A Day & Half in London

Shortest stay of my UK trip, but contains the most pictures because it has too many attractions per square km (excuses).

Expecting a carbon copy of Singapore, with orderly transportation and convenient walkways..... That was not the case in London! As soon as I got out of the Heathrow Express, which zips me from the airport to central London at Paddington Station, I was greeted with a hundred signs, each pointing to different directions. Starving by then, I grabbed a quick Japanese conveyor belt lunch (mediocre, but a customer beside me said it's the best around the area) and tried to find my way (with some difficulty) towards the B&B at Victoria Station.

I was both impressed and disappointed with the London Underground. Impressed, because most of its stations are so well connected. There are countless alternative routes to take in order to reach your destination. Saying that, it was also a let-down that the tubes couldn't be more wheelchair-unfriendly. To add insult to injury, I had an 18-kg luggage to lug around, and needless to say, it wasn't a pretty sight .. (jatuh saham)... Most of the interchanging train lines are only accessible by steps, with no lifts of escalator in sight. (Shoulder and arm muscles fatigue for the next day pfft)

Thank goodness I bought a SIM card when I first arrived in the UK. Data was fully utilized, apple maps were a great help with my way around the city (I am a girl, I need all the help I can get!).

Welcome to Lynton B&B Hotel :)

I have no regrets paying a little extra for this tiny bed and breakfast. It is only about 5 minutes' walk to the tube and coach station, 10 minutes walk to the Buckingham Palace and some 25 minutes walk or so to the Westminster Underground (I tried walking this route at 11pm, thinking back, I probably shouldn't have done so hehehe...)

Rented this room at £90 a night for a single room en-suite. But Lynton didn't have a single en-suite at the time I booked, so they gave me this one with two single beds instead! Well, not that I have any real use of it except to put some of my stuff on it. Well, I could sleep on one bed on one night, then change on another.

Anyway, at first I was quite apprehensive when I first arrived. As I entered, I noticed some of the furnitures look old, and stairways are narrow. Simon, one of the owners, offered to carry my luggage up but I turned down his offer, preferring to launch into my own workout. It's probably safer and faster that way too cos Simon is pretty big :P  Checked into my room, it's small but it's very, very clean! That's probably the most important factor for me. The towels smell fresh, sheets crisp and clean, not dank like even some posher hotels. It's a huge bonus.

Toilets are just enough space for one. If I have longer legs or am a bigger person, I may have to poop sideways on the toilet lol. My knees are inches away from the closed toilet door, it's quite funny really hehehe. 

Quick shower, got dressed and started exploring the city. Decided to start with Trafalgar Square and then the National Gallery....

People everywhere! Sooooo many tourists. Where do all these people come from?! It's quite a nightmare getting past the crowds. And some of them were just hanging around the Square, like, got nothing to do issit?? If I was on holiday, I'd like to see and do as much as possible, at a comfortable pace, and not just sit around at a crowded area, staring into space.

Spent some 20-30 minutes in the National Gallery. Read reviews that it's must-go, must-do but to be honest,  it's not really my thing. Maybe I don't appreciate art and history that well, I suppose. A shame. 

Made my way towards Chinatown to meet up with Raymond, a friend from USM. And my, my, take a wild guess who do I stumble into! 

None other than Hugh Jackman!

Saw a huge crowd waiting outside and some areas cordoned off to pedestrians. Just out of curiosity, I waited in line as well, not knowing who or what to expect (#kiasu). Finally saw a policeman and casually asked what the fuss is all about. It's the Wolverine movie premier! Stood just for the fun of it, hoping to see a celebrity close up, for the first time if possible. 

Pictures from phone.

Close enough!

Now, assuming you are living in a foreign country for a while now and a friend is visiting you. It's going to be quite a treat bringing them to places you like, right? What I'll do is, I'll bring them to my favourite makan haunts, and then some place unique to the city I live in, that you can't quite get elsewhere. But Raymond is special. First he asks me if there's anything in particular I'd like to try. I told him to just chinchai pick and I'll be fine (I should have been more specific!!!) and he said what about Chinese food? I wasn't too convinced and said why would I travel all the way to London and have Chinese food? He replied that some of his friends actually said that Chinese food in London is much better. After a bit of thinking he said, ok, let's go to this place. Thinking that we may be going to some Chinese place, I left my dinner choices to the hands of fate.

And to my (not so) pleasant surprise, he brought me to a place called Ed's... an American diner!! So I thought, okayyy... maybe it's a special kind of American cuisine that I may not have tried? Just a tiny glimmer of hope left by then. Raymond told me that this is the only place in London that serves proper 'hot dog'. So I ordered a hot dog with onion rings and coleslaw on the side. Verdict? Meh.... I later complained to Soon Wen that Raymond brought me to an American diner when someone from Malaysia visits him in London. Soon Wen went, yeah, he doesn't know how to become a tour guide lol.

