Sunday, 21 October 2012

Training for the ING NYC Marathon 2012

I've spent the past couple of months training for the ING New York City Marathon 2012. I started training sometime at the end of May, and things got a little more serious when I bought, and began following, a 12-week training plan that called for peak mileage of over 90km a week (I made it up to 70km and more or less completed every long run the plan called for, with my longest run peaking at 33km).

Here's what I've spent the last couple of months doing: work. run. eat. sleep. repeat.

{This is the first time I've incorporated strength and resistance training into my marathon training, and it's helped my running tremendously}

I've also been scheduling weekly deep tissue massages with a matronly lady who presses and elbows you and makes you feel like you're some sort of walking stress ball. Her massages are *intensely painful and the first time I went, I spent the entire time perspiring on the table and exhaling audibly when the pain got intense. She tells me I look princessy and hardly like a runner, but that I'm strong and can take the pain and I don't scream / moan but suffer in silence, and then she proceeds to press harder. Right.

The strange thing about all this training is that I've been craving beer while I run. Probably the body's response to a self-induced ban on alcohol, barring some very exceptional circumstances *ahhem.

To make my life easier I also bought the Garmin Forerunner 610. The Forerunner 610 is a touchscreen GPS watch that feels like a mini iphone of sorts, and I was pleasantly surprised by how responsive (in a good way) the touchscreen was. It measures time, distance clocked via its satellite tracking system, gives me my split times for each kilometre and wirelessly connects and transmits data to my computer. You can also opt to get a heart rate monitor, which I did, although I've only used it once. All in, a pretty amazing watch. For the past 3 years or so I've been watching all my running friends buy a GPS watch in some form or other and I've always resisted, but I finally caved in and bought this, and I'm not ashamed to admit that it really makes life easier, helps your training, and totally brings out your OCD side.

Am now in the final 2 weeks leading up to the race on 4 November 2012, and the training has eased up and I've entered a different phase altogether, in the belief that the hay is in the barn and it's now TAPER TIME.

Aside from being sidelined for 2 weeks sometime back in August with an ankle sprain (it was a stupid, stupid accident which happened when I tried to sidestep some runners who were walking and blocking an underpass), I've been fairly ok injury-wise. There's been the occasional niggling sensation in the ITB and tight calf muscles, but nothing a few massages can't handle, so I've managed to keep things under control so far.

And seeing as how today was the penultimate Sunday, the training plan called for a 16km run, but I haven't been running much this week (got lazy and took the call about the hay in the barn a step too far lol) and my legs felt fine, so I scheduled a 20km run. I woke at 6:30am and started running at a very manageable 7:00am, quite unlike the 4:45am wakeup call and 5:45am run start I went through on my last long run just a week before, and the other not quite as early but early enough run starts in the preceding weeks. Somewhere at the 1.5km mark, I overtook 2 guys, who promptly decided to take me on and matched my pace. We'd just crossed the 5km mark when I decided it was only nice to make some conversation:

"How far are you running?"
Guy #1 (running alongside): "7.5km there and 7.5km back. You?
Guy #2 (behind us): "How far?"
Guy #2 says to Guy #1: She's kicking our ass, man!

That made my morning.

We made it for a couple more kilometres before Guy #1 abruptly said bye and dropped off, presumably to wait for his lagging friend and the remainder of my run was done solo. Weather was manageable, it's Singapore so it's perpetually hot and humid, but it'd also rained heavily the night before so temperatures were unusually cool and I completed the 20km in a 1:41. Yay!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

2012 Travel Plans (as of 17 September 2012)

I've been travelling quite a bit in 2012. 9 trips within the first half of this year alone and I'll be in New York in 6 weeks for the ING New York Marathon on November 4. Needless to say, I've been incredibly busy over the last few months training for the race - I've been making more of an effort to have early nights, lay off the alcohol, watch my diet and hydration, albeit with a few exceptions here and there, but those exceptions are stories in themselves, stories for another day and another time:) I foresee the next 4 weeks getting a little more intense as I ramp up the mileage further before I taper off in the final 2 weeks. I've managed to clock 70km in a week, and my last long run was 30km in 2hr50mins. I reckon that's a pretty decent time, considering Singapore's hot weather, and also considering that I spent the previous afternoon learning how to play beach volleyball...   

