Only a few more days and I get to visit the beautiful country of Japan, a country I have always dreamed of visiting since I was a kid; I have always been fascinated by the culture, the history, I love reading manga, watching anime, playing games, collecting action figures, and being overall weird, thus wanting to visit Japan shouldn’t come at a surprise.
I may only be visiting Nagoya and Suzuka this time around, because by the above photograph, it is obvious I am going to Japan for the FIA Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix held at the legendary Suzuka Circuit; like the country of Japan, I have always dreamed of visiting the Suzuka Circuit ever since I was a kid, because of the memorable title deciders that took place there in 1998 and 2000, where we see Mika Hakkinen of McLaren Mercedes vs Michael Schumacher (arguably my favorite driver of all time, with Kimi Raikkonen a close second) of Ferrari (my favorite team of all time) duke it out in the 18 turns of the circuit. Even before that duel, we have duels of Alain Prost of McLaren Honda and later Ferrari vs Ayrton Senna of McLaren Honda during the 1988-1990 seasons being yet another title decider between the 2, obviously, I wasn’t able to watch this being born on 1989, so the former 2 seasons between Mika and Michael are the ones I remember from my childhood and instilled my dream to visit the track one day.
Truth be told, the Japanese Grand Prix was supposed to be the very first Formula 1 Grand Prix I will ever attend, but I chose Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit last year to become the actual first race I ever attended; this is largely due to the fact that early last year, there were plans not to renew the contract with Formula 1 to keep the event in the calendar. Upon arriving in Singapore, I was informed that they then arrived at an agreement to keep Singapore in the racing calendar.
It may sound that I wasn’t happy that the Singapore Grand Prix became my first grand prix ever attended, when in fact, I was ecstatic; I may have wanted Japan to be my first race to ever attend, but Singapore had this special atmosphere, and I surely enjoyed my visit to the country and race. I wouldn’t trade that feeling and experience for anything else.
Now that I will fulfill yet another childhood dream, albeit now being the second race I ever attended, I can’t help but feel blessed, happy, and excited.
Much like last year in Singapore, I know I will have a great time exploring, although only in the Nagoya and Suzuka area this time around; I will be more prepared for the race weekend since I learned so much from Singapore; and I am ready to meet fellow Formula 1 fans from different walks of life, either supporting the same team and driver or not, it is the sport that we are passionate about in the end that will forge friendships that will last – again much like last year where I made new friends that may not share the same love as me for Ferrari but do love Formula 1 and we knew from that point we will be great friends and still are in touch today.
The experience and friendships in the end will be the ultimate win for me if in the event Ferrari will pull the same unfortunate result in the last race I attended.
So it seems I wasn’t able to blog while I was in Singapore, but can you blame me? I was having way too much fun! I got to see Formula 1 (F1) in person after being a fan for 21 years! I got to travel to Singapore and explore the beautiful country all by myself!
Instead, I will make a long blog post to summarize my entire trip!
But in a word, my whole trip, the experience, was “magical”…
“…Fly me to the moon”
I was tensed to say the least; I couldn’t, for the life of me, sleep the night before my flight due to simply being excited, but of course, being tensed as this is my first ever trip outside the country alone; I usually travel with family or friends outside the country, so this marks a very important point in my life… something to tick off the bucket list – to travel alone and feel in control of your entire trip.
It sounds typical on paper, something taken for granted especially for long travelers who travels alone frequently, but for me, it is a big deal; will I know where to go? Will I know what to say? Did I pack everything I need? Those questions loom inside my head as we inch ever closer to the airport.
Funny to note, that my dad told me, my mom, and our driver, to leave the house for the airport a tad too early; you see, I live in Angeles City, Pampanga, the airport is in the heart of Manila… going to Manila from my home is long enough, but having to weave our way inside to get to the airport is another thing entirely. Thus, the need to leave for the airport at an early time, but my dad told us to leave too early, that I managed to arrive at the airport at 3am, and my flight is still 7:40am, making the check in counters closed for my flight as of that moment.
Needlessly to say, after patiently waiting for the check in counters to open for my flight, thankfully I did the online check in and such for my specific ticket, that I was able to cut through most of the line as we have designated counters for those passengers that decided to purchase their tickets online and check in online.
Immigration was the longest part of the entire airport procedure, at least here anyways, in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA); they really need to sort that out to be more efficient, as later on this post, I will talk about how I love the Changi International Airport in Singapore.
Finally, after going through immigration unscathed, I found my gate, and had a very quick breakfast before heading towards the aforementioned gate and play the waiting game.
Not long after waiting in the designated gate, it was time to board. See yah later, Philippines, and see yah in a bit, Singapore!
Touch Down, Singapore!
Upon arriving at Changi International Airport, even technically this is my 3rd time here (1st when I 1st visited here last March and subsequently the 2nd time is when I came back here), I am still amazed at the efficiency; as soon as I arrived, got off the plane, I found myself done with immigration and picked up my carry on luggage without any hassle whatsoever. I then proceeded to get my taxi, had a great conversation on the way to my hotel, even joked how I brought the rain from the Philippines, because it started raining pretty hard while we were making our way to my hotel.
