Thursday, December 27, 2007
- The following journal on the trip may seem lengthy because of all my ramblings here and there; but it’s worth a read. The thing that I fear the most is forgetting everything I’ve remembered. Out of that paranoia, I keep a journal of the most memorable moments in my life. In case I am diagnosed with dementia at some point in my life (being paranoid again), I still have all my memories penned down. Alright, alright, before I get diverted again, let’s start the recollections of the journey.
- Flight on 14/11/06 at 11 a.m. from KLIA – reached Heathrow London airport at 5.00 p.m. The meals served during the flight was absolutely delicious. Had the best ever satay in my entire life; the peanut sauce was perfect!
- Alfred made some arrangements to rent a car to drive down to Cardiff.
- Stayed a night in London. A nice apartment with a kitchenette.
- Went to a Northern Indian restaurant for dinner. The food was fantastic- had spinach with cheese, some vegetable curry- forgot the name of the dish – all I remembered was that the food was really tasty. Couldn’t finish the meal – tapau for tomorrow’s breakfast.
- Headed to the apartment and had a good night sleep.
- Got up early the next day. Alfred went to pick the car and I made some simple breakfast (not that I made it anyway, just heated up last night’s food), but it was darn good, even if it was left-over.
- It was a cold sunny morning, at least the combination that I could wish for, not cold without any sunshine (that’d be dreadful).
- It was a nice hired car we got, a Volkswagen. The plan for the day was to drive down to Cardiff to see his sister, Sharleen and stay a night there.
- On the way, we stopped at Windsor Castle and had a fantastic walk down the town. It was a beautiful day, all that I could remember. People on bikes, family with children, just strolling along the park; they are all so happy.
- Commentary: Windsor Castle – off London – the Queen visits every weekend; some parts of the castle caught fire; it was renovated then; it’s a big castle.
- Just walked along the road and admired the view along the way. Took some pictures, didn’t go inside the castle though, the reason being, it was boring to spend our time looking at some prehistoric building on my first day in the UK.
- We bought some ice-cream in Ben & Jerry’s. It was so good!
- We continued our journey heading towards Bath, a tourist attraction town known for its hot springs and the Roman Baths. Commentary: It was a Roman city with the original Roman baths and remains. Bath has been home to historic writers such as Jane Austen.
- It was a beautiful drive to Bath. Views along the way are magnificent with beautiful cliffs.
- We had some trouble to find the way to famous tourist spots in the town. Well, it was more because of my incapability of reading the map, or rather was stressed out looking at the map; and it is such an elaborate map; not that it’s not good, but I had to take a long time to find the streets, in which the printing is darn small; and I get confused with all the names of the streets! I was darn stressed in the car for being such a bad navigator. This is compounded by my ‘failing’ memory; I keep forgetting the names of the places, which is darn confusing, being my first time there. I felt like the stupidest person on earth.
Spies! (with Pink Panther music in the background)
- We drove around the town and had our lunch there. We had pork stew and vegetable lasagna, it was darn big serving, and we had to struggle to finish our meals. The food was good!
- After our lunch, we took a walk along the park. It was darn windy, and was such a lovely day with a beautiful park. Along the park, there is a pond of ducks and swans. As usual, I got excited and took lots of pictures there.
- We headed towards Cardiff to see his sister. It was already evening by the time we reached Cardiff. Met up with his sister and went to Tesco to do some shopping. Went to dine in a restaurant (can’t remember which restaurant), with a nice ambience near the dock. It was darn windy that night, and I enjoyed our walk to the restaurant. The food was good, but I couldn’t eat much, especially since my stomach was blotted due to constipation.
Alfred and Sharlene
- Boarded the 6.50 a.m. flight to Edinburgh.
- Had our breakfast at Costa; I enjoyed the sandwich; Alfred managed to find a fantastic car for our drive in Scotland.
- Started our journey to Stirling. On the way, Alfred showed me Schlumberger’s training ground in Livingston and we went to the office to enquire about the accommodation during the training.
- Headed off towards Stirling.
- We managed to find our way to Stirling (with occasional stops to read the map, hehe).
