“Meeting Tracer Tong”; My Trip to Hong Kong

My sister invited me to attend a medical convention with her as to keep her company and support her as she had a poster case presentation from November 24-27.

At first, I wasn’t really into the idea of going, but after her persuasion, along with my parents coercion, and the fact I get to meet 2 of my friends who live there, made me decide to go with her.

Day One



“Meeting Tracer Tong”

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Meeting Tracer Tong is a reference to one of my all time favorite PC games ever, Deus Ex. In there, there is a level in Hong Kong, specifically in Wan Chai streets, where one of the most iconic background music (in my opinion) plays as you find a character named Tracer Tong.

It so happened that the medical convention, the 11th Echo Hong Kong, was being held in Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is in Wan Chai, I couldn’t help but play “The Synapse” (the Hong Kong level background music in Deus Ex) on repeat while I was there.

Like my trip to Singapore alone last September (I also went to Singapore last March with company) I have always been ignored when it comes to “timing”; by this I mean, I was always told to leave the house for the airport way to early. I know that counters usually open 2-3 hours before the scheduled flight, and I do take into account the possible traffic and such, so I could usually calculate the best possible time including all the hindrances that can come from the travel to the airport. Alas, nope, we left the house at 7AM from Pampanga to the airport in Manila.

Now our flight is 2:20PM, take into the regular time it takes to make it to the airport which 2 hours, with a possible hour of traffic, we will be arriving at the airport at 10AM, for which we did, and had at least another hour of waiting before the counter to be opened for our flight… for which we did.

After all is said and done, I have always had something bad to say about Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the lack of efficiency and such, but that was in Terminal 3 that I was already complaining about, yet boy oh boy, Terminal 2 is a different beast altogether.

Lack of seats while waiting for a flight, only ONE opened public restroom at the time, lack of proper dissemination of information regarding changes in flights or gates (I know, I know, I traveled quite a lot when I was younger and more recently, so I know flights and gates are subject to change, but the lack of announcement thru PA or a sign showing there is a change, heck even a change in the monitor, can confuse those first timers who are traveling alone – doubt my sister would have noticed this if she traveled alone), and I can go on and on, but hey, let us save that for another post.

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Needless to say, we got on our flight, but didn’t take off until an hour and thirty minutes after stepping on board… another thing that ticked me off.

Anyways, overall, the flight in Philippine Airlines was fun, could have been better, but we got to Hong Kong safely, and that is all that matters.

Sixteen Degrees Celsius

My friend who lives and works in Shenzen tagged me in a post in Facebook showing the weather is quite cold; as low as 16 degrees Celsius she mentions. At first, I was like, darn it, time to pack in some thick jackets to keep me warm and stuff. Upon arrival and exit from the Hong Kong International Airport, I will admit, it was cold and had to put my jacket on, but after awhile, it reminded me of a regular day in America. It didn’t take me long to adapt to the weather and remove my jacket altogether.

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Finally got to play this officially!

The taxi fare from the airport to our hotel near the convention center in Wan Chai cost us like 50 bucks; it was nearly an hour’s travel from the airport to the hotel, so it wasn’t really that surprising, but nonetheless, still surprising.

Upon checking in, I got to meet up with my good friend, Roberto, whom I first met last September in Singapore during the Formula One race there… he decided to show us  around a bit and take us out to dinner.

Turning Chinese

After a brief tour around our block in Wan Chai and pointing us towards the convention center, he took us out to a nearby restaurant to try the local cuisine; not Chinese food is worldwide, you will always find a restaurant serving such dishes, but to try the AUTHENTIC food is really quite the feast.

We got to catch up, talk about Formula One, and get to talk about our personal lives more. Sadly, since me and my sister had a convention to attend to and Roberto had a flight to catch the next morning, we didn’t really spend the whole night hanging out.

But that is alright, as this proves that Formula One brings different people together, surely, in the future, be it in the States or here in the Philippines, dinner will be on me, Roberto! And we will hang out much longer then.

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Percolate the Mind

After having a delicious dinner courtesy of Roberto, my sister wanted coffee and thankfully, there is a nearby Starbucks right in front of our hotel and we got there for a couple of nice warm coffee; I was already editing some pictures we took with Roberto, and my sister was studying for her poster presentation on Sunday, which is 2 days from that point.

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It is known that there is a delay in my posting of photos since I started my hobby in photography in 2010, so my sister usually reminds me to post, and thank goodness, otherwise no one will see these pics for another week.

