Sunday, September 30, 2007

Backpacking in London, 7-10 Sept 2007

Not much adventure in London - no missed flights or busses :-)
Just a super-duper friendly & such a dah-ling host -Sharifah (my school fren) & her husband Hakim & their little one Damia. Sharifah was such a sweetie - she even let us cook while she was away at work. I didn't cook actually, Mscle did most of them, heheh..

Her house is in Barking, which is in Zone 4 & is two stations away from West Ham United's home, Upton Park. Too bad I didn't take any pix of that or dropped by at their stadium. Noooooo, I didn't have enough time to drop by at Wembley as well. I know Crazy Mary would...relieving the memory :-)

Canary Wharf & London city, 07/09/2007
Apparently, Sharifah forgot to leave her flat keys for us when going out to work - tak senonoh kan,host went out to work- visitors still slumbering. Actually, she did leave the keys, but accidentally took it back with her.

After much frantic searching around her house for the keys (& her house phone - Damia had been playing with it, so it was laying somewhere under the sofa), I had to call Sharifah

Off I went to Sharifah's office (Credit Suisse) at Canary Wharf- which is just 30 minutes from Barking (her house) by tube (& a change via Docklands Light Railway or DLR - which is like the LRT & costs GBP 1.80 only). It was already lunch hour by the time I reached there, so we walked around & Sharifah took pictures for me. A mat salleh offered to take a picture of us at the bridge, but somehow, it was not captured. What a bummer as it turned out that I didn't have a single picture together with Sharifah!!
The DLR (red elevated train) behind
Canary Wharf - the financial centre of London
Sharifah's office - Credit Suisse

Then we said our goodbyes, went back to Barking so that me & Mscle could go to the city together. Mscle already cooked lunch for us :-) yummy !!

We would meet up with my cousin, Nini at St Paul's tube station.
My cousin Nini
St Paul's cathedral

Nini brought us to the Tate Modern museum (FREE entrance) through the Millenium bridge. Then we walked along River Thames - such beautiful weather today- until we reached London bridge, then Tower bridge. Oh, Shakespeare's house is also by the river, and it was here I think, that Nini watched Les Miserables. She reckoned me to watch it as she said it was awesome & it sent her goosebumps. I did thought of catching a play whilst in London (& a rock gig of course! - how could you not?), but I couldn't get a gig which could fit into my dates - or if it could, it was sold out - like Prince's (which is very nearby to Barking at the O2 stadium) or The Police's. Anyway, about the play- I dunno why I didn't try to catch any- we even passed by Her Majesty's Theather at Oxford Street- which was playing Phantom of the Opera. Perhaps next time with Crazy Mary eh? Ok Faz? :-) Or even with my bro.
Tate Modern Museum

Shakespeare's house
River Thames
Millenium Bridge
London Bridge
Tower Bridge
Seafood Fair by the river Thames
Guitar replicas signed by Graham Coxon of Blur & Razorlight

Trafalgar Square - minus the pigeons
Her Majesty's Theatre - showing Phantom of the Opera

We spent the whole evening in the city until our legs couldn't take it anymore. We persuaded Nini to sleep over at Sharifah's house & she agreed since she's just finished her Masters & was free. Actually, she would be going back for good to M'sia on 20 Sept, so she was just spending her last few days in the UK with her best mates (& her cousin). Oh, of course she knew Sharifah. Nini' big sis, Rose, is Sharifah's best friend, and we were all in the same school - SMTTDI !! To tell you why Sharifah is such a darling- she called me asking me to come back to have dinner at home as she was cooking! I was really shy (at first,heheh), but she insisted we have dinner together. So Hakim cooked us a reaaaaally nice dish of grilled chicken that night. Yummy!! At midnite while we were chatting (luckily Hakim was already sleeping), the telly was showing The English Patient - and we were really shcoked by it- as it showed female full frontal nudity! Takde tapis punya! Terkezut (bak kata Ju, terkesima) sekejap...
Big Ben at night

Greenwich, 08/09/07

This is the place where the its longitude divides the world's time zone into 2 & is the point of reference for the Greenwich Meridian Time, GMT. It's also located by the River Thames (East London). You could see Canary Wharf from here, and if you take the river cruise from here, you could reach London city (at Tower bridge pier). So it's all connected by the river. It all started from this river. Although not in 'teh tarik' condition like Sg Kelang, it's not crystal clear either.