And yes, I know I've been behind on my posts, in particular writing about my time in East/Central Africa and spending my 25th birthday in the DR Congo. I'll try to come up with a trip report on that soon, but in any case, here's what I've done so far, and what I will be doing:

Completed -

1. 31 December 2011 to 2 January 2012: Bangkok
2. 14 January 2012 to 16 January 2012: Hong Kong 
3. 21 January 2012 to 24 January 2012: Hong Kong 
4. 9 February 2012 to 12 February 2012: Kota Kinabalu
5. 27 March 2012 to 1 April 2012: Maldives
6. 5 April 2012 to 8 April 2012: Manila
7. 26 April 2012 to 13 May 2012: Uganda, Rwanda and the DR Congo
8. 8 June 2012 to 10 June 2012: Bali
9. 16 June 2012 to 18 June 2012: Hua Hin
10. 7 September 2012 to 9 September 2012: Hong Kong

Pending -
11. 2 November 2012 to 13 November 2012: New York - I CAN'T WAIT, because (1) Marathon (2) Seeing M, not in order of importance of course:) BRING IT ON ALREADY!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Songs For The Road #1

There will always be certain songs you identify with, or come to associate with, a certain place at a certain time in your life; for good reason, or for no reason at all. 

Here's a small list of songs I've come to associate with places I've been to:

Madrid, Spain, 2007: No Voy A Cambiar by Malú; Dulce Locura by La Oreja De Van Gogh 

We walked into a Ben & Jerry's somewhere in the heart of Madrid and I remember saying a cheery Hola! I think No Voy A Cambiar was playing then, and Dulce Locura came on the soundsystem after that. I asked the lady to write down the names of both songs while I munched on some chocolate ice-cream. 

Sarajevo to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2009: Right Now (Na Na Na) by Akon
We woke at the ungodly hour of I think 6:00am, intending to catch the 7:00am train from Sarajevo to Mostar,  only to run into some miscommunication with our taxi driver who drove us to a deserted bus station far, far out of town instead of the train station. It was a mad dash to catch our train and we really had to make a run for it with our bags and made it, just barely. And then it was a sleepy, scenic journey to Mostar, when suddenly A and I wondered out loud who was listening to Right Now (Na Na Na) ON LOOP through his headphones. All this time we'd thought it was K, only to realise the source of our oh-my-god-he's-listening-to-it-again?! was actually D. 

Climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, 2010: Till I Collapse by Eminem
I like to think this song helped me reach the summit at 5,895m. I had been reserving my ipod for the summit push, and when that finally came at 1130pm on a cold, wintry January night this song really helped keep me awake and stay focussed as we walked through the night in pitch darkness. I do think it's one of Eminem's best songs, and it has consistently remained as one of my favourite workout/post-workout tracks ever since. Both the original and the remix (feat. Tupac, 50-Cent and Nate Dogg) are good!

Petén, Guatemala to Caye Caulker, Belize, 2010: Chiquitita by ABBA; Rice & Beans by Bella Carib
The very next day after Tikal, we were making our way from Petén to the Guatemala-Belize border when Chiquitita came on the radio. Very 80s, but very good because it fit the mood perfectly. I knew it was an ABBA track but wasn't sure which song it was, so I had to take down the lyrics on my phone (didn't have Shazam then!).

We were walking around on the oh-so-tiny island of Caye Caulker and I told S and Y that I wanted to pop by the music store. So in we went, and we started listening to random Belizean reggae when we heard Rice and Beans - this song did it for me, and I got the CD for I think USD25. It's obscure enough that I couldn't find a link to it on Youtube... 

*rice and beans nice*rice and beans nice*rice and beans nice*gimme more gimme more*

Bolivia, 2011: Cuando Floresca el Chuño by K'ala Marka
Bolivian music may come as a bit of a shock when you first listen to it, and it does take some getting used to. You hear the same few K'ala Marka and Llajtaymanta songs again and again when travelling throughout the country because they're that popular. I was walking around in the Witches' Market in La Paz when I decided to try looking for some traditional music. The CDs being sold were rather expensive at around USD20-25, and trying to communicate exactly what I was looking for in broken Spanish didn't prove particularly helpful, but I chanced upon this lady who brought me to a store inside a building where they had all these pirated CDs and I could listen to the songs for as long as I wanted. At around USD10 bucks a pop, they weren't exactly cheap, but I was so happy I'd found what I wanted that I didn't bother bargaining too much.

