Tuesday, January 31, 2006

At 2.26 a.m.

insomnia / in`som"ni`a

n : an inability to sleep; chronic sleeplessness (ant: hypersomnia)
That's me right now.

zombie / zom`bi

n : a dead body that has been brought back to life by a supernatural force
That'll be me when I have to wake in 5 hours time.

obsession / ob`ses"sion
n : an excessive preoccupation of the thoughts or feelings; the persistent haunting or domination of the mind by a particular desire, idea, or image.
The reason why I'm not asleep.

furnish / fur"nish
v : provide or equip with furniture
That's what's occupying my mind.

bedroom / bed"room
n : a room used primarily for sleeping
The subject in which I am furnishing.

shop / shop
n : to visit shops for the purpose of purchasing goods.
The urge I have at the moment to fulfil my purpose of furnish.

late / late
adj : after the expected or usual time; delayed
My bedtime.

sleep / sleep
n : a natural and healthy, but temporary and periodical, suspension of the functions of the organs of sense, as well as of those of the voluntary and rational soul
I need!!

attempt / at`tempt"
n : earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something
Good night!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Third Time's The Charm

This is the third time I'm writing this entry. Hope I finally manage to post it. The first time, there was a power trip and my computer went out, the second time, I somehow managed to hang the entire computer so all was lost and now, this is my third time - don't really feel like writing much so this is probably going to be short. After repeating myself twice, the urge to repeat once again is - well, non-existant.

So here's a wrap up to UK:

On Jan 26th, the first stop was the Tower of London - same old castle touring and a lot of photos. My right knee started to ache then, not sure if it was too much walking or perhaps Rhuematism coz the pain has kind of disappeared when I got back to Singapore. Oh yes, I'M HOME! FINALLY!! It's great to be back. Happy Chinese New Year Everyone!

For lunch, I met up with James who was stopping over in London for a day. And then we did some serious shopping - the best shopping I've done so far. It feels great when you don't have an audience (a.k.a. family) waiting and pressuring you to make that purchase decision. James can wait - haha. We walked the entire Oxford Street, visiting FCUK (twice at 2 separate outlets), Zara, Miss Selfridges, Top Shop, Nike Town and the lot!! It was awesome.

We shopped till 5.30pm and then met up with a mutual friend I've known from Nanyang. I haven't had a decent conversation with her since 7 years ago so it was awesome catching up. For dinner, we also met up with more Singaporeans, one of them being a softball team mate I haven't seen in 5 years so it was an awesome night. To top it off, Korean food in London!! YUM!!

I only got back at 11pm and packed all the way till 2am before hitting the pillows only to wake up again at 7am to shower, have breakfast and do more last minute packing before leaving for the Airport.

We said goodbye to Harrods on our way to Heathrow. I'm going to miss the great winter sales - that was the highlight of my trip!

Heathrow was another experience altogether. We waited a whole hour before take off. This is my first time seeing traffic jams on the runway! It was insane. When we took off, I looked out the window and there were more than 15 aeroplanes in queue to take off! CRAZY!!

We arrived in Singapore at 2pm yesterday afternoon and the unpacking started. It was put on hold when we went out for the traditional reunion dinner and also celebrated Laura's 19th birthday. After, the packing resumed till 11pm but the efforts were worth it! Now I can proudly own my room - I'm no longer living off luggages!!!

I only managed to get to bed by 3am though - jet lag is what they call it. And this morning, I woke up at 7.15am for early morning church service. It was tough getting up, but I'm proud to say that I was the first in my family to wake up - I even had to wake mummy and daddy up.

Right now, I'm back at home, just waiting. It's the first day of Chinese New Year and everyone is going about on their visitation. However, because we are staying with grandpa, the younger generation (meaning all my uncles and family) will have to come to our place to visit so we are just sitting around waiting.

I'm actually getting tired, I feel like catching 40 winks. Got to get rid of all the bags that accumulated under my eyes due to the lack of sleep (or perhaps too much of it in the car) while we were in UK.

P.S. I forgot to mention we found a street called 'Raine Street' near our place in London!! How awesome is that!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

i-mag'i-na'tion: a different perspective

The day's events were rather dull. We drove out to visit Oxford, touring around the city in a sight seeing bus. Oxford was buzzing with students - DUH. I guess it's rather glam to say you've graduated from Oxford, alongside many famous people around the world like writers J R R Tolkien and T S Eliot, politicians Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, actor Rowan Atkinson and even royalties Prince Naruhito!!

However, the real highlight was when night came. We had tickets to view the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. Apparently tickets are free but you have to write in 2 months before to request for a permit to view the ceremony.

The entire ceremony only lasts about 15 to 20 minutes...and it's a very serious nightly affair that has been going on for more than 700 years!

At exactly 9.53pm every night, Cheif Yeoman Warden is escorted by 4 foot guards as he locks up the 2 gates of the tower. Then he approaches the Bloody Tower - makes you wonder how many killings took place at this tower many yonks ago - and a sentry (guard with 'Marge Simpsons' hair') asks the famous words, "Halt! Who comes there?" In unison, all 6 of them (including the chief) comes to a stop in perfect unison. The cheif replies, "The Keys" and is further questioned to whose keys they belong. He replies that it's "Queen Elizabeth's Keys" and he is allowed to enter through the Bloody Tower.

At this moment, we follow silently - we were not allowed to speak at all throughout this serious event and no cameras as well - through the archway of the tower and stop a few feet away from the guards. Here, the last post is sounded by a trumpeter and the ceremony is concluded at 10pm sharp as the clock chimed in the background and the guards are dismissed for the night.

It was a spectacular ceremony, strict and solomn. I'm still shocked that they have been carrying out this ceremony every night - with or without fail - for 700 years and in the same fashion as it was back then, except the lighting would have been poorer, older walls and mist would have been present as a result of waters from the surround moat, giving it a rather errie presence.

We found out from one of the more important escorts that they actually live in the Tower with their families. He assure us he lives comfortably with television and all. That would be both awesome and also rather restrictive I reckon. I wonder how I would like growing up with the Tower of London as my address and the royal guards as my friends. It would definitely be a very different growing up experence and immediately my imagination and flare for writing stories kicked in.

Imagine growing up within the compound, and everynight seeing tourists from the little window of your room as your daddy carries out the same old routine night after night after night. And you wonder to yourself, "what do these crazy tourists find interesting about standing in the cold witnessing this mundane event?"

Or better yet, growing up as a princess - the Tower used to be residence for many past Kings and Queens - and sneaking out into your backyard (i.e. the courtyard) after the doors have been locked, playing hide and seek with the night shift guards on duty, experimenting how long you could be outside before being spotted and escorted back to your room, only to have mummy and daddy regurgitate the dangers of wandering out at night - again.

I wonder what that would be like...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I'll 'try' to keep this short and sweet

I'm dead tired but I haven't updated in a couple of days. If I don't blog about my past few days now, one, I probably won't be able to recall it soon, and two, laziness will get the better of me.

I had a great time yesterday. The morning started off with taking the tube to Arsenal Station to visit Arsenal's home ground - they even have a station named after them! Dad's an Arsenal DIE HARD, but for me, Arsenal is my second fav team, following close behind New Castle. However, dad and I were both very disappointed with Highbury Stadium. It looked run down and gloomy - even New Castle who's not even ranked within the top ten have a much more impressive stadium and not to mention shop! Arsenal's shop was pathetic! It was only the size of my living room.

