15 Dec 2007 (Saturday): Paris - London

Crossing the English Channel

  • It's one of the rare mornings that we started the day late... the Eurostar that headed for London only left Paris at 11+.
  • The journey lasted for about 2.5 hours.
  • Exciting? Well, it's already the 2nd time... but noticed the difference at the immigration point. Back in the early 2000s, we only 'cleared' our immigration at London Waterloo, however, this time, it's at Paris to process our entry to UK!
  • The seats seemed to be quite cramp... as compared to many years back... Er... just wondering... did I travel by 1st class seat previously?
  • Got some time to plan for our London free day during the journey. Oh yes, also recommended a couple of places to the 1st timers to London - the British Museum, Madam Tussauds Museum, a walk along River Thames to catch a glimpse of the Tower of London, Shakespeare Globe and Big Ben in daylight... and Covent Garden.
  • Wanted to send an sms home to inform them that I was crossing the English Channel... well, by the time I finished crafting the message, the train had already gone into the tunnel. Well, amended the message and sent over after 'touching' the English ground :D
  • Thanks to the gentlemen who helped us with our luggages that were heavier than before - ok, it's the chocolate's fault! hahaha...

  • We were only given 25 minutes for lunch at Chinatown.
  • Without much thought, we hopped into the 1st Chinese cafeteria, to be more precise, the Cantonese-style cafeteria.
  • For the first time in this trip, craved for porridge. However, after weighing the priority - time and 'want', we asked the waiter, what kind of the food would take the shortest time to get ready... That's how I landed up having roasted duck in soup noodle. That alone cost almost 5 pounds!

Land Tour

  • By the time all returned to the bus, it was almost 3.30 pm (half an hour behind schedule). The sky started turning dark, too!
  • The first stop of the land tour was St Paul Cathedral. Heard much about this Cathedral - it's the first domed cathedral, and it's where the wedding of Charles and Diana took place.
  • Came here twice (before this), but had not have the time to go into the building. Will try to make time this round.

  • We only saw the Tower Bridge (from far), the Belfast from far. The group was not even informed of the Tower of London (which is significant to the English History)!

  • By the time we continued our journey to the next venue, we were already roaming in the dark - Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace. We merely passed by Trafaglar Square and were told that the Christmas tree was a gift from Norway and there's choraling in the evenings.
  • Oh yes, we also passed by Downing Road No. 10. Guess whose home?

16 Dec 2007 (Sunday): London

  • This morning, we joined the land tour (by Evans Evans). Pretty excited, as 2 out of 3 places were new to me - the Stonehenge and Bath. The original plan was to go Stratford upon Avon. Nevertheless, there was no place for that land tour anymore. OK, give it a miss this time...
  • We waited for the coach to pick us up from the hotel. Thought we saw the coach, but it disappeared in seconds! Surprise! Shock! How could they leave us behind? Well, well, well... we did not miss the coach... It had just parked itself at coach parking bay.

  • The coach took us to the Victoria Coach Station where we board another the actual bus, with Lynn as our Guide and Pat as the coach driver. It's been a very informative trip, with lots of information from Lynn. One thing about this kind of land tour - the coach departs very punctually.

Windsor Castle

  • Last time, came alone by train. This time, by coach. It was fast indeed! It only took 45 minutes to reach there.
  • Learnt that it's in fact very near Heathrow Airport! Well, no wonder someone asked why built the castle so near to the airport? hahaha... did he get the sequence right?
  • I still remember the almond chocolate bought here last year... hm... yummy yummy... well, too back, no time to shop this round.
  • Well, found some similarity between Windsor Castle and Versaillie Palace - the King's and Queen's room, etc... The elaborated curvings on the pillars and paintings on the ceilings. Oh yes, this time saw the Crimison Room (that's only open in the winter).


