Peak District Adventure – Part II

Continuation from Peak District Adventure – Part I

Once we finish touring Chatsworth House, we had another problem. We don’t have transport to get out. Dad and I had to walk out from Chatsworth (it has a long drive way). It was so tiring that Dad stood on the side of the road, raised his thumb, to hitch hike. Unfortunately, no one was kind enough. We ended up on the main road and found a bus station. Unfortunately again, the bus to our destination, Castleton, doesn’t arrive in an hour. Castleton’s main attraction is an underground cave. It looks good from the picture. Dad and I had to sit on the roadside and wait.

We were subjected to cold chilly wind and hot sun. That explains why I’m down with fever now. There was once Dad ran towards a Peak District Ranger truck seeking help. However, the bloke had a little drink and he couldn’t even see the bus timetable properly.

Minutes later, a bus arrived. We asked the bus driver to take us to the nearest train station that could go to Sheffield. Unfortunately again, there aren’t any. We had to take the bus from the other side of the road to head down to Sheffield but the next bus would be in an hour’s time. He gave us an alternative route. He suggested that we walk to another town nearby to take a bus to Sheffield. However, it’s about 3 miles and Dad is too tired. Dad suggested that we hop into the bus and take a look around Peak District. We did. It was fun. We could see places that no tourist bus would bring us.

The whole area was hilly hence we climbed hills and enjoyed the aerial view of the entire Peak District plus the lovely country houses.

We managed to get back to Sheffield. All credits go to our lovely bus driver.

Peak District Adventure – Part I

Peak District is another national park not far away from Sheffield. Its watery and mountainous terrain attracts millions of tourist a year. Dad wanted to see Chatsworth, an English mansion owned by the Duke Of Devonshire. Surrounding it is, a beautiful garden and park that stretches 105 acres.

As we arrive as Grindleford (the nearest train station from Chatsworth), we were greeted with green mountainous scenery. However, there was no ticket station or what so ever building around the train station. All we could see is a coffee shop

Me: Hi, Is there a bus station nearby?
Lady: I?m afraid not. You might need to walk down to the village.
(Lady walks off)

Oh no, I’m stranded in Grindleford. Chatsworth house is apparently not within walking distance and the nearest village is pretty far. I immediately bought a tourist guidebook from the shop.

Eum, I’m heading down to Chatsworth. How do I get there?

(Lady asks his friend but the friend doesn?t know how to get there via public transport)

She then asked a couple who got into the counter to order food.
Lady: These two gentlemen seem lost. They’re heading to Chatsworth. Do you know how to get there?
One of the couple: No, but we can give a lift.

Our face lit up in delight. The lady kept on repeating, “You’re lucky!” to us. No doubt we were lucky.

However, the couple just arrived and had to eat breakfast first. Together with them, 2 children and 2 dogs. Apparently, they were walking the dogs in the woods. While waiting for them, Dad and I enjoyed a cup a coffee.

Once they were done, we headed straight into the woods. The couple parked their car on the main road and we had to go through a forest (with pathway of course) to their car. After 10 minutes, we got into the car and reached Chatsworth in no time. We thanked the couple profusely.

Dad and I entered the garden first. Surprisingly, there were loads of chickens around. The chickens outside the garden were scavenging for food from visitors. However, inside the garden, there were chickens three times the size of a normal chicken.

The rest of the garden was decorated with bushes, flowers, rocks, mazes and a cascading waterfall. There was a huge man made lake with a fountain called Emperor’s lake. Apparently, a huge lake far away from the man made lake provides the lake’s water. The rest of the garden was very nice. It has few greenhouses to plant fruits such as grape and flowers.

However, we didn’t go far. Dad was tired from walking.

Dad was more interested in the house, as grand royal things interests him. The house has tons of Chinese porcelains, biblical painting, Roman statutes and even books.

Porcelain fanatic.
After pointing some China to Dad, a lady approached us and offered us a book. It’s a list of description of the China we saw. Dad rejected it by saying, he’s just telling his son about the history of China (porcelains). Then both of them started discussing about the history and process of China. Dad used to collect antique China when he in Sabah (a state in Malaysia). He got it from the natives who lived deep in the jungle. Apparently they got the China from Chinese merchants long, long time ago. The natives didn’t have plates and utensils that time and the Chinese merchants wanted exotic materials such as birds’ nest fro the natives. Hence, they traded.
Lady: You are brilliant (Lady points finger at dad)
Dad: huh? Me? No? (Lady interrupts)
Lady: I mean the Chinese were brilliant. You invented porcelain hundred and hundreds of year ago before the Europeans. (She refers Chinese as you). I mean hundreds and hundreds of years ago!

