Arts and Culture, Running

A Tribute to Vaco

When I first arrived, you jumped upon me
Knocked me over, and licked me with glee
Back then, the French tongue, I could not comprehend
But you showed me with no words that we’re to be friends

Your eyes were huge, your heart was bigger
You always wanted to share my dinner
But never mind if I gave you no food
It never destroyed your joyful mood

You taught yourself to open doors
Despite your only having paws
And knew when bedtime rolled around
You’d nuzzle us, then head underground*

When I first started running years ago
Unfit as I was, the going was slow
As I slogged through valleys resembling canyons
You came along as a faithful companion

Until your joints gave out one fine day
No more runs, but you still loved to play
Sure, age was slowing catching up
But deep down inside, you were still a pup

Who roamed the street we lived on, free
Strutting between number 2 and 3
To check on Grandpa and Grandma Rabbit
Your loyalty was a daily habit^

You were doing fine, but all of a sudden,
We got the news: you went to doggie heaven
I didn’t even get to say “Farewell,
I love you, good doggie, you were swell”

Goodbye dear Vaco, you’re one of a kind
You’re loved by those you’ve left behind
Though you most sadly did depart
You’ll forever live on in our hearts.

*For many years the dog’s bed was in the basement, where it was cooler and more comfortable. He’d jump up on his hind legs, open the door and descend the flight of stairs when he decided it was bedtime, but never before wishing us goodnight by licking a hand or nuzzling against us.

^Grandpa and Grandma Rabbit live about 100m down the road from GodzillaPin’s parents’. The dog would once again, open the front door and let himself out, cross the road carefully and trot down the pavement to make sure the old folks are OK. Every single day. That dog had more filial piety than most human beings.


Food, Running, Travel

Trail des Passerelles du Monteynard

Warning: Long post. This is a race review which comes with a background story.

Although this blog may present a charming life of travel, food and fun, several incidents over the last few months have conspired to creating a sense of pressing urgency within the Ninja Turtle to redeem herself. First, there was the accident of falling from a height of 2.5m onto concrete while on holidays back in November last year (and the subsequent few months of recurring nightmares where the Turtle was falling to her death in some way or another), leaving the Ninja Turtle with a perpetual sense of mortality ever after.

Then, there was the crushing defeat of her first DNF at the Trail Yonne back in May; after months of training for the ultramarathon event, increasing her mileage, cleaning up her diet and quitting all the good stuff in life (wine), she found her limits against Mother Nature.

More recently, she’d “lost” her job (word used loosely here – she had in fact, painfully decided to walk away from it) when everyone around her pointed out the fact that it was not normal to be busting her balls for ridiculous hours at a token pay that equated to exploitation. Nor was it normal that none of her writings on the site were ever attributed to her name, and since she’d taken all promises in good faith, she’d only learnt that she was being used when she finally tried to sort out a contract and was essentially told that she was not worth a paycheck.

The breaking point came when she’d gone back to Singapore and was on a couple of occasions, treated with such little respect with regards to her time, that within a week or so, she’d lost a couple of kilos due to missing out on sleep, meals, and even the chance to use the toilet, and fell so ill with a raging fever that for a while, they were worried she’d contracted MERS during her stopover in Dubai. After months of dedication, she pretty much has nothing to show for her work. Worst of all, during this period of insanity, the Ninja Turtle had neglected GodzillaPin on various occasions, choosing to prioritise meeting rushed deadlines over quality time (especially at Easter).

The Ninja Turtle is choosing to reveal all this information now, as she had kept some or all of it from various friends and family out of shame. The thing is, while the Ninja Turtle may not be competitive, she handles failure very poorly (perhaps this is exactly why she’s not competitive). Some people bounce back quickly, but she’s the sort to withdraw into a darkened room, curl into a tight ball and wash her wounds with tears of self-pity. Melodramatic, for sure. Thankfully, she’s had amazingly good friends like Sonic and Krazy Kow who rallied by her side immediately, but also Mother, Papa and Baby Turtle who showed her unjudgemental and unconditional love, and GodzillaPin who readily forgave her for the few awkward months, so she wouldn’t all but give up on writing and running completely (which would have been really stupid).

