Saturday, August 20, 2005

2 Aug 05, part two: Arrived in Aberdeen

On the flight to Aberdeen from London: There were only refreshments served on the plane. I overheard the air-stewardess telling another passenger that because the flight is no more than an-hour-and-a-half, and due to the time of the flight, it was not a regular practice to serve lunch on the flight. Instead, refreshments would be served.

Arrived at Aberdeen's airport at about 1.30 p.m. It took quite a while before we could claim and get hold of the flight case. Thank goodness the fellow gentlemen travelling with us on board the flight for the festival were very nice to help out with the flight case.

The courier (likely in-charge of the other music group who shared the same flight as we did) who came to welcome us at the airport got to know that many of us did not have a proper lunch and were hungry. As such she said she shall try her best to arrange for us to have something to eat. How nice of her.

There was a bus to pick up the participants of the festival, and a large van to help transport the instruments and the luggages. There was a camera-man who was with us throughout the journey from the airport to the hostel, which I shall refer to as the Hillhead Hostel. I believe he was there to document the arrival of the participants on video.

Now a photo that was taken outside the airport while waiting for the bus:

Taken outside Aberdeen's airport

If you would ever want to catch one glimpse of yours truly, you may. I am the one on the left of the photo.

Hillhead Hostel lies within Old Aberdeen and if you were to travel by foot from the hostel to the City of Aberdeen, that might take close to an hour. On the bus, it would be about 15 minutes or less.

When we reached the hostel, most of the orchestra members boarding the KLM flight had already arrived and more or less settled down. We were given our keys to our rooms. Our courier, K. helped us with that. Each of us is assigned to a single room with a wash-basin facility. Toilet and bathroom facilities were to be shared. Good enough to meet my basic expectations.

The only difficult part for me is that my room is on the second floor. In UK, the ground floor is the floor at the ground level, and the first floor is the floor one storey above the ground level. So my room being on the second floor was the room two storeys above the ground level. Thank goodness, one of the guys from the orchestra, YQ was so gentlemanly to help me bring my heavy luggage up. There was really not a lot of things but the luggage case itself weighed quite a bit in itself even though the case was only half full.

We were offered some refreshments for those of us who arrived after the hostel's lunch hours and had not had lunch. There were donuts, cheese and biscuits to treat us. To an Asian standard, that was not a proper meal. It was considered more of a snack, but it went fine with me. At least the food will last me well till dinnertime. Went to my room to unpack after the meal.

Soon, it was dinnertime. Spoke to MC one of the double bassists, and who was in-charge of the logistics. He told me that we won't get to see and use the double basses until the next day, the earliest being the next morning. How disappointing I was feeling. I could only try not to reveal the whole magnitude of my disappointments.

But dinner was quite good. I like the fact that there was fresh raw vegetables from the salad bar which we could all help ourselves freely to. I think if Stephanie were to read of this, she would have like the servings of vegetables too. Yummy. It helped to soothe me a little.

There were also fruit juices available. I prefer the apple juice to the orange juice. But so far, except for the tomato juices on board the Qantas flight, no other juices I have tasted throughout my entire trip tasted better than the juices from Conrad Centennial Singapore. A pity Conrad does not seem to offer tomato juices. If it does, I think the tomato juice on the flight would not be Conrad's match.

There was really no programme for the entire day except that there was a short briefing after the dinner.

After the briefing, there was a kind of welcome ceremony for all the festival participants and the Bucksburn Pipe Band played lovely tunes on the bagpipes for us. While enjoying the music, I found it nice to lay on the open spaces of grass. This is something I would not do in Singapore unless I have a ground sheet. But there is something about Aberdeen's grass, it does not have as much insects and the soil is much drier than that in Singapore. How relaxing and laid back life was lying down on the grass. A local who have spent quite some time in Singapore before she returned to Aberdeen spoke to us and even taught us how to travel to the City of Aberdeen by the public bus.

I head that there was an Opening Ceilidh for all of us after the music by the pipe band. After checking the dictionary, I learnt that the word Ceilidh refers to an informal gathering for music and dancing.

After the pipe band stopped playing, there was quite large crowd heading towards the pub-area where the Ceilidh would be held. Being not in flavour of crowds, I returned to my room. I was told much earlier that haggies, one of the national dishes of Scotland would be served during the Ceilidh. I was tempted to try it, so after about 45 minutes in my room, I headed for the pub to check out the Ceilidh. I was hoping for the crowd to clear a little, but I saw a queue outside the pub, and I would rather choose to forgo the haggies in order not to be caught in a crowd.

I slept. But it was summertime and 9 p.m. in Aberdeen seemed like it was only 7 p.m. I had to put on eye shades to put myself to sleep.

Check out more photos posted on my other blog. Look under: 2 Aug 05: At the Hostel.

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