I'm so glad Arsenal is finally moving to their brand new stadium called Emirates Stadium at the end of this year - it's due time! Did you know, to commenmorate the end to Highbury, there is an electric signboard above the shop that is counting down the days to the move, giving Highbury their final salute. There is even an Arsenal Farewell to Highbury Monopoly set and lots more memorabilia!!

Okay, I shall shut up and speed up!

After Arsenal, we proceeded on to Harrods! HARRODS IS DA BOMB!! I love shopping in Harrods - not that I could afford much of the designer stuff, but the embiance and the general posh feeling when you walk through the mall, it's the entire experience I love. I would love Harrods even more if I had money to spend, but nevertheless, now I totally understand why the Queen used to shop there!! We had lunch there and lunch in Harrods is like eating silk served on a plate. A normal main meal at a Cafe - note, just a cafe, not a posh restaurant - would cost around 10 to 13 pounds (translation - multiple by three to get Singapore currency)!!! OUCH. After twirling around among the unaffordable designer clothes, we decided it was depressing enough and was about to leave when we spotted the affordable section - Harrods gift shop!! Haha...we bought handbags with Harrods printed on and mum got gifts for her friends and ex-colleagues. FINALLY, something we could afford. And we left Harrods satisfied.

Next stop was Convent Gardens - apparently where My Fair Lady was filmed for the starting scene of the movie. Obviously it would have changed over so many years, I didn't recognise anything.

We didn't have time to finish walking the shops at Convent Gardens because we had to leave to catch our 4.30pm flight on British Airways' London Eye. We wanted to catch London at sunset and when dark, planning our time perfectly.

The London Eye flight was a fantastic experience - just like being on top of the world. We could see sights that were so distant and also obtain a bird's eye view of the things nearby, like the Big Ben.

Just as planned, it was dark when we left the London Eye, catching a breath-taking snapshot of the amazing lights that illuminates the majestic ferris wheel.

We went to Soho for dinner once again before heading home.

Today was also an eventful day, starting out with Buckingham Palace 'Changing of the Guards' at 11am. It was an awesome parade with smart guards in 'Marge Simpsom Hair', two marching bands - one's the Scotish bag pippers and the other the orchestra-type band, and even horse guards. I can't describe what I saw today because I wouldn't know where to start. It's something you have to experience for yourself.

After Buckingham Palace, we lunched before heading back to Convent Garden again to finish what we haven't seen. More shopping took place as we returned to Selfriges in search of this dress Laura laid eyes on. At Selfridges, I spilt with them and spent the entire time in FCUK, trying on tops after tops after tops. I love FCUK tees!! They are gorgeous, but I curbed myself from buying another tee. I have too many of them. I need to shop for proper work clothes. But if I had loads of money and free time, I would be trying on every single garment in FCUK and purchasing everything, especially now when the winter sales are on and things are going at bargains. Of course not all the clothes I like are on sale. Original priced items aren't cheap! That's why I added above 'if I had loads of money'.

We rushed back and had instant mee and roast chicken for dinner before rushing out again for our STOMP concert. STOMP was awesome!! They are this 8 member band who makes music out of junk materials and odd-and-ends like empty tin cans, frying pans, rubbish bins and lids, match stick boxes, and even old sinks!! It was awesome to hear them live. I've caught them on telly before, but it's a whole different experience seeing it live - a whole LOUDER experience. At the end of the concert, Grandpa joked that I should go back to Singapore and start a band like this. If only it was so easy. You need rythem and a lot of muscles, plus I'm sure tap-dancing was on their criteria as well!

And that brings you up to date with my travels. It's just 10 past midnight and I should get some beauty sleep. Nights (according to UK time)!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Working HARD...

...to the point that I'm afraid of myself.

Today was a awesome day...lots of exercising. Exercising the feet with all the walking, exercising the tummies with good food, and the best work-out of all?? Exercising the wallets.

Yes, today, I did lots of hard yakka (Auzzie slang for 'work') to the extent of scaring myself over my 'workaholicism'.

Today's activities were all done on foot. First thing in the morning, we walked to the nearest train station (a good 15-20 mins walk) and caught the tube to Westminster where we visited the famous Abbey and also attende 11am church service at the grand and big Methodist Central Hall.

The interior of the church was gorgeous, grand, and yet modern. It's not like any of the antique cathedrals we've visited so far. There wasn't a massive congregation this Sunday morning, only filling up the ground floor - the circle seats were unoccupied. However, we had a good worship service, singing wonderful songs of praise and hearing the sermon about 'The Healing Journey'.

I grew to like one of the hymms we sang this morning. I found the lyrics touching. It goes...

Beauty for brokenness
Hope for despair
Lord, in Your suffering world
This is our prayer
Bread for the children
Justice, joy, peace
Sunrise to sunset
Your kingdom increase!

Shelter for fragile lives
Cures for their ills
Work for the craftsman
Trade for their skills
Land for the dispossessed
Rights for the weak
Voices to plead the cause
Of those who can't speak

God of the poor
Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame

Refuge from cruel wars
Havens from fear
Cities for sanctuary
Freedoms to share
Peace to the killing-fields
Scorched earth to green
Christ for the bitterness
His cross for the pain

Rest for the ravaged earth
Oceans and streams
Plundered and poisoned
Our future, our dreams
Lord, end our madness
Carelessness, greed
Make us content with
The things that we need

Lighten our darkness
Breathe on this flame
Until your justice
Burns brightly again
Until the nations
Learn of your ways
Seek your salvation
And bring you their praise

Graham Kendrick
Copyright (c) 1993 Make Way Music

One part especially got to me:

Lord, end our madness
Carelessness, greed
Make us content with
The things that we need

This is one I'm struggling with. I'm rather careless, and some would agree I'm mad. Greed? Definitely - who isn't? And to be content? My afternoon of shopping would prove otherwise. Lord, end our madness.

After church and a generous portion of lunch at the church cafe, we walked towards the Big Ben, then headed past the many guards outside 10 Downing Lane (where Tony Blair resides), walked on to Trafalgar Square and posed in front of the camera like Japanese tourists - but we blended well with the other tourists and their flashing cameras. There was even a mini queue at each of the lion statues.

We continued walking towards Buckingham Palace, only to be disappointed to be greeted by guards dressed in their dull grey winter uniform - not the usual picture perfect image of the Queen's guards clad smartly in red with a bushy 'Marge Simpsons' wig but in black.

Then, we hit Picadilly Street, admiring the mass produced framed arts for sale along the street before catching the tube to the Marble Arch - a mini version and definitely less impressive version of the Arch de Triomphe.

From the Marble Arch, we walked down Oxford Street to Selfridges & Co - the highlight of my day. That's when I exercised the hardest, trying on clothes at FCUK, digging through the heap of sale clothes at Top Shop, and hunting down Louis Vuitton among Prada, Gucci, Burberrys, Channel and the list goes on!! Of course serious damage was done and I shall not disclose any items bought for confidential purposes - best friend only zone (show you when I get back babe!).

If you are thinking enough damage was done at Selfridges, think again. A true shoppa-FCUK-aholic cannot resist the temptation of entering an only French Connection outlet, even if it was just beside Selfridges and she had already shopped in the mini FCUK department of Selfridges. The fact that her wallet was already sore didn't stop her. She pressed on till it was their closing time and bought another lot of clothes.

