La Mer Open Water Swim 2018 and How I Survived as a First Timer

Expat Life

I love the waters (the pool specifically) and swimming. It always excites me to be able to take a dip and swim a few laps.

Though I’m not a professional swimmer, I did compete in several local meets and age group competitions when I was younger and in the annual sportsfests while in college. Then after that, I took an 8-year hiatus because life happened.

Coming back from a vacation in our hometown, where my love for the sport started, I decided to join in an open water swim race for two reasons; 1) to conquer my fear of swimming in the open sea therefore confronting the scary sea monsters in my head, and 2) to take the first step to getting fit and healthy in my 30s.

I remembered what my father (who also happened to be my coach and trainer back then) used to say, “The depth of the water is immaterial when you know how to swim.”

This stuck with me but somehow couldn’t wrap my mind around it because every time I dip my head in the ocean and swim a few strokes, I freeze and forget that I know how to swim. Also, I am pretty damned scared of the waves and not being able to see a black line leading you to the other end and the many unknown creatures I have formed in my head.

If you have seen me splashing and waddling in the sea seemingly delighted, please know that I really am but a part of me is scared stiff especially when my head is already underwater.

But turning 30 last month gave me the extra courage to be dauntless. Heck, it’s now or never. Forget the fact that I haven’t had training for the last 8 years and had zero exercise —um well, if the squats and walking I did towards the end of my pregnancy last year would count, that’s about it.

Prior to the actual race I joined in, my friends and I volunteered as marshals for an open water swim event at Kite Beach. Seeing all the participants both young and old, pro and recreational swimmers enjoy and finish their respective events gave me the boost of confidence that I might just be able to pull it off.

Can you spot race number 162? Yup, that’s me.

Fast forward to two weeks later, on a sunny Saturday morning at La Mer South Beach, there I was in my black bathing suit —anxious, nervous and worried of the ‘what ifs’ but more than ready to get it done and over with. I went for a swim before my event started to test the waves and temperature of the water and was relieved that it wasn’t that freezing. 

The La Mer Open Water Swim 2018 was organized by Super Sports UAE and is the first leg of a two-part series of their open water races. This was held last November 10 at La Mer South Beach in Jumeirah 1 with more than 300 participating swimmers.

The race categories were  200m, 400m, 800m, 1.6km (the mile) and the fun relays. You register once and may enter in as many categories as you want. Although it was an inviting strategy, I didn’t bother joining other events knowing how out of shape I was. 

I would have opted for the shortest distance but apparently, 200m is an event exclusive for kids. Haha! I had no choice but to go for the 400m instead. Race to finish. That was my only goal.

Making our way to the first and second buoys.

Our group needed to swim around four buoys then back to the shore to complete the course. Being a first timer, I opted to stay behind and on the outer side of the pack. The run towards the open sea was aggressive so I held back a bit on the running and carefully made my way through the water. 

Once I got comfortable, I swam and swam then rested, and rested some more and finally swam the last leg to the shore. You’re supposed to swim to the very end up until your hand brushes the sand when you pull but as soon as I felt that it was already shallow, I stood up and just walked towards the finish line feeling like a zombie trying to catch my breath. 😂

Last 25 meters of the race. Barely breathing but I did not sign up for a refund so I had to make it to the finish line. :p

I finished 110th out of 252 with a time of 00:10:35 while the first placer clocked-in at half of my time. I wasn’t that bad, I suppose; I did not panic, I did not have cramps thank goodness, I did not drown, no imaginary shark attacks, most of all I did not give up although my left arm almost did.

I still feel sore now but a good kind of sore and I can’t wait to participate in another race. I’d still be sore after but less scared everytime I step out of the water. 



If you’re interested in joining any of Super Sports’ events, you may check out their website and Facebook page for details.

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Campbell Inn Hostel at Little India

Expat Life, Wanderings

Mathew and I were going to be in Singapore for only 18 hours and will just be spending a night so a backpacker hostel was our best option.

I found Campbell Inn Hostel in Little India with a fair review and an affordable price so I did not hesitate to click book right away. Thanks to the ease of using booking.com, you can book without a credit card and pay later when you arrive at the property.

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A few meters walk from Campbell Inn is the Little India MRT Station.

Campbell Inn is conveniently located in Little India, close to the Rochor and Little India MRT Stations and surrounded by several restaurants, hawker stalls, and mini groceries.

Little India was decorated with different lanterns, flowers and lighting ornaments in celebration of the Deepavali Festival or the Festival of Lights which usually runs from mid-October to November.

How to Maximize an 18-hour Singapore Layover

Expat Life, Wanderings

We intentionally chose to have a longer layover on our journey back to Dubai so we could explore the Lion City a bit more. Yes to maximizing vacation leave credits and value for money!

