Monthly Archives: January 2009

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Back in Singapore, back to reality

For those who don’t yet, I am back from my dream trip. Three weeks in Istanbul, Santorini, Athens and London has done me a world of good. I have seen so many different things and met so many different people… it made me question my own life, and if there could be better things out there.

There are things I want to blog about, like self discoveries from this trip, but this may not be a good time… yet. I have 1000+ photos to upload and tens of blog posts to complete.

For now, I just want to say… hey, I am back. Half relieved to be back in familiar surrounding, though half my heart was left where I had the most fun last… for some reasons I dare not divulge here.

To all my friends in Singapore, I am looking forward to see you guys. And to my new friends from all over the world, hope you guys are enjoying yourself, and it was an honour to know you.

In the dining hall of Christ Church, Oxford, where the Dining Hall scenes in Harry Potter movies were shot. It was an absolutely moving experience to be here.

London Day 5 – Final Day in London, Transit in Istanbul and Back to Singapore

First thing first – I didn’t take anymore photos from this point on. For some reasons I was occupied with “some stuff” which I can’t blog about. But there weren’t much worth taking photos on.

The plan was for me to get to the airport on time, take the British Airway flight to Istanbul, stay in Attartuk International Airport for 11 (freaking) hours before boarding the Singapore Airlines flight back to Singapore.

A long trip was ahead. I was not sure what to feel.

The morning was spent packing up my mountain of dirty laundry, travel knick knacks and miscellaneous items and stuff everything into my backpack. After a final round checking my Facebook (yes, it can get addictive), I headed to the Tube and made my way to the airport.

The flight on British Airway was uneventful. Perhaps because it was my second last flight for the entire trip, I was pretty blase about it. Touching down in Istanbul brought back a nostalgia that was hard to place. I mean, I left the place only like a few days ago… about two weeks. Gosh, had it been that long already!

It was about 9 p.m. when I landed at Attartuk. My flight is at early morning the next day on SQ, so I spent time traipsing around the airport, having snacks at Burger King (placing my order was quite an experience) and sleeping on the airport chairs/floor (which was definitely an experience).

The night at the airport wasn’t that enjoyable, what with the constant interruption on my sleep. I was half expecting to be the only person to be spending the night there, but to my surprise I was accompanied by quite a number of travelers. However that did not lessen the sense of loneliness in me.

So it was with great relief that I boarded SQ plane, to be greeted with familiar faces and services and food. And some 14 hours later, I landed at Changi Airport.

It was with a great mix of emotion that I am back in Singapore. Part of me was relieved to be back to familiar surroundings and old routines. Yet another part of me was sad that my three weeks holiday came to an end. I am not sure if I will ever get to do that kind of trip again, what’s with my job and economic situation.

Perhaps I shall write in another post on this. But this was it! The end of my trip! :)

London Day 4 – St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London, Hairspray the Musical & Final Night in Soho

Happy New Year 2009! This was my last day in London, and I intended to visit a couple of places that I missed out in my first few days here, catch another musical and drink the night away!

St. Paul's Cathedral

A Cathedral dedicated to St Paul has overlooked the City of London since 604AD, a constant reminder to this great commercial centre of the importance of the spiritual side of life. The current Cathedral – the fourth to occupy this site – was designed by the court architect Sir Christopher Wren and built between 1675 and 1710 after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Its architectural and artistic importance reflect the determination of the five monarchs who oversaw its building that London’s leading church should be as beautiful and imposing as their private palaces.

The narrow staircase going down to Echo Wall

Visitors were not allowed to take photographs within St. Paul’s, so I have nothing but mere memories of how the place looked like, which was amazing! It was a huge church, with highly-arched domes in golden hues, and the mosaics made me speechless. While I was there, there was a service in session, so I got to see how one looked like. I also went up to the Echo Wall, a circular balcony above the main area of the church, where reputedly if you whisper to the wall, the person directly opposite you will be able to hear you. Too bad I was alone so can’t test out the claim, hehe.

View from St Paul's Cathedral

A very narrow staircase let me to the outside of the dome – I can’t remember the name. From here, I can see London sprawling in all directions. The clock towers chimed and chimed while I walked around the balcony.

After spending some more time at the cathedral, I left for Tower of London… which, to my dismay, was still closed! There went my final chance to visit the famous landmark of London. Disconsolately I went to the tourist shop to get some souveniers, and then off along River Thames to take some photos from the outside instead.

Tower of London

Tower of London

Tower of London

After some aimless wondering here, I decided to head back to Soho in search for my next musical. Walked around Piccadilly Circus a little, before heading into the famous HMV to enquire at the musical ticket counter. Found out that there was a screening of Hairspray that night! Immediately I got one of the better seats and was all set to see my all-time favorite movie, on stage!

Hairspray the Musical @ Shaftesbury Theatre, London

I have lots of time to kill while waiting for the show, so I went around first to scout for the theatre, which is located at the far end of Soho. After which, I went to shop for some shirts at Zara (the price was great!) before heading to a cozy looking shop for an early dinner.

Which was a great decision. The service was impeccable – a great waitress made all the difference. I ordered way too much – a huge rocket leaves salad, chunks of yummy stick, a dizzying dessert and a bottle of wine. It was one of the most satisfying dinner I ever had during the entire trip. Including a nice tip for the waitress, I spent about 50 pounds. No complaints.

Last Dinner in London @ Old Compton Street

Last Dinner in London @ Old Compton Street

Last Dinner in London @ Old Compton Street

Soon it was time for Hairspray! The musical itself was a blast, and I am definitely not the only one in the audience who knew the lyrics to all the song. The lead actress seemed a little tired I must say. But the character Link Larkin was absolute blast and a dashing actor to booth. Edna was a great hoot on stage. Towards the end of the play I was on my feet to sing and dance along with a couple of other guys who seem to know the songs as well as I do!

All in all, a great musical!

Hairspray the Musical @ Shaftesbury Theatre, London

High from the wonderful musical, I made my way to the main streets of Soho for a last night of pub-hopping. During my consumption of copious amount of London-beer (oh, how much I missed them!) I got to know two wonderful lads from Cornwall. Bernard and William were down in London for a holiday, and we spend some happy hours together trawling the streets of Soho until the wee hour of the morning.

Last Night at Soho

Last Night at Soho

You know what? The guys are actually musician! Bernard plays the cello and William fiddles on the violin a Cornwall-based string quartet name Orion IV. Guys, I missed you!

So it was almost 4 a.m. before I reached Liping’s house in Maida Vale. What an (almost) perfect end to my London trip. Click here for photos taken during my last day here.