Only when she got out did she discover that one of the tops she had invested in cost 30 pounds (equivalent to S$90 ), and the material wasn't all that impressive and neither was the design. She was disappointed with herself. No matter how much a shoppaholic she is, there is a reasonable amount of expenditure that matches the quality and design of the goods. This standard varies between brands or the type of item purchased. However, in this particular instance, she purchased a measly sleeveless top of cotton material and mediocca design for way too much it's worth. A terrible judgement and a disgrace to her principles.

With all the shopping, a different sort of workout was necessary - and that's exercising the tummy which was carried out perfectly in Soho, Chinatown. It's amazing to eat noodle soup in cold freezing weather. Absolutely divine.

And that brings us to the end of today's adventures - a tiring but shoppalicious workout!!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

London...Great or Sucky?

Once again, I'm stuck in a dilemma. I can't decide my feelings towards London. Let me explain.

Last night, dad and I decided to go online to book the London Eye and Madame Tussauds tickets. Free internet at our hotel in Reading, you see. We had to do the bookings several times coz mysteriously when it came to payment, all the items in our shopping cart disappeared and we had to book it all over again. On the third go, I was whizzing though the booking process as if I knew every step at the back of my hand.

The outcome of two very tired pair of eyes and a whizz though? I messed up the bookings. I ended up booking the London Eye for 1430pm when we wanted 1630pm - to see the evening sights of London. And then with Madame Tussauds, the email confirmation noted a viewing time of 5pm for the exhibition when we wanted to go during the day and the website said nothing about a viewing time. I was angry - with my carelessness and with the booking process. The website said nothing about a time for Madame Tussauds.

Anyhow, I felt bad about being so careless and apologised profusely but dad just waved it off, saying he'll solve it in the morning.

At that, I was feeling like this was a horrid start to London and I was disappointed with myself for ruining London - the city I was looking forward to. I prayed hard for God's help in this matter, to right my carelessness so that we all can enjoy a great holiday in London.

This morning, Dad rang up London Eye and cleared it with them. They said changing the time for our London Eye Flight was no problem at all. With Madame Tussauds, there is no allocated viewing time. We just needed to collect our tickets from the London Eye ticket booth and head over to Madame Tussauds anytime of the day. WHAT A RELIEF. Once again, God the superhero saved the day.

My opinion of London was saved.

We drove into London and it was amazing. We drove through the city and I loved one street especially. Harrods on our right, FCUK on my left, Burburrys, GAP, you name it, they were there. OOOH. I just wanted to say to dad "let me off here and you guys go ahead touring and come back to pick me up later" - OR DON'T!!

Anyway, we picked up our tickets and headed over to Madame Tussauds. It was awesome. Laura and I were just posing and posing and posing with all the famous stars, like Julia Roberts, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Prince Will, Hugh Grant, Tom Cruise, Beckham and Posh, J-Lo, Arnie, and the list goes on!!

Check out our pictures below!! (click for a larger image)

But my favourite pic of all...Everyone, please meet my late mother-in-law!!

Kiddz. I don't have an interest in Will. If it was Harry, I would consider. Not that I don't want to be The Queen, but being The Queen sounds so OLD. I'd rather remain a PRINCESS FOREVER. Sounds more spoilt, don't you think? Plus, there's always something appealing about a rich and handsome rebel prince.

There was one section of the museum that both Laura and I were dreading, and that was 'The Chamber - Live' with the theme as serial killers. It's a small part of the museum with live actors hidden in every corner. They were the serial killers and would pounce on you and scare you to bits.

"IT'S VERRRYY SCARY BUT PLEASE NOTE - DO NOT TOUCH THE ACTORS AND THEY WOULD NOT TOUCH YOU." The staff member informed just before they let us in.

Dad took the lead while I followed close behind with my arms wrapped tightly around dad and my face pasted close to his back - to hide if I ever do freak. Laura held on to my pullover from the back and mum protected us from behind.

The 'serial killers' did scare us around dark corners, coming right up beside our ears to whisper. It freaked us girls out and Laura screamed "SHUT UP". Then another 'serial killer' behind bars asked "WHO SAID SHUT UP?" We were so freaked we remained silent. The 'serial killer' continued to follow us, asking "WHO SAID SHUT UP?" Laura shouted back just as we left that section, "JACK ASS". I cracked up but was silence by another scary dark corner.

The conclusion: People said it was scary and it freaked the hell out of them. It would have been scarier if I was on my own, it would have been scarier if I didn't have daddy as my shield from much of the horrors, and I kind of regret not looking at some bits. I kind of regret not enjoying it to the fullest by hiding like a timid mouse behind daddy. So it's partly my fault for not being scared out of my skin. But it was quite short too coz I could count the number of actors with both my hands. It wasn't a very long maze and there weren't many many scary bits, but nevertheless, it did scare me so their jobs were done.

After Madame Tussauds, we went in search for our rented apartment. Along the way, I decide to take out Laura's camera from my handbag and take a few in-the-car shots. My luck turned sour as I turned the camera on. The lens got stuck in the similar fashion as my late camera when I dropped it at Vasailles Castle in Paris. Recalling...I remembered accidently dropping my handbag on the floor at Madame Tussauds. Cause found.

Pronouced time of death: 3.30pm
Actual time of death: between 2.15pm to 3pm

I couldn't believe my luck. I manage to destroy 2 cameras in the same fashion within the span of 3 weeks. Am I brillant or what? I was utterly devastated and apologetic to Laura who didn't blame me at all. She blames Ricoh. I partly blame Ricoh as well. I've dropped cameras before, Laura dropped daddy's Fuji digicam on hard concrete pavement in Falkirk but all it suffered was a tiny crack on the side, no real damage. I dropped the Ricoh on a carpeted floor, protected by a handbag and its own leather casing and it flipped out on me. I don't know but I would really like to shift some blame onto the camera itself. I should have gone for a branded one as I intended to in the first place. I think the chances of them dieing is less.

I'll never buy a Ricoh again, but I don't know if I should buy a replacement. I do need a camera when I go Korea and all, but what's my fate with cameras? So far at my rate, my estimated annual camera murders is 24!! I'm a serial killer myself. Our first crappy digicam - still alive - with pathetic megapixels and no optical zoom is looking in better health and much more appealing now!!

The though of $1000+ just flying away in the span of 3 weeks is a torture in itself. And another $1000 when Laura and I buy new replacements? OUCH.

And London sucked again. This time, I really wanted to go home. This holiday hasn't been fantastic for me so far and I felt dispaired and in no mood to continue.

However, things picked up. Our new home for the next 6 days is awesome. It's a 3 storey rented apartment with 3 bedrooms. It's modern, almost new, it's clean and gorgeous!! It's in a pleasant neighbourhood with a supermarket and some tiny shops within walking distance. Plus, there's internet connection - shhhh, we are secretly tapping into someone else's wireless. Thanks dude! Everything is provided from towels and clean sheets to cooking utensils and a dvd player. It's within walking distance to the London Tower - gorgeous sight at night. Did I mention it's awesome? I love it and it's kind of making up for today's unhappy memories.

London in conclusion?


Prince Harry Stood Here!!

They hotel we are staying in has FREE wireless internet connection - CHOICE!! Unfortunately, I'm not the only one queuing up for it so IOU all emails. I'll definitely reply soon, meanwhile, check out my UK travels below...

8.15pm @ Sleep Inn Cambridge, 18th Jan 2006

I was more stressed with techonology at my side, than I was without.

After a good sleep on it, and of course a good prayer, I feel much calmer now to blog about last night's technological distress.

We finally managed to get hold of internet connection but at a rather costly price. We reasoned that a little bit of money in exchange for the vital internet connection was worth it. Little did we expect that the ability to access the net and get connected to the 'real' world would bring on such immense pressure and worry.

