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Friday, December 29, 2006

Destination Emirates Day Two: Big City Lights

Woke up at 6.30 in the morning the following day. I was half-awake when Kumar finally arrived at God knows what time. Seemed that his flight, which was scheduled at 11 was delayed for a couple of hours due to engine failure. Engine failure? Man, that's scary.
Hit the showers where hot water never felt better in the world. Went to breakfast downstairs at the hotel. We were scheduled to have breakfast here every day for the duration of the trip. It was served buffet style. The eggs were nice and hot but the pancakes sucked big time. Macam lempeng keras. My Tok Chik makes better lempeng.

Assembled at the lobby at 8.30am to go for our half-day tour of London. They hired a minivan where we were accompanied by a local English tourist guide named....entah forgot her name. No sign of the Japanese tour guide who greeted us yesterday.

It was a typical tour. I guess in one way, that's why I hate guided tours. They're soooo fast? It's like you're rushing to go everywhere.

Okay, guys...we need to be moving on now.
*Snap* *Snap*
One more shot!


So it was kinda like a whirlwind affair. One minute you're at the Big Ben, next minute we're cruising past the Tower Bridge. But the thing I kinda enjoyed is the information given by the guide. At least this Seremban boy learned something.

And we were lucky to get the chance to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. And the place was filled with tourists, mostly Japanese. One thing I noticed is that young hip Japanese loves to come here (London, not Buckingham Palace). They're all over the place. But Buckingham Palace being the tourist spot that it is, was mostly occupied with older Japs and their families.

One thing that caught my eye were the pillars around the palace with names of countries on them. One in particular had 'Malay States' written on them. I asked the guide why they had these pillars and she told me it was donated by the Commonwealth countries to show respect for the Queen. Each one was written with the donor country's name on it. There was Australia, Canada and the such. So since it wrote Malay States, I could only assume this was manufactured during the pre-Merdeka days. Wahh...the buggers ploughed this country for its tin and rubber and sent this piece of rock to England? No wonder the Malayans got mad.

From Buckingham, we made our way to Baker Street for lunch. It was at this place called The Globe where once again I had fish while the others chowed down more red bloody meat. 4 days to go. 4 days to go.

Baker Street is home to the great Sherlock Holmes and his statue stood tall just across the street from The Globe. And also situated across the street, a few buildings away is Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. This was our program for the afternoon. I wasn't really keen to go to Madame Tussaud's but since this was on Toyota, ahhhh what the heck. When you think about it, we're just visiting a museum full of mannequins, wax or not. But that doesn't mean I didn't have fun because it was snapping pictures all the way. From the cool dudes of Pulp Fiction to Saddam Hussein to the great Muhammad Ali you got almost every icon covered. Oh yeah even Hitler.

In all honesty, I had a blast at Madame Tussaud's. The Aardman Animation show at the end really topped it off. I had loads of fun getting pics with celebrities I know I'll never meet. Great fun.

Dinner that night was at Mawar Restaurant, a famous Malaysian eatery at Edgware Road. There were lots of Malaysians here, probably here to cure the craving for your basic nasi berlauk. Finally, some meat for me! It's as if I've been away for so long already whereas it's just two days without meat. Me big carnivore! Need red meat! We had some nice sambal sotong and cucur udang for starters. Cucur udang in London man! How cool is that?

After filling up ourselves with our basic Malaysian needs, made our way back to the hotel. Even though it's been a long day, but heck I'm on vacation man! I can sleep all day all night when I come home. The thing I love about our hotel is its close proximity to Oxford Street. I like to refer to it as 'belakang Debenhams aje'.

When we took the van to the hotel, I kinda studied the route and thought that the hotel was quite a walk from the Oxford Street shops. But upon close inspection, it felt far because the streets were mostly one-way for traffic. When you're walking, it's hardly 5 minutes away. And that really got me going.

It was the Christmas shopping season and we were damn lucky to be there. Even though cheap sales starts after Christmas, the shops were open for longer hours this time of the season. And the people? It was hustle and bustle all along the street. There were people everywhere. Even Malaysians. Let me re quote: especially Malaysians because so far every place I've been to there's a Malaysian around as well. Kg. Baru London ke ni? Since it was only the second night, spent the evening crawling the shops along the street: Selfridges, M&S, Debenhams and countless others I can hardly recall here. By 10, the shops were closing and my eyes were failing so went back to recharge for another busy day tomorrow.

Remember the list of 101 thing to do in London? A quick recap of the day:

1. Visit the Big Ben.
2. Photograph the Thames River.
11. Visit the Buckingham Palace.
12. Experience the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
13. Hike up the geometric staircase at a St. Paul's Cathedral tour. setengah markah for this one coz I didn't make it into the Cathedral, but I stil went there...kira lah kira lahh..
42. Check out the wax sculptures at the Madame Tussaud's museum.
50. Set your sights on the beautiful architecture at Westminster Abbey.
62. See where the Mayor of London lives: City Hall.

This weird looking thing is City Hall.

8 and a half points for the first day. Not bad eh?

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