My Badminton and Life Blog

My Badminton and Life Blog

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

2016 Manhattan Beach International

The time had come and it was the first tournament of the year, the 2016 Manhattan Beach International in Manhattan Beach, LA. I had been to LA many times before, to many to count on ones hands but never to Manhattan Beach. My good friend Yuko Kawasaki lives there and invited me to stay with her for the tournament so I wouldn’t pass up the offer to hang out with a good friend. I boarded the all familiar flight to LA and before you know it had landed in LAX the only difference was that I had a late night flight and arrived some 1am in the morning. After arriving I was picked up and whisked away to Yukos house to get some sleep for the night. I had never seen her house before and when I arrived I was amazed at how tightly packed all the houses were packed into their lots and next to each other. But it was nice to be in their mansion for the week and hang out with and meet the family. The tournament wasn’t to start for a few days I went down early to adjust to the place and get a decent hit in at the venue and of course check out the beach.

The beach at Manhattan Beach

So first things first I went down to the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club (MBBC) which is where the tournament was going to take place. A small private club located about a 10-15 minute walk from the beach. The club is a simplified version of the Glencoe Club in Calgary as it is just badminton courts and an outdoor pool area as well as a sort of sitting area too. Nice little club located within Manhattan Beach though and very popular not just for its badminton but just as a space for people to go and hang out by the pool. The tournament wasn’t meant to start for a few days so I was able to get in some hitting with friends who were there as well as some of Yuko’s friends who were playing the tournament (Dean and Jen) as well as Yuko’s daughter who I was playing mixed doubles with. I was however unable to practice with my doubles partner before the tournament happened.

Manhattan Beach Badminton Club (MBBC)

One nice thing that you don’t always see at the lower level of tournaments is that they had a welcome dinner for us. The city of Manhattan Beach hosted an athlete’s welcome dinner at the local fire station for the event. The firefighters cooked some pasta dishes for us and salad as well they honoured some of the top badminton players to come out of Manhattan Beach and the MBBC be those nationally, internationally, and Olympians.

Gift bag from the tournament
Dinner at the local fire station

The time passed and eventually the day arrived for the tournament to start. In singles I would play Job Castillo from Mexico, in doubles Tuck and I would play Bjorn and Matthew Fogarty both from USA, and in Mixed Yoshi and I would play Bjorn (USA) and his girlfriend Marina from Mexico. Side note I was going to play Manhattan Beach international and then after play Thailand Grand Prix Gold but the flights didn’t work out to leave and get to Thailand in a good time for my first match so I had to cancel that trip and withdrew from the tournament before the draw was published even though I was in the main draw. Match day came and singles was up first, I played Job and this was the first time we had ever played despite attending so many of the same tournaments. It was a tough game from the start but I was able to rally with him and make him move, in the end though he prevailed and beat me so that ended singles. Doubles came next and it was the first time me and Tuck had played together period. We had such a close game with Matt and Bjorn losing 19-21, 19-21 to them, the winner of that match automatically went to semifinals and got a medal. Matt and Bjorn would however make it to the finals and lose in 3 games to a pair from Indonesia so the fact we almost beat them was very promising for us and a great result. Mixed was last and likewise it was Yoshi and my first time playing together so it was a learning experience and a fun time none the less. We were able to string some rallies together but I would need to improve my mixed for sure after playing.

The tournament had come to an end, a phrase I say all too often these days it seems. No medals here but was very close in the doubles to getting one yet at the same time I was satisfied with the results. It was the first tournament of the year and definitely not the last to come. But in the meantime I would be off to China to spend time with Belinda and her family so I had that to look forward to. Anybody who knows me knows that I have a huge soft spot for China, I just love it there and now I would get to go back first trip for the year so of course I was excited. Plus it’s a long flight on a big plane and just as well anybody who knows me knows that I love flying on big planes and that I don’t consider anything under 5 hours of flying traveling. I did however have a few days left to kill in LA so I did spend most of my time at the tournament and the beach of course as well at one local attraction.