- I was feeling nauseous along the way; the drive and the weather didn’t help though. And looking at the map to find directions drove me even dizzier and nauseous. Stopped by a bed & breakfast (B&B) place and put up a night there. The hostesses were very friendly; I think I still remember his name, Tom.
- So, had a good nap and by the time I woke up it was almost dinner time. I got up in the middle to have some snacks; I was starving. I get darn hungry so fast during the entire vacation.
- We went for dinner in a nice cozy restaurant, it felt like home. The food was good (a little bit salty though) but I couldn’t eat coz’ I was still feeling sick. Ordered vegetable soup and haggis-filled pasta. Alfred had shrimp and chicken. I forced myself to eat despite feeling nauseous. I was hungry but couldn’t eat.
- We drove up to Stirling castle that night and the view from the top was glorious. But it was too cold, and we had to get back to the car. Unfortunately, we forgot to take some pictures of the castle. I guess I was too tensed up till I forgot to bring my camera, huhu.
- Drove around Stirling town; nothing much to see, really; except for the castle and the William Wallace monument.
- Alfred was looking forward to go to the castle and especially the monument the next morning. Nite nite.
- The next morning - breakfast was superb, being my first time there and enjoying the typical Scottish breakfast; cereals, some fantastic prunes to go with the cereals, scrambled eggs, sausages, tomatoes, toasts, fresh juice, and a good cup of tea.
- We packed and left that morning; headed towards northern parts of Scotland. On the way, stopped over to visit the William Wallace monument. Commentary: The 1995 Mel Gibson film Braveheart is based on the story of Sir William Wallace. Unfortunately, it was raining that morning and we had to cancel the plan. However, we managed to stopover and take some good pictures.
- As we drove away from Stirling (I’d say a boring town, with nothing much to see except the castle and the monument), I felt relieved, don’t know for what reason.
- The views along the way were superb, with farms stretching from one end to the other. I was savoring every moment; the beautiful colors of the leaves, trees standing majestically, some sparse, some with golden leaves, some with leaves just turning into gold, and some still retaining its leafy green texture; beautiful autumn!
- We decided to have our lunch in a small town (can’t remember the name of the town though). It was still raining from the time we left Stirling. We had our lunch in a place called Skiing-Doo. I had spaghetti and Alfred had something with haggis. And we had fantastic vegetable soup as a starter. It was good, especially so since we were starving. We continued our journey, and on the way it started snowing! I was so excited. I was enjoying the views (beautiful farms with sheep and a chain of snow-tipped mountains as the background! Mountains standing majestically overlooking the lake. Need I say more! It was absolutely breathtaking). We stopped for a while; I wanted to feel the snow and take some pictures. I can still visualize everything so clearly on my mind; the pictures didn’t do it justice, of course.
- On the way to a small town, we passed by a creek; so beautiful.
- We finally reached our destination for that night, Ullapool. Drove around to find a nice B&B to stay over. Finally found one overlooking the loch. It has a beautiful view from the room we stayed in. And the room is very spacious, a sharp contrast from the place we stayed in Stirling. Good choice!
- Didn’t go out for dinner that night. Was exhausted from the long journey. Had some grapes and bananas that we bought on the way.
- Got up early and packed to leave. Enjoyed the view from the balcony. It was beautiful with the sun’s reflections on the sea water. It was like little diamonds sparkling in the ocean with a chain of mountains as its background. Absolutely breathtaking.
- Had a good breakfast; oat porridge, fried eggs with bacon, hotdog and tomatoes; and a good cup of tea.
- It was a nice bright sunny morning. So, it was perfect, we spent most of Friday traveling with the not-so-good weather condition and on Saturday, it was a perfect day for us to go sightseeing- just exactly how we planned- luck was on our side. Took some nice pictures outside the B&B.
- We started our journey towards Durness. Stopping occasionally to admire the breathtaking sceneries.
- We stopped for lunch early that day in a pie shop a.k.a. Riverside Bistro; apparently this shop is well known for its infamous pie. We had onion soup and halibut fish cakes. A light lunch and that was the best meal we’ve had during our entire vacation. A good choice. Yummy! Totally loved the halibut fish cake! And we ordered cauliflower with cheese pie to take away for snacking later.
