I would like to dedicate this post to my friend Wan A .Hulaimi and his wife Zaharah for their hospitality during our short but meaningful stay in London. To the both of you, your kindness will be forever remembered. Soon after taking care of us Wan Hulaimi entertained another blogger friend by the name of Mat Salo. Please read his take here. I promise you another great read, so please take a peek.
The photo below was taken at Hotel Holiday Villa, London.
L - R: Wan A Hulaimi, Zaharah, Fatthiyah and Pak Zawi (In case you don't know yet)
Coming to London from Brussels, Belgium created a certain excitement in me. Not only that this was going to be my first time setting foot there but because I would be meeting certain people whom we would be meeting for the first time or at least the first time after four decades. For the first time I will be meeting my new friend Nick Habgood of Azini Capital London whom I have known after he made comments on my blogsite. If you have time read about it here.
The reply from Nick was positive when I wrote him an email prior to my trip to London. He asked me for the day when I would be free while in London. We agreed to meet for breakfast at Holliday Villa where my group was staying. Punctuality was the trait of an Englishman and Nick stepped into the hotel lobby right on the dot at 8.00 AM. Nick, if you read this, thank you for taking the trouble to meet me.The slim and fit Nick Habgood compared to an out of shape and unfit Pak Zawi. For your info, Nick is an avid cyclist and will be touring Italy on a road bike to follow the track of The Tour of Italy. He will be doing the ride this year. Enjoy your ride Nick.
Another person that I would be meeting in London will be my old classmate whom I have not met since we left school at the end of 1968. We have been in contact again after he read my blog and we have agreed to meet in London to reminisce about the old days. Unfortunately my friend is publicity shy so I wont be mentioning his name or post his pictures on this site.
On the day of our arrival in London, there was a 'Tahlil' being organized by Malaysians in London at Malaysia Hall not far from our hotel. My friend had asked me to bring along all the members of my group as there was plenty of food for the 'morey' after the 'takzirah' by Ustaz Erfino. Initially many intended to attend the tahlil but by the time we left the hotel, there was just me and two other elderly ladies. We walked to Malaysia Hall. Ustaz Erfino delivered a very interesting 'takzirah' on mixed marriage and the problem of conversion. Ust. Erfino is also a blogger. Please visit his site here.
My friend came from work so he arrived later. After 4 decades, we finally met again. He looked splendid and seems to be in the best of health. How nice to be meeting again.
Enjoying 'nasi himpit' after the 'takzirah'. There were so many extras that they asked me to take a couple of them back to my friends. Ustaz Erfino is at the extreme left.
My old classmate came to the hotel again the next day as we had promised to have dinner together. It was while he was parking his car that I received a SMS. Wan Hulaimi and his wife Zaharah were at Malaysia Hall and wanted us to come and meet them there. Since my friend know Wan and Kak Teh too, I asked him to come along.
Meeting Wan Hulaimi and Zaharah at Malaysia Hall. My wife Fatthiyah played the role of photographer. Wan paid for the dinner though they were not eating them with us. Wan had asked the canteen operator not to accept our payment, which the operator enforced to the T.
Now it is time to see my take on London in pictures.
We didn't know who was going to be our tour guide in London until Puan Zainida the tour leader from POTO Travel mentioned that it would be a Wan Hulaimi, a Malaysian living in London for the past three decades. To that I let off a shriek blurting out "Hey that's my friend Awang Goneng!" to which Puan Zainida said 'But he is young". Why? Why can't an ancient looking man from the ulu of Kelantan have a young looking friend in London? This is the internet age. Anything is possible.
So on the morning of 4th June, we rode the bus for a city tour of London with Wan Hulaimi as our guide.
A young looking Wan Hulaimi with information at his fingertips was the perfect guide for us. Stories flowed out in perfect Malay bereft of any Trengganu slang. Typical of us people from the East Coast of the Malay Peninsula when we speak we can't or avoid our slang like the English with their Cockney..
The tour began with the Malaysian owned casino under renovation at the end of the street at the T junction where Hyde Park was located. Turning left we were shown this hanging point in the olden times. Convicted criminals were hung in public as a show or entertainment.
