GLOCCOVNAA is an abbreviation for 'Great Life of Conflict, Climax or Virtually Nothing At All'. That was the long and ridiculous name I came out for my blog when I was 18 years old. Do click on the colourful icons on the right to check out different types of posts in this blog.

30 November, 2012

London Solo Trip #6 Tour & Transfer

This was the path we took.
Up to this point, I haven't even seen much of London's main attractions besides those around Westminster bridge, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. I read about this tour company that specialises in tours in most major cities in Europe called SANDEMANs NewEurope. What they normally do is provide a free basic tour of the city and advertise their other tours throughout the basic tour. Though basic, these tours can be very interesting and informative for people like me and most tourists.
I think the guide's name is Doron, please correct me if I am wrong here.
I mentioned in the previous post that I managed to arrive just in time while the tour guide was about to introduce himself. To my surprise, there were roughly 30 people there for the tour, most of them were from the US and Australia, there was also one family from China. Although this was a free tour, the tour guide was very energetic, probably to impress the group so that they would give him hefty tips. The guide will boast that this tour will visit three and a half palaces, Buckingham Palace, St James Palace, Palace of Westminster and the half was the remains of Palace of Whitehall after the fire destroyed most of it in 1698, now occupied by government offices. I don't think I want to explain the whole tour because I am obviously not as good as these people. So if you want a basic London tour, just travel to Wellington Arch at one of the two starting times and have a good time. **so SANDEMANs, where is my advertising tip? jk jk**
If timing is right, the guardhouse outside St James Palace could be interesting too.
If you noticed in the map, the tour ends at the George V Statue between Westminster Abbey and Jewel Tower. After that, I explored the zone a little longer and took lots of photos before travelling to Piccadilly Backpackers Hostel to transfer my luggage to the Malaysia Hall in Bayswater. The Malaysia Hall is located along Queensborough Terrace and the nearest tube stations are Bayswater Station on the Circle and District line and Queensway Station on the Central line, both are around 10-15 minutes walk away. By the time I arrived at the Malaysia Hall, checked in and settled myself in my room, I was tired and hungry already. Information online about the Malaysia Hall gave many reviews about the amazing canteen at the basement level of the hall which serves standard Malaysian food.
At that time I had been in the UK for almost a year and although we do have Malay food at the hostel once in a while, the anticipation for Nasi Lemak with Rendang was still mouth watering. The food there wasn't anywhere close to excellent food in Malaysia, but I was still satisfied. I ordered Nasi Lemak Rendang with a glass of Teh Tarik and it only cost £4.50, very reasonable for exotic food in London. Some of my friends said that other Malaysian restaurants such as Rasa Sayang at Chinatown and Jom Makan at Trafalgar Square are better, my responds will always be "I am going back to Malaysia in 2 months, do you think they are better than those in Malaysia?". DUH!!!
Feels so cozy and nice to have my own room...
By the way, did I mention about the room I got at the Malaysia Hall? I had one whole room with an attached bathroom/toilet all for myself. It wasn't very big but who cares, I had privacy and it only £21.56 for two nights. So nice to be a Malaysian student in UK! It was so comfortable that I fell asleep almost immediately after revising my itinerary for the next day. I almost forget to take out my blue shirt in preparation for Stamford Bridge Stadium.
Bear in mind I was there on 18th May, imagine the atmosphere there!

29 November, 2012

London Solo Trip #5 Cannonball Run

St Pancras looks so grand from the outside!!!
There was a long day ahead of me. I planned it to cover 5 items in one day and somehow managed to squeeze in one more at a last minute.

