The Cosmopolitan in the Cosmopolitan city!

Trip Start Dec 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Friday, December 9, 2005

I woke up at 8am... I had slept for 10hrs! Goodness gracious. I ate my breakfast & went to shower. While waiting for aunty Prema & aunty Tracy to shower, I went online to check my mail. I received a shock when I opened my yahoo mail. I had 45 new emails, & I only cleared my emails just 4 days ago in Merseyside! I also checked my NUS email... & got the dreaded news that my results will be out on the 21st! But here I was having the time of my life... & couldn't give a hoot about something so trivial! lol! Anyway, I went to read the papers to get yesterday's Champions League results. My prescient predictions came true as Man Utd got knocked out of the group phase! But little did I expect them not to even qualify for the UEFA cup!! Fergie better start counting down to his demise from Old Trafford... At last!!

We left Nelly's house at about 1045hrs. She walked us to the rail station at Ashford. We bought the single day pass, which meant that we had unlimited rides on the rail, tube & bus... which was 6 quid! We alighted at London's Waterloo station. It was a 40 min journey. Waterloo is the central & most important station in London & its from here that you can connect to the many different tube lines.

Our 1st stop for the day was the ever popular "London Eye"... the famous Ferris wheel that gives you an excellent view of the skyline as well as a panoramic view of the cosmopolitan city. Of course, the ticket didn't come cheap,( tink u shdn't surprised by the sky high ticket prices after reading the past 7 days of my memoirs!) it cost us 12 quid each. But you'd be a fool to pass on this excellent opportunity to see London from a bird's eye view.( Btw, S'pore has COPIED London's idea of the London Eye... Its gona be called, the S'pore Flyer... & expected to be ready in 2008 at Marina! Talk abt originality!). The weather was very cloudy & cold. The temperature was 4 degrees Celsius, according to the weather forecast. After waiting patiently in the queue, under the unforgiving weather, we got onto one of the 'capsules' on the London Eye. The capsule was huge & there were 12 of us inside it. The capsule moved slowly, thus we had excellent views of Big Ben, Westminster, St Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, St James's Park & the ever famous river Thames! The highlight of the 30 mins ride, without a question of doubt was when we were at the top of the wheel, where I had a magnificent view of the whole of central London. On our way down, we were told to smile at the camera's which were placed on the circumference of the London Eye, & it would snap a pic of us, which we could later purchase at the exit. After exiting the capsule, we went to the counter to see our pic. It was quite good so we decided to get one. We paid 10 quid for a photo, a key chain with our pic & a fridge magnet which also had our pic on it! What an ingenious way of doing business.

We then walked along river Thames towards Big Ben. It was colossal & filled with grandeur, underpinning why Big Ben is a Brit icon for centuries! Incredibly, even surviving the German Blitzkrieg during WW2... which embodies the indomitable spirit of the people of London. We also passed Westminster, where the British parliament & the House Of Commons hold court & was tightly guarded by the Bobbies. We walked over to Westminster Abbey, where we paid 6 quid for the entrance fees.( Nothing & I MEAN absolutely nothing is free in London... including the church!). Westminster Abbey was extremely grand. Traditionally, its also the place where Coronation takes place. It also has many tombs of famous English Kings, Queens, Lords & even literary figures like William Wordsworth & Jane Austen. The chapel which conducts services daily was breathtaking. The last time I saw the Abbey so grand was during Princess Diana's funeral. We also went to the museum where there was a detailed history of the monarchy as well as life sized effigies... even the infamous Henry VIII & his 6 wives!! I also saw one of my favorite icons, Lord Horatio Nelson... the famous Admiral (Lord Nelson had only 1 eye & 1 arm!) who battled victoriously at Traffalgar... including his famous quote, "Its either victory or Westminster for me." Unfortunately no photography was permitted inside Westminster. We then visited the chapel where we lighted a candle & said a little prayer.

Next up was Buckingham Palace. We left the impressive Abbey & walked along St James's Park towards Buckingham Palace. It was very cold, but the trees in the park were beautiful, especially the orange hued trees. There were so many squirrel, pigeons & ducks roaming in the park. I took a serene stroll along one of the most famous parks in London ( London has the most no. of public parks compared to any other city in the whole world! Impressive eh!). Buckingham Palace doesn't allow visitors inside during this time of the year. so we took the pics from outside its majestic gates. Sadly, there was no changing of the guards on Thurs... only on Mon, Wed, & Fri at 1130 am. There were so many tourists around Buckingham Palace & everyone were jostling with each other to catch a glimpse of the World's most famous palace.