The initial techical problem with accessing the net after we had paid for - nothing shutting down the laptop and starting up again couldn't fix - was the least of our concerns.

At least I managed to get a good first hour of blogging and posting pictures before the real horror began - I got connected to the real world. I.e. I checked my Es. I haven't checked my Es in ages, ever since we came on this UK holiday at the start of Jan. I've been disconnected from friends and other life matters.

There were many Es vying for my attention but only one crucial E that I was waiting for - the acceptance to the Korean language programme. The E dated on the 10th of Jan confirmed that I have been accepted and a slot would be reserved for me. I had to reply with payment of the full fees by the 20th of Jan to confirm my enrolment - news flash, that's tomorrow. That was the problem. It is a hefty sum and we need to be in Singapore to carry out the bank transfer. I also needed to know the programme details and who to make payment to, which would be stated on the letter that is probably sitting in our mailbox in Singapore.

As you can see, with technological advencements that connects me to the real world, i.e. the internet and email facilities, came higher stress levels. Initially, I was psyched that we could finally access the net and get updated, but getting updated brought on more stress as I panicked about my application. It seemed like I was so close and yet so far, like this Korea opportunity could crumble at my feet at any time.

Having said this, there is always another side to the coin. I replied the E - technological advancements of efficient emailing systems - requesting for an extension of payment deadline, explaining my predicament. And with a good prayer, the morning brought great news as Pear notified me that the payment deadline has been extended till the 3rd of Feb.

The internet has it's advantages, but it's not all that great. It brings the real world closer to you, but carries both great and bad news. It sorts out life's messes, but brings on new ones. It helps in organising, but also causes more complications.

That's why I'm glad I have someone above this technology-reliant universe, who is always a constant in this everchanging world. Someone I can depend upon whenever and wherever - God.

Yesterday, mum said in all that stress and panic, "If you're not meant to go, this is God's way of telling you. If you are meant to go, God will create a path."

This is honestly what I believe to be true, and I believe sincerely that God's calling me to Korea. Several things just fell into place to reconfirm God's calling.

One, the fact that we chose last night to connect to the net. So far, we've been to several hotels that have wireless connections at a price, but we turned them all down. Last night however, we didn't, even though the rates were similar compared to the rest.

Two, it was Laura's turn to use the net after I blogged but I decided to interrupt her to check my mail and tadah...I came upon that E.

Three, I prayed last night. I asked God that if it was meant to be, show me a path.

Four, just like mum said, God answered, and he answered in a brillant way. I believe that I am meant to go. I don't know what I have in store for me in Korea and I don't know if I'll be able to cope - but I've got my constant, and that's all that matters.

Now let me give you a quick recap of today's 'adventures'. We left Coventry, making a first stop at Anne Hattaway's cottage. It was a cute cottage, but I am no fan of literature and the arts. However, one thing puzzled me. Shakespear is famous for his works...why is Anne so famous? Why is her house so famous and costly to visit? Who is she apart from being Shakespear's wife? But I guess I'm slowly figuring it out. Dad said it's coz she was Shakespear's inspiration for most of his writings. Anything or anyone related to Shakespear is a crucial part of his history. Well...it's like Prince Charles and Princess Diana (in a way).

Then we got quite lost for about half an hour in search of Shakespear's birthplace. Apparently, it was quite near to Anne's cottage if we knew how to find our way around Stratford-upon-Avon. To me, that was also "ku-chor-koo-re-yo" (so-so - brushing up on my korean). But at least now I can say I've stood on the floor Shakespear has set foot on - WOOOOOWWWWW!!

The following stop was Bourton-on-the-water where we visited the famous model village. It was a model village of Bourton itself. Within this model village of Bourton was another model village of Bourton. However, perhaps it was the winter season with bare trees and colourless gardens, but the model village failed to impress us at all. Anyhow, we still took photos to document our travels.

And that brings me here...to Cambridge, in this nice hotel room typing away. This is one of the nicer hotel rooms coz it's spacious and clean. And for once, breakfast is not provided - WHOO HOO. You don't know how happy we all are. we definitely need a break from all that English breakfasts!! I'm definitely looking forward to a new change tomorrow!

4.50pm @ Comfort Inn Reading, 20th Jan 2006

I forgot to blog about what we did yesterday, except that we didn't do much. We left Cambridge for Clacton-On-Sea, stopping over at Colchester to visit my dad's OLD uni - The University of Essex. When I say 'OLD', not only do I mean it's his old school, I mean it literally as well. It's due for a wash-over and a new coat of paint!! He enjoyed himself thoroughly though, enthusiastically showing us around. We, to be honest, we the least bit interested.

That was pretty much our Yesterday, plus a little bit of shopping but nothing significant except for the most adorable pair of bedroom slippers. I have a crazy facination over such bedroom slippers - first it was a pair of big foots' feet, next it was a couple of pink piggies, and now, a 2 pink minis. They won't be very practical now that I'll be living in warm Singapore, but what can I say? I love it!!

Today was a good day though we only toured one castle. We left Clacton and stopped by Winsor and visited the Queen's Palace. She only lives there during the month of April and a week in June, but nevertheless, I can proudly say I've stepped on the grounds Prince Harry has walked on!! Hahaha. We had a ball, taking photos with the royal guards, and dreaming of a life as a princess in a castle like this. But the best part was visiting the Queen's Doll House!! It's amazing!! I want one! I WANT ONE!! Haha...too bad cameras weren't allowed because it's so gorgeous that I won't be doing it justice by describing it in my words!!

I bought several things from the Winsor Castle though, a couple of Winsor Castle Finest Milk Chocolates - let's see how FINE it is - and a pink t-shirt with silver words that reads 'Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where have you been?' on the front and the back reads 'I've been to London to see the Queen'. Apparently it's a part of a traditional English Nursery Rhyme that my parents have read to us over and over when we were kids. My brillant memory doesn't have a clue! Anyway, it goes,

"Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, where have you been?
I've been to London to see the Queen.
Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair."
Does this ring any of your childhood bells, or you're just as hopeless as I am?

After Winsor, we drove a little further to visit the closed Legoland. It's closed over Winter till March. That was a major disappointment, but at least I knew prior that it would be closed so my expectations couldn't have been crushed any further, unlike the Falkirk Wheel experience. Nevertheless, we managed to get pictures of the Legoland sign board - pathetic but it's something to say we've 'been' there.

And here we are at Reading, where Chris lives except that Chris isn't here but in Europe touring with Jo. Ha.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


We finally got internet - of course at a price though, but a mermaid can't live without water. Here's the insanely long update of my past few days.

Scroll down for pics as well!! I've updated the last 3 blog posts with pics of my UK travels so go see!!

6.44pm @ Wales YHA, 10th Jan 2006

Today's an important day for me to remember. It's my first time staying in a YHA (aka Youth Hostel) and hopefully my last. I don't mean to sound like a princess (to those who know me, don't nod and grin as if you're tsking me) but I'm really not used to this. I feel weird in a YHA. The thought of sleeping in a bed that hasn't been washed...of course they gave us a clean sheet sleeping bag to put over the used mattress and pillows (makes me wonder how often they wash them), but it's just the thought of it not being washed and pressed just for me - I'm not use to it. I also feel kind of claustrophobic in a room shared by 6 people. It's just very - what's the word - un-private. But I do have to commend the toilet. It's so sanitised that it smells like the hospital. And because we were given the room meant for the disabled, the toilets actually look like a hospital toilet, with railings and all - quite intimidating to a certain extent if you know what I mean.