Cuando Floresca el Chuño is my favourite K'ala Marka song. There're 3 languages combined into this one song: Spanish, Quechua and Aymara; the part that goes "jumampi, nyamampi" is Quechua, and "k'awan nok'awan" is Aymara, but both mean the same thing: "without you". Also, both languages are indigenous to Bolivia.

And here's a small list of songs I've come to associate with my next trip (I leave in 2 days!): 

1. Born to Die by Lana Del Rey

2. Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo) by The Andrews Sisters

3. The Traveling Song from the Madagascar 2 soundtrack

4. Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson

A rather strange mix of songs, and I'm sure I'll add to this list as I go along - let's see if I discover any nice/interesting local songs soon!

Monday, 23 April 2012

[Maldives] Gaafu Alifu/Huvadhoo Atoll

When: 27 March 2012 to 1 April 2012

Background: The Republic of Maldives is an island nation of 26 atolls that is Earth's lowest country and also the country with the world's lowest natural highest point of 2.4 metres. Islam is the official religion, so it would be advisable to dress conservatively when visiting the capital, Malé. For clarification, Malé International Airport (otherwise known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport) is not actually located on Malé but on Hulhulé Island, and was thus unaffected by the recent political upheaval.

{Daybeds on Hadahaa}

{Water bungalows on water I could wake up to everyday}

Earlier this year, upon finding out that N's dad was involved in the development of a new resort that was yet to be launched, and that N was trying to put together a trip (read: free accommodation!), I immediately jumped at the chance. Said resort is The Residence Maldives, located on the newly-named island of Falhumaafushi, and the resort is scheduled to open within the second quarter of this year.

{Water villas at The Residence Maldives}

{Interior of our water villa}
{Sunset at The Residence}

Since the resort was not fully developed yet during the time we were there, we organised our activities with, and used the facilities of, the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, 20-30 minutes away by speedboat. The Park Hyatt is located on gorgeous Hadahaa island with some truly amazing sand - apparently the sand on the island is kept in such an excellent and pristine condition because it is sieved periodically.

On the second day, we organised some diving with Park Hyatt staff and arranged to get nitrox certified. For a half day boat charter with 2 boat dives and 1 shore dive on the house reef it cost us some USD700 per person (plus or minus, depending on whether you intend to rent any or all of your diving equipment). We also decided to get nitrox certified, and that cost us some USD160, which was fairly reasonable by international standards. 

If you're thinking of getting nitrox certified yourself, just know that nitrox refers to any gas mixture composed of a nitrogen-oxygen blend, with the percentage of oxygen typically being more than 21% (usually somewhere above 30%). Diving on nitrox means that you will be diving on higher levels of oxygen and lower levels of nitrogen as compared to diving on air. This reduced nitrogen percentage extends your bottom time at each depth, allowing you to dive longer, and therefore reduces your risk of decompression sickness, but also increases your risk of oxygen toxicity with its higher oxygen levels. There are other risks such as fire and toxic cylinder contamination from oxygen reactions, which you will learn about en-route to getting certified. 

{Clearly very happy}

{Our dive guide, Mari, looking like a giant curly fry here, holding some giant rope she found and was bringing up to the surface so it wouldn't become sea trash}

{Our dive boat for the second day was a more traditional affair: Dhonis are typically handcrafted with coconut palm timber}

Both The Residence and the Park Hyatt are located within the Gaafu Alifu Atoll, believed to be one of the largest and deepest atolls in the world.

{B pouts as she gets dragged along on a borrowed life buoy by N // Jetty jumpin'}

On our last night in the Maldives, N's family, together with some of  their family friends, decided to try out the nearby Robinson Club Maldives, a resort that sure seemed like the German and more family-friendly equivalent of Club Med. At approximately USD200 for a half day boat charter with 2 boat dives, the diving there was significantly cheaper. Granted, we weren't using a speedboat, but it was a proper dive boat in the form of a traditional Dhoni (Maldivian sail-boat) and things worked out well for us because the diving here was better.

