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.

24 December, 2012

Kampung Dumbarton

Around Christmas time over a year ago, most of my housemates were going on holiday tours around Europe while only a hand full of us remained in Glasgow. I actually wanted to go for a Christmas holiday as well but I had to deal with my research project while everyone else was having fun. I can't complain since I had been relaxing for too long while others rush to complete their lab sessions. Now back to the main title which is my "Christmas trip". Dumbarton is a little town/village around 30km away from Glasgow. It may not sound far but the effort to get to the clinic there was ridiculously tedious. Why would I travel to Dumbarton if not to complete my research?

It was 7am on a Monday morning. There was no lecture, no lab sessions, no reason for anyone else to wake up at that time. I got ready for my journey with my laptop in my bag and left around 7.45am to Queen Street Station to catch the 8am train to Dumbarton Central. It was -4ÂșC outside when I left and I had to walk really slowly to avoid slipping on black ice *it snowed the night before*. That was the reason why I dislike snow, the fact that it will melt and refreeze into black ice, the smoothest and most dangerous surface to walk on.

The train ride to Dumbarton was just delightful. It was around 30 minutes of snow capped hills and a panoramic view of Clyde River, I enjoyed the whole journey. Throughout the journey, I had my earphone on blasting with my favourite KPop playlist. There were two train stations in Dumbarton, Dumbarton Central and Dumbarton East. At that time I only knew about the central station and already planned to alight when they announced "Dumbarton". Guess what? Dumbarton East was the station before Dumbarton Central. So the moment I heard "Dumbar..." while the music was still playing in my ear, I got off the train and realized I had no idea where I was.

It was 8.35am and I was totally stunned and worried that I won't be able to make it to the Hartfield Clinic in time for my 9am appointment with the local pharmacist. The next train was not going to arrive until 8.55am, so I would have to find my way to the clinic on foot. The station was totally deserted. There wasn't even a ticket counter because the station only had those sophisticated electronic ticketing machines. As crazy as it sounds, I walked out of the station, picked a random direction and hoped to get help from somebody nearby. Dumbarton has got to be the emptiest town I have ever been. How was it possible to walk for 5 minutes near the town center and not see a single person or vehicle?
I finally found a 24 hour convenient store after 10 minutes. The shopkeeper was very helpful and guided me to the clinic. The weirdest thing was that I had been walking in the correct direction all the while and I was almost there. It was really just a fluke!!! In fact I reached Hartfield Clinic at 8.50am and the pharmacist I was supposed to meet wasn't even there yet. Our meeting was simple and short. Then when I was about to leave, I asked her whether there were any tourist attractions in the area. She was a little dumbfounded by my question, probably because Dumbarton had little to no tourists. However after asking several other staffs, they recommended two places to visit, Dumbarton Castle and the Scottish Maritime Museum a.k.a. Denny's Tank.
The weather that day was very bad, it was raining while I was walking to the museum. Later it started snowing for a short while and then rained again when I was walking to Dumbarton Castle. The maritime museum, known by the locals as Denny's Tank, was built on the site of the old maritime research tank where ship builders test their ship designs with miniatures in the long water tank, scaled down to roughly 1/100 to gauge efficiency of various propulsion methods. William Denny and Brothers Limited, the company which operated in Dumbarton around the mid-19th century was famous for supplying clipper ships to many countries, some still used in New Zealand and around Europe. The most notable ship built is the Cutty Sark, now a museum ship in Greenwich, London. The museum was very informative and interesting, but it is a waste since I heard from the tour guide that very few tourist visit Dumbarton and even fewer visit the museum. So if anyone decide to visit Dumbarton or the nearby Loch Lomond, this place is definitely recommended.
On the contrary, Dumbarton Castle was a total disappointment. To be honest, I do not really enjoy castles very much, but I still think some majestic castles like Edinburgh Castle, Eilean Donan Castle and Stirling Castle are worth visiting. Dumbarton Castle was built on a huge rock known as Dumbarton Rock facing the Clyde River. It was said that it is one of the oldest stronghold in Great Britain, so it has a long history dating back to the 5th century. That was as interesting as it gets! To make things worst, a huge part of the castle was closed for restoration and repair works, so the £3.60 was a total rip-off!
I traveled back to Glasgow from Dumbarton Central around noon.
That's it! I did return to Dumbarton a month later but that time was strictly for my research follow-up only. Even a short trip like that could turn out to be a crazy adventure to me. By the way, I would like to wish everyone
We survived the end of the world!!!


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