24 October 2009

Some boring travel stories :)

This is my 3rd Saturday here. Time flies. It is still cold but not that much for this time of the year, thank God. It's drizzling, and once in a while it rains more. After that the rain stops, then starts again. Sometimes the sun remembers to come out and gives us a smile :). Hmmm ... good to have my waterproof jacket with me all the time. Such is the weather here.

To backtrack a bit, when I landed in Frankfurt from Bangkok about 3 weeks ago, the weather there was fine. Sunny. Warm. I had about 6 hrs stop over there. As usual when passengers embarked from the plane to go into the terminal, there were guards at the gate to receive us and look at our passports. No hassles there except for some maybe that they thought they needed to check more. For me, the guard said good morning and welcome, looked at my passport, and said thanks. I've been in this airport many times before so it was familiar to me already.

I went first to the transfer desk to check my gate number. After that I walked farther to where the shops, seats and toilets are. To await my boarding time for Edinburgh.

I again looked for the camera battery which I found in one of the camera shops. Actually they were selling the camera bag and the battery was an add on. For about 24 euro something. But I did not buy it coz I just thought I didn't really need it yet. Then I went to the cosmetics shop to look for Max Factor Pan Stick Concealer. Also not available. Later on I read that MF has been bought by another company that's why they had to stop production. The product is so good I hope they will make it still, even if they had to re-brand it. I bought an alternative one. It was funny coz the saleslady who served me could not answer all my questions and she told me that she was just a trainee. It was not a good enough reason.

So now it was time to just sit down to rest my tired feet. I went to the coffee stand to get my coffee and muffin. And read my devotional. And started reading JP's book. I took photos as well to break the monotony of just sitting there. After a while, to do some exercise I walked around again, and went to a bookstore. I bought some postcards and a bottle of water. It is my habit also to send postcards to family members to let them know I am thinking of them and wished they could be there too. Then I had to find the post office. They had an elecronic post office nearby so I went there and the stamps were issued automatically. The post box was just nearby. Quite convenient.

Then I went to sit somewhere and continued with my book and watching things around me. I was sitting near the phone area and I watched two women who were trying to use the phone and complained that the machine took all their euros and still they were not able to connect. After some time a guy who also came from the same country tried to help. But nothing happened. Only more euros got 'eaten' by the machine. Now they were talking loudly in their own language. One young lady passed by who was also from the same country as she understood what they were saying. She told them in English that she also experienced the same thing earlier so better not waste anymore time and money trying to figure out how the phone worked. As for me, I was using my DTAC roaming to text Thailand & Philippines. It cost me 12 baht/text. It probably was cheaper than using my Globe roaming which cost 25 baht/text. Anyhow both systems worked perfectly well there, and also here in the UK. It's good to know I have them for emergency, i.e. if my tesco and lyca loads run out as the e-top up centers are not that easy to go to (for me).

It was now time to go to my gate. All hand carried items had to go through the x-ray machine. It seemed they found 'something' in my paper bag which had my winter jacket. One official took a swipe on that bag and went to check it. Ohhh ... what happened? I tried to think back what could have happened to my bag while traveling, if somebody put something there etc. I prayed silently that everything would be clear and they would find nothing. I was not guilty of anything so there was no need to be afraid. I just stood there confidently and with a relaxed expression. After a few moments, the guy came back and told me everything was ok and apologized for delaying me.

So I went on to find a seat. It was still early so there were not so many people there yet. Of the few who were there, I saw a couple of them lying down on the seat sleeping. There were a number of newspapers available for free and I went to take one of each to read. So I spent the time reading the news and opinions. Then I took out the pages with crossword and sudoku puzzles and started to work on them. Time passed quickly and now it was time to board my fight to Edinburgh.
It was announced we had to take a bus to take us to our plane. So we queued and the staff were checking passports and boarding passes. When my turn came, she asked me why I was going to UK and whether I've been there before. However, since they changed the aircraft type I was informed that my seat number had been changed. OK fine with me. It would have been nice though if they announced it while we were still waiting instead of just then as it took the staff some time to check the list and write it down. So it held up the queue. Dunno what they were thinking why they did not do it before hand.