The next morning, after a hearty and healthy breakfast, N, B and myself even made it for a morning pilates class, after which we booked spa sessions and given my sunburnt state I decidedly went with the Sun Soother. I even had time for a short afternoon workout in the gym with a quick 5-km run on the treadmill and some weights, before heading back to our room to pack and catch the 5:00pm boat en-route to Male International Airport.

All in, a fantastic trip!

Getting there:
Singapore Airlines offers direct flights to Malé, and flight time is an easy 4h 25min.
Upon arrival at Malé International Airport, you have two options to get to Falhumaafushi: (i) either you take a 90-minute seaplane, or (ii) you make your way to the domestic airport situated beside Malé International Airport and take a 55-minute Maldivian Airlines flight to Kaadedhdhoo, whereupon its a short 300m walk to the nearby jetty for a 60-minute speedboat transfer.

- With accommodation in the Maldives, you can either splurge or... splurge less. If you want to splurge, the Park Hyatt Hadahaa is a very good option and if you want to spend a little less, at the time of writing this post the Residence had opening offers so you can enjoy all the benefits of a newly launched resort for less! And if you want something cheaper but with fantastic and healthy amenities and food, the Robinson Club Maldives is a good bet. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

[Philippines] Taal/Pinatubo

Dates: 5 April 2012 to 8 April 2012

It was Good Friday weekend in Singapore, and Holy Week in the Philippines, when we decided to take a short trip to Manila. By the time S, K, M and I arrived in Ninoy Aquino International Airport it was rather late but fortunately, S' dad had arranged for his friend to pick us up. We checked into Our Melting Pot, where S and K had a room to themselves, M had a room all to himself, and I moved into what I thought was a 6-bed girls' dorm, only to find out that it was actually a 6-bed mixed dorm - came as a bit of a surprise when the first thing I saw when I walked in was Spanish Guy, sleeping in the bunk bed below mine, walking about in black briefs complaining in what sounded very much like French-accented English (or maybe I'm just really bad at this) that the air-conditioning was too noisy. 

We woke fairly early the next morning and headed to Tagaytay with Philippine Adventures, which organises hiking trips to Taal volcano, located approximately 50km south of Manila (click here for more information on the hiking). Taal volcano is situated at around 400m above sea level and is an active volcano which sits within the Pacific Ring of Fire. While the Cuexcomate volcano in Mexico is considered to be the world's smallest volcano, Taal volcano is considered to be the world's smallest active volcano - ooh exciting! 

There's more - Taal volcano is essentially what is also called Volcano Island, and this island is located within Taal lake, which fills up a volcanic caldera and is therefore in itself located within a volcano. So we are in that sense looking at a volcano within a lake within a volcano. 

And here's where things get a little bit more confusing - within Volcano Island, there is a very pretty crater lake which is, according to Wikipedia, "the world's largest lake on an island (Volcano Island) in a lake (Taal lake) on an island (Luzon), and it in turn contains its own small island, Vulcan Point". Talk about a mouthful. 

{K getting bullied by S // Smiling like crazy with - here goes - the world's largest lake on an island in a lake on an island and in turn with its own small island, in the background}

The Philippines Adventures website states that there are two trails to reach the crater lake on Volcano Island: (i) the Spanish Trail and (ii) the Kenney Trail. I think we went with the Kenney Trail, but what we experienced seemed to fit the description of the Spanish Trail (i.e. we got pestered to get horses, got passed by quite a few people on horseback, and dust whipped up by horses' hooves came our way).  

{Edited photo of the crater lake}

{Holy Week procession: on hindsight, we were incredibly glad to have been in the Philippines during this period}

The next day, we went trekking on Mt Pinatubo, also with Philippine Adventures (click here for more information on the trekking). Mt Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located at approximately 1,485m (1,745m before the 1991 eruption). Yes, there was a massive eruption in 1991 - only the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century and the effects of the eruption were apparently felt worldwide, with global average temperatures shifting downward by about 0.5deg Celsius! 

