______ Wednesday, 26 May 2004|
Despite being fully aware that I am going to have one awful time carrying all my crap home, I went to Waterstone's today and bought some books. Since my next final exam isn't for another week, I have a lot of time on my hands, and I wanted to catch up on some reading. I remember the days before high school when I used read five or six books a month. And then high school came around, and all I ever read were all those novels for English class (or, even worse, just their Cliffs notes). College is the same, except with all those scholarly texts on political science and communications (bleh). Now I want to get back into reading for leisure. Books for fun! ... Yeah, I'm a nerd like that, I know.
Anyway, after spending about an hour going up and down the shelves looking for those shiny "3 for 2" stickers, I picked up Catch-22, which I've been meaning to read since forever, and Dan Brown's Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I generally don't like to read books after a big fuss has been made over them, but they sounded too interesting to pass up.
Wow, I'm going home in a week and a half! Time is moving insanely fast. I'm really excited because I'm that much closer to my wonderful Taipei-Tokyo summer, but I know that there's a lot of things I'll miss here in England, too. Namely, take-away, Highway paninis (there's nothing like them on this earth), snow (they have *gasp* four seasons here!) and being less than a two-hour flight/train ride from some of my favorite places in the world (London, Paris, Holland, Germany).
Oh well, all good things must come to and end. Bring on the summer! ^____^
______ Sunday, 16 May 2004
The schedule has been finalized! Catch me when you can, because I'm going to be all over the place in the next few months ;)
Until June 6 -- Leeds
June 6 - June 15 -- Cerritos/SD
June 15 - July 5 -- Taipei
July 5 - Sept. 18 -- Tokyo
Sept. 18 onwards -- SD
And now I'm off to the library to research for my 3,000-word paper due tomorrow. Last day of revision week and oh what an unproductive week it was!
______ Friday, 14 May 2004
So I caved and got a LiveJournal. I like the extra features, like commenting and communities and stuff (even though it's questionable how many people actually read my journal, and will comment). What I really DON'T like, however, is the fact that I can't get full HTML access unless I pay (which I do not plan to do) so the journal looks a little...bleh.
Oh well, we'll see which one wins, Pitas or LJ. In the meantime, entries will be X-posted in both journals, in case I decide to abandon one for the other.
With that said, go check out my (not so) snazzy LJ.
______ Sunday, 9 May 2004
12 hours left until my paper is due and I haven't written a WORD! Eeeeeek.
heidiTHEmighty87: HAHAH. if i were you, i would be in TEARS.
heidiTHEmighty87: but since i'm not you, i can laugh.
______ Saturday, 8 May 2004
Supposed to be writing my 16-page paper due Monday, which I haven't started, but you know me. Procrastination, the story of my life.
Hippypotamut: so, i'm coming home on june 6
Hippypotamut: i want a barbeque
Hippypotamut: and a cake
heidiTHEmighty87: a cake for what?!
Hippypotamut: a "welcome home" cake!
Hippypotamut: from honey bakery
heidiTHEmighty87: honey bakery closed already
heidiTHEmighty87: it closed like 2 months ago!
Hippypotamut: what disasters have befallen cerritos while i was gone?!!?
heidiTHEmighty87: JUUUUUUST KIDDING!
Hippypotamut: i hate you.
heidiTHEmighty87: bring me some currency when you come back
heidiTHEmighty87: i want a euro
Hippypotamut: why, loser.
heidiTHEmighty87: because! i couldn't win one from my irish substitute in 8th grade.
heidiTHEmighty87: man, i was crestfallen
Hippypotamut: omg, shut up.
______ Monday, 3 May 2004
I donít know why I havenít mentioned it yet, but Iíve known for a while thatÖ
IíM GOING TO JAPAN THIS SUMMER!
*bounce bounce bounce* Iím going be there the whole summer studying Japanese. How excited am I? VERY. And as if it couldnít get any betterÖ
IíM GOING TO TAIWAN, TOO!
I havenít been there sinceÖwhat, 7th grade? I canít wait to see my cousins again. Man, itís going to be an awesome summer.
I feel like such a little traveler this year. God knows itís to make up for ten years of cancelled plans to Asia and fervent wishes to study abroad. I need one of those big ass maps like the one Julia Stiles has in her new movie The Prince & Me, with colored pins designating where Iíve been and where I want to go.
On a heavier note, most people who know me are aware that stress rolls off my shoulders like nothing. But lately, I have been *gasp shock omfg* stressed. Between final exams and papers coming up, arranging travel home as well as to Asia, taking care of all the paperwork and finances for my Japan program, and figuring out my courses for next year, I'm ready to pull out my hair. My brain hurts from so much thinking.
To end on a happier note though, I hope everyone's seen the trailer for the third Harry Potter movie. It's so awesome! I'm expecting very good things from this new director. If you haven't, you'd better crawl out of that rock you've been living under and go watch it! I really thought Snape's character in the book was annoying, but BOY does he look cool in the movie.
______ Sunday, 25 April 2004
The weather has been so freaking awesome the past few days. My ice cream was actually melting on my way home from the store! *shock*
Anyway, a continuation of Kim's Spring Break Adventures.
Helen and I were hoping to see an opera by Wagner (we became interested after our visit to Neuschwanstein castle, where much of the interior decoration was dedicated to Wagner's operas), and lo and behold! Parsifal was actually playing! Unfortunately, it was opening night and tickets were all