Sunday, July 31, 2011

IAMsterdam

We wondered in Damrak very long. The address from the internet was not helpful. First look at Amsterdam was an eye opener. Sex museum, sex shop, people dress in costume and the crowd decorated Damrak Street. Typical. But, where the heck is Shelter City?!

I grew blisters on my palm, carrying the luggage, finding my hostel. Luckily people were quite helpful in directing me, some too helpful that they tried even when they had no idea, which leads me further. -.- And finally I found my hostel! I am very grateful to find that they gave me a two people room instead of a four that I booked earlier. A Christian hostel in the middle of red light district, I reckoned it to be quite safe. But of course, the noise is unbelievable at night. But other than that, not a bad choice though.

Amsterdam was actually breath-taking, with the canals and scent of cannabis on the street. I have to say that the scenery in the morning and the scenery at night is totally a different world all over. We stayed two nights in Amsterdam. But the weather was so cold that I caught flu the second day. Yanyi even fall with fever. So our travel was mostly just leisure walk around the town. And of course, we visited two coffee shops, tried their special tea, and scan through red light district at night. First time saw “Barbee dolls” in the window which move. Amsterdam is alive at night and dead in the morning. The only city where drugs and prostitution are made legalized.






Quiet Morning in Damrak
even birds came out this hour

 We went Anne Frank Huis early morning, so we kinda skipped the que as only old people woke up in the morning. The house was quite big, considering that it was a hide-out place. But still, I couldn’t help admiring the girl mature thinking. My interest in Nazi grew. I think I would like to visit Germany’s Nazi Camp one day.


The rest of the trip, we just walk around. Heineken Experience was quite expensive, so we dint enter the building, same goes to Van Gogh Museum. One thing about Amsterdam, everything needs money. 




Flower Market

I AMsterdam
 We had a hostel night in the hostel the first night we arrived. We met a few people. There is one pair of sister  from Ireland, if I am not mistaken, who talked to us a lot, and told us to buy the iAmsterdam tickets, which will makes all the museum free of charge. But too bad yanyi and I were not so interest in Museums in Amsterdam. Oh, we also met a girl named Kim near Van Gogh Museum. She is currently working in Dublin, and she stayed in Sabah for quite some time before migrated to the US. And it was such a coincident that she also stayed in Shelter City, which is just next door to ours. She came visit us the night, and chat with us. Nice to meet someone, but too bad we dint remember to take a photo together.


Another thing I regretted. We miscalculate the time we arrive at Amsterdam, and missed the chance to go Akmaar which has a cheese Market every Friday Morning. Also, we SHOULD go Zaanse Schans to see the Windmill. Oh did I mention that the cheese in Amsterdam was nice? Well, indeed. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Belgium

We met a guy with two kids on the bicycles outside the train station. He taught us how the metro actually works in Belgium, and also some culture difference in Belgium. He also told us that Belgium had no government for a certain period already. Luckily we met him, or we will be staring half an hour at the maps.

The hotel we stayed was not that bad, except that it was a bit old. The lift had a door which moves down as the lift goes up. First time I saw this. We had our private toilet too. Oh it was Hotel Manhattan by the way. Belgium, the city of chocolates, wafers and beers. But the chocolates we brought home after a month, they melt as we dint put them in the fridge for more than one month.

 Belgium Beer


So, we had only one day in Belgium, and we went to Atomium, which was build for an expo and the symbol of Belgium. It was quite far, so we took a metro there. The thing is, we were not really sure how the metro works, and we can actually walk through the gate without paying anything, board the train, and reach our destination. What the hell…. Certain stations have gates which disallow you to pass without tickets, but certain stations actually allow you to walk through. Or maybe the gate malfunctions. By anyway, Atomium is kinda a huge atom, but there is nothing but expo inside. We figured that since we were there already, so we went in to have a look.

Atomium

Then we went walking around the city center, went to Royal Palais, Grand Place, St Micheal and St Gudula Catedral and other site seeing. Manneken Pis, which represent Brussel, is actually a very small sculpture, with a huge crowd surrounding it at the corner of the street. So, this was that little boy who urinate at the fuse to save the city. 






 Royal Palais


Interior of the palais




Grand Place

Manneken Pis

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

25-27 August London Trip

I’ll conclude London as construction city. Everything, from the train station to Trafalgar Square was under construction to welcome Olympic. And of course, London is full of immigrants. Bangladesh mostly. I guess I see Kebab shops more often than I see British Traditional Food (if there is any).

We stayed at Hyde Park Hostel for four nights, welcomed by an unfriendly receptionist who changed our rooms from 10 people dorm to 4 people dorm. Well, it favors us, but we had to pay the extra charges of course. And there is no lift. The first day I reach London, luckily I met a guy who was reading at the stairs, and was nice enough to carry my luggage up.

First day, we actually walked. Yup. We walked. We walked from Hyde Park to Albert Memorial, Harrods, Wellington Arch, Buckingham Palace, Westmister Abbey, Big Ben, London Eye, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Piccadily, and from there, walked all the way back again. LOL. Judging on the distance I walk in my trip, I wonder why I bought myself a scooter to go to campus.


Nothing special actually. We saw lots of dogs in Hyde Park and also the Diana Memorial Fountain nearby. European really likes Parks, don’t they? 


