Sunday, December 26, 2010

Now Comes The Night.....

This is the 2nd time I'm listening to this song in the span of less than 2 months. I have a feeling I would be listening to it more often as time passes by. And who knows, maybe one day someone would be playing it for me in a solemn occasion?

Just to share a moment of my life with you all. Hope you like the song.

In memory of my 3rd Aunty's husband "Sar Tio" who passed away on 29th October 2010, and JacPac's grandfather on 26th December 2010. 


When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone

And when the day has all but ended
And our echo starts to fade
No you will not be alone then
And you will not be afraid
No you will not be afraid

When the fog has finally lifted
From my cold and tired brow
No I will not leave you crying
And I will not let you down
No I will not let you down
I will not let you down

Now comes the night
Feel it fading away
And the soul underneath
Is it all that remains?
So just slide over here
Leave your fear in the fray
Let us hold to each other
Until the end of our days

When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone
No you will not be alone

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

Gonna take a moment today to wish all my friends and family a Merry Christmas and a coming Happy New Year 2011! In the spirit of the continuation of the blog on Europe Backpacking, here are some Christmas cheers from London taken while I was there :)

 All photos taken from JaxPac

Top two and last two photos were taken from a double-decker bus 98 from Holborn to Willesden Green, which passes by Oxford Circus where the photos were taken. The middle two photos were taken from Covent Garden.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

NHM - Other Exhibit

8-Nov-2010 (Monday), there were many many other wonderful exhibit to see in the National History Museum. Among my favorite besides the obvious previous 2 blog post, was the great Sperm Whale! It really gives you the perspective of how big a whale is!
The exhibition hall on rocks or geology was pretty impressive too! I mean, there was a whole hall of just rocks! And I get to see real meteorites! Those that really fell from the sky! The ones that once was flying through space before hitting Earth! To me, that felt like as close as I'll ever get to a meeting with ET!
And at the far end of the geology exhibit hall was the vault, where precious rocks were placed. Precious rock, as you may know includes diamonds, ruby, sapphire etc. What I really really like about the exhibit, is how they link the beauty of the rocks to humans. I thought that was almost poetic! Here are some examples to share with you what I meant. Below are three pictures, click to view in detail. 
1st is a pyramid of colored diamonds! 

 2nd precious gem formation stones and with it these words
"That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful means that we are less alone, that we are more deeply inserted into existence than the course of a single life would lead us to believe. John Berger, novelist, painter, art historian, born 1926"

3rd precious stones with it these words
"There is in them a softer fire than the ruby, there is the brilliant purple of the amethyst, and the sea green of the emerald - all shining together in incredible union - Pliny (on opals), Roman historian,23 -79AD"
The only exhibit that I was disappointed not to see was the room simulation of the Kobe Earthquake.In total, we spend 8 hours in the museum!

Next stop - Paris!

Sperm Whales
Great Hanshin Earthquake a.k.a Kobe Earthquake

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NHM - Darwin Centre

8-Nov-2010 (Monday). Next stop, Darwin Centre! There are two cool exhibit to see here, the Cocoon, and the Spirit House. I don't really have any photographs of the Cocoon, but basically it's multi-storey exhibit shaped like a cocoon. Mostly it's about life cycle of insects and cocoons and such. But whats really cool about it is, when you enter, you can collect a NaturePlus card that has a barcode on it. And as you walk around and see something interesting, you can scan your barcode and the information of the exhibit you were interested in is automatically stored on your card. So in a way, you can bring the museum home with you. I really really like the idea of that. Sadly, the site is rather slow...

The other totally cool place is the Spirit House, where strange things are kept in bottles filled with spirits. Look at the photos below, isn't science beautiful? Isn't life beautiful?