What joy it is to be alive and enjoy such good food! Hallelujah!
- Stopped by the beach on our way. The walk towards the beach was stunning with beautiful farm, sheep grazing the grass; though it was freaking cold and windy. But I was so excited that I almost forgot the cold when I saw the shoreline.
- I enjoyed the beach very much and just wished it was summer at that time. My eyes were teary because of the strong wind and cold and my fingers felt numb. But still, I didn’t feel like leaving that place.
- Once we got into the car, I felt nauseous again. Must be the drastic change in the temperature from outside and inside the car. Gosh, I felt sick. Nevertheless, it’s all worth it, walking along the beach.
- On the way, we saw a flock of sheep running towards the car in a straight line, while bleating happily; so adorable! Such coordination!
- We continued our journey heading towards Old Man of Stoer. It was a gravel road leading there and there was a large puddle of water on the road and we decided to turn back (don’t wanna be stranded in the middle of a no-man land).
- We continued our journey and marveled at the magnificent views along the way.
- The drive up north from Ullapool to Durness was all filled with beautiful sceneries. I lost count the amount of times I said “beautiful; spectacular; amazing; breathtaking”. Basically, I have no words to describe the journey. Absolutely amazing.
- I asked myself whether I would choose to settle down in a place like this; and I find myself saying “NO”. I’d rather see these places once in a while during vacations rather than living there and eventually forgetting to truly appreciate the beauty of that place; that’d be such a waste, wouldn’t it. The most important thing, I believe, is to savor every single thing that we come across; be it in our daily lives or during our travel. It’s easy to say “Oh, how I wished I could stay in a place like this; how I wished I could go to these kinds of places more often”; it’s also easy to forget to appreciate the wonderful things that we have now.
- Durness is a small town with about 500 people. A lovely town; I loved the atmosphere.
- We reached Morven’s Bed & Breakfast at about 4 in the evening. We put up a night there. It’s absolutely the best place we’ve stayed during our entire vacation. Despite being a small place, the environment is extremely cozy and it feels almost like home; the hostess is extremely warm and friendly. Poor lady though, she kept apologizing for forgetting the pillowcase and milk for the tea. We had an excellent and a memorable stay there.
- Had a good rest that night.
- Got up early the next morning to see the sunrise from the room.
- It was a brilliant view with beautiful rays from the sun overlooking the loch and shadowed by the majestic mountain. Priceless!
Spectacular ray of colors!
- Decided to go for a short walk before breakfast. It was a beautiful sunny morning, though it was windy and cold. The moment we came out from the house, a group of 4 sheep dogs stormed towards us; they were all so excited and cheerful. It was a perfect morning indeed. So heart-warming; that’s exactly how I felt; and I could still recollect the excitement on the dogs’ faces.
- We spotted another rainbow; a vertical one from the ocean’s horizon. How lucky! Priceless!
- Had a fantastic breakfast that morning; breakfast made with affection; so definitely that’s the best! Had cereals, scrambled eggs, mushrooms (I loved it!), and toasts.
View from the dining room. Absolutely adore the dining room; very cozy
- I loved the interior of the house. Took some pictures of the bathroom and the rooms at the attic.
- We bid farewell to the McKenzies and told them how much we’ve enjoyed our stay and that that’s the best place we’ve stayed so far during our trip.
- We drove towards Cape Wrath to check out the views from the cape. It was freaking cold there with the wind almost blowing my head out. Had a good walk down heading towards the cape.
View from the walk towards the cape
- The entrance to the cape is amazing.
- When we went further into the cape, there was a spot (a small opening from the cape facing the sea) where the waves of the sea were hitting hard at the walls; roaring sounds of the waves and it was so crazy. It was like as if the sea is so furious and hits as hard as it could to vent its temper; and I understood why it is named the Cape Wrath. What rage it had! Got a little wet and immediately walked out; freezing cold. But it was definitely worth it!
Heading towards Cape Wrath to check out the extent of its rage! It is a fury beyond words
- We continued our journey heading towards southern part of Scotland and planned to stop over at Fort Williams.
