Monday, July 13, 2015

Good Times In Gold Coast


I signed up for the 2015 edition of the Gold Coast Marathon as soon as the registration was opened last year. The 2014 edition of the race was a rushed affair for me. With only one full day to experience the place, it simply wasn't enough; so the wife and me decided that we must return this year for a longer trip. I fell head over heels in love with the place back then.

We booked our flight and accommodations way back in September of 2014 since we already knew the dates of the race itself. Booking early got us a pretty good deal. We planned for a longer stay this time to really take in the splendour of the Gold Coast without having to rush. An 8 day 6 night stay was in order but we lost a day because of Air Asia cancelling our night flight to the next morning. I'm still seething with them!

Off we go with Piew seeing us off ...

Day 1 (Wednesday)

After a long 8 hour flight, Jamie, Choon Yuen, Foo, Jeanie and hubby, the wife and me finally arrived in the Gold Coast on a not so cold night. I was expecting it to be freezing but the weather was pretty mild though still nice and cool. After sorting out pre-booked airport transfer, we all headed off to check in at our respective accommodations and made plans to meet after the check in for supper. Even though it was late, we wanted to make the most of what was left for the day.

The wife and me put up at a place called Sun Tower Holiday Apartments which was located just a mere 5 minute walk away from Surfer's Paradise and fronting the beach. To be honest, we weren't sure of what to expect cos we've been reading mixed reviews about the place. Some were liking the place and some were hating it. So with much trepidation, we picked up the keys from the safe which was pre-arranged for us since we had a late check in and made our way up to the 8th floor where our unit was located.


The fear that we had immediately vanished as the place was pretty decent. A nice setup, clean and with a great view of the pacific ocean. Granted, the fixtures and furnishing were a little aged but everything was in order. A nice clean living room, a small cozy kitchen equipped with all the cooking facilities, a decent sized bedroom and a cute looking bathroom with washing machine and dryer facilities. There was no air-conditioning but with the cold weather, there was no need for one. For the price we paid, I was more than happy with what we got. The management and staff were also very nice people. Value for money if you ask me.

A midnight stroll along the beach ...
After storing our stuff, we headed out for a quick supper of pizza and pies with the rest of the gang. It was simply mouth watering as I was famished from the flight. After the meal, we all parted ways to our respective accommodations to get some rest. Our planned morning shake down run was cancelled cos all of us were still feeling the effects of the long flight and wanted to sleep in. At least that was the plan anyway. The wife and me decided to take a romantic midnight stroll along the beach before heading back since it was along our path back to  the apartment.

The night air was getting colder but that didn't stop us from taking some pictures. We felt really safe walking along the beach at midnight. Not once did a worrying thought crossed my mind. I wouldn't step out my house after 10pm if I was back home, that's for sure. After the stroll and some photo taking we headed back to the apartment and finally called it a night to the soothing sounds of the ocean.

Day 2 (Thursday)

I woke up to the gentle sounds of waves around 6am. I wanted to catch the golden sunrise and was not disappointed. The wife was surprised that I was up and about at the hour without having to be cattle prodded out of bed. I didn't want to waste a single minute of our stay there.

The view from the apartment
With such a beautiful morning and splendid weather, I couldn't resist the urge to suit up for a short run. I checked my messages and just like me, the rest of the gang was awake and eager for a run. I wasn't the least bit surprised. These fellows are known not to miss an opportunity for a run. After a quick round of messaging and we were out pounding the pavement of Surfer's Paradise. The wife said it was too cold and decided to stay in. She said the cold tends to puffen up her face too much.

The five of us waving at the wife on the balcony like idiots during our run ... LOL!
After a short 4-5km of easy running with lots of photos, we all headed back to get ready for the next agenda of the day, which was a trip to Harbour Town. We met up at the Q1 tram station but not before the wife and me headed to Q1 Skypoint to get our climb tickets booked. I wasn't looking forward to it. I'm afraid of heights and having to climb the highest point of the Q1 tower even securely strapped to the railings was giving me the jitters. But nevertheless, we booked the climb for Friday noon. Gulp!

Fooling around during the morning run
Slightly under an hour later we reached Harbour Town and made our our way to the Tourism Lounge as they were expecting us. More photo taking opportunities with the friendly staff and some coffee, we split up to check out the respective outlets. In conjunction with GCAM15, there was a promotion going on for a limited time offering some attractive discounts. Harbour Town is a lovely place to shop. The wife and me made our way slowly from one shop to another.