And now, a special tip, if you are interested to see more then just what the Spirit House has to offer, look out for the Spirit Collection Tour event. The ticket to the tour is free, just register your interest at the information to get your ticket, and with that ticket, you can use the lockers and cloak room for free. I highly recommend this tour, cause you will get to visit all the bigger creatures stored in the spirit tank! I was actually surprise that not many people registered for it. Camera were not permitted in the tour, so I'm gonna share with you what you will get to see in the tour using other people's photography :P

This is what the tank room looks like. If you click on the photo you can view it in more detail. Check out the bottle glasses behind.
There is also a 8.2 meter long giant squid found in the tank room. This photo was taken from NHM's website

And the cool thing about this private tour? You get to see Sir Charles Darwin's very own collection, with his very own handwriting. Now isn't that awesome or isn't that awesome???Of cause the giant squid also played a part too. The Spirit Tour really made my day! 4 limbs up for the Darwin Centre!

Darwin Centre

Sunday, December 19, 2010

NHM - Dinosaurs!

8-Nov-2010 (Monday), I was finally going to see some REAL dinosaur bones!!!! So excited that it was the first exhibit I rushed to when we reached the Natural History Museum, along with all the boys below 12 years of age :) I mean, come on, who isn't a fan of Jurassic Park?

I was not disappointed! They have lots and lots of dinosaur bones, although most were just replica, but still, they were in the right size! And the exhibit was exhilarating!
Besides bone, they have models of dinosaurs too!
And baby hatching dinosaurs!Awwww so cute!
And these were my favorite, theory on how the dinosaur become extinct. Lol. Click the photo to view in detail. The cricket one really cracks me up, lol. I love a museum that doesn't take itself too seriously. 2 thumbs up to the Dino House!

Jurassic Park

Friday, December 17, 2010

NHM - Natural History Museum London

8-Nov-2010 (Monday). It was raining. And raining means its a good day to visit the museums. We took the tube to South Kensington Station and walked there in the rain. The museum opens at 10am, and we were early by 15 minutes. But as we approached the museum, we could already see a queue outside. Worst part is, it was still raining, so we had to queue in the rain before we were allowed in at 10am! Yes, the museum is THAT popular! So go early!
As I stepped into the museum, my jaws dropped. Right smack in the main hall way, a dinosaur skeleton greeted us. Have you seen the movie A Night at the Museum?  Lol.
The building was huge! And beautiful! With stained glass, classic stairways all over the place, wooden flooring, and space, lots and lots of space. Even the ceiling was beautifully decorated with tiles of natural flora and with their scientific names on them too! And animal crafted pillars all around. With such details, it remain true to its name of natural history. If science has a church, this place would be it.

And in the center of where two staircase met, Sir Charles Darwin sat cross legged, welcoming you into his world.
Here's a floor plan of the entire museum. You may not know where to start digesting the information overload here, but me being me, have already checked out their website way back when and knew exactly what I wanted to get out of my visit here. The three main attraction to me was:
  • Dinosaurs -  Cause I've never seen dinosaur bones before!
  • Darwin Centre - Cause I'm part Humanist, haha, and mainly because I love Biology
  • Sperm Whale - Cause I hate swimming and would probably never know how huge a real whale is.
I'm gonna create a blog entry for each main attraction listed above, so check them out in a few day's time.
Oh by the way, entrance to the museum is FREE! And frankly, I think it's a 'MUST SEE' places to visit in London. I felt like a kid the whole time I was there!

Natural History Museum (Wiki Link)
Natural History Museum (Official Link)
A Night at the Museum
Charles Darwin

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


7-Nov-2010 (Sunday). Finally, we were on our way to the Stonehenge, a place I've always wanted to see with my very own eyes. I mean, come on, which kid who have read about the Stonehenge has never wished they could dance around the mysterious Stones on a full moon night? Yes, I was severely mixed up with my folklore, but it didn't matter. With the Chalks and the lambs around me as we drove towards our final destination, I was in my own little world, hoping that the sun would hold its position in the sky long enough for me to enjoy the sight of my childhood dream. Finally, we saw the Stones and fell into silence.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am not ashamed to say that of the 4 following photos, 3 were not taken by me. I was too hilarious with awe and happiness that almost none of my photos of Stonehenge could be taken seriously, haha.Yes, I'm a lousy photographer, cause the experience of real life always come first for me :)
So ends our 159GBP land tour as we headed to London. The Stones were less gigantic as I thought they would be, Oxford was more beautiful then I ever thought a place of academic could be and really brings out image of the Unseen University quite well! Bath was very Roman and brings to life the comics of Asterix to me (sorry, my knowledge of Romans came fondly from this comic books), and the Cotswolds were just too charming! At the back of my mind, I kept thinking that we've seen the best of what England has to offer. Nothing else could beat this, and that it could only go down hill from here... 