After getting dropped off, I then checked in to my room, thankfully my 1st time using Agoda was successful, however, I actually checked in a tad too early and had a surcharge on my check in payment. But I really didn’t care anymore, I was in Singapore! I managed to get here by myself, and I am now in my hotel room, resting up a bit, then plan to get lunch and then explore!
The Gardens by the Bay
After a hearty meal, a quick nap, a nice warm shower, it was time to explore; I wanted to visit Gardens by the Bay and simply have dinner there in a place called Satay by the Bay, which is technically still a hawker area filled with a variety of food not just satay, but we will get into that later. Take note that F1 had 2 Free Practice Sessions, for which I decided to skip on both so I can see more of the city.
I wanted to have live updates on my Twitter and Facebook, but to my dismay, my roaming, for which I was ASSURED of being activated by my service provider, well, let’s just say Murphy got his way and I didn’t have roaming.
That still didn’t stop me from taking photos with my phone, and heaven forbid, take selfies; I normally don’t take selfies, but hey, this is my 1st trip alone and I want to chronicle it as much as possible, even if it means me taking tons of selfies.
I arrived at the Gardens a little past 6PM and a bit of lack of foresight by me; I wanted to see 3 areas, namely, the Skyway, the Flower Dome, and the Cloud Forest. I went for the Skyway first as a I heard the queue is quite long, but what I should’ve done first was buy tickets for the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest before heading to the Skyway, as when I am thru with the Skyway, I can still visit the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest as those observatories are still open to a certain hour. Sadly, when I was thru on the Skyway, I headed straight to the ticket booths, but they were closed. Sad panda…
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time in the Gardens; I still had an absolute blast even without visiting the other 2 observatories. Plus it gives me a reason to visit the Gardens again when I am in Singapore in the future. In fact, while I was in queue for the Skyway, I was in prime position to watch the light show they usually display at that certain hour. It was fantastic. Heck, even when I was on the actual Skyway, the light show was still ongoing, so it was perfect timing in a way.
I then thought it is time to have dinner, thus I followed the signs to Satay by the Bay. However, I am not kidding when I said the signs led me in circles! I was going around in circles at least 3 times until I decided to just forego the signs and look at the site map. After many more steps, this time towards the right direction, I made it to Satay by the Bay.
Now, unlike any other hawker around Singapore, the prices here are a bit high. Makes sense as it is inside the Gardens area. I must say, it was a great way to cap off my 1st day back in Singapore: I got to make it here in one piece, got to go up the Skyway, see the famed light show in the Gardens, took lots of photos, and had a lovely, simple dinner, in a gorgeous area with a breathtaking backdrop. What more can I ask for?
Merlion and Beyond!
Day Two started a bit slow for me; I woke up around 11AM… It didn’t help that I slept past 2AM due to sheer excitement and happiness. I got a quick lunch and then started to plan out how to go to Merlion Park.
My lack of foresight reared it’s ugly head once again! I forgot that my F1 tickets can allow me to use the trackside as a shortcut to Merlion Park! I hold tickets that can let me go in near the hotel where my taxi dropped me off, which Gate 3A, and then go towards Gate 6 inside the trackside, and then emerge at Merlion Park. No sweat!
But instead, I did sweat, a lot, just to reach Merlion Park, and boy was my face red when I found out Gate 6 was just in front of Merlion… Ah well.
Needless to say, I think it was great that I didn’t bring my F1 tickets at this time so I can see the other side of the city while making my way to Merlion Park. I wouldn’t have seen the everyday life in the city otherwise. So always look on the bright side of things, and indeed, in the end, I was thankful I didn’t use the shortcut.
Reaching Merlion Park and taking photos of the Marina Bay Sands and the actual Merlion itself, was worth the entire walk to reach the area. I was able to mingle with other tourists and, more importantly, fellow F1 fans who were more than happy to wear the colors supporting their teams and drivers.
I wasn’t wearing my colors at this point in time as I am saving them for the qualifying session later that night and the race the very next night. But I still felt like one of the F1 fans, spending time looking at the beautiful Singapore and what if has to offer while waiting for the F1 sessions to begin. Bliss.
“Making my dream come true!”
Finally, the moment arrived: I will watch my VERY FIRST F1 Qualifying Session after being a fan of this wonderful sport for 21 years. I was teary eyed. I can’t believe that it was happening. And now that it happened, I still can’t believe I was able to watch the F1 race weekend in person.
In fact, the day before the Qualifying session, I even made a long post in Facebook, emphasizing how this is a dream come true:
“This is going to be a long post… LOL
Twenty-one years in the making; the very first race I ever watched on television was the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix, where I saw a red car seemingly flying through Circuit de Catalunya on wet weather conditions. I then found out that that red car was the Ferrari F310 driven by the legendary Michael Schumacher. I became a fan of the team, the driver, and the sport ever since.