  1. Visit King's Cross/St Pancras Station.
  2. Visit Emirates Stadium.
  3. Explore Camden Town Markets. (added later)
  4. Go for Sandemans London Free Tour.
  5. Transfer luggage from Piccadilly Backpackers Hostel to Malaysian Hall.
  6. Have Nasi Lemak for dinner.
If you are wondering, this is from episode 81.
My first stop was actually an after thought as well because the Piccadilly line goes straight to Arsenal station and I didn't need to stop there until later. Personally I am not a Harry Potter fan, I have only completed one book (The Chamber of Secrets) and watched two movies of the franchise. However I am a Running Man fan and when they mentioned Platform 9¾ in King's Cross station, I had to visit it. That stop gave me a look at two railway stations at once, King's Cross station (built 1852) and St Pancras International (built 1868). Despite their history, both stations have a modern interior and maintains a classic exterior.
almost... almost...
Next is Emirates Stadium. Actually before leaving the hostel, I had a chat with a few friendly hostel staff about my travel plans of the day. If I remember correctly, he mentioned that many people told him that they got lost there because when they asked for directions at the ticket counter, the attendant always think they were looking for the old Arsenal Highbury Stadium. He also mentioned that there were little to no signs around the Arsenal Station to guide tourists around, so he took out his pen and drew a simple map for me just in case I couldn't find my way around. At the time I entered the stadium, the tour guide was not available but instead they had those electronic guidance device as replacement. They also reduced the entrance fee for the stadium + museum from £17.50 to £10. Even for a non-Gooner like me, it was worth the experience.
Nothing much to add here that hasn't been said.
Drayton Park entrance with the huge sign.
There weren't many tourists around at that time, so I took my own sweet time exploring the stadium, the Armoury, Drayton Park entrance and the museum. The Armoury store worker was so bored that we had a chat for quite a long time. Remember I mentioned that Camden Market was a later addition? I only spent roughly 2 hours in Emirates Stadium area and there was still time before the 1pm tour starts, so I traveled to Camden Town for lunch.
Camden High Street is souvenir heaven!
Camden Town is one of those places that are normally not on most London tour itineraries because there are other more famous markets in London like Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill and Covent Garden Market. To me, Camden Town is a must see especially for those looking for souvenirs because this little town has a total of 5 markets and all of them are within walking distance. Besides that, there is also a working lock along Regent's Canal and rows of old motorcycle arranged for tourists to eat while enjoying the view of the Camden Lock. The food in that area are mostly foreign
Interesting seats...
The lock is very small, but I was surprised when a driver managed to operate and maneuver his boat house through it.
After a heavy Pakistani lunch, I realised I didn't have much time left till the free tour starts at Hyde Park Corner. So for the first time in my solo trip, I ran like a crazy person to the Camden Town station, changed to the Piccadilly line at Leicester Square station and arrived at Hyde Park Corner just in time for the tour to begin.

I'll continue with that in the next part.


28 November, 2012

London Solo Trip #4 Bright Evening

London during early summer is probably the best time to walk around and visit famous sights around the city because the sun only starts to set at 8-9pm, so tourist can spend almost the whole day walking around in wonderful weather rather than hiding at the hotel during the evening during winter. For me, it wasn't very good though because I was more interested in seeing the Palace of Westminster and London Eye with their lights on, which does not happen till 10-11pm, when it was dark. I mentioned in #1 that the Malaysian Hall has a curfew at 11pm, so being at Westminster Bridge for a decent night view and rushing back before the curfew is impossible. Fortunately the Piccadilly Backpackers Hostel does not have a curfew and I had to seize that opportunity to get the scenery I wanted.

My first reaction was... WOW!!!
After finishing dinner at Soho Joe, I took the tube to Westminster station and at first I was disoriented by all the iconic building appearing around me. I took dozens of pictures of the Tower, the Eye and the Thames. Somehow it didn't satisfy me while the sun was still blazing in the sky. So instead of waiting there, I started walking down Victoria Embankment admiring the South Bank until I reached Hungerford Bridge. Then I had the strange idea of walking across the Thames via the Golden Jubilee Bridge to the "Festival zone" which includes the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall. I felt like I was walking in the footsteps of legends at this area because the Royal Festival Hall is where the London Philharmonic Orchestra recorded the Lord of the Rings soundtrack.
The sun was finally setting!!!
The Woman in Black and The Dictator were premiered here.
What followed was another long walk to Trafalgar Square along Northumberland Avenue, then back to Westminster Bridge through Whitehall. I know it may seem like just around 2km, but consider the amount of walking I had for the day, it was quite tiring and I was exhausted by the time I got back to Westminster Bridge to catch a glimpse of the Thames when it was all dark. I still got all the photos I wanted, without me in them obviously.
Just in case you didn't already know, this was months before the Olympic Games
Awesome view man!!!
Wow! I even got a zooming double decker bus in the picture!
I returned to Piccadilly after all the excitement and was again welcomed by another night view of Piccadilly Circus before I walked back to the hostel. I had a nice hot shower and revised my itinerary using my new tube map for the next day. Another funny thing to mention is that the men's toilet/bathroom at the hostel had no railings or any form of hook in the shower room, which also doesn't have a door but a semi-transparent shower curtain instead. So I had no where to place my clothes and I was fortunate enough to be the only person in the bathroom at that time. Believe me when I say that it was a terrible place to be in the morning. I was there to brush my teeth and it was filled with naked dudes having their morning shower... not a pretty sight at all! Luckily I was moving to the Malaysian Hall the next day!
I didn't expect the night to be so bright!