The GMT line
Loved Greenwich, with the sprawling green fields -felt like rolling on the grass ala hindustan movie- but prevented from doing so by the tought of dog poop. But frankly, I didn't see much poo poo here, compared to Barca or Paris or Pau.
Green fields of Greenwich
o2 stadium, North Greenwich

Damia's birthday bash, 09/09/07

Damia & proud parents - Sharifah & Hakim
Little Damia's 1st birthday is actually on 13th Sept, but since it would be the fasting month already, her parents brought it forward. We had the nice BBQ party at Sharifah's aunt's house, also in Barking as hers has a backyard. We spent the entire day for the party, but it was really jolly good fun meeting up with all Sharifah's friends (all Malaysians actually -except her babysitter- she's Bangladeshi). Aunty can join my mom as she loves watching tennis! She jut got back from M'sia the previous day, but would not miss Fed Ex (Roger Federer)!
My pasta heheh..& pechal & keropok
Damia's first chicken drumstick
I helped to cook pasta was really easy- use instant sauce :-) The kids were really adorable - Meisha, Haziq & especially Asmaria @ "Lilo". Lilo is just so selamba & kepochi- when Damia was trying to blow the candles, she blew them off first, she was also the one tearing the wrappers off Damia's presents when it was time to open the presents. So cute ! Meisha & Haziq speak wtih an English accent! 5-year-old Meisha was particularly chatty - I remember one vividly - quote: "These are from Mothercare" - showing her clothes ensemble - a little fashionista !
Asmaria @ Lilo
Meisha & Lilo sayang Damia

Meisha sayang Damia

Shiny happy people

Oxford Street, 10/09/07

Our last day in London, and in the UK. We went separately first, as Mscle had to do some "serious shopping" at Oxford Street, while I still had more places to cover for picture taking. I just wandered around, starting at Leicester Square, walked a bit, then ended up at Downing Street without realising :-). Couldn't find #10 though..hmmm..

Downing Street
Then I walked some more - Westminster Abbey, Big Ben & The London Eye. Then took the tube to Hyde Park - beautiful flowers ! But there's no speakers today at Speaker's corner- not a speaker's day apparently. Took the tube again to Picadilly Circus. Had to find HMV/Virgin Megastore as I needed to find Crazy Mary's Muse DVDs & Debbie's Muse posters. Ahh..luckily found them here - Muse Absolution Tour @ Glastonbury for GBP 10 & Deb's poster for GBP 4. Not bad.. Oh, and I should mention here, they were having sale- 2CDs for GBP 10 + 5th CD = GBP 4. So I got myself 5 CDs :-) Can't help it hehe..(Actually I bought those CDs from Virgin Edinburgh).. But DVD & poster were from here.
Westminster Abbey
Big Ben
The Eye

Hyde Park

Waterloo station: Reminds me of the song "Waterloo sunset" by The Kinks

Bakerloo line
Eros statue at Picadilly Circus
Since Mscle had already finished her shopping, off I went by tube again to Oxford Circus - and I saw more HMVs & Virgins..spent another hour there! Coincidentally, KT Tunstall was releasing her 2nd album - "Drastic Fantastic" on the very same day, & she made an appearance at HMV Oxford Street. She performed 3 songs live - quite good actually - I'll check them out later! I got her performance recorded - she's hidden by the people in front of me though- I came when it was already crowded.
Oxford street
We then head to Baker Street in search of the Central London Mosque - not that hard to find. Along the way, we saw Sherlock Holme's house, so we took some pictures. After prayers, we went to Harrods, but was there for a bit only- it was already closing at 8pm! Mscle got her sis a Harrods shopping bag, while I got nought. They were so exorbitantly priced!!!!!!!!! Didn't really need any of them, except for bragging rights :-) Anyway, we did take pictures outside Harrod's. Since it was our last day, we decided to dine out & wanted to taste real English fish & chips (as though we can't find fish & chips in M'sia LOL! ) Unfortunately, we couldn't find any decently priced F&C as we were in a posh area.
Sherlock Holmes' house @ Baker Street
London Central Mosque
Since we were very thirsty, we popped into Harrod's cafe (it closes later, at 9pm) and had some drinks. Thai & Malay food were sold there! Fish kari asam, I think - was sold at GBP 4 per serving, but it's just the dish, minus the rice/bread. No, we didn't try it. Since we couldn't find any F&C to our liking, we went back to Barking, still searching for it. But most of the shops still opened were Asian, so only the Indian dish variety were available. One did have F&C (Turkish shop I think), but since there were no other customers, and it was past 10pm, we skipped it. We ended up cooking dinner at Sharifah's place- mee "Hong Kong" cincai heheh...
Barking at night
Back to M'sia the following day, we woke up early at 5am for the morning flight (9.30am). We took the Kelana Convoy airport transfer & paid GBP20/person (not too bad) considering the distance (from East, through central London, to Heathrow in the West). It took us about 1.5 hours as it was morning rush hour as well. We passed by the posh area of Chelsea-where ordinary looking houses could fetch a whopping GBP 1 million! Wow, that's RM 7 million! So, that's the end of our adventure. Until the next edition !



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