How cool is the ASICS Metarun singlet?

Before I start, a disclaimer.

I am a running influencer for ASICS in Delhi, India where I live.

Having said that, I also need to state for the record that ASICS has put me under NO obligation whatsoever to write about, or review their products.

Not once have I been asked to write or blog about anything by the company. The choice to write or not, to review or not, to Instagram or not is entirely mine.

I am under no pressure.

There are many ASICS products that I have worn or tried out, and have not written about, but the Metarun singlet definitely deserves some TLC.

Because, despite my inhibitions about wearing a singlet, this one works.

Time to face facts

  1. I am no spring chicken.
  2. I have always had flabby arms. Have done since I was in my 20s.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, could’ve/should’ve worked on them over the years. Agreed.

But I didn’t, and I live to rue the day 😛

All of that is to explain why I have strenuously avoided wearing a running singlet.

That attitude had to change in January, when the ASICS influencers were given a singlet to wear for the Mumbai marathon.

It actually wasn’t as embarrassing an experience as I had feared, BUT I had THE most horrific underarm chafing. The armhole was too tight for me, and the last few kilometres of the race were sheer torture, as the chafing became unbearable. I kept stopping to try and tug the singlet down to relieve the underarm tightness, costing me precious seconds, but all to no avail.

Which is where the Metarun singlet scores.

Just see how low cut it is, below the arms. No risk of chafing there.

I was more than a little concerned at the amount of bra strap that would be on display from the back, but then I thought, “Oh the heck with it. Wearing a sports bra isn’t anything to hide.”

Of course, it helps here that the model is young and slim, but needs must 😛

I have tried out my singlet on many occasions over the last few hot and humid weeks, and it is, without doubt, THE most comfortable top I have ever worn for hot weather running.

As in THE most comfortable EVER.

The technical details (above) are from the website, but let me put it in lay-person’s English: the mesh at the back absorbs the sweat, and the whole garment is so light that you hardly feel you are wearing anything.

ASICS has a coding system for its garments, to explain their specific functions.

This singlet is a C1, highlighted below.

After doing a 15k run in it last weekend, I honestly felt cool.

And totally unsweaty.

Different occasion (below), equally hot & sweaty weather.

Whereas I felt cool.

Well, I was literally cool…dunno about the metaphorical bit!

I’m a big fan after just a few weeks.

Light as a father garment.

Zero sweating.

Zero chafing.

It comes in 2 colours, black and white: check out the garment in one of the ASICS stores, or buy it online.

100% personally recommended.

The Nizam of Hyderabad’s jewels on display in New Delhi

Delhi readers, take note!

If you haven’t already seen this astounding exhibition at the National Museum, you only have until May 5th to do so.

Trust me, it is so fabulous that you will not regret it.

I had seen the jewels when they were last exhibited at the Museum in 2007, but the pieces on display are so gorgeous and so breathtaking that it was a joy to see them again.

There are more emeralds than you can imagine, more diamonds, more pearls, more necklaces, more turban ornaments, each one more fantastic than the next. Precious stones so big and so luscious that they look like enormous, brightly coloured boiled sweets – if that makes sense.

The star of the show is the Jacob Diamond, with all its attached dramatic back story, including being used as a paper-weight by the Nizam.

You have to buy a separate ticket for this exhibition, but at Rs 50 it’s a steal.

The atmosphere in the vault where the jewels are displayed is remarkably relaxed, with everyone ooh-ing and aah-ing, and taking photos with their mobiles. Once or twice a guard will politely ask people not to lean too much on the display cases, but overall, it was a super relaxed visit.

Well worth it.

The information inside the exhibition itself is pretty scant, so be sure to read the good information panels outside, before you go into the vault.

And don’t miss the lovely sepia photos of the court of Hyderabad wearing the very pieces you are drooling over.

This is a dazzling (literally) part of India’s history, and deserves to be seen and enjoyed.

Here’s a link to the Museum’s website for you, with timings and prices.

