Tokyo Marathon 2019 Race Review

Dear runners and friends, This is a story and a race review by my hubby a.k.a “sole mate”…..

I can’t believe that the 2019 Tokyo Marathon is now over, and I am sitting on my couch writing my race report. I found out in November 2018 that I was selected to participate. I entered the lottery in August, not knowing what would happen. The odds were not in my favor. I remember reading an article months before that said the Tokyo Marathon was one of the hardest marathons to get into. I was shocked when the email came. I screamed when I read it. I prayed that I would get in, and I did! But of course actually pulling the trigger wasn’t an easy decision after that. There were multiple discussions like “Can we afford this?” or “Is this wise to do when we’re trying to save for other stuff, or pay other bills?” and “Do we have the time to take off from work and the children?” I naturally began to wonder if my goals of traveling all over the world to run marathons were selfish, and not in the best interest of my family. With the support of my amazing wife, Chrisy, she said to me “Let’s do this! My wife is incredibly supportive. She loves that I have all these goals, and she wants me to achieve them. And she wants to be there with me every step of the way.

So there you have it! We booked our flights and headed off to Japan.

Word of advice: the security check and gate entrance process is confusing and time consuming. Give yourself plenty of time before the race! Gates open at 7 am; race start is 9 am (Gate entrance is open from 7-8:15 am). You will end up walking around in circles trying to find where you should go, so go early. 

Race day was a mix of emotions- both excitement and nerves. We stayed at APA Hotels and Resorts Nishishinjuku which was just a short walk to the start line. This was very nice because it helped alleviate the stress of getting to the start on time. It also meant I could sleep in a little and hang at the hotel a little longer, not having to wait outside in the cold for the race to begin. I had originally hoped and planned for the temps to be in the mid 15 degrees to low 12 degrees. However, on race day, the temperature was around 5 degrees. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, hugs and kisses from my wife and I walked to the starting area in the cold rainy day. Thank God I had my poncho.

That was a difficult process. I managed to weasel my way in. So here’s how it works: You are assigned a gate entrance number 1, 2, 4 or 5. Gate 3 is for runners who don’t have ANYTHING on their body at all. So no bag, no water bottle, no phone, no fuel belt, no costume, nothing! If you even have an armband on with a phone, you can’t go through Gate 3.  Make sure get a waterproof bag.  I did not choose the baggage check in because my wife would be waiting for me at finishing area with warm clothes. (well that was the plan originally…… ) I started to walk to my starting block. There were all together 12 Blocks and mine was on Block L… Yes.. the last block!. (I believe they group by running time. During registration, you will have to fill in information on your expected finishing time. )

There are multiple entrance gates. Please ensure that you follow the gate number that is written on your BIB. It is strictly forbidden to enter any other gates other than yours. Mine was gate No 2. Once you are there you the volunteer will scan your wristband  followed by a Security officer. The security is very tight. You need to go through a metal detector and also have your bag contents examined thoroughly. There weren’t garbage cans nearby to throw trash outside the gates. Volunteers hold large clear plastic bags for you to throw trash near the gate entrance. Again, this is a safety measure so there are no repeat bombs in a garbage can. Everything was examined and a Security Check” sticker was placed on it.  Oh yes.. and strictly NO water bottles are allowed. They are very strict about this and will show no mercy in confiscating your bottles. Once confiscated, you will not be able to reclaim it. Then only you are allowed to enter. We are taking about 38,000 runners gathering in small area like around Dataran Merdeka. Can you imagine the chaos? The entrance gate will be crowded so please arrive early. I repeat, arrive early!