Other people would say my love for Formula One is an obsession, but I say it is PASSION. Unlike other sports, it was serendipity how I found out about Formula One; I didn’t have any external influences, thus I felt this was a sport that was mine. It was personal. Coupled the fact that I love cars prior and what kid never loved the red cars… the Ferrari.
Wanting to know more of the history of the sport, I delve deep into the lore dating back to the days of Juan Manuel Fangio; wanting to know the technology of the cars each year, that I can tell the era of the Formula One car and what makes them unique in that generation; trying my best not to miss a race each season since 1996, that I can always reference a race in my discussions with my other Formula One friends or forums.
So huge is my passion for the sport that I was that kid that would build Formula One cars out of Lego; I’d draw them on my notebooks; each time before going to bed, I’d imagine I was driving a Formula One car.
I was that kid that didn’t want to play arcade racing games like Need for Speed or Ridge Racer, rather I wanted to play racing games that deals more of the discipline and realism of the sport and cars. I was the one that learned how each component of the car needs to be tweaked in order to have the best balance just to shave of one thousandths of a second in Gran Turismo, F1 Career Challenge, rFactor, and other simulators (I am currently into Assetto Corsa and F1 2017).
And I was that kid that always dreamt of attending a race weekend in person.
Now that I am actually going to watch a Formula One race in person this weekend, I am looking forward to the actual spectacle of the sport, the rivalries in the race track, the finesse of each driver lap in and lap out for 61 laps, the camaraderie shared with strangers, throwing away political, racial, and spiritual differences, just to enjoy the sport we all love. And most of all, I am looking forward to fulfilling the dream of the 7-year-old me of watching a race in person.”
Much like the day before for which I skipped the Free Practice Sessions, I decided to skip on Free Practice 3, but still arrived at the track early so I can see the attractions, take photos of the area, try some of the simulators and games and whatnot.
Upon arriving, it was… all I can ever have dreamed of and more! I tightly secured area, with very friendly and knowledgeable staff to usher us around, friendly fellow fans who are not afraid to where their colors in support of their teams and drivers and who are not shy to ask help to take photos of them and are more than happy to take photos of you…
The attractions, both weird and F1 related, but is, what children nowadays say, “Instagram Worthy” – I don’t have Instagram, so I didn’t use that term in real life. Lots of merchandise booths for which I was able to buy an extra Kimi Raikkonen shirt to add along my 2 Scuderia Ferrari team shirts and a hat that I ordered prior to going to Singapore; F1 simulators, that to my chagrin, I wasn’t able to practice F1 2017 with my wheel and pedal set which were identical in the actual simulator on track – I was 10 seconds off the pace, I could have a better lap time if I practiced, were allowed to turn off both Traction Control and Anti Brake Lock System, and switched the Transmission to manual. But ah well.
There are a lot of hawker style eateries all around the track in different zones, and I love the idea of very limited seats and tables which forces one to make new friends by asking if one can sit with them; I made many friends while getting a bite to eat that are fans of different teams and drivers, but we didn’t make it hard on ourselves and simply had a mature conversation about the sport we love.
Unlike other F1 races, Singapore also has live concerts, but I was not there for that, I was there for the sport, thus I simply forego such concerts.
Thus, the green light signals the start of the Qualifying Session; as the cars are now powered by a V6 hybrid engine, they don’t scream as much as the previous years when they still used V12, V10, or V8 engines, but get close enough to the track, they can pound on the ear drums. I didn’t use any ear plugs, as I was able to tolerate the sounds of the V6 hybrid engines.
I was at awe, took some good shots, others not, but I wanted to concentrate on the session as much and lesser on taking photos. However, with that said, I did take enough to keep for memories. And my Day 3 below, you will notice that I have not taken a lot of shots during the race, except the end of the race, as I was really into the experience of watching my first ever race, plus an unfortunate event in the start of the race left a foul taste in my mouth that I just wanted to watch the rest of the race and not take too many pictures.
As the session reached Qualifying 3 (Q3), I wasn’t really expecting Ferrari to do well since Red Bull seems so strong the entire weekend and the practice sessions. Raikkonen manged 4th position (P4), and that was actually a good thing after he was struggling to get into grips with his car during practice, but the best part was his team mate, Vettel, getting pole position (1st position/P1)! Now that is how we cap off our first ever F1 Qualifying Session in style! Seeing Ferrari and Vettel on top! I was in cloud nine!
Again, the maturity of the crowd made it easy to cheer for your favorite team, as no one will give you a hard time if you support their rivals. I can hear fellow Ferrari fans cheering and I can’t help but cheer with them as the Qualifying Session was ending, cheering (to no avail, since Vettel can’t hear us in the car) as he passes the grandstand we were all sitting in, and shouting in jubilation and in unison when Vettel was officially in pole position. Such bliss. Great feeling indeed. And a memory I will keep in my heart forever as this was my first Qualifying Session ever. There may be other races I will attend in the future, but this is my first. And will always be special.