Sand Dune Hill is the name of the massive sand dune in Manhattan Beach that is famous for anybody into fitness and working out. Back in the day everyone use to run it from the football and basketball teams that call LA home to the various other athletes and just anybody who wants a killer workout in general. So me being me the lover of fitness I had to try it and run up and I was not disappointed at all. Firstly off it is all sand, secondly the angle of it is rather ridiculous, and thirdly it’s pretty high. Starting out strong I soon felt the effects of running and having your feet just sink into the sand, at one point I was almost on my hands and knees to crawl up the hill but in the end I made it. Dean recorded the whole thing and added a pretty fun commentary to it as well. I got a picture at the top cause Yuko took the stairs up to meet me there and then headed back down. After that we went for a nice and a lot easier walk along the beach. That was my last activity in Manhattan Beach before flying out to Beijing the following day.
Sand Dune Hill

All in all I am satisfied with the tournament and learned more about what I needed to do and work on. The next tournament would be Trinidad and Tobago nationals which I would try to defend my title at. That would be taking place in April so still a few months to prepare for it but no travel or tournaments prior unfortunately. Until then another trip to LA was completed and added to the books for the travel stats of 2016. Not to mention I had now switched from Air Canadas reward program over to United’s program because Air Canadas was getting harder and harder to achieve status and the past few years I would always be one tier lower status each year. United’s program was so much easier and I always fly United to Trinidad so it is a no brainer, I also am pretty happy with their service.

Victory on top of sand dune hill after conquering it

Sunday, June 26, 2016

2015 USA Grand Prix

The final tournament of the year had arrived, this whole time since May 1st had been Olympic qualification and I was making my attempt for the 2016 Olympic qualification representing Trinidad and Tobago. The downside is that I had some very tough tournaments which didn’t allow me to progress far in the draw and acquire points, but also had a few good ones to.


The last one of 2016 and my 10th international for the year, 11th if you include Trinidad nationals, had come around. I had been traveling every month of the year at this point and while this is the most that I have played in 1 year it doesn’t come close to some of the other players on tour who played anywhere from 15 to 30 tournaments. Regardless I was pumped and once again would have a European first round, this time it was my friend Jan Frolic from Czech Republic, somebody who I have traveled with on tour before and become friends with. Also I would be playing doubles with Kevin Barkman of Canada who shared with us the week prior in Orlando and was pretty cool to room with.

Sun and the Crystal Cathedral/Palace

Arriving into LAX wasn’t anything new as I have done it all too many times over the years, we were greeted by the tournament representative and then that’s when everything went to hell. It took 2 hours for the transportation to be arranged to take me and one of the umpires (Ashley who’s also from Calgary) to the hotel and then the drive itself took almost an hour and a half. So already we were off to a great start and I wasn’t able to get any practice in that day at the venue, the good thing was there was still the following day and I was in the main draw for singles. It was just doubles that Kevin and I had to play in the qualification against an Australian pair. After some practice I was feeling good and OCBC is a place that I have played at lots over the years (at least 5+ internationals there). The day went smoothly and the weather was nice and sunny/hot a pleasant change from the snow and cold in Calgary.

Tournament day rolled around and we had doubles qualification in the morning, Kevin also had to qualify for the men’s singles so we would be there for a little bit. We played our doubles match and it was a lot tougher than we were expecting it to be, for our first time playing together though it wasn’t too bad. We unfortunately lost that one but didn’t get slaughtered so that was a good thing so it was now onto singles. Kevin won his qualification match so that meant that he would play that same night in the main draw with me, both of our matches would be amongst the last of the night and we were both playing Europeans.

