London Underground strike?
It was our last day in London and our Oyster Card credits were short of, get this: 10 pence. Although theoretically, you can get back whatever balance plus the deposit for the cards once you return them, intuition still nag at me and told me not to top up too much if possible. So trying my luck, i went up to the machine and voila! I successfully topped up £0.10 to each of our Oyster Cards! 😉
We have allocated a safe 2 hours to travel by bus & then by tube to town for our airport transfer. However, we were met with constructions after constructions of various sections of the underground system. Some connecting stations were closed and some lines re-routed, and some changes even unannounced on paper. Just our luck. The existing tube map was complicated as it was without any changes or closures, even the Londoners find it confusing. So, we have to squeeze our grey matter to interpret the confusing changes so that we can reach our destination on time. So we went on our last crowded, expensive & uninteresting underground ride in London city. We had to make several interchanges before we reached our final destination.
When we came out at Earl’s Court, we found nobody was manning any of the counters. Odd, so we tried our luck in the next nearest walkable station, West Brompton, near the place where we were supposed to board our airport transfer. Nobody behind the counters here too! It was even more haphazard here. Some tourists seem to be at a lost. The underground stations look almost haunted! So, most unfortunate for us, no refund for our Oysters! Then we met some German tourists looking lost at the ticketing machine, and in our hurry, still managed to sell them one card. £5 better than nothing lol!
After the underground havoc, we have to run up to the bus stop where the Easybus pick up point was. There were already a whole lot of people lugging big bags waiting there. My bladder was about to burst but the bus was cruising by already. It will take another 1.5 hours to get to the airport. I simply can’t wait that long!
So while the bus driver was busy loading up the luggage, i ran to the nearest hotel, Ibis, hoping that its layout will be similar to Ibis Macon or Ibis Munich where there is a toilet at the lobby. Ibis London, however, was a much bigger hotel, with a huge square for a lobby. No toilets. I ran all the way back to the other end, and met a German tourist who saw my pitiful and panicky face and told me that the toilet was upstairs, inside a Dragon Bar. Holy macaroni! Why did this have to happen to me at this time?? Most bars don’t allow you to use their toilet unless you were their guest, and i just don’t have time for the hassle.
So, i sprinted up the 2 flights of stairs and in my best composure, i tried to look as casual as i could and just walked coolly into the bar; panicked as i was feeling inside with a bursting bladder and the horrifying thought of potentially missing the bus right outside, and missing the subsequent flight. The Dragon Bar happened to be a damn big bar, with the toilets nowhere in sight.
This time, i bumped into an Italian tourist instead, and quickly asked for directions. He simply looked at me and said “Italian!”, and shook his hands and head vigorously. So i spoke to him in my calmest voice and my best Italian accent, “tuoi-lette”…. and surprisingly, he understood! Awesome! So i got to my toilet and then sprinted all the way back to the bus. Luckily it was still there, as the bus driver was arguing with some Chinese bloke. Phew! What a close call!
Screaming out loud in a sleepy airplane
Alright, here’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to me in this trip. On the way home inside a long-haul flight, almost everybody sleeps. What else would you be doing for 13 hours in a confined space? I rarely sleep in the plane, but i did that day as i was really fatigued, after 20 days of walking. I must have walked about 100 miles in total. So, i dozed off in the uncomfortable chair, with head hanging and mouth drooling,…. and then i dreamt.
It was not a normal dream, it was a violent dream, i think. In the dream, i was in a big confrontation with some jerk, and the next thing i know, i was screaming my lungs out in the airplane! It wasn’t just a slip of tongue, or a word mistakenly spoken out, it was a full-blown amplifying and violent scream, shrill like a banshee!
Naturally, i woke myself up with that shrill yelling, and realised i was still in the plane, the first thing that came to mind was “Holy cow! Did that terrifying banshee-scream really came from me??!!” I started to look left and right for anyone being awoken by my scream. Except for Ming and the woman with the baby in front, nobody else seems to be stirring. Looks like everyone was even more tired than i was. All were sleeping like drugged zombies! Thank god!!
Taking 4,739 photos in 20 days.
My personal record. Almost used up the entire 4GB memory card! And that was only using low resolution. I heard that some of the Bollywood fellows in our group have taken 5000 pictures in 5 days, and most of them consist of pictures of themselves, in various poses! Talking about beauty-conscious guys! Phew! Having a hard time sorting through all those photos now. But all in the spirit of good fun. 😉