I was shivering in cold, we had to wait about an hour before the flag off. Standing there seemed like ages. With few minutes to spare, I found my way into corral  – actually finding the corral turned out to be the only chaotic part of the Tokyo Marathon and runners panicked about getting to the right zones with the obscenely long wait for the loos. From the corrals, we listened to music playing  and there were some words that were spoken in Japanese over the loudspeaker (I have no clue what they announced) followed by the introduction of the Elite runners and wheelchair participants. A song was sung in Japanese, possibly the national anthem?  I felt like I was in the Hunger Games listening to broadcasts from the Capitol. Then the starting gun went off. I believe it was  20-30 min before we were able to actually start. It starting Moving very slowly.. Crowd was so huge. Quick wave to official at podium and pick up my steps. Noticed many shirts and poncho were by the roads sides. It was clearly mentioned to all runners not to throw their clothes on the road but put into the donation bin but unfortunately some did not adhere to this basic safety precautions.  The rain started to be heavy and I can feel the low temperatures. I found out that this year was the worst conditions in the 13-year history of the Tokyo Marathon. I was supposed to took off my shirt and put in the bin but decided to keep it on due to the freaking cold and chilly weather.  I started to pick up my speed and but it was really difficult to run with three layers of shirt and a poncho . I try to hold to the poncho hood because its keep coming off because of strong wind.  The road was wide to run because the organizer have closed almost all the major roads in the city. We started to run with about 6 lanes opened. After running about  5km the road was narrowed down to 3 lanes but we all the runners had plenty of space to run. I saw the first Seiko cut off time which. This is important …The Tokyo Marathon has notoriously strict cut off times. You see the race started at 9:10 AM but for me I crossed the starting line 25 minutes after the gun. It was highlighted in handbook clearly that it did not matter what time you crossed the starting line, or whether you stopped for a “Potty Break”. You must cross the checkpoint as per below cut off times . I heard from another blog later “hundreds of runners” were prevented from continuing the race after the 10 kilometer cut off. So.. pls do not spend much time for potty break.


The course takes in many sights including the Tokyo Government building, Tokyo Tower and Imperial Palace. The marathon incorporated some down hills, wide roads and flat surfaces, but also some nasty little inclines and bridges which kept it interesting. Along the course, there was also a few sections of out and backs where you crossover, getting to see many runners ahead of you and behind you. I even got to see the elites run by a few times which was cool to see. These crossovers also allowed for ample opportunities to see my wife at the 30KM cheering along the course, which was nice!

The first half of the race went well and I felt pretty good. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected and the race started on a downhill which was nice. I had my fuel plan in place and was excited to start my 26.2 mile journey through the city and take in the sites that Japan had to offer.

I skipped the first water station. My run plan was to take a break every 5km..maybe due to the cold weather and wanted to keep myself warm and skipped the first 5km. There were tons of water stations and toilets .

Events along the road some places. There were about 22 events which were planned along the road.  There were school children performing and singing in their ponchos. That’s a truly amazing sight to see their dedication and commitment to ensure that this event a successful one! About 10KM.. I decided to take a break. I notice the poncho took a beating and my shirt was soaked and totally wet. To add to my misery my shoe was not water proof wet. My socks were soaking wet too. I was totally drenched and soaked under the rain.  I decided to stopped for some water and isotonic drink then I started to move again.  At some point, the rain and wind was heavy. But my mantra kept  was telling myself to keep, keep going,  running to keep warm.

With the rain continued heavily and it did not look like it was going to stop or slow down anytime sooner.. I knew it was never going to a be an easy run. I have to give it all I have got now!

The Performances by the road sides made the run more liveable unfortunately it was raining. They were not able to perform to the full potential. I even saw some singers that had to perform from the buildings to take shelter from the rain.  Some schools students preformed their singing in a group with their ponchos. The rain did not stop their spirits. They were all 100% performing with all their might and strength. There were a total of 24 events during the Tokyo marathon. Some runner were running with cosplay and anime costumes. There was one that even looked like a Pikachu. At some point you will be able to see a group of runners on both sides of the roads because they have U turns at few places. Its an amazing view. The opposite runners gave us motivation and was cheering for us to keep going and not to give up.

After 2 hours of running ..somehow as the rain got heavier and the temperature of around 5 C, which was the second lowest in Tokyo Marathon history.  Later I found out that the runner, Osako, who currently holds the national record, had to pull out around the 29-km mark.

“I began feeling cold even before the start. I eventually could not move my body and it forced me to withdraw from the race,” Osako said in a statement.

Can you imagine now how difficult was it for me? A first timer in this type of weather and this was my third official full marathon.

It was certainly cold running in the rain and the wind. At some point my legs felt heavy and I just wanted to walk. Then I remembered I met person in a hotel lift and he was telling about his friend that has been trying for 10 years to run the Tokyo Marathon and is still not able to get a slot. And here I am in Tokyo, running Tokyo Marathon and  in my head I was telling myself, It’s now or never because I might not get another chance to do this! THIS IS IT! Just do it!