Thus, Day 1 ended, and onward to Day 2…

Day Two



Convention Day

This is considered the convention day for me and my sister; we got to the convention center early to prepare her poster and listen to a number of lectures.

The lectures reminded me that I still have a soft spot for my first love in medicine: Cardiology.

My sister took up Cardiology which was her second choice for subspecialization, where Neurology was her first love; my first love was Cardiology and my second is Neurology. As fate would have it, since she is like 7 years older than me, she got to study and train in medicine earlier than me, so she gets to choose her subspecialization first, naturally. She chose Cardiology.

I then targeted Neurology thinking I will still be ultimately training and practicing here in the Philippines, and it would be a nice tandem to have different fields of expertise than being both Cardiologists.

However, I decided to move back to the States, hoping to pass the USMLE for my license there. Now, knowing that, I can go back to Cardiology as my subspecialization, but I already love the thought of being a Neurologist. That still doesn’t stop me from enjoying the lectures as Cardiology was my first love.

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Exploration

After listening to a few lectures, we decided to head back to the hotel to take a nap and such, then explore once again, the nearby areas. This was also a good opportunity to take shots of ourselves using my new Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 lens that I recently got with the thought of using it for future photo projects and future Formula One races.

The Calm Before the Storm

Back in the hotel, my sister is hard at work studying for her presentation, whereas I was hard at work editing the photos earlier in the day and making sure our hotel room doesn’t end up too messy; my sister does not have obsessive compulsive personality disorder (there is a big difference between Obsessive Compulsive Disorder vs Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder… look it up), thus I like keeping things neat and orderly.

Knowing full well we need not wake up early the next day as her presentation is in the afternoon, I slept like a log. This was important as I was meeting one of my great college friends and a friend whom I consider very close, Amanda, right after the presentation. So I need to save up energy for that evening’s exploration and hang out.

Right Here, Waiting Smile, Sister
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Day Three


Meeting Amanda

Day Three, which is Day Two of the convention for us, went by without a hitch; my sister successfully presented her case and poster, and all the stress she had going in is finally gone, and all she can think about is shopping.

Thankfully, Amanda took that into account, so as we met up, she took us to an area where my sister can shop.

After a few strolling around together as a group, my sister wanted to shop more than have dinner, so she went shopping on her own, and Amanda and I had dinner and subsequently strolled the area some more.

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Falling in Love with Photography All Over Again

Amanda and I then strolled around the city and occasionally entered shops to, well what else? Shop. Along the way, laughing and enjoying every bit just like the times where she was still living here in the Philippines where without fail, we would hang out at school or anywhere after school. I missed those days and more importantly, I missed her, and it showed.

I would take pictures of her without knowing as that is usually my style in street photography or any event for that matter; I like taking pictures of people in their natural state… no faking smiles or whatnot. Of course, there are times I asked her to smile for me and I must say, she makes a great model! And I will admit, I have taken a lot of photos of people since 2010, both in regular events or in modeling, but when I saw the photos I took while I was editing, I can’t help but have my breath get taken away.

Maybe it is the fact I haven’t shot in the streets or people for a long time, apart from my trips to Singapore; maybe it is because I missed Amanda, and it was a pure pleasure taking her photos; maybe it was the nice city I was exploring; or maybe it was simply her smile in that one particular photo… but in the end, I am in love with photography again to the point I made a decision to finally upgrade my DSLR after 7 years.

It shows that even if I have a new lens, the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8, my previous lens that I bought 5 years ago is still just as good, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. After getting an upgrade to my DSLR body, I hope to get a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 to complete MY version of the Holy Trinity of Lenses.

Enough of that, enjoy these photos:

When You Shine Brighter Looking Forward...
Take Me Somewhere I Belong

Day Four:


Last Minute Shopping

It is the day we will finally head back home to the Philippines, but my sister still wanted to explore a bit more and shop a bit more, so after making sure we packed everything we needed and checked out from the hotel, leaving our bags at the counter, we made our way to Causeway Bay nearby and shopped.

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In the end, I wasn’t able to get anything I really wanted, but I did stumble upon this cool plushie!

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And finally, after my sister got the stuff she wanted, it was time to head back to the hotel, pick our luggage, and head to the airport.

Til Next Time, Hong Kong!

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On the flight back home, me and my sister had separate seats as she got her plane tickets from a travel agency, whereas I ordered mine online; the flight to Hong Kong, we were lucky to be able to sit together, but alas, on the trip home, we are separated.

