Ivan and Hilda from The Amazing Race Asia

Once in a while, you know someone in your life who went from ordinary to extra-ordinary.

38-year-old Ivan Evetovics is a University researcher. He is also a freelance instructor at my fitness centre, teaching Parkour every Wednesday at 7:30pm.

Parkour is French for "the art of moving". It is a type of physical activity that involves the participants climbing, landing and jumping over obstacles in the most efficient and graceful manner. In his 1 hour class, Ivan coaches participants to improve agility and react quickly.

We are proud to have him teaching for us because we are the only gym in Kuching where people can learn Parkour in a safe and controlled environment.

But one day, Ivan called in to say he wanted to take a whole month off. According to him, he wanted to return to his home-country of Hungary for a holiday. My Group Exercise Coordinator and I went into panic mode. There’s already a shortage of quality instructors in Kuching, and we’d be struggling to fill up the void left in his timeslot.

When Ivan returned after a month, naturally I went to him and asked, "Hey Ivan, how was your holiday?"

He winked and cheekily replied, "It was good… I think you’re gonna like it."

"Huh? Whaddya mean I’m gonna like it?"

Fast forward to 24th August 2010.

I was in Singapore to attend the press conference of the original AXN production, The Amazing Race Asia Season 4. As I descended from the lifts of the new Marina Bay Sands hotel, who did I bump into?

Ivan Evetovics and his wife, Tengku Hilda – the first couple from my small town of Kuching, Sarawak to ever compete in the Amazing Race Asia.

It was the most unusual and indescribable feeling.

In Kuching, our relationship is that of an employer and employee. Suddenly, we are seeing each other as blogger and media personality. Instead of me speaking to him about his class, I was sitting down for an interview with him and his wife about their experience in the race of a lifetime.

I spoke to the executive producer Michael McKay, the host Allan Wu and the other contestants in the race. All of them have nothing but good things to say about Ivan and Hilda.

The race was dominated by big media personalities from big cities around Asia

Among them, an ex-strip club manager from the Philippines

Testosterone-filled alpha males from India and the Philippines.

Two dating actors from Hong Kong.

And a model/musician team from Singapore.

Even against such formidable opponents who must have tons of TV experiences before, Ivan and Hilda, who never participated in any reality shows before this, left a big impression on the show.

I sat down for an interview with them.

Kenny: So, physical preparation going into the race?

Hilda: Oh no, not me. I don’t have any preparation. I didn’t know I was even going to make it into the race. If I knew, I would have gone back to the gym and drop 10 kilos.

Ivan: You know Kenny, for me, I’m always ready mannnn. I was born ready. I do my judo, my jiujitsu, my Parkour and keep in shape.

Kenny: Was it a spur of the moment decision that you guys join?

Hilda: No, we didn’t even want to join the race. Our daughter was the biggest reason why we joined. We didn’t even know about the auditions until our daughter told us about it. If you had seen in one of our earlier photoshoots, our face was like this. *shows pouty lips*

Ivan: It was Saturday afternoon, and I had jiujitsu training, so I was like, "Yo let’s get this thing over and done with, I want to go back to training!"

Hilda: I don’t even watch Amazing Race. We were in The Spring and my daughter was like, "Ma! You see there’s lots of people talking there? Allan Wu is there!" And I was like, "Who the heck is Allan Wu? Who is Vanessa and Pamela Chong?"

Kenny: What did they ask you to do during the auditions?

Ivan: They asked us to fill out the form and make 2 videos. But we did the live auditions at The Spring, so we just improvise.

Kenny: I think that’s what they wanted.

Ivan: I think one of the reasons we were chosen was because we were just ourselves. That’s what I
would advise would-be participants to do. Don’t over-think the questions. Just be yourself.

Kenny: Hilda, do you find yourself overly-reliant on Ivan?

Hilda: Yes… *nods sheepishly*

Ivan: But that’s how our relationship is. We don’t mind helping each other. There are things she is good at, there are things I am good at. But this race is difficult, so I have to do quite a lot of physical stuff. I enjoy it.

Hilda: I am good at crying!

Kenny: Does any of the jiujitsu or the Parkour help you in any way?

Ivan: Of course, overall physical conditioning is very helpful. Also, in terms of mental preparation – there is so much pressure and you have to keep on going and going. In fact, Parkour is all about minimum effort and  maximum efficiency. And that principle fits very well into the race.

Kenny: What would you say to people who want to be a finalist and really want to excel in the Amazing Race?

Ivan: First thing is, don’t panic, stay calm and use your mind. In the end, the race is all about making the right decisions. To me, that’s the most important thing because everything is all about rushing, rushing, rushing. You make the stupidest mistakes because you are rushing. If you can stay calm that’s the key to doing well.

Kenny: Lastly, what do you want to say to the members back at Level Up Fitness?


The Amazing Race Asia screens every Thursday 9pm on AXN, and Episode 1 is also online at http://www.axn-asia.com/tara!