27 November, 2012

London Solo Trip #3 Soho

London's entertainment district... AWESOME!!!
After resting for 2 hours, I got up fresh and ready to explore London Soho by foot. My first stop was obviously Piccadilly Circus since it was practically at the doorstep. I read about Piccadilly Circus and things to look out that people normally don't see. There are tonnes of pictures and articles about the main section, but not many noticed 3 golden women jumping off the building because most were taking photos of the Horse of Helios at the fountain below.
The Three Graces made of gold plated aluminium
Then I went along Coventry Street to Leicester Square where I explored the M&M store. I have nothing much to add about that huge and colourful candy store that has not been said by others. Leicester Square was crowded as always, but one thing that was prominent was that Odeon Cinema was surrounded by a large crowd and there was a big stage in the middle labelled "MIB3". It was the premiere screening of Men In Black 3 starring Will Smith and I was psyched. The event was about to start after I got a few photos of the surroundings. I managed to squeeze myself among the crazy fans around with my tiny figure and got a close encounter with Will Smith himself, too bad those fans around me were chaotic and I couldn't get a decent photo of him.
This was before any VIP arrived
To my surprise, the crowd dispersed quite rapidly after all the commotion when the VIP were around. I walked towards Charing Cross Road and turned into a small alley called Cecil Court. At first it may seem like a regular street but knowing that it has a rich Victorian shop and was Mozart's residence in London gave it a nice calm atmosphere away from London's modern landscape. Another trivia is that this place was widely believed to be the inspiration for film makers when designing Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies.
Drop by Colin Narbeth & Son Ltd. for some Harry Potter money!
I enjoyed the view of Chinatown, but it has nothing I haven't seen before
It was dinner time and after a stroll along Chinatown, I stopped by a restaurant called Soho Joe for dinner along Dean Street. They served contemporary Italian food at a reasonable price and is popular among the working class. I had their meal of the day which was the spicy lamb burger.
They also serve stonebaked pizza and an assortment of pasta
I know London Soho is much larger than the places I explored. The reason I had dinner earlier was to get to other landmarks before it was dark. My next destination after the wonderful dinner was to explore Westminster Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridge for a sunset view.
For those of you who want to see the spicy lamb burger.

London Solo Trip #2 Let's Go!

My first destination was not to visit, it was to sleep!!!
My journey starts on the final day of my final exam. Almost immediately after the paper, I had that excitement flowing through me, the feeling that I would be going on a long trip to an unknown place that somehow I knew so well. I got all my tickets and hostel confirmation printed. In addition, I printed a few maps, some were redundant like the tube map which was available for free at all stations while some were motivating like the bus route map. My mentality throughout this trip was similar to my Edinburgh trip previously, use as little resources to see and experience as much as possible. For a 4 days 3 nights trip, I only brought a basic bagpack and a small slingbag. I always through clothes were the bulky part of luggage, but ever since my experience from the Edinburgh trip, I learnt to roll my clothes up to save space for other more bulky items such as the water bottle and the lunch box. I even made a list of things to bring systematically:
Just thought it would be easier to visualise with a diagram.
  • Lunch box containing an unopened "poptop" can of tuna (emergency food)
  • 1.5L water bottle
  • Camera, phone and their chargers
  • Earphone
  • Japanese slippers
  • 3 way power adapter
  • 4 sets of clothes (blue for Chelsea day and red for Arsenal day)
  • Emergency cash
  • Bag of sandwiches for bus journey
An experience of a lifetime... I didn't say it was a good one!
The Megabus from Glasgow to London was an experience by itself. I booked a 4am bus from Buchanan Station knowing that it would be a 10 hour journey, so my ETA at London Victoria Station was 2pm. To be honest, I totally regretted that 4am deal, but the only consolation was that the ticket only cost £5, so I can't really complain. First of all, travelling in a bus for 10 hours was worst than I thought it would be. My longest travelling experience at that point was my plane ride from Dubai to Glasgow, which took 7 hours 20 minutes. The claustrophobia of a bus didn't become as apparent until I tried to sleep. Which bring me to the next issue, daylight. I was totally unaware that the glaring sun at 5am along the A74 during early summer was so annoying for me to sleep. I mentioned earlier that I printed a map of the bus journey and it functioned like the map they show on the screen in a plane to note the progress and help predict the time of arrival. To sum it up, it was atrocious.
You don't know how happy I was to see this
Finally when the bus stopped at London Victoria Station, the first thing I did was to get an Oyster card and travel to the hostel just to lie down. I had no mood to admire the tube, Victoria Station or Piccadilly Circus, all I wanted at that time was to close my eyes for an hour or two on a comfortable bed. The Piccadilly Backpackers Hostel is located just a stone throw away from Piccadilly Circus, just 150m away. So getting to and from the tube station was very convenient. The hostel is quite old, but in a good way because the art on the walls and ceiling somehow creates an appreciation for London of the past. I got to shut my eyes at 3.30pm after having a light meal and settling in the room.

