Saturday, September 17, 2005

13 Aug 05: Saying goodbye to Aberdeen

13 Aug 05 (Sat):

I woke up for breakfast, my favourite meal of the day. I was probably one of the first to be at the canteen for breakfast that day. Before the breakfast, I ensured I have packed my luggage.

Ate breakfast. I thought to myself that I would miss the generous portion of breakfast at the hostel. Though personally, I still find that Conrad Centennial Singapore's Sunday Breakfast is my favourite by far. Yet, back in Singapore, it would be rare that I would be able to treat myself to cereals, fruits, fruit juices, yogurt and croissants for my regular breakfast. I make do with toasts usually because I won't like to spend too much time preparing breakfast.

After breakfast, I met my junior, XM, at 9.10 a.m. to take the public bus to the City of Aberdeen. Since we were both early for the bus, I took the time to find out British Airways' Aberdeen office's phone number. I phoned. Much to my relief, I was told that "everything's back to normal" and that I would be able to leave Aberdeen for London on British Airways as scheduled.

Anyway, back to the public bus. The public bus as I have mentioned would cost 1.10 pounds for a single trip journey of about 15 minutes. For this reason, I heard that some people would choose to walk an hour from the hostel to the City of Aberdeen. Anyway, the scenery along the way was probably nice, so if one had the time, one could take the walk as a leisure stroll cum exercise. But since I had not much time then, I chose to take the bus.

On our way to the music shop which was our destination, XM and I passed by the Clarks shoe-shop. We visited it. There were discountes offered. Some of the Clarks shoes sold at discounted prices were much cheaper than Clarks shoes sold in Singapore. This was so even when I have converted the prices of the shoes (in pounds) to Singapore currency. I would have bought myself a pair of shoes if I could find a pair to my liking.

Thereafter, we headed for the music shop. I bought myself Giovanni Bottesini's Method for Double Bass, Part One and Two. A pity that it did not sell any of Bottesini's double bass concertos. The shop personnel was very nice and she offered to order it for me and have it sent to Singapore, but I declined. I feared that the cost of air freight would make it not cost-effective.

I wished I had bought my catalogue of double bass related publications. At the shop, I had thought that I already have Cimandor's Concerto in G, so I decided not to purchase it. But when I was back in Singapore, I realised I did not have a copy of it. It was quite affordable, I remembered that the Cimandor's scores was no more than 8 pounds. A pity that I did not get myself a copy. Pardon me, I must have been having the craving of collecting double bass related books and scores.

After the music shop, both of us went around to check out a few other shops.XM was gentlemanly to accompany me to check out a few of the sounvenir shops. I got myself some shortbread, done the Scottish way. Then we headed back to the hostel for lunch.

In the afternoon, I prepared to set off to Aberdeen Airport with the rest of the folks from our orchestra. Our double bass tutor for the festival orchestra, P., was very kind to make time to see us off. He helped us load the luggage up the van. By the way, I have yet to mention that other than being our double bass tutor for the festival orchestra, he was in-charge of coordinating the transportation for the festival. MC, XM and myself wrote him a postcard to thank him for his guidance.

We then head for the airport from the hostel on the festival bus. Most of the orchestra members would leave Aberdeen via KLM airlines. Only myself and another person would take British Airways, but we would be on different flights.

At the airport, I heard from XM that a few of our fellow orchestra mates taking KLM airlines would not be able to board the plane due to bad weather conditions. What a shame, in the end, I understand that XM and two others were stranded in Aberdeen for a day because they were not allowed to board the plane. I understand that they were given some compensation but I wonder what good a compensation would be to someone eager to return home?

The airlines was also not willing to allow our orchestra's flight cases containing large instruments to board the plane, despite the fact that I had heard that we have already gained clearance from the Singapore's KLM office. If anyone has the luxuy of time, perhaps he or she would like to invent a flight case protective enough but yet light and compact enough for air travel? Our orchestra just seemed to be having problems with the flight cases with the airport authorities and airlines. I wonder if other music groups had that problem?

Much later, after I was back in Singapore, I read from MC's blog that another two of our fellow orchestra mates got stranded at Amsterdam because of misprint of their travel pass and because of the delay in the KLM flight from Aberdeen to Amsterdam which left them little time to amend the misprint in their travel passes when they reached Amsterdam. What misadventure.

For me, I depart on one of British Airways' flights. While the strike by British Airways staff have stopped, the strike by staff Gate Gourmet (British Airways food supplier) continued. As such, there was no in-flight food. I was given a food coupon which I could use to redeem for light refreshments (mineral water, potato chips and sandwiches). Actually having no in-flight food did not seem that bad because I was only taking a short-distance domestic flight to London. In about an hour and a half's time, I reached London's Heathrow Airport.

At the airport, it took me a few minutes to figure out the directions to the tube station from the arrival hall. I headed for the Russell Square tube station on the tube. I was very thankful that the tube services for the Piccadilly line has resumed. It was closed shortly after the London bombing's incidents. Taking the tube is a much cheaper form of transport than taxi. It took about 40 minutes to get to Russell Square tube station from Heathrow Airport tube station. Taxi would have been very expensive, I heard it would cost about 50 pounds to get to Russell Square from the airport. The exchange rate is approximately 1 pound to 3 Singapore dollars. I started becoming thankful to our affordable taxi services in Singapore.

Russell Hotel, which I would stay, was within walking distance from the Russell Square tube station. I am thankful for my dad for sponsoring my hotel accomodation in London. I would not have want to spend money to stay in a hotel if I were in London. A three-star hotel in London would cost at least about 90 pounds if you want en-suite facilities.

I was issued key to a room, but that room had faulty air-conditioning unit. When I went to the reception desk for help, the courteous and helpful staff helped arranged for a room check, and when the fault was ascertained, he offered me another non-smoking room. So I proceeded to check the second room and all was in good condition. I like that second room better. While the size of the toilet was smaller than that of the first, the bedroom's area was much bigger. I would prefer a greater bedroom area for you must have guessed that I would end up spending more time on the bed than in the toilet. The second room had a better view too.

I was hungry by the time I had settled down in the second room. I walked to the nearby streets and bought Subway sandwiches for dinner. After unpacking, and having a nice shower, I slept.

Before sleeping, I said thanks to my dad for sponsoring the accomodation. I knew I would have preferred to stay in a hotel than in the hostel, but if I were to pay for my own accomodation, I would have chosen the latter.

1 comment:

mistipurple said...

sweet ole dad. he wants to adopt another? :p