  • We da-bao sandwiches from EAT ... well, it's a good timesaver :D


  • Stonehenge is one of the most mysterious places - the rock formation. It's something man-made. However, with the technology dated back so many thousand years ago, how were they set up?
  • Each stone has its own story...
  • What else we saw? Lots of sheep along the way... no no... not all sheep... some were the big fat pigs! hahaha....

  • Came across Bath while doing my research - an ancient town set up by the Romans. It was abandoned when it was invaded many many years ago.
  • Bath sits on the only volcanic area in UK.
  • The Roman bath is still at work! We could still see steam coming out from the green water.
  • Interestingly, when we spoke to a few people in Bath (including the Roman), they've been to Singapore before!


We went back to Chinatown... we still had the 5-pound soup noodles.

17 Dec 2007 (Monday): London

We started late this morning, although we planned to be early... all because of the hiccup in the hotel arrangement... Count ourselves lucky to notice the change of the room and insisted clearing things up before the group left for the airport... else, the experience of the next few days would be very different. Yes, one lesson learnt: Always insist on the hotel booking voucher if we ask the tour agent to help extending the stay in the same hotel.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • We joined the free guided tour to learn some key info facts of the garden... for instance, how it came about (OK, it's again, the king and queen stories).
  • First time went into a greenhouse - it was exciting... Wow! Plants and trees growing indoor? Lucky I did not wear my spectaculars, else it sure fogged. Oops! My camera lens!!!
  • The Princess of Wales Conservatory alone provides upto 10 different types of climate for plants' growth and research! It's amazing! One word to describe the flowers we saw here - "WOW" !!!
  • This tree survived a bad hurricane. Because of it, experts discovered how to take care of big old trees.
  • The following art work was made from the woods of trees destroyed by the hurricane. Can figure out what's in the masterpiece?

  • There are 20 odd sculptures in this garden, by the famous Henry Moore. The exhibition is on from mid-Sep to end next March. Among the pieces, all were made of bronze except the white one - made of fibre glass.

  • We also set on the Kew Explorer to go round the garden, well protected from the wind :D
We came across a fish & chips cafeteria... While Chai Noi had her Chicken Drumstick and chips, I had my Fish 'n Chips! By the time we finished our lunch, it was about 3 pm!

After that... we went to Oxford Street... and return to Chinatown for dinner. This time, we tried the porridge 艇仔粥 Yes, the Hongkong style. Well, it cost us 5 pounds per bowl! Well, well, well, it seems like "5" is the magic figure for chinese food!

18 Dec 2007 (Tuesday): London

The target for the day was museums... Ah ha... the 2 well-known ones in the world: The British Museum and Madam Tussaud's Museum.

On the way, we dropped by one of the well-known areas in London, Nottingham Hill area... and discover an interesting mural :D

Then, we adjourned to Baker Street station. Another discovery! It's the oldest underground railway in the world! snap! snap!

Madam Tussaud's Museum

  • Close encounter with celebrities... and idols...
  • Apart from snapping photos with the celebrities, one more exciting one would be the "Live Horror Chamber"... er... there were some disgusting sights, too!

British Museum

  • It's the 2nd time coming here... the first time was really a rush rush... but thanks to Shoo Soon who doubled up as a guide for the 3-hour orientation. It's like tracing the previous set of footsteps... :D
  • Yes, shared with Chai Noi the key things I learnt from the previous visit - the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin rocks :D Ah ha, there's another piece of Rosetta Stone in the King's library that we can touch!!! (the one in the display area was put behind the glass)
  • Yes, met Ginger again :D Also spent some time to look at the African art.

Covent Garden

  • It really gave a different feel and look to the English society... It's bustling with life, with the festive flavour :D

19 Dec 2007 (Wednesday): London - Heading home

It's the last day... finally, after being away from home for almost 2 weeks!

  • We decided to leave the hotel late - had a good breakfast, then check out... partly also because 'off-peak' for tube travel only starts at 9.30 am. Yes, the difference of the day pass between peak and off-peak can go as much as 1 pound!