Being a shoe nerd, I was basically out looking for shoes that I couldn't find back home. Sadly, save for one or two models, nothing really caught my eye. I was really expecting to snag a new shoe back but ended up with a New Balance running vest instead. A cool looking green (but of course) one if I might say so.

At Grill'z in Harbour Town
After a few hours on our feet, we regrouped for lunch with Jamie, Choon Yuen and Foo at an eatery called Grill'z for some huge, yummy grilled burgers. The burgers were pretty huge but I was famished from all that walking and shopping and wolfed down my burger and half of the wife's in no time. Then it was back to shopping cos there were still lots more to see. Another short stop for coffee and some cakes while waiting for Choon Yuen to get some stuff and we were soon heading away from Harbour Town to the race expo to pick up our race kits.

Since this was my second time running GCAM, I knew what to expect of the expo but was still pretty excited. The race kit collection went without a hitch and I was in and out in 5 minutes. Then it was time to scour for some deals and gear at the expo. Got myself an event vest from the Asics booth. I knew from Jamie an hour before we arrived at the expo that the Garmin booth had the Forerunner 225 for sale.


I was waiting for the unit to arrive in Malaysia but up to the time I left for GC, there was still no news about it. I made my way to the Garmin booth and after some exchanges with the Garmin consultant and some ...errr, very slow calculations (I'm bad at math!), and the 'go ahead' from the wife, I purchased the unit. I saved quite a bit buying it here than back home and I was more than happy with the deal. Of course, the wife reminded me that I've used up my shopping quota and would have to eat rocks and grass for the rest of the trip!

When we were all finally done with the expo we headed back home but not before a stop at Woolworths which had a wide variety of pre-cooked food that you only need to heat up to eat. They have a wide variety on offer with 'flavours' you will never find back home. Grabbed some drinks and snacks for munching on later as well. We planned to go our own way for dinner before catching up again the next day. It's been a long day and I needed to get off my feet and also mess with my new toy.

Day 3 (Friday)

Another early morning waking up to the sounds of the ocean. I was up and about by 6am and checked my phone for messages to see if any from the group was running. Seeing nothing, I decided to suit up and run up to Main Beach and back solo, a total of 5km. The wife once again found it too cold to follow me. I also needed to test the leg out and made it a speed session to see if the leg would hold up. It did and I was feeling hopeful.

The run was nice and cold with a gentle breeze blowing throughout. I enjoyed the solitude, just me, my music on low and the sounds of the ocean as I ran past countless others taking advantage of the weather. I could live here, I thought to myself as I ran along. Stopped along the way to snap some pictures, took a few selfies and headed back to get ready for the Q1 Skypoint climb. I wasn't looking forward to it. I have a huge fear of heights. Anything above 2 inches gives me the jitters so you can probably imagine how I felt about Q1!

I wonder if I have what it takes to be a life guard?
After a hot shower, the wife and me met the guys at Coffee Club while waiting for the designated hour of the climb to arrive. After making plans to meet later, we headed off on our way, the wife and me to Q1 and Jamie, Choon Yuen and Foo to Hooters for some 'milk' shakes ... hahaha! Since we still had an hour or so to spare, the wife and me decided to head to Coles and also check out the location of the Wax Museum which we planned to visit later. Soon it was time to head in the direction of Q1.

I was shivering and it wasn't cos of the weather. The nearer we got to Q1, the weaker my knees became. But it was one of the things the wife wanted to tick off her list, so terrified or not, I was willing to take the 'plunge' with her. There was no turning back now and soon we were introduced to Marco, our climb master (for want of a better word). His job was to make sure we suited up properly with all the harnesses and carabiners in working order. The suit up, safety check and briefing took almost an hour but Marco kept it fun and tried to ease the fear in all of us, well me anyway.


After an hour, we were finally suited up and looked like high rise window washers as we made our way up to the 77th floor to finally get up into the heavens. The elevator ride was super fast. My heart was beating so fast that if I had my Garmin attached to my wrist, my heart rate would have shot through the roof! I trembled as I made my way to the start of the climb. One final briefing from Marco and we were led out of the building into the open, cold, windy air of the Gold Coast with nothing around us safe for a teeny weeny railing. Well, it was teeny weeny to me anyway!