The course goes past the major sights of Tokyo including the Imperial Palace, Tsukiji Fish Market, Sensoji Temple, Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower, Ginza Ave, Tokyo Museum, etc. (in no particular order). It really is the best way to see all of Tokyo by foot! I was surprised at how close the course was to Sensoji Temple.

The distance are marked every KM. I was almost reaching to half way point and was looking at my watch. Duh! It went blank. Maybe due to rainy weather and water, my watch gave up on me! I’m not sure what was my pace time. It was raining heavier and it was getting so cold. The wind was kicking up the speed as well.

I ran looking downwards due to heavy rain and just kept running. Then suddenly I heard a voice, calling out and shouting my name! I looked up and I a familiar face, a friend from Malaysia, Mallissa. She was at opposite side of the road. It was amazing for two Malaysians to be able to meet in the a large crowd of 38,000 runners.  We said Hi and wished other good luck and continued to run again.

There were volunteers everywhere! They have volunteers organizing the bathroom stops, and ones holding garbage bags along the course. The water stops have plenty of volunteers handing out water and cheering you on. They were simply amazing. They always had a smile on their face, and they were extremely polite. The volunteers made this race wonderful. Even at the family meet up/baggage pick-up area the volunteers would congratulated runners. I saw someone posted a video of them clapping in sync as runners picked up their bags. I can’t thank the volunteers enough for all their help in making this an amazing and successful race. Volunteers wear different color jackets which mean certain things. I can’t remember what each color represents, but I do know the green jackets meant the volunteer could speak English. At the Expo you will see a display of what each color jacket means.

The most amazing thing about Tokyo Marathon is not about the runners… Its about the crowds and the volunteers. They were simply  great, standing in the rain and always offering support and cheers the runners. The crowd shouted something that sounded like “Gambatta Gambatta …Chayo.. Chayho.. I did not know the what was the meaning at first and later my wife explained the meaning to me. LOL.  The crowds were my favorite. There were people everywhere! I believe the runner handbook says 1.5 million spectators. And they cheered their hearts out. They even knew one or two phrases in English to cheer us on. And they LOVED high-fiving everyone. I ended up high fiving everyone because it was just fun and they got so excited. There were many forms of entertainment along the course as well. There were groups of dancers with music. I am sure there is a formal name for them, but I don’t know what it is. There were dancers with flags, children dancing, people banging on drums, everything! I’ve never seen anything like it. They took it so seriously and it seemed like they were so honored to entertain the runners. The Tokyo roads were just superb. Even though it was raining heavily, you could hardly see any puddle of water or not even a single pot hole. Tokyo is known for his cleanliness and it lives to its name. Simple a beautiful city.

A day before the race, my wife and I took a tour to the finishing line and decided to meet near the Hibiya park, which was the 30KM. I was so ecstatic to meet my wife. It was huge boost of motivation for me.  As expected , she was there to greet me with an umbrella and with our national flag. I was so happy to see her. Gave her a hug and a quick chat and she gave me words of encouragement and I took off and ran. We agreed to meet at opposite of the road which will be a point mark 41KM where she will pass the Malaysian flag to me. I decided to take out my last layer of my T-shirt because it was soaking wet and also decided to take off  my  poncho. From 30KM onwards I ran in rain. Completely soaked and drenched. At this point of time, I could see lots more medics now. Maybe they were expecting more runners in need of help at this point now. Some of them were on bicycles. There were lots more photographers  at this point onwards too.

From 30KM onwards it was a big loop so we can see runners on the other side of the road. I could see everybody pushing their limits to complete their last 5KM in the rain and the cold chilly breeze wind.

When I reached the 41KM ..jeng jeng jeng…. I was unable to find my wife. So, I decided to go backwards and walked back again slowly , hoping and thought maybe, just maybe I missed her along the way . She was nowhere in sight and was no where to be found. At this point of time, the official came and advise me to keep running forward. At this point, I was puzzled at the same time, how come she was not there when it was just the opposite side of the road? But at the back of my mind, I was worried too as well ..hoping she that she was alright.  I decided to continue hoping to meet her at the last 1KM stretch so I could get the flag and finish off the race proudly with my national flag. The last stretch of the final KM  was crowded and all that I could say was that it was just awesome to hear the crowd cheering. I have never felt so supported from a running perspective! THANK YOU to all of my friends & family for your support during this Tokyo Marathon journey!! From a race perspective, the crowd support is unparalleled—I have never done a race where there are wall-to-wall people from the start to the finish. Amazing sauce is all I can say about the people of Tokyo & the love of their city & marathon! Indeed it was a challenge especially for a runner like me from a tropical country who has never ran in a cold weather furthermore in the rain. And then came the final turn and I could see the finishing line.