I sat next to a nice elderly lady, who was also Filipino, so we chat our way back to the Philippines.

I was also, apparently, labeled by two elderly Chinese couple as the “Go-To-Guy” for asking help when it came to using the inflight entertainment system. I found that very nice that even if they were sitting in the behind me in the aisle, they would reach out to my shoulder and ask me for help. Take note that they both seem to speak much English, but with enough simple sign language, I was able to understand what they wanted, and so I helped them get their inflight entertainment system play the music or the movies they wanted.

Then touch down in the Philippines, I said goodbye to my new found friends during the flight, and eventually, after an hour or two, me and my sister are back home.

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Overall, the trip to Hong Kong was awesome, but I would have loved to explore more of the area; seeing that we were really there for the convention, it was tough to have a vacation state of mind, however, during Day Three and Day Four right before we left, we were able to really appreciate Hong Kong and longed to stay a bit more to see everything else. Of course, there is always next time. And next time, I will go there without any other reason but to see everything else Hong Kong has to offer. So ’til next time, Hong Kong!

Those Hong Kong Lights


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Lost in the Suburbs or so I Think

I may not have that many friends in total, but the number of friends that I do have, I feel are the most real and closest friends I can ever have.

Most of my close friends are from my college days and my post graduate days in medical school. Just yesterday, I finally got to catch up with my closest friend, my brother, in medical school, and obviously, fellow physician, Doc Joed.

This was a long time coming as we have made plans to hang out for months on end, but things happened to make us cancel it all the time.

He is my brother in medical school as we both we from B.S. Biology (though different universities), and we share the same passion for research (experimental more than descriptive), and finally, the 1st letter of our surnames are close to each other in the alphabet that we usually land in the same group for the 4-5 years we were in medical school (5 years if we include post graduate internship), thus it is no surprise we are close like brothers.

Such is life in that planned activities never push through, but spontaneous plans seem to push through by way of sheer adrenaline, hence, when we just decided to hang out in the country’s capital just to roam around the city and malls, we made it happen albeit the gloomy skies that opened up and rained pretty heavy.

Braving the rain, we arrived at our stop, SM North EDSA…

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Yes, I look like a mess.

After lunch, we decided to shop around; as usual, my number 1 priority in shopping would be for my hobbies… action figures, PC parts, etc. The least of my priorities was shopping for new attire, which was Doc Joed’s main priority apparently. Needless to say, he bought a lot of new clothes and such, then with out really thinking much, I bought some clothes too that I found were nice… something you don’t here me say everyday, “I bought new clothes”, as I seldom really do so; I let my mom or sisters take care of that for me as they know my fashion style (or the lack thereof).

After looking around some more the mall, we had the chance to hang out and catch up with one of over very 1st residents that took good care of us and taught us well during our clerkship days, Doc Anna!

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Next was perusing the mall again and also its neighboring mall, Trinoma, looking for at everything and anything we may actually purchase; not to be outdone by my brother, I was on the hunt for a Logitech Driving Force Shifter to add to my ever growing passion of Sim Racing (we can’t have him just spending alone now would we?) and to pair it with my Logitech G920 Driving Force Wheel and Pedals.

Having bought the things we want, fairly satisfied going around the malls, and having caught up with everything that needs to be caught up, we decided it is time to head back home.

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The humble haul: some clothes from Perry Ellis and a Logitech Driving Force Shifter

Honestly didn’t get nearly all the things I was planning to get in this trip, but what matters to me was that I got to see my former mentor/resident, Doc Anna, and finally got to hang out with my bro, Doc Joed. Things like just talking about anything under the sun without having to pretend you’re someone else makes it quite liberating especially in this world right now where you have to think twice what you say (I usually don’t care about thinking twice anyways) lest you want to insult someone.

Looking forward to another hangout/trip like this in the near future; a geek like me, though truly an introspective and less outgoing, should consider seeing more of the world… helps to de-stress…

Anyways, I will most likely make another post about the Logitech Driving Force Shifter just to give my thoughts on it. I will no longer be reviewing my peripherals as in dept as I used to as it is now time consuming and I don’t have the luxury of time since I need to prepare for USMLE and I still have jobs as a physician to give more of my time to.

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Getting knee deep into racing simulators

Alright then!

Til next time! PEACE!

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There and Back Again: A Trip to Singapore

Truth be told, it has been 11 years since my last air travel; it was way back in 2006 when I last traveled to and from America, so I was definitely excited, and a bit confused, while travelling to Singapore a few days back.

