London Trip 2009: Part 2

Back to London Trip 2009: Part 1

The great thing about museums in London is that they are absolutely free! You can spend the whole day there learning new things. During this trip I went to over 6 museums and a 4 exhibitions both in London and Birmingham.

The Natural History Museum.

On the 2nd day of my trip, I went to the World Wildlife Photography exhibition at the Natural History Museum. As the name implies, the photography exhibition revolves around wildlife. Some photos are simply amazing, allowing you to look at animals in ways that you’ve never seen them before. It certainly took some photographers a lot of effort to capture some of the photos seen here. Some of them even had to camp for days in subzero temperatures just to wait for the right moment.

The storybook wolf. The photo above was the winning photo of 2009 until it was disqualified. You can view the online gallery of the photos here. [source]

Also in the Natural History Museum is the dinosaur gallery. They have a scaled down mechanically animated T-rex inside.

I think this is the skeleton of a T-rex.

The dinosaur exhibition was very interesting. There are detailed explanation on why they were highly successful during their era and also factors contributing to the dinosaurs’ extinction. Here you can also find out why some dinosaurs are warm blooded and why some are not.

Replica of a dinosaur’s nest.

Just across the road at the Victoria and Albert museum the decode exhibition was being held. To put it simply, you get to see what happens when art meets science and technology.

That’s a picture of me taking a picture of the Weave Mirror. This “display” has a resolution of 32×24, with a total of 768 effective pixels.

I was particularly impressed with this Weave Mirror. It’s like a large screen with many pixels, but these pixels are actually small curved pieces that move to change to bright or dark. They’re all servo actuated so as you walk pass the exhibition, you hear them whirling as they change the display.

Decode’s video:

After Decode we went over to the Royal Opera House at Convent Garden to catch the Enchanted Pig. I did enjoy the play, very witty and funny! And live acting and live music is really something different. And with such a small stage to work with, they had to use numerous props and stage effects to simulate a situation. I absolutely love the “running down a long corridor” scene. I’m also impressed at how the conductor managed to synchronize everything.

The play lasted for about 2 hours, with a short break about halfway through so the audience can go freshen themselves up and they can reconfigure the stage.

You can use the South Kensington Station to get to the museums.

While in London, I usually use the tube to get around. With an Oyster card (similar to our Touch n Go cards here in Malaysia), traveling is a breeze. Just tap in at the station’s gate and tap out when you arrive. No need to buy tickets or take out cash. Also traveling on a working day after 10:30am is so enjoyable. You have the whole train to yourself!

That night I met up with Sel, Joanne, Fay, Cher Ying, Albert and we went for dinner at the nearby Frankie and Bennie’s. Then I spent the night at Sel’s because there was no point traveling back to Golders Green since I’ll be with them tomorrow for The Cocoon Exhibition at the Charles Darwin center in the Natural History Museum. Did I tell you how warm Sel’s living room is?

Sorry not much photos since I didn’t lug my camera around! Tip for taking photos in museums, since they are always dimly lit: bring a VR lens. For Nikon users, I recommend the 18-55VR. You won’t want to lug a tripod around.

Next: London Trip 2009: Part 3 Continue reading

London Trip 2009: Part 1

I know this is extremely overdue, but I have been very busy and slacking for some time now. So here goes.

Every year I make it a point to travel mainly because I still have the time and I need to make use of the free ticket that MAS provides. Last year (2009) I actually didn’t have any trip planned because exams was keeping me busy. Then late November Joanne decided to tempt me to go over to UK because there’s a chance that it will snow. Days later I went to apply for my ticket to UK. And that’s how I spent the first 11 days of 2010 in the UK.

It was pretty much an uneventful flight. There was a slight delay in taking off so instead of being in the air by 31st December 2009 11:55pm, we celebrated New Years on the bay. The chief steward made an announcement and people on board cheered. And we flew by Thailand, which was one hour behind Malaysia and celebrated New Years for the second time.

Due to my tiredness, the 13 hour flight actually went by pretty fast. I slept so I could overcome the jetlag when I arrive in London.

Friday was sunny but cold.

I touched down early Friday morning 1st January 2010 at around 5:30am. The first thing I noticed when I got off the plane was the cold. This was on the aerobridge. I suspect it wasn’t heated and the cold air was seeping in from the outside. It was about 0 degrees Celsius that day.

Went through customs without a hitch. Aunt sent a cab to pick me up from Terminal 4 at Heathrow to Golders Green, where I will be staying most of the time (Google street view works in London so do try that out). Since almost everyone was wasted due to last night’s New Years party, the roads were very empty.

The view outside Embankment tube station. Taken from the Hungerford bridge. Click here for a way larger version (8MB+).

On the Hungerford Bridge which crosses River Thames.

I then went to meet Sel at Embankment tube station and we walked down to Trafalgar Square to watch the New Year’s day parade. Apparently every year they have this parade. They’ll close off the roads so the procession can go through it.

Trafalgar Square used to be filled with pigeons. I remember feeding them 8 years ago when I was here. Now due to the problem with their droppings, i.e. cost incurred for cleanup, they have decided not to let pigeons loiter around anymore. One way was by preventing people from feeding them.

On Whitehall road, watching the procession.

It was damn crowded but we eventually managed to squeeze to the front row.

Batman came in his environmental-friendly Batmobile!

The parade consisted mainly of bands from all over the world. There was a Japanese band too.

It was freezing cold and the temperature was very close to zero. After an hour there we went to the nearest Starbucks to thaw ourselves. Hot chocolate or hot coffee is something you’ll appreciate a lot here.

Passed by the Big Ben.

Since we still had some time to kill before tonight’s Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, we went back to Sel’s house which was somewhere near Canada Water. Sel’s house is very nice because the heating is always turned up to the max. And I also found out that Joanne did not in fact go back to Birmingham and was still in London, bumming at Sel’s house.

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.

Sel, Joanne and I met up with Fay, Cher Ying, Albert and Joel at Fay’s place (also at Canada Water) before heading off to Hyde Park. It was freezing cold at night, down to -1C. I couldn’t use my iPhone since the touch screen cannot be operated while wearing gloves. The cold really reduces your dexterity to the point where you can’t even perform simple tasks with your fingers, like counting money or twittering.

Rides. Spuk. Reminds me of the ghost train back in Kuching Festival.

Winter Wonderland is like a bigger version of Kuching Festival. It has everything a festival needs: beer, food, rides, games and lots of people.

Food. Surprisingly, the food here is quite similar to the food available at 1Utama’s Oktoberfest. Maybe it’s due to the German origin.

And not to forget the outdoor skating rink. I had hoped that it would be on a frozen lake or river.

Had dinner there and walked around a few times until we were sure we were completely frozen. Moving about was better than just sitting down doing nothing because then you feel cold faster. It was indeed a freezing experience for me. I was starting to miss KL’s scorching hot weather. 10 more days to go.

Next: London Trip 2009: Part 2 Continue reading

Back from UK

Just got back from my UK trip. Can’t believe I spent an entire day on a plane (12 hours flight one way). Now I need to catch my breath as I’ve been busy adjusting back to normal. My computers didn’t help by suddenly deciding to die off while I was away. Now I just need to get the car’s computer running again. And to prepare for the BBQ this weekend.


The London Eye. Check back here for my UK trip posts soon! Continue reading