The most difficult part was actually going back to the hotel; I was not to keen on using the metro in Singapore as I have never used it before, and I will not try something new in a different country, so I rather look for a taxi. My mistake was I decided to exit thru a different gate from where I entered and was far from the usual taxi stand. Needless to say, I walked a mile or so just to find a taxi, and thankfully, unlike the taxi drivers here in the Philippines, you feel very safe taking a taxi late at night in Singapore. And needless to say, I got home to my hotel safe.
I was too high on the experience that I had to calm down in order to sleep. I was to meet with my mentor and friend. Doc Noe, the next day before I head to the track for the race. But alas, I fell asleep 4AM, and as I will mention in the Day 3 section below, Doc Noe and I met in the afternoon, giving me time to sleep til 11AM. And then the race after my meeting with Doc Noe to cap off the day and my overall Singapore trip.
“One Good Day Comin’ Up!”
Day started slow for me, waking up at 11AM; eventually had to take a warm bath, quick lunch, and meet up with my friend and mentor, Doc Noe.
We honestly had no idea what to do or where to go during our hangout, so Doc Noe decided to show me Sentosa, which in fact, is one of the 3 places I wanted to see so bad: 1. being Gardens by the Bay, 2. being Merlion Park, and 3. being Sentosa; having seen the 1st 2 places, without him knowing that it was my 3rd location I would want to visit, he took me there.
I finally tried out the buses around Singapore, and technically, it isn’t difficult, but I always go by the rule: if I am unfamiliar with how one thing works or goes by, I won’t try it on my own just yet, especially if I am not from Singapore at all. Thus I didn’t try the bus or the metro around the city, only relying on taxis to get me to and from certain locations.
Upon arriving near Sentosa, we had a short stop at a local mall there to find some Ervin’s Salted Chips for my sister and some Old Town Coffee for my other friends. The former, according to Doc Noe, would usually be sold out, and lo and behold, it was! I am not interested in trying it, I was just buying it for my sister, but I was just wondering what in the world did they add in it to make it so addicting for other people? It will still be a mystery to me in the end.
Having gotten what I needed, and looked around inside the mall, we then headed out to Sentosa by foot.
It was pouring at that time, and as a F1 fan, I was already thinking how will this affect the race. But until the race that night, I will just enjoy Sentosa as much as I can.
Sadly, I didn’t get to see everything in Sentosa, because even if it is it’s own little island, it is still a large area to explore. I saw the interesting portions of Sentosa, thanks to Doc Noe, and was told that there are a lot more to see in Sentosa. This along with my failed attempt to see the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome in the Gardens by the Bay, may warrant another visit to this lovely country some time soon.
As we are making our way back to my hotel, we took the metro, which gives me another option after the race, since the night before, I had to go end to end to find a taxi stand. As mentioned above, I usually don’t try anything new without enough research or have someone guide me, such as the case of riding the bus in Singapore, and now in this case, riding the metro to my hotel.
After all that, had to say “see yah later” to my good friend and mentor, Doc Noe, as I needed to prepare for the race, hence we didn’t end the hangout with a meal or so. I had to rush, because I was one of the selected few to be interviewed by some F1 representatives on my current experience of the race weekend and what I think would be a welcome addition or change for future race weekends around the world. So the clock was definitely ticking on me.
“Rain on my Parade”
Upon arriving once again on the trackside, I can see what the earlier rain has done: the rubber on the track itself that was laid down by the cars, has been washed out; the hawker areas on the open grass fields have become muddy; and the chilly feeling that it would rain again later in the race, as opposed to clear skies the night before.
I mentioned that some F1 representatives wanted to interview us, the select few, but unfortunately, the rain made it hard for them to interview and record the interview. So, they informed us, instead, that they would send us questions vis email and we would still get our incentives. Yes, I was given a certain amount of Singapore Dollars thru PayPal. Talk about getting something in return for trying to improve the sport you love. All this, on my 1st ever race weekend. Wow.
Now that I had all that done, I was making my way to my seat in the Bay Area Grandstand, suddenly, the heavens opened up, and a downpour ensued. Is this a rain on my parade?
“Five Red Lights Off, Two Red Cars Off as Well”
Along the way to my seat, I was lucky enough as the downpour occurred, I was just near another merchandise shop, thus I ordered what they call “race weekend survival kits”, basically, it has a raincoat and some earplugs. I find it funny it being named survival kit when it only has those 2 items.
Wore it, and had a lot of strange looks, not because of a grown (figuratively) man wearing a clear raincoat, slightly oversized for him, but had a lot of strange looks, because they also needed it. Along the way, I was approached by males and females, all ages, from every walks of life, asking me where to get one, because apparently, they couldn’t find it, and like me, wouldn’t let the rain defeat them from enjoying the race. This is another example of the camaraderie within the race track amongst the fans. It wasn’t much, I just had to point out the proper booths, but to hear them sincerely saying thank you, was music to my ears and nearly in comparison to those times my patients say thank you.