Game time came and we went to the venue to watch some matched before our turn to take to the courts. Jan wasn’t feeling the best that day but I wasn’t able to exploit it, I was too rushed in my play and didn’t stay patient. I forced too many shots leading to many unforced errors something that I would have to learn the hard way wasn’t the right way to play. In the end I got beat…bad but it was my own doing I was trying to play a style that would not work against the Czech giant and I wasn’t able to change it or was to stubborn to change it mid match. Just like that in one day the tournament had come to an end. After such success from the Suriname international to some rather disappointing first round losses at these tournaments it wasn’t the way in envisioned the year finishing off. But that was that and the tournament had come to an end for me, the last tournament of 2015 my jam packed year.



Overall I was decently happy through the year with my performance and couldn’t be happier about all the traveling that I was able to do. I had just 2 more days in LA as I didn’t want to spend too much time and money there and stay long. I have been to LA so many times before and this tournament is more technically in Orange County not LA itself so there is only so much to see without going up to the city. So the plan was to watch a few matches the following day and train a little with Kevin, we also ended up watching the last part of the hunger games at the movie cinema…it was a horrible ending to the series.

Walking around Orange County at night

Just like that the trip was done and it was finally time to board the last plane for the last flight of 2015, such a huge year it was for me from national titles to Pan American Games and the most tournaments I’ve played in a year yet. Time to enjoy Christmas and take a slight break for the holidays then get back on court to prepare for 2016 and see what the year would bring.

Last lounge visit for 2015

Monday, May 16, 2016

2015 USA International Challenge

The year was coming to an end as it was December already. Christmas decorations were up in the malls and snow was on the ground, or at least there should have been more snow. Calgary was having an abnormally warm and snowless winter which isn’t out of the ordinary. But it was time for me to fly off again and for the first time this year to go to two tournaments back to back. Every trip I had taken so far had been to just one tournament, nothing back to back. These two would be a lot closer to home though, both taking place to our neighbour to the south in the USA. First up would be the 2015 USA international Challenge in Orlando, Florida. Difference this time being that I would be traveling with some friends from canada, even one guy who trains at the Glencoe club with me and a friend from Vancouver as well as another I would have just met. Sean, Kevin, Antonio, and I would all be sharing a hotel room for the week that we were in Orlando and it would be quite the experience.

Atrium in our hotel, it lit up at night

The tournament would start mid-week so we headed down on a Sunday this way there would be time to practice and get accustomed to the courts. I would only be playing singles for the tournament though but after such a great performance in Suriname I was hoping to do well here too. I would be playing against another European player, Ville Lang from Finland the Finish Viking as he would come to be known as. The venue wasn’t bad as it was at clear 1 Orlando, the same clear franchise owned by my boss where I work in Calgary. So the set up was pretty familiar and the real adjustment just had to come with regards to the shuttles and their speed.

Clear 1 Orlando, the tournament venue

Practice went smooth as there was lots of players that I knew and was able to get a few sessions in before the tournament. Something that doesn’t always happen because I usually travel alone but this time it was nice to go with friends. The plan was that once we were knocked out of the tournament we would go to universal studios one day and then Disneyland the next day but the tournament was to come first. So game day came and we all went down to the venue to play our matches. Sean was up first and played a Chinese Taipei player, I was next up and then Antonio and Kevin played their respected players. My match started out rough against Ville but come the 2nd game I was adapting a lot faster than I had in the past and was taking the fight to him. I felt better, although he was really solid when I was patient I was able to score a lot more points but then the impatient moments would kick in and that’s when errors occurred. I ended up losing the 2nd game 18-21 it was incredibly close and I could have forced a 3rd if I was a little more patient. But it was a learning experience and I was happy with the result, the Finish Viking had taught me a lot of valuable lessons.


This meant that the tournament was officially over for me as well as for Sean. So we would start to plan out the rest of the trip. The following day we ended up staying around the area as the weather wasn’t too great and we wanted to see if there was a few more players who wanted to go to universal studios so we could rent a car and keep down the cost. Turns out the 2 of my European friends that I had travelled with before, Jan Frolic of Czech Republic and Matej Hlinican of Slovakia, were also out of the tournament and looking to head down to universal studios. So the plan was set in motion and we bought our tickets online to head to the park the next day, it would be an all-day affair.