- The view along our drive was splendid; with all the mountains (some partially covered with snow, some bronzed), the beautiful loch, the stretch of farms, all so amazing – views of pine trees with a chain of mountains in the background and the loch; a slightly different view compared to the route taken to go up north. I loved the combination of the pine trees, mountains and the loch, and also the farms; perfect!
Beautiful mix of colors!
Horses! This is the best picture ever!
- We passed by Loch Ness.
- I drove after that.
- I wanted to see the fall (which was on our way); the walk down the waterfall seemed endless maybe because it was darn cold. Took some pictures along the way. We decided to turn back after a while.
This is another one of my favorite shot!
- We continued our journey; didn’t stop for lunch since we had a heavy breakfast. Arrived at Fort Williams at about 4 in the evening. Most of the B&Bs around that area were closed; we drove round and checked-in at Chenderoh B&B (According to the house-owner, the B&B was named after the Empangan Chenderoh in Malaysia, which they have heard of from a Malaysian tourist who stayed in their place).
- We were greeted by an extremely friendly JRT; running around actively. The view from our room was amazing; facing the loch.
- Decided to have a buffet dinner at a Chinese restaurant nearby. The service was bad but the food was okay probably because we were starving; ate a lot that day.Had a good night rest after a long day.
- Had a typical Scottish breakfast. No comments; sudah jemu with the same breakfast every morning; my taste buds started yearning for nasi lemak with extra sambal.
- We started our journey heading to Edinburgh. Passed Ben Navis Mountain; majestic.
- Passed by the city of Glasgow – nice. I liked the architecture of the buildings in Glasgow.
- We reached Edinburgh around lunch time. Had difficulty at first in finding the hotel; went round and round; and finally located the hotel at Queensferry Road. Checked-in and left luggages in the hotel; had shish kebab for lunch; it was damn good.
- Went around for a drive before returning the car. Took some pictures of some swans chilling out at a nearby lake.
- It was awfully cold that night. Hired a cab and returned to the hotel.
- Can’t remember what we ate that night.
- Had a good night rest.
- Morning - Lazed around in bed; ordered room service for lunch – had northern Indian cuisine. Darn lazy to get out in the cold; I started feeling so bored and realized that I’d be cuckoo-fied if I stayed any longer in the room; so got ready to go out to the city; it was almost 2 p.m. by the time I left the hotel room. Took a bus to the city and went around some streets, just walking and people-watching; went to a shop to buy some souvenirs and chatted with the owner at the store. By the time I got out from the store it was almost 5.30. Just sat at a bench admiring the hustle-bustle-ness of the city life; watching people walking by; so contented with their loved ones.
- Anyway, back to the story of my getting lost. I just sat in the bus and was enjoying my ride (knowing pretty well that I have missed the stop didn’t stop me from ‘savoring’ the moments; whatever it is! In the bus?). So, well, yeah, it was not long before I decided that I should get my ass out of the bus before it goes so far beyond my ‘walking distance’ range. Got down at-don’t-know-where stop and looked as if rusa masuk kampong; well it’s more like a silly-woman-with-a-bad-sense-of-direction-and-cuckoo-enough-to-walk-in-the-cold expression. Honestly, I enjoy the process of getting lost and finally finding my way back; it gives me a sense of accomplishment, hehe (konon-konon la to prove to myself that my sense-of-direction skills are still functioning).
- Anyway, oh gosh, I keep diverting. Finally, I managed to walk back to the hotel. What a relief when I saw the signboard ‘Holiday Inn’; I was excited to the max! Despite having to walk in the cold with that heavy load of things to carry, I was grinning happily that I found my way back to the hotel, hehe.
- Since I had ‘fun’ and too much walking in the cold, sort of got numb with the cold; so decided to go to Sainsbury’s to get something to munch. Bought fruit cake and some tidbits (potato chips).
- Had dinner at a Thai restaurant; after that took a walk down to the railway station and went to Mark & Spencer. Bought some snacks and fruits and milk.
- Headed back to the hotel and had a good night rest.
- Didn’t feel like going out that day; felt a little bit under the weather; so I decided to stay-in that day.
