This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Full Speed Ahead

Our first day in London is somewhat of a blur. We were tired from the plane trip but certainly adrenalized to be in London, so we didn't feel tired. We just knew we had to be...

I knew we were in for a long day when Jhun said, at the airport, I hope you're not too tired because we have a lot least make it to five o'clock. At this time, it was about 8:30 AM.

We made the long trip from Gatwick to London with lots of traffic and man, those speed bumps in some of those London boroughs. We also learned that there is a bit of a state-of-the-art traffic system, in which speed is measured by cameras, and well, you will most likely be caught and mailed your ticket for speeding. Very similar to our red-light cameras in Raleigh.

They also ticket for talking on the phone while driving – again, through the use of cameras. Apparently, CCTV is prevalent throughout the city, so no matter what, you could be found out without anyone seeing you in front of their face.

As for driving through the city, fuhgeddaboutit! Holy crap – how on earth do people drive in this city? Especially when it seems so unnecessary, with the city transportation available.

After a quick shower , brunch, and brush of our nasty teeth, we hit the streets of London. We walked through an amazing alley of shops, with cobblestones under my feet. I was enthralled.

The Underground was about a block away so we hit that first. Joyce bought our tickets and apparently, children are free.

While we waited for Joyce to get our tickets, my Auntie Tess was staring and studying a public loo. It looked extremely daunting, with several lines of instruction on what to do to use this loo...but, it was free to use.

Anyway, we hit the Underground and arrived someplace and with some more walking, we were at Big Ben. BIG BEN. I couldn't believe I was looking at Big Ben. And there were many beautiful buildings next to Big Ben.

We saw the London Eye and much to my cousin's dismay, we opted NOT to ride it.

I have a fear of heights...and at a random moment during my youth, I discovered that I was scared of riding on ferris wheels. Year after year, I rode the ferris wheel at the HOG (Happening On the Green, a yearly festival that Clark AFB held, full of games and rides) and suddenly, one year, I crouched down in great fear as I rode...not even THINKING that it would be scary and yet, it was the last time I can remember ever riding one.

And here in London, was the Eye, a landmark and I knew I couldn't ride it. NO WAY. Not only that, it was a slow moving ferris wheel that, if you looked right at it, you couldn't tell it was actually moving. You could only tell if you watched long enough, and found a landmark to compare the cart too (like a tree) and eventually, you would see the cart by the tree, so it was apparent it was moving...but not to the naked eye (at least not mine).

We walked further down whatever street we were on and came upon Westminster Abbey. My cousins noticed paparazzi, which didn't stand out for me but hey, I'm from Raleigh. They knew something was up and so we ended up joining in the gawking and after nearly an hour of standing, waiting (for something we didn't know would happen, although we assumed it would be the French president, since he happened to be in town), and watching the police cordon off the area, we did indeed see the French President and his supermodel wife, Carla Brunei. Unbelievably, they rode right past us and I shot this quick video. You can see him wave and then a quick shot of his woman to his side.
Coincidentally, when we finally arrived back home at the end of the day, they had drove right past us again.

It's at this point that Mi-Mi received her nickname from the family.

While we waited for the French president, Mi-Mi was desperate about going to the loo. We found out it was across the street ('by the big tree' i was told, but there were three big trees...fortunately, a nice englishman clarified which big tree it was) and Tim volunteered to take her there.

Once the president and his first lady, diva Carla, went inside Westminster Abbey, we stood around for a few more minutes when Jhun said, very nonchalantly, “Now we wait for the other princess to arrive”...a few seconds go by and Joyce says, you mean “Princess Mi-Mi” and he nodded with assurance. This would become her bane throughout our stay in London...Princess Mi-Mi with her scowling back “I'm not a princess!!!”

So we humped all throughout London and at the end of this long day, we ended up in Chinatown.

We hit one of the many chinese eateries, with duck and stuff hanging from the windows, and had a great feast. I had singapore noodles (my favorite), plus there was an order of egg fried rice, sauteed vegetables, roast duck, roast pork, etc. I tried a piece of the duck out of courtesy...I no like. Tim loved it and deemed it his favorite. CJ even tried a piece, but she opted for her sweet and sour chicken.

After all that food, I sat there, in the restaurant, and I felt totally buzzed out. I was wondering if they had snuck anything into my Jasmine tea, because as far as I knew, I was sober. But I felt soooo drunk.

We walked out and stopped outside of a Chinese bakery to pick up some pastries then we had the walk back home. In between all the walking throughout the day, we did pick up the double-decker bus, which was Princess Mi-Mi's favorite. We made it back and tried our best to make the best of some small talk before Tim and I ventured to bed and fell fast asleep.

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