We passed by Marble Arch. Marble arch is now located at one of the entrances to Hyde Park. It was relocated there from it's former site near the Royal Palace because of the palace's enlargement. Close to it is the speakers corner. Sad to say it wasn't a Sunday morning otherwise I would forgo the city tour just to experience the speaker's corner.
I wonder if the above is the Mansion House the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London? Awang Goneng said it wasn't though it may look quite like The Mansion House. The statue is the famous Eros at Piccadily Circus.
The London Cabs. They are the black cabs and further in front is the white cab. Of late there is seems to be a war between the black cabs and the mini cabs due have been stealing passengers from the black cabs. The mini cabs can only pick up passengers via a phone request and not pick up passengers from the road side. The mini cabs charges a lower fare.
The Bush House is home to BBC World Service. The lease will expire in 2010 so BBC staff will be leaving soon. Kak Teh of Choc A Blog was once trained here for 12 years by the BBC. No wonder her English is more English than the normal Malaysian English.
It is rumored that London School of Economics may purchase Bush Building to expand it's campus.
There are many monuments in London. Since we were just passing by and I couldn't recall what this monument is for, we will have to wait till Awang Goneng responds to this post.
This is interesting. This war veteran is attending court today. There must be a hearing. Our guide from london enlightened us that he is Brian Haw, an ex serviceman and war protester. Read more about him here: http://www.parliament-square.org.uk.
Lawyers moving into the Royal Courts. Opposite to it is The Middle temple, one of the Inns of Court, where barristers train.
Wikipedia says Punch Tavern is the largest pub and bar operator in the United Kingdom, with around 8,400 leased, tenanted and managed pubs. It is headquartered in the traditional brewing centre of Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. Sorry for the blurred image. The bus window wasn't clear enough.
Awang Goneng said there is always a demonstration somewhere in London for whatever causes, this one included. I think you can make it as a vocation in London, a professional demonstration.
At the end of this road is London Bridge. My grandchildren wouldn't be singing about this bridge if they knew that it wasn't much of a bridge.Anyway if your address is No 2 London Bridge, then it will be noticed. Of course there is also The London Bridge Hospital to be associated with.
The Tower Bridge is different. It's presence is definitely felt.
The Tower Bridge is a draw bridge. The middle span can be lifted up to allow ships to pass through it.
This is the London Dungeon. You are advised to enter at your own peril. Those with a weak heart better beware.
Youth made up the bulk of the patrons. This is what Wikipedia says:
The London Dungeon is a tourist attraction, based in Tooley Street, London, near London Bridge rail station about various tortures from the Medieval Age. It recreates various gory and macabre historical events in a grimly comedic, 'gallows humour' style, which attempts to make them appealing to the younger generation. It uses a mixture of live actors, special effects and rides.
It opened in 1976, initially designed as more of a museum of "horrible history", but the Dungeon has evolved to become an actor-led, interactive experience that draws visitors from far and wide. The Dungeon is operated by Merlin Entertainments, which also operates Madame Tussauds London and the London Eye.The odd shaped building is a green building which is the City Hall, HQ of Greater London Authority & London Assembly. The design of the building is such that it uses minimum energy, water and material to build and maintain it.
What remains of the old London Wall. It is nothing in dimension compared to The Great Wall of China
The Hung Drawn and Quartered. This building was named after the most barbaric form of torture on convicted criminals. Seach the net to read more about it. I can't bear to read it myself even though it was done in The Middle Ages.
A souvenir shop near The Tower of London.
This old building is where jousting shows are held. This is also the entrance to The Tower of London, a Heritage Site.
One for the album. See, we were there.
She wanted one with our Tour Leader Puan Zainida too. A husband just do what the wife tells him to do.
Children hanging around to enter the Tower of London.
That's the London Eye. Their's is permanent. Malaysia spent millions for a temporary Kuala Lumpur Eye.
Who says The Sphinx is only in Egypt?
This building is considered to be the most expensive building in London. So says our guide. The building has rooms for parliamentarians to rest.
