ride back: Captain Mike did some really crazy spins and got all of us soaked and exhilarated! 

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I really enjoyed the day, it was both culturally-enriching and also very fun! I loved the interaction with the local Fijian people and experiencing village culture for the afternoon, as well as the historical stories we learnt from our captain and guide. The experience brought us closer to the heart and soul of Fiji, and made our trip much more meaningful and interesting. VINAKA, Sigatoka River Safari!

You can visit Sigatoka River Safari's website here to read up more should you be keen!

If you're all raring to hop on the next flight out to Fiji, direct flights from Singapore to Fiji via Fiji Airways are now available twice a week!

[ The Fiji Travelogues ]



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