She seems damn fascinated with the Chinese culture.

Dad was very happy with the tour.

To be continued..

London day trip II

? London Day Trip II
Getting down to London was chaotic. My taxi arrived 15 minutes before my train departure and I got to the train station 2 minutes departure, the quick-ticket machine didn?t work and I had to queue up for a long time to collect my ticket, the code I gave didn?t work and the lady on the counter had to use some other measures. Fortunately, the train was delayed by 15 minutes and I thought for second that my luck changed after all. I spoke too soon, my train was delayed for 2 hours, stopping and slowing down numerous times due to loads of technicalities.

Ka Bien and Gin Yew waited patiently at the train station for 2 hours. We finally met up at Chinatown for lunch.

Ka Bien lives with her rich uncle in London now. She has not been eating meat for the past few days as her aunty is a vegetarian and she doesn?t allow meat to be cooked at home. She ate our Crispy Peking duck with great pleasure! 😀
Gin Yew on the other hand didn?t change much, except that he slept less nowadays. He?s been working and he said that he didn?t sleep throughout the night before he came here.

Our first destination was Westminster, where all the tourist spots are located. We took pictures of the Westminster Abbey and headed to London Eye for bird eye?s view of the city. It costs 11 pounds per person and we queued for half an hour. Ka Bien bought a small booklet with panoramic pictures of London city with descriptions. It even has tips for taking photographs, i.e, not to use flash when taking pictures because the glass might reflect it.

The ride went very slowly. The carriage we were in could fit up to 15 people. It was pretty hard to take pictures as people were crowding on one side of the carriage. But the view was fabulous. We could see the bright modern parts of London and the gloomy parts of the suburbs.
The ride lasted for half an hour. And while we were descending, there was an announcement. Apparently, they?re going to take a picture of us in the carriage. Ka Bien, Gin yew and I posed immediately. Those buggers charged us 6 pounds for the photo.

We wandered around Westminster Abbey to take some photos. Since it is Ka Bien?s first visit to Westminster, she took loads of pictures of the Big Ben, House of Commons and House of Lords.
Buckingham Palace was our next destination. While we were heading there, we stopped by St. Andrew?s park, which is located opposite of the palace. It was built in the 1500s and beautifully decorated with trees and flowerbeds. Low fences were built around the lake so that ducks and swans can?t run around the park. Most of them hung around the fence, waiting for people to feed them. The park was crowded with people. We took couple of pictures and rested on the bench for a while before heading back to Buckingham Palace.

The security in Buckingham Palace wasn?t tight at all. There was only 2 policemen guarding an opened gate even though the Queen is in the palace (if the United Kingdom flag is raised high, it means the Queen is at home :D)

We were expecting the redcoat palace guards standing outside the palace but there were only 2 of them standing inside the palace. We can barely see it hence we couldn?t take a good picture of it.
We headed to Tower Bridge by tube. The bridge was built in the 1900s and it serves as a symbolic monument of London (I always thought it was some medieval bridge). The area around the bridge costs a bomb. Ka Bien?s uncle owns a one bedroom apartment around there and it is valued about 400 million pounds. We took some pictures (as usual), crossed the bridge and headed to Chinatown to meet up with Daniel and bush.

Chinatown was dead quiet. Seems that there were rumours that Chinatown was infected with SARS. bush was supposed to meet up with us in the morning but he slept while waiting for me (thanks to my 2 hours delayed train). We wanted Japanese food and asked Daniel to bring us to one. However, he said that there aren?t many Japanese restaurants in London and most of them are expensive and not so delicious. He was right. The food in the restaurant we went in Soho called Satsumi wasn?t nice at all. Damn, I miss Melbourne Japanese food especially Una don from Yoyogi at Swanston Street! Anyway, bush finally dropped by at Satsumi to say hi. He left in a while.