St Paul Cathedral

  • We came the other day (with the land tour), but today's target was to discover the internal part of the cathedral. It was big... it's dome! Yes, that's the highlight of the entire building... so beautiful, above ground.
  • The above-ground building comes with 3 more levels. Climbed up the 1st level through a narrow spiral staircase... on my own, it's pretty scary initially... there's no point of return. From here, can see the other side of the dome. It was suspended from the ceiling. Oh yes, a lady was giggling, talking to someone... who was at the other end... Oh! It's the Whisper Wall at work!
  • There's a crypt. Hm... it's dim and eerie... pretty scary... If I were alone, I would have retracted my footsteps. There are monuments and coffins! Yes, some very famous people were buried here... some were remembered here (like William Blake, the poet). You know what, the first thing crossed my mind was the scene from Romeo and Juliet. Yes, where Romeo looked for Juliet (after she faked her death).

Tower of London

  • Visited the Tower of London in the very first trip... it was like a maze... not because it's huge (certainly, it's not comparable to Windsor)... but it's its layout... and the story behind it casted a bloody shadow behind it. It seems typical that castles often also double up as prison where kings, queens and royalties were imprisoned and beheaded... Ee.....
  • Next to it is the beautiful Tower Bridge which can lift up its 'roads' to let ship passed through. So, it's not London Bridge is falling down... It should be Tower Bridge, to be exact, in London.


  • We had KFC for lunch near the Tower of London... it cost less than 6 pounds! for 2 mini-burgers (recommended by Chai Noi) and 3 hot wings... and yes, the Max Peisi.

Buckingham Palace

  • We came the other night... in fact, it was so dark that there's nothing to see! except the big crests on the gates and the back of the Victorian monument (that golden angel)!
  • It definitely looks different with daylight. Yes, the Queen was IN, judging by the flag flying.
Harrods departmental Store
  • Harrods - a very huge departmental store with a theme in almost every section (eg. Egyptian room). So many things... Surprising, its home brand of jams and cookies and toiletries are pretty affordable, as compared to Body Shop (surprisingly!).
  • Did not buy anything at the Knightsbridge store, but got a couple of things from its airport store - hm... at a slightly cheaper price, though the range is limited.
  • On the way out, there's a group of anti-fur activist requesting people stop patronising Harrods for its furry business... something we don't see back home!

Journeying home...

  • Was telling myself... one time would be more than enough! No more city-hopping in this manner! It's so tiring to fly for so many stops.
  • This time, watched "No Reservations", "Licence to Wed", "Spider Man" and the cantonese show "Iron Lady Chef"... anyway, it's a good pastime...

Our Accommodation in London

Hotel Hilton Olympia @ Kensington High Street.
  • Its location is 'convenient' because the tube station, Olympia sits just beside it... about 10 minutes walk.
  • It's 'inconvenient' because it sits in Zone 2 (which is out of the tourist belt, I would regard)... also, each time, we have to stop by Earl's Court station (which is an interchange) for the final lapse of the train journey... of course, the steps to climb up and down lah...

  • We really enjoyed our breakfast during our stay here... partly because there's no rush rush... also, the comfort and ambience the restaurant offers. Ah ha... Chai Noi liked the omelette...
  • Of course, the staff were patient and attentive, and it made a difference... Just to name a few... Margaret, Medhi, Tracy.
  • Hm... On the whole, we enjoyed our 4-night stay here :D
  • BTW, it's the first time I got 'threatened' by the high-tech refrigerator.

Itinerary (London) - by Travel Agency

Day 9: Paris to London via Eurostar

  • Depart Paris by EUROSTAR to London
  • Trafalgar Square (commerates Lord Nelson's defect of the French fleet at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805
  • Whitehall
  • Downing Street, home and office of Prime Minister
  • Houses of Parliament - New Palace of Westminister - Big Ben
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Buckingham Palace (built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham, the palace became the sovereign's London residence in 1837)

Day 10 onwards: Free & Easy