So these were the Ninja Turtle’s primary motivations for signing up for the race, which fell on the weekend of her birthday. She’d wanted a chance to redeem herself, to celebrate life, and to take on a challenge because life goes on.

Arriving at the Lac du Monteynard on Sunday morning for the race after only 6 hours of sleep. The landscape soon woke the two sleepyheads up.

Arriving at the Lac du Monteynard on Sunday morning at 7am for the race, after only managing 6 hours of sleep. The landscape soon woke the two sleepyheads up. The race organisers provided a very regular shuttle bus service from the parking to the start line because we all know runners are capable of running for hours, but walking 10 minutes is like death.

The Ninja Turtle at the starting line. She'd had her coffee and bread with jam, drank a litre of water by then, and did her business twice (in the bushes because OMG the queues for the toilets) so she was all set to go.

The Ninja Turtle at the starting line. She’d had her coffee and bread with jam, drank a litre of water by then, and did her business twice (in the bushes because OMG the queues for the toilets) so she was all set to go. The bibs displayed the race course with its evelation and refreshment stops upside down for the runners’ benefit. Clever!

The race was stated to start at 8.30am and it was quite timely (her watch read 8.33am). There were 812 people registered for the 35km race, but only 750 showed up at the starting line. The sun was already out by then, and all the runners’ were sporting hydration packs that were full to bursting. The Ninja Turtle looked at the mountains around her, thought about the 1900+ elevation gain and 1900- descent that awaited her; her brain failed so she resorted to humming “She’ll be coming round the mountain” instead.

With a winding path that climbed gently, some runners might have been fooled into a sense of complacency. The worst was yet to come.

With a winding path that climbed gently, some runners might have been fooled into a sense of complacency. The worst was yet to come.

Passerelle is what the French call a bridge. The race took the runners across two simple suspension bridges that crossed the Drac and the Ebron. Built in 2007 using helicopters, these cable bridges span 180m and 220m. Depending on the water level in the artificial lake, the bridges sit 45 to 85m above the water.

The first picture is a sign pointing to the Drac suspension bridge. The race route took the runners across the bridges 4 times in all. The middle photo was taken while queueing to cross the bridge for the first time. The Ninja Turtle was happy but she’d yet to learn what was to come. Almost all the runners enjoyed a magnificent view from the bridges. Sadly, the Ninja Turtle was not one of them.

A few steps onto the bridge, which was swinging wildly from the combined weight of all the runners and the wind, she was seized by overwhelming panic, and paralysis set in. The dizzying height brought back her fear of falling, and her heart rate shot up to 175 despite standing stock still. Each time she had to cross, a fellow runner would hold her by the hand and gently coax her forward with encouraging words, while her tears flowed, her knees buckled and she rambled nonsense about death. She got the names of two runners – Isabelle (mother of 3 who lives in the area) and Judit (a young Hungarian doctor), but not the gentleman whose poor hand she probably fractured, squeezing so hard. Whoever he is, bless his runner’s soul, she hopes he scored a PR.

These photos do little justice to the race experience. The climb was insanely tough, and runners who came with walking poles had an advantage, while those without had to resort to hands on knees. Many runners stopped to catch their breaths (both literally and metaphorically), as the air got thinner as they ascended, but the view was truly spectacular.

Several things the Ninja Turtle did right this time:

1. Pacing herself by effort. As soon as she’d hit Start on her GPS HRM watch, she’d all but ignored the details on it except to occasionally glance at her heart rate. Speed was irrelevant since there was no cut off time for any check points or the entire race.

2. Constant hydration. As the mercury pushed towards 37°C (98°F) on the unsheltered summits, it was imperative to keep drinking.

3. Eating early and eating often. After burning through too many calories to maintain her core body temperature, costing her a DNF at the last race, the Ninja Turtle has learnt her lesson. Eat as much as you can, as often as you can. Also, she skipped the dried and fresh fruits this time, opting for crackers and cheese sandwiches because when you’re drinking about 5L (1.3 gallons) of water, you’d better be replacing the NaCl.

Several things she could have done better:

1. The Ninja Turtle lost 15 minutes at the first water stop. First of all, there was a queue of thirsty runners battling to refill their hydration packs. When everyone else towers over you, you quickly become invisible to the volunteers. After politely hanging around the back for a few minutes, the Ninja Turtle decided to just crawl under the crowd of smelly runners and get her share. However the battle was not over. She struggled for another 10 minutes trying to figure out how to close that stupid device. Lesson: don’t use new gear on race day.