Gin yew?s birthday is 2 days away hence Ka Bien and I treated him dinner. He?s 23 years old this year.

London underground is a bloody chaotic place. Everyone and everything moves so fast. Daniel and I were caught in the rush hour. The tube was packed like a can of sardines and people kept on pushing and shoving other people into the tube.

Going home was dramatic. I managed to get to the train 1 minute before departure, some madman harassed me by asking me loads of question which I didn?t understand a word and eventually left stranded in Darby (which is 1? hour away from Sheffield). The train stopped suddenly in Darby and announced that there?s a bus waiting to drive us down to Sheffield. It was an unexpected move as all of us were expecting to be brought back to Sheffield by train. We got off the train and a man started scolding the train driver. He was pretty pissed with the unexpected event and told the train driver, ?you could go home by a taxi and we have to take a bus home?? The train driver replied that there would be a bus for us. Unfortunately, there isn?t any bus. No one organised a bus for us. The same man went to the counter and started complaining loudly. Half an hour later, Midland mainline (the train operator) organised a bus for us. Everyone felt relieved but only for a short period. While we were at Chesterfield station (half an hour away from Sheffield), the bus stopped unexpectedly and announced that this is his last stop. He has not received any orders to bring us to Sheffield. Everyone gasped in disbelieve. One of them even shouted, ?You?re joking!? The bus driver was pissed. He got off the bus and went into station to speak with the management. Few minutes later, he got into the bus back and complained, ?This is the last time we?ll supply busses to Midland mainline?. He drove us all the way back to Sheffield.

While we were in Sheffield, a man with a German Shepard came up to the bus driver and politely asked him to be dropped in a specific area. The bus driver refused to stop and reasoned it by saying it?s against insurance policy. The man said, ?oh it?s okay then? and suddenly, he grabbed the front door and opened it. He threatened to jump if the bus doesn?t stop. He even claimed that the bus driver would be liable if he jumps. The bus driver drove even faster. He even beat a traffic light. The ordeal lasted less than a minute and the bus had to stop due to traffic light. The man with his dog jumped out from the bus and thanked the bus driver.

Remember I said that something is stopping me from getting my tickets? Now I know why. If I didn?t get my ticket, I would have been spared from such ordeal. But yet, I?m glad I?m still in one piece 😀

London Day Trip II
Only one photo available, havent developed the rest yet 😀

London Day Trip 1

? I’m off to London this Saturday to meet up with Gin Yew (again) and Ka Bien. Ka Bien was my former high schoolmate and I stayed at her place when I was in Sydney, backpacking around Australia. She and her boyfriend, Timothy brought me around Sydney. I guess it?s time for me to repay her good deeds :D. We are going to bring Ka Bien around London (despite the fact that I’ve only been to London once, but I guess we can manage).

Something weird is happening. Yesterday, I tried booking my train ticket online but it didn?t work on couple of occasions. Only after numerous tries, I finally managed to book it. However, this morning, I received an email saying that my debit card doesn’t work, even though I’ve been using the same card for many, many times. Seems like something is stopping me from visiting London!


The trip to Oxford was not bad.

Oxford is quite different from Sheffield in respect of the design of the city. The city dates back to the medieval times. Bicycle is the main transport in the city and also a healthy mixture of races. The colleges in Oxford are spread around the city but most of them are closed to the public and has huge tall walls with spikes on top and security guards guarding the entrances. However, tours are conducted for a small payment. Another thing is there are plenty of shops selling jumpers and t-shirts with the name University of Oxford printed on them. Anyone could just buy them and show it to their friends and claim that they were from Oxford Uni.

Since the city is famous for it’s historical sites, our main attractions were the historical buildings. Our first destination was Bodleian Library, which carries over 5.7 million books (almost a copy of every book published in Britain) and no one has ever been permitted to check one out. We were looking forward to see the library but unfortunately, the library was closed due to some unknown reason.

Sadly, most of the historical sites we visited were not interesting. Carfax Tower and Covered Market were the uninteresting sites. The former is just a clock tower with little architectural significant and the latter, which is just few steps away from Carfax Tower, is just a normal market and doesn?t have anything interesting.

