I came out from Stansted Airport, near London, on the night of 21
September 2010, my smiling daughter Syazana was already there to greet
me. From there, we boarded a train to Liverpool Station and then took a
bus to Notting Hill Gate, reaching her apartment at Cheniston Gardens,
in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, close to 1:00 a.m.
travel movement was easy as her apartment was located just about
2-minute walking distance to High Street Kensington underground station.
Londoners called it ‘the tube’ whereby the main stop station is the
Paddington station. Other than the tube, we also took the double-decker
red-colored bus which always arrived on time. As practiced by other
seasoned Londoners, we too bought the Oyster card which could be used
when traveling by tube or by bus.
For purpose of communicating
with family and friends back home, I changed the sim card of my mobile
phone to a local one, called Orange.
While in London, my daughter
brought me to several Malaysian food restaurants, other than the usual
fast food outlets. We had our lunch twice at the Malaysia Hall London
cafeteria located at Queensborough Terrace in Bayswater area. The
cafeteria was located in the same building as that of Malaysian High
Commission. We also ate at other restaurants in the Bayswater and
Paddington areas, such as Bonda Café, Tuk Din Restaurant, Delima
Restaurant, C&R Malaysian Cuisine and Khan’s. When we did some
shopping at Westfield, we had our lunch at Jom Makan Restaurant.
I was there, Malaysian Food Festival was held at Trafalgar Square on 24
September 2010. As it was a Friday, my daughter and I were only able to
visit the festival and taste the varieties of Malaysian food after my
Friday prayer at London Central Mosque located at Park Road, Regent’s
Park. It was a joyful affair except that the evening was chilly and
Since my holiday was for about two weeks, my daughter had
planned for us to visit several popular spots. One evening, we went to
stroll on the Westminster Bridge, above River Thames. Tourists all the
world were seen taking photographs of the Big Ben or Westminster Clock
Tower of the Houses of Parliament. I used to read in a travel magazine
stating that this clock tower (now known as Elizabeth Tower) is the most
photographed structure in the world.
Another favorite spot for
tourists as well as Londoners is the Buckingham Palace, the official
London residence of Queen Elizabeth II. It was advisable to be there on
Wednesday morning, around 11:00 a.m. as there will a colorful parade
called “Changing of the Guard”. The guards, in red coats, performed
their rehearsal at their barracks first before marching smartly to the
Palace. When I was there, the guards’ band was playing a familiar
instrumental theme, a nostalgic “Mission Impossible”. Spectators clapped
loudly and happily after they had finished it.
On 27 September,
we had our breakfast at a famous restaurant in front of our apartment,
called The Muffin Man Tea Shop. Situated at the corner of Wright’s Lane
and Cheniston Gardens, this restaurant is famous for its sandwich and
muffin. Our plan for the day was to go and visit a famous landmark in
Greenwich. It was about thirty minutes travel by train from central
Greenwich is also popular as a university town. Normally
tourists came to Greenwich to visit the world’s Prime Meridian in the
Courtyard of the Royal Observatory. The Royal Observatory is the home of
the Prime Meridian of the world, and of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). We
can print our own certificate, pre-signed by Director of National
Maritime Museum, Greenwich, stating the date and time of our visit and
standing at the Prime Meridian.
We also took the opportunity to
visit a nearby city, Manchester. The journey by Virgin Train started
from Euston station. The two-hour travel took us to Manchester
Piccadilly station, after stopping at Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and
Stockport stations. We stayed at Ramada Hotel, just a walking distance
from the station. During the day, we went to Salford Quays by tram and
had lunch at Harbour City. At night, we enjoyed having Malay food at
Ning Restaurant, located at Oldham Street.
After we came back from
Manchester, we took Amira for lunch at Satay House situated at Sale
Place, near Sussex Gardens. In fact, her mother Juliana Bahari is a
close friend as well as my former office mate.
It is popularly
known worldwide that London is a shopping heaven. Most people go to
Oxford Street and nearby places, including Knightsbridge area where the
Harrods is located. For souvenirs, I prefer to go to Bayswater area to
buy them. Items such as postcards, key chains, fridge magnets, t-shirts,
mufflers, London street signage, mufflers and other items are
reasonably priced. For quality second-hand goods and paintings, we can
buy them at Portobello Market.
A day before leaving London, we
took a 20-minute train ride from Paddington station to Reading Central
in order to have dinner at our family friend’s house – Raja Iskandar and
his wife Erna (now a Dr). In fact in the previous week they came over
to take us for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant at Edgware Road in
Bayswater area. We felt very delighted to be able to see them again.
tried to recall on my first holiday in London in March 1986. Actually
at that time I was attending a 2-month course in lubrication at Agip
Petroli in Rome, Italy. When the classes were cancelled on a Friday and
the following Monday due to public holidays, we took the opportunity to
go to London. I went there with my office mate, Salahuddin who was also
attending the course. Based on experience during his studentship, we put
the nights at Bed & Breakfast (B&B) at Norfolk Place, Sussex
Gardens. The nearest tube was Lancaster Station.
During the short
stay, we managed to visit Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street, Buckingham
Palace, Soho and Little Venice. I do remember seeing a poster which was
on sale at the sidewalk with the words: “If You Are Tired With London,
You Are Tired With Life”. Surely enough, I never feel tired with London!
2010 London holiday came to an end on 8 October. We took a train from
Liverpool station heading for Stansted Airport. After saying goodbye to
my daughter, I entered the terminal for my journey home. The plane took
off at about 9:00 p.m. for LCC Terminal in Sepang, Malaysia, thus ending
my truly memorable 18-day stay in London ( and Manchester ) with my
loving daughter, Syazana.