- Called Yasmin and told her my plan to visit Edinburgh Castle the next day; she agreed enthusiastically. Yasmin is a dentist; she's from Egypt.
- Ordered room service for lunch – had chilli chicken – it was darn good – with all the vegetables and noodles and chicken – superb. Watched TV and had lots of nap that day; bored!
- Had room-service for dinner.
- Had breakfast with Yasmin. She’s a nice sweet gal. Had fantastic breakfast; mushroom, scrambled eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, yogurt, cheese, and cereals. Now I am amazed at how much I ate!
- Went to Edinburgh Castle. It was a fantastic day; though cold and windy. We enjoyed every part of the history there (though I suck at remembering historical events); admired at the structure of the ancient buildings; I am amazed by the fact that this castle existed ages ago.
- Took lots of pictures. Here are some of the good shots.
View of the castle from the entrance
Sleeping place for the prisoners
- There was also a special exhibition containing forged banknotes made by the prisoners; amazing.
- We also visited the Scottish National War Memorial, which was built to commemorate the dead of the Great War of 1914 to 1918.
- Took a few video clips of the castle’s interior; the Great Hall; the king’s dining room; the interior is amazing. This was one of the most impressive buildings; built for important ceremonies and feasts; absolutely stunning!
- We also went to the Crown room where the crown, sceptre, and sword of state (the oldest royal regalia in the UK) are kept. It’s absolutely amazing. I marveled at the crown jewel; so majestic.
- Ordered room service for dinner that night; had seafood lasagna; yummy to the max! Watched the movie “Descend”; chronic movie; with all the disgusting-looking-man-eating creatures; everyone died at the end.
- Nite nite…
- After having breakfast, went to Edinburgh Zoo with Yasmin. Something that I was really looking forward to. A zoo freak! Took 2 buses to get there. We were so lucky that the weather that morning was fantastic; bright sunny morning; contrary to the weather report for that day.
9.30 a.m. Early birds hilltop tour (Meet at the safari bus by the sealions)
11.00 a.m. Sea lion talk
11.30 a.m. Chimpanzee talk
12.00 noon Rhino talk
12.45 p.m. Penguin parade (followed by penguin talk)
2.15 p.m. Lion talk
3.00 p.m. Snake talk
3.30 p.m. Steller’s Sea Eagle talk
3.45 p.m. Painted hunting dogs and aviary talk
In addition:1.45 & 2.30 p.m.-Animal handling in close encounters (first-come-first-served basis)
- Walked around the zoo, marveling at each and every animal.
What a beauty!
Painted hunting dogs
A beautiful sunny morning! Perfect for a day out in the zoo!
Chimps! My favorite primate!
- Only managed to catch the penguin parade show; we missed all the other talks since we were so busy walking around looking at the animals.
- The penguin parade was absolutely amazing. They just took a slow walk while looking curiously at the bystanders; darn cute!
Penguin runway (I think they deserved a red carpet!)
- After that, we listened to the penguin talk by one of the keepers. Very informational; especially the way to handle the penguins.
- Then, they had a penguin feeding session. They are all very well-behaved cuties.
- We had lunch at a nearby café.After lunch, we headed off towards the Education Centre for the Close Encounter session. We really enjoyed the session, where we had the chance to have a close look at all the exotic animals like the hamsters, snakes, frogs, Madagascar hissing roach, and snails. It was a different experience touching and holding these exotic animals. Fun!
Ooh, so cold and slithery. It was cool!
- After that, we headed off in search of the King of the Jungle; took some time to find them. The Asiatic Lion enclosure is amazing; there were few lion cubs playing with their mum; very endearing. We decided to go back after that. It was almost 4.
- By the time we reached the hotel, it was almost 5.30. Had a fantastic time at the zoo.
- I related the experience in the zoo with full elation to Alfred.
- Had dinner at an Italian restaurant – not satisfied with the service and the ambience. But we had a good time.
- Of course the day is not complete without a dessert; sweet tooth! So we went to Sainsbury’s to get some ice cream but unfortunately it was closed by that time. So, went to Esso and bought Magnum.
- Devoured the ice cream with content.
- Dozed off.