I was excited, simply because it has been 11 years since I boarded a plane, and excited because Singapore is one of the countries I have yet to visit, and by golly, I heard great things about it.

I was confused, since I don’t remember how to travel; I don’t remember where to go, what stations to pass by in the airport, and I don’t know the process for me to travel nowadays since I have a dual citizenship (I am both American and Filipino citizen, but only had a U.S. Passport). Luckily, my sister, who is also a physician, and also dual citizen, happened to have traveled to Thailand a month ago, and she got first hand experience when it comes to the extra paper works we needed as dual citizens.

Now, skipping the boring airport procedures, let us begin with me waiting to be board the plane: like I mentioned above it has been 11 years since I boarded a plane, let alone be in another country entirely, and with that thought, I guess I was a little too excited for my own good and wasn’t able to sleep the night before. This lead me to be a bit off the day of the flight, unsure if I can really stay awake during the duration of the flight. It also didn’t help that the trip to the airport didn’t help me sleep either, so here I am, being a wake for effectively 36 hours since I had work the day before, trying valiantly to enjoy my first air flight in 11 years.

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The waiting game…

When it is finally time to board the plane, I was right smack down in the middle of the plan, the middlemost seat, which in theory is the best as most people would say that you’d feel less of the effects of the flight there, of course, I would rather have the aisle seats, more specifically, next to the window, even if in fact, by the time you take flight, you’d see nothing but clouds and the body of water, but hey, I am easily entertained.

Thankfully I sat next to one of our friends also on the trip, who happens to also be my mentor during medschool, so it was cool that I had him next to me for the flight.

Overall, I am happy with the trip, it helped that it was just a short flight of 3 hours, so it was a perfect reintroduction to air flight as I plan to either visit Japan later this year or visit back home in America, also sometime later this year.

My only qualm from my first flight in 11 years is simply I ordered a certain breakfast in flight meal, and they got it wrong, it was tough to have it switched to the right one seeing that I am seated in the middle of the flight, so I let it go, but I made sure on the flight back home, I will have the right meal.

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At Changi International Airport with my sister

And so, we landed in Changi International Airport, and I know that most airports are better than NAIA, but wow, I was impressed by Changi, and all the more impressed when we were on the road; the lack thereof of traffic jams, the cleanliness, the overall beauty of Singapore, scream everywhere. I was blown away.

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Doc Jap showing the way to our chosen hotel as Doc Edwin looks unto the distance

Right off the bat, I will mention that we are here only for 3 days; the main reason we all went here is that my sister and our 2 other friends wanted to catch Coldplay in concert. I, on the other hand, just wanted to go around so I didn’t bother with a ticket. That is not to say I don’t like Coldplay, I do, I have a lot of songs that I like from them, but I am not a concert kind of guy. If it were The Cure, however, I will definitely watch them. I digress.

Being obviously a tourist hot spot, most people understand English, thus making it very easy for me to order food and whatnot, and feel very confident when the time for my sister and friends will inevitably will leave me for the concert. My confidence is further increased when the area, overall, seems to be a safe place, unlike here in the Philippines when the sun goes down, you have to constantly look over you shoulder and be vigilant. I am not trying to ruin the Philippines in terms of safety, but come on, people that live here will know what I mean… don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean.

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Looking for food
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A complete stranger… But I like her getup
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Lunch at the nearby Hawker with Doc Edwin

As the trio set off to line up for Coldplay, I decided to explore. I don’t plan on using the Taxi or anything of the like seeing that I wanna spend less on the commute and more on items, plus it makes it easy for me to see the actual sights and sounds, so to speak.

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Since I play lots of video games that are open world, I was not to worried about getting lost, and again, it helps that everyone speaks English very well. What worried me most was my knee; as you all know by now, I had surgery nearly 3 years ago and I still have difficulty longing long distances and standing for long periods of time. It was just the sheer adrenaline of being somewhere new that kept me going really.

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The weary travelling physician

Sure, I succumbed to fatigue, going in and out of the hotel I was staying in, Premier Inn Hotel, and then heading towards the nearest coffee shop to get a sugar rush in order to resume my exploration; I am a big Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf fan, but sadly, I can’t find any nearby, so I settled for Starbucks, my former love.

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Sugar rush!