The gang left to right: Jan Frolic, Matej Hlinican, Me, Sean McGowan

The morning came and the weather wasn’t super amazing but was still Florida warm, with overcast skies looming and forecasted for the remainder of the day. Our bags packed and electronics charged we rented a car and started out on our grand adventure. It took around an hour to drive there and that was without traffic which was pretty long in itself but we finally saw the exits that marked Disneyland and Universal Studios, we had made it at long last and pretty early in the day only 10am at that point. Parking, we made our way to the gate…well to all the stuff before the actual gates to enter the park. There were tons of shops, food places, and just random things which was expected but we passed by it all in anticipation of getting into the park and onto some rides not before taking a group picture of course. Starting off in the park we hit up a warm up ride right away to get ready then went for a big one “Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall” which is a drop tower type ride. It wasn’t too bad but was relatively short with just a few shots up and drops. Still enough to get the blood pumping and adrenalin up though, we would continue our way through the area and onto the next part toon world. There wasn’t too many rides there and the ones that there was were water rides and seeing as we would get wet we would save those for later in the day. Passing by Jurassic Park his meant that we would now adventure to the best part of the park and most anticipates area, Harry Potter world which spanned between the2 sides of the universal park.

Got absolutely soaked on this ride

Harry Potter area was amazing and there were some fantastic rides. The main attraction however had broken down in the giant castle but they offered a walking tour through the waiting line and let me say that line can get ridiculously long… you could wait an entire day in line just to ride that ride. Spoiler they got it working later so we were able to come back and ride it. I have to say that is hands down my favorite ride at universal studios. But after that we went to get some butter beer which was delicious, it went down smoothly and had a creamy caramel flavor to it but was very refreshing. Following through that the rest of the guys went on one of the Harry Potter rollercoasters but I’m not a big fan of rollercoasters so I didn’t go. That was the extent of the Harry Potter part of the world on this side of the park. So we quickly went through the rest of the island and saw the Atlanta’s part and doctor Suse world then proceeded to catch the Hogwarts express over to the other side universals park.

Hogwarts Castle was awesome
Got my butter beer in hand

Arriving at the station we proceeded to go through platform 9 ¾ into London and towards daigon alley which is where we stopped for lunch. The rest of the Harry Potter world had just one ride which we did and was more of an interactive experience but still good none the less. The rest of that side of the park had the themes such as Simpsons land, the MIB ride, Transformers, Terminator, Minions, ET, etc so we hit up some of those rides along with the mummy indoor rollercoaster which was a great experience and I don’t mind those types of indoor rollercoasters. The rest of the guys went on the final ride twice which was the rock and roll coaster, it did have quite the amazing and impressive drop on it but I passed. The night had come and the theme park was closing soon, we had spent the entire day there and had been able to see everything as well as ride a lot of rides. We did end up going on the water rides before leaving that side of the park, they were not bad at all just got you really wet so good thing I brought an extra change of clothes.

The day was done and we went to the outlet mall across the highway quickly before heading back to the hotel for the night as well as to grab food. It was a long day and we were all tired so getting into bed that night was a big relief for sure and before you know it the sun had risen and another day started. Originally the plan was that on the 2nd day we would go do Disneyworld but looking at the cost and just how much I spent the day before at Universal studios I decided it wouldn’t be a finically smart plan. I would be flying out the next day back to Calgary for a day and then off to LA for the USA Grand Prix. But first I had to see my cousin who lives in Orlando. He is my actual blood related first cousin who I hadn’t seen since 2009 when he came down to Miami to see me play when I competed in the Miami international there. But this time I was in his city so it all worked out perfectly to meet up. Sean came and we went to downtown Disney to hang out and walk around, so even though I didn’t make it to Disneyworld I was able to make it kind of close at least. My favorite part was by far the Lego store because well I LOVE Lego and am such a kid at heart when it comes to those things. If I could have (and if the exchange rate was better) I would have bought so many Lego sets to take back home with me but alas the opportunity needed to be passed up this time. After some quick shopping it was time to head out grab a quick bite and then call it a night as I had a flight early in the morning the following day.

