Monday, August 31, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities - 1st City

Gosh, I've been staring at this page with an absolute blank mind. How to do sum up an exhilarating whirlwind of 13 days of doing all things touristy in London and Paris?

Okay, so here's what I'll do. I'll put some storytelling photos here while the pictures which you probably can rip off somewhere on the internet will be posted on my flickr.

First off, this is the plane (with the Raiders Livery) that took us on our 14 hour journey from Kuala Lumpur to London, courtesy of AirAsia for KS and me! (Photo published by permission from Ong Keat Siong)

The express that took us from Stansted Airport to Liverpool, also courtesy of AirAsia. Passed by fields of brown wabbits, horses and sheep along the way.

Our comfortable room at St Giles off Oxford Street, situated very close by to Tottenham Road Station and smack bang in the middle of London city. Also courtesy of AirAsia for our first three nights. :)

Our very English breakfast every morning at St Giles. Fantastic grub to kick start every morning. Unfortunately, I thought the white stuff at the 11 o'clock of my plate was some kind of egg salad. Wrong! It was some weird cheese. Guess what was the only thing left on my plate that morning.

The first few things that caught my attention was the many many shows London has to offer. Here's where I found where Jason Donovan is currently whiling away:

The other thing I noticed was the wonderfully detailed and intricate architecture of the building all around London.

So on our first day, we went to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of guards. Boy, were we excited when we first spotted the still guards as we approached the palace! There were two of them and I guess they must have been photographed quite a bit that day.

Unfortunately, while waiting for the Changing of Guards to start, we scorched ourselves under the withering sun as we watched the tourist crowds swell. As soon as something started to happen, all arms stretched out with cameras/videos, creating a solid wall of limbs and obstructed our views completely.

We gave up after a bit and walked off towards Westminster, Big Ben and House of Parliaments.

We also went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum along Baker Street. Must jog my memory again about his adventures.

Other places we went was the British Museum which we spent four long hours just cause we got the audio guide and attempted to listen to every single description. Kiasu lah!

Of course, our trip was punctuated with the reason why we were in London in the first place, the U2 360 Tour! That one, I'll blog about separately.

So after a rock and roll concert, the next day we went for a Baroque performance at a church called St Martin. When we told this to the AirAsia guy who followed us, he swiftly and politely said, "Wah! You guys are very... versatile!"
Anyway, St Martin has a crypt. A crypt that is currently being used as a restaurant. Seen here are the patrons who are sitting on top of graves and sipping their tea and scones. I heard the scones are good but I just felt weird even standing on the floor with engravings of "Here lies the beloved So-And-So who died in the year..." let alone sit and eat something. But that's just me.

This is the inside of the church, taken during the break during the performance. They didn't just play the Four Seasons, Air and Parchabel's Canon, they played a whole load more. The combination was perfect, cool evening night, baroque music which I am not familiar with. I was half asleep by the time it ended two hours later.

Other places we visited were the Natural History Museum (I LOVE LOVE LOVE the building!). Here's one with a Hogwarts staircase.

Saw dino bones for the first time! Boy, were we excited!

Went to the V&A Museum, Tate Modern (the museum that we spent the least time in since we absolutely didn't understand that type of art), The Royal Albert Hall (ooo! Siti Nurhaliza performed here before!), Hyde Park, London Tower where an entertaining Beefeater (or Yeoman) by the name of Steve entertained us with wit and gross tales of the deaths that happened there, Camden and Portobello markets.

We reckon that's Albert plated in gold seated beneath a very Siamese-inspired shrine.

This is Steve, the highlight of London Tower since we don't know the history of England well enough.
One of Hyde Park's entrances.
We also went to watch "We Will Rock You", which turned out to be fantastic! We bought our tickets through which not only shaved off more than £12 from the actual price, it threw in a great dinner and gave us amazing seats! The show turned out to be very entertaining and really worth the while!

Anyway, for those who want to look at humans in photos, here's one of us camwhoring on the way back on the EuroStar to London from Paris.

Special thanks to my high school buddy Tsiang who opened her place in London for us, her sis Ying who vacated her room for us and slept on the living room floor while we were there and of course, to AirAsia who made this trip possible! Muah!

Oh, and how could I forget, my Aunt May Lin took time off and took us around, feeding us Chinese and more Chinese food upon our arrival! She even took the effort to grab a bus schedule from the library, lent me her clothes since I was silly enough to pack half my luggage with autumn/winter clothes and lent us Oyster cards which made travelling around London so easy. She was really great!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

After A Long Break...

I'm still struggling to put up the post on our London and Paris trip as the loading of photos is a pain. After 5 days of being back, we're still wearing off the effects of jet lag which comes in spurts.

Anyway, I've successfully uploaded some photos on my Flickr.

For now, we've got to go collect Ang Ku from the vet. She was down with jaundice while we were away and Jan has been fantastic, helping us out in terms of taking care of her and sending her to the vet. Poor gal has been miserable and didn't bother to acknowlege us when we went to visit her.

She will have to be a permanant resident with us in the PJ house so no more roaming around the streets of Klang on her own.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

My Chemical Hair

Since I will be attending a wedding this weekend plus my trip to London/Paris is next week, I thought I’d splurge just a bit on doing my hair. Sometime early this year, Jan had done this thing called “relaxing” her hair, which is similar to rebonding, except that the straightening looks more natural rather than the flat effect rebonding gives.