ADV: A Day At Empire Shopping Gallery

Had some time to kill before I head to the airport, so I went to my hangout spot in Subang Jaya.

Despite it being a weekend, I had appointments with people and stuff to do before I return to Kuching.

First order of the day – BREAKFAST.

10:15AM Italiannies is running a 2-course meal promotion for RM27.90.

I ordered a minestrone soup and a shrimp linguine. The soup was okay, but man – that pasta was stunningly delicious!

The tomato paste married so well with the chunks of succulent shrimp. My mouth salivates just thinking about it.

I wished I had someone to share the meal with. The portions at Italiannies are huge by default. Halfway through and I’m already stuffed.


11:15AM – Outside the restaurant, the Ed Hardy store caught my eye.

More specifically, it was the “OMG SALE” signs that caught my eye.

I like the tees from Ed Hardy, but I don’t think I have enough charisma to pull off such flowery designs. I think I’m just more of a plain ol’ collared-shirt guy.


11:30AM – I signed up for a short-term membership with Fitness First Platinum.

Although I own a fitness centre in Kuching, I travel around the world regularly. I guess a fitness membership would come in handy. My platinum membership costs RM225 per month and allows me to use any of their gyms locally and abroad.

Fitness First is a fitness chain I’ve always admired. They are more expensive than their competitors, but they do run a service-oriented business and have branches all over the world.

Their Platinum branch on the 8th floor of Empire Shopping Gallery is truly a spectacle.

Heck, it even comes with a swimming pool overlooking Subang Jaya.


11:45AM – Realised I forgot to bring my workout attire, so I made a quick trip to adidas downstairs to purchase a new top.

It’s a huge store. I had no problem choosing what I wanted immediately.


1:30PM – After my workout and shower, I went down to loiter around the shops while waiting for my appointment.

Bought a classic polo tee from Tang’s.

The stuff at the Tang’s outlet here is priced quite affordably. It’s not like their store in Pavilion where the cheapest shirt would be like 200 bucks.

Made a mental note to pick up a pair of Havaianas before my next beach holiday.


2:00PM – Had lunch at Lam Mee Ya.



2:15PM – Diana and Mike from Kuching dropped by to say hi.

We wanted to drink, so we had our Happy Hour at Chilli’s.

Yes, alcohol at 2pm on a Saturday. A wise man once told me, “it’s never too early to drink beer.”

That wise man happens to work for Guinness.


3:30PM – Bought a Dr Brandt skin care kit from Ken’s Apothecary for a bargain RM99.

Dr Brandt hasn’t been very well known here, but it’s the hot stuff in Hollywood. Ken’s Apothecary is the only store that carries their range of products.

Oh, and the manager of the outlet reads this blog. Hello!


3:45PM – Chuckled to myself at this T-shirt.

You should never apologise for being sexy ok?


4:00PM – Not sure if it’s just me, but there seems to be a something happening almost everyday at the concourse of Empire.

I must have witnessed at least 2 fashion shows during the time I was there. Good entertainment, even when I don’t understand anything about fashion.


4:05PM – Spotted this great looking “coffee and cake” place outside Jaya Grocer.

I love it so much!

It’s called Whisk, and their concept reminds me of the cramped but cozy coffee bars in Melbourne CBD – back to b
asics, serving nothing but hot espresso and warm service.

When I got there, the seats were all full! I was so sad that I had to eat elsewhere.


4:15PM – Met up for my appointment with Ang Shao Ting and his girlfriend at an Malaysian-Western fusion restaurant called Serai.

Shao Ting is from Media Contacts – a digital media agency I started dealings with.

Since I started blogging, I met hundreds of media and PR agencies. Unfortunately, only a handful understood the intricacies of working with me. Shao Ting is one of the rare ones who do and I appreciate him for making my life easier.

Serai is a Western-Malaysian fusion restaurant. If you go there, I highly recommend you their Nasi Kerabu.


Don’t worry about the blue-coloured rice. That’s just the way it is. The proper way to eat this is to first mix all those ingredients around the plate a la Chinese New Year "lau seng" style, then put a spoonful of the mixture into your mouth.

You’ll be in heaven. When you come down, remember to send me a thank you note.

Finished the meal off with a Berry Pavlova.

The crust of the cake is so fluffy it melts in my mouth. So sinful, but so good.


5:45PM – Talked so much with Shao Ting I was late for my facial appointment with 128 Fauborg.

When I came in, the lady at the counter asked me to fill up a form. There’s a section that asked me for my race and religion.

I was not exactly sure what my race and religion has anything to do with getting a facial, so I wrote down the only logical thing to write.


6:45PM – I’m not vain, I just couldn’t resist their promotion – 2 facials for only RM50. I redeemed it using the vouchers I received at the grand opening of Empire Shopping Gallery.

Woke up feeling so much more pampered and refreshed.

7:00PM – Took a cab to KLIA for my flight home.