And just like that, the finish line loomed. I threw my hands in the air & gladly stomped across that final mat. 5:16:28!! What a relief. Like all major marathons,  the finish did not disappoint- lots of spectators and lots of fanfare.  Nothing better than crossing a finish line!

Tokyo Marathon Foundation, Race Director, Mr. Tadaaki Hayano summarized the event. “It was the coldest in Tokyo Marathon history. I’m sure the runners were chilled to the bone. But the international athletes had the strength to make a mark despite these conditions.”

This was just the most amazing experience of my life and I can’t agree more. Will I do it again…perhaps.

Overall, visiting Japan has been an amazing vacation and tremendous adventure. This was truly the journey of a lifetime. It was fun to try the local cuisine, explore the city, see Mt. Fuji and visit various temples and shrines. Japan is a city filled with lots of culture.   There is lots to do and many places to visit. Traveling the world, exploring new cities, and getting to run is  a truly awesome privilege. I feel so blessed.  It’s been an amazing experience and something I couldn’t have done without the love, support, & encouragement from my wife, my family, and my close friends. It’s been a remarkable journey and I can’t wait to see what’s next.


Shamrock Run 2019 ROCKS!

This is one crazy-pants race! It is definitely a tradition, good times, social, community run. The Shamrock run! For those that haven’t done it before, it’s really more of a run about having a good time and most folks make it one of their first race events. You get a lot of folks are dressed up and really it’s about being part of the event and enjoying the music, goodies, food and people.  The Shamrock Run 2019 is organized by the Malaysian Irish Alumni Association with strong collaboration from the Embassy of Ireland in Malaysia and O’Briens Irish Sandwich Cafe as the main partner.

Top 5 reasons why you should run the Shamrock Run 2019

1.It’s a new venue

It will be held at UIA Stadium Gombak. The route will pass leafy and hilly surroundings of the UIA Gombak Campus. There are 2 categories of the run, the 10km Men and Women Open for those aged 18 and above and 5km Family Fun Open Category, of which strollers and children are much welcomed.

2.You don’t have to run

Many fun runs have a variety of distance options, some going down to just a couple of kilometres where you have the option to jog or walk if you can’t keep going. Worried you might look silly if you can’t finish? If you can’t continue-stop! Nobody will think less of you and in fact, you’ll find that many people you meet on that day will be new to running events and are there, just like you, to see how far they can push themselves!

3.It’s social!

Research tells us if we exercise with others (We call them ‘accountability partners’) we are more likely to achieve our goals. You’ll also be spending quality time together, you will inspire each other and be more motivated to see it through.

4.It’s fun!

They don’t call it a fun run for no reason. The atmosphere and energy at fun runs can be amazing. The organizer will have music playing, entertainment and someone with motivating words blaring over a loudspeaker. People even will run infancy dress and others push strollers and prams. It’s a wonderful experience, whether you’re long-time runner or not!

5.You will feel great afterwards

Crossing that finishing line with hundreds of other people simply feels great. Not only have you achieved your goal, you are part of a huge group of people all there for the same reason.

To prepare, just lace up your running shoes and go! It doesn’t matter how fast at first…….YOUR PACE, YOUR RACE!

So, whether you are setting a goal for a new you or a goal to be part of something bigger than YORUSELF, RUN!! Register now to enjoy an early bird discount by 15 March 2019 at


Ditch the workout-Join the party! Zumba by Exhale @ Seremban Prima

Zumba got its name from the buzzing of bees……..ZUUUuuuuuuuuuummmba! It’s Colombian Slang for “fast”. Take to the floor and shake it to an infectious routine of easy to follow steps and moves in a sociable party atmosphere. Zumba dancing transforms fitness routine into a fiesta.

I’ll admit, the thought of someone as uncoordinated as myself trying to dance alongside nearly 150 participants was initially scary but remembering the joy I felt dancing with my daughter Anjali (Chung Hua High School Student), it was fantastic!

