28 May 2009

Touring Chateau De Versailles & Cruising the Seine River

I woke up just in time for breakfast. The cafĂ©’ was down in what appeared to be an underground cellar. I happened to share a table with a Chinese guy. He introduced himself as a professor (he looked too young to be a professor though) and a lecturer at one of the universities in Beijing. He was on a job tour doing some presentations at a number of universities in Germany, Lithuania, Holland and France. With his obvious struggle with English, I couldn’t be more sure then that language is not a barrier when it comes to travelling.

So, I started off my day by walking to an RER Station called Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel (a few hundred yards away from Eiffel Tower) from where I took a train to Versailles.
Sorry. I didn't mean to look so serious. I just tried to look French. LOL!

23 May 2009

Touring Paris

It would be my second day in Paris. One of the good things about traveling SOLO is the fact that you can always have a change of mind without anybody bothering about it. It was supposed to be the day that I’d allocated touring the world famous Chateau de Versailles  which is located some 20 km southwest of the French Capital. Somehow, I had preferred to go places around the city of Paris and spared the chateau for the next day.

My had planed my route to something like this:

21 May 2009

Hello Paris!

I’ve always liked the idea of travelling without too much planning because I believe too much planning will make my journey less-adventurous. I don’t really like to stick too closely to a pre-planned itinerary. I’d like to get to a place without knowing too much about it, expecting to experience the excitement of discovering one thing after another. But when it comes to travelling to an place thousands miles away from home, where everything tend to be alien even to your own world, leaving without at least the simplest itinerary and budget details wouldn’t be a wise idea. Doing a little bit of research to get from one place to another will help saving a lot of your time – and money.

Sandakan-Kuala Lumpur-London

I took a direct flight to KL from Sandakan. I promptly checked myself in at the Tune Hotels upon arrival at the LCCT Airport at about 1pm. Prappppp!! I was free from all the bags. Somehow, it felt good to be unburdened from something heavy.

Then I took one of the Air Asia buses off to KL Central before taking a train to Mid Valley Shopping Complex. I had to do some last-minute shopping – buying a list of things that I didn’t get to buy back in Sandakan. By 9pm, I was back at the Tune Hotels, doing my last check-through before I checked myself in for the flight to Stansted Airport at about 10.30pm. I was checked into the hotel for less than 8 hours. I didn’t even get to feel the seducing comfort of the mattress. I didn’t even get to rub my nose up on the smooth pillow. :-(

Later, it was 1 am, and the Air Asia X flight soared up to the sky, bringing in it – me and my excitement. Silently I said, London…. Here I come….

It was a very long haul 13-hr inter-continental flight, and there was nothing much I could do but sleeping or playing with my wildest imagination. And everybody seemed to do the same. I had the urge of switching on the reading light and starting another reading of Master of The Game by Sidney Sheldon, the only book that I had brought with me, and which I had read more than 5 times, at least. But then, I couldn’t spoil the silence and gloomy dark atmosphere in where everybody seemed to be soundly asleep most of the time. Believe me, there really are people who can sleep through 13 hours non-stop and I say this because I’ve seen it – on the flight. Even more amazing is the fact that they do it up-right. Phew!

Meals were served at least twice in the whole trip. I’d booked for them via online so I got my meals and I didn’t get hungry. Any passenger WITH MONEY could buy from a list of choices of foods, or lighter ones like snacks and everything. They are ridiculously priced and I could only imagine passengers with less than 10 bucks in their pocket are most likely being left to die of hunger.

10 bucks? Then, I remember one time back in my Uni life when I went to ‘balik kampung’ with only 10 bucks in my pocket. By the time I reached Subang Airport, I already spent half of it (transportation etc.)Thanks God it was all MAS by then and an on-flight meal was covered together with the ticket price itself. So, I didn’t get hungry. Upon arriving at the KK Airport, I’d spend about 2 bucks to get myself on a bus to the bus station in the town centre (that was then, I’m sure the bus fare has soared up much higher since then). Good thing about taking a taxi by then was that the driver wouldn’t ask you to pay, not before he had sent you to your destination, which was, in my case, my home in Keningau. So, I’d spend some of the 3 bucks that I had left in my pocket making a phone call to my family (yupp, you guessed it right, my mom) so that they could prepare for the taxi fare when I arrived at home. The rest of the money would be spent on a very basic meal (roti canai + plain water?). So, I had 10 bucks and I had lived.

But it wasn’t a 2 hrs 45 mins KK-KL MAS flight. This was a 13 hrs KL-Stansted Air Asia X flight. The thinnest flimsiest chocolate bar can already cost you MYR4 and a small size of mineral water is of about the same price. You can’t survive 13 hrs out of a thin chocolate bar and a small bottle of mineral water. Or maybe you can… People have a various degrees of survival. So was the case with the ability to sleep for many many hours.

When the captain finally made the customary announcement of thanking all the passengers for using Air Asia, together with the more familiar ones like please-make-sure-your-hand-phones-are-still-switched-off-at-this-moment and everything, I knew I was there… at about 7.30 am local time, on May 5, 2009, I disembarked myself from the plane, stepping out onto the English soil…

I am in England!

05 May 2009

The Adventure Has Begun...

I'm blogging from the Coffee Bean at LCCT while waiting for my flight to London scheduled to depart at 1 am. I took a Sandakan-KL direct flight this morning and promptly checked myself into the Tune Hotel upon arriving, before checking out again 8 hrs later. I didn't even get to rub myself against the seductive matress. Well, I'd consider it my first day of travelling on this journey and I've already got a lot of things to talk about. I'll just spare it for another time when I'm free enough to detail things out. Gotta go for the boarding now. The adventure has really begun....

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