2. The Ninja Turtle may have been doing a few runs on Mont St Quentin and Les Sartelles (military grounds in Moselle and Meuse, featuring hills) sporting a new pair of New Balance trail shoes, so she’s been perfecting her uphill climbs and rolling back downhill in those flashy things. She’s learnt to rotate her hips more and let gravity do some work for her, so she can actually enjoy the sensation of going fast. However, she didn’t take into account that her training ground insufficiently reflected the incline and decline of race conditions. After the first descent, she could feel all her toenails threatening to fall off. After her second descent, her quads were screaming for mercy. Lesson: you can never be over-prepared.

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Useful advice from the running community that’s helped her:

1. Ultra runner Paviter Singh once shared with the Ninja Turtle the technique of thinking of the race not by its total distance, but the number of summits to surmount. The Ninja Turtle found this, combined with thinking of the number of food+hydration pit stops, helped greatly in keeping up morale.

2. Trail runner Jon had recently shared his experience at the TransLantau 50 and how he hadn’t carried enough gels on him for the race, as he didn’t expect to take that much longer to complete a trail (as compared to road). This helped the Ninja Turtle keep her expectations of finishing time in check (i.e. she had none, she just wanted to complete it), and also to carry spare food in her sack in case.

The race was mostly a series of uphills or downhills – very occasionally the runners came across a stretch of flat ground, but most were too tired to run or even jog these brief moments of respite.

After the Ninja Turtle crossed the bridge for the fourth and final time, she’d thought the worst was behind her. It was about 4.5 hours into the race, and she took stock of her situation – the sun was unrelenting but she didn’t feel overheated. She was a bit tired like everyone else, but she’d been eating and drinking enough to feel OK to go on. Her toenails were the only things that truly bothered her, and she was wary of how her gait has changed as a result of it. Now all that was left to do was to face that final monster climb, get something to eat and drink on the summit, and roll back downhill to the finish line. How hard could that be?

Turns out, pretty darn hard. The pain of her toenails hitting the front of her shoe was becoming increasingly unbearable, and the Ninja Turtle started to trip over the roots and the rocks. She didn’t give much thought to the first few stumbles, but then she had a fall. A few concerned runners (Judit included) checked to see if she was OK, and luckily it was nothing serious. Off they all went again.

About a-third to halfway up the Mother Ascent, the Ninja Turtle slowed down. The trail had become treacherously technical, and she was stumbling more frequently. She knew it wasn’t light-headedness, it was a combination of muscular fatigue and those damned toenails. On a small brief stretch of downhill that was rocky and dusty and hell, the Ninja Turtle fell a second time, this time, much harder.

She laid sprawled on the ground for a moment, engulfed by searing pain all over. A few runners came up from behind, and one stood beside her with his arm stretched out, without hurrying her at all, just waiting for her to be ready to be hauled onto her feet. She gritted her teeth, and grunted in pain while she was yanked up, and took stock of the situation. Covered in dust all over, she had blood streaming down her left forearm, her knee and her right hand, which bore the brunt of the shock, was stabbed by 3 stones. Her right hip was grazed through her clothing and began to bloom with a giant bruise.

The Ninja Turtle has a weak stomach for blood. She has a terrible history of fainting at the sight of blood, her own or someone else’s. When she saw all that blood gushing out of her hand, she almost vomitted in pain, fear and disgust. Other runners coming by all asked if she was OK, and a few of them helpfully squirted her wounds with water from their bottles. After a few painful minutes, a parade had overtaken her, and the Ninja Turtle was left all alone.

She looked at her GPS: 28.7 km. The final water stop was on the summit at 30km (a bit farther, since she’d run more than the official distance measured) and the finish at 35.1km. The sun was shining, the butterflies were flitting amidst the mountain flowers, and the Ninja Turtle decided to take however long she needed to finish the race, but there was no way in hell she was going to DNF again.