{Standing atop an old Toyota 4x4}

{I think this was before the approach to Crow Valley, a rather surreal moonscape}

{Gorgeous Mt Pinatubo}

{Group shot just before we decided to have a go in the hot spring behind us - it was hot, but well worth it!}

{Boats moored by the lake - get on one for a quick ride to the hot spring // Volcanoes make me happy}

{Extremely pretty, but bear in mind that parts of the trail can be dangerous. Touch the rocks and step on the ground as you go along and you realise that everything is SOFT. The entire area is filled with landslide-prone lahar cliffs and landslides have killed tourists in the past. As we were walking back to our jeep, rocks fell from one of the 2 cliffs flanking us on both sides}

{Group shot, having reached the crater lake after a brisk 1.5 hour walk. Average walking time is around 2-3 hours}

And that concludes our short bros trip!

- We'd thought the entire country was going to be busy with celebrations and all the stores were going to be closed, but Manila is an incredibly bustling city and things worked out well in the end. On Friday and Saturday, we were trekking on Taal volcano and Mt Pinatubo respectively, and even then there were eating places open late into the night and come Easter Sunday, everything was fully open by then and businesses looked to be in full swing.
- One thing I wish we'd tried more of was Filipino food - Wikitravel makes reference to a stunning array of food and some of it seems pretty out there (think Balut, a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell, feathers and beak and all). We hadn't done proper food research and all the good food places we wanted to go to were closed on Saturday, so there didn't seem to be a lot of options, but  it sure seemed like there was no shortage of fast food restaurants to choose from!

Monday, 5 March 2012

2012 Travel Plans (as of 5 March 2012)

- 31 December 2011 to 2 January 2012: Bangkok 
- 14 January 2012 to 16 January 2012: Hong Kong 
- 21 January 2012 to 24 January 2012: Hong Kong 
- 9 February 2012 to 12 February 2012: Kota Kinabalu

- 27 March 2012 to 1 April 2012: Maldives
- 5 April 2012 to 8 April 2012: Manila
- 26 April 2012 to 13 May 2012: TBC [This will be a solo trip; I know where I want to go and I've done half the planning, I just need to be a little more brave about it.]

Saturday, 25 February 2012

[Malaysia] Climbing Mt Kinabalu

So I climbed Mount Kinabalu some 2 weeks ago (and a mere week after getting Lasik on my eyes) and I must say it was much harder than I thought it would be. Y and I had been thinking about short getaways we could make that very weekend, and suddenly she blurted out (on a Tuesday, no less) that we should climb Mt Kinabalu. My response: "okay!" 

{This is Y, my roommate. Yes I share a room with her at work so no, we are not flatmates neither do we camp in the office 24/7. Not usually, at least.}

Mt Kinabalu is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the East Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo. Borneo, in turn, is the third largest island in the world and its territory is split between Brunei, Indonesia (state of Kalimantan) and Malaysia (states of Sabah and Sarawak). Now if you think all that sounds confusing, believe me you're not the only one; on our second night, I wondered out loud whether we were in Sabah or Borneo. 

Before booking a climb, you need to decide whether you want to climb via the Mesilau or the Timpohon trail and whether you want to climb for 3D2N or 2D1N. Compared to the Timpohon trail, the Mesilau trail is longer (approx 5.7km vs. 3km) and more challenging (approx 5-6 hours of walking vs. 2-3 hours of walking) and since I was doing all the planning, no prizes for guessing here which trail we went with. There is also the option of descending on the via ferrata (Italian for "road of iron"), and with that you can either choose to do the introductory "Walk the Torq" route, or the more advanced, and longer, "Low's Peak circuit". While the former overlaps with the latter, the "Low's Peak circuit" is also the world's highest via ferrata.

After checking that there were beds available at Laban Rata (accommodation on the mountain), we booked our 2D1N climb with Amazing Borneo. The plan was to ascend via the Mesilau trail and descend via the Timpohon trail and because we booked our climb only a few days in advance, the via ferrata routes had been fully booked by then. 