I positioned myself at the tail-end of the group simply because I could cringe in fear without holding anyone back or looking like a sissy. It was a bad decision cos once we were up at the first platform stop Marco looked at me and said he needed me to do him a favour! OMG! Can't he see the fear in my eyes? Can't he see how white my knuckles were from gripping on to the railings for dear life? And he wanted me to do him a 'little' favour! I knew this couldn't be good.

At the peak of Q1 ...
He said was going to head to the front of the group and wanted me to link and attach some extra couplings and carabiners for him once he was at the front of the group. Dammit, I only have two hands and both of them were gripping the railings in fear. And he wanted me to clamp and attach stuff for him while dangling 78 floors up in open air? That was something Ethan Hunt would do, not me! It didn't help that the wife was grinning at me from ear to ear! She was having the time of her life and mocking me as I cringed in fear! She can be evil that way! Slowly, fearfully and steadily I somehow attached whatever carabiners and couplings that were needed and praying to god I somehow didn't unhook mine instead, I made my way to the top. To be really honest, fright and all, I did enjoy it up there eventually.

The view was simply stunning. You had a nice 360 degree view with no walls around you atop the tallest residential tower in Australia. I really didn't have anything to worry. I was securely strapped in. Marko was very amusing and made everyone feel so at ease. After what seemed like 30 minutes or so, my adventure in the heavens came to an end and not a moment too soon. I was glad to finally be on zero elevation again. It was an experience to remember. If you're looking for things to do while in the Gold Coast, do give the attempt a go. It really is an experience and the view is stunning! You won't regret it one bit.

Who da man?
After the excitement of Q1, we had lunch in a little Tandoori place nearby. My knees were still shaking and I just needed to get some food into me to calm me down. The food was decent and we headed to Woolworths again to get some more stuff for dinner before heading home to take a short rest and then head out to the beach and the night market there.

The wife wanted a little longer rest so I headed out to meet the guys first and would pick her up for the night market later. Met up with Jamie there and we scoured part of the market before he headed back. I got the wife and we headed back to the night market, snapped some pictures and I took the opportunity to dip my feet into the Pacific Ocean before meeting up with Choon Yuen, Foo, Yvonne and her hubby, Bin for dinner. It's been a while since we last saw the Speed Demon and it was also our first time meeting Bin. It was a short reunion of sorts.

The old gang back together again
Jamie had to head off cos he was a little tired from the days activities and wanted to call it an early day before our 10k run the next day so the rest of us headed off to a nearby restaurant for dinner and some catch up stories. An hour or so later we all headed back to call it a night  since some of us were also running the 10k. With that, my third day in the Gold Coast came to an end.

Day 4 (Saturday)

The day started real early with the Southern Cross University 10k fun run. Jamie, Choon Yuen, Foo, Leong and Man Hon signed up for the 10k and after an initial frantic time with the tram issues, we all met up to have one of the best 10k I've run in. You can read about it in my race report here.

We headed quickly back after the race as both Choon Yuen and me had to grab a shower, a change of clothes and head out back to Jupiters Hotel to meet up with Jamie for the Garmin Legends Lunch. I was looking forward to this. The chance to be in the same space with marathon legends the likes of Steve Moneghetti, Pat Carroll, Lee Troop, Yuki Kawauchi, Ryan and Sara Hall was a dream come true.

Ryan and Sara Hall

With Mona himself
We were mostly there in support of Jamie who was interviewed on stage by the legendary Steve Moneghetti and also at the same time in awe of him. Not many people get that opportunity in their lifetimes. And just so you guys know, he aced the interview like the champ that he is! Both Choon Yuen and me managed to snag pictures of Ryan and Sara Hall, Kawauchi and Moneghetti and autographs from Pat Carroll and Lee Troop. I was a happy man when I left the lunch :D It might not be a big deal to some of you but it is to me.

Yuki Kawauchi
After the lunch, it was back to the apartment for rest. Since it was marathon day the next day, I wanted to be off my feet as much as possible. I decline the offer to meet up with Jamie, Choon Yuen, Foo, Yvonne and Bin for dinner at Vapiano's, not because I was a snob but the leg was acting up a little and I wanted it to have some down time till race day. Dinner for us was a simple roast chicken and spaghetti whipped up by the wife, nothing that would upset the stomach too much. Then it was time to prep the race gear and call it an early night. I was anticipating a long, hard and painful day the next day.

