Friday, September 22, 2017

Go Local :: Old Changi Hospital

Mention Old Changi Hospital and you'd immediately think of an old, abandoned hospital standing atop a lonely hill... all creepy and haunted.

Fact of the matter is, Old Changi Hospital is old and abandoned, but it isn't that creepy {at least during the day when we were there..} and didn't seem haunted either.

Earlier this month, my friend Jerome organised a heritage walk to Old Changi Hospital and we managed to have exclusive access to it, thanks to kind folks at Singapore Land Authority {SLA}.

Since Old Changi Hospital is currently inaccessible to the public, without SLA's permission, you will be charged with trespassing if you're caught setting foot inside the property!

Built in the 1930s, Old Changi Hospital was originally not a hospital, but was just part a British military base. It was only in 1947 that it was commissioned as the Royal Air Force {RAF} Hospital and served British military officers.

During WWII, it was part of a POW camp that housed more than 50,000 prisoners. There's an unconfirmed claim that it also had a torture chamber operated by the Kempeitai {Japanese military police} and this gave rise to the rumoured haunting of Old Changi Hospital by these poor victimised souls & spirits of those who died in the hospital.

However, these unverified claims are unlikely to be true, based on what I learnt during the walk.
Jerome mentioned that there are no actual accounts of torture, but there are accounts that point to the POWs having minimal contact with the Japanese and they were mostly free to roam within the confines of the area.

After WWII, it was returned to the British then passed on to the Commonwealth forces in 1971 when the British started withdrawing their troops from an independent Singapore. The hospital was renamed as Anzuk Hospital, where "Anzuk" referred to the Australian, New Zealand and United Kingdom armed forces. Later on, our Singapore Armed Forces {SAF} took over the hospital and it catered to medical care of SAF personnel and their immediate families. Gradually, the hospital's services was also extended to members of the public.

In 1997, it merged with Toa Payoh Hospital to form Changi General Hospital and relocated to Simei. The old buildings were thus abandoned and ownership was transferred to SLA.

The abandoned Old Changi Hospital land was originally planned to be developed into a luxury spa-resort, but the project fell threw and the current compound is still left vacant and mostly unattended... such a shame, really.

Many moons ago *ahem* I'd once entered Old Changi Hospital with friends at night... That seems to be de rigueur for any teen having a sleepover at one of the many Changi chalets, no? haha

Anyway, nothing frightening happened to us but one of my friends mentioned that he did feel a little uneasy...

When I went down that Saturday morning, it was all bright and sunny, and the derelict buildings of Old Changi Hospital didn't seem scary at all, just kinda sad, really.

Jerome gave quite a long talk on the history of Old Changi Hospital before we started exploring the premises. It was an interesting group to be with as there was a man {Mr Lim Fung Ming} who once worked at the hospital as a medic when he was a young chap, and another lady {Mrs Shona Trench} who was actually born there!

Oh I can only imagine their sense of nostalgia and delight at being back after all these years! ヾ(^∇^)

Once inside, Jerome spoke briefly about the architecture and uses of the different floors & rooms.

Some parts of the Hospital were cordoned off for safety reasons but we were able to explore parts of all 3 blocks of Old Changi Hospital - Blocks 24, 161 and 37.

I love the big, airy windows and greenery surrounding the Hospital... which reminded me of Alexandra Hospital, where I was born (*^▽^*)

Alexandra Hospital was also constructed in the 1930s and used as a British military hospital. Like Old Changi Hospital, tragedy hit it during WWII and a huge massacre took place there...but unlike Old Changi Hospital, the buildings are still in use and it does not have a bad rep as a haunted hospital... which was probably purported by the many local films / tv shows which used Old Changi Hospital as a backdrop for their spooky scenes.

Something that SLA probably regrets giving permission to as they now have a hard time getting people to shake off the image of Old Changi Hospital as a haunted hospital heh.

In fact, when we registered for the tour, they had a specific clause that participants aren't allowed to put the property in any negative light / add to the speculation of the hauntings in any of our social media postings.

Time and tide waits for no man... it's hard to imagine that just 20 years ago, this grand hospital was bustling with life and energy.

Now it is really in such a sad shape with no concrete plans for its future..
It was so good to have a simple morning out and about with friends exploring parts of unseen Singapore. For better understanding, you can read more about Old Changi Hospital from Jerome's write-up or see his video on the real story behind Old Changi Hospital.

Unfortunately, Lil Pumpkin was not allowed to come for this heritage walk as they thought it wouldn't be too safe for kids but hopefully, I'd be able to bring her there in the future before it gets torn down...

Old Changi Hospital
24 Halton Rd, Singapore 506997
Not open to public 

Other Singapore heritage places:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Kids Indoor Rock-Climb @ Climb Central, Kallang Wave Mall

Lil Pumpkin had her first rock-climbing experience last weekend at Climb Central!