Thus! I finally reached my seat, waiting patiently for the race to start, hoping the rain wouldn’t get any worse that it was.
There it is… the screen in front of our grand stand seats showed the start/finish straight, and finally, 5 red lights illuminated one by one (well, there are 2 lights per column, so 10 red lights in total, but yeah, whatever, we usually say 5 red lights… deal with it.) and when of them lit up… and finally all of them turned off… signalling the start of the race!
As the 5 red lights turned off… I saw 2 red cars… crashing out.
The worse case scenario for my 1st ever race weekend actually happened! A rare double DNF (Did not finish) for both Ferrari cars! And the first time in history, not a single Ferrari finished a lap. I was like. What. The. Hell.
But that is the nature of the sport I watch. You can’t always win them all, and in fact, both cars may not always be there when you actually go and watch a race in person. Just a fact of life. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the remainder of the race. I stayed behind to watch the whole thing, making friends again with strangers, and made a new buddy that I might meet up again in a future race! He was my seat mate, Robert is a Mercedes fan, but like every other F1 fan, we both respect each other’s support of opposing teams, and won’t say anything bad otherwise; again, this shows how it is easy to be in a F1 race, wearing your colors, and not be insulted for the team or driver you support.
One of the main reasons why I chose the Bay Grandstand seats, even if it is technically slow part of the track (but hey, it makes it easy to take photos of the cars!), but the fact that it over looks the body of water and it is quite the show with fireworks as made evident by my photo I took.
Finally… it was time to make my way back to the hotel and pack. For it was time for me to come back home to the Philippines in less than 12 hours from that point.
Arriving at the hotel, I had to lay down my F1 gear and just had to stand back and look at them. The result wasn’t what I wanted, but the experience… not just the race, but traveling alone, exploring Singapore alone… I didn’t think I would be able to do so.
Then of course, the thought that I finally made the 7 year old me’s dream come true was and still is difficult to fathom. In fact, 2 weeks or more have passed, but I am still in pure shock and delight that I as finally able to watch the sport I love. Not that many people can really say that. Sure, there are season ticket holders for NBA, NFL, etc, but the majority still, just watch in the comfort of their own home. So this was really something for me.
Done packing up, making sure I didn’t leave anything important, double checked my booking and my passport, and finally took a good warm shower… It was time to sleep… Or so I thought…
Making the Most of my Trip
I still went out, looking around the beautiful side of the city I was in, knowing that in a few hours, I will be leaving it again. I wanted to just make the most of this trip.
Went around and found a quaint little area for some dumplings with Coke of course, and then I was out on my feet again, looking at the rest of the city near my hotel.
It was serene… calming… but at the same time, saddening knowing that this beautiful city and I will have to separate as I have to make my way home to the Philippines. But hey… I can always come back.
“Thank You, Singapore…”
Rough time trying to sleep after packing my stuff for the most part, double and triple checking my documents/passport for traveling back home, making sure I haven’t left anything, I was, like the night or morning before, too high from the experience, albeit, seeing both Ferrari cars crashing out without even completing a lap.
Decided to head out of the hotel again just to get a quick snack and maybe just look around the area near my hotel as I am just hours away from going back home.
I fell asleep, back inside the hotel room of course, around 4AM and had to get up around 6AM so I can get breakfast and head to the airport really early. Again, like in NAIA, I rather be early and wait in Changi International Airport rather than rushing. Also, I needed to get my friends some souvenirs, thus I had to make a mad dash to get keychains.
Again, I am very impressed by the airport here, so efficient and I had no problems whatsoever checking in and getting through the immigration and security. As soon as I arrived in the airport, the sooner I was done with checking in and I found myself waiting beside my designated gate to open. And as soon as my gate was open, I found myself inside the plane as the waiting wasn’t all that long.
And as the plane was taking, I can only look at the nearest window (as I gotten older, I rather sit next to the aisle so I can easily go to the comfort room) and I can only say to myself… Thank you, Singapore. Thank you.
30 GO TO 10”
As I gotten home, or even on the way home, as my mother and our driver picked me up from the airport, I anticipated the traffic jams and everything else wrong here in the Philippines as opposed to the very regulated Singapore. The crazy bumper to bumper traffic jams, coupled with the heat that wasn’t helped by the little drizzle adding to the humidity, the ill maintained roads and buildings, the overall lack of cleanliness and pollution, and as I gotten home and switched on my PC only to find out the net is down… Everything is just the opposite of Singapore. But in spite of all those… you know what? It is still home. Philippines is still my home (Along with America, of course). And I’m happy to be back.
September 15, 2017: A day that I have been waiting since May of this year when I first ordered my Formula 1 (hereafter F1) tickets for the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. I always exclaimed that September 15 can never come sooner, and now it is just a few hours away and my flight to Singapore will take off.
Let’s recall up where this all began and up to this point where I am quite excited and tensed for my first ever trip outside the country alone (I have been out of the country, of course, but I was always with family or with friends).