Sniffling like a baby, she switched gears back down to Tortoise Mode and plodded along, daintily avoiding those stupid stones, singing to herself some silly nonsense to reassure herself that all was fine. When she got to the final water stop she went straight to the first aid van. The man laconically glanced at her, asking “had a little accident, did we?” before looking at her wounds and proceeding to declare they were superficial grazing. He sauntered to the food table, took a bottle of water and poured it over the Turtle’s wounds. The Turtle howled in pain, and he looked bemused. “Surely it’s not that bad?” he said.

The Turtle was very unhappy. In her great huffiness, she departed after washing out her contact lenses, forgetting to eat and drink something. Turns out, there was still another kilometre of climbing before the descent began. BAH.

The Ninja Turtle took a good hour or so to finish the last few kilometres of the race. The descent was steep, the terrain incredibly technical, and she knew that psychologically, she could not afford another fall. Her toenails occasionally reminded her of their misery, but by that stage, the Turtle was in pain all over, that it became a game of rotating her focus on different injuries. Her right hand was bleeding afresh and she could not look at it. On the way back down, she was overtaken by another several dozen runners; on a cliff edge, yielding the path to runners who cannot afford to lose momentum means taking the outside edge of the cliff so they don’t risk slipping and falling off. The Ninja Turtle would stand breathless, letting the others pass, hoping she wouldn’t fall off herself.

A kilometre from the finish line, the Ninja Turtle took out her phone to ring GodzillaPin. The plan was for her to call, so they could arrange to meet somewhere easy to locate each other. After 3 attempts however, the Ninja Turtle gave up. GodzillaPin was not answering. She burst into tears but quickly stopped – it was hard to see the road.

Emerging from the forest trail, the final stretch of the race took the runners along a pebbly stretch of the beach, where holiday-makers were barbecuing and frolicking in the cool water of the lake. Covered in dust, sweat and blood, hobbling over the ridiculously uneven ground strewn with pebbles, the Ninja Turtle must have been quite a sight, hobbling with a grimace. The crowds gathered to cheer her on, and the Ninja Turtle’s heart leapt as little kids came running up to her, demanding high-fives.

Finishing the ordeal in 6h 5m 3s.

Struggling across the finish line.

As the Ninja Turtle crossed the finish line, her GPS read 36.75km in 6 hours 5 minutes 3 seconds.

The results came out later that evening and the Ninja Turtle’s ranking was as follows:

Gun time: 6 hours 5 minutes 29 seconds

33/67 (SEF) Senior women

52/148 Women

371/635 Overall

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To reward herself for finishing the race, GodzillaPin had prepared for the Ninja Turtle a cream, ham and cheese pizza that was bigger than the size of her head.

To reward herself for finishing the race, GodzillaPin had prepared for the Ninja Turtle a cream, ham and cheese pizza that was bigger than the size of her head. She’s earned it, don’t you think?

With this race complete, the Ninja Turtle felt ready to leave behind all the pain and sorrow of the last several months. She’s redeemed herself, and she’s ready to begin on a new page with another year added to her age. Life keeps going, and we’ll just keep on rolling.


Race #5: Boucles de l’Acier

Spring has finally sprung! After two miserable races in miserable weather conditions (both being marathons no less), the Ninja Turtle finally lucked out and got some sunshine for her 5th race of the season, a 10K run in Florange, not far from the Luxembourg border.

This time round, GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle invited their neighbour Mickey Mouse to come along for a fun day out and extra moral support. Secretly, it was the Ninja Turtle’s strategy to make sure that GodzillaPin would be there at the finish line this time, instead of missing her YET AGAIN.

The race started at a local stadium, which was very convenient for warm-ups. Mickey Mouse helped pace the Ninja Turtle to make sure she was going fast enough to get the blood pumping, but not toe the line wasted.

The race started at a local stadium, which was very convenient for warm-ups. Mickey Mouse helped pace the Ninja Turtle to make sure she was going fast enough to get the blood pumping, but not toe the line wasted.

It was a small-town race, and only into its 3rd edition. The name Boucles de l’Acier literally translates to Loops of Steel, as it was 2 laps of 5km, and a reference to the local steel industry. There was a really dreadful smell as they drove into town, which was a cross between dead fish and chlorine. It was little consolation when they got accustomed to the smell though, because there were visual reminders of heavy industry.

How to die of black lung: run a race in a town which pumps out this much smog. Breathe. Enjoy. Keel over.