And here are a few more photos to whet your appetite :

How is the Fantasia sunset boat trip in Bagan, Myanmar?

Based on enthusiastically favourable reviews online, we decided on the Fantasia boat, to witness the “must see” sunset over the river in Bagan.

However, since we were totally underwhelmed by the whole experience, it seems only fair that I put a dissenting view on record.

I’d hate future travellers to feel disappointed, the way we were.

We were a mixed bunch on the 2 boats that set out that evening from Old Bagan.

Loads of yuppy French youngsters, one of whom was ill and another of whom was celebrating her birthday.

A smaller group of Spanish youngsters, one of whom had misplaced his mobile phone & was a little stressed.

A quiet Chinese couple. A very quiet lone Japanese man. A late-middle-aged French couple.

And us, a Brit and an American, 2 women of a certain…hey, our ages don’t really matter for the purpose of this review, but let’s just say we were not there for the booze, as most of the youngsters seemed to be.

We were loaded into a little pirogue to access a sandbank in the river, which we then walked across to the boats, moored on the far side.

No safety briefing.

No life jackets.

No lights.

And alcohol, as were soon to discover.

We all sat around on the 2 boats for about 15 minutes, while the all-important booze was passed round (for the record, we had no inkling about the free beer/gin/rum) & after what seemed an age, off we trundled to a point in the river where lots of other boats were moored.

Engines, outboards, revving.

No tranquility whatsoever.

As soon as sunset was over, the revving and spluttering-into-life of all the engines started, in a noisy cacophony.

After the sun set – quickly as is the norm in Asia – the German (?) manager announced that the booze was to be finished, and anyone who wanted to go back could stay on one boat (ours, thankfully) and anyone who wanted to stay and party a little longer should transfer to the other boat.

Once all the youngsters (barring the sick young Frenchmen) were on the boat with the booze and the remaining snacks, our more sedate boat headed back.

The charming Myanmarese crew helped us off the boat, in total darkness by now, and we trudged back across the sandbank, and back into the pirogue.

In the dark.

And after alcohol (just one weak drink each in our case, but the youngsters were certainly knocking it back).

How difficult or expensive would it be to give the crew torches?

The views were pretty, it’s true. But it wasn’t what we’d hoped.

If you want a cheap booze cruise, go ahead.

If you want a tranquil moment watching the sunset, then Fantasia is not for you.

We paid 5,000 kyat a head, and I guess the entire outing lasted under an hour.

I paid my own way & didn’t mention that I blog and write reviews.

Follow-up review of the ASICS DynaFlyte 3

5 weeks ago, I posted my first review of the ASICS DynaFlyte 3, and since we have now completed another 100km together, I thought a quick follow-up review might be in order.

As I stated in my first review, I am a recently appointed ASICS Running Influencer in India, where I live, but the company has put me under no obligation whatsoever to write reviews, favourable or otherwise.

Not once has anyone suggested I should even review their products.
Right, it’s now been 2 months & 215km that we’ve been together, and so how are we doing, my lovely turquoise shoes & I?

We are doing just fine and dandy, and I am every bit as impressed by these beauties as when I took them for their first run, exactly 2 months ago today 🙂 (So happy 2 months to us!).

The DynaFlyte 3 continues to impress me with its lightness.

You lace them up and then can almost forget about them, since they are so light and un-clunky.

In the last 100km we’ve run together, there has been some road work on Delhi’s hard, unforgiving roads, but mainly on paths and trails in my local park.

Like so:

My shoes have got dusty and muddy, and been washed a couple of times – they come up looking as good as new!

No chafing, no noticeable wear & tear.

No feeling that the wonderful cushioned soles are wearing down.

All round, I’m still delighted with them.

Since they are so sleek-looking (plus I LOVE the colour) I’ve worn them out and about a few times for non-running events.

Looking forward to many more miles in my DynaFlyte 3.