The next post will be the start of my walking tour of London Soho.


24 November, 2012

London Solo Trip #1 Planning

LONDON!!! Here I come!!!
Between January and May was the busiest time of my life as a student. Presentations, assignments and tests were gushing continuously at us around February and March while the final exam was in early May. While trying to work off my research project stress, I decided to plan for a trip to London almost immediately after my final exam. By April, I submitted my research project and made all my arrangements for the London trip out of the excitement the day after the submission. One of the major considerations I had was that my parents and I already had plans to visit London in July. So I should focus on visiting sights that they probably wouldn't want to visit instead of overlapping. Even then, I still decided that London was huge and I still needed at least 4 days 3 nights to barely skim through those highlights.
Even if it was overlapping, I had to take this picture of the London's trinity, the booth, the ben and the bus.
I started by booking a return bus ticket costing only £5 per journey from Megabus. I will elaborate more when I get to the part about the bus journey later on as it was an interesting experience by itself. I also heard for seniors that the Malaysian Hall at Bayswater offers discounted rates for students, and by discounted rates I mean ridiculously cheap £11 per night. There were 2 main issues about the Malaysian hall. Firstly there was a curfew at 11pm which was quite early for a hostel. Secondly, there was a 2 night maximum stay policy. It was also stated in their policy that requests for stay beyond the 2 nights will only be entertained if there were vacancies available. Personally, I did not want to take such a risk if I needed that extra night. I finally settled by booking another hostel for the first night at Piccadilly Backpackers Hostel before transferring to the Malaysian hall for the other two nights.
Words cannot describe how proud I was to see that flag.
After getting both my accomodation and bus tickets, the only thing left to do was to check out tourist sights and the mode of transportation within London. Though London is enormous, getting from landmark to landmark becomes much easier and economical with the London Underground a.k.a. the Tube. The amazing thing was that unlike cities in Italy where we had to buy either the day pass or a single journey ticket, the tube charges a certain amount for the first few journeys before hitting a limit of £7 and subsequent journeys will appear as £0 for the rest of the day. All this is accomplished by the miracle of the Oyster card, not exactly a miracle after knowing how it works actually. One thing to bear in mind is that the Oyster card charges a refundable deposit of £5, so if you are leaving London for good, remember to get your money back by returning the card to any ticket counter.
Somerset House courtyard is so elegant.
If you have read my blog enough, you should know that I am a pseudo film buff. When planning for my trip, the first things I searched the internet for were filming locations in London. Tonnes of films were filmed in London whether it was intended to be set in London or not. I mentioned setting because many locations, for example the Somerset House, was used in Goldeneye to show St Petersburg, Russia. Besides that, I was also interested in visiting two world famous football stadiums, Emirates Stadium and Stamford Bridge Stadium. There was also a suburban market at Camden Town that I saw on many Taiwanese travel shows that I really wanted to visit.
Always wanted to see a small working lock in Camden.
So weaving all these tourist sights into my itinerary was an interesting challenge by itself. I did all that the old fashion style, writing everything on paper. I made many lists, some for famous restaurants, some for ticket prices, some for main sights and all that were fed into the main itinerary that was modified probably more than 50 times even until the day before the journey.
Wrote lots of notes on used paper.
Next will be the start of my journey...