{Hammocks in the village of Kundasang, en route from Kota Kinabalu to Timpohon Gate to register and get our climbing permits before making our way to Mesilau}

The climb on the first day up to Laban Rata was pretty tough, miserable and cold, because it rained the entire time and the trail was extremely slippery. The Mesilau trail first winds its way upwards, before you are brought to an extremely steep and long downhill past waterfalls and eventually you know you may only just be re-starting the climb when you realise that you're faced with a steep ascent with lots and lots of steps, before the trail merges with the Timpohon trail and then you reach Laban Rata. We started at about 10:00am, and after a long slow walk, finally reached Laban Rata sometime around 5:30pm. I'd been wearing shorts all day and did not think to bring waterproof trousers, so I was more or less drenched from the waist down and shivering from the cold.
{Mesilau trail}

While the buffet dinner is in the restaurant (food was very good), we could only get rooms in Gunung Lagadan, which is some ways above Laban Rata itself. I thought the facilities were more than adequate with small rooms but comfortable bunk beds and bedlinen and clean bathrooms. At over 3,200m you can't really ask for much. We went to bed sometime around 8:00pm and woke around 1:30am for a light breakfast, before Y's brother, S, and I set out with our guide around 2:45am for the summit while Y, having caught a chill, remained in bed.

{Bumping into S at Laban Rata. What are the odds!}

Personally, I thought the summit push was harder and more intense than the one up Kilimanjaro. There is a long rope section that goes up all the way to the summit and much scrambling. That very day people ascending on the Timpohon trail mentioned seeing a guy being stretchered down the mountain. Apparently he'd strayed from the path and fell, breaking that fall by clinging onto a tree but also breaking his leg in the process. I was paranoid and cautious throughout the climb because of this, and also because I wasn't exactly in the best physical condition then, what with the Lasik and the long hours in the office in the preceding days before the trip. All of this culminated into one big rush the night before our flight to Kota Kinabalu, as I left the office at 4:00am or so, rushed home, packed, caught 1.5 hours of shuteye and then rushed to the airport to board our 8:50am flight, so you can imagine how tired I was even before we began the climb. That being said, aside from some breathlessness I experienced none of the typical symptoms of altitude sickness, so yay!

{On the summit with Y's brother, S, who came along} 

{On the summit slope during the descent, wearing untried and untested Smith Anthem ski goggles and La Sportiva Valles GTX boots. The goggles protected my lasik-ed eyes from the dry summit air, and the boots kept my feet nice and dry after all that rain.}

{Above cloud cover, making my way down after reaching the summit at 4,085m.}

Other little bits of information:
If you have knee problems or if you're a total klutz like me, it might be useful to bring a pair of knee guards. I've fallen on my knees while descending both Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Kinabalu - the latter was especially bad, as it had been raining and I slipped on a wet metal plank and landed on my chin and both knees. The only good thing about that story was meeting R, a Guatemalan girl who grew up in America and currently lives in Japan. She loves climbing mountains too, and she was really good (and incredibly patient) company on the descent!
We flew Silkair from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu and stayed at Hotel Sixty3, which is a 20 minute ride from the airport. Most Mt Kinabalu climbing packages include a two-way hotel transfer so hotel location within Kota Kinabalu should not be an issue. The hotel is located on Jalan Gaya, which is a nice quaint street that's got a string of bak kut teh stalls with some very, very good bak kut teh and also this place which sells giant baos - you can't miss these. All we did on the first day was walk from one stall to another eating our afternoon away. On Sundays, the entire street is closed off and transformed into a market, with people selling everything from clothes to kitchenware to pets and to natural honey collected straight from the forest and not from an apiary so it is quite a nice place to be, but beware the pickpockets! 

{Giant baos}
We also ate at Welcome Seafood Restaurant, which is a 10-15 minute walk away from Jalan Gaya. For 2 crabs, lobster, prawns and vegetable dishes shared among 3, the bill came up to S$17 per person, and we liked the food so much we went back on our last night for a second round of cheap good seafood.
For the climb itself, I would suggest bringing along some fleece and proper gloves and a beanie. You will need them, especially for the summit attempt, because it gets extremely cold. It will also be extremely useful to have raingear, proper trekking boots (i.e. waterproof and with a mid-rise design for ankle support), a headlamp and trekking poles/walking stick. 

For the extremely fit (or if you're a loon), you may want to think about joining the Kinabalu International Climbathon. The guide did say it was going to be cancelled this year, but don't take his word for it. 

Useful information can be found on Wikitravel