First impressions of the ASICS Gel Nimbus 20

Disclosure, before I even start my review

I am an ASICS Running Influencer, and, on the advice of my running coach & an excellent ASICS store manager, I chose the new Gel Nimbus 20, in which to run and train.

A couple of weeks earlier, I had bought the DynaFlyte3 & I alternate between these 2 pairs in my runs, as I prepare for a half marathon this week, a full in January and another full in February.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be putting in a lot of mileage together.

I must point out that ASICS has placed me under no obligation whatsoever to write a review, favourable or otherwise, of these shoes.

So, what do I think about these shoes so far?

I have run 119.5km in my Gel Nimbus 20 (shall we call it 120km for simplicity’s sake?!) and am totally and utterly in love with these shoes.

I have run in my Nimbus 20s on several different terrains in New Delhi, India, where I live – roads, parks, tracks, grass, & even some outdoor gym equipment, and the cushioning of these shoes, especially on the roads, is brilliant.  Absolutely fantastic.

Just take a look at the cushioning on the heel:)

The shoes felt totally comfortable from the word go, and I have had no teething problems.  They feel super light, despite the solid heel cushioning.

Here are some technical specs that I downloaded from a website called dickssportinggoods.com

I find the shoes light, as I said, and surprisingly sleek.

They offer great support and I love the look of them.  They are discreet, with the logo only hinted at on the sides.  Love the feel & look of the laces (if that doesn’t sound strange!)

Obviously I am totally in love with the colour 🙂

So, 120km together.

We have many more kilometres to go, many of them on the hard, unforgiving Indian roads, so I’ll report back after we’ve run together some more.

But so far, so good.

How good is the Camelbak Arc Quick Grip?

3 years ago today, I bought myself a super useful water bottle, the Camelbak Arc Quick Grip.

How do I know it was 3 years ago today, do I hear you ask?

Through my photo archive, that’s how.

I took the photos used in this review on the day I bought it.

For the past 3 years, I have used this convenient, hand-held water bottle on a very, very regular basis.

Not quite daily, but on average 5/6 times a week.  I use it when I go running, when I walk my dogs, and I take it on my travels.

It is almost as good as new, despite heavy usage, and the occasional “helpful” carrying by my big goofy dog.

Like this evening:

There are 2 pockets, one of which zips, and where I usually put my car keys.  I find I can carry enough water (300ml) for a regular run, as well as keys, Kleenex and a few nuts or sweets.

It is tough, light, easy to drink from, doesn’t leak, & is curved to fit one’s hand.

A good buy, and excellent value because, as I said, mine is still going strong after 3 years of heavy use.

Personally recommended.

I bought my water bottle, and Camelbak has no idea that I blog or write product reviews.

How good are ASICS running shorts?

Dislosure first.

Along with about 30 other people in my running group, I was given the shorts I am about to review by ASICS, as part of our team kit for the Ladakh Marathon last month.

By way of background, I live in New Delhi, India, in a society not really given to women wearing shorts, so in the 5 years since I started running, I have tended to stick to wearing long running trousers or capris.

But Delhi’s summers are brutally humid, so last year, wearied of always feeling so hot & sticky while my male colleagues ran in shorts, I experimented with a pair of shorts with a flap in front – making it look more like a tennis skirt.

Un-be-lie-va-ble chafing.

Agonising.

So I bought another pair, same design, different, lighter fabric, but still with the flap thingy in front.

Un-be-lie-va-ble chafing.

Agonising.

So when our ASICS running coach gave us all Ts and shorts for Ladakh, I privately decided I’d probably not wear the shorts that much, given previous experience.

Wow.

Totally different experience.

These shorts are super light, and in the weeks that I have worn them, have not given me one moment’s discomfort.  Not one moment.

To run chafing-free in high humidity…what a relief.

The shorts are so super lightweight that you hardly notice you’re wearing them.  They have no seams to chafe, have a small zipped pocket, just enough for a key for instance, and the pocket is lined in rubber – sweat-proofing, I assume.

I have worn my shorts in Delhi, in Ladakh, and in hot and humid Bangkok, and I am already a fan.