19 November, 2012

The Magic Number 3

I am back to write about movies again. This time it is about trilogies. Trilogies are very common forms of making 2 sequels after the success of the original, making them somewhat connected with same characters, similar storylines and hopefully it becomes a successful franchise. Obviously this is not an easy task because most of the time the first successful movie would be well wrapped up on its own. Others like the original Star Wars movie, now dubbed A New Hope, was written to be a prologue by George Lucas in hopes for bigger budget to make a better sequel. In his case, 2 sequels and 3 prequels and a huge franchise.

There are many "holy grails" of trilogies. Nowadays with remakes and reboots, many trilogy sets have now broken their magic 3, but I will only count those classics and ignore those new ones.

1. Back to the Future Trilogy

Have you ever seen a movie where the end is not only a cliffhanger but a trailer for the next movie, which was made back to back? That was the confidence those film makers had when they were making Back to the Future II. This trilogy is and will always be the greatest time travel story in history. The characters were all memorable, the story was well written and the visuals are spectacular. Many fans were not happy about the third movie due to its odd setting in the late 19th century instead of the 1950s and 1980s in the first two movies. But to me, all three were well connected and Michael J Fox totally did not age a bit throughout the 5 years of film release (1985, 1989, 1990).

2. Star Wars Original Trilogy
Ignore the blunder of the prequel trilogy (I don't hate them, just can't match the original), this is probably the most well known trilogy ever. I have been a Star Wars fan all my life. The first time I ever watched this trilogy was from VHS tapes recorded from local TV. It was during movie nights back in '95 or '96 when my parents and I used to watch movies on the floor in our old 14" TV. When the special edition came out in 1997, my father bought the whole set and we watched it again. I was so excited that I even begged my parents to get me a toy of an X-wing and Tie fighter rotating around a Death Star laser turret from the KFC kids meal. Come to think of it now, I think I have watched all of them roughly 50 times each, so that's how awesome this trilogy is to me and I think to the world all together.

3. Indiana Jones Trilogy
OK, once again ignore the latest Indiana Jones movie. Like Star Wars, I have also watched this trilogy during movie nights with my parents. With a pairing of Lucas and Spielberg, the two legendary directors and producers, nothing would go wrong right? ahem... Kingdom of the Crystal Skull... ahem. Nevertheless the Indiana Jones trilogy was a tribute to the classic western heroes and James Bond, another of my favourites. I think my love for James Bond gave me that appreciation for this trilogy as well.

4. Jurassic Park Trilogy
It is sad that many people didn't know there was a third Jurassic Park movie. The first one was a legendary one, the second was good but not as good as the first, and the third was actually not as bad as everyone says it was, definitely worst than the first two. In contrast to the first 3 trilogies in the list, this was made during my time, I mean the '90s. Jurassic Park and The Lost World were a demonstration of how special effects can make wonders in movies if used properly. Jurassic Park III was nominated for a Razzie award for Worst Remake or Sequel in 2001, not that it is a bad thing since The Lost World was also nominated for the same award in 1997, both were decent movies worth watching for nostalgic value. Who could forget Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum's performance in those movies?

5. Terminator Trilogy
I don't think I have used the word "ignore" enough in this post. As far as I am concern, Terminator Salvation does not count as a sequel but more as a stand alone movie, so it doesn't count. On the other hand, the first three Terminator movies are still the best, especially Terminator 2 which is still arguably the best sequel ever made in any franchise. Despite what most people dislike about Terminator 3, about how it was unnecessary and how it ruined the first two, it was still a decent entry and had many memorable scenes, especially those amazing action sets. As of now, the Terminator franchise is on a decline. The Sarah Connor Chronicles was cancelled after only 2 seasons and the rights to the franchise have been bouncing back and forth off production companies spreading rumours of potential projects but none were official so far. My fanboy hopes are for James Cameron to return to make another Terminator, 3D or not.

6. Robocop Trilogy
I remember when I was 6 years old, I was practicing my piano at home one evening while waiting for my parents to come back for dinner. When my parents came back, they gave me box with a 'robot toy' as I used to call it. Later that night we watched the first Robocop and I realised how cool this talking toy was. I remember it used to say "Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law." whenever I pressed a button on his chest. Unfortunately while I was playing with it another day, I accidentally spilled some milk over it and the button stopped working. Even till today, it is still standing at my study table staring at me with some gold paper stickers stuck on it *made him look like an Oscar statue for a play once*. Now watching it again more than 15 years later, I noticed how violent and realistic these movies were after watching the scene where the title character was shot to death in the first movie. I was X rated in the US for violence at that time and my parents probably showed me the child-friendly version 16 years ago. After seeing snapshots of the upcoming remake, I wonder whether any of its late '80s early '90s charm can be recovered.