We then walked back along St James's park to take the tube to Piccadilly Circus. The tube was quite crowded, but we managed to get a seat & there was an absolutely gorgeous Indian gal sitting right in front of me! Petite & fair skinned, with jet black long straight hair! Just my type of Indian gal! Aunty Tracy said she was checking me out, by her furtive glances at me... but she didn't know that I had my sights on that sweet little thing the moment I got onto the tube!! Couldn't deprive my roaming sniper eyes, could I mate? lol!( have to thank SAF for training me so well as a sniper!). I don't know why time seems to travel so fast in such situations... as it was Piccadilly Station & it was time to disembark! only when I got off the tube did I awaken from my fairly tale dream & realized that I didn't even chat her up or God forbid, ask her for her no.!! & once again I was left to rue my wasted opportunity... haiz! ANYWAY, we went to the famous Piccadilly Circus( I hope u realize that I wasn't actually going to a circus, to watch clowns & animals!!) so famous that I heard about it when I was 6 years old( In monopoly, remember the yellow colored spaces on the board!). Piccadilly was buzzing with excitement & activities... & I also saw the ever famous giant billboard screen in front of me. London's famous West End is also located there too( Go shoot urself if u've not heard about London's West End!! I'm dead serious about that mate!). Moreover, if u didn't already know, London's West End is the most expensive place in the world to do business in! That might mean nothing to you... but to put it in perspective... S'pore is in 77th place!!( & everyone seems to be bitching abt S'pore being such an expensive place to live & work in! Smthing to chew on maybe... hmmn).

There were so many theatre's as well as agents selling tickets for all the various plays & musicals. Aunty Prema insisted that I should watch the ever famous musical, Phantom of the Opera, by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Since Aunty Prema & Aunty Tracy had watched it when they visited London a few years ago, she bought me a ticket for the matinee on Tuesday. My seat was in the middle tier & that was already 38 quid! Those in the front tier was selling for more than 60 quid while circle seats were cheaper at 25 quid. I'm already looking forward to my "initiation" into the rich Brit culture of theatres & musicals! I mean what's a trip to London without a visit to West End & what's a visit to West End without watching one of the greatest classics of all time, Phantom of the Opera!

It was time for dinner already, & we decided to go to a Thai restaurant, since our palates were in need of spicy food! Being in central London, it goes without saying that everything is so costly. We ordered a bowl of rice & that was already 2 quid! S$6 for a bowl of rice... oh puh lease!! that's ludicrous. We ordered a starter, vegetable, chicken wings, chicken curry & Thai noodles & the bill came up to 50 quid! But I've got to admit that it was a really delicious meal, & aunty Prema was reluctant to leave the restaurant & face the icy cold weather. After dinner, we walked along Traffalgar Square, & caught a glimpse of the famous fountain that was the venue for countless celebrations whenever England achieved a sporting triumph. Since we were leaving or Paris tomorrow, aunty Prema suggested that we head back home, as we had to get up early & catch the Eurostar. I wanted to visit Notting Hill & Covent Garden, but she assured me that we could go there on Sun or Mon.

As we were walking down West End, Aunty Tracy saw the theatre which was screening Mamma Mia, the popular musical with songs from the famous pop group ABBA! One of the previous ticket agents we saw was selling the tickets for 62 quid! That was bloody expensive! so we went directly to the theatre to enquire about the tickets. Here it was only 25 quid for a middle tier seat, so aunty Prema booked 3 tickets for Monday night's performance. Gee!! I'm gona watch 2 top class musicals in West End for 2 consecutive days! Well, what can I say... I'm extremely elated as I take a giant leap towards achieving my goal of becoming part of an aristocracy!

As we were walking along Leceister Square, I had a pleasant surprise. It was the London premiere of the movie 'King Kong' & the red carpet was laid out. There was a limousine parked near the red carpet & guess who was inside?? It was Naomi Watts!!! Oh my God!! She was in the limo with her mum( I tink). Naomi was so pretty! Porcelain skinned & resplendent in her blue gown. The English actress certainly didn't look her age!( she's 37!!). There was a big crowd around the limo & being a S'porean, how could I miss out on the action... What if there's a clearance sale or free gift rite!! lol!! I also joined the crowd & caught sight of her face to face!! It was like "a deer starring into the headlights" moment for me! I was spellbound that I forgot to take a pic of her! Absolute Bollocks!! Mick Jagger's former wife, Jerry Hall was there with her daughters too! Quite simply, it was a star studded night & my 1st experience at being up, close & personal with some of these famous & not to mention gorgeous looking "A" list celebrities! Wow! I love London!

It was getting late, & I was jolted back to reality by aunty Prema, as we had to take the tube to Waterloo. Once we reached Waterloo, we joined hundreds of passengers in starring at huge TV screens to see which platform our trains will be coming on! Once the platform was flashed on the screen, everyone was running towards the platform, reminiscent of what happens in S'pore when the train doors open! While we were travelling on the train, there was an announcement that due to some signal failure, the train wouldn't be stopping at Twickenham & Clapham Junction. Hence passengers had to alight at the next station, Putney & take a bus to those affected stations( can't imagine the brouhaha & bitching that will follow if this was S'pore!). Surprisingly, most of the passengers were quite calm, as such occurrence are supposedly quite common on the tube. Luckily for us, our stop at Ashford wasn't affected! Nelly picked us up from the station & drove us back in her car. We were thankful that we didn't have to walk in the freezing cold! Once we reached home, there was only I thing to do... jump straight into bed!! & it was only 2130 hrs! lol!

Today also happens to be John Lennon's 25th death anniversary, since he was gunned down by estranged fan Mark Chapman in 1980. Since the Beatles were from Liverpool, there was a huge ceremony in Merseyside to remember one of the greatest & most talented musicians that ever lived. Thousands of white ballons were released to pay tribure to one of Liverpool's most famous son. It's only befitting that I end my entry with a tribute to John Lennon, who famously sang about "living life in peace" in the classic, 'Imagine'.

"Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one." - John Lennon

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon
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