Whenever we are at Kallang Wave Mall, Lil Pumpkin would always ask if she could go rock-climbing since we always pass by Climb Central on the way in. It's really hard to miss it as it's just riiiiiggggggght at the main entrance {good location, guys!!} and there's just no other way around it unless we take a huge round in from the back.

On Saturday, the boy wanted to get another sling for his arm as the one he bought from the hospital after the shoulder surgery was very uncomfortable. Once he told Lil Pumpkin that we were going to Kallang Wave Mall to search for one, she immediately asked if she could go rock-climbing... she actually remembered that it was there!!

Her daddy dearest agreed and she was so excited for the experience! ❤

We reached there about 5.30pm and as expected, Climb Central was packed. That was really the main reason why I wasn't inclined to let Lil Pumpkin try rock-climbing on our earlier visits to Kallang Wave Mall.

I'm not worried that she will be frightened of heights or fall and hurt herself, but more that we are usually always there during peak hours and I think it's a waste of time just hanging around waiting to climb when the place is so crowded.

Anyway, since we already agreed for her to try, we had to keep our word.

Registration took longer than expected even though there was no queue as there was some glitch with the online registration form. I should have researched more into rock-climbing there before we went as we could have actually registered at home to save time.

After registering and making payment for 1 x Adult-Child Entry {includes whole day Adult-Child day pass + 1 equipment set}, we received 2 small membership key cards for Lil Pumpkin and myself then went to collect the rental equipment set {climbing shoes & safety harness} for Lil Pumpkin.

The last step we had to do before we could climb was to attend their compulsory safety briefing. All first-time visitors are required to attend the safety briefing conducted by their staff every 15 minutes. In the short briefing {about 10-15 mins?} they shared some basic safety tips, belaying fundamentals {i.e. how to hold the rope for your partner} and gym orientation.

This was Lil Pumpkin's first time rock-climbing but actually, the boy and I used to do indoor rock-climbing fairly regularly with friends for a period of time during our Uni days. It was our "couple thing" and being at Climb Central brought back fond memories of those days... in fact, the boy was so into it he actually bought his own shoes, chalk bag and I think even harness!

Unfortunately, his rock-climbing equipment set has since been misplaced on our move back to Singapore.. oh well.

I was sharing with a friend that we brought Lil Pumpkin to rock-climb that day and he asked if she could do it. I was quite puzzled as I never thought that Lil Pumpkin could not do it. I never thought that she would be scared to climb up the tall walls, or not be strong enough to pull / push herself up.

But yeah, I guess that's a possibility for anyone thinking of going rock-climbing haha. You really shouldn't be afraid of heights, and should be able to move your own body-weight if you are thinking of trying out this sport.

Climb Central staff shared that their lowest levels start at Level 4, and Lil Pumpkin should try out Levels 4 or 5 as a first-timer. Anything higher than that might be too difficult for her. They also have climbing lanes {identified by the adorable animal/ alphabet wall holds or grips!} just for kids.

At first we went around looking for Level 4 or 5 climbing lanes for Lil Pumpkin to use, but then after her first few climbs, realised that she's not going to keep to wall holds designated for that level's route. Since she will be using any wall hold available to lift herself up, the specified level for the climbing lane didn't really matter.

So after that, we just went around looking for climbing lanes that looked interesting or had big enough wall holds for her to use hehe..

Climb Central is the tallest indoor air-conditioned sport climbing venue in Singapore with approximately 1,000 square meters of climbing wall space.

So even though it looked crowded, in actual fact there was a fair bit of empty lanes and most of the time, Lil Pumpkin could climb up whichever lane she wanted to without waiting at all.

And climb she did!! Lil Pumpkin was a fast learner and didn't seem like she was out of her comfort zone at all haha... I made sure that she understood that the rope had to be tight before she could ascend. If it wasn't taut enough and she fell, she might be seriously injured.

Lil Pumpkin was eager to try out a variety of routes and wall holds {although her fave was one with pink animals on the second floor}.. and although there were many times that she got stuck halfway up, she took her time to look around and really try different ways of getting up.

Sometimes, she managed to work her way through the hurdle, but other times, she had to give up and come back down. In any case, not finishing the climbs didn't get keep her down and she was happy to try it again, or move on to other climbing lanes.

I didn't climb at all that day, although I could if I rented an extra equipment set for S$7. It didn't cross my mind to do it as I thought the pass we bought only allowed the child to climb, while the adult supervised but I was too tired that day to do it anyway.

Next time I will though. Like I mentioned before, being there brought back fond memories of indoor rock-climbing and reignited my interest to do it again ( ᐛ )و

We spent about 1.5hrs there before we headed for dinner and I'm sure that we will be back again soon since Lil Pumpkin had such a ball of a time! (´∇ノ`*)ノ Check out the above video of her reaching the top of the wall for the first time! She's using the auto-belay system {so I don't have to help her with the ropes}, and you can hear the boy and I cheering her on hehe..