The mixture of kicks, twirls, glides and ends provide an hour of enthusiasm and passion, offering an energetic atmosphere for everyone to get stuck in.

At the kick off event, at about 1.45pm, YB Nicole Tan graced the event. She gave a short speech saying that she rushed from Penang just to be here with us today. There was a massive traffic congestion along the PLUS highway, that was the reason why her journey was slightly delayed. I truly admire her dedication and her energy level, who showed up in her sports attire to body roll, fist pump and booty-shake. We then sang our national anthem “Negaraku” followed by a short speech by Ms Lily. At 2pm, the party began. That joy exists is in no small part to the Zumba community, from instructors to participants, welcoming each other and creating a positive, accepting and inclusive space for all to flourish in.

To me, Zumba means “connection is the energy we create when we feel, seen, heard and loved.” Zumba is all about rewarding, not punishing yourself. Zumba is for everybody- Period!

The event organised by Exhale Fitness was part of their CSR program which funds will be contributed and donated to charity. It was an atmosphere of inclusivity for people of different body size. Zumba wear is equally inclusive, featuring size small (SPICY), medium (MARVELOUS), large (LOVELY), extra large (EXTRA LOVELY) and so on, because as the tags note, “a size won’t tell you how awesome you are”.

The atmosphere in Seremban Prima was like a disco in a gym, however, my personal opinion, Zumba combines moves used in different Latin dances such as samba, mambo and salsa, as well as belly-dancing, hip-hop and martial arts, all set to a soundtrack of upbeat Latin music tempos. Therefore, the moves were more a “dance-mix” routine rather than the original choreographed Zumba fitness elements, nevertheless it provided exciting, rhythmical exercise routines that are great fun.

It was a fun little event, too bad that more people didn’t show up but I am hoping that Seremban Prima will welcome more events like this lots more.

The word will get out!

Kampung Hakka Mantin-A disappearing heritage


Preserving the history and rich heritage of the century-old Kampung Hakka in Mantin near Seremban.


“The demolition of old and historical settlements in the country in the name of development is a wake-up call to all of us”. It is important that we preserve them because future generations need to know that this country was built by all races.


Kampung Hakka was a settlement of working class migrants from China who traced their roots to Huizhou in Guangdong.

About 300 families once occupied the village which is considered to be among the older Hakka settlements in the country.

Today, only 32 families still live there as the village has been partly developed after it was sold. Many make a living by selling fruits, vegetables and herbs from their tiny gardens or rear birds to be sold at pet shops in the city. Some even sell bundles of old newspapers to nearby orchards to wrap and protect fruits still hanging on the trees.

While most of them just want to be allowed to spend their remaining years in the only homes they know, there are some who do not want to see their personal history wiped out.


I truly had an out of this world experience! I had the opportunity to ride a bicycle (last rode a bicycle when I was 16 years old) a little ‘shaky shaky’ but thanked my lucky stars, I managed to get a grip of myself! It was a fun day, hubby and I arrived at Kampung Hakka at 4pm and was warmly welcomed with arms wide open by Madam Seong Foong Chan, a Rakan Mantin member, to the Village’s Interpretative Centre. Rakan Mantin was put together by Victor, with the collaboration of Chan Seong Foon, in September 2012. They wanted to support the residents’ rights to continue living in their village by raising awareness of the history of the Kg Hakka within their own community as well as to outsiders (Community arts, 2014).

The Interpretative Centre is the home of Chong Tze Yaw and has belonged to his family for six generations. The old house has been renovated and is used as a small exhibition hall, where old pictures and documentation of residents’ stories are on display.


The agenda for the day included a Bicycle tour through the village and we were pleased to meet more villagers who shared with us their life stories, including the delightful Grandmas Kok and Lee who run Mah-jong game tables in their homes. A grocery store, an impressive Church under the name of St Aloysius built in 1900 as well as a Chinese temple also over 100 years old were included in our tour, kindly guided by Eddy.  She gave us a brief tour, with so much information for me to digest and dozens and dozens of amazing photographs, explaining the history and details of Kampung Hakka. Minutes later, we went for a journey back into time…….


At the end of the tour and in conjunction of Chap Goh Mei, they hosted dinner with a few performances, Lion dance performance and also fireworks!  we enjoyed the scrumptious feast prepared by the Kg Hakka ladies.