Jalan-jalan after dinner

It was nice catching up with him. Haven't seen Raymond since I graduated. We bade our goodbyes early because his girlfriend is sick and he has to go back and tend to her, lol. It was then close to 10pm and most attractions would have been closed by then. The solution is to go somewhere that is open to the public, 24 hours a day :P

Night view of River Thames

The usual suspects, Big Ben and a section of the London Eye

I must say it's quite a majestic view of the Big Ben, along with the Westminster Abbey. Something about seeing an iconic structure in front of your eyes after only having being able to see them from the tv or pictures :) Took some more pictures and decided to walk back to the B&B via the park surrounding the Buckingham Palace. Met some joggers and drunken Londoners but was otherwise quite safe me thinks.

Was quite worn out from all the walk the day before, but I am in London! Got up at 9ish in the morning, headed down for breakfast in the B&B. Too bad I didn't bring my camera down, breakfast was quite pleasant, with 'real bacon'! lol. Simon popped in during breakfast and is great fun to talk to. He will just suddenly burst into a song, very infectious with his positive energy hehe.

First stop; Buckingham Palace! I decided to head there first  because it's nearest and I just felt like walking instead of getting caught underground. Also, it's another beautiful day! (I honestly think I brought the sun :D)

Already a crowd waiting outside for the 11:30am Changing of the Guards. And it was only 10ish in the morning! A bit siao, these tourists, if you ask me. 

Little duck's prime residence in front of the palace! (And no, I didn't stay long enough for the baby Prince to pop out the Duchess).

Walked across St James park to try and find my way to an alternative, less known Changing of the Guards, supposedly less people and more photo ops. The park during the day is an absolute pleasure to take a stroll in, after getting squeezed in a sardine can of a tube. Then I spotted a clutter of lounge chairs, and I thought, that's a nice idea. Then I saw some more and a sign that reads: Rental £5 per hour and £15 whole day or something ridiculous like that. What a complete rip-off! Not to mention it's so touristy and the extend people go to, just to earn a few extra bucks.

How's that for a view! Top reason why St James Park is one of my favourite places in London. Couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw this trail of birds, thought they were motorised. Maybe I'm just a jakun. Glad I managed to take this shot.

Changing of the Guards at the Horse Guards Road.

Standing under the hot blazing sun, while waiting for the clock to strike 11:30am. I was kept entertained by the horses publicly relieving themselves, lol. Very glam.

I was expecting the Changing of the guards to be more... elaborate. What happened after some waiting was a bunch of horses trotted around the square and replaced the guards lined on both sides. And that was it. A girl beside me asked, "Is that all?", echoing the same thoughts in my mind. I was quite disappointed after all the hype! (Later I came back and googled this daily event, and apparently, the one outside of Buckingham Palace is much more interesting, with bands playing and all. Ah well.).

After the less than desirable show, I checked on the map and realised that 10 Downing Street is only a few minutes' walk away. It's more of a touristic responsibility than anything else, you see.

As expected, the area is heavily guarded and I only managed to take this dismal shot. At least I could say, casually, yeah, I've been to where the British Prime Minister lives in London. And seen Hugh Jackman in the flesh. While coolly sipping on (insert cool drink).

Also dropped by at the Natural History Museum and then the Science Museum afterwards (all free attractions!). Now, I don't visit museums much, not really when I travel, and it's not hard to see why. It's boring to say the least, and not very interactive. But don't get me wrong, I honestly think that the Science Museum is very nice. It is large and modern and plenty to do there. I only wanted to do an hour touring the Science Museum but I ended exploring it for more than 2 hours!

All that walking made me famished, but as I was quite close to Harrods, I was determined to try something there.

Harrods is undeniably the nicest looking building on the street. Had a bit of a problem locating the where the eateries are, but the guard sorted me out. There are three main food halls, one selling all sorts of main courses, another that serves confectioneries and a final one selling poultry, rotisserie and the likes.

The main course food hall has a few smaller sections serving all sorts of food items (Oysters, steaks, caviar, wine and champagne). Needless to say, they all look intimidating in the upscale Harrods and I feel completely out of place.

Marble counter top dining with a charming, immaculately dressed garcon. I knew this is one of the instances I should behave, be careful not to spill anything, act all prim and proper. It was hard work. 

I was torn between ordering the fish and chips or the lobster bisque. Finally decided on the fish and chips (I am in the capital of England, after all!).

1. Portion is huge! Comes with an even bigger portion of fries.

2. The fish is haddock, batter nicely done, but at £22 a plate, look at the state of the mushed green peas! A sickly, overcooked green. And that's being generous. Not really appetising. In fact, I think I had better fish and chips at the Crawley hotel I was staying at. Hell, even the fish and chips takeaway at 10 Euros in Quinslan, Ireland is much better than this!