They are discreet – thanks to the double layer.  They are ultra lightweight. They have a pocket.  Tick all the boxes.

Personally tried & tested & recommended.

I was not asked to review these shorts, by the way.

Aladdin in New Delhi

Come on, Delhites!

Wake up!

If you haven’t ready been to see “Aladdin”, do so now!

Judging by the tragically more-than-half-empty auditorium last night, people are not exactly flocking to see this great musical production.

In the short speech of thanks after the show, the director Shruti Sharma specifically thanked us all for coming “on a Tuesday”.  I do hope she hasn’t had to make a similar comment about every other day of the week.

I really & truly hope for the remaining shows that the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium is packed, and (sorry for saying this) packed with a more appreciative audience than ours last night.

When we arrived, the delightful crew of ushers (more anon) told everyone to move further down towards the stage, regardless of where our purchased tickets were.  There were stickers on row after row after row of seats, indicating they were empty.

How disheartening for the cast, especially since they went down into the audience at times to sing, and so would have been confronted by rows of empty seats.

Perhaps we just got a particularly dull & unappreciative audience, but my goodness me, were they stinting in their applause.  A cast of super talented youngsters sang and danced their hearts out, and there was scant applause, and when we stood up to give them their much deserved standing ovation at the end, we were asked to sit down by the people behind us.

Anyway, this review isn’t actually about the people sitting around us, arriving late, checking their mobiles during the show, hardly applauding – no, begone with such dull, unappreciative souls!  This review is about the amazing singing and dancing and the enthusiasm of this talented cast.

The show was great fun, and there were moments of sheer magic – the magic carpet for one.

We were a group of 6, namely 2 sets of parents with their 2 daughters, both in their late 20s (bet you thought I was going to say they were little girls, right?! :P) and let me tell you, these 2 young ladies, die-hard fans of the 1992 film, a staple of their childhood, were very excited and also very intrigued at how the magic carpet scene would play out.

Just let me say that it was brilliantly done (I won’t spoil your surprise, don’t worry).  A super moment that did not disappoint.

It is invidious to single out individual actors, in what was a great all-round ensemble effort, but the show stopper is the Genie, played by Mantra, and he is an absolute knockout.

Weaving Hindi into the script, with local jokes and references, he is absolutely fantastic.  His arrival on stage created an instant buzz, and his portrayal of the Genie as slightly camp was hilarious.

Good fun.

An insight into just how much wonderful singing and dancing talent there is here in India – for this is an entirely Indian cast.

So, if you haven’t already seen Aladdin, what are you waiting for?

Hurry up & go, and PLEASE applaud and show these hard working artists that you appreciate their talent.

Oh yes, the ushers.  Remember I mentioned them at the outset?

Every one of these smiling youngsters greeted us with a courteous “adab”, welcoming us to the venue as though into their home.  Same on the way out, hoping we had enjoyed the show, and thanking us for coming.  Delightful touch 🙂

Disclaimer

We paid for our tickets, and no-one connected to the show knows that I blog and write reviews.

Another Hound Café in Bangkok

In Bangkok last week, our family had the usual issues of finding a mutually acceptable restaurant for our complicated dietary set-up.  Namely:

1 carnivore who is highly allergic to any seafood.  Even a hint provokes rapid & very bad reactions

+

1 carnivore who will eat some shellfish but is still a tad worried about allergies

+

1 vegetarian

+

1 pescatarian

Another Hound Café, located in the plush Siam Paragon Mall, came up trumps.

Billing itself as Italian with an Asian twist, the café is stylish and quirky, with excellent service.  We all ate well, and we all had interesting, different, not your usual run-of-the-mill food.

Plus they have the coolest “chandeliers” ever.

Super stylish bread basket, too:

The café’s justifiably popular oyster platter starter (below) was divine.

4 huge oysters served with very interesting dipping sauces, a bowl of fried shallots and cha-om tips (climbing wattle).