After the much needed sugar rush, I am back on the road, exploring on my own. I was this close in getting to Merlion Park by myself, but having air traveled just in the morning and not having enough sleep to back it up, I reached the end of my energy tank, and had to call it a day and head back to the hotel. Overall, I had so much fun exploring on my own, tomorrow surely will be even better.

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Back at it again after my sugar rush

Next day… it started a bit slow, cos we all woke up late. Having washed up and ready to go exploring again, we waited for my former Resident/Mentor when I was but a wee medical clerk, Doc Noe, who has moved to Singapore and is a physician there, so who better to show us around than him, while my sister and 2 other friends, who are also physicians and my mentors, catch up with their colleague. Just 5 physicians hanging out in Singapore.

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Singapore Trip 2017
Singapore Trip 2017

Singapore Trip 2017
Five Physicians in Singapore

Doc Noe then treated us to a nice hearty meal, and as the afternoon was ending, a photo of the former AUFMC IM residents along with their boss/mentor is definitely a must.

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Doc Noe!
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Jollibee!?

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Doc Chan’s Glare
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The gang after shopping at Samsonite since they had a sale
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From L-R: The Boss: Doc Edwin, along with the former IM residents: Doc Deb (my sis), Doc Noe, and Doc Jap

At the evening, we managed to meet up with Doc Jap’s high school classmate who happened to also have moved to Singapore; he also treated us to a delicious dinner and then showed us around.

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Singapore Trip 2017

Singapore Trip 2017

Singapore Trip 2017

Singapore Trip 2017

Singapore Trip 2017

Though we didn’t get to visit places like Merlion Park and the like, Orchard Road was pretty neat by itself; lot’s of places to eat, shop, or simply look around. I was on the lookout for some action figures so it isn’t surprising that when I arrived in Singapure I would go straight to the action figure shops, sadly, no Macross figures in stock at that time. Maybe next time…

Singapore Trip 2017

Singapore Trip 2017

Singapore Trip 2017

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Doc Deb, my sis!
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Doc Chan… Me… obviously

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Singapore Trip 2017

Singapore Trip 2017

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The doctor…  the otaku
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Looking for my waifu

As the night turned into early morning, we wanted to see Mustafa since it is supposedly a 24 hour lot for electronics and whatnot, but we were just too tired already; we headed back to the hotel and of course, the packing comes next. Now since I didn’t really get to buy anything interesting this time around during my visit, it was relatively easy packing, especially when my sister bought herself a Samsonite luggage as pictured above. For my friends’ souvenirs, I decided to just buy a lot of souvenirs in the airport later in the morning.

Finally, had just about enough sleep for the trip back home. After a quick bite to eat, it is straight to the airport and on the way back home to the Philippines. After 2 and a half days away from home, I must say, I was already getting home sick, hence, I was very eager to hop on that plane and get home.

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Manila bound… isn’t it obvious by my happy face?

Upon arriving back home, the first thing that greeted me was the wall of humidity and heat; Singapore wasn’t really at its coldest at that time we visited, but boy oh boy, nothing can beat the heat of the Philippines. The next thing I immediately miss about Singapore is the free flowing traffic; back here, man, the traffic jams are a stuff of legend.

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HOME… One of my fave pics my sis took of me

I don’t know if it was apparent in the post, but I was slightly hinting that I am planning to go back to Singapore later this year, for I am a Formula 1 fan for 21 years now, and I heard that it may be the last Singapore GP in F1 for the foreseeable future (not yet sure), I jumped at the chance of finally watching a race live in person. I will also be traveling on my won for the first time in my life, so it all the more, it will be a special experience.

I have yet to book my flight, book a hotel, or even buy a ticket for F1, but I’m pretty much sure about this trip, just have to finalize the seating (gotta find good seats, of course) and ask Doc Jap’s friends what hotel to book into, and we are ready for the race!

Anyways, overall, my 1st flight in 11 years, thankfully a short one, and thankfully a beautiful place like Singapore to visit, was a fun and well worthwhile one. I am not much of a traveler, but honestly, apart from going back to Singapore for the race and going to the States to see my home again, I plan to go to Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan in the near future. Somehow, visiting Singapore whet my appetite for traveling. Maybe this geek should see more of what the world has to offer…

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After 11 years, I got to travel again…

Til next time! PEACE!

P.S.

I will add a few of my favorite shots I took with my DSLR (you can click on the title/caption to be linked to my Flickr:

The Other Side
The Other Side
The Daily Grind
The Daily Grind
The Light on Route 76
Light on Route 76
One Small Step
One Small Step
The Connection
The Connection

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