Who doesn't want to chill with a LEGO hulk

The flight back to Calgary wasn’t a bad one, had a stop in Chicago which I haven’t passed through before but thankfully no weather delays made everything smooth. Upon arrival in Calgary though was the best surprise awaiting me for my one night back home before flying out to LA for my final international of 2016, the USA Grand Prix.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2015 Suriname International


A month had passed since my last international (Chinese Taipei Grand Prix) and now it was time to travel to another. This time I would be flying back to South America to the country where I played my first international tournament representing Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname. Getting to Suriname is no easy task and there aren’t many ways to do it. One way that I saw from Calgary was to fly to Amsterdam and then back down to Suriname (because Suriname is a Dutch colony) the other was to go to Trinidad and then fly from there. I would choose the latter because Trinidad was able to secure a flight for me from Toronto to Suriname and return, which meant I just needed to book a flight from Calgary to Toronto. Now if you live in Canada you can understand how much it can be to fly to Toronto, if you don’t here’s an example; it is often cheaper to fly to Asia from Calgary than it is to fly to Toronto from Calgary. I’ll let that sink in for a moment for you, but anyways I was able to book a flight the downside is I would have a 10 hour layover in Toronto starting at 11pm at night. After that it was straight to Trinidad followed by another 6 hour layover and then finally arriving into Suriname at 1am in the morning. Follow that with an hour drive into the city from the airport and finally getting into the hotel room and bed at roughly 2:30am.

Our hotel... the one on the right not the nice one on the left

At night behind our hotel is a biker bar and they would rev all night

All lit up at night... still a dive but the casino was good
Now that the hard part was over it was time to go get in some practice at the tournament hall. South America is usually known for its crappy venues and horrible conditions for badminton. This time I was slightly surprised with the venue and it was slightly better than what I expected. The courts themselves were actual court matts which doesn’t always occur at these tournaments. The ceiling was high and didn’t have to bad of lighting once you got used to it. There was a few drafts but the thing was they were relatively consistent in the direction they were blowing the only issue was the strength of it would change with the force of the wind blowing. You see the building they used one entire side of the building didn’t have a wall on it and they did all they could to cover it up (they actually did an amazing job) with tarps and such so that the wind wouldn’t come through. Shuttles flew decently and I actually felt good playing at the venue. I would be playing all 3 events so that would give me lots of time to adapt, of course singles is the event that I care about the most and focus on the most.

Tournament Venue

So we got to practice in the tournament hall and then had the managers meeting. The first events would commence the following day with qualification for men’s singles in the morning and then singles and doubles in the evening. I didn’t have to qualify thankfully but would play somebody who won their qualification match first round in the main draw. This ended up being a fairly straight forward match and allowed me to adapt and feel better on the court. The doubles later that night was also straight forward and overall the first day of competition was a success. The following day would prove to be a little more tiresome with all 3 matches, singles, doubles, and mixed. I had singles in the morning against a Venezuelan player and that went the full 9 yards. The score was incredibly close with me coming out in the end 22-20, 20-22, 21-18. It definitely tested my mental and put my skills to the test but this meant that I was now in the quarterfinals for singles. I would play an Italian player the following morning for a spot in the semifinals, so singles was a success. Doubles went as planned and we won that match as well fairly easy which put us into the semifinals and would play an Italian pair the following day at night. Mixed came along and that was another long one, took 3 games but in the end we didn’t come out on top there and that was the first loss of the tournament for me. A long day spent at the tournament hall and some much needed food later it was time to sleep after a successful day.

