When Dreams Come True: My First Formula One Race Weekend in Person!

WARNING! THIS BLOG POST IS VERY PICTURE HEAVY!!

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”…

DAY ONE:


“…Fly me to the moon”

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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!

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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

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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.

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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…

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The Gardens by the Bay OCBC Skyway at

The Gardens by the Bay OCBC Skyway

In Love; The Sky's the Limit

The Gardens by the Bay OCBC Skyway
The Gardens by the Bay OCBC Skyway
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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.

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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.

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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?

DAY TWO:


Merlion and Beyond!

Merlion

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.

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PUP-arazzi

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.

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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.

Marin at Dusk
Marina at Dusk
Marin at Dusk

“Making my dream come true!”

The Chequered Flag Waves

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.

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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.”

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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…

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#F1NightRace

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Singapore Grand Prix: The Calm Before the Storm

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.

#Kimi7
Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari
Raikkonen #7
Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari
Raikkonen #7
Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari
#Seb5
Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari
Vettel #5
Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari
Vettel #5
Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari
Hamilton #44
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Hamilton #44
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Ricciardo #33
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Verstappen #3
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Alonso #14
Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Honda

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.

DAY THREE:


“One Good Day Comin’ Up!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”

#F1NightRace

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.

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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.

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Copyright: Formula One

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.

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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.

Thank You, Singapore Grand Prix 2017

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

DAY FOUR:


“Thank You, Singapore…”

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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.

“10 HOME
20 SWEET
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.


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I’m Going on an Adventure!

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).

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Original Photo: http://www.redbullracing.com/article/singapore-gp-track-essentials

“…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.

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                                         Original Photo: memecrunch.com                                           Copyright: Warner Brothers

“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

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Copyright: Formula 1

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.

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“…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.

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Impulse buy?

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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…

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             Original Photo: http://www.carmag.co.za/singapore-f1-grand-prix-2017/               Copyright: Formula 1

“…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!


 

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Less Than Three

It is time I seriously jot down a proper article; my usual writings as of late are about my recent adventures, and although there is nothing wrong with writing, or blogging, about those shenanigans, I felt I am starting to stray away from my roots as a writer.

Anyone can write about their day, and it has been far too long, eons even, since I wrote something that I would be proud of publishing back in the days where I was still an Editor in Chief for various school papers.

With that, the inquisitive amongst you readers might ask, with a title like that, what in the world would he write about pouring his heart and soul into it like his past articles when he was still an active member of a school paper?

Well, you have the answer right there, somewhere, devoured by other words in the previous sentence: I will write about my “heart” and my “soul”.

Much like every other human being that is a prisoner to one’s own emotions, I too, sadly and unfortunately, succumb to these humanly emotions, and I look down on my own brain for submitting to these neurotransmitters that dictate these emotions. I always thought I would be far more effective if I were not susceptible to these emotions; that I would be able to reach far reaching places without anything idiotic like falling in love get in my way. I was wrong. I am still wrong. I will probably never be right.

Of course, before the pheromones of the opposite sex caused me to have transient mental dysfunction, there was a time when I was immune to these emotions.

There I was, a young lad, with bright eyes; everything he sees, he questions. I would rather study, even at a young age, I would rather read and do my homework, if need be. I would also rather play games that use little to no physical prowess and more of the intellect, thus, I rather play games like Chess and lots of video games that makes me think. I had the family’s encyclopedia collection in my room and when I am tired of reading for school or even playing games, I would grab a volume and read some more. Clearly, I knew my physical short comings, and would rather hone my skills in the intellectual world. Going as far as coining up the term “Intellectual Intercourse”; I would rather have an intellectual intercourse with a girl than to really have a normal lustful relationship – a modern day Platonic love, if you will.

Falling in love was the least of my concerns when I was much younger, and for that, I admired my younger self and felt he was the smarter form, and far better form, of myself. Back then I only had a clear-cut goal and I will stop at nothing, not even the aforementioned pheromones, to attain my goals. I always wanted to be deemed smart, thus I toiled away, day in and day out, sacrificing my overall physique, in order to concentrate on my studies and future career. I made sure I would know something about most things, and even though I may not know all of the aspects of a certain subject being discussed, I will make sure I know enough to stay relevant. And for the things I do know, I know them well.

I had and still have a lot of friends, but truth be told, I wasn’t always popular among anyone, because I was just shy of being a teacher’s pet; a little more, I would become Randall from Recess, minus the snitching of course. I always loved my studies, and as a friend, I will only be there when you need me, not when you want me; never expect me to be there for your birthday party, but expect me there if your life depended on it.

I am sheltered, to no fault of my parents, but I was sheltered most of my life due to my inherent want to just distance myself of the social norm; I am more old-fashioned, so forcing myself to the norm of today takes a great toll on me and made me hate people in general for their idiocy, fickleness, hypocrisy, and the list goes on.