How to die of black lung: run a race in a town which pumps out this much smog. Breathe. Enjoy. Keel over.

It was a pancake flat course, and with the sun and light wind, conditions were perfect. The Ninja Turtle employed her usual “strategy” of going slow for the first 70% before picking up the pace at the end.

She even had time to stop for a mid-race kiss from GodzillaPin.

She even had time to stop for a mid-race kiss from GodzillaPin.

She finished the race in 54m 13s, which is a PR for a 10K distance. Save for the 7th to 9th kilometres, which were held at a constant of 11.05kph, this was also a perfect negative split run, meaning each kilometre was run progressively faster than the last. She started at 10.49kph and worked her way up to 12.93kph for the last and final 1000m.

Crossing the finish line strong and happy.

Crossing the finish line strong and happy.

There’s an observation that the Ninja Turtle wishes to make. Progress takes time. For some people, it takes a very long time. When the Turtle first started running in September 2012, she’d lost all fitness, and couldn’t imagine running 10km without dying of an asthma attack.

She remembers when she first ran a 10km under an hour, some time after the New Year of 2013. She cried happy tears.

It took her one year and a bit to bring it down to 57m 54s (summer 2014)

This race time of 54m 13s in spring 2015 is a new 10K time for the Turtle.

Undoubtedly, there are lots of people who improve much faster than she does, but there are also others who’ll need more time. The Turtle has no running coach, and isn’t part of a running club. These are not excuses, these are just facts, being stated simply and plainly. It’s to say that whatever your personal circumstances are, whatever your financial or temporal limitations, just work with what you’ve got. It takes determination, discipline, patience and trust to happen.

Also, progress isn’t linear. Sometimes we stagnate, or we regress, but as long as we keep at things and give it all we’ve got, magic will eventually happen.

You’ll just have to check back in a year or so to see improvements with this Turtle (who knows, she may have even upgraded to a Sloth by then).

Arts and Culture

A brief dedication

Although this post is somewhat belated (given the time difference between Sydney and Metz) the Ninja Turtle simply MUST put this out before she allows herself to go to bed.

Sometimes we spend our lives looking for The One. Sometimes, we have already met them, but have yet to realise it (or perhaps, we realise it only when it’s too late). Sometimes, we never find them at all.

A best friend. A person who has always been there for you, in all your darkest moments, as well as your brightest ones. They’re there to lend a hand each time you move houses, helping you decide which items to keep and what junk to leave behind. They’re there to hold your hair out the way as you bend over, throwing up into a bush, having drank a little bit too much on a Saturday night, not judging you. They’re there “to talk”, even if it’s 2am in the morning, and will even come over if you ask them to pick you up for a night drive along the coast, snacking on chocolate biscuits while complaining about life. They’re there to pick up the pieces of your broken heart each time a relationship fails, with all the right words to say, a spare bed if you need to spend the night, and to stop you from sending messages/emails you will later regret.

They’re there to while away an afternoon with, trawling the internet for pointless garbage to giggle at. They’re there to share a lemon curd pie with so you only have to deal with half the guilt (until they decide to throw in a milkshake when all you really want is to curl up and moan in self-pity for eating so much). They’re there to build fabulous memories with, travelling around various countries.

If there is a God, the Ninja Turtle would thank it/her/him for having put Sonic the Hedgehog in her life. Sonic the Hedgehog has been nothing short of a miracle in biped form. He is witty, charming, considerate, intelligent, conscientious, and above all, he’s been a remarkably good friend to the Ninja Turtle. Even moving half a world away has not stopped him from being a source of support and encouragement to the Ninja Turtle.

Five years ago, the Ninja Turtle and Sonic the Hedgehog celebrated their 21st birthday together. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Thanks to the generosity of Father and Mother Hedgehog, there was an open bar and 10kg of chocolate cake. Sonic the Hedgehog said to the Ninja Turtle that very night “you know, it’s all downhill from here”.

Today, the Ninja Turtle has found her reply: perhaps, but true friendship is greater than the force of gravity, and when you have a real friend in your life who’s always got your back, you can reach heights you never believed was possible. And the view from up here, my friend, is almost as priceless as your friendship.

One day the Ninja Turtle will be rich enough to afford skywriting an actual message to Sonic the Hedgehog. For now this will have to do...