The only thing that caught my attention for a while was a small notice written in Japanese stating “Nihon go hanashimasu” which literally means “Converse in Japanese”. It was pasted on a shop owned by a Japanese looking lady. Probably it’s a advert for hiring people who could speak Japanese.

The only interesting place we visited was Christ Church College. It?s the film site for Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and Shadowlands.

The dining hall scene in Harry Potter was shot in the amazingly huge Dining Hall built in 1529. It also has many connections with Lewis Carroll?s book, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. The dining hall and the people around him inspired many of his ideas. (Apparently, Alice is the daughter of the Dean (during Lewis?s days in Christ Church) and Alice’s cat Dinah inspired the Cheshire-Cat). The hall has a magnificent ceiling, of ‘hammerbeam’ construction. The portraits of many famous members of Christ Church can be seen on the wall, including a few of the thirteen Prime Ministers educated in the college.
We took couple of photos before heading to the Cathedral. Apparently, it is the smallest cathedral in the country.

While I was loitering around the staircase that leads to the dining hall, I spotted a small carving on the wall. It went something like ‘L.P.C 1864’.

By the time we finished touring Christ Church, it was dark and raining heavily. We had to cancel our visit to the museum due to insufficient time and ended up in Starbucks. We spent our remaining time in Starbucks before heading for our 3 hours journey back to Sheffield.


York, England 2002

York is located an hour away from Sheffield. York serves as a very important historical site for England. It signifies the presence of The Roman Empire, The Vikings and lastly the ancient political scene in England.

MASSOC organised a trip down to York today. My friends and I had to wake up in the unearthly hours of Saturday morning where it was freezing and raining heavily. But it did not break my spirit of travelling. Frederick was the only one who couldn’t make it. He decided not to go after waking up late even though he had already paid for the trip.

It was still raining heavily when we arrived in York. Despite the unappealing weather, we still had to continue with our itineraries. Our first destination was York Castle Museum. The museum used to be a fortress for centuries. The entry fee was 3 pound and it took me a while to realise that we’ve been conned. The exhibitions were boring. The first section was all about the world of interiors of Englishmen ranging from a Moorland cottage to a Georgian house. It looked like an early version of IKEA.

The second one was about the story of life from cradle to grave of English culture. All I could remember from there was just the immortality rate of children. Before the Parliament passed an act to regulate mid wives on childbirth, the death rate of childbirth was extremely high, especially in suburbs where 1 in 4 children will die. The last one was the most interesting of all. They had a replica of a Victorian Street. We walked down the cobbled street and peered through the windows of shops long gone such as toy shops, candies shop, saddle shop etc.

My friends and I wanted to take a picture and I tried to set up my tripod. However, one of the security officers came by and forbid me to use the tripod. I begged ‘Just one, please!’ The officer was nice enough to let me take one but I had to be quick because his boss will be around soon. We got everyone together and posed in front of a horse carriage.

Opposite the museum, on top of a hill, lies Clifford’s Tower. Once the central stronghold of York Castle, Clifford’s Tower was originally built by William the Conqueror to secure the unruly north. I climbed up the stairs and took a closer look. Its diameter is pretty small but its walls are quite high. However, visitors must pay another 2 pound in order to enter it.

Dreadfully disappointed with the museum, we headed to The York Dungeon. York Dungeon was almost the same as Dracula’s in Melbourne. It has interactive staffs to scare the hell out of you and base their design on gruesome things. The York dungeon brings more than 2000 years of gruesomely authentic history vividly back to life and death. The path to the exhibitions was pitch dark and no one knows when one of their interactive staffs would jump out to scare you. The first exhibition was the effect of Bubonic Plague to York. Dead bodies were thrown together and left to rot; unprecedented and rather unreasonable treatment of patients (ie by draining out the bad blood in the body); isolation of patients.

Rats caused the plague that swept throughout Europe and wiped out millions of people and no one knew until the very end. Some thought it was cause by black cats and they started killing them. Obviously as a result of that, more rats roam the streets.

At the end of each exhibition, the interactive staff would try to scare people. They would usually give an innocent speech and all of a sudden, something pops out suddenly.

The last section was the torture section. All sorts of torture that was used for the past few centuries were on display using dummies and a little sound effect. The most gruesome of all was where a cage was laid on the body of the victim. Then the torturer would put a starved rat into the cage. The rat will then eat the flesh of the victim in order to feed itself and to escape.

