Monday, February 16, 2009

My Travel Experience, Part 2 (France)

Bon Jour, we are talking about France today. France is worth to visit a dozen. Fashion, political power, wine, agriculture, architecture, history, sports, glamour, cinema…. Anything you can think of elegance, France has it all and be the best. It is a country which can self provide and self maintain, a country with veto power, strong defense system and yet stylish and artistic to the max. There are hundreds reasons French people can be so proud of themselves. Strangely, I found French people warm and friendly. The trick is to speak French with them, no matter how broken, they will offer their help more than willingly. Why they abhor English so much? Please study European history.

Paris is the most beautiful metropolitan city I have visited. No question about it. The air is aromatic with scent of romance and roses. CafĂ© and perfume shops are around corners all the time. The fact that from London to France is just 3-hours train distance made me travel to Paris for 5 times during my study. Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, SacrĂ© Coeur, The Louvre….. You definitely need more than a week to explore Paris. The Louvre… how can I not mention that. The museum design is a beauty itself. It holds 4 most famous masterpiece in the world– the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace (Nike), Venus de Milo and Slave statue by Michelangelo. Another art museum worth a visit is Centre Pompidou. Totally different style from the Louvre, Pompidou exhibits the most futuristic and modern art works, be it in video, painting, audio clips or merely random poets. It may not be the cup of your tea but it definitely stretches your imagination and challenges your tolerance.

I travelled to Southern France (Loire Valley) with a small group of friends and had a blast of mid-spring time. At the heat of my final PhD writing, I decided to take a break and it was the most relaxing tour ever. We cycled to the suburb of Southern France, where Poppy flower blanketed the field casually, the sunny sky was painted with bright blue hue, freshest air and green vineyard combination, backdrop of unbelievable royal castles, mouth watering foods served in any restaurant you bumped into…. The peace, relaxation, fulfilment and tranquility was something I can never forget. I can only imagine if I retire there, I can live more than 150 year-old.

Next stop is Europe…. Yup, you heard it right, Europe. I always believe in lucky draws because I did win a Europe trip before. Yup, you heard it right again, do not shot me. I paid nothing to travel Europe one time when I won a lucky draw from STA Travel…. To be continued…

Moulin Rouge

Castle in Loire Valley

Poppy Field at suburb of Southern France

Rideau Castle in Tours

The most famous landmark - Eiffel Tower in Paris

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Travel Experience, Part 1 (England)

I always want to write something about my travel experiences. This is the best timing to flash back as I started to explore the world in year 1998. That will make it 10 years of unforgettable experiences. Flashing back, I am contended and proud of the journey I overtook. Most of my friends already knew that I am a travel hunger freak. My travel style and expectation changed with time. I will write it in many parts, symbolizing phases how I embraced my travel hobby, how I felt about each country.... The feeling are raw and personal, please do not get offended.

England was my virginity (God bless Queen Elizabeth!). Well, practically, I conquered Singapore before England but please forgive me for saving my virginity to England. The culture shock was nothing but all. Ashamed of myself, I was clueless about the differences between England and United Kingdom during my very first visit. In fact, they spoke ‘unconventionally’ as what I expected from TV. England oh England… I definitely had mixed feeling on this country. I love Her and I hate Her as much as I love London and I hate London. It was the country full of palpable antiquity, academic excellence and staunch believe in science and novelty but at the same time, it was also a country stained with hypocritical history, notorious gloomy weather and filthy snobbishness.

I had been staying in England for more than 5 years. It was my greatest privilege to pay countless visits to British Museum, my favourite place besides Science Museum. Living in London is excruciating when costs and expenses drown you but it will be a paradise if you have no worry on money. Leceister Square, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Buckingham Palaces, Greenwich….some places worth to set my footprint. I did explore other cities besides London, such as Manchester, York, New Castle etc. but they were somehow shapeless to me, similar castles, similar garden and similar weather. Scotland was something different. It was William Wallace (Mel Gibson from Braveheart) who drafted the image of Scotland to me and it was exactly how I felt when I visited Edinburgh, a city with preserved history, breathtaking sceneries and unique accent.

Huh… I definitely need more spaces to blog. England itself already consumes a substantial part. To be continued… my next country is the dearest France, where I keep going back falling under Her irresistible charms. London or Paris? You must be kidding me, my friends….. London is old grumpy grandma and Paris is young sinful gorgeous mistress, make your pick….

Tower Bridge


Chatsworth House, Sheffield

Trinity College, Cambridge