Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day Nine (Sort of) - Sunday: Heading Back Home

Woke up early to catch my flight. Take a shower, brush my teeth, and then finish the last packing.

Then, I went down to the kitchen, take out the box of Grace's spaghetti bolognese and heat it in the microwave. I tried to finish it as quick as possible, it would take me one and half hour to get to the airport.

The B&B owner woke up while I was eating in the living room and eventually see me off at the door. He is a kind, entertaining, and gracious host. I would definitely stay there when I went to London again.

The trip to the airport was uneventful, which was nice. Then I return the oyster card, the officer manning the booth recognise from the info on the card that I purchase the card from that very booth :) While I was in the queue, I noticed a family behind me thinking about buying a london map from the vending machine. So I open my backpack and offer them my London guide that I took from the office. I think they appreciate my gesture :)

The line was quite long for Qatar air, but the it move smoothly. The counter staff seems to initially mess up my ticket somehow and it took her a while to correct it. I think I waited there for like 20 minutes before she finish. By that time, she said I have to went into the terminal right away.

I went up the escalator, empty my water bottle, refilled it a bit with cold water from the water station, to ready myself for the security check. I misjudge the queue and it might have took me 15 minutes before I was cleared. I almost ran out of time to get to my gate and only have a bit of time to quickly browse through the crowded duty free shopping/waiting area. Unluckily my gate is at a far end of the terminal. I have to walk quickly and dash to the the gate. I only arrived at the gate for not more than 15 minutes before they open it for us to board the plane.

The plane had to wait like 30 minutes for it's turn to take off. Other than that it was a uneventful flight. Too bad that the movies in the flight entertainment system was the same as my previous flight. The food were still ok but not as good, since it was more of a snack meal.

When we arrived at Qatar airport, it was another 15 minutes for the security check. By the time I came through, there was literally no time to do anything else but went to the gate. I did not have to wait long for the shuttle bus to come and take us to the plane.

Once on the plane, a woman had asked me to move to swap seat so her brother can sit with her. It was another aisle seat but at the rim, so I did not mind. It was the decision that I would rather regret.

The flight was, again, uneventful. Except when it was time for the morning meal. They ran out of chicken pasta set so I have to settle for the beef musamun (a Thai food) instead. Had I not accept to change my seat, which was more toward the middle of the plane, I would have had the pasta... This is what I got for being nice to strangers :(.

The landing and the entry went smoothly. The taxi ride home was smooth, but I was horrified by the fare. It was about 300s baht excluding the 50 baht charge.

I arrived home safely in the morning, unpack, shower, and get back to my own routine.

Retrospect post will come later.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Day Eight - Saturday: Tower of London Redux, Seeing German Friend & Grace

Last night after we parted, CA send me a text to set a date to meet him for drink at a gay bar in Trafalgar square area. I was excited about this, since it will be another chance for me to cruise him :P

So today's plan was to visit St. Paul Cathedral, Tower of London, meet my German friend and dinner at Grace's. St. Paul was added to the trip after I was told by CA how gorgeous the view from the top dome was. I had checked the website and found that there will be almost 11 pounds entrance fees. I asked the B&B owner about this and he said it probably just the for top dome.

I finally arrive at the near by tube station. The surrounding area was nice, the public toilets was quite nice too :P

Needless to say I was appalled when I enter the cathedral that the entrance fee was for the whole deal. So I just glance around from the entrances for a little while before heading off to my next destination, the Tower of London.

I called Grace earlier asking where I can buy some English toffee, as my choice of souvenir for the office colleagues. She recommended Tower of London's souvenir shop for it. But when I actually saw the items, I was not happy. They were rather small paper packages with the pattern of London's 2 decks bus. So I decided to call B&B owner, asking him to buy some English toffee for me.

Then I went to the ticket booth, pay for my ticket, and went to the entrance. I was lucky that I was just in time for the Yeoman Warder tour.

The tour was both informative and very entertaining laced with the self-depreciated comedy that the British are known for. I am highly recommended the tour if you planned to visit the Tower.

The tour was not long, only about 30 minutes, it was free after all. It ended in the small chapel which hundred of bodies were buried underneath. I went on to take a look inside the white tower, the crown jewels, and the souvenir shop (of course :P).

I even went for the food in the canteen area. I made a horrible mistake of chosen salmon dish, without realizing it was a cold dish. I still have to try to finish it all, it was almost 10 pounds... Then I made up for that with a piece of chocolate cake. Which helps a bit.

My German friend then text me wanted to know when I could meet him. I gave him the time, about 1 hour so have a bit more time to see more of the tower. I finally ended up in the royal bedroom before it was time for me to leave.

I went to wait for my friend at Tower tube station. During that time I text B&B owner asking him how much the toffee was. His reply? It's free, a gift from him and his boyfriend :) I wait for about 20 minutes before my friend text me again which said that he had arrive near the Tower souvenir shop. I hurried back to the souvenir shop and found my friend waiting by his bike.

After chatting a bit, I told him that I have another appointment at my friend's house. He asked where that is, I told him, he said it would be near by on the bike, and off we went.

It was a nice change of pace to see London on a motorbike. We went to a park, it has a small park with toilet building near by. My friend informed me that it used to be very busy cruising spot until it was shutdown. We then proceed to the park, sitting on the bench and talk. I did not, however, commented on how his black shirt got cat hairs all over.

We catching up on things, talk about life and so on. It has been a really long times since we last saw each other. We talked for more than an hour and yet we kept on talking. Until it was almost time to meet Grace.

When the time came we walked back to the bike and he took me to the meeting spot, Shadwell tube station. It took her a since she arrived on foot which gave me some more time to talk with my German friend.

Grace finally arrive and I bid farewell to my friend. She lived not far away from the station. She live on the first floor of an apartment building. It has a large garden as well, which I think it's actually bigger than the apartment itself. I catch up with Grace a bit as well as her hubby. She then retreat to the kitchen to cook me dinner and sent me and the hubby to the garden table.

The meal was bolognese spaghetti with meatballs, broccoli, and mushroom. It was good, she even pack some as my breakfast :) It was almost 21:00 before we finish the meal. Soon after, Grace's hubby walked me back to the tube station to go back to the B&B.

Back at the B&B it was after 21:00, so I hurriedly take a shower, get dress in my best shirt, spray some cologne. Then I came downstairs and talk to the B&B a bit, thanking him about the gift and paid my fee since I will leave early in the morning.

Then CA text me to say that he won't be able to make it because his plan did not turn out the way he thought. That left me kinda bump, but with some thinking on my feet, I decided to offer for him to come visit me at the B&B instead. So I text him with that message, he did not reply. I wait for about 10 minutes before I decided to call him. He said he was in a far part of the city which would still took him quite a long time to reach me. He added that he did not wants to be out too late and forced to use taxi because they are very expensive.

To make it short, he did not come, and I lost my interest in going out by then. So I just hang out in the living room with the B&B owner and his boyfriend. The owner teased me that I whine and moan about not getting laid and yet I spend my last night in London, Saturday night no less, not going out.

In the end I hang out with them until around midnight then go back to my room, pack most of my stuff, take a shower and go to bed.