Preparing for an Ingress Anomaly

Cart and I have wanted to participate in an anomaly for the longest time, and after weeks and weeks of preparation, it is finally here!

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

We could hardly sleep in excitement.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

Anomalies are basically cross faction events, held in various locations around the world where agents fight to gain the most points for their faction. The rules are different for each anomaly, one day it could be the most portals captured, another it could be the most fields made.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

The one that Cart and I participated in was held in the heart of Florence. We’ve already been here a couple of years ago, but instead of the relaxing stroll as we did the last time, the air was full of excitement and frenzy with so many agents from all around the world in one place.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

The first thing you do is to queue up to get your hand stamped and get a pack full of codes – one for a participation medal, and the other a redeemable card – it could be XMP 8, Res 8, Capsules, Shelds, etc, it’s all at random.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

Then you queue up to get your physical badge. It’s always recommended to get the registration done early as there will be a long line afterwards. There is usually a bit of time afterwards to socialise with other agents and have a quick meal. Then there will be a group photo after which the anomaly starts proper.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

A good inventory is important when participating in an anomaly – Be prepared to have at least 1800 items in your inventory.

The number may change though, depending on your team’s requirements – some would play defensively while others may have an offence tactics. Your team leader will advice you on the optimal amount of gear to carry.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

About a month leading to the event, you’ll have a plentiful of invites to participate in farms. Attend them! Not only will you get gear crucial to the event, you’ll also get to meet your team members. Personally, the hardest part for me is recycling some of the things in my inventory not in the list, just to fit into the requirements, especially since I’m going for the Onyx Translator medal. I had to go around and use as much as I could, tried to have someone to donate to, or carry it for me for a bit. drops ingress inventory

Apart from your Ingress inventory, there are some physical items that I recommend that you bring along with you in an anomaly.

Most of the above are pretty self explanatory. Keep in mind that you’ll be on your feet for at least four hours. So wear comfortably and be prepared for any weather change.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

(It was very cold and windy and drizzling when we  reached the 4th cluster. It’s amazing how we managed to get through that!)

One tip I’ve learnt is to plug the power-bank to your phone immediately when it’s fully charged and leave it to slowly discharge. I found that the phone lasted significantly longer that way. The freezer bags on the other hand are mainly for protecting your phone and the power-bank in case that it rains, but did you know that your phone is still functional while wrapped in the bag? Freezer bag Phone

How the anomaly works is that there will be four clusters made up of various portals. Shonin Cluster Portals

You and your team are usually delegated to one portal in each cluster. You can tell the anomaly portals by the hexagon halo around them. Shonin Cluster Portals

For 10 minutes you’ll have to capture, defend, link and field as much as possible. After which, the next 50 minutes is used to travel to the next cluster where there should be ample time to restart the phone, go to the loo, snack, strategise with your teams etc.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

In theory, it sounds easy BUT with thousands of agents in the area, and with at least 30 agents from opposing sides delegated to ONE portal the level of play is much more intense compared to regular game-play. Having a good phone with a high speed data connection is advantageous. The second cluster was impossible to play for us, it took a long time just trying to deploy due to the jammed network.

Nevertheless, when it does work, you’ll find that in just a split second, the portal could flip from blue to green and vice versa. It’s total chaos. You have to be focused and continue deploying for the entire 10 minutes even if it still appears to belong to your faction.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

(Note how close both the factions are with each other)

It’s always easier when you work in a team and your team leader will delegate the roles – some to deploy the resonator, some to deploy the mods, some to link. Cart and I were tasked to shield and I was stunned (but not so surprised) that in just 10 minutes, we used up at least 30 very rare shields each. Shonin Cluster Portals

(Left with only 10 resonators at the end of the day!)

With so many agents going around in large groups, some with flags, looking intently in their phones, there will be a chance when a person comes up to you and ask you what you are doing – For some, it’s easy to multi-task, but for me, I had a simple solution of putting a notice at the front of my bag :

“Hi! I’m in a competition, for more information, please go to

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

After an intense 4 hours, it’s time to head to a location where the results will be known. And if you still have some juice left running, celebrate and have a party – regardless of which party won.

It was a very close call in Florence with the Green winning by just 10 points on a count of about 800 for each side, mostly due to their advantage of 400 points (200 for each cluster) on having a big field covering Florence in the second and third cluster. But adding the results of the two secondary sites, Brno and Bilbao, we won the 1st day of the anomaly by 3 points on a count of more than 2000 for each side!

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

All in all, I had a very enjoyable time and had lots of fun participating in my first anomaly. It was extremely memorable and I really wouldn’t mind participating in another one :-)

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

Pictures by : NCC1701R / Magic74

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Bottle your own mineral water

If you’re thirsty in Rome, it’s not a problem as there are plentiful of water fountains, called nasone here. It’s safe to drink and freely accessible to everyone.

However when you travel to some areas outside of Central Rome, like in Anguillara, drinking tap water is banned due to the small level of arsenic found. Residents could still bathe with it, but they are banned from using tap water for direct consumption such as brushing their teeth, drinking and cooking.