7. Star Trek Trilogy
There is actually no such thing as a Star Trek trilogy, or at least not officially, since there were all together 11 movies so far and 2 to 6 were numbered. As far as fans are concern, Star Trek The Motion Picture, or Star Trek 1 was a stand alone movie which launched a series of movies whereas Star Trek II had a storyline which continued in two subsequent films. The Wrath of Khan is without doubt the best Star Trek movie made in history thus far not because of its links to the original series episode 'Space Seed' but its military outlook of the future and homage to famous literature such as Moby Dick and Hamlet. Star Trek III and IV were directed by Leonard Nimoy who turned Star Trek into a space opera and then an environmental propaganda which somehow linked from Star Trek II. Way to go, Spock! The first Star Trek movie I watched was Star Trek First Contact in 1996. That was after hours of watching Star Trek The Next Generation with my father as a child. Then I stumbled upon a VHS tape labelled "Star Trek Movie" in a drawer under my TV. The movie in the VHS tape was Star Trek V. That was when I realised that there were that many Star Trek movies out there.

 After doing these trilogies thing, I found that there are too many trilogies to cover in one post. So these are just the ones that I remember from my childhood. Others like The Godfather Trilogy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Nolan's Batman Trilogy, Austin Powers Trilogy or The Dollars Trilogy were not part of of my childhood, so I am not particularly familiar with them.


04 November, 2012

H&N October

Recently I attended the first interview I have ever had in my life at the SPA. In order to apply for a job as a pharmacist, I had to get approval from 3 government departments, the Public Service Commission (SPA), the Pharmacy Board (LFM) and the Ministry of Health (KKM). Weeks before the interview, many of my friends who have gone for it told me that it was very easy and was almost a confirmed pass assuming I have a basic grasp of the job and general knowledge. I was really chilled out for that time.

Then three-four days before the SPA interview, a friend asked me about my preparation and introduced a few websites as reference. I had a sudden mental breakdown when I started reading. I did not know I was so unprepared, so I started writing notes, memorizing notes and revising my pharmacy stuff. Then came the day of the interview. I joined a bunch of my friends at the Putrajaya office where we were having the interview. There was only one room for pharmacy applicants and I was number 9 in the list, so assuming each applicant took 20 minutes, I would have to wait for 3 hours before my turn. Initially the first few applicants took more than 30 minutes to finish and I was worried they were "interrogated". However after the third applicant, subsequent numbers started moving faster and faster, the interviewers probably realized that they were rushing for time. In a blink of an eye, it was my turn already.

The interview went quite smooth for me. The SPA officer asked me about qualities needed to be a good pharmacist and I stumbled for a while but somehow managed to answer confidently later on. I was also asked about the number of languages I could speak and how fluent I was as them. I suddenly had the feeling that the interviewer noticed my not-so-proficient BM... haha! I will try to improve myself. The KKM officer was really nice to me throughout the interview. She asked me which department I preferred to work in the health ministry and proceeded to ask me more about the role of BPFK based on my response. The part that I was worried about was when the SPA officer started a long line of questions pertaining the NKRA and its role in preventing corruption. I was caught off guard with those questions especially when he asked me to define corruption. I did not know the specific definition, so I went ahead to quote an example, which he acknowledged but told me to read more about it. Phew... I was done with it finally!!! *and I passed! Yay*
On a totally different note, my lecturer and final year project supervisor Mr Ian Towle was here in KL a few days ago. We have been corresponding via e-mail for some time and I decided to organize a meeting for him with a group of friends at Bangsar. I met him at IMU after work and I brought him to have banana leaf rice at Restoran Sri Nirvana Maju with 7 others. I was glad he enjoyed Indian food very much, in fact he mentioned that he loved Malaysian food so much that he had used his phone to take photos of them to show his students back in Glasgow.
I forget to mention that I finally went balik kampung to Penang for a week in early October. It was nothing but eating and sleeping there. So I decided to reboot my blog to what you see for the last 10-11 posts. Now you know why I made so many posts in October. Not that Penang is a boring place, just that I didn't see a reason to go out other than for food.