The last time I ever had any chemical work on my hair was 20 years ago. That produced such a major disaster that it put me completely off any chemical so my hair has been virgin since. Still, Jan’s hair looked pretty good so I was willing to give it a go.

Since there is a hairdresser near my office who always promotes their low prices, I thought I’d give it a try. I mean, it should be the same everywhere, right? So I made my appointment and went on Monday right after work.

Disaster Clue #1:
They didn’t have a separate pricing for relaxing but only for rebonding. The guy assured me he would do relaxing but since it’s “about the same as rebonding”, hence the pricing would be the same.

Disaster Clue #2:
The guy assigned to me could not speak English. He conversed in Cantonese while I gave my instructions in English. As you can imagine, more than half the things he said I could not understand and I’m sure he couldn’t understand what I wanted either. Like a duck talking to a chicken.

Disaster Clue #3:
Halfway through, I asked what was the difference between the process of relaxing and rebonding and he answered, “they are the same”.

Disaster Clue #4:
My hair is now slightly past my shoulders and is now curling out. I didn’t want it to curl out so I indicated to him several times that I wanted it cut shorter. His answer? “No!” and he went off in a lengthy explanation in Cantonese (I think) on why it would curl out because it touched my shoulder. That I know but I don’t WANT it to curl out!

When I freaked out when he said he was going to use an iron, he KNEW he had a green horn in his hands. “Your first time? You never do any chemical on your hair?” loud enough for the entire place to hear him. My confidence simply crumbled to the floor and was swept away amongst the cut hair. I began to compare between visiting a dentist or doing my hair (since both give me stress and worry) and at that point, visiting a dentist won.

By the time he was done, I could only stagger out of the shop four and the half hours later (past 10pm, Dad wasn’t too happy with me being out in such a dangerous area so late), bewildered as to what had just happened.

So yeah, my hair is flat as a pancake and it curls out. Exactly what I didn’t want! Sigh. My colleagues have been kind and haven’t even mentioned the difference. Here’s my artist impression on how it looks like:

Next time, I will only visit a hairdresser who speaks English, which can be quite a challenge here in the Klang Valley. Now I have to wait for 3 days before I can wash it (good luck to those around me!). There’s still a lingering waft of ammonia about my person. I can only hope that it would have some form of bounce when I wash it.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Bon Voyage!

Today Grace and family migrates to Washington DC, USA. I am excited for her, Matt and the boys. The opportunities they’re going to have! Everything we’ve seen and grown up on American TV will be made real! Hahaha… just like how KS felt and connected when we went to Hong Kong.

Matt and Grace have been migrating from country to country since they got married in over 15 years but this will be the first time they’re shifting with the boys. They’ve been prepared the boys well enough though.

James wants to learn how to make rockets (the kind that really launches) and they apparently have a Rocket Club he can join. The mere thought of joining a Rocket Club is simply something we never thought about, growing up in Alor Setar. We didn't even have a Rock Club, heck, did we even have any community club to begin with?

Sure, we’re going to miss them, not being able to just hop on a bus or train to get to them in less than a day. We’re going to miss all the zany things the boys come up with and amuse us with. We’re going to miss the laksa, prawn noodles, hokkien mee binging we always go through when Grace is around.

I know while my parents are sad, they’re also glad for them to have this opportunity for greener pastures. Mum even asked me recently if I would think about migrating too!

So Matt & Grace, yes, we are sad that you’re moving so far away, but we’re happy for you. Plus it gives us an excuse to come visit America one day!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Go Home!

For the first time in my working life, my office mates chased everyone out last Friday at exactly 5pm in an attempt to enforce some work-life balance.

My colleague and I, famous for staying long after most have gone home, were plotting on means and ways to sneak back into the office to complete more work. But after half an hour hiding in McD's for an ice cream, the weekend mood had sneaked in and we simply couldn't bring ourselves to start work all over again plus the fact that we were warned that names would be reported of those who stayed back.

Still, it was really great to go home early, spend time with Mum and Dad who just came back from Singapore. Having about two hours before dinner was, wow. Hopefully this exercise will be carried out every last Friday of the month as planned.

By the way, speaking of my office, there was another demonstration that went on again at my office area today. This was to abolish the ISA, an act which was supposed to be used to contain people who are perceived to be dangerous to the country. Of course, we all have witnessed extremely dangerous people who were a threat to the nation being put behind bars of late, with an undefined time of when they would be released.

Gosh, will I be arrested under ISA for saying that?

Memory Mishaps

Over the last couple of weeks, my memory has been failing me big time. Firstly, I left the computer and fan on in the Klang house one Sunday simply by being distracted with searching for something downstairs. Once I found what I was looking for, I just left the house without remembering the computer was still switched on.

Then on Friday, KS happened to go back to feed the cat when he noticed it. So the computer was on for 5 days in a row. Sheesh.

The second incident was ironic. My sis-in-law was in town and we were laughing over some other person who was being very forgetful. I gave a sheepish grin and confessed my own forgetfulness. The morning after that, I was watering the garden and noticed the package Ron sent to me (he bought me ear plugs and sent them from Melbourne for my Paris trip, bless him!) had arrived. Since it was getting wet, I left it on the car and continued my task.

After running around doing more errands, we went out for breakfast and yes, I only remembered about it while halfway through my noodles. The package could not be found anywhere along the road although we checked twice.

Sheesh. I've been stressed out ever since, trying to consciously keep tab of everything.