Unseen University

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bath - The Roman Baths

7-Nov-2010, why were we going to Bath in the first place? Well as the name suggest, to visit the baths! The Roman Baths that is. Bath was a kind of Roman resort in the old days. People come here to relax, enjoy the view, and have a good scrub down.
We made our way into the famous Roman bath, and well, I can't really say that I was all that thrilled. When I read in the website that admission to the Roman bath was included in the land tour, I thought that we were allowed to well, take a bath in the Roman bath! You know, in Turkey you get to do a Turkish Bath, in Japan you have the onsen. But apparently, erm, bathing was not allowed in the Roman bath. We weren't even allowed to touch the hot water of the bath as it is apparently 'not treated' and thus might be harmful to us. Bummer. Was it beautiful? Well, there was just one main bath you see when you enter the main entrance. But I guess what made the experience stood out, was that it was Sunday, and the church bells were ringing non-stop, and the charm of the old Roman Bath along with the bells, kinda time-traveled you back to another time and dimension. As you decent to the lower level, you'll find that besides the main bath, there are smaller bath all around through different tunnels. Here are some cool photos of the tunnel and the baths on the lower level.
Most interesting of all to me, the Roman Bath was a place of worship and a temple to the goddess Sulis Minerva. Minerva was my favorite Roman Goddess, also synonymous with the Greek goddess Athena. Minerva was the goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic, and the inventor of music, and I believe she was also the goddess of war. She was my kind of gal :P If you have me on your MSN list, you may have come across her name before without even realizing it!
And in her honor, a temple was build, and in it were these wordings:
"... in her temple the eternal flame never whiten into ash..."

The Roman Baths
Turkish Bath
Sulis Minerva

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bath - City

7-Nov-2010 Sunday, woke up with a wonderful breakfast at Holiday Inn by North Bristol Express and set out by 8:30am. Today we were going to the City of Bath! Apparently until I got there, did not know that it was a World Heritage Site! Shame on you Cordy!
Our tour guide David was rather enthusiastic of driving us around the town and city area of Bath showing us the sites! We drove around a roundabout of one of the Bath Circus for like 3 times before exciting while he was explaining the layout of the residential area to us. Here's what some of the residential places look like, with a park just right in front too!

As we enter the city of Bath, the buildings just got grander and grander. And with so much water flowing around, it's bound to create some really charming view. Suddenly, my memory of Otaru kinda seem pale as compared to these view...
Note that at this time, I was only into the 3rd day of my Europe trip, so everything was just grand and awesome to me. My first grand church, my first real stain glass on a church, my first encounter with royalty (King Edgar, first King of England).
It was also Remembrance Day around the world, in memory of people who died in World War I, and I saw this beautiful cross in front of the abbey of Bath, and these beautiful messages.
"They Shall Grow Not Old
as we that are left grow old
Age Shall not weary them
nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
We Will Remember Them"

North Bristol Express By Holiday Inn
Kind Edgar a.k.a Edgar the Peaceful
Remembrance Day

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cotswolds - Bibury

6-Nov-2010 (Saturday). It was almost evening now at 4pm. The sky was slowly getting dark as we make our last stop at a place call Bibury before headed to our Holiday Inn hotel (probably the most expensive hotel we stayed in for our whole trip! Sad but true)

There wasn't really much to see but this wonderful view of a cottage hotel that seems to be like a scene out of a movie Here's two photo of the same building taken at two angle and two timing.