“…you deserve it”
The words my sister and fellow physician, Debbie, told me when we first vacationed at Singapore last March 31, along with our other friends/colleagues from the medical world (Tidbit: they are her colleagues, I treat them as my mentors, because I’m still the youngest and I have yet to train for a specialization just yet. So they are far and away, more brilliant than I can ever aspire to be. But aspire I will), when I was contemplating whether I should visit the beautiful country of Singapore again, this time, for the race to add along the beauty of my visit. She uttered the words, “Why not, you deserve it”, referencing the fact I chose not to have a thanksgiving party after I passed my Physician Licensure Exam the year prior, nor did I ask for any real prize from my family. I didn’t even think of vacations as I was immediately hired, or asked to be hired (I was lucky to have a lot of sources and a lot of people endorsing me as a good physician and would be a perfect fit for their institution), by a number of Universities (both as their University Physician and Faculty in their School of Medicine), clinics as their general physician, teaching hospitals to hire me as their resident in various specialties; all that made me not think of vacations, prizes, etc., but immediately started to think about work and my future training.
So, when my sister said those words, I can’t help but seriously think of treating myself to a race, a plane to ticket too look around Singapore a second time around (trust me, Singapore should be visited many times… It is just beautiful), book a hotel room for my own, and just have the whole trip paid with my own hard earned cash, where no guilt is involved, and I can go to the places I want to go and that I missed in my first visit.
I was still at the cusp of deciding to go to Singapore again for the race, until it came to my attention that this year’s Singapore GP may be the last one held there for F1 in the foreseeable future. Thus, I decided to go back.
“I’m going on an adventure!”
As metioned multiple times above, this isn’t my first time going to Singapore; I was there last March 31, because, apparently, my sister needed a chaperone, otherwise my parents won’t let her go (take note, she is older than me by 7 years – I am 28), so she can join her colleagues (my mentors) to watch Coldplay. I like Coldplay, I respect them as a band, and I love a lot of their songs, but I am not a fan enough of them to actually watch them in concert. Thus, while I became the chaperone, I told her, in exchange, I will explore the city while they all watch the concert; I don’t want to watch the concert. She agreed.
So, now I will be coming back for my version of their Coldplay concert: the Singapore GP!
I will also explore a lot more this time around, since I was only able to explore on my own last March 31, but the subsequent day, I was with the group and wasn’t able to decide on the places to visit. Now that I am alone on this trip, sure I might meet up with a couple of friends (1 of which is another fellow physician, whom I consider a mentor, Dr. Noe), but I will be checking places like Gardens by the Bay, Merlion Park, etc.; the places I failed to visit last time.
The main point of going here is the race, but like I said many times: Singapore is such a beautiful place, that it is a MUST to explore.
And this is my first time traveling out of the country all by myself. I am excited and tensed. But really looking forward to the overall experience.
Twenty-One Years in the Making
I first fell in love with F1 at 1996, where I saw Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari, seemingly flying through the Circuit de Catalunya in the Spanish GP in horrid wet weather condition.
I was enthralled by the overall discipline of the sport since then. The passion of speed and technology. And of course, I became a fan of Michael and Ferrari. Up to this day, I still support Ferrari, win or lose, I bleed red.
I have been a fan of this wonderful sport that literally changed my life for 21 years; I have religiously watched every season. Sure, later on in my life, especially during my medical school days, there are some races that I missed, but overall, each season, I am in the know.
Some people may call it obsession, but to me, it is just pure passion. I am that kid that didn’t understand the value of money, so my parents would trick me into thinking they can’t afford F1 toys and such, that I made one out of paper. Not the best as you can imagine, but I was satisfied as my imagination took care of the lack of details. I then started making F1 cars in Lego, and was proud of its accuracy (I use this word with caution as “accuracy” in basic Lego parts, is really not accurate, but I got close – I will provide a photo of that Lego build once I clean it) and still have it with me, never broken down since, proudly displayed with my actual die-cast F1 cars – why yes, as I finally gotten older, I was able to get my hands on F1 toys and merchandise.
My passion also sent into apparels, where each year from 2002-2007, I ordered Scuderia Ferrari hats to support the team (I have stopped ordering hats from 2008-2016 due to my supplier stopped selling F1 merchandise), and proudly wearing that hat while watching a race even if I was not in the actual stands.
Thanks to F1, I also got into cars in general, to the point where I am like most guys that love cars, that can tell the make, the model, the year, a particular car is.
Thanks to F1, I also became a fan of racing simulators, where my first taste of a “simulator” was Gran Turismo; this further fueled my love for F1 and now different types of racing disciplines. With Gran Turismo, and the other games I played in that series, I learned the parts of a car, and what different setups will cause the car to behave. And my passion for the sport shows as I have a racing simulator rig set up for games such as Assetto Corsa, Codemasters’ F1 series, etc.
As you can see, F1 opened a whole new world for me. It is more than a hobby; more than a sport I love; it is a PASSION.