Ok, enough of this, some people don't even have a roof over their heads. I should be grateful. But I can't help comparing, coz just the other night, we stayed in this bed and breakfast hotel, we had 2 rooms with clean sheets, towels and showers in each room and the total cost for that one night was only a couple pounds more expensive than tonight's accommodation.

Moving on.

Yesterday, we left Bournemouth for Lands' End. That was an insanely long drive and I was most unhealthy. I had a massive english breakfast, got into the car and slept till our lunch stop, ate again till we were full and bloated, got back into the car and continued sleeping till we got to Lands' End. Lands' End is the southern most tip of UK, the sight was gorgeous. It was cute though, while driving in, we saw many places which used the 'First and Last of England' as marketing, for example the 'First and Last Inn in England', 'First and Last Garage', 'First and Last Hotel', 'First and Last Postbox' and of course, the most famous 'First and Last House of England'. We had a ball taking photos.

11pm @ YHA, 10th Jan 2006

Just finished watching another 3 vcd episodes of 'My Lovely Sam Soon', but I'll tell you about that later. Back to my travel journal.

After Lands' End, we headed towards Penzance for the night.

This morning, we made another detour to Lands' End coz Laura didn't manage to purchase her souvenir last evening so made a special trip this morning to Lands' End again before heading towards Wales on another very unhealthy car journey which comprised of sleeping and eating. My right eye was playing up again - hurting like crazy (sometimes I wonder if it's a warning sign telling me that I might be going blind soon) - so the only thing that made the pain go away was closing my eyes, which meant falling alseep. I mean, there's so much I could do with my eyes closed. I could dream, talk to God, and imagine more things, but that all led to sleep eventually, so you see, it was rather unhealthy.

We finally got to Wales, got a little lost for a while but eventually found the YHA. We had yummy but expensive Japanese food for dinner. Things here are so expensive. Converting the pounds back to Singapore currency is quite bad for the heart coz things are never cheap. Their cost of living is so high, but I guess they are used to it coz they earn in pounds too, but for us tourists, it's a pricy destination to visit.

Actually, I'm a little home sick. There really isn't much to see in UK except for castles, cathedrals and more of that. Here's another bonus point for Paris. Though we stayed in Paris for 4 days 3 nights, everyday was filled with things to do. However, here in UK, take for example today, the only sights we saw were of cars, cars and more cars as we travelled from state to state, and perhaps the occassional castle or cathedral. It's quite boring and that's why I'm looking forward to home, where things are always happening. The day doesn't end at 4pm and shops don't close at 5pm back home. Perhaps London would be better. We'll just have to wait and see.

But at least we've got 'Kim Sam Soon' to keep us company. Our boring nights are spent watching this korean drama series Rachel introduced me to. It's a romantic comedy about this girl called Kim Sam Soon (of course) and it's not like the usual slow and sobbish korean dramas. Its paced well, with light-hearted comedy and sweet love. And the fact that the all the guys (so far) are GORGEOUS adds an extra 'OOMPH' to it. We are halfway through it but at the speed we are going, it's only going to last us another 3 nights!! Perhaps I'll rewatch it again, since I have all the time in the world.

Well, I shall end here. It's a pity I can't post this entry just yet coz I don't have any internet connection. I can't even tap into someone else' wireless connection coz there's none around, unlike 2 nights ago - naughty me. Till next time.

5.15pm @ Quality Hotel Chester, 11th Jan 2006

No internet connection once again. Oh well. I'm used to this. I liked the Paris hotel much much better for this point. They had free internet connection. So far, the hotels in UK are charging around 2.50 pounds per half an hour. It's honestly daylight robbery. Anyhow...I'll just blog till I have internet connection to post it all.

Today isn't a very pleasant day for me. Waking up and finding myself in a YHA bunk room was the least of my troubles.

I had a masive breakfast, followed by a massive lunch, which made me feel all bloated and disgusted, especially when all I can do is sit in the car and sleep. I need to start eating salads salads and more salads - but they are always so expensive!! Don't mess with a girl when she's feeling FAT!

And of course, I didn't like the bathroom in the YHA, so I skipped my morning shower and for the entire journey in the car, I was feeling very disgusted and moody coz my hair reflects my mood. If my hair's horrid, I feel horrid. And I was irritated and worried because it's impossible to maintain my curls in tip top condition when I'm on a holiday, so the lingering thought of all that money spent on the digital perming washing down the drain was killing me.

And I felt claustrophobic. I guess I've got a boiling point. There's so much I could talk about to all the luggages beside me. Eventually (which happened to be today), our topics ran dry and I was sick of the company of the luggages. I reached my boiling point and I needed out! So mum swaped seats with me.

And of course, with all these irritation, I get stressed and I feel zits poking out and across my entire face - not pleasant at all, which leads to more stress which leads to more zits...yes, it's a vicious cycle.

The first thing I did when we got to our hotel room was a good shower and I pampered my hair with products so hopefully it'll be all right. I'm feeling heaps better now - my hair feels clean and at least resembling some sort of bounce. The curls have drastically lost it's zest but at least it's looking natural. We'll just have to check in on my mood tomorrow.

Anyway, today, we left Wales for Chester, stopping by at Caerphilly Castell (aka castle) for a quick tour. I guess all the castles are looking the same to me now...but I'm reserving all judgement till I see Buckingham Palace. Ahhhh, I can't wait for London.

Oooh...I'm hungry, my tummy's throwing a mood as well. SALADS!!!!

8.30am @ Quality Hotel, 12th Jan 2006

Here's something that intrigued me. It's found in the bathroom of our hotel room. It says...

Everyday all over the world huge quantities of detergent are used unnecessarily.
In an effort to protect the environment in which we live, we would like to reduce the daily consumption of detergent.
If you would like us to change your towels, please leave them in the bath. Otherwise please hand them on the rail provided."

Some would be impressed, I reckon it's plain laziness. Haha.

11.30pm @ The Angle Inn Windermere, 12th Jan 2006

Today was a rather eventful day. We checked out of our hotel in the morning and headed in to Chester for a tour around the town. We visited a rather grand cathedral - I liked this cathedral, and took a walk around the town. I bought myself a new pair of earrings from the Chester Market as well.

Then we went on our way, heading towards Man United!! I'm not a big fan of Man U, but nevertheless, it was a moment to cherish, breathing in the glory and pride of all soccer fans. We also patronised the merchandise store. Grandpa is so cute!! He used to be a major fan of Man U and he bought the most things: 2 mini soccer balls, one windbreaker, and a pink towel - perhaps for grandma?? Haha.

After Man U, we made our way to Blackpool, with hopes that I could ride the crazy rollercoaster. But it's winter and most tourist attractions are closed in winter for maintanence. Just bad luck. So we continued on to Windermere where we are spending the night in this rather cosy inn.

The inn is gorgeous. I think it's run by a young adult couple. The place is called The Angel Inn, and the advertising on the broucher says "Be a devil, try The Angel." Quite a hip slogan ay?? That's why I reckon it's run by a young couple (don't think an elderly couple would want their customers to be devils), aside from the fact that they were the ones behind the front desk when we checked in. There is a cosy living area just as you enter the door, with a beautiful fireplace for warmth. Just around the front desk and to the back of the hotel is a nice chilling area with a pleasant bar and restaurant. It's got a welcoming atmosphere. The rooms are pretty as well - I just adore the curtains and sheets.

Yawn, talking about sheets is making me tired. Nights!!