But I like this photo better, a lone cottage with smoke coming out of the chimney somewhere in the middle of nowhere.Yeah, this is more like my kinda thing. I won't mind living out here all self-sufficient and shit. Just to share with you what I mean by self-sufficient, I've shared some wonderful link on the topic at the ref section below. I actually saw two such books costing 20 GBP (SGD 45) each at the bookstore, and so badly wanted it, but come on, self sufficient in Singapore??? Nah! Maybe if I ever get a plot of land in Malaysia, I'll order a copy from Amazon right away!

Lastly, a blue view of Bibury as we left. Don't ask me how I end up with photos like these, I have no ideas, but I think its hauntingly lovely :)

Self Sufficient Living
Self-Sufficiency and Homesteading
Countryfarm Lifestyles

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cotswolds - Bourton-on-the-Water

6-Nov-2010 (Saturday), next stop Bourton-on-the-Water. This was an interesting place, beautiful beyond words. I mean, I'll just the let the photos below do the talking! A quiet little town, in autumn colors, with a beautiful spring lake running through it with water clear as crystal, and carefree ducks swimming in them. Wouldn't you want to live in a place like this? And to think real people actually stay in such places! Almost a heaven on earth. But it's really really far out. Our bus have to travel through small little country roads and pass countless fields in the chalk country before reaching it. But the place is as peachy as anything I've seen :)

Here's one of my favourite photo of this place in almost full resolution. I just love the color of autumn!
Lastly, just before I left for my holidays, one of my colleague told me to visit River Cottage if I could while I was there. We were both fan of River Cottage. Well, I didn't quite make it to River Cottage, but this was the best I could do given my limited budget and resources :P Interestingly, after I came back and show him the photos, I did a search on the location of River Cottage, and found that they have a canteen in Bath, a place I was visiting the very next day! Ugh! Oh well :P

River Cottage

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cotswolds - The Slaughters

6-November-2010 (Saturday), we were sent to the Slaughters! Well that's the name of the village. Scary, I know. Our bus dropped us at Lower Slaughter, and we took a lovely walk thru town to Upper Slaughter. It was a lovely afternoon walk, and only took us 10 minutes.
Lovely cottages and  small farms can be seen everywhere, as lots of berry trees as shown here.
There were some homemade jam, jelly and chutney for sale by the villagers being placed unattended outside some cottages. You can have a look and take whatever you like, and just drop your money at the mailbox. How trusting! Apparently lots of houses does business this way in the Cotswolds. I saw some selling vegetables, fruits, and even wood and charcoals!

The Slaughters

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cotswolds - Stow-on-the-Wold

6-Nov-2010 (Saturday) our first encounter with a Cotswold village was called Stow-on-the-Wold. And where did we head the first thing we landed? To the cemetery! Ok ok, nicely put, we were headed to a historical church - St Edwards church, but with a very very peaceful simple cemetery. Very traditional. And at the front gate of the church a sign says "Church Open", as should all sign on churches (instead of other signs that can be found on some churches in Singapore....).
We didn't manage to go inside the church as the inner door was closed. But we did walk around it, and discovered that walking over glass land of dead people in the rain (yes, it was raining lightly), could lead you to a paradise, here referring to a wonderful little stream flowing gently along at the end of the cemetery. Yes, one of my favorite photo was taken from here :) Everything was so peaceful, so serene that I feel that I could have sat there forever in bliss amiss a land of dead bodies. I'm a morbid romantic, I'm sorry, but like I've said, this is just the start of it.
We managed to walk around the small charming town after that, and had lunch at an English pub called  "The Queen's Head". Liver and bacon anyone? More on that in the food section of the blog later :)