I had a traditional English meal for lunch. I had a Giant Yorkshire Pudding with Beef. Yummy, it was much better than the one they served at my previous hall.

Khai Fei, Su Ween, Michelle, Mindy and I headed to the York Minster. It’s the largest medieval gothic cathedral north of the Alps and a treasure house of 800 years of strained glass. We didn’t bother to enter the cathedral. All we did was just took couple of pictures.

The girls wanted to shop. Chuo Ming, Han Choong and I decided to have coffee in Starbucks (there are 3 Starbucks in York, but there isn’t one in Sheffield at all!) The Starbucks we went is located in a few century old huge ballroom-like-room with high ceiling and chandelier. Starbucks amazingly preserved the interior of the building. All they did was just set up counter in the middle of the room without even touching any of the walls.

While Han Choong and I were enjoying our coffee, Chuo Ming slept. Since both of them were happily seating on a sofa and I was sitting on a wooden chair, I moved to another table with a sofa. Han Choong moved to my table and left Chuo Ming sleeping alone on the sofa. While we were happily reading the newspapers, 2 gorgeous English girl sitting opposite Chuo Ming started shouting ‘hey, sleeping boy! Wake up!’ I looked at their direction and one of the girls started pointing at Chuo Ming. I laughed out loudly. They asked
“Is he your friend?”

I answered “yeah”
“oh, I thought his friends abandoned him and left him alone there”
I replied “yeah, we’re going to abandon him soon’.
Han Choong suggested to the girls to take a picture with Chuo Ming while he was sleeping. Unfortunately, they declined otherwise it would be the one of the funniest prank we even made.

We left at 6pm and by that time, I don’t feel well. It must be the rain. I’ve been walking under the rain for the whole day. I feel a flu coming soon.

I slept throughout the journey back to Sheffield. By the time I reach Sheffield, I found that I’ve been drooling all over my hand and shirt. hehe

London – One Day Trip

I almost missed the bus to London this morning. I waited 10 minutes for a non-existing bus to the train station and only realise it when there is only 20 minutes left before departure. I rushed to the main road and search for a taxi but there was not even one on the street. Panicking and desperate, I called a taxi. Few seconds after I put down my phone a taxi came. The taxi driver sped all the way to the train station as soon as I told him that my train is leaving in 10 minutes.

Fortunately, I got there on time just few minutes before departure. The trip to London needed me to take a bus to Derby’s train station. It only took me an hour and it seems shorter cause I dozed off few times on the bus. The train to London took about 2 hours. I arrived in London St Pancres safely.

I somehow ended up in the London Underground. Totally no idea how and where to go, I consulted the tube map. I’m meeting Gin Yew and Claudine in Victoria station at 1:30pm and therefore I searched for the word Victoria station. The blue line on the map indicates that the Victoria line goes to Victoria station. Once again, totally no idea where and how to use the tube, I took a risk by taking the Victoria line despite the uncertainty I was having.

St Pancres Station

London Underground reminds me of Melbourne’s train system. People rushing, high-speed escalators and the gushing wind caused by the train on its arrival. The trains here look pretty good. It has seats with comfy sofas and it’s much smaller. The train takes an average of 1 minute to its next station.

I was early by 1 1/2 hour. I wandered around, took some pictures and even had the time to take a look at the toilet. I needed to pee badly and searched for the toilet. A payment of 20p is required in order to active the bar that blocks the entrance to the toilet. As I got out from the toilet, I was famished. Auntie Anne’s Pretzels was literally calling my name. I stopped myself from buying it (2 for one) so that I wouldn’t spoil my appetite for lunch later.

Claudine arrived on time, exactly on 1:30pm. I passed her the carton of cigarettes she wanted and she introduced her English boyfriend, John and her friend, Gan (Malaysian). She was pretty adamant on asking me to join them for lunch. I told them I would call them as Gin Yew arrives.

Gin yew was 20 minutes late. I passed him the credit card that his parents passed to me. However, it was crooked probably because I put it on my back pocket for too long. Hopefully it still works.

We headed to Leicester Square next. We arrived totally no idea where we were and walked around searching for Chinatown. Fortunately, we found it within minutes. All we did was just walk straight after we got out from the tube.