Diana Memorial Fountain

We walked around Harrods, not shopping, but just thought that since the Queen shops here, we can have a look. We also manage to see the Changing of Guard in Buckingham Palace. And I met a China Boy who speak a nice British Accent English (at least better than other china men). He told me that he studied in London, and had plenty of chances watching this, so he let us squeeze in his place (a better view of the guards). 
  
Changing of Guard

Look at the crowd outside Buckingham Palace


Westmister Abbey


London Telephone Booth

Horse Guard

We took some photos around, and walked to Trafalgar Square. The countdown was there, but the rest of it was under constructions. 

Olympic Countdown

Trafalgar Square

Piccadily

Then we walked around china town at night, and headed home. Oh ya, we went Malaysian Hall too. LOL. Nasi Lemak charged in Euro. What a price.

The next day, we bought Oyster Cards which makes our journey easier. We went Madame Tussaud but due to the line outside, we decided not to go. Then we went London tower, tower bridge, St Paul Catedrals, and do shopping the rest of the days. 



Tower Bridge

Certain things are relatively cheap. For example, we noticed they carry books around wherever they go. And books have discounts everywhere. And some cloths had summer discounts too. We wanted to go British Museum, but it was close when we reached thereAt night, we took some night scene photos, which worth it. You must see Big Ben at night. The good thing about Oyster Card, after a certain number of trips, the rest of it, is free.


Big Ben

Last day in London, we walked to Kensington Palace, which was under construction. 
Kensington Palace

We walked around Hyde Park, had our English Breakfast, and head to St Pancras International Train Station. Lucky us we saw the platform 9 and ¾. Hahaha…. JK Rowling sure is much loved in London. 

  
 

Looking forward for Olympic Game in London

This is the first time I sat an undersea train. But I don’t really feel a thing, just like the underground train, plus a little pressure in the ear. Goodbye London. Goodbye Ge An and Leon. 


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bath and Stonehenge, UK

 When we bathed at night, we saw no one, when we bathed in the morning, again, no one. I wondered whether people in the hostel actually bathe. When we woke up in the morning, the other dorm mates were sleeping, I guess half drunk. The streets were relatively quiet. We can even stand in the middle of the roads without honks. A bit cloudy that day, and some drizzling.


Bath Abbey

Roman Baths- Roman built religious spa using hot mineral water. 



This is me, with a men dressing up like old times.

We had our audio guide at the entrance, so it was not that hard to understand. Roman baths was a place where people from all walks of life gather and had their activities there. Priests, traders, etc. Hot Spring was thought to be something from God, a holy place. And there is a lake or something, where people from old times throw curses when their goats or belonging got stolen. 


 We also had some spring water to drink in the Pump Room. Yucks. It smells of sulphur!


After we visited the Roman Bath, we caught a train to Salisbury. From Salisbury, we then caught a bus tour to Stonehenge. And we actually carried our huge luggage and backpacks along. Worse when we took a long walk to the station. Haha. Tiring journey.

The bus tour did explain what we see on our way to Stonehenge. We passed by farms, huge piece of green deserted land and some houses. But I don’t really catch the explanation actually.

Stonehenge was crowded with people. Come to think of it, mankinds are actually attracted to pieces of purposeless rocks, just because they are mysteriously placed in the middle of green land. They are just rocks you know. And with these few pieces of rocks, so many myths formed, which is why it became famous I guess. 


We followed the crowd and circled the stones. But half way, we sat down and press the button on our audio guide. It is a good idea to listen to the whole thing first before you continue walking if you are actually carrying huge backpacks like us. LOL. 




The bus took us back to Salisbury, from there, we then took a train to London.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Singapore-Malaysia-London-Bath

We waved goodbye to our parents in Changi Airport. Overflowed with stories about pickpockets and syndicates everywhere, I unchained my paranoid, wondering why I choose to travel so far for student exchange programme instead of sleeping through my holidays.

We both stared blankly at the departure hall, thinking of the same thing, HOME.

The journey was 12 hours, not including the transit from Changi to KLIA. The thing is, flying from Changi Airport to London is actually cheaper than flying from KLIA, even though we still transit in KLIA. MAS airline wasn’t really that bad. We were served with food quite frequently, so we don’t actually feel the length of the flight. And with a small TV at the back of the seat in front of me, I don’t actually feel bored. Sleep, awake, watch, eat, sleep. Time passed by real fast and we reached Heathrow at 4pm London time in the afternoon, adjusted 7 hours of GMT.

We walked from terminal T4 to the bus terminal to take our bus (national express) to bath. Well, I actually over estimate the time we reach airport, so, we had extra time wandering around the airport. The bus took of quite on time, so we left to Bath that evening.



When we reached Bath, it was really cold. No, it was extremely cold! The four of us, Me, yy, Leon and Ge an, stayed together in Bath Backpackers in a 10 people mix dorm. The receptionist was really nice and friendly, and he even carried my luggage up to third floor. Oh, this hostel got no lift, so, it is a little inconvenient to carry the luggage up, also, the rooms were quite small, and the toilet is like quite far away. But, luckily the people there are quite friendly, and we were allowed to leave our bags there after we checked out.

We had some night walk. Bath at night was beautiful, coupled with cold air, splendid. We met a guy, with a penis-shaped-balloon. He approached us, asking where we from, and showed us his balloons happily. He even took photos with us. And he described Malaysia as a country with lots of skyscrapers! Haha. Other than that, we saw a numbers of drunken people wandering off the street, gangs of youngsters dressing up for pubs and clubs. Not something that you can see in Malaysia I guess.