The Westminster Abbey
The intricate design on the door.
More details above the door.
My eyes caught sight of the sun dial. The one on the right showed 11.00 AM. Quite an accurate time as an hour later Big Ben chimed for 12.00 Noon.
"Look at that..." said the guide. Pak Zawi wasn't looking as he was distracted by other sights such as this man of the cloth passing by.
The London pillar box was a distraction too.
All the more so if it is an antique car.
Of course if it was a 'long cool dame' Pak Zawi would be distracted too.
The guide was pointingto this building, pray tell me what building is this? The Library where Maria of Kafe Dakoh spent the whole of her time while she was in London? The building is the Dean's Yard located behind Westminster Abbey.
I know this statue is of Oliver Cromwell. Wikipedia says:
Oliver Cromwell (born April 25, 1599 Old Style, died September 3, 1658 Old Style) was an English military and political leader best known for his involvement in making England into a republican Commonwealth and for his later role as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was one of the commanders of the New Model Army which defeated the royalists in the English Civil War. After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Cromwell dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England, conquered Ireland and Scotland, and ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658.
I sure did miss riding this open top bus as shooting from its top means better sight then thru the near opaque bus window.
This group is on hunger strike. I doubt they will die of starvation as being alive is always better than being dead. I wonder if anybody heed their call.
The men plus a woman in deep discussion
They must be memorizing their lines before facing the camera for a shoot.
She was looking suspiciously at me. Could they be actresses memorizing their script too? No actually they are government servants reading their briefs while enjoying the sun during their lunch break. "We would enjoy the sight better if they were wearing their briefs instead of reading them" said Awang Goneng.
The entrance to No 10 Downing Street is now well guarded after the last spate of bombing.
Won't you be intimidated by such a show of armoury?
The women of WWII. What does this memorial depict?
"If this is Trengganu....." Wan Hulaimi seems to be saying.
We saw this sign.
Is this the Scotland Yard? No it is just part of the Royal Horseguards.
If it is a souvenir shop, it is a must stop for everyone.
Youngsters in colorful costumes doing ceremonial guard duty.
At least he is in the shade and has a seat to sit.
Selling tickets for an evening of stirring sound and pageantry BEATING RETREAT a floodlit military spectacular by Her Majesty's Guard on Horse Guards Parade. That is what the poster said.
The Clarence Bar
Trafalgar Studios. The on going show is The Last Cigarette. We just walked by and not even look at what was being staged.
The Admiralty Arch on the Mall that leads to Buckingham Palace. Only the monarch and her hubby can ride in a coach in the central gateway, on their way to St Paul's Cathedral.
Behind those vehicles was the Trafalgar Square. Old photos may show people feeding the pigeons. They are no more there as they are banned from being fed there. The pigeons didn't dare come because a predatory bird is keeping watch. A Mayor of London just couldn't stand the litters from bird poo.
Such stretched limousine could be a waste of road space. How many passengers do they carry?
Here is another one.
Bicycles could be more convenient. Given by the way the bicycles are locked with wire lock, security of a bicycle seems to be a big problem here.
This archway is the entrance to the former Colonial Office. They are now the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
This is changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.
Yay! We were there too.
With Wan Hulaimi
The vastness of the ground in front of the Royal Palace.
The Barclay's Bank
Back to Malaysia Hall. They were performing the Friday prayers. There was no more space for Pak Zawi. Being a 'Musafir' or traveler mean I can do it in the comfort of my room later.
The dining hall was quite small but the food was very good.
These were the prayer times in Central London. If you observe the prayer time for Maghrib, Isyak and Subuh, you will be surprised at how little time Londoners can go to sleep. Fasting during suct times will be a loooooong day for you.
We spent the afternoon shopping for souvenirs along Oxford Street.
Marks & Spencer is a must for most visitors to London.
Thistle Marble Arch while other shops have the sale signs to attract buyers.
It was a tiring day. We went back to the hotel. In the evening we spent sometime at Hyde Park again.
Some pictures are not shown here. You can view all of them here.