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Thursday 2 July 2009

London: Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge of London was built in 1894 and immediately recognised as a landmark of London, even today. Anybody seeing a picture of this bridge will immediately recognise it and its location.

From afar, it looks like a suspension bridge, but its spans actually consist of steel sections.

It is a bascule bridge in which the middle span can be lifted to provide necessary navigational headroom. Although the lifting is not necessary of today, the operation is still carried out for about 1,000 times a year. However, I didn't have the chance to witness one.

It may have been mistakenly recognised as London Bridge by most of the people around the world, the misunderstanding will surely be rectified immediately when these people visit London.

When dusk starts to fall in, Tower Bridge cannot be mistakenly recognised as any other bridge under the floodlights. It is such a beauty!

Wednesday 1 July 2009

It wasn’t Paris, It was you

If one were to pick an icon that represents Paris, I believe that there will be no dispute if one picks the Eiffel Tower (La Tour Eiffel). Having been built in 1889, this 120-year old steel structure is still standing strong against the gusty wind.

La Tour Eiffel was built for the World Expo (Exposition Universelle). It was almost torn down in 1909 until it was proven worthwhile to be kept as a telecommunication tower.

The Tower has many faces from different angle of view. It is worthwhile to walk around the tower to see these views before climbing it to the viewing platforms.

When night falls, this massive brown-colour steel structure will turn into a glowing four-legged beast!

From a distance, it shows it's more graceful face again, but still glows in the dark.

When the clock hits 11 p.m., La Tour Eiffel will put up a light show for all its audience. It's quite spectacular. I think the feeling while watching it is beyond the description of words.

Tuesday 30 June 2009

A Bad Day in Paris

It was 8th June 2009, my third day in Paris.

After visiting Musée du Louvre, I had sore legs and sat at the cafe table for a while before walking to the Metro station. In order to get back to my hotel, I had to change train at Châtelet. The train from Châtelet to Odéon was so crowded that even 'a can of sardine' is an understatement! It was at about 6.00 p.m. of the peak hours, so I guess I had chosen the wrong time to ride on the Metro.

I was so tired that my alert level was almost zero, if not below. There was an Eastern European lady in front of me kept pushing me on my chest with her shoulder until I almost lost my balance in the train, so I had to hold on to the handle bar very tightly to stay put. I think this is a common trick of a pick pocket on the victims. They try to push you off balance so that your hands are not free to protect your belongings. It already happened on me once in Naples.

When the train reached St. Michel, quite a lot of people had alighted the train but the lady was still pushing on me. Then, when the train door were about to close, she sprinted out of the train. All of a sudden that I realised my wallet was gone! It was replaced by a one-Euro coin. The next Metro station was Odéon, where I wanted to get to, so I alighted the train and went back to the hotel to ask for help at the reception desk.

I called back to Malaysia to cancel all my credit cards that were lost. In fact I lost only two cards but I cancelled four, including the one of the two in my backpack and the one left at home! That left me only one to survive for the remainder of the trip.

I had also lost my identity card, so I asked the receptionist for the direction to the nearest police station. She gave me the address, it was 78 Ru de Bornaparte with a sketched map. After just two blocks away from the hotel, it started to drizzle, so I went back to the hotel again to borrow an umbrella. When I was walking along Ru de Bornaparte in search of the police station, the drizzle turned out to be a downpour. To top it off, there was gusty wind! In addition to that, the lot number along Ru de Bornaparte was getting smaller and smaller than 78. I sensed something wrong and stopped by a gallery to ask for the direction again. Only then I found out the the hotel receptionist gave me the wrong direction!

I had to walk for another 1 km before I arrived at the police station at around 7.00 p.m., my jacket was already quite wet and my socks soaked in water. I approached a young policewoman who wasn't engaged. She recorded down my name and my passport number and asked me to sit down and wait. Minutes later, she came out from a room with a stack of printed form in English for me to fill in. These were to help her in my verbal description of the incidence as she wasn't very fluent in English. When I described the part that my wallet became a one-Euro coin, she cheered. Well, at least she's got some sense of humour and she's quite cute too. That made up a bit of my bad day.

After the report was done, she asked me to wait for another slip that she had to give me to prove that my identity card was lost so that I could get a replacement back in Malaysia. At the same time, she was called for duty on the beat and she passed on the task to another policeman. It wasn't done until about forty-five minutes later! I told the policeman that I was very hungry and he responded with the same answer. All the other people waiting to lodge their reports laughed together. That made up another bit of my bad day.

I decided to treat myself a good meal after all these hassles and went to a nearby restaurant for a main course plus dessert set meal. I had a cheese-baked scallops with rice and a prune tart. On my way back to the hotel, I got lost for another half hour!

Well, after the incidence, I kept the annoyance to the minimal and kept on enjoying the rest of my holidays. So, you see my updates with more photos here.

P.S. I paid my phone bill yesterday for all those international roaming calls and it came out to be almost RM600! I have also got my identity card replacement application done today. I was supposed to pay RM110 for the replacement but it was waived due to the lost through pick-pocketing, not through my own carelessness. I feel like cursing all the pick pockets. Well, they will all need to pay back one day, if not in this life; then after life!

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