Semifinals day rolled around, well quarterfinals in the morning for singles was up first. Because it was the morning the tournament hall was empty and there really were not many people around watching at all. This would be the first time I would play a player from Europe, in all the years of traveling and all the tournaments I have played it was either Asian players or players from our region (Pan Am: North, Central, South Americas, and the Caribbean) but this would not be the last time I’d play a European player for the year. The first game was death I was not ready at all for what came my way but come the second I put up an amazing fight and felt great if only I made a few less unforced errors I would have been able to force a 3rd and deciding set. Although I was knocked out to the Italian I was happy with my performance and with how far I had made it in singles, it had been a while since I advanced far in the singles draw and won some matches. Doubles was up next that night and we played the Italian pair who surprise surprise consisted of the same player who beat me in singles. Unfortunately that didn’t go our way either but overall was a great experience and an unexpected result in an event that I don’t train for a usually just play for fun.

So that was that the run came to an end and I was knocked out of the tournament, I was really happy though and it had definitely been worth it to go down to Suriname to compete. Some much needed world ranking and Olympic qualification points came out of it. Up until this point I really hadn’t ventured around the city at all since I was so busy competing and didn’t get time to go out in the day to see Paramaribo. This would change and the day before we left I would take the time to go out and explore. Walking around our hotel there was actually a lot to see, the presidents house, a plantation park, of course the river that runs through the city, and some various other sights that caught my eye. A quick lunch with my friends Jan (Czech Republic), Matej (Slovakia), Melinda (Australia), and one of their friends was a great way to finish off the exploration and prepare to go watch finals. There wasn’t much to see around the city, well within walking distance from the hotel anyways but what I saw would definitely suffice.

Finals took place but that’s where things got interesting. The finals were set for Saturday night the only downside was that people had booked their flights out hoping the finals would be in the morning as with most tournaments. As well it being Suriname that didn’t leave many options to leave the country especially with many players flying to Africa, South America, or Europe for other tournaments starting just a day or 2 later. That left just 2 finals to be played, mixed doubles and men’s singles. Both matches were an unfortunate one sided affair but they still had to do the medal presentation. That is where I would get onto the podium for my men’s doubles medal which turned out to be a trophy. My second international medal/trophy of the year, felt great to win that and made the whole trip even more worthwhile. But that also meant that the tournament was done as was my time in Suriname, the long trip back to Canada would begin soon.

My trophy from doubles

Walking out to the plane to leave Suriname

As with my flight to Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago had secured a round trip flight from Toronto to Suriname in Caribbean Airlines for me for no charge. This also meant that I would be flying back to Trinidad for yet another layover (7 Hours to be exact) and then a slight layover in Toronto finally arriving into Calgary Monday morning just after midnight. Some friends and my aunt visited me at the airport which was nice, I didn’t decide to go home for the few hours it would have just been too much of a hassle so I decided to stay at the airport. Finally I was getting closer to home just 2 more flights and a couple more hours. Overall though the trip was definitely worth it after getting to quarterfinals in singles and a semifinals result in doubles which was completely unexpected. Yet another trip had come to an end and another tournament under my belt. Although I didn’t go to a new country it was fun to revisit one that I hadn’t seen in 8 years and the site of the first international tournament that I ever played. So to get such a great result like that proved a lot to me that I have come quite some way in my career and journey of being a professional athlete. Next up would be 2 tournaments a lot closer to home, the 2 international tournaments in the USA on opposite coasts Florida and California.
I love Suriname, I had a great tournament and fantastic weather

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Chinese Taipei Grand Prix and Taiwan