“…all my bags are packed…”
Yesterday, I started packing my things up, but not before my mom and I met each other at the local mall after my clinic duty to buy some more necessary travel accessories and maybe a new luggage for my own. Previously, I simply thought of borrowing my sister’s small luggage for the trip, but I thought of maybe buying my own, to call my own, for a relatively good price. The go-to luggage nowadays seem to be Samsonite, but I was always distraught with the price. Not to sound arrogant, but I can afford them, but the practical side of me thinks bags/clothes/shoes, should not be too expensive; for electronics, I don’t mind spending a premium, because I feel it is proper to have a more expensive prices for better quality electronics and such. But when I saw this one Samsonite luggage, it spoke to me. It is strange, but I treat my items as living objects, I take good care of them, and sometimes I talk to them; it is strange indeed, but this is how I get to keep most of my items in tip-top shape and last much longer than they are advertised to be. Thus, when this bag spoke to me, I didn’t care about the price and just bought it… well, with a little persistence from my mom to buy it. Otherwise, I would still be thinking about the purchase even if the luggage spoke to me.
Reppin’ the U.N. Spacy!
Since this bag is going to be checked-in, I decided to remove the Razer “Remove Before Fight” tag from my key chain and attached it to the bag. I also added some U.N. Spacy logos on the tag. Afterall, this Samsonite bag is not exclusive to me, someone out there, may be traveling to Singapore on the same flight with a similar bag, so I might as well place some stickers, tags, etc., to make it easily identifiable. I will not, however, copy what others are doing like printing a huge picture of themselves on the bag. Maybe next time…
“…and that is 5 red lights and away we go!”
Now, I am just waiting for tomorrow, September 15, 2017, for my flight. I will leave home around 2am, since Manila is unpredictable if there will be a traffic jam like last time we went to the airport. Plus, it is far better to wait in the airport, fully checked-in and such, rather than panicking trying to make the cut-off. This is afterall, my first trip overseas alone.
I am tensed, but excited. And I am sure this trip back to Singapore will be a wonderful experience that will supersede the previous visit as this is my first ever trip overseas alone, add the fact I will watch my first F1 race in person after being a fan for 21 years, this adventure will be a memorable one indeed.
Til my next post when I touch down in Singapore! PEACE!
Here are just my quick thoughts on Assetto Corsa since it is almost like 2am here, but I’m just too psyched up not to talk about, or in this case, write about it.
I have been a fan of motorsports, particularly Formula 1 (hereafter F1) for 21 years, and I have played my fair share of racing games, starting from the original Gran Turismo in the original PlayStation.
I am a Role Playing Game fan (hereafter RPG) even way before I got into racing games, or racing in general, and in the past few years, I have concentrated more on RPGs and a few shooters here and there; I have almost let go of the serious sim racing scene. I say almost, cos I still do play some F1 sims every now and then, but it was not the same passion I had when I played Gran Turismo and such in the consoles back in the day.
However, the past month or so, I was able to get a new sim racing wheel and pedals, along with a rig to hard mount the wheel/pedal without having to mount it on my desk each time I wanna play a racing title, and just a few weeks ago, I got a shifter for the rig so I can feel what it was like to race F1 cars, or any cars, but in the day without the sequential and paddle shifters.
As per usual among sim racers, we tend to turn towards Codemasters for sim titles, though I don’t mind playing their F1 or Dirt series of sim racers, I still was looking for a title that can remind me of the multi-disciplinary racing that Gran Turismo had. I tossed on the idea of Forza and such, maybe pay the subscription to iRacing, but then I kept on seeing Assetto Corsa…
I have noticed the title, because even if I have lost sight of the sim racing scene, I am still subscribed to a lot of sim racing channels in YouTube, so I keep on seeing them talk or test mods and gear with Assetto Corsa.
So, now that I have a racing sim rig, and the Steam sale helped a bunch, I am blown away from Assetto Corsa…
It is nowhere near perfect; I would change a lot of aspects of the game, but the thrill of modding the game with more cars and tracks (some of the mods are paid mods, and worth every penny, made by 3rd party modders, though I did also pick up the DLCs for the game), having to drive the F1 cars I respected thru the years, from the 60s to present (not all F1 cars are available to download of course, but at least the more famous cars thru the years are); it is interesting to see how each era had their own set of challenges to drive. My favorite car to drive thus far is the McLaren Honda MP4/4, a legendary F1 car known to many fans, even to us Ferrari fans. It is fun to drive using my 6 gear gated shifter, gives me the sense of all the work the drivers had to put into back in the day.
I ended up downloading 40 or so F1 cars, some paid, like I said, from 3rd party modders, but they are worth every penny. I will create another post with the links to each of my F1 mods and some pics of them.
Of course, this game is multi-discipline, so there is more to this than just F1 (but boy oh boy, being an F1 fan, I race with F1 cars 90% of the time), I also happen to have downloaded American muscle cars, and my real life dream car, the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette C2 Stingray. This is my absolute dream car, because I feel this is more obtainable than, let’s say, a Ferrari.