The Kg Hakka villagers, with the support of Victor Chin, Seong Foong Chan and the other members of Rakan Mantin, welcome visitors and encourage them to participate in social events organized in the village. The goal is to exchange the villagers’ stories with the visitors, emphasizing a two-way experience, much like visiting a new friend´s home and avoiding turning it into a showcase.


Chinese New Year Feast @ Royale Chulan, Han Pi Yuen, Seremban

Chinese New Year to me, means a lot of things- being a ‘mixture’, my dad- a Chinese, my mum-a Eurasian and married to an Indian. I get the best of everything, culture, religion and traditions. From lunch and dinner get together to seeing random children in the kampung-hood walking up to you with ‘Xin Nian Kuai Le’ greetings, their hands stretched out for “you know what”….and not forgetting the massive traffic jam if you leave for your destination during peak times.

But most importantly, Chinese New Year is about family and friends and celebrating the start of a New Lunar Year.

It was the first day of Chinese New Year- we decided to have our dinner at Royale Chulan- Han Pi Yuen Restaurant – What better way to celebrate anything……

The menu had a great selection. Mr Edward greeted us and led us to a private room and briefed us about the menu and their signature dishes and something you can’t get anywhere in Seremban.

Step aside ‘the traditional’ Yee Sang, prepared by Chef Jack’s special combination Yee Sang of fresh Salmon, assorted vegetables, crackers , oranges….. steamed it’s way to our table! I allowed my taste buds to explore the fundamental flavours of spicy, sour, sweet and salty. It was heavenly…

Some might ask, what is in the menu? All set of menus will include dishes associated with prosperity, luck, success, love and wealth which are the characteristics commonly associated with Chinese New Year.

Our mains came fairly swiftly after our appetizers but still with enough time to relax and enjoy the company and surroundings.

Among the highlights was the Glutinous Rice with lobsters, it was tasty and easy to chew. One piece was not enough, we took extra helpings, of course. The sauce was wonderful too and having it with the warm glutinous rice to mop up the sauce did wonders! A typical Chinese meal with some carbs, and since it is Chinese New Year, rice symbolises a link between heaven and men as a sign of fertility and wealth for the New Year @ Royale Chulan, Han Pi Yuen Restaurant, they have prepared this signature glutinous rice with lobster.

Steamed Tiger Grouper with Chicken Essence- it was an impressive dish. It had the right formula. The creaminess of the broth was overwhelming for my palate.  Splendid texture that leaves me wanting for more….

Overall, the Chinese New Year feast at Royale Chulan, Han Pi Yuen Restaurant didn’t miss any mark nor did it spring any surprises! Dishes here didn’t deviate far from it’s traditional form and flavour. You can expect quality and consistency and thus be assured that your traditional Chinese New Year feast here won’t be a disappointment.

10 tips for an awesome ZUMBA Class

ZUMBA is a fun, high-intensity and high-energy workout. Here are some tips for an awesome Zumba class……..

1. Arrive on time : In fact, arrive a few minutes early and secure your spot. There is nothing worse than a straggler who pushes her way into the spot she wants 10 minutes after class has started.

2. Respect the space of others :- We move around a lot. A LOT. Don’t stand so close to someone else that they run the risk of smacking you accidentally on purpose as a warning. Or asking you to move or giving you nasty “let’s fight” looks. Not that I have done any of these

3. Know your place:- Okay, that sounds rude. But if you’re new or can’t follow routines, please don’t stand in the front row. Your unfamiliarity with what the instructor is doing, or possess an inability to pick up moves quickly (like me), is distracting. You can move up front as you become more familiar with the routines (Note: quality of dancing is irrelevant. You can be a terrible dancer but still know the moves. In other words, me!)

4. Keep moving:- We all screw up. Even the instructors. But when you screw up and just STOP, you throw everyone around you off and you might cause someone to fall or get hurt, particularly if they bump into you. And If you don’t like a song and don’t want to dance to it, step off to the side. Take a break. Don’t just stand there.

