Uploaded some photos of our trip up to Scotland last week. Drove all the way from Reading to Isle of Skye, covered 1,800 miles in total during our 10-day trip. Beautiful highlands, yet Scotland in our opinion is so under-rated. The scenery around Glen Coe was particularly captivating. And we get to see some very cute highland calves and seals :)A colleague warned us about midgets in Scotland. But luckily there weren’t many when we were there, at least not in swamps. Having said that we were still bitten by various unknown bugs, particularly on the last day when our car was stucked in mud for close to two hours! It is a long story. But in short, thanks to TomTom we were led to a single track road that cut across farms in Derbyshire when we were trying to get to Lyme Park, where Pemberley was filmed in BBC’s version of “Pride and Prejudice”. Road got too bumpy, I think it’s only suitable for tractors or 4X4s, so I decided to turn the car around. But the ground on the side of the road was so wet and soft that once I turned in, I couldn’t get the front wheels out again. At least not after close to two hours of struggle. What a nightmare. And during our whole time there we did not see one person around! Fortunately this didn’t happen at night, and we somehow still managed to get the car out of the shit. Invaluable lesson learnt, don’t rely on TomTom entirely!
I’ve spent the past week commuting to London for a training course. Compared to 10 years ago when I first started living in London, there’s probably 1000% increased in the number of cyclists cycling in London during peak hours. Incredible, considering that London still has the same old narrow roads, with virtually no dedicated cycle lanes. What has improved is probably the traffic load, with the congestion charging scheme having been in place for a number of years now. And of course the public awareness on green issues, and drivers’ attitude to cyclists. I think it does help when some MPs even cycle to work themselves.For me it’s quite pleasing to see as cyclists somehow seem to be able to enliven up a city, making it a bit more friendly. This is what I like most about European cities. People can get to everywhere without having to always go on a car. Plenty of walkways, cycle lanes, parks, good network of public transport etc. Would people like to see cars in the city? I doubt it. I hope less and less people drive in the city, as then there will be more chance that cycle lanes will be built in this old world city.
Turns out that the beer hall my Greek friend brought me to yesterday was one of the best beer hall in Munich. It’s called Augustiner and is located on the main shopping street between Marienplatz and Karlsplatz. The place is huge, biggest western restaurant I’ve seen by a mile. Beer can be ordered in one litre mug. Because the mug is so big and heavy, a German sitting next to me taught me the German way of drinking from this type of mugs. Basically you hold it in such a way that the mug will rest on your wrist when you drink. Interesting way to drink, but not without logic, according to that German, as after a few drinks people understandably become dizzier and weaker. So lifting the mug alone can become hard work :)Tonight we are going to another beer hall, called Weiss Brauhaus, for dinner. It apparently serves very good food. My brother suggested me to go to Hofbrahaus as well. Will see.
Once again, uploading travel photos is just too time consuming. It put me off every time I thought about having to filter out the photos, resizing them and then upload them to the Flickr website. Took me over an hour to get all these done. No, I’m still yet to label and provide some descriptions to the photos! How annoying!It was a good trip though. Only the second time I’ve been to Germany. The first time was to attend the World Travel Market fair at Berlin. I was there for 2 nights, and most of the time I was in the exhibition centre. So didn’t get to see much of Berlin. This time I had more time to stroll around in Hamburg and Bremen with L. And the weather was lovely, unlike the wet weather we are going to go through this weekend, grrr. We haven’t really planned anything for the trip to be honest, but turns out to quite a pleasant one. So we are very pleased with this trip, much better than the trip to Seville. And of course W’s German friend’s wedding at Syke was very pleasant as well. Cosy and almost everybody gets to know each other after the wedding. So different from the banquet we have back home in Malaysia where wedding couples quite often don’t know half the people who attended their wedding :)Anyway hope you like the photos.
It does take some time to resize, organise and upload photos online. Not the most exciting trip, but looking back now at the photos taken, the trip was not that bad actually. I guess it’s just that we have been to better places, and would much prefer to spend time in those places instead with hindsight.BTW this is blog using the Flickr blogging interface. My first time. Doesn’t seem to allow me to customise the layout easily. And it automatically puts the blog into an uncategorized category. Hmm, not such a great tool actually, as it still requires me to come back to my website to do the final editing.
Guess we spent one day too many in Seville. I’ve not been to Spain, but based on what I saw there I think it has to rank lowest on the list of European countries I’ve been to. It’s surprisingly expensive, for the kind of food we don’t enjoy. Apart from tapas and paella I can’t really think of other food that are particularly Spainish. Anyway a lot money were spent eating these crap. Salads are not appetising. They typically come with pickled asparagus, green tomatoes and lettuce. The city is very touristy and yet nobody knows how to speak some English. Very disappointing.One of the highlights was catching a glimpse of some of the world’s best football players in the world at the Seville airport on the we arrived! The Real Madrid team arrived while we were around hiring a car. Can you imagine, I was within touching distance of current world player of the year Fabio Cannavaro, Raul Gonzalez, Ruud van Nisterooy and Iker Casillas! Unbelievable. Will post some photos when I’m home. Am about to arrive at Reading train station now.