A vegetarian version of the cold Japanese salad (below) was declared a resounding success:

Everyone was happy with their food, and we all tasted as many of the dishes as our complicated dietary requirements permitted.

Below is a simple-sounding spinach tagliatelle dish was excellent.

Good food.  Polite efficient service.

We paid our own way, and I didn’t tell the staff that I blog and review.

Personally recommended.

 

White Magic Adventure Travel does it again!

It is almost 5 years since I was introduced to the best climbing and trekking company in India – there you go, colours nailed firmly to the mast! – and the high standards of WM never cease to amaze.  And impress.  And reassure.

I just returned a few days ago from climbing Banderpoonch, a 6316m peak in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand.  We made it to 6120m, before Avilash Bisht, one of the owners & founders of WM & our leader on this climb, made the decision to turn us all round, since the remaining approx 200 vertical metres were, in his expert opinion, just too difficult and risky for us.

And it is for moments like that – when Avilash, in consultation with his brilliant team of Sherpas makes a tough call – that I love and respect White Magic Adventure Travel.

Safety is their undisputed #1 priority.

There was absolutely nothing to fault about our expedition.

Nothing at all.

WM carried out another perfectly organised trip, despite potential obstacles.  Like Avilash having a serious family emergency a couple of days before departure.  Sanjeev Rai seamlessly  took over the reins, and it was a joy to meet such a serious and competent young man.  Sanjeev guided us from Dehra Dun to Uttarkashi to Forest Camp to Base Camp to Camp One, when Avilash finally joined us, after a mammoth trek up the mountain.  Now THAT is called devotion to duty.

We were a team of 7 climbers + a Liasion Officer from the IMF + Sanjeev, Avilash, the one and only Mohan, a cook & an assistant cook, and  4 sherpas.  Plus teams of porters to ferry our luggage and supplies to and from Base Camp.

Everything was flawless.

No sooner arrived in camp, than our tents would be up in a jiffy, along with a mess tent and toilet tents  – ladies & gents –  such luxury.

Every need was catered for, from loads of good, nutritious food, to twice daily monitoring of our oxygen saturation levels, from clean water for drinking to warm water to wash our hands in before meals.  WM runs an efficient set up, with every member of their staff pitching in for any and every job, and always with a smile.  Imagine the luxury of being woken up every morning in your tent with a cup of “bed tea” –  though, actually, I suppose “sleeping bag tea” is a more accurate name. Even at Summit Camp, sleeping on the ice, we were woken up with tea and a smile.

We were treated to a delicious birthday cake, carried up from Base Camp to Camp One, for Vandana, one of the climbers.

We had a celebration cake on our last night under canvas.  Don’t miss Banderpoonch iced onto the cake!

We had pakoras and endless cups of tea, soup to keep us warm, popcorn, Maggi – the cooks kept producing delicious food, regardless of the altitude. Heck, Avilash & Sanjeev even made us a thermos of coffee in the dark and cold of summit night, to give us all that extra kick to keep on going.

I am a diehard White Magic Adventure Travel fan, and cannot envisage travelling with any other climbing or trekking company.  Ever.

Our climbing party of 7 stands testament to the loyalty WM engenders.  We were all repeat clients and we spent most of the descent planning and discussing our next climb –  a discussion that has continued on our WhatsApp group since we all, reluctantly, got back to our daily city lives

I cannot recommend White Magic Adventure Travel too highly.

Safety, skilled staff, the kindest team of Sherpas going, good equipment – I have nothing but praise for this company.

Would I use them again?

Of course!

As I said, we’re already planning our next climb…

I paid my own way, and even though the guys at WM know I blog, they have never, ever once made mention of the fact.  Total class act.

Here are just a few moments from a lifetime of memories:

Waking up to a view like this from your tent (above & below) is too, too fabulous.

Forest Camp (below)

Picnic lunch on the go (above).

Sanjeev checking the route (& looking pretty damned impressive as he does so!)

Mohan (below) the heart and soul of every climb I have done with WM.