P.S. One thing not so great - no wireless internet connection. Sigh. Till next time!

6pm @ The Normandy Hotel Glasgow, 13th Jan 2006

This morning after we checked out, we visited 'The World Of Beatrix Potter Attraction'. I loved it!! The figurines were so 'Kawaii'. It brought back some childhood memories. I was given a set of 4 Beatrix Potter books as a birthday prezzie and I really treasured them. I loved them so much, it's still with me and kept in tip top condition.

Then we headed towards Glasgow, stopping over at some wall - oopz, forgot the name. Apparently it separates some country from some country or some war thingy. Oh well. Here's history for you.

We're now in our hotel room and we've ordered room service for dinner - too lazy to drive out for food. After dinner, we'll continue our korean drama series. Yesterday, we watched another 3 episodes. Tonight, we'll finish the last 3! I can't wait to watch the ending. I'm dying to find out who she'll ended up with.

1am @ The Normandy, 14th Jan 2006

Just an hour ago, I was all psyched up about this hotel and it's FREE wireless internet connection. And now, I'm in a very bad mood. I don't know if it's my computer (BETTER NOT BE!!) or their wireless connection, but there seems to be some problem. I am able to pick up a strong wireless signal strength, but it seems like there's limited or no connectivity. And when I try to repair it, it says something about being unable ti renew my IP address or something like that.

Sometimes, I wish I was a computer wizz so I know how to fix things when stuff occurs. It sucks sucks sucks. I have even prepared photos to be uploaded so everyone can enjoy my journeys through UK, but I guess not. I don't know when I'll find another hotel that has free internet connection. Moreover, I fear my computer could have been attacked. Maybe it's paranoia, but the last time when I posted my blog entry, I was actually tapping into someone else's private network...perhaps he's an expert hacker and managed to tap into my computer and mess things up and that's why I can't connect now...what are the odds? I ask myself this, but the truth is, you never know.

Maybe I should just give up on blogging. Who's going to read all this junk I've posted above anyway. Don't think my life's any interesting to command an audience. Plus, I don't think anyone would have the time to read it all so I might as well stop all my crapping here.

7.55pm @ Ellersly House Hotel Edinburgh, 15th Jan 2006

I have 5 minutes to blog about yesterday and today coz my tv show is starting soon, so I'll make this quick and easy on your eyes - afterall, you've read so far.
Yesterday morning, we visited the Falkirk Wheel - this massive rotating boat lift that lifts a boat from one river and transfers it to another. We were even prepared to experience it as tours were provided, but unfortunately, our luck ran out. It is closed from 9th to 19th Jan for winter maintanence. We were very disappointed. Laura and I were looking forward to it badly. we sulked all the way back. That's why I like shopping so much more. It's more reliable. It doesn't close in winter and THERE'S EVEN WINTER SALES!!

Saved by the bell - or show. I shall stop here and run off to watch 'Invasion' that's showing on TV now. Spare your ears from my complains.

9.40pm @ Hotel Room, 15th Jan 2006

After that major disappointment, we left for Edinburgh, with our first stop as the Edinburgh castle. Another castle - but I was impressed. It was a nice castle overall but I was glad to finally check in to our hotel. I needed a break from all that travelling so we stayed indoors, ordering chinese takeaways.

This morning after breakfast - I'm getting real sick of english breakfast. I can recite to you what's served in an english breakfast, it's always the same thing over and over:

3 choices of cereal - rice puffs, cornflakes or muesli
3 choices of juice - orange, apple or grapefruit (and the occassional grapefruit)
Tea or coffee
Croissant or toast (white or brown) and a selection of jams
Canned fruits
Scrambled or fried eggs
Baked tomatoes
Baked beans
Black pudding (occassionally - I'm glad coz it's quite disgusting)

After eating it for consecutive days, I'm getting real sick of it!!

Sorry for the sideswipe. After breakfast, we drove around in search of a church to attend. We ended up at St Giles Cathedral. It was a rather grand cathedral with an impressive choir, but with these grand and massive ancient-looking cathedral comes terrible sound-proofing. The sounds echos throughout the entire building, making it quite hard to listen to anything the preacher says. But nevertheless, it felt good attending worship.

Then we went on a Scotch Whisky tour which included some tasting and an educational tour of it's history. I don't think I like whisky all that much and I found the tour rather dull. If you ask me questions now, I probably wouldn't be able to answer you about it - the info just went WHOOSH past my already full memory.

After the tour and lunch, we went on a long drive to see the famous St Andrews Golf Club - apparently, that's the birthplace of golf. Nothing special there. But it pleased the men - namely Dad and Grandpa - as they finally had their fair share of excitement, taking photos in front of the clubhouse and SHOPPING at the golf shop. Yes, they got their fair share of pleasure.

And now, we are back at our hotel room after dinner and all. It's quite boring coz we finished watching our Korean drama 2 nights ago. I love the show!! Everyone, go watch 'My Lovely Samsoon' (aka 'My Name is Kim Sam Soon')!!
I am too tired to blog about it right now though...shan't kill the story for you so I'll leave it at this and hit the sack. Nights at 10pm!!

9.30pm @ The Gateway To York Hotel, 16th Jan 2006

I love today!!! We left Edinburgh for York, stopping by at Edinburgh Crystal before proceeding on to our next stop - the highlight of my day. We visited St James Park in New Castle, home ground of my favourite soccer team New Castle United!!! I had a fantastic time touring the official store and returned 2 tops richer!! One of them was the home jersey - woman's style!!! It fitted perfectly - LOVE! And I got to take a picture with Shay Given as well - only the best goal keeper in the world - or should I say MY world!! I'm the luckiest kid (Kid? Grow up Raine!) alive!!

We arrived at our hotel for the night at 5.30pm this evening. Travelling in the evening during winters is totally warped - it gets darker at an exponential rate. At 3.30pm, it feels like 7pm in the evening with the sun is just setting. When 4pm comes, it's like 8pm at night - grey and getting late. By 4.30pm, it feels like 9 or 10pm. At 5pm, it's pitched black, so much so that you'd think it's way past your bedtime - i.e. midnight!! So travelling at 5.30pm in a foreign town? Let's just say we're lucky we found the place on our first go!!

7.40pm @ Campanile Hotel Coventry, 18th Jan 2006

Today's schedule was much of travelling - from York to Coventry. However, we made several purposeful stops, one being Sherwood Forest (birth of the legendary Robin Hood) and the next was in Nottingham to meet Jo. It was a short but nice catch up session over lunch.

And that's about it. Haha...short and sweet - now that's a first!!

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Final Conclusion

6.34pm @ Hotel Ramada Dover, 7th Jan 2006

I'm back again to present my final verdict on Paris.

Let me follow on from where I stopped in the last entry. On the night of the 5th of Jan, we made a stop at Basilique du Sacre-caeur cathedral on our way to drop Chris back at his hostel. The cathedral was glowing beautifully under the moonlight. It was a waste the cathedral was closed for the night. Chris said the inside is very much more beautiful. Maybe another time.

On Friday morning, 6th of Jan, we drove to Versailles to visit the famous castle. The castle was beyond beautiful, with each room lavishly refurbished to the finest. The ceilings were even more elaborate. Every room had paintings that covered every bit of it. "Wow" wouldn't have done justice to the paintings; neither did our strained necks matter.

But the highlight of this visit would have to be awarded to the moment my one month old camera slipped out of my coat pocket during lunch at the castle cafe and landed hard on the floor.

Time of death: 12.27pm.