As John McAfee once said: “People will be people, you can trust no one. It’s not a bad thing/cynical. I trust people to be people, to act in their own self-interests”, and I lived by this… Maybe I still do. But of course, there will come a time where I have to rub shoulders with other people and that of the opposite sex, as I continue my studies and my valiant attempt to reach my goals.

Needless to say, I started to lower down my guard about other people, I started to have my walls that sheltered me crumble as I started to understand the quirks and the things I hate about other people. Albeit, I still don’t like going to parties and the like, but I am slowly finding myself longing to hang out with my friends in the malls and whatnot. I may not accept the social norm of present day, but I was flexible enough to have my old-fashioned beliefs coincide in harmony.

Then it happened, I was still in high school then, but I felt something that I always heard about and dreaded about; what is this fleeting feeling in my chest? Why do I want to smile and chuckle without anyone talking to me or cracking a joke? Why do I feel like dancing with no music playing? And why do I not want to go home and be sheltered and surrounded by my books anymore?

I had my first crush. I was probably falling in love for the first time.

All rational and logical thinking is thrown out of the hypothetical windows when you find that someone that makes your heart skip a beat. And even if I had no intentions of really falling in love before, I, like everyone else, would always have a list of the ideal significant other ranging from looks to personality, yet sometimes, or most of the time, you make exceptions to the rule and fall for that person that didn’t tick off one box, let alone all the boxes, of your list of traits you’d want in your ideal significant other.

But maybe that is why we “fall”; we don’t choose to fall in the very definition of the word, as falling down you may graze your knees, as well as, your elbows; you’d end up with skid marks and skinned knees, as they say, and seriously, falling down in general hurts. But when the time calls to fall down, such as the case of sports like baseball, American football, and soccer, to name a few, where either catching the ball or defending the goal, you’d literally thrust your body and end up falling to the ground, bruised physically, but when the attempt succeeds, you can stand triumphantly. The very thought is you take the chance to catch or defend, where you end up hurt, but with a good outcome, you feel elated. And that is exactly what falling in love is: you take the risk, you may get hurt along the way falling, but if you succeed and someone is waiting to catch you, then you feel elated; yet if there is nothing in between you and the pavement, falling, in this case, heart first, will hurt. Get up, try again. Or can you?

In retrospect, I have crushes on a lot of girls, some I know personally, some that are celebrities; others being real, and the rest being, well, gaming or anime characters. But out of the real girls I know personally, I only really liked 4 of them. And out of those 4, I only really fell in love with 2 of them. And with 2 of them, I really thought I’d end up with 1 of them.

Sadly, she was a star far too bright for my own galaxy…

I fell in love one too many times for me to really care for, but being the hopeless romantic I am, on those 2 times that I did fall in love, I loved a bit too much. It is probably hilarious to hear this from a guy, because let’s face it, all those romantic movies and what mothers would usually tell their daughters, it is us men that end up breaking their hearts, but believe me, much like falling in love one too many times, I got my heart broken just as many times for me to really care for.

Breaking of hearts is not simply the other person saying they don’t like you, it won’t work out, or something along those lines. More often than not, it is letting go of something that you know won’t be realized in fruition. But whatever the case may be, as hard as it is for women, it is just as hard for us men, especially a hopeless romantic like myself.

The hardest part is that, whether your relationship came into realization or wasn’t even given the chance to take off, once that person becomes your everyday, your ever hour, your ever minute, your every second, all the way down to a thousandth of a second, the moment you have to let go, and you are struck with the thought the very next day, that very waking moment, and that they are less of your everyday now and you are no longer theirs either, if at all, in the first place.

The thought someone else ultimately making her smile from ear to ear; someone else ultimately making her laugh with stupid jokes; and that someone else ultimately saying “he loves her” and she will say she “loves him back”; those thoughts gnaw and eat my very insides ‘til there is really nothing left.

But the heart still beats, though broken, yet do you really feel it beating?

Each time those heartbreaks occurred, I pined. I pined a little longer than most guys whose relationships end or didn’t even have the chance to blossom. I pined and everyone around me could see that I was pining. But like any soldier, I mustered up the courage to go on, dodging all the bullets and taking a few, jumping over hurdles and tripping on a few; and it was making me become someone else, someone that I loathed to be, someone that was not Christian.

My labyrinthine mind usually filled with science and whatnot, now started to entertain rhetorical questions like “was I missing something?”, “where did I mess up”, “was I, simply, not good enough…?”.

I was becoming just like anyone else. I was not that special person, that strong person I thought I was, with a clear-cut goal and will have at nothing to get in his way of achieving them. I was finally becoming human.

And I hated each and every time I fall and there is no one in the other end to soften that free fall.

So, why was I always eager to fall again? All knowing what it does to me mentally and physically? Because like all other human beings, I was just plain stupid – I was just not as smart as I first thought I was.

I am just stupid.

