Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day Seven - Friday: Camden Market, British Museum, Dinner with CA & Co.

Morning repeats.

Still unable to find the right souvenirs, I consult the B&B owner. He suggested that I should went to Camden Market. He said it is an interesting market place and lots to see. So I did went and was not disappointed.

It reminded me of Chathuchak market in Bangkok, though Camden Market is lot more open and spread out over the blocks. There were some area that sell clothes, which looks curiously similar to those that sell in MBK. There were also many shops that sell marijuana paraphernalia. Many of which display them in the front area, before the more common souvenir like key chains :P

There is a souvenir cart shop just across the street from the tube station. After scouting several places, this shop have the cheapest price. I mulled over whether I should buy the key chains for all the Thai staffs in my office or not. Though it was not That expensive, they still looks rather touristy and not that interesting. In the end I only buy one for the office maid and a few for myself and my mom.

There were also a few boots shop that Ursula would love to get (she confirmed this since I already emailed her the photos ;)

Then I walked to the perhaps the main market area which used to be stable building. There were quite a few cloth shops, craft shops, even Goth-Loli cloth shop, none of which really caught my eyes.

There were also some open space area along the river. There was also a water gate which the ferry must use.

There was this one shop that sell cyberpunk style stuffs that looks great. Even the staff seems to be genuine punks themselves. The clothes are cyberpunk style while the whole shop was flooded with black-light. There was one shirts that I was quite fond of but at about 25 pounds... It was too expensive for me.

There were several food stalls, few of which were Chinese style noodle and various sauce toppings to choose from. The noodle was chicken noodle, which I guess it was similar taste to the fried chicken leg sticks. I choose seafood sauce topping which seems to have fake squid and shrimp. It was slightly awkward eating with the plastic forks but I managed.

One of the main building was a horse stable. Come to think of it... I think the whole area used to be horse stable.

There was also one stall that sell authentic English toffee. Too bad that they did not offer any samples... Otherwise I might have bought some.

There was an area with beautiful carvings. The details were amazing

After having enough of walking around, I hop on the tube to Tottenham Court station again to do another GPS scouting. I also went to British Museum again and found a section that I missed the last times. And here are what I have found :)

Then I went back to the B&B to clean up and get ready to meet CA. We meet at a gay bar in Old Compton Street. The place was packed and people were standing everywhere with drinks in their hands. We meet and chat for a while until his friends arrived.

After a perhaps half an hour we went to have dinner. CA took us to a Chinese restaurant that he said it's better quality. His friend was a Malaysian (I think), so he give the order in Chinese which I think is a good thing. The food were good but during the dinner I felt a pang in my gut. I am still not sure what caused it, perhaps it was my lunch at Camden Market... It did not go away until I get back to the B&B...

We chat quite animatedly at the dinner table. I think it went well :) Then we left the restaurant, his friends have other places. CA and I went to the tube station. We hug and parted, with a little attempt to get him back to the B&B :P. That did not works, too bad for me :p.

Before I went to bed, I start to pack a bit as it is almost at the end of my trip. Now I know that I will probably be back again.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day Six - Thursday: Harrod, Hyde Park, A Date :), and The Eagle

The morning repeats so that's just it.

I am toward my end of the trip so I began to think about souvenir. Since Harrod is already on my list of places to visit, I thought it's the best times to go. After getting general direction from the B&B owner, I was off.

Getting to Harrod was not that difficult, the shopping mall itself was not quite what I expected. The first thing that happen when I stepped into the door was the guard told me to carried my backpack in my hand so I would not accidentally knock things over. The only place that looks interesting was the first floor with the Egyptian room and escalator. The whole place feels low ceilings and a bit stuffy somehow... Quite a few area was being renovated and the whole place just looks... again low ceiling. The menrooms are nice :P There were plastic cups to drink water with as well as a room's staff to... manage the place I suppose, like in the old days.

Here are some of the photos of the things I like from what I saw in Harrod :)
There was a Harrod souvenir section. I browse around quite a bit but found that most of the items are rather expensive.

In the toy department, they were selling fake snow. By add water the white dust just absorb them all in seconds and puffed out. It seems to expands ten folds. The end results were white fluff that's cool to touch and I think it even draw moisture from the surroundings. It even reusable, the demontrator said that it will shrink back to the original state in two weeks. But at about 15 pounds a box... I did not buy it :P

After spending some hours in the shopping, I looks that my map and found that Harrod is very close to Hyde Park so I decide to go there next.

However, there was a big construction nearby which blocked the path to the park from my view. I was lost for perhaps a good hour looking for it. Eventually I found the way but not before I became quite hungry and decided to enter a chain Italian restaurant called 'Spaghetti House' for late lunch. I was undecided between a few menu but decided on Devon crab pasta dish (cost me almost 11 pounds). It was quite nice, although I almost ruined it by adding too much olive oil :P
After the meal I crossed the road and walked to Hyde Park. It was interesting that the park has no official fence, just huge trees lining the grass area and dirt paths. The park was huge and I think I only explore just a small part of it.