If it isn't working well, please see it on my YouTube channel here.

This might be our new mother-daughter activity together until the boy's arm heals completely I guess haha... I am already looking for cute chalk-bags to use during our climbs! (⌒▽⌒)☆

  • To enter the facility, you need to be at least 5 years old, 20kg and 1.1m tall. Kids below 5 years old are not allowed into the climbing area. 
  • At least one supervising adult required for every two children entering the facility. 
  • Everyone entering the facility will need to fill out the Facility Registration form as a participant. Register at home here before you go to save time. 
  • Wear sports attire {knee-length or longer pants advised} and a pair of socks. If you forget, you can buy socks there for S$2/pair for kids and adults.
  • Water cooler and shower facilities are available on-site. Toilets are located outside Climb Central in the mall itself {nearest one next to Starbucks, Level 1}.
  • Equipment set includes 1 x climbing shoes + 1 x safety harness. There are kids and adult shoe sizes, and the safety harnesses are adjustable to different body sizes.
  • Auto-belay systems are available at Climb Central so you can rock-climb even without a partner. The auto belay takes up the slack of the rope as a climber ascends and controls the descent when the climber reaches the top or in the event of a fall. Even kids as young as Lil Pumpkin can use this system, as long as the adult is there to supervise. 
  • If you are not available to join your kid while he/she climbs, Climb Central has a Intro Kids programme where you can drop your kids off and they have 1.5hrs of guided climbing {1 staff to 5 kids max}. Advance booking is required and it's only available every Sun, 1pm - 2.30pm.

Climb Central
#B1-01 Kallang Wave Mall, 1 Stadium Place
Open:  11am - 11pm {Mon - Fri}, 9am - 9pm {Sat, Sun & PHs}
Cost: Starts from S$28. Adult-Child Entry Pass costs S$38.
Tel:  6702 7972

Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too. You can also check out the FREE waterplay playground on top of Kallang Wave Mall or dry playground on top of the nearby Sports Hub Library if you are in the area.

*Note: This is not a paid review or advertorial. All opinions are my own.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Hubby's Labral Tear & Calcium Deposits Shoulder Surgery

Lil Pumpkin and I were in Hong Kong with my parents for a short getaway last weekend and on the day we touched down, the boy went into surgery to fix a suspected posterior labral tear & remove calcium deposits in his left shoulder.

There was a nagging pain in his shoulder for the past year or so and a few months ago, he went to get it checked out with a specialist. Calcium deposits showed up in his MRI scan and the specialist recommended just physiotherapy.

But after a few sessions and when the pain seemed to worsen, the specialist ran other tests and suspected a posterior labral tear, which couldn't be confirmed unless they opened his shoulder up. So, the boy opted for surgery to fix that and to remove the calcium deposits too.

Might as well get it fixed fast so that he can finally recover properly and move on from his injury. 

The boy's surgery was from about 8.30am to 10am on Wednesday, and by lunch time he was back in his room and awake, albeit a little groggy.

There a slight numbness and tingling in his left hand, which the nurses said was common and caused by the nerve block which he was given to block the surgery pain. It slowly subsided, and since he was given a loooooot of pain killers, he wasn't in much pain too, just some discomfort ( ◞・౪・)

I took leave that day as well to keep him company and Lil Pumpkin popped by with my parents after lunch to see her beloved daddy...

Oh those two lovebirds... Lil Pumpkin missed her daddy so, and he missed her lots too

My parents help to take care of Lil Pumpkin while the boy stayed over for the night to rest and recuperate. On Thursday, I had to go back to work but went down to have lunch with the boy and help him to discharge.

My strongman looks like the surgery barely affected him haha... he has to wear the sling for at least 2 weeks I think and the specialist said that recovery should take at least 2 months?

That's good, just in time for our family holiday to Japan!!! ( ᐛ )و

The boy said that his labrum tear was likely due to his time in CrossFit when he pushed himself and did lots of overhead snatches and handstands even when it hurt him.

CrossFit has a bad rep for the high amount of injuries caused. But I always think that like any other sports, if you know your limits, and you have a good foundation of the techniques and skills, you can always take care and train hard, without pushing yourself to the point of getting terribly injured.

However, the hard truth about CrossFit is that it is not always easy to just listen to your body & gut feeling, and just stop. It's hard to say "no" when everything about the community, the environment just gives you an adrenaline rush that makes you want to push harder, go further, do it faster. The camaraderie and energy in a CrossFit box is nothing short of contagious.

All you have to do is to step into one to know what I mean.