Mascot for the tournament

The time had come after a month of no traveling for September I was flying off again. This time back to Asia, 2nd time for the year for a tournament. I would be going to the 2015 Chinese Taipei Grand Prix tournament taking place in Taipei, Taiwan. I always love going to Asia, I really enjoy the region and the culture not to mention the food is amazing. My association entered me, main and qualifying reports came out and I was in the maindraw so that meant I booked my flight and would be in the country for 4 days. Leaving Saturday to get there and arriving back into Calgary the Friday morning, I had to coach Friday night. Then the draw came out…another lucky draw but not really as I had to play Darren Liew of Malaysia. Those who don’t know who he is well he was number 10 in the world at one point and also the Thomas cup silver medallist who lost the 5th and deciding match to Japan for the cold medal. At this point he hadn't played much and fell quite a bit in the rankings but still the opportunity to play a top player none the less. Well let's get this adventure off to a start.
The flights to Asia are always fun and while they are long (10+ hours at the least, depending where you leave from and fly to) they feel like nothing now because of how many times I have flown there. So I went from Calgary to San Francisco then SF to Tokyo and finally Tokyo to Taipei, Taiwan. The interesting part happened in San Francisco when we landed as we were taxiing down the runway I saw air force one parked on the tarmac. Little did I know this would effect me later on in the journey when flying out. As my layover in SF came to an end I boarded the 747 (I love big planes) and we started to push back from the gate then there was an announcement…that the flight would be delayed. The reason being because air force one was about to take off the entire airport was at a standstill, no planes could move or take off/land. So we had to wait, I don't know if the president was actually on air force one at that time since I know there are two of them. Regardless the standstill came to and end and the mayhem of airline traffic started but we were finally off. A quick stop in Tokyo and then it was off to Taiwan. Arriving at Taipei we were put into a holding pattern for a bit due to the excess of airline traffic arriving at the airport. Landing I was greeted by the welcome committee and we just had to pick up a few other players before boarding the van to the hotel. Arriving around 10pm at night I was unable to get a workout in as the gym closed so I made my way to my room and passed out on the gigantic bed, it made for some much needed rest.
My room was rather awesome
Morning broke and all that was planned was to have the team managers meeting and welcome dinner. As well I had a practice slot in the morning that I could attend. Made my way to the venue and of course it was just me so as always finding some players to hit with proved challenging. I was able to hit with the Chinese Taipei players but practice times were limited to half an hour only. Heading back go the hotel and after the managers meeting I met up with a friend who had just gotten in, Timothy Chui of Canada and we  arranged to have a hit Monday afternoon as it was just qualifications that day. Sunday night after the managers meeting there was a welcome dinner for all the players and of course I went to that. Welcome dinners for tournaments are done the best in Asia and Macau 2013 was one of the best to date that I have gone to. The tournament organizers approached me and wanted to make sure I was going as I was going to be presented with an award. The dinner was very well done and consisted of a 6 course meal. There was entertainment from the “sexy dancers”, a magician, some speeches, and then the award presentation where a bunch of us were presented with a trophy for attending the tournament. I left the dinner early around 8pm just 2 hours after it started but it didn't finish until around 10pm. Most players left as we all had to play maindraw matches the following day.
Tournament Venue

Welcome dinner for the players and the dancers

The award/trophy I was given for participating
Match day rolled around and I was scheduled to play in the afternoon. I got up ate a solid breakfast and relaxed a bit before getting ready and walking over to the venue. Upon arrival there was some good matches and I started to browse around and watch. Coming closer I warmed up and wanted to record my match but I didn't know what court I'd be on or know anybody who would be able to set up my camera for me. So I set it up to get all the courts in one shot. Darren Liew  and I walked onto the court and I was pumped for the match. I never get scared or worried when playing these high ranked or famous players. Quite the opposite actually it's really cool and an awesome opportunity to see how I stack up to them. The match started and I knew it was an uphill battle, we had some good rallies but in the end he was the superior player and took the match quite comfortably despite injuring his ankle in the 2nd game. I remember in the beginning of the 2nd game he kept me at the back of the court essentially playing isolation against me. I walked off the court disappointed in my performance that I couldn't get more posts but satisfied with some rallies and pegging him with the shuttle a few times.
Just like that my tournament was over, another first round loss. I had a day and a half left in Taiwan at that point the rest of the day from my match and then the full next day. This meant time to explore. I met up with a few friends over the course of my next day and a half. First stop was a night walk with my friend and we visited some interesting stuff including a popular shopping area which had a Times Square feel to it. The president’s place and a monument to the first president of the country were up next as well as some of the national music and preforming centers. It was night for all of this so it made the views all the more spectacular and memorable. After that I headed back to the hotel and got a workout in but making sure to go to bed early as I would have a huge day tomorrow with a lot of sightseeing to do.
Is it just me or does the presidents place look like a cake...