I mourned and blamed and sulked but what's done cannot be undone. It was beyond rescuing. We parted on bitter terms.


After Versailles Castle, we stopped by at Notre Dame Cathedral for a quick visit before heading to a street I've been dying to visit and a shop I couldn't wait to step foot in.

Louis Vuitton on Avenue des Champs Elysees.

There, I did what a shopaholic does best. Of course, this type of shopping was not normal for this shopaholic on a tight budget but exceptions can be made. It's not often I'm in Paris, the birth country of LV.

Shopping at LV is a whole new experience. And there I was thinking all shopping was the same, i.e. you see something, you make the purchase decision, you hand over the cash and receive the goods.

I was given an eye opener. LV had their own process. Because they always had a crowd, salesmen could be found everywhere but yet nowhere. After waiting for about half an hour, I was finally served. I requested to see the item I was after. The salesman went off to locate it for me. When they couldn't find it in their cupboard, they turned to their computer for stock. Eventually, I got to see the pouch I wanted and made a decision almost immediately. There was no time for my fickleness. It was the last pouch they had in stock and I made no hast in the purchase. I paid for the item and was given 2 slips of receipt. Taking the 2 receipts, I approached the shop concierge (yes, they have a concierge and a reception counter). He took both receipts from me and sent another salesman to retrieve the goods from their stockroom. Minutes later, the salesman returned with the item and I finally got to embrace my pretty purchase.


Later that night at 11pm, we headed over to Moulin Rouge for a performance.


You've got to experience it for yourself to know how amazing, beautiful, awesome, spectacular, magnificent, impressive, fabulous...it is!!!! Any description of mine wouldn't do justice to it. The Moulin Rouge is The Moulin Rouge. No words can describe this lifetime experience.

This definitely added quite a lot of brownie points to my opinion of Paris. But if I am to make a decision, I think I've got too many unpleasant memories so I'm unfortunately unable to say 'I LOVE PARIS' yet.

3pm in the car, 8th Jan 2006

Yesterday early morning, we parted Paris for UK. We woke up especially early and were down at the lobby to check out by 7am. Then we dragged all our luggage to the car park and attempted the impossible - stuffing our luggage into the back of the car. It took us forever. Finally, at 7.40am, we left the car park to pick Chris up before heading off to Calais. Chris and I were cramped into the back row of seats, with luggage stacked beside me. It was a long 2 hour drive to Calais and when we finally got there, both of us were restless and I felt a wave of claustrophobia sweep past me. We needed out.

We stretched our tired bones and got some Mc snacks before getting back into the car, proceeding to the entrance to the Eurotunnel.

It was really exciting. We were going to drive down to the train platform, onto the train and take the train to UK. Driving on the platform and into the train made me feel like I was in the movie '2 Fast 2 Furious'.

When the train started to move, we were told to stay seated in our car. It felt weird. We were in our car on the train. We were the passengers in our car, in which our car was one of the passengers in the train.

The Eurotunnel amazes me. I wonder who came up with this stroke of genius, to design a tunnel that runs below the sea bed, linking 2 countries together. It's just amazing - technology is amazing. I can't even imagine how much work and how many months it would take for this tunnel to be built.

Sadly, the tunnel was pitched black. If only the tunnel ran in the sea, and it was made of glass all around. Cars are transported on a travelator and we had the whole sea to entertain us. That sea-nery would have blown us away.

One day. One day technology would take us there. But for today, this was impressive enough.

And that was the last I saw of Paris.

5.30pm @ Kingswood Hotel in Bournemouth, 8th Jan 2006

And my impression of Paris, putting aside the bad experiences?

It isn't my dream country. Yes, they had breath-taking sights and it would make a very romantic honeymoon destination, but that was about it.

Their roads were congested, and terribly unorganized. Each lane isn't clearly marked so if you think a road has 2 lanes, you might want to think again. It could be 3! Squeezing in-between seems to be the norm. Finding a park was a pain and almost impossible. You can't own a big car in Paris because all the parks would be a tight squeeze. The drivers are generally impatient - you'll hear loads of 'tooting'. The road signs are minute and obscured so if you need to find a street - good luck! Of course, the many one way streets will assist in getting disorientated too.

And there are pedestrian crossings everywhere! It makes you think French people are lazy. I once spotted, in a span of about 400 meters, 12 or more signalised pedestrian crossings (black and white crossings)!!! Some were even about 15 metres apart. What's 15 big steps to the next crossing?? LAZINESS!! But I guess it reflects on the dangerous French drivers. At unsignalised pedestrian crossings, the cars do not stop at all even if the pedestrians are standing on the road itself. That's why they need traffic lights everywhere.

The food - expensive and pathetic.

Well, perhaps shopping is great - especially at Champ Elysees but you can get those brands or those items in Singapore or anywhere as well. Doesn't make Paris any better in this area of comparison. The price is VERY pretty as well.

TO CONCLUDE...I'M NOT A PARIS GIRL - sorry Aunty Mary for dissing your favourite city.

We arrived in UK even earlier than the time we left Paris. Weird huh!! We left Paris at noon and arrived in UK at 11.30am. The world is such a strange place.

We drove to Dover and got settled into our hotel before heading out for lunch. After lunch, we went to visit the famous Dover Castle and the White Cliffs of Dover before dropping Chris off at the bus stop. He had to catch his bus back to Reading yesterday afternoon.

This morning, we left Dover for Bournemouth, stopping by at Stonehenge to witness some crummy pieces of rock in the rain (things we do as tourists) and also past the town of Salisbury to view yet another cathedral. In-between, we also made a quick stop at a town for lunch, where I bought 2 tops from Top Shop. All the shops were having post Christmas sales!! I wish I had more time!!! Can't wait for London. That's our last and I assume the best stop coz we're going to have a day dedicated to SHOPPING!!!

So this brings me up to right now, sitting in our hotel room in Bournemouth, typing this blog entry. That's it for now. Till next time.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Verdict

2.10pm @ Aeroports de Paris, 4th Jan 2006


It's been one hour or more, I've lost track. We've been waiting and waiting and waiting. Still no sign of our luggage on the belt. But we are not alone. There are about 20+ people baggage less. Everyone is hovering around the counter, pressing the staff for answers. The outcome looks bleak. I prepare myself for the worst.

The news: They can't track down the luggages. 50 Euros compensation for the night. Tomorrow, if the luggage arrive, they'll send it straight to our hotel.


8am @ Citadines Hotel, 5th Jan 2006


I haven't quite decided if I like our travels so far. Let me explain.

Firstly, we were held up at Singapore airport. As we were on a connecting flight from Jakarta, all passengers from the previous flight had to disembark. That took forever. Then we all had to board the aircraft (AGAIN for those who had disembarked) and that was chaos. Everyone was getting impatient.


The journey from Singapore to Dubai (with a short stop over in Colombo) completely ruined my impression of Emirates.


I have taken Emirates before so I have a benchmark to compare and complain. This was the worst I've seen of Emirates. Plus, because it was a full flight, the toilets were 'well' used.


The stopover in Colombo contributed to my impression. It was only a refueling stop so we didn't need to disembark. But some others had to and it was a mission getting them off as they remained in their seats, oblivious to the many many announcements. Not until the stewards and even the pilot came to individually tell them to disembark then they left.