Which is why there are kiosks such as there all around Anguillara : Case dell'Aqua Anguillara

Here residents could bring their own bottles and have them filled up with different types of water – most commonly, liscie (plain) and frizzante (fizzy).

I’m not sure if non residents could have access to these water though. I’ve always wanted to try the water here and luckily Cart brought with him an empty half litre bottle when we passed by the area the other night. Case dell'Aqua Anguillara

We happened to meet a resident at a kiosk who was filling up and he told us that we needed a subscription card to activate the nozzles. He was kind and offered to fill up our bottle anyway. Case dell'Aqua Anguillara

So I finally got the chance to taste the water from the kiosk. The fizzy one. I like it. It was as good as the ones you get from an Italian supermarket here.

For those of you who think water is water and tastes the same everywhere, don’t knock if off till you’ve tried it yourself. I used to think that way too – but the water here is distinctly different. I find the water here quite delicious. I’m even ok at giving up drinking soda. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why agricultural crops have a different quality here?

Sam’s gone…

Sam’s finally gone. He’s all beat up, and reaching his end, especially after what happened last year. By this point of writing, he’s probably on his way to be impounded. Such a pity, as despite the exterior, he was such a reliable scooter. It has been a good run together.

Which is why I chose to have another scooter from the same maker – Kymco. Initially I really wanted the Kymco Like 200i because of how much it reminds me of my old Vespa, but it’s much competitively priced by 1k Euro.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I preferred something with bigger wheels which to me is safer and more comfortable to ride, especially on bumpy roads. So I thought a People could be a better option (Sam was a People Series) Agility 200i 16+

But trying it out at the display room made me realise that it was rather big. It might not look it from the picture above, but I was quite worried that I might fall off the scooter from the weight and the size of it. Agility 200i 16+

Which was why when I saw the Agility 16+ 200i, I quickly changed my mind – it fit what I needed – bigger wheels, compact size, which is perfect for manoeuvring through traffic. Plus, it made more sense price-wise – For about 2k Euro for a People 125 cc, you could get the stronger engine Agility 200 CC. Agility 200i 16+

Looks wise, it’s quite rugged, but I think it’s quite cute anyways. I would get the blue or the red one, but it’s not available in Italy.  Nevertheless, I love the black matte – it’s so classy. Agility 200i 16+

By the way, below isn’t a review as I literally have used the scooter for less than 24 hours but here are my quick thoughts about it :

The front of the scooter is standard – with the speedometer and the fuel gauge, the lights and whatnots. But unlike my older scooters, the front has a blue light instead of the typical yellow bulb. Agility 200i 16+

We got the additional large wind-shield as it’s something good to have especially during the winter. Cold wind in your face is very uncomfortable – and I like that this one shields part of the hands too.

You fill up the fuel in front instead of under the seat which I found quite radical. Agility 200i 16+

Instead of the petrol knob, the battery is inserted in the underseat. By the way, it’s inadequate to fit my regular helmet inside and I think this only fits half helmets. Agility 200i 16+

Which is why it’s great that Kymco provided the box together with the scooter, although I don’t know if this is available for other countries. Agility 200i 16+

The box can fit two helmets if you knew how to. It’s also big enough for a regular grocery run. What’s interesting about this is that you could detach it from the base and carry it with you – although I highly recommend that you practise putting it on and off multiple times until you get a hang of it or risk having your box fly off while you ride. Agility 200i 16+

With the same key, you can open the glove compartment. I wished that it had a push button I had from my Vespa, but a really good consolation is that it has a power point! I could charge my phone with a cigarette-Lighter USB adapter. I haven’t tried this yet as mine doesn’t fit in it – I’d need a smaller one.

Although one negative point is that the size is too small to fit my phone in – too small to even fit my winter gloves in  too. Agility 200i 16+

There is also the foot rest that springs out when you press the button. I haven’t had any passengers yet so I still have to find out if it bothers my ankles while I ride. Agility 200i 16+

View of how big the footrest is compared to my feet. Still pretty big. The People is much much bigger compared to this – see why I changed my mind? Agility 200i 16+

But the biggest change would have to be the safety device that Cart was adamant that I get. It’s really cool – with a press of a button, I can set the alarm so if there were anyone moving my scooter, there will be an obnoxiously loud siren. Agility 200i 16+

There’s also the panic button (which makes siren without setting the alarm) and the alarm button which flashes the lights on the scooter even when you’re from a distance away.

This is so high tech. My scooter is like a car!

Riding wise, I’m getting used to it. I’ve been using Sam for years so it does feel different when you’re on a slightly more powerful machine.

Perhaps it’s me, but I feel a sort of drag whenever I’m going at a higher speed – as if there is more inertia. Even when I’m turning on a bend, that drag is there – like an invisible hand is pulling you down.  I guess it’s a new fangled technology using gyroscopes for safety function but it’s a rather unnerving feeling anyway.