5. Wear deodorant:- It makes me sad I had to write that…..

6. Don’t be a space stealer:- If someone leaves in the middle of song or to get a drink, don’t sneak into her spot. More than likely, she will return. Taking a break is not permission to sneak into someone’s spot. If you wanted a better spot, refer to rule #1


7. Prepare to sweat :- I don’t care if you’re in the best shape ever, this is awesome load of fast paced cardio. It’s seriously tensed and you will sweat. Don’t complain about it. We’re all sweating because we’re suppose to. SO bring a towel and suck it up!

8. Don’t gawk or make fun of other class-mates:- This is just a common courtesy in any part of life. Sure, some of us in the corner may move funny, but everyone has their own Zumba style: respect each other!

9. Don’t be afraid to make some noise:- I have the most fun in class when everyone lets loose and shouts and hollas. It adds energy to the class and keeps everyone pumped. I love it!

10. Be friendly to other classmates:- Welcome new students, get to know each other and lend a helping hand. This creates a friendly environment where fun fitness can thrive.

Follow these rules and you will be an A student. Nothing worse than going to a class and having an irritating person with poor Zumba class etiquette ruin your experience. So please don’t be that person okay…

BTS LOVE YOURSELF WORLD TOUR B#angtan T#hat S#layed Singapore

In the months between then and the BTS concert last weekend, 19 January 2019 in Singapore, I learned a lot about the members of BTS- RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and JungKook- as well as their journey to this level of fame, their passion for the music they make and their authentic appreciation for their fans. Their genuineness, dorkiness and meaningful lyrics made me feel honoured to support them by attending to one of their concerts with my daughter Amisha, aged 14 (Die hard No-1 ARMY) So she claims….

As soon as we arrived the Singapore Indoor Stadium, TONS of girls and guys were wearing BTS Merch and I literally freaked out because I saw so many ARMY there. Everywhere I turned there were girls talking about BTS or buying ARMY Bombs and merch. There were some who were singing as loudly as possible to BTS songs. The feeling was just amazing, no words to really describe it!

Few days before the concert, the event organiser released rules & regulations (10 pages) and informed that the standing ticket holders were suppose to start queueing from 12.30pm onwards. First, we were queueing outside the indoor stadium from 11.00am, then at 12.40pm we were allowed to enter the Indoor stadium and then we waited some more until 3.30pm without proper food only sips of water. We patiently waited from 11.00am (8 hours) before the concert, which was actually quite tiring but fun because we made an awesome group of friends to camp out with! It went by quicker than you’d think and honestly, making ARMY friends just adds to the whole experience. At about 4pm, we were then ushered to the National Stadium and had to wait and queue outside.

Once we finally got inside the National Stadium, we ran to be in front but the crowd was already there. The organisers promised that we will be allocated at the standing pen according to our tickets numbers, however, that was untrue! ARMY were pushing and shoving to get to the front. That was a horror! We had to stand from 4.30pm until show time. Everything was doing great while we waited, everyone was buzzing and singing along to the music videos being played on the big screens.

However once it got near show time, ARMY started pushing and shoving us out our spots. There were no proper ventilation, it was humid, no food and water from 11.00am. Many Armies, fainted and collapsed. Medics and First Aid took forever to arrive. It was genuinely devastating because it happened so quickly and there was nowhere to go, so for the rest of the concert, so much of our views were obstructed. The pit is truly not for the faint of heart, and it was so hot and painful being constantly shoved from both sides that I literally missed parts of the concert.

Another downside is that the crowd all around me were too focused on getting videos. On the bright side, it was absolutely unreal seeing BTS so close-up. They basically look like the best photos of themselves. It still felt fake to Amisha though, she just couldn’t believe that it was really them in front of her. They didn’t really interact with the center people as much as I thought they would which was a little disappointing but you can’t blame them when there’s so many people that want their attention……

The boys glow. I don’t know how else to put it. They are absolutely beautiful on the outside but their stage presence, charisma and kindness is so evident and unreal. It felt amazing to do the fanchant and sing along to their songs. Even before the concert, they played music videos on the screens and everyone sang and fanchanted along. If I’m being completely honest, I was expecting to feel overwhelmed by crazy fans around me, including my 14 year old daughter, Amisha, but everyone was very respectful. I was also worried about not being able to sing songs in perfect Korean and possibly getting interrogated by ARMY’s who have known Bangtan longer. But I had no reason to worry and it was an amazing experience.

Seeing them in person made me realize even more how radiant and talented they are but it also reminded me that they are human. Let me repeat. THEY. ARE.HUMAN!