At Dubai, we disembarked and proceeded on to our next flight to Paris. Now that, I was impressed. That was how Emirates should be. Despite the fact that the we would be held up for 15 minutes as they had to load our luggage - "I'm sure you wouldn't mind a little wait for your luggage. Don't want to leave them behind." Joked the pilot - I still enjoyed the flight. We boarded a new plane, so the seats were BRILLANT. The inflight entertainment was without a doubt DA BOMB. We could select from about 50 movies, tons of games and many music channels. I watched 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' - cried my eyes out, 'The Perfect Man' - love it, and 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' - had to watch to compare with the older movie, I like the older movie better.


And then Aeroports De Paris...the wait and the news about our luggage.


Finding our way in a foreign land with language barriers - not easy at all. It took us forever to find our car rental service. Then we were given a left hand drive and manual - different from what we are used to and what we were told to have rented. The direction of the car on the roads being totally opposite didn't help either. Being unfamiliar with the roads and minute road signs assisted us in our mission to get lost in Paris while searching for our hotel.


Of course, a good amount of driving around would eventually find us our hotel and we met Chris there - who was waiting for the past half an hour for us. We offloaded our hand-carry and went to fill our starving tummies. Once again, we got lost on Paris streets and we had no clue where to go for dinner. Having limited parks along the street didn't help either, but we eventually found an Italian restaurant and had pizzas there. One thing good about being in an Italian restaurant...the owner doesn't speak perfect French either so English was our main medium of communication - perfecto!


Then, we got lost driving around Paris, looking for a supermarket that was open and a park to go with it. We gave up and continued to get lost in traffic, until we spotted the most amazing sight or rather the top of an amazing sight ahead of us - THE EIFFEL TOWER.

AT NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!! THE LIGHTS!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

We circled round and round just to get close enough, and then Chris, Laura and I hopped out and jogged in the freezing cold and our high boots to get closer to the majestic structure. I was filled with awe and swimming in romance with this golden and grand tower. Click click click, flash flash flash went my camera. Not to forget - pose pose and more pose.


We continued driving around, past the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and many more majestic constructions. Then we decided that it was getting late so we dropped Chris off at his hostel - another round of getting lost, and then we headed back - lost and tired.

I must have dozed off coz an hour later, we were back at our hotel, got cleaned up and hit the sacks. And that brings you up to now, typing to you from the comfort of our heated hotel room, stuffed with croissants and pastries - luggage less.


So you can see, I'm still in the process of deciding if I love Paris or not. Having my luggage would definitely turn things around!

5.27pm @ Hotel, 5th Jan 2006


We are back at the hotel after a long day of touring. Actually, we've only been to 2 places.

The first stop was the Effiel Tower. It isn't as beautiful as at night, but nevertheless, it's an amazing sight. To add to it's beauty, it was snowing. Little tiny cotton drops falling from the sky. Effiel tower plus snow equals SPEECHLESS.


Then, we proceeded to the Louvre. I love it there. I could visit it for days!! So little time, so much to see. I think during the couple of hours we spent there, we only covered 1/10 of the Louvre. That's how big the place is.

The ceilings were all decorated with art and statues lined the walls. Paintings hung side by side and ornaments were stored behind glass.

The highlight? Sneaking a photograph with the Mona Lisa.

Getting out of the Louvre was a whole new experience. When you want to exit, they entertain you with many 'Sortie's (exit signs) but take you on a maze. We went in circles for about 20 minutes just to find the exit. We were tired and the fact that Laura and I were both in boots didn't help either. Why were we dressed so inappropriately? Why isn't our luggage here?


When we got out, we decided to ring the hotel. Our luggage hadn't arrived. We weren't happy. Our plan to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral was ruined as we made our way back to our hotel. And that brings me to the start of today's entry. The reason why I am near hating Paris. My feet was killing me but we just went to soak our feet in hot water. Dad is making many phone calls to track down our luggage but the good news seems very distant.


9.42pm @ Hotel, 5th Jan 2006


After dad made all the calls, we realized that we needed urgent supplies. We headed to the nearest mall.

I bought myself a new pair of flat shoes - my feet needed immediate help. And of course new underwear - the essentials. And I bought gel - hope it's not too late for my hair. We had dinner before returning via the Metro - our first train ride.

The moment we entered the hotel lobby, we were greeted by a big smile on the concierge's face. He pointed into his office and there they were -

OUR LUGGAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't explain how glad I am to see my luggage. I've never been so happy over luggage before. I'm so glad to see it, I don't even need to open my luggage. I'm basking in its presence. God answered all our prayers.


My reflections so far: The whole journey has been an obstacle for my faith. I never believed that our luck could be so bad, that we could lose all our luggage. So when it did happen, I didn't pray about it. Initially, when at the luggage belt, I prayed that our luggage would come quick. But when the news came that we wouldn't be getting our luggage, I refused to believe our luck. I positively believed that it'd come the next day and I didn't put it in God's hands. I didn't trust this little thing to God because I believed in human luck. Not until the evening after the Louvre when I realized that the luggage might not come and we'd have to go another night and day without clean clothes, then we realized that prayer is what we needed. And prayer is all we needed.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Two Thousand and SIX - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1!!!!!!!

Oh my gosh...It's 2006!! HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!!

We are another year older, another year 'wiser', another year more forgetful, and many more years to go. But before I get ahead of myself, here's a recap of my last few days of the year 2005.

27th of December was full of nostalgia, meeting up with old friends (Amanda wouldn't be counted as an OLD friend, but it's been about a month since I've seen her). I met Amanda in the morning and we conquered the post Christmas sales. Crazy shoppers and queues everywhere!!! But it was good fun. We were even given privilege cards each at this flash hair salon!! It was hilarious. We just stopped outside this hair salon to check out their prices and out comes the 'managing director' - I never knew hairstylists had such glam titles - and he passed us each a privilege card, saying that it'll entitle us to get 10% off our hair cuts. Pretty cool ay? Wanna know how awesome the prices are? A wash, blow and cut by the Director himself is over $200!! Do we look like we could afford it???

In the evening, I spilt with her and met up with the softballers and we had a ball catching up over dinner and drinks. Most of them are still the same - crazy and loud - but all definitely grew prettier!

The 29th of December was full of games as Pear, Junren, Zeyun and I went Settlers Cafe to play some boardgames!! We played games like Cranium - so interlectual that it required Zeyun and I to think and solve problems, Taboo - my vocab was "fantastic", and Cluzzle. Cluzzle reminds me of Rapidough - similar to moulding out items with dough, except that we get to question other people's mould before speculating what it should be.

On the 30th of December, I did something memorial!! I changed my hairstyle...

Do you like it? It's the newest trend called Digital Perming.

That night, I also went out pubbing with Pear and Junren. Well...not really pubbing coz we only visited one pub. The embiance was very welcoming, with soft music playing in the background and dim candlelights that gave the place a certain glow. We had a good chill out session there.

Followed by a good stroll down Orchard Road - the lights were gorgeous!!

That night or early morning of the 31st of December, we got back to Pear's place at 2.30am after picking Zeyun up on our way back and the 4 of us played games like Scrabble (the singlish-english way - check it out below), Monopoly, and Bridge till 7.30am in the morning before we knocked out.

Align Center

That morning, I only slept from 8am till 11am before heading back out to town again to meet a friend for lunch. By the time I got home, it was 5.30pm and after a shower, I helped around as we prepared for our BBQ. Grandpa had booked the pit downstairs and invited all our relatives over for authentic charcoal burnt chicken wings, yummy Valley Chef sausages, gorgeous chilli crabs and lots more!

And that was how I spent my last few days of twenty-0-five. I can only imagine two thousand and six to be filled with many amazing memories.