Currently on the train to Gatwick airport. Seems to take forever. Ok, arrived at the airport. Not at all easy to blog using my wife’s blackberry. But seems very fun, to be able to blog while on the move. Better stop now. About to check in soon.
I thought it would be nice to share our experience cycling in New Forest last month during the long weekend. It is a lovely place, and is very friendly to cyclists. There are lots of bike hiring shops around if you don’t have your own bike. And the bikes they hire out are quite good quality as well. Think they also have tandem bikes, bikes with kids carriage etc. At least those are the bikes I saw at the shop right next to the railway train, Brockenhurst, we got out of. If we know there are such good bikes for hire in New Forest, we probably would have reconsidered taking our bikes by train. Maybe because there were so many cyclists cycling in New Forest, cars seemed to treat us better by giving us plenty of space than are normally the case in other parts of the country.Anyway, we started our journey from Brockenhurst railway station. The map I’ve included here is a map of New Forest with some added information about the routes we have taken on our bikes during the three days we’ve been. It’s supposedly also a map for cyclist who want to navigate around New Forest. But I find that it’s not a good map. If you do not plan to cycle off-road (gravel path with no traffic, indicated by line with pink and white stripes) then the map is probably okay. But once you are off-road, the map doesn’t show you all the roads. We should have brought a compass with us, and we have thought about doing so, but somehow all four us just, forgot. Another thing is, although it is labelled on the map a number for each route, the actual roads are not properly signposted, if at all. I was surprised actually, perhaps I’ve expected Sustran-like type of signpostings.The B&B accommodation we booked was located in Ringwood, on the edge of New Forest, about 15 miles from Brockenhurst. The first thing we needed to do was to get there and check-in, as we have quite a bit of load on our panniere. It would probably be ideal if the accommodation is somewhere nearer to Brockenhurst. Unfortunately, we left the booking a bit too late, most of the accommodation were fully booked by the time we finally wanted to book. But, we thought, Ringwood is not too shabby either, only just an hour and a half away (assuming that we cycle at 10mph), so that was how we booked to stay there. It turned out to be not a very wise decision. First of all, the terrain is not all flat. Second, we have a lousy map, and the road signs are poor. We were alright on roads, but as soon as we were off road, hoping to take a short-cut, we got lost very quickly. We ended up having to climb over a fence to get back on road. And we scared a few ponies too.The journey we thought we could cover in 1 1/2 hours ended up taking more like 2 1/2 hours. I was still okay when I got to the B&B, but W and my two friends were a bit less okay. At one point, when we were really close to the B&B, one of them almost wanted to threw her bike aside and stop cycling 🙂 That evening we didn’t go anywhere else on bike anymore.
Went to Tioman Island with our family during the time we were back in Malaysia. Still not sure if it is a good idea to drive there, but there aren’t many choices to get there in the first place. The other option we could have taken is to fly from KL to Tioman Island. Not attractive either, as we are from Ipoh. And thanks to MAS, there are no longer any flights to KL from Ipoh. In fact, they have also closed the Ipoh office!So the trip entailed a 2 hours journey to KL, then stopover at my sister’s place for the night, before embarking on a 4.5 hours journey to Mersing, via Ayer Hitam. Yes, that’s not the end point yet. We still need to take a boat to Tioman Island. Depending on which type of boat you take, the journey time can be an hour difference. The ferry, which is the slower option, took us almost 2 hours to get there. We could have taken the quicker speed boat, but the situation was such we could board the ferry almost immediately after we arrived at the dock. And of course we had been somewhat misled by the people selling us the tickets into thinking that the ferry we were going to take is the speed boat. To be fair, they showed me the boat, it was parking at the dock loading people, and it is a speed boat. Just that I think it’s bigger and more difficult to manoeuver when docking than the speed boat speed boat. And crucially, they offered significant discount on the tickets we were supposed to buy from a rival company. Anyway they are good people, and were very helpful to us.Lastly, there are a number of docks on Tioman Island, around 5 or so. Make sure you get off at the right dock. My brother-in-law made a mistake and thought that it was nearer for us to get off at Panuba than Air Batang beach to get to our accommodation – Bamboo Hill. Distance wise, it is indeed nearer. But to get there involves climbing a hill via the jungle treks. With the luggage with us, as well as both our mums, this is going to be hard work. So we ended up hiring a small boat to take us back to Air Batang beach instead. What a journey!This is the view out of our chalet. Not bad at all huh?
Colleagues are surprised to see me turning up at work earlier than them these few days. I feel good in the morning as well, and have no difficulty waking up. Maybe I really should make this a habit, to sleep early and wake up early. I don’t think this is the first time I’ve told myself this. It always ended up that I couldn’t wake up early, or more precisely, couldn’t get out of my bed. Whether it’s warmer in bed, not enough hours clocked, or whatever reasons, I just have the tendency to stay in bed until I absolutely need to wake up.At the moment the jet-lagged I’m still “suffering” from the trip back to Malaysia is serving me good. In such a way that, without requiring much effort, it is already agonisingly difficult for me to open my eyes at around 10pm. Hope that I can get into this sleep cycle routine this time, for good.