Satisfied with the fact that I spent a productive Saturday shopping, eating, drinking, talking, working, working out – all at the same place!

Dr Goh Yau Hong, Mount Elizabeth Hospital

No matter how many times I experienced it, the rock star in me never gets tired of seeing my name on a placard.

7 months after my initial consultation, I finally found time to peel myself away from my business to travel to Singapore again.

My purpose was to visit my ENT Specialist, Dr Goh Yau Hong of Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

I made my doctor’s appointment through ParkwayHealth in Kuching, and they actually arranged somebody to wait for me at the airport terminal. Next thing I know, I was riding an electric buggy through immigration into a waiting limousine.

Dammit, I didn’t even had time to stop for duty free.

I forgot to let ParkwayHealth know I was only there for my snoring treatment. The hospital provide this service for the critically ill, which I obviously was not. But hey, the buggy service is provided free of charge so why not make use of it right? 😀

The arranged transport took me all the way to Mount Elizabeth, located in the vicinity of Orchard Road. As soon as I arrived the hospital, a concierge helped me with my luggage (as if I were staying in a hotel) and I was directed to the Admissions counter.

This is where I would be staying for the night.

Unfortunately, disaster struck.

Apparently, all the standard wards were booked out!

It must have been the high season to get sick in Singapore, but the hospital ran out of single room for me to sleep in.

Lucky for me – they promptly upgraded me to an Executive Ward at no extra cost.

I later found out that I was in same floor where royalty usually stays when they come for treatment. Tried my luck to wonder around, but don’t seem to see any Sultan or princess.

Hospitals are not my favourite place to stay overnight. But I gotta say, the room I was staying at Mount Elizabeth Hospital feels more like a hotel than a hospital.

They got everything from flat screen TV, minibar and in-room WiFi internet. On top of that, they even serve food that does not classify as the stereotypical hospital food good food – like keropok and cheesecake.

But enough about the hotel hospital room.

The reason I had to stay overnight at the hospital was because I was instructed to go through a Sleep Test.

The test is to measure whether or not I suffer from a condition called “Obstuctive Sleep Apnea Syndrome” – a side-effect of which is my very loud snoring.

Apnea is more a condition more serious than just a simple snoring.

Apnea is when I completely STOP BREATHING during my sleep. In mild cases, all it means is that I will wake up groggy and tired. But the worst case scenario is that I might get heart attack, stroke or in extreme cases – death during sleep.

How tragic would I be if I were to die not because of something fun, but due to lack of oxygen during my sleep.

Initially, I was adamant that I did not have sleep apnea. From what I know, it occurs mostly in older and heavily obese males. I thought I was neither, but I was just being delusional.

Dr Goh insisted that I must do the test before he could treat me. Being a good boy, I had to go along with it.

When the results finally came out, I was in for a rude awakening.

It was measured that during my sleep, I STOPPED BREATHING COMPLETELY on average – 17 times an hour. Overall, I was taking in only 78% of the oxygen I was supposed to breathe in.

It was not just loud snoring I am suffering from. Clinically, I am diagnosed as having MODERATE OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA.

That is some startling statistic to look at.

Dr Goh was as blunt and as straightforward as he could be. He advised me that there are two things I could do to lift me out of this nightmare that has been haunting me both physically and socially since young.

First, I must make make an effort to reduce my weight. Doing so will free up my vocal chords when I sleep.

Second, he’ll perform turbinate reduction. By removing the flesh blocking my nose, I will be able to breathe in a lot more oxygen during my sleep.

I went ahead with the procedure. The thing only lasted 15 minutes and was no more painful than a dental surgery.

There was bleeding for 3 weeks after that, but that’s normal because flesh that was microwaved, cooked and fell off.

But after the whole thing was over, I took the first deep breathe through my nose – and it felt… refreshing!

It’s as if for the past 28 years, I had been living with a blocked nose. When I’m suddenly able to breathe in more air than normal, and that II no longer have to open my mouth to breathe… suddenly it felt different.

The gush of fresh oxygen going through my nose and into my lungs was reassuring. I breathed like I never breathed before. And it felt real good.

That was only one part of my snoring treatment sorted out. The other part – the more difficult part – was the issue with my weight.

I am overweight. I had initially lost a huge amount of weight since my last marathon training.

But since then I had been travelling every weekend, working through day and night. Unknowingly I was transformed back into a blimp. I was so much into running my fitness centre that I wasn’t even participating in it myself.

But one good thing about my new nasal passage – now that I can breathe in more oxygen – my stamina has gone up by heaps.

I’m so much more alert in my daily activity now. Gone were the days where I’d run out of breath from climbing up and down the staircase.

I haven’t stopped snoring completely yet because my excess weight is still there. Obviously, I still have a long way to go.

But my ultimate goal was to become like this other one of Dr Goh Yau Hong’s patient.

This is Mr Brown. He saw Dr Goh and got so motivated that he lost 16kg in four months, through nothing but diet, exercise and hard work.

He no longer snores now when he sleeps.