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A glimpse of Singapore’s coastline.

21:30 – 01:00

Our flight from Manila was delayed due to some technical difficulties so instead of arriving at 8:20 in the evening in Singapore, we arrived an hour later.

Mathew’s high school classmate and friend fetched us at the airport and accompanied us to our hostel in Little India.

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Lanterns and other lighting ornaments decorated Little India in celebration of the Deepavali Festival (Festival of Lights) which usually starts mid-October.

How We Spent a 6-hour Layover in Singapore Changi Airport

Expat Life, Wanderings

We had a 6-hour layover in Singapore on our flight from Dubai to Manila and we decided to spend it inside Changi Airport. Six hours might seem a long stretch for some but when you are in one of the world’s best airports, time flies.

I prepared an itinerary for the things to see and do in all the terminals but factoring in all our stops and sleep-deprived selves, we only managed to check out some spots in terminals 1, 2 and 3.

Here’s a rundown of our Changi experience.

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Our flight landed at Terminal 3 where the Butterfly Garden is located.

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The area has two levels but it isn’t that huge and a good 15-30 minutes would be enough to explore and observe the different species of butterflies. We had to cut short our visit though because someone was already hangry.

Hala China Launch: Wind from the Sea, the Belt & Road Dance Special at Dubai Opera

Expat Life, Wanderings

When you’re given an opportunity to witness an important and culturally entertaining event at THE Dubai Opera, you do not hesitate. You say yes, and take it with gratitude.

Last Sunday, my husband, I and some friends were at the launch of Hala China, a government initiative led by Meraas and Dubai Holding that aims to boost the number of Chinese tourists in the emirate and improve trade relations between Dubai and China.

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Meet D3: Dubai Design District

Wanderings

Dubai has a flourishing art scene and Dubai Design District (D3) is one perfect venue showcasing how rich the arts and culture is in this part of the world. It’s a melting pot of everything visually appealing.

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If you have been to the Sikka Art Fair – where they pay tribute to UAE and GCC-based talents in an Old Dubai setting, D3 is kind of the modern version.

Ramadan 2018 Reminders

Expat Life

Whether you’re fresh off the boat or have been living here in the UAE (or any Muslim country) for a long time, it always helps to be reminded of the several dos and don’ts during the holy month of Ramadan.

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The Don’ts:

  • Do not eat or drink in public during the hours of fasting. Smoking is also prohibited. You are excused however if you’re pregnant, an elderly or suffering from an illness as fasting might pose health problems.
  • Do not wear revealing or tight clothes. This is already observed throughout the year but is strictly imposed during Ramadan.
  • Do not be loud. No shouting, swearing, singing, playing of loud music and definitely no dancing in public.
  • Public display of affection is considered as offensive so avoid kissing, hugging or cuddling your husband, wife, partner or friend/s especially of the opposite sex.
  • If you are working in a front office or reception, refrain from offering guests with refreshments even if you’re not sure if they’re fasting or not.

The Dos:

  • Embrace the spirit of peace and contemplation. This is the best time to reflect on and be thankful of the countless blessings and opportunities that this country has given you.
  • Be extra understanding towards those who fast. They do it from sunrise to sundown so imagine how challenging that might be. Others might be a bit irritable but just be more patient and considerate.
  • Experience the culture – for one, partake in the many Iftar offers. Take your family or friends with you and feel the lively energy of the community after they have broken their fast for the day. I tell you, the city becomes so vibrant at night during this season.
  • Greet the people you encounter Ramadan Mubarak (have a blessed Ramadan) or Ramadan Kareem (have a generous Ramadan).

Remember that Ramadan is a sacred month for the Muslim community so it is important to respect these rules even if you’re non-Muslim.

May you all have a happy and blessed Ramadan!

Why You Should Check Out Alserkal Avenue

Expat Life, Wanderings

I came across this hip and artsy location while I was on my daily morning routine, scanning my emails which are generally boring. I mostly receive spam aside from the occasional interesting ones from several sites I have subscribed to. So when I saw a feature about this ‘culture and arts hub’ I did not hesitate to badger Mat that we should go and check it out. 😛

Disclaimer: We are in no way an artist or something of that sort. I’d describe us as ‘lurkers’. Hehe! But we have always been interested in these kind of things. 

So, after all of our Friday chores, off we went to Alserkal Avenue. The place is a collection of warehouses converted into creative spaces located in Al Quoz.

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Enclosed by concrete walls, the facade seemed uninviting. But as they say, do not judge a book by its cover. What is inside will often surprise you, and surprised we were!