The short bus trip to our plane was ok. It was good I was able to get a seat on the bus. Nobody sat beside me. This is one thing I noticed in this part of the world. You could almost guarantee that you have the seat to yourself as nobody would sit next to somebody looking different from them. I am being 'PC' here. Well, great for me as I have enough space not only for my bags but also for myself. The weather was nice and sunny and it made me glad as well that I did not have to shiver from the cold.

On the plane, I found that I was seated near the emergency exit, next to the window. That was nice coz I had enough leg room. And there was nobody on the 2 seats next to me. That was even better. However, the seats behind were full that one of the guys moved to the seat on the aisle side. Still ok as the middle seat was still empty. The flight was smooth. The snack was also ok, the one that I liked, ham and cheese sandwich using multigrain bread. And apple juice and hot tea. The pilot announced his welcome and the weather forecast. He said that the weather was ok but when we reached Scotland it would be a bit cloudy so there could be some turbulence, so he adviced everyone to keep their seat belts fastened at all times while sitting.

True enough, the sky was clear and bright, then when we reached the Scottish skies suddenly we saw all these gray looking clouds and everything changed. It became darker. The pilot announced that we were now entering Scotland and it was cloudy, 'as usual'. I found that funny but true. 'As usual' coz it was always like that. The change was really obvious, it was like coming from a room that was so bright and colourful and suddenly you go into a room that had gray walls and so dim.

We landed in Edinburgh ok though and it was time to go through the passport control. There were separate queues for UK/EU and non-EU passports. So it was quick for me to get on the front coz there were only a few of us non-EU passengers. The lady officer was nice and friendly and I did not face any difficulty. She wished me well in my studies and in my stay in Scotland. Then I waited for my bag, and went out to stand 19 to get on the city bus to Edinburgh. I had to buy my ticket first at the booth nearby. Then it was time to carry my heavy bag onto the bus. I could not believe I was able to carry it. So I put it in the bag storage before I took my seat. I was familiar with the route so I knew exactly where I was going. There were some in the bus who were just new to the place so they were looking at their maps and were not sure where to get off.

When the bus reached the Waverly train station I got off and had to cross the road. I dragged my bags into the station. It was quite a long walk and I was telling myself why I had to do this when I could easily had taken a taxi from the airport to my destination. Of course the main reason is the cost. The difference is quite big -- it cost only about 12-13 pounds total until I reached my destination. If I took an airport taxi it would cost me nearly 40 pounds or more. Anyway, I wanted to do it this way also as the public transportation was ok and it was not the rush hour. So when I reached the station I went to check the schedule and a train was leaving in about twenty minutes. I bought the ticket (single) from a machine and passed by a small shop to buy water and fiber fruit bars as I was feeling quite hungry already. Then I went inside to wait at the platform for my train. When it arrived I still asked a lady if this train would pass by my destination, just to make sure he he he. No harm in that. She replied yes and she was also going to the same place. OK then, I went up lugging my bag again and put it in the bag storage. I chose a seat where I could watch my bag, in case somebody made a mistake and took it. But I thought since it was heavy nobody would even bother :)

The train passed many interesting places which looked the same last time we were here. As I neared my destination I felt a bit excited coz I have reached this far and I could not believe that after 3 years I was back. It was so far from home, was one of my thoughts, and so different from where I was. And I was alone. Well not really as I knew the Lord had been with me every step of the way. I kept praying for protection as well as presence of mind as I travel, to avoid forgetting stuff and all that. I also always prayed for strength, esp physically as my bag was really heavy. Finally the train arrived at my destination and I got off, lugging my bags. I called a taxi then to send me to my flat. The driver helped to carry my bag and he was surprised at how heavy it was. Oh well, he could not complain coz I gave him a tip for that. Again as I was here before I was familiar with the area and it was a good feeling not to feel strange. At least one stress factor removed if you looked at some psychological analysis of what makes life stressful.

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