V- This man is flawless. His visuals are just crazy and his voice is absolutely mesmerizing. Singularity was amazing. Everything about it was so captivating, with V’s voice and the dancers holding the white masks behind him.

Jimin seemed a bit melancholy. Dancing the choreography and singing is so difficult to do. Jimin nailed it, but he did seem insecure. I hope he knows how well he did. (Eventhough, he fell on stage) Honestly, Jimin doesn’t give off the cute mochi vibes much when performing. He’s much more serious and focused on every minor detail. That attention to detail is what makes his dancing so emotional and unforgettable. He has passion beyond his years.

Jungkook slayed. I personally thinks he is the best singer, in terms of techniques and stability on and off the stage. His voice gave me the chills on euphoria especially. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “this boy was born for this”. His smile is even cuter in person and it lights up the stage!

Jin stole the show. The man’s vocals are incredible , especially on epiphany. And I loved how he played the piano at the beginning! I just can’t believe that he didn’t sing or have much music experience before BTS. He has worked so hard to get to where he’s at and anyone who says he doesn’t belong to BTS doesn’t know what they are talking about. He performs with so much heart and he filled the stadium with joy and the entire night through his singing, smile and goofiness. It’s obvious that he doesn’t take his position for granted.

Suga– Seriously, how does he rap and dance at the same time? It’s insane. He sounded great while doing difficult choreography and it was so mind blowing to see him do all that at once. This man so confident. I love it. He raps perfectly and his rage presence is powerful yet funny. He asked nothing but the best from us and gave nothing but the best to us. This man is an icon!

J-Hope’s energy was fire. It was insane. I don’t even know how he raps and dances so incredibly without showing a glimpse of fatigue. He is literal sunshine, always smiling and enjoying performing.

RM is the leader for a reason. He speaks with such confidence and humility. When performing, he seems so focused on the words. What I mean is, he’s not just rapping to entertain. He’s rapping because he has something to say. Also, his visuals are even more stunning in person than I expected. He holds himself in a way that people can’t help but respect!

Seeing Bangtan Boys will change your perspective of them. In an amazing way. Like I said, I have much more empathy for them.

I’m taking it as a lesson for what to fix the next time BTS comes around:-

  1. If you’re planning to buy the ‘standing’ tickets, prepare to camp out, you will be treated like an “ARMY”- literally.
  2. Don’t go near the very center of the extended stage
  3. Don’t let people push you around
  4. Water, water, water- Try to stay hydrated.

If the stage floor height is high, don’t even try standing right by the stage, unless you prefer having the chance to those brief moments where they go right by you and you see them in all their HD glory, then back to the usual I-can -maybe-see-their-head.

Away from the crowd guarantees a better viewing angle. Maybe you’ll see the whole concert with almost the same view as front row seated. Wear your tallest footwear, or buy the tallest to you can wear.

If you’re sure the stage floor is lower than your eye level. Line up really early to be front and centre, hydrate yourself but not to the point you’d need to pee during the concert, cling to friend, mum or your neighbour for dear life, practice breathing control in a swimming pool beforehand for the compressed environment , also maybe start lifting to strengthen your arms for the push/pull battle. Most importantly don’t let your ribs get squeezed to the point of fainting, and wear light and comfy clothes because it will get hot and sweaty.

My favourite part of the concert was when they were waving at us at the end. Before the encore songs, the boys said a few last words to the crowd, mostly practicing their English skills while a few others allowed the translator to give them a hand. They had already said their thank yous and goodbyes, but they stayed on stage for so long afterwards, just smiling and waving at us. ARMY were all emotional including my girl, Amisha because they didn’t run off the stage quickly. No, they lingered as long as they could to show that they love us. ARMY Felt so connected to them in that moment. It was the most beautiful moment in life for ARMY in Singapore!

If you ever get the chance to go, don’t worry if your seats are far from stage or if you don’t have all the crazy merch. You will still have an amazing , magical time, just like we did!

Thank you Kim Namjoon (RM), Kim SeokJin (Jin), Min Yoongi (Suga), Jung HoSeok (J-Hope), Park Jimin (Jimin), Kim TaehYung (V) and Jeon JungKook (Jung Kook). You are truly appreciated by those who matter. Love yourselves, like you help us to do.