Nevertheless, so far it has been a pleasant ride and I’ve had a really good afternoon zipping around the neighbourhood with it. It’s really lovely to be going around on a scooter again – it’s like I have my wings again! Even though I have a car driving’s license, I much prefer the two wheeler :D

At this point of time, I’m waiting for this to come in the mail : Agility 200i 16+

No need to say why :P

The tallest pair of shoes I’ve ever worn

In Italy, there are big sales held twice a year – once in January and the other in July.

I don’t usually buy a lot of things during the sale as I think that I have quite a number of apparels already and I’m trying to embrace the minimalist style of living – if I don’t wear something at least once in a year, I shouldn’t get more of it.

Anyway Cart gave me a lovely red and black dress recently as a gift. It’s a an elegant looking dress that wouldn’t look out of place to be worn at a classy luncheon or a cocktail party. I doubt that we’ll be going to an event like this in the near future, but no matter, I thought that I could just pair it with my grey shoes.

No!” Cart said indignantly, “A dress like that needs to be matched with black shoes“.

Uh ok. So taking advantage of the sale, we went to Euroma2 and headed to the various shoe shops inside. I didn’t quite like many of the choices there, but when we stopped at the final shop, was when we both got mesmerized by this pair of black pumps. Mana Designs Italian black pumps heels

This used to be 80 euros and it’s on 50% discount and it’s gorgeous. It’s by a brand called Mana Designs which I’ve never heard of before, but I love the sleekness of it. It has a modern front base which gives the illusion of a boosted height. It’s rounded which I liked as personally, I’ve never liked pointy shoes. Mana Designs Italian black pumps heels

I especially liked it’s simplistic elegance, making it suitable for practically almost any outfit. And the curve of the back heels is so sexy. Putting them on, makes me feel very sexy.

As much as I enjoy wearing shoes that allows me to run around like my New Balance Minimus, I don’t mind wearing this every now and then.

The only problem is that this is probably the tallest pair of shoes that I’ve ever had.  I could walk in them fine when I’m at home, but we all know that it’ll be a different experience altogether wearing them out. Mana Designs Italian black pumps heels Mana Designs Italian black pumps heels Mana Designs Italian black pumps heels

I’d have to walk in a slow and calculated gait as there is a risk that I might break my ankles if I’m not careful. But putting them on makes me feel sexy though, poised and powerful.

By the way, did you read the article about how studies found that men are more willing to help women in heels? Mana Designs Italian black pumps heels

Anyway, lets see how it goes. Maybe I’ll wear it out next week’s Saturday.

Sidenote : My friend was posting this interesting offer in a restaurant in Singapore – the higher your heels are, the more discount you’ll get. I think I could easily get a 50% off my bill!

Orvieto in the Winter

Cart and I had a lovely time with our friends in Orvieto last weekend. The last time that we were there was somewhere in the middle of Summer, so this time round, the area felt quite different.

It takes around and hour and a half to reach there by car. The weather has been quite erratic lately, and on our way there, the clouds started to get really dark and it started to rain. Only this time, instead of dripping away, the raindrops went blob on the windscreen – indicating that it was actually snow flurries. Orvieto

One of the first times when I saw real snow, it felt quite magical, seeing the area covered in a blanket of white powder. There wasn’t that much snow when we reached Orvieto, nevertheless, it still looked quite charming. Orvieto Orvieto Orvieto

Fortunately, the rain stopped when we reached there, but it felt very cold nevertheless at around a single degree at noon. Thank goodness Cart had the foresight to pack the snow boots along and I keep my gloves in my bag practically all the time now :-) Orvieto Orvieto Orvieto

We headed for lunch at the same place where I had my awesome pizza the other time. And we were fed really really well. While the others had meats and lasagna with ragu, we still had an awesome meal.

I especially liked the vegetable lasagna with beschamel. The first time that I had this was at Lorenzo’s house, I immediately fell in love with it – it’s creamy, decadent and so hearty with the mix of stir fried vegetables in it. We should make this again :-) Orvieto

Their tiramisu was so eggy and has bits of chocolate drops in it, making the texture a crunchy surprise. I’d soak the savioardi biscuits in coffee for a little more though as they were rather tough here. Orvieto

This was Cart’s house made vanilla gelato with espresso coffee next to it. You’re supposed to pour the coffee to drown the ice cream – this is called an affogato . Orvieto

After our sumptuous and long lunch, we went for a walk around the town, enjoying the sights and each other’s company and … then a coffee break an hour later:P Orvieto Orvieto

The sign reads, “I don’t like chocolates!” which was amusing. Orvieto Orvieto

We said our goodbyes when it was getting close towards dinner time. When we got back on our way back on the autostrada in Rome, there was a sudden hail fall. I could hear the sharp sound of hail dropping on the car and before you know it, the roads was covered with a layer of white.

At this point of time, cars started to slow down presumably because they didn’t have snow tires on. It was so unusual to see any car going so slowly on a highway in Rome. Orvieto

We all know that many Italians are F1 drivers on the inside :-)


Diary of a Singaporean now living in Rome, Italy