One day the Ninja Turtle will be rich enough to afford skywriting an actual message to Sonic the Hedgehog. For now this will have to do…


The Importance of Rest Days

Lately, the Ninja Turtle has been toying around with her running schedule. She recently made a new friend, who conveniently is a fellow runner and lives on the same street as she does, hence, a shining new running buddy (who is not the reluctant GodzillaPin). It’s marvellous to run with an intrinsically motivated runner, but more importantly, it gives her some much-needed female company.

The Ninja Turtle would lay down her life for her pack of male wolves, but there are many times when she misses the company of Ducky, Baby Turtle, or any woman actually.

The Ninja Turtle would lay down her life for her pack of male wolves, but there are many times when she misses the company of Ducky, Baby Turtle, or any woman actually.

As a result of fiddling with her running schedule, however, she exceeded her weekly mileage by about 10% last week. On top of that, she’s found herself doing some back-to-back key runs (LSD + tempo, or tempo + hill sprints anyone?).

Wait a minute… she hears some readers saying. How is that a bad thing? More running = WIN, right?

Well, in the running community, there is something known as Rest Days, or Recovery Days. It’s days when one takes a break from running, to either cross-train or do bugger-all. The idea is to prevent burn-out, overuse injury, and most likely, boredom. Actually, it’s probably to prevent boredom because even runners have a limit to their insanity. At any rate, they are just as important as training, proper nutrition and sleep if one wishes to improve performance. Somewhere along the cheese and cured meats aisle at the supermarket yesterday, the Ninja Turtle felt her legs suddenly turn to jelly. She knew she had to back off the running for a day or two.

Some very diligent people cross-train, but the Ninja Turtle very much prefers to do this instead:

That may or may not be the Ninja Turtle's third glass before 5.30pm. And she is known to eat upwards of 8oz of cheese at a time. Screw the pizzas, bring on the REAL deal.

That may or may not be the Ninja Turtle’s third glass before 5.30pm. And she is known to eat upwards of 8oz of cheese at a time. Screw the pizzas, bring on the REAL deal. In this picture – Gorgonzola, Camembert de Normandie, Jeune Cantal, Ossau-Iraty of the Basque Country and chèvre.

The biggest upside of taking a proper break is maintaining sanity and by extension, motivation to continue running. You know you’ve crossed a line when you start having dreams/nightmares involving running/food. If you have already experienced such debilitating symptoms, the Ninja Turtle prescribes a hot bath, a glass of red wine and a good mystery book, either separately or all together, depending on your ability to multitask.

As for the Ninja Turtle, she started the day foam-rolling, and ever since, she’s been indulging in documentaries of the Hundred Years War, drunk-enrolling in races, drunk-booking accommodations in the proximity of said races, and pissing herself laughing at readers’ comments on The Guardian.

Rest days are necessary. One should come out of a rest day feeling rested, recharged, replenished and raring to go. If not, you haven’t rested enough, in which case, the Ninja Turtle says, take another rest day. In the long run, this small investment of self-care will pay incredible dividends.

Shout-Out: Happy belated birthday to both our dear Swiss Chick and Runner Bean, who turned 29 and 32 respectively, both on the same day. May your birthdays have been beer/wine/cake/pizza-fuelled orgies in which we wish we had participated in.

Arts and Culture, Travel

The Wind in the Willows v2.0

Setting of the Play:

The Yarra River at Fairfield

The Yarra River at Fairfield


GodzillaPin (of course)

GodzillaPin (of course)

The Ninja Turtle (in a supporting role)

The Ninja Turtle (in a supporting role)

Our new friend Ducky

Our dear friend Ducky

And... the elusive, mysterious, sexy Naked Mole Rat

And… the elusive, mysterious, sexy Naked Mole Rat

The Storyline:

Ducky and the Naked Mole Rat were old friends of the Ninja Turtle

Ducky and the Naked Mole Rat were old friends of the Ninja Turtle. After a long time of not seeing one another, they finally got together for a little reunion.

After plenty of fun doing various slightly questionable activities

They went down to the riverside and made a day of it.

They went down to the riverside and made a day of it.

And Ducky made the most of the situation by cracking the whip on GodzillaPin and the Naked Mole Rat. It was less

And Ducky made the most of the situation by cracking the whip on GodzillaPin and the Naked Mole Rat. It was less “row, row, row your boat”, and more “row, row, row, death row”.

