Monday, July 28, 2014

Ironman Zurich

Yesterday was my 3rd time volunteering as course marshal for Ironman Zurich. This gets more and more inspiring every time. Especially the part towards the end where you see real heroes emerge, people who finish in 12+ hrs, who are really pushing their limits, are going through mind-and-body struggle and winning. They are the real winners of Ironman. This year I met a couple of people who had come all the way from India for this. I cannot imagine training for an event like this in the heat and pollution of an Indian city, and after that coming to a cold climate like Zurich to run. There was a Japanese guy who walked most of the marathon with a cramped leg. Every time he passed us, he had a goal to make it to finish line by 10:30pm, and I was sure he is going to make it. That is true will winning over body. There was also the usual stream of 50+ years old who can put all of us who are half their age to shame. Many of the athletes you can see were running in a trance, not caring about form or time, but just putting one foot in front of other to reach the finish line. There were of course few graceful exits who had done all they good and decided to give up, and few broken hearts who did not want to give up but were just not going to make it in time. Every year I see this, my resolve to try something like this becomes stronger, right now I am to the point where I want to try the olympic distance which is ~1/3rd of the full Ironman distance, though not with Ironman brand because I clearly have an issue with their brand name :)

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

South America trip

It was my dream to do a 3-month trip to South America. Somehow over the years I covered most of what I wanted to in 3 different trips :) So not sure if that dream is fulfilled or it was about 3-month long trip! Here is what I ended up doing -

Peru: April 2006

This was very early, we had just started hiking / backpacking, no concept of trip yet!
Flew to Lima, and then to Cusco.

  • Stayed there 2 days, saw local site, should have stayed a bit longer to acclimatize.
  • Did the Inca trail - 4 day trek
  • Spend a day in Lima - had trouble finding vegetarian food.

Ecuador: July - August 2010

With some more travel experience under our belt. This trip happened due to a conference.
12 days

  • Started in Quito, spend one day walking around.
  • Took local bus to a place called Chucchilan to do a somewhat famous circuit. Loved our little hostel.
  • Did some day hikes there, hiked to Lake Quilotoa at 14000ft. Loved the place.
  • Public transport back to Latacunga and then off to climb Cotopaxi. It was a bad time to climb and we were hit by worst snow storm of the season.
  • Then off to a small town called Mindo at start of cloud forest. Stayed at Hotel Ruby or something, little old house with MANY dogs, but loved it!
  • Spent some chilled days there - Rappelling down a waterfall, Ziplining, seeing butterfly century and just walking around. Very relaxing.

Chile - Bolivia: December 2013

This was a consolation 1 month trip instead of 3
  • Started in Santiago, spent a day and then flew to Punta Arenas, then over to Puerto Natales by bus
  • Stayed at Erratic Rock, awesome hostel before start of W circuit in Torres del Paine
  • 5 day 5 night backpacking there, cut short 1 day due to weather.
  • Came back to Puerto Natales and stayed extra day at Erratic Rock as it was just so cool!
  • Over to Punto Arenas. Stayed at some hostel.
  • Took a 1-day trip to Isla Magallenes to see Penguins. Awesome, turned out to be great day. Also saw dolphins on the way.
  • Then off to Santiago, stayed couple of days there, walking tour, cooking in hostel, chilling, making further plans. Skipped rest of Chile to go to Bolivia which sounded more lovely.
  • Flew to La Paz.
  • Spent couple of days there.
  • Did a day hike to Condorini mountain for acclimatization with a local guide we found walking around in La Paz. Guide was great.
  • Change of plans here, to avoid any Christmas complications, went to Uyni first instead of Copacabana with local bus to do salt flats tour. Going to lake would have been better for acclimatization.
  • Booked the tour at Uyni, turned out to be quite good, did not need to book ahead.
  • Stayed at rufugio near Licancabur at end of tour to climb the mountain.
  • Climbed the mountain (with a terrible guide)
  • Driven back to Uyni.
  • Took bus back to La Paz.
  • Spend few other chilled days here - loved La Paz
  • Bus to Copacabana / Lake Titicaca.
  • Loved the lake, spend couple of days here just chilling, doing nothing, eating good food.
  • Back to La Paz, flight to Santiago, and then return.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Finally gave into fad for shoes

After a long time resisting the fad for five-finger shoes, I finally gave in and bought these (yes in pink!) -
Lets see if there any truth in all the "awesomeness" of these shoes or chappal or whatever they are.

Also spend the weekend doing touristy things - eating at interesting places, all recommended by locals -
Shana Thai
Sakoon Indian
Banana Leaf Malasian
Madras cafe
(2 more to come before the weekend is over)

But I earned it all by going for a 6 mile run on Stevens Creek trail and then hike up Mission Peak ~6miles RT, 2000ft elevation gain.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fastest zip through US immigration

Today I was very pleasantly surprised by US immigration, a totally rare event. I was asked just one question - which I answer wrong anyway. What type of visa you have - I said H1 though I have a B1 :), old habits. Then just right hand fingerprint and photo, and you are done! In general it felt like line was moving quite fast, perhaps they are learning from Europe! Of course Switzerland still holds the record for efficiency, out of plane and on the train in under 20 minutes!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Me, snow and love

I love snow, I am scared of it, I still love it. Any day I getup and see the rooftops covered with snow, it makes for a great day. This year winter in Zurich did not disappoint, we had feet of snow in December before I left, and there is still some on ground now, and this is just middle of winter. It feels so awesome to be covered in overcoat, gloves, scarf, hat and winter shoes and go out walking in snow with temp under 0C as if its just another day. I am still not so comfortable walking on snow, but its perfect here where elfs always come in the morning and anytime after snow to clear the walkways. Looking forward to doing some snowshoeing this year, and maybe finally take out crampons to try something.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

In US again

So back in US, just visiting, and have a different prospective now. 2 years in Europe and now I can almost see why Europeans keep complaining about US. Still love the office and people, but its outside that I am starting to see differences. People's habit of waste has not changed, and I always disliked it, and dislike it even more now that I can see its not a rich country thing. Like Europeans, they can also learn to reduce waste.
But its other things, like yesterday just sitting in office shuttle and looking outside, everything felt bland. Its like houses had no character, one dabba after other, such a far cry from flower covered houses in Switzerland where each house has its own design. Of course we live in a apartment building there also, but still its somehow made in such a way that it appears pleasing. The colours are so completely missing from landscape here.
Then comes the food. I had always complained about food here, but now it just feels even more bland. No vegetables have any taste, everything feels so heavy, full of idk what, but definitely not taste and nutrition. Its so hard to make healthy choices here, can't just each fresh veggies. People say keeping away from wheat is hard in Europe. I say the opposite. Its much harder here because nothing else really taste like anything. I made the mistake of taking what they call cottage cheese at breakfast the other day, and it literally tasted like cardboard! No wonder I never liked cheese here. I did not know what cheese was! The only cheese they can do is string cheese, yum!
Still a trip to US office is always very refreshing, make you believe in life and friendliness again. People are so nice and chatty :). Starting from shuttle bus driver who wished me good weekend, to car rental pickup driver who told me to drive safe and have fun. The girl at car rental this morning, told and asked my whole life history because we were both in Redmond at some point. She was so nice and friendly, that it made my day, something that can happen only in US.