The old saying, “It is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all”, finally makes sense to me. Back when I was much younger, without knowing an ounce of truth of what love really entails, I always thought falling in love was easy; I always thought if you loved someone, and you showed them that you can make it to whatever ends of the world there is to prove it, that they’d love you back. Why would I lose? But alas, the naivety shows in my younger self. Love may be a many-splendored thing, but it can also be lackluster, confusing, and painful.

And it is true, now that I’m older, that it is far better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. I know the highs of falling in love and the harsh lows of either falling out of it, or simply, not having been reciprocated for it. I have seen the immense beauty of it and I have seen the hideous side of it. I have been falling in and out of the idea of love that I can now easily tell whether the pain that I feel in my chest was because I fell for someone, that someone never loved me back, or something less stupid and something more real, like muscle pain.

I have loved. I have lost. That is good enough for me.

Whatever awaits me in this lopsided game called love, I will see it through. Whether that means love is truly worth waiting for or just something worth experiencing at least once in one’s lifetime – time will tell. And even if it doesn’t, time will, nonetheless, heal all wounds.


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Cooling Off

I have decided to take the time off from my preparation of the USMLE because I finally lost it, I finally burnt out, I am finally tired at the thought of picking up my notes.

As the saying goes, “rest if you must, but don’t you quit”, thus here I am taking the week off until August 1, 2017, to resume my readings.

And it just so happened that my best friend from my B.S. Biology and Medical school days, and fellow physician, Dr. Lee, visiting the Philippines as he has a short vacation from his military training. In fact, he is down to his last month of training in the military and he and I will be focusing on our preparation for the USMLE as we plan to tackle it together.

Dr. Lee and I have been best of friends for more than 12 years now; he was 1 year my senior during our B.S. Biology years and we became classmates during Medical school days. And as they say, any friendship that lasts more than 7 years will most likely last a lifetime – it certainly seems that way.

Glad he came back and as per usual, I am usually the first person he contacts when he is back and we hang out like old times.

He is quite close to my family as I am with his family, so I was happy, but not so surprised, when his mother, who is still in Korea, got me a gift; I too will give his family a gift before he returns to Korea, because, apart from reciprocity, even if I hadn’t had a gift from his mother, it is just right and almost like an unwritten rule for us to always do such gestures.

Each time he returns here for his short vacations, we usually end up hanging out most of the days he is here; that eventually leads me to saying, “Man, Lee, I see nearly everyday that each time I close my eyes to sleep, I see your face and I end up getting scared to sleep at all.”

Anyways, it is great he is back even for a few days as it coincided with my decision to just take a break from my readings; it really helped me cool off my burnt out demeanor.

Come August 1, I feel I would have found a new sense of vigor when reading.

Til next time! PEACE!

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Burning Out?

It is no secret that I am studying again for yet another licensure exam; heck, even if I wasn’t preparing to tackle another licensure exam, as a physician, I will still be studying, day in and day out, nonetheless.

Anyways, the exam I am talking about is the USMLE. I am originally an American Citizen, but has since become a dual citizen, adding my Filipino Citizenship into the mix in order to be able to take the license here locally and maybe train here.

Since passing the licensure exam here in the Philippines, I have been a bit confused as to where I should go next: Should I train immediately? Should I moonlight? Should I go on vacation?

A year went by and then I suddenly decided to move back to the States and tackle the USMLE so I can also be a licensed physician in the States, as well as being a licensed physician here in the Philippines.

It took a year to decide because I really didn’t know where my heart is… As much as I want to stay here and train and eventually have my private practice here, I feel as though I will not be able to live up to my full potential as a physician here. I feel that the language barrier, although I am able to speak a lot better Tagalog now than I ever thought I would be, is gonna be a huge factor in my training. Something as shallow as that is a real fear because in the world of medicine, there are no compromises… Not having to know the translation of a phrase and missing out on the diagnosis, no matter how benign the diagnosis is, is not a valid reason. And I want to train without having to worry about silly matters.

Thus, I decided, it is high time I move back home. My real home.

I have been studying leisurely since April just to get the hang of studying again, and come September, I will go full on study mode like when I was still a student. However, I have been losing interest in reading lately… I feel worn down… I feel burnt out.

Nothing can see to make me smile lately as my mind is always about USMLE and studying. Even when my heart is not into it, I force myself to read, and force myself to stay up in order to finish a certain number of chapters.

This is not really a good strategy as I am already feeling the effects of burning out and my exam date is nowhere near just yet.

As much as I want to cool down on some days like today, I end up feeling very guilty and then I start reading again.

I just wish I can read without feeling brunt out and I also wish that I can take a few days off reading, just playing games or whatnot, and not feel the guilt of skipping a few days or even a week.

I am in a very fragile complicated state right now and I thought of putting into words to let off some steam.

Did it help? I can’t say… But it feels good enough just to type some of these stresses of mine.

As always, I will just have to breathe in and breathe out… and pray. Better things are in store for me… I just can’t really see it or feel it just yet… but I just have to relax somehow and believe.

Til next time! PEACE!

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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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Recovery

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?

Well, this!

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A Drive Around Monaco

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).

Til next time! PEACE!

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