I also got my dad’s old 1966 Ford Mustang, which he sold when I was very young; ugh, I could have gotten a muscle car by now, but ah well… I still don’t know why he sold it to this day. Anyways, I also got the Mustang, showed it to my dad, got him to drive around with the sim racing rig, and it was just a fun gesture.
Again, with the 12 muscle cars I got, I will post them in a different blog entry and where to download them and some pics as well.
Truth be told, I have just been racing open-wheelers like F1 and have free roam driving with the Muscle cars… there are still the GT cars, the LMP cars, the rally cars, the drift cars, and the list goes on!
Been putting in so many hours in this game just trying to clock the best time, get the right setup, just constantly beating my best time and perfecting every lap in and out; then racing with AI (cos, hell no! I am not good enough yet, to race online…) at 100% strength and variable amounts of aggressiveness (cos lets face it, the AI can lack the “I” and just punt you off the track), racing in the classic era F1 cars with manual gated shifters, just give me the thrill and passion I once had when I was younger and totally into racing sims.
Again, this game is FAR from perfect, but I’m glad that it is actively being developed, always improving, and with an open community, their mods can make it way better.
I will share some of my favorite photos I got in game which were edited a bit with Photoshop here and there.
Interesting to note as to why I got so eager to give my quick thoughts on this (I won’t even proofread this) is because I managed to recreate the 1988 F1 season in game; sure I wasn’t able to use the Jacarepagua circuit that hosted that year’s Brazilian GP (the track mod lacked the desired number of pit boxes) having replaced it with Interlagos circuit and some of the team’s livery were based on the 1984 skin pack (I will link all these in the future), but I managed to edit some of the liveries to match “enough” of the cars of the 1988 season. I originally was able to download and edit up to 24 of the 28-30ish cars of that season, but thanks to Paul Ricard’s and Monza’s 1988 track mods having a 21 pit box limit, I removed the Leyton House March 881 cars and the AGS JH23 car (I was choosing the AGS JH23 or the Osella FA1L, of course, I would rather keep a car that has fail written all over it for laughs… which is quite fitting as the Osella FA1L only participated in 10 of the 16 races, having retired in 5 of those 10 races, also on the 6 races it didn’t participate in, it was disqualified in 1, did not qualify in 2, did not pre-qualify in another 2, and didn’t participate at all in 1… I digress).
Needless to say, it took me HOURS to get it done as I was looking valiantly for skin mods for cars to have the 1988 liveries, and having to edit some to make them fit the 1988 season, then downloading and re downloading different versions of the 1988 tracks, and finally… got it done, and I felt so much achievement by doing so. And thus why I am so psyched to talk or write about Assetto Corsa… how easy it is to mod and get the season one wants to replicate…
Anyways! I digress again! To the pics! And in the future, a full review of the game and the mods I got. (I race in 5760×1080, but when I take screenshots, I do my best to revert to 1920×1080)
•The 1967 Scuderia Ferrari 312 (pay respects):
•The championship winning 1975 Scuderia Ferrari 312T driven by Niki Lauda (PAY RESPECTS!):
•The championship winning 1988 McLaren Honda MP4/4 driven by Ayrton Senna (should I remind you to pay respects? Nice to note, I will be driving this car in my 1988 F1 season I made):
•The 1991 Jordan Benetton 191 driven by Michael Schumacher (his 1st F1 car drive, RESPECT):
•The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette C2 Stingray (my dream car!):
•The icing on the cake… The 1988 F1 Season I made using lots of 3rd party mods and editing just some of them. Here’s the teaser photo of the 21 cars going thru T1 of Suzuka 1988 track:
And with that! I am done with my quick thoughts! It is almost 3am at the end of this post… so maybe it wasn’t so much of a quickie… meh.
Last Saturday, I twisted my left knee, now let us go back in time and remind you guys that my original injury was my right knee. My right knee also was operated on. So, why is my left knee twisting similarly to my right? Well, truth be told, both my knee are not in top shape since high school, where my right knee took most of the beating. Having to rely mostly on my left knee thru the years made it just as bad as the right, and last Saturday it showed how tired it was of being relied on.
Thankfully, it is starting to feel a lot better and I no longer need to use my cane. However, with that said, I haven’t had a real check up yet with my orthopedic surgeon to rule out the possibility of ligamental or miniscal taear, I will do that some other time. All I did was skip a few days of work, for which I’m returning tomorrow and quite excited to be a doctor again. Staying at home and just relaxing did the trick.
What else did the trick other than meds as well?
This is a good rehab for my knee in a way; sure it is not like the real rehab nor is it similar to riding a bike or doing my squats, but hey, it is giving my legs a workout in a way and in time I can return to my usual home exercises for my knees to truly recover.
This is just a short post, where I wanted to share my recent injury and a glamour shot of my racing in Monaco in F1 2015 (Waiting for F1 2017 so I skipped on F1 2016).