Chapter 2 (2/5):Borneo International Marathon 2018 photo/video blog; 1st BNP (Borivali National Park) Green runners’ family masti Malaysia & Singapore: May 2018


( Photos courtesy: BNPGR friends, pexels )

Section I: Prelude to Borneo International Marathon 2018


Section II: Photo journey: The travel with different themes.

Section I: Prelude to Borneo International Marathon 2018

July to 4th May 2018:
*A lot of emails and phone calls to Marjie (she is always helpful )
* Endless meetings with team SOTC (they play their role of the seasoned player. In Mumbai lingo “ Purana chawal “)
* Addition, deletion, alterations in the itinerary to keep the cost down. Sanjay is very clear: We can’t go much beyond the first estimate ( which in any way was based on some vague idea )
* calling/talking to friends. Understanding their May commitments/programmes/constraints
* Answering their queries including those wherein we do not have any ready answer/s
* talking to other vendors/travel agencies including vendors suggested by our dear friends.
* By October 1st week, we are able to block our air tickets with the airline.

On way to KL and KK
* 9th October night: Tushar sits in SOTC office beyond 10 pm to complete all the online procedure for group registrations for Borneo registrations.


We have worked our further discount beyond early bird scheme and as per instructions of Marjie we need to execute the bookings in a lot of tens. Over the phone, emails and some screaming within the group, we are able to complete the formalities.


* on 11 the march we have our whole group meeting. We need janta’s consent on little flexibility on a budget as now we are entering into last rounds of negotiations.
( Post meeting Sanjay’s post: Today’s meeting was so positive guys..thank you so much for your trust. Now let us get ready with all the papers. We are a joint family of about 60 members. We will make this marathon picnic the most happening one !!

“. The funny development unfolds slowly. This is typical with any crowd: During the group meeting we pay little or at times no attention, later someone who is not part of our team casually mentions “ Oh this package looks costly, my aunt’s cousin’s neighbour’s sadhubhai ( co-brother ) has recently done Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand-Hong kong { basically half of the world ) in so and so price ( which must look very attractive ). One dialogue is sufficient to confuse the group. Some even read fine prints given in SOTC offer and start interpreting them. So one more message is posted :
“ Relax guys. We are still coordinating. Our only request: Please do not indulge in wild speculation. From day one we have been requesting every one to use her/his contacts so that we get value for money trip. Yes, it is normal to react with great alarm to any figure given to us. We all had enough time if someone still feels she/he can do magic with better deal you are most welcome. Please help us on SOS basis. We have not given all our money to SOTC yet.”
This brings in a kind of cool down effect.


* talking to some vendors who were introduced over the phone at the 11th hour by dear good friends. The funniest aspect was people who recommended them never shown any inclination to even coordinate one introductory meeting. Their version: “Shailesh, costs given by SOTC looks very high. I know so and so person, He will give the best and cheapest rates. NO, I cannot join you for 1st meeting/one to one meeting. I have an extremely busy schedule in office. This is the number, you go ahead !!” What followed were lonely efforts to entertain the new vendors till the last dollar only to reach the obvious conclusion that pricing being worked out with SOTC is quite pushy and had a great lead time and any bigger established player now will not be able to match the prices.
The mandate by the core committee of Maheshbhai, Sanjay, Sree and Tushar is very clear. No mom-pop kind of shop-small travel agency. We need big size and known travel agency.


28th march: Visa related formalities is arranged in Kandivali itself. It saves a lot of unnecessary travel or coordination with Lower Parel.
• By April 1st week IDFC recurring accounts are closed.

13th April 2018
“I will have one more coffee “
This is my third coffee.

art blur cappuccino close up
Photo by Chevanon Photography on

I have been with three of SOTC guys since last 4 hours in their lower parel office. Since morning I am the one who is having nonstop coffees on demand.
Initially, we were in the bigger conference room. Soon we are chucked out to a smaller room as other teams also want to use the conference room.

adult architect blueprint business
Photo by Pixabay on

Every team has some time slot allocated to them. I am missing that room as it had projection facility. During previous meetings, I could use their projector to highlight various options for the itinerary in Malaysia and Singapore. I could even show them online ticket rates /entry rates on large screen just to hear some lame excuse for their pricing.

black chairs and white table
Photo by Pixabay on

We (or rather me!!)are once again trying to find the lowest possible package cost.
Tejas is the head of customised tour group. He is a seasoned player.
I want certain things back on bucket list but the cost is deterrent.
Seeing no other way I tell them to knock off few dinners and lunches from the package. It is kind of desperate move.
They look at each other and their watches as if this guy will now order 4th coffee.
We spend half an hour more before I decide to leave them for their lunch hour.