All was calm. All was peaceful. The tranquility was remarkable. They saw little ducklings.

Fluffy, fluffy ducklings... duckly duckly fluffings.

Fluffy, fluffy ducklings… duckly duckly fluffings.

They paddled upstream, then floated down stream again gently. They let the currents push them along, bobbing around a bend, when all of a sudden, they heard a child’s piteous wail. It was the most unearthly sounding horror and it shattered the scenic silence that had thus far enveloped the story, save for a brief megaphone announcement calling out for two teenage boys to “come back, your mother wants you to turn around”.

The quartet looked around. They detested being roused from their pleasant reverie of companionable silence. There, not forty yards from their boat, was a family of tourists stuck upon the riverbank, and their boat was wedged into the bank. The young girl was crying to go home. A passing boat carrying a young couple requested: “Can you help those guys out? They are stuck and don’t know how to paddle.”

What followed was rather dramatic. The young couple failed to make much progress paddling upstream against the currents themselves, and were rescued by the two teenage boys who were earlier called back by their mother on the bank. The family stuck on the riverside managed to unwedge themselves with some directions from GodzillaPin. As instructions were called out, it became evident quite quickly that the two men on the paddles could not only NOT work together, they could not even work alone. Something had to be done. And quick.

Yarra River Rescue! (Like Bondi Rescue, only 1000% funnier.)

Yarra River Rescue! (Like Bondi Rescue, only 1000% funnier.)

The Naked Mole Rat and GodzillaPin aimed towards the other boat, and Ducky quickly seized onto the rope. Thus began the heroic efforts of the lads to paddle back upstream with another full-to-capacity boat in tow. They rowed harder than they ever did before, and after five minutes, someone in the group noticed that they had done little more than beat the currents, for they hadn’t budged from the same spot. Another strategy was called for.

GodzillaPin had the most rowing experience in the group, having done it in high school. Hence, he was sent over to the other boat, while one of the men in the other boat had to come over to balance out the rescue boat. This also gave GodzillaPin less weight to carry. The Ninja Turtle and Ducky then took over the paddling to give the Naked Mole Rat a much-needed break. Suddenly, they were sailing along smoothly again.

GodzillaPin was such a good rower that despite there being one of him paddling for 5 passengers, and two of us for 4 on board, he beat the rescue boat to the boat hire point. The family was very relieved, and the patriarch of the family gave every one on the team a handshake. They found the much maligned teenage boys at the platform being told off severely by their mother, with one of them protesting “but we were saving people!” but the mother would have none of it.

Alas, the friends didn’t get to see the Badger, but they sure had one heck of an adventure
This tale will follow them for life; their bonds strengthened once more by shared strife
And the riverbank’s calm thusly restored, we hope our dear readers have not been bored.


Reasons to Travel

Looking for that little nudge to turn your travel dreams into concrete plans (and thus, travel reality)? Look no further! GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle present the following reasons to take two steps to the left of your comfort zone, and visit some place new!

Reason #1: A different landscape.

Reason #1: A different landscape

View from the Brisbane Town Hall’s clock tower – the largest public clock in Australia.

Reason #2: Local art.

Image from the Museum of Brisbane

Light Fantastic exhibition from Expo 88 at the Museum of Brisbane

Reason #3: Local history.

Reason #4: Local food.

If we ate enough of it till we became sick, would be spew up a rainbow?

If we ate enough of it till we became sick, would we spew up a rainbow?

Reason #5: Local vegetation.

A lovely ray of sunlight in the Botanic Gardens.

A lovely ray of sunlight in the Botanic Gardens.

Reason #6: Local sense of humour.

White Christmas in Australia... har har har.

White Christmas in Australia… har har har.

Reason #7: Locals.

Australians - aren't they cute?

Australians – aren’t they cute?

Bonus Reason #8: Friends!

Good to know: For travelers visiting Brisbane, you may be interested to know that the Museum of Brisbane, situated at the Town Hall, is free to visit, and opens from 10am in the morning (we were early and had to wait 10 minutes to enter). Visitors also have free access to a guided tour up the clock tower, although places are limited to 7 persons every 15 minutes.