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cotswolds - Intro

6-Nov-2010 (Saturday), continuing on our morning tour with International Friends, we headed towards Chalk country! Yes! Chalk is real! It's a description of a kind of soil or stone in Great Britain call the Chalk Formation. (See Ref link below). And all these while I thought Terry Pratchett was pulling my leg! And it was amazing to travel through the Chalk known as the Cotswolds, a beautiful landscape of English country side, with charming English cottages! I'll blog on each little town we visit as we went along. And to think I never intended to visit Cotswolds! Stonehenge lead me here! I knew Stonehenge was magical!
I could just imagine the scene where Tiffany Aching live and grew up in, not too different from the photographs shown here! She probably flew past these landscapes on her broomstick. And more picture to come as we visited the following places in Cotswolds: Stow-on-the-Wold (I kid you not!), The Slaughters (upper and lower, I kid you not again!), Bourton-on-the-Water, and Bibury.
Chalk Formation
Terry Pratchett
Tiffany Aching

Friday, December 3, 2010


In many ways, this year's backpacking trip was planned by fluke. For instance, I never knew Stonehence was even remotely near London! How naive of me! But when I did found out, I immediately google a day tour to get there. And since everything was so expensive in England, I source for the most value for money tour, even if it means a 2D1N tour out of London that cost me GBP159 (SGD330) with the International Friend's Tour Group (see ref below), that was gonna bring me to Oxford, Bath, Cotswolds and my final destination - Stonehenge. Here's a picture of our tour bus.

So on 6-November (Saturday), I board their bus at Great Portland Street and one hour later I found myself in Oxford! Oxford, famous school bla bla bla, sorry but I'm not too crazy about it. But here's an interesting fact "Oxford: Bodleian Library, and the Great Hall of Christ Church College, was used in Harry Porter and the Chamber of Secrets". Woohoo, I was there!
 I do however like the motto of Oxford shown here. It's like, God is on their side! Nice touch.  
For a more overview of what Oxford looks like, please refer to the ref below. You know I hate posting photos that are already available elsewhere :P O, btw, this photo was taken in Oxford. I love this photo, there's bicycle in it, and sunlight! Two of my fave things in photos! What is there not to like???

International Friends Cotswolds, Oxford, Bath & Stonehenge Tour
Dominus illuminatio mea

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

British Museum

5-Nov-2010 (Friday), first day in London. We landed via British Airways at Heathrow Airport at around 5am, got ourselves an Oyster card each (GBP 15 per card, or SGD 30), and took the underground tube via Piccadilly Line to Russell Square where our cheap hotel was at. Couldn't check in till 2pm. So we left our bags with the hotel, and went for breakfast before headed to the British Museum, which was around 800meter from our hotel County Hotel, London.

The great thing about London is, the museums are FREE! And you could spend the whole day there. It's a total information overload. The British Museum was a good introduction to the history and culture of the country we were visiting. But I was there for the folk lore, so here's some photos taken of divination tools used in the past! Top part are a set of old Tarot cards, just 4 out of a full deck of 78. Nice drawing huh? I wonder if I could replicate the tarot cards I have at home and make them into art pieces! That would be so cool. Bottom are a set of divination stick used to make prediction, and I think they are made of ivory.
I also like the miniature carving of religious (mainly Christians) blocks of wood and/or ivory. It's amazing the details they put into those items, and the time and devotion in making one of these. Somehow, arts in the past looks a lot more pain staking then modern arts today. I'm also wondering whether I can replicate these....
And strange enough, anything from Egypt was extremely popular! I've never seen a real mummy before, and was excited to visit that section of the museum. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was amazed at the numbers of mummies they have! But at the back of my mind I was thinking, if all these mummies are laying here, are there any left in Egypt? Still, it was an amazing collection.Was it scary looking at wrapped up dead bodies from centuries ago? I guess so, cause they look quite fleshy, especially those wrapped up ones. But those in bones I'm totally comfortable with.
Lastly, just for old time sake, a photo of  the Lewis Chessmen carved from walrus ivory! What a beau!
British Museum
Tarot Cards
Lewis Chessmen 
Heathrow Airport

Oyster Card
County Hotel London

Credit: All photos taken here are from Jaxon's camera, except the Tarot Cards.