I think that's all for the month, hopefully November would be more interesting!!!


How to enjoy Edinburgh with a tight budget #2

After all my friends left Edinburgh shortly after midnight, I was left to wander around Edinburgh on my own. Before I proceed, I must let you know that although I am not exactly a loner, I do enjoy travelling alone much more than in a group. This is mostly for the freedom of doing whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want and however I want. I could walk at my comfortable pace, sometimes faster when in a hurry and sometimes strolling when getting tired. I could stop by a coffee shop when I am craving for a cup of java. I could also run and scream crazily in the center of the empty Princes Street on New Years night without worrying that anyone would find out... until now.

Now the world knows about my secret outburst of joy
Solo adventures do take a toll on me in that it can be very boring at times, my solution to that is to bring along a massive playlist of music. My Kpop craze in my earbuds continued from Italy to Edinburgh and to most of the places I traveled on my own. I guess I've got to thank music for keeping my sanity intact as well as making a visit more like an adventure in a good movie with a good soundtrack pouring straight into my ear.
My music was put on party shuffle loop for most of the time.
My budget tip for food may disgust some of you, not that it is unsanitary or illegal, but it goes against the "go forth and spend" attitude of most tourists. The hostel I was staying in has a fully furnished, comprehensive and beautiful kitchen. I noticed that many guests in the hostel were not aware of this gem because they were all roaming at the hostel's cafe for convenient but overpriced meals. On the day I arrived, I made a short trip to Tesco just around the corner to get some simple frozen foods, pastries and drinks to last the whole stay. So every morning I could just walk to the kitchen, toast my croissants and pies, make a large mug of hot chocolate, and voila! Perfect breakfast that costs only ~50p. Compare that to the hefty £4 breakfast set for 5 items at a buffet breakfast, I rest my case. (How is a tiny bowl of cereal in milk counted as 2 items? Everyone complained about that ripoff!)
only £0.45
On the contrary, I did not hold back on lunch though. My lunch was as most tourists would call it, basic Scottish delicacy. Then dinner was back to the budget style again. Believe or not, my dinner that night only cost £1 even with prawns, wontons and vegetable spring roles, not forgetting a 2L bottle of cola.
the 26 piece set had a crazy 80% discount, so you never know when supermarkets get crazy with their promos.
If you noticed, almost all my tour photos in this blog are from my camera, taken by me or some helpful passerby. The major problem with solo trips is that there is nobody else to take pictures other than the owner, unless the owner hand the camera to a passerby to take a picture of him/her. Edinburgh is a panoramic city and I did not want to be left out of those terrific views, so once in a while I do get help from other tourists to take a picture or two of me. I personally like to approach tourists with huge cameras and who, I hope, are proficient enough to take a decent shot. However when help is unavailable, my amature camwhore techniques could come in handy too. On several occasions, I were also able to place my camera on road signs and rubbish bins to take my picture. Now all these are making me sound pathetic...
Framing is probably my biggest enemy!
For a budget solo trip, I need to be fully aware of the location, directions and information. There is no tour guide to bring me around, nobody to tell me stories about the place and no professional planner to arrange where to go and when. Edinburgh is not a particularly good example for this since it was not my first time there. I will elaborate in more detail in my London post. There are many tourist sites in Edinburgh worth visiting to me. So planning the time to visit each site can be tricky especially getting a view of sunrise or attending a specific event. An example of this is my walk up Carlton Hill. On the my last day in Edinburgh, I chose to wake up early to catch a view of sunrise from the top of Carlton Hill. I initially planned it on New Years day but found out that the authorities were still clearing up the fireworks debris, so I delayed it by a day.
the view was fantastic!!!
My worst fear that day was that the roads and pavements were all frosty and slippery. The night before was extremely cold and early morning was still chilly -2°C. Thankfully it did not snow or rain. The key is to prepare suitable clothing and footwear for the weather and keep your fingers crossed.
The only time I wore 3 layers and was still shivering.
I also visited the Edinburgh castle at night, what an experience to see the majestically lit castle up close. On New Years day, I found out that there were a few events going on around the city and I chose to visit the event held in the National Museum of Scotland. This event was similar to a telematch in a family day. I was more interested in the museum since it was my first time visiting it.
No obstruction, perfect view...
The roof is a must-go, the view in the evening is beautiful.
I think I covered the gist of how I travel comfortably without spending much. The next #WalkALOT will be London!!!