I was surprise that there are quite a lot of people in swimsuit sunning themselves in the park. That's never happen in Bangkok :P I was also able to sneak a photos of a hunk playing football shirtless with his friend ;P

There was a big lake with flocks of geese and ducks. There was also a seagull as well. I was very surprised when I hear seagull in the park. I looked up and there it was, a seagull hovering over the lake. Too bad that my camera was in my backpack at the time so no photo of it.
I also did the sensible thing to do in the park in UK: sitting down on the grass and read Mary Poppins in the Park :D
There was a huge tree with large canopy that grew down to the ground. It looks quite secluded inside and I am sure it had seen of a lot of actions over the years :P
I must say I was really impressed with the park. It was huge, lots of huge trees and wide open space. There is similar place in Bangkok, but it is far away from my home.

Then I return to the B&B and wait for the time to see my date of the day :P He is a Spanish guy living in London. After I meet him at the tube station, I take him back to the B&B ;)

After a nice time together, we parted, cleaned up and wait for the time to go to 'The Eagle' the club suggested by the B&B.

The club was in Vauxhall area and it was about 15 minutes walk from the B&B. The club was, to put it frankly, pretty much dead. It seems that it has only about 30 people or less that night. I finally went home after 1am.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Day Five - Wednesday: Tower Bridge, Tower of London, King's Cross station, XXL

The morning repeat itself, so not much to talk about.

I decided to see Tower of London so I plot my route and off I went. I got off at London Bridge station so I could walked over the Tower Bridge and to Tower of London.

I walked along side the river and came across a modern building with interesting modern art in the center of the building.

I totally forgot the name of this place... It was in one of the brochure I put away somewhere... Anyway, there was a PriceWaterHouseCooper office in the building. I was wondering if Grace's hubby works there (turns out he wasn't). There was also a Boots shop (the personal care shop not shoes :P). I went inside, found and contemplate whether I should buy a bottle of lavender shower gel. I eventually decide against it. It was rather expensive and I just started my trip of the day anyway.

Further toward the Tower bridge, there were some modern office buildings and public park.

Which to me, looks like a stark contrast to the Tower.

So after some more walks I finally arrive at Tower Bridge.

There was a small muesum near the tower about something... I totally forgot about it now but they have souvenir shop...

When I finally arrive the Tower, I walked along the side (it was quite a long walk) pass the souvenir store, the food stall, and finally to the ticket booths.

I was not happy that it would cost me 16.50 pounds to get in... Plus I noticed that there will be special events to demonstrate the seize of the Tower in the weekends. So I decided come back on Saturday instead, just to make my money worthwhile :P After eating fish & chips for the second times in London, I walked to Tower tube station to go to Greenwich area, as suggested by the B&B owner.

As I was walking toward there, I passed a small church.

I also help a fellow tourist, from S. Korea, to find Tower tube station. I also rest a bit in the park near the exit of the station.

It was a long walk through Tower station toward the new tube line. I got on the train only to jump off the very next station when I saw ticket checker coming towards me. My plan was to only check out the station while not actually leaving it. I panicked, hopped off the train when it reach the first station and got back to tower station, thinking that the ticket checker might actually charge my card.

I also stop by King's Cross station where I heard that there was a new addition to celebrate UK's more recent icon 'Harry Potter'. It came in the shape of pushing cart disappearing into the wall of platform 9 3/4 :)

By that time I was quite worn out by the whole experiences. The unusual sunlight cycle, the foods, the walks... Plus I wants to catch up on posting as well (see the first London post). So I spent a relaxing late afternoon and evening lounging around the living room, have dinner and contemplating the merit of buying a tour to Stonehenge and Bath.

The tour was quite costly, the cheapest one cost at 45 pounds. Plus the pick up time in the wee morning which do not bode well with my plan of going to XXL club (recommended by the B&B owner as the place only open on Wednesday and Saturday night).

Since the clubs usually get busy around midnight, I discuss the night bus I need to take back to the B&B with the owner because the tube close at midnight. He drew me a map leading to XXL and the number of the bus back to the B&B.

Even with the map, it took me quite sometime to find the club. But I found it eventually.

The club, XXL, is a bear club but not exclusive. I paid my entrance, went in, and check my jacket.

XXL was not big, although I was told that there were three dance floor, only one open on Wednesday night. There were quite a number of people there already. The club can be divided roughly into three sections: the smoking/socializing area outside, the bar/lounging area after the entrance, and the dance floor + *back room* area. I must say that I am still quite surprise of how *open* these people were. While the whole area was poorly lit, it was not completely dark, yet people just having sex out in the open with others look on. The crowds were mostly comprise of bear and chubs guy, there was a few nicely built guys too but they were not interested in me :pp I hang around until about 1am when I decided to leave. There were quite a lot of action in the back room but I did not get the attentions from the guys I wants so...

It took me a while to walk to the bus stop and wait about 20 minutes before the bus arrive. There was, however, a drunk couple sitting near by making out. By the looks of it, I suspected that they were *penetrating* :p The bus arrive on time and I got off at the right stop and got back alright.

I go to bed right after I showered and freshen up.