Mini times square

The sun was out and I was up bright an early at 7am, very rarely do I get up that early while traveling even for the free breakfast at the hotel. But this time I had a good reason I was leaving the hotel soon with my friend to see Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world (4th tallest at my time of viewing it). So we got on the train from the hotel and took the trek down to the tower, the ride was simple and the train system there is reliable and quick. Walking out of the station I was greeted by the colossus that was Taipei 101, its design stood out against the bare skyline. Nothing else even begun to come close to being noticeable against this towering giant. We made our way into the mall that is attached to the tower and then onto the lobby. The elevator at Taipei 101 is world famous and holds a Guinness world record in 2004 for the fastest passenger elevator in the world at 60.6 Km/h and takes you from the 5th floor to the observatory on the 89th floor in 37 seconds. Arriving at the observation floor you could see everything for miles in each direction, the view was stunning. The sheer height of the building was amazing. Up there they had lots of stuff talking about the construction of the building and what went into the design. There was also the option to go to the roof and get a better look at the antenna on top of the building but you couldn’t see too much scenery wise. Then there was the chance to view the damper, a 660 ton pendulum which helps the building to survive against intense winds and earthquakes so it doesn’t sway. That concluded the time in Taipei 101 a quick walk through the gift shop to get to the elevator to go back downstairs and it was off to get some food, half the day was done already.
First thing I saw when I got out of the underground station

With one of the mascots and there 660 ton damper

Its made out of coral
Next stop on the list was a museum all about Taiwan’s history, it was located up in the mountains and was quite the nice scenic route to get to. Bu before that we walked around Taipei 101 area and saw some of the pubic art that was there. Lots of cool statues and interesting instalments to take pictures with. There were tons of exhibits and artifacts to see in the museum but we didn’t have time to see them all. It would have taken an entire day on its own to cover all the floors and walk through every hall that was there. After spending a few hours there and learning about the history of Taiwan it was time to go back to the hotel and get some food. I had some time to kill so did a workout and started to pack. I was going to meet up with my last friend in the night to go out and party a little bit to enjoy my last night in Taiwan.

The museum is huge despite looking rather small
The night had come and my bags were packed, minus last minute things that would be packed in the morning. I would need to leave the hotel around 8am to go to the airport and catch my flight back to Calgary. But first we went to get some noodle soup followed by a walk to another shopping center for some browsing and where there were some bars. We met up with some more people and spent a few hours there hanging out, playing games (darts and pool) before finally calling it a night. We were close enough to Taipei 101 that I was able to see it lit up at night, it is a different color each night of the week. After the adventure which was wandering around Taipei and playing a tournament I was now time to head back home. Just 2 flights to take and I would be back in Calgary Friday afternoon. The flight back was relatively smooth and once I was back I needed to rush off to coaching that night. Finally after coaching I was able to go home and sleep but would need to wake up early Saturday morning to coach again and followed by Sunday morning too. So fighting jet lag would have to wait a little bit.

Taipei 101 all lit up at night
Overall the trip was great and I was happy I went despite having such a tough first round. The year would be drawing to a close and I would try and play a few more tournaments to get some world ranking points but as well Olympic qualifying points too. Suriname, Orlando, and LA were 3 more tournaments I had planned for and would take me through November and December.