Day 5 (Sunday)

The main course of the trip finally arrived. The marathon itself. Woke up early, met up with Julia, Leong and Man Hon early cos both my wife and Julia would be running the half marathon that had an earlier race start. We also wanted to be safe just in case another tram incident repeated itself. Again, you can read my race report for the marathon here.

After a good day for everyone at the marathon, we headed back but not before grabbing some much needed food in the form of some wanton noodles recommended by Jeanie. We had a post race pot luck dinner planned and some shopping was needed to be done for that. The wife and me headed back, grabbed two hours of some much needed sleep before heading to Woolworths to grab some ice-cream, our portion of the potluck and limping all the way to Choon Yuen's apartment for the pot luck.

Team Malaysia
Most of the gang was already there. Dinner was basically sharing our race experiences which involved lots of ribbing and laughter. We were all mostly happy with each others achievements and shared in each others happiness. We've all come through a long journey and some tough times during training together. Though my own race didn't turn out well, I was more than happy to join in and celebrate everyone's success, irrespective of the distances we did.

The food was good and we all ate quite a bit. Even me, who could eat like a pig couldn't find place for anymore of the food. Jeanie packed up some of the leftover for me and the wife in case I got hungry again later and we all said our goodbyes for the day. I wanted to stay up late or go for a walk by the beach but the leg was in too much pain so the wife and me stayed in and just watched TV.

The post race dinner ...
Day 6 (Monday)

The final day of our stay in the Gold Coast. We'd be checking out early in the morning the next day and I planned to make the most of the day. The initial plan was to head to Currumbin with Jamie, Choon Yuen and Foo but my legs weren't up to walking so much and I opted out. The wife and me just hung around the Surfer's Paradise area.

We decided to check out the Wax Museum which was just a 10 minute walk from our place. It wasn't really up to what I was expecting. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. The exhibits were encased behind a glass panel. I understand the need to keep people from fiddling with the wax figures but that ruled out any silly selfies that I had in mind. Nevertheless, the guided tour of the Chamber of Horrors was pretty fun and informative. The staff were also very friendly people and we were chatting away about the marathon since I was in the 42K finisher tee.

Getting a feel of the Pacific Ocean
A quick lunch at a Vietnamese food outlet, which by the way served some yummy beef noodles, before heading back to the apartment for a short rest and then a rendezvous with the team for a high tea at the Seventy7 Cafe and Bar located on the Q1 observation deck. The Australian Tourism people so kindly hosted us to a high tea on the 77th floor of the observation deck of Q1. I was happy to be behind the safety of walls this time around ... LOL! Many thanks goes out to the Australian Tourism people for their kind gesture.

The final night in the Gold Coast was spent packing up and just chilling indoors. Dinner was the left over pasta and sausages along with some roast chicken cos the wife and me were both too lazy to walk out for dinner. We called it an early night since we had to be up early for our airport transfer the next morning.

At the Q1 high tea hosted by Tourism Australia
Day 7 (Tuesday)

It was finally time to bid farewell to the beautiful city of Gold Coast once again. I wasn't intending to come back next year but I simply cannot resist the beauty of the place. I've come to love the city in the short time I was here last year and love it even more this year. I still have loads to see and just before getting on the plane for home, I decided that I'll be back again for GCAM16 to take on the marathon once more, the third time is the charm, they say and take more of what the Gold Coast has to offer.


This time though, I'll concentrate on running the race first and then stay longer for the fun. Now I have to forgo some other overseas race next year to save up enough for another shot at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. If you're looking for a reputable marathon and some amazing fun times, the Gold Coast Coast Airport Marathon is the place to be!

Note: Some of the pictures above are courtesy of Jamie, Choon Yuen, Jeanie, Foo and Julia.

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You and Foo went back to change so strolled the market with Jamie. Besides the water was cold la... Hahaha!

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  2. where's the pic of the ribs la? :D
    shall i share the pic that i have? hahaha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG, that'll make me look like the pig I am la but please go ahead and share ... hahaha!

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