Photo by Wahid Hacene on

22nd April: We have our last long run of 18 km before the taper starts. 10 km fiends complete their 8km run. Niraj joins us ( as he has come from Vasai ) and completes his 35 Km. He is our solo entry for the full marathon.

28th April 2018: 1st family get together of Marathon group
We are at cascade clubhouse near TCS, Borivali east. The whole arrangement is by Kishor Bhat which includes more than 100 lemons.

cascade meeting


The one to one interaction is extremely helpful. Team SOTC tries to explain the exciting trip in the most boring way. To add little drama to the whole show they have got one SOTC travel bag( for their own use ) just to show me “ See you negotiated really hard and we told you : we will not give you one complimentary bag per family, and this is that bag !! I keep wondering “why this kind of knee jerk cost cutting? SOTC bag can be a chalta firta advertisement material and not strictly a cost head only!!”
Nonetheless, we remain excited as we hold each other’s hand and pray to Lord Ganesha to remain true to his name “Vighnaharta “with his blessings so that our whole tour remains mishap free and without any health problems (we have a whole jingbang of young kids ) .

ancient art bali black and white
Photo by Pixabay on

I was a bit sceptical of people’s wholehearted involvement in to this ceremonial thing, but everyone willingly joins including team SOTC.
Later we request blessings all our BNPGR friends (back home who could not join )with the following post.
We need your blessings !!!!!
Please pray for all of us as we need all the good vibes. Please pray that we have a successful and eventful trip. May many complete their marathon with PBs in the totally different environment! This kind of initiative may inspire other runner groups to take runners across various destinations.
As we all believe: Running and friendship matters !!!!

4th May 2018

T2 terminal: Mumbai International Airport ( CSIA).
Sharanya is our first guide. She is working with GVK group (present owners of the airport ) Mumbai airport is a unique airport. It has one of the largest wall museums within!!
Sharanya takes us through the the interesting journey as we do a mini-tour of the airport.
What can be a better way to start your journey.?




…………………………………… continue…..part III

Section II: Photo journey: The travel with different themes.

1. Catching a few winks

Our trip starts in the sleep mode.


As we have an overnight flight we start our journey with the holiest thing to do: sleep in the aeroplane.






Not everyone can hit the snooze button. Whereas some can sleep anywhere… in the airplane, in the the train, in the bus, in a rickshaw, on the back seat of a two-wheeler, front petrol tank of a motorcycle.
Some need a proper bed or enough space to stretch her/his body (to sleep) …the lucky ones can sleep in smallest space ( includes cattle class economy class seats ), or even sleep while standing ( in a bus or Mumbai local trains ).
Our janta sleeps in planes, in coaches (bus) and even odd places.

2 Looking down from heights and Looking up to the heights.

We keep going higher

to look down.


We are also looking up !!


The journey starts when we are approaching KL in an aeroplane and then we are looking down at mesmerising Kota Kinabalu and its coastline

then KL again and it goes on.





If looking down from planes is not enough, we climb KL tower to look down. It gives a 360-degree view of the city. The tower provides us binoculars (free) to see distant objects with a nearer view and soon our Janta is looking for rooftop swimming pools and some bombshells having sunbaths.
{In a single party political system it’s not always big brother is watching you. He is also allowing many others to peep down on your privacy}









I demand Mr Dilip (one of the Malaysia guide) to come up and explains the whole geography of KL from a height. Poor guy loses his bearings as he gets lost with my zid of having an instant crash course in KL geography.
The Iconic structures on which we do not climb, we have the typical touristy photo moments. The irony is they look good in photos when you are down and click them from a distance. No point climbing them for capturing their iconic image.
Singapore Flyer (a kind of funny name) is basically a moving wheel with air-conditioned glass capsules.

One can see the city from the top (although for few seconds before you start coming down) but they have made it sure that you cannot see the top of marina bay hotel boat. {For that you have to pay separately and stand in a queue (with majority fellow Indians)}

Travelling by cable car as you move toward Santosa island is also a must experience. At one point the cable car reaches the highest point. You can see the harbour area, sea, virtually whole of Santosa Island.
It is a special service by Singapore tourism as you can easily find out during the short trip “what you are not going to see in your given package”
…………………………………………………………………………end of part II……..

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