Thursday, May 27, 2010

Paddling in Jurong Lake

UPDATE: The entire Jurong Lake area is temporarily closed due to redevelopment works. As such, the Water-Venture outlet there had to close down too. It should open again by end 2017.
Twin pagodas

In the lake

I recently conducted a series of kayak orientations at Jurong Lake and it was an awesome place.
Nice and quiet place with interesting scenery.

Located near the main entrace of the Chinese/Japanese Garden, the under-utilized Water-Venture (Jurong Lake) aka Paddlez Inc run by the People's Association Water-Venture is a nice place for families living around the area to come for a paddle.
Parking is located a stone's throw away, making it convenient for those who drive. The nearest MRT station is Chinese Garden. The walk over is quite a distance and takes you through the Chinese Garden where you enter from the back gate and come out from the front gate.
Bicycles are not allowed to enter the Chinese Garden, but the Park Connector Network goes round. There are bicycle racks for parking your bicycles infront of the main gate to the Chinese Garden, but Im sure the nice folks at Paddlez Inc will allow you to bring your bicycle in.
Careful about cycling in though, its all gravel past the main gate.

Main entrance

Both sit-on-top (open deck) and sit inside (closed deck) kayaks are available for rent. However, you will need a 1 Star certification to rent the closed deck kayaks. Afterall, this is Singapore, land of the paper chase :)
Rentals cost $15 for 2hours. For more information on rates, click here.

Kayak shed
Buoyancy vests and paddles

The launch site is a small pontoon. Although, I dont recommend beginners to use pontoons for launching, paddlers can take their time here since there is barely anyone around. There is also a ramp where those not confident in pontoon launches can wade into the water before getting into the kayaks.
To my knowledge, only the Yuan Ching Secondary School dragonboat team trains here. So its not very crowded.
Launch site
Changing room

Lockers are provided and there is even a vending machine selling drinks. For those who just need water, there is a water cooler next to the changing room.
The downside of this place is that there isnt any toilet and shower facilities. Only a changing room is provided. There is a public toilet outside, but it does not have showers.
You could however, rinse yourself off at the tap behind the changing room before changing out into dry clothing.

DISCLAIMER: I am an appointed trainer for Water-Venture and conduct courses for them on occasion.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why I dont enjoy coaching at Macritchie

There are a few things that can make coaching unpleasant for me.
Unwilling participants, learning environments not condusive for learning and coaches with very conflicting techniques are just some of them.

I dont enjoy coaching at Macritchie, in fact I think its a horrible place for leisure paddling or to conduct a 1 star course.
First of all, the kayak sheds are located far away from the launching area. Bringing 10-15 kayaks over takes up quite abit of time especially when working with secondary school kids there as part of a school programme. These students are usually not interested in taking part to begin with.
Also, there are joggers/runners using the same path. You can imagine the congestion carrying boats will cause.

Secondly, the launch area is a pontoon. I dont have a problem with pontoons, however, I feel that launching from the shore is better for beginners. Using the pontoon to teach is a problem when there are 20 other schools using the same pontoon to launch. This means having to put the kayaks a distance away from the launch site after taking them out from the shed and then bringing them to the pontoon one by one to launch in order to avoid congestion.
As the newbies launch off one by one, does the coach stay on the pontoon to help or go into the water to herd those who have launched?

Thirdly, the place is full of racers. Racers are there to train, they want to go all out. That usually means expecting everyone else to give way and lots of yelling.
However, telling a newbie touching the kayak for the first time to "Hold water" doesnt really do much. The newbies have no idea what hold water means and lack the ability to control their kayak well even if they do understand.
This situation is similar to triathletes on $5000 bicycles running red lights and expecting cars to give way to them at all times in the sense that both parties lose out in the event of a collision. Crashing the K boats would definitely result in a capsize and some damage, depending on the speed.

Lastly, Peter Chai the guy who runs Paddle Lodge and is basically the guy in charge of watersports there is a jaded old man.
He just doesnt give a shit about other people and has a perpetual scowl on his face. The only time I've seen him smile is when he thought he could gain a benefit from someone which quickly turned into his usual scowl and a look of disgust when he realise no benefit was to be gained. Very calculative guy. Like the stereotypical chinese businessman.
Dont bother to apologize to him when you have made a mistake or if he misunderstood something you did. He will ignore you and any explanations you have anyway. Just let him say his peace and carry on.
Telling him you wont do it again next time will merely get the response that there is no next time. Telling him you were given wrong info would result in him saying no such thing.
Typical bureaucrat eh?
Oh and dont be late when returning keys, he needs to close shop and rush off to moonlight.

Human afterall

Went round ubin with Ziyang last saturday, the weather was ridiculously hot, I estimate it was at least 35degrees celsius. We were fine until reaching the north of ubin. Ziyang was suffering from mild symptoms of heat exhaustion and had delpeted his water source. We got our bottles refilled thanks to the kindess of the kelong owners.
After hydrating ourselves, we carried on. I stupidly left the food back at the club and by this time it was already about 1pm. I was hungry and the heat was sapping my energy.
By the time we reached the western end of ubin, I was breaking out in cold sweat and my hands were shaking. This made it very difficult for me to even grip the paddle.

I decided to give up and call the staff at Water-Venture for help. Boo came out to tow us back and he experienced some boat trouble. Just as he approached us, it started to rain. And it really poured down hard.

Oh, I was also stung by a jellyfish. Bloody bad day. Decided to cut my losses and take a taxi home. Didnt want to risk something bad happening on my bicycle.

Took a look at the thermometer when I reached back home and it was 32 degrees celsius at night! A really insane day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Paper chase

Sometime back a swimming instructor got 2 young boys to touch his privates and perform oral sex on him. There was a hoohaa in the papers and parents were suggesting compulsory registration of all coaches.
At the moment, registering with the NROC is not compulsory, but recommended.
But that was how the NCAP started too right?

Knowing Singapore, anything compulsory comes with a hefty fee. A captive market is a seen as a cash cow and not sucking the people dry would be considered a crime to the people in charge. Just like how the class sizes for the NCAP doubled along with the price.
Not only is the Sports Council earning double, the number of students have doubled as well. I supposed that amounts a four-fold increase in earnings per course?

So.. long story short, I decided to be an early adopter. Took more than a month for the application to process and the card to arrive though.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What've we got here?

New Chaco sandals that's what!

They will be baptised at Macritchie this coming Friday. Walking round the house, it feels kind of odd not to have the toe loops after having been used to them for 2 years. But Im pretty sure there's going to be less abrasions on my poor big toe.