That rush and love for exercising is far from a bad thing, but the no-quit atmosphere gets problematic {maybe even dangerous} especially when every workout makes you want to push to the edge of every set, every rep, until there’s nothing left in the tank.

The boy has said a few times that he's glad that when I started training regularly, I built my foundation and techniques under good trainers and now I have Superman to monitor my progress and help me exercise through my back injury {not caused by training by the way, but because I have scoliosis and went for a major back operation when I was 15...}. Even when I was doing CrossFit on the side of my gym training, Superman would watch out for me and constantly remind me to not push beyond my limits and mind my injuries... and also chide me when I went too far #oops

If the boy had good trainers when he started weight-lifting 20 odd years ago, maybe he wouldn't have so many sports-related injuries or even go for 2 hernia operations in 2011 and 2014, and now a shoulder operation...

Anyway, I'm not dissing CrossFit as I love doing its WODs too and I still think my hubby is a knowledgeable and experienced athlete. I know that he learns and grows from his mistakes, and admire him for his never-say-die spirit.. Even when he's down from his injuries, he's still doing other forms of exercise like yoga to keep fit and active (/^▽^)/

Thank you all for your well wishes and messages of concern for my hubby. Please continue to pray for his speedy recovery and hopefully, he will not have to go for any more operations anytime soon!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Gym Review :: Dorsett Wanchai Hotel, Hong Kong

We're heading to Hong Kong tonight for a few days with my mum to celebrate her birthday this month and will be staying at Dorsett Mongkok Hotel.

We've stayed there a couple of times, even when it was previously known as Cosmo Hotel Mongkok, but I've never used the gym there since the last time we went was before I started training regularly... think was in 2014?? Anyway I know they have a 24-hr Fitness Studio but not much is written about it on the hotel website or any other review sites.

I thought I could get some info on it to give Superman more time to plan my holiday workout but guess he'll have to design my programme after I reach and check it out. Pretty short notice but not like he's not done it before haha.. 

If Dorsett Mongkok Hotel's gym is anything like their sister hotel, Dorsett Wanchai Hotel, that we stayed at in November 2016, I don't think there's a lot of strength training that can be done though.. don't think I can even train my pull-ups there haha.

Dorsett Wanchai Hotel's gym is more like a fitness room. It is located in one of the hotel room floors and is actually a hotel room converted into a small fitness studio. I reckon about 4-5 pax can fit in comfortably, at most.

Accessible 24-hours a day, you have to use your hotel key-card to enter. There's 1 multi-use exercise machine {20kg - 200kg} where you can do lats pull-down, cable row, shoulder press, hamstring curl etc., 1 bench, 1 stair-climber, and a set of dumb-bells {5lb - 35lb}. In the adjoining room, there's 2 treadmills.

The lack of gym equipment notwithstanding, I like that the fitness studio is air-conditioned, bright with big windows, very clean {daily house-keeping} and well-maintained. There's also a water cooler and towels provided. If you want, you can also take a shower {toiletries provided} after your workout in the en-suite toilet with a bathtub, but then again, you might as well head back to the privacy of your own hotel room to do that haha.

Superman helped me to plan a simple holiday training programme then and this was my morning workout with the heaviest weights I lifted:

A1. Pronated Lats Pull-down, 3-4 sets, 12 reps - 80kg
A2. Supinated Lats Pull-down, 3-4 sets, 15 reps - 80kg
B1. Back-Supported Seated Arnold Press, 3-4 sets, 12 reps - 20lb
B2. Back-Supported Seated Shoulder Press, 3-4 reps, 15 reps - 10lb
C1. Back-Supported Seated Supinated Bicep Curl, 3 sets, 20 reps - 20lb
C2. Back-Supported Seated Lateral Raise, 3 sets, 20 reps - 5lb
C3. Lying Triceps Extension, 3 sets, 20 reps - 10lb
D. Stair Climber, moderate intensity, 20 mins

The reps are higher as the available weights aren't that heavy. If I could, I was supposed to do something heavier then go to failure and drop weight if necessary, instead of doing an exercise with too light weights.

I reeeeeeeally don't like to "climb stairs" on the Stair Climber machine though as the suspension is so weird and ROM so small {I like to climb 2 steps at a time}.

A post shared by Ai Sakura  (@aisakuraharuka) on
Anyway, anything is better than nothing and given my track record of putting on weight during my travels {and my love for yummilicious 鸡蛋仔!!!}.. a little daily exercise, even if just with body weight.. is very much needed hahaha.

☆ Gym Star Rating for Dorsett Wanchai Hotel, Hong Kong Gym
Overall satisfaction: 3/5
Equipment: 2/5 
Atmosphere: 4/5
Cleanliness: 4/5
Accessibility: 5/5
Staff availability: Nil

One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

Genesis Gym Personal Training Updates:
The Beginning - Signing Up for Personal Training