London’s Chinatown is huge and much different. Most of the shops there are Chinese restaurants and even the arch is much different from others. Gin Yew and I were supposed to meet up with Claudine and her friends for lunch at Four Season restaurant. According to her, it serves the best Duck rice in town. Gin Yew and I searched the whole Chinatown for that restaurant. Claudine said that it’s opposite Pizza Hut. It seems that the restaurant is on the other side of Leicester Square. Frustrated and tired, we settled down in Crispy duck restaurant instead.

We ordered a set lunch (fried squid, sweet and sour ribs and fish) and added half a duck in that 3 stories high restaurant. We ate and chatted for an hour. Gin Yew is currently studying Engineering in Portsmouth Uni. He was supposed to get into 2 year but apparently the uni rejected his foundation he did in Malaysia because the uni claims that it wasn’t strong enough. Barely 2 weeks of staying in Portsmouth, he already made plenty of friends. He is staying with 5 other Caucasian in his Uni’s flat and as usual all of them drinks alcohol everyday.


Initially, we had no plans at all. No idea where to go. I looked at the map and suggest that we go to Westminster, where the Parliament is. We took a tube and as soon as we got out from the station, we were astonished. We didn’t know the Great Ben and the Eye of London (Ferris wheel) were located in Westminster. Never once in our life that we though of being in London, looking at the great Architecture of Englishmen together.

He hurried onto the bridge that crosses the River Thames and started snapping pictures. Across the bridge, lays the London aquarium and the Eye of London. We vowed visit them one day.

We then walked around the Parliament. It was closed to public and barricades were deployed to deny entries. Feeling unsatisfied just by walking around the Parliament, we rubbed our hands on the building to please ourselves.

Gin Yew & I – Eye of London


Side Walk of River Thames

Buckingham Palace was our next target. According to the steel engraved maps located on the streets, the palace is somewhere nearby. However, the map wasn’t very clear and we wandered around for quite some time until we asked a policeman for direction.

‘Excuse me, where is the Buckingham palace?’
The policeman turned and gave me a big smile ‘Just go straight and turn left, you’ll see a big arch on your way and then go straight’
It was the first time a policeman gave me a sincere smile. Back in Malaysia, the policeman only smiles when say, “Datuk..boleh tolong aa?? (Datuk, can you help me???)”

We had to walk though a huge and long avenue as we passed the huge arch. The road was paved in red probably to symbolise a red carpet. Buckingham palace was a disappointment. I was expecting some palace guards dressed in the Red Coat to be standing in front of the gates. There wasn’t even one on the entrance.

Gin yew and I were very much tired by then. We barely rested and walked non-stop. However, it did not dampen our intensive and compact London tour. We headed straight to the London Bridge.

Buckingham Palace Arch

Buckingham: Gin Yew & I

The station for London Bridge is called London Bridge. Once again, we had totally no idea where the bridge is. Fortunately, there was a signboard that shows the way to London Bridge. We arrived upon an empty bridge. It was just a straight bridge with cars innocently crossing it. The word London Bridge is engraved on the bridge. It is not the bridge we wanted to see! We wanted the bridge that is always featured in post cards and advertisements!

We stood on the middle of the bridge and found the real London Bridge we wanted to go. Tower Bridge (the real name for the bridge we wanted to go) is just few miles from London Bridge. I found out that the London Bridge was the first bridge that crossed River Thames. It was build by the Romans during its occupation of England.

It was sunset when we arrived at Tower Bridge thus it gave me great photos opt. We took couple of pictures, headed back to the tube and rushed back home.

Tower Bridge : Gin Yew & I

Tower Bridge

I almost missed my train again. I ran as soon as I got out from the tube and made it just in time for the train. Damn, my time management is really bad.

The train took me 2 hours again. I had to stop at Derby to take a bus back to Sheffield. The bus ride was unpleasant. Even though the bus was amazing stuffy and hot, the driver turned on the heater.
I arrived in Sheffield exhausted. I bought McDonalds for dinner and headed straight back home. Despite the lovely sceneries and clean streets. London is polluted. I cleaned my nose when I got back from London and found that all the substance was black.

I complained to my housemates that the Buckingham Palace guards weren’t around. Frederick told me that the guards would only appear during ceremonies!