3. Overrated!

Took a walk around the building, and it wasn't exactly what I'd had in mind.... I used to wander around the Harrods in the Twin Towers KLCC and admittedly, it was smaller than this one in London. The 2 shoplots will sell miscellaneous items such as Harrod's tea, bears and even some of those reusable bags (at a preposterous price like RM50 for a plastic one). So I suppose I was expecting more of a tea and scones place. Instead, it's a huge departmental store selling overpriced designer goods and expensive food items.... Yes, overrated. But it is filled with customers! Well, it's not for me anyway....

Also, travelling alone sucks. I miss having a companion around for meals, even just conversational ones. But the biggest impact for me travelling without a companion in this London trip: There is only one picture with me in it. In front of the B&B, no less -.- major fail.

After a full day of walking. I am too pampered during my Ireland trip, got chauffeured around. Here it's most convenient to just walk and by the evening of Day 2 London, I am already tired, sweaty, and covered in dust and grime! It's London, I swear, not a problem with my hygiene. Honest.

Got back to the B&B, showered and got ready for an evening of theatre. Booked a ticket while in Singapore to watch Les Miserables at a the Queen Theatre. Consulted Wei En because I was torn between Les Miserables, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Mamma Mia. She reckoned that Les Miz will be the best choice and I trusted her because she recommended Wicked (when they were in Singapore) which I enjoyed immensely.

Decided to give myself a treat after a hard day of walking and got the cab instead to the theatre (some 15 minutes away, but it's mostly traffic, not the distance). Chatted with the cab driver and he said I have good English! ;)

Dinner before theatre at a not-so-glamorous Chinese restaurant. Asked for the fastest meal available, roast pork (char siu) rice and man behind the counter says, 30 seconds! lol

True enough, just 10 seconds after I'd parked my butt on the seat, the tea arrives (complimentary), then 30 seconds later (approximate), my order arrives. And my goodness, for £5, this is a whole mountain of rice and generous portion of meat!

Pretty good meal too I must say.... Now where's the veg.....

Anticipation! My ticket costs £57 which meant I was sitting far from the prime seats :( but it's as good as it gets, you won't be able to see the performers' pores and all. 

I don't know if it's just me or what, after I'd settled in and ready for the show to begin, a father and his daughter seated right in front of me started snuggling together like lovers! I know they're dad-daughter because there is a son and presumably his wife there as well. So the two of them created a pinnacle of a triangle right in front of my line of sight.... Or occasionally they will sit up super straight and leaning forward and blocking part of my view, lol... Why me?!

I loved the songs, but preferred Act 2 over Act 1. I almost fell asleep during the first part. Maybe I was just tired. The show went on for 2.5 hours, it was half past ten by the time it was over. Still time to take the train and visit one of the iconic attractions of London!

View on Tower Bridge

Then view of Tower Bridge from London Bridge, lol.

This last picture probably reflects London, well, and any other major city. Full of promises and sparkling with bated anticipation but it's just another city, filled with people, rude, stuck up ones, not to mention filthy (the Underground - graffiti, trash, dusty). Oh well, maybe things would seem a lot different with a companion. But I do like the energy of the city though, interesting looking people, a plethora of colourful city dwellers. But I'll still take Glanteenassig any day :)


  1. Aiyo... so packed with tourists. Maybe it is because of summer time -- that's when people go vacation plus Europeans they get a whole month off for summer. At least all buildings look like they are very well maintained.

    Kesian adik travel solo but at least you're brave enough to venture off on your own ya ;) Your job have trained you well hehe But get to see Hugh Jackman -- quite close hoh, din ask for autograph? So expensive at the B&B and can't get to split your expenses either.

    Apala your friend, din even ask to take a picture together or even your picture meh. Really bad tour guide or host even!

    LMAO@motorized birds! Fish n' chips again? Din try the traditional foods like bangers and mash/shepherd's/meat pie?

    When we were younger we used to play "London Bridge" and now you actually get to see it first hand, did it show any signs of fracture anot?

  2. Yeah, most likely because it's summer time. Buildings are quite well maintained I suppose. In each hall/room at the museum, there is a guard standing by to catch any wrong-doers/

    Kakakka travelled solo quite often but mostly for work. For holiday rarely so. Didn't ask for autograph hehehe cos I don't have anything to sign on and somehow I doubt I'll be framing the autograph or anything like that! Yea B&B is quite pricey but most of them are around that rate especially in central London.

    Oh can't blame my friend, he was only available for dinner and he brought me to a huge M&M shop and offered to take a pic of me as well haha but I said no, not that I'm fond of M&M also.

    I did try a steak pie... coming up in next post :P

    I sure hope there's no fracture; but it's really quite a normal bridge. Nothing fancy about it. I didn't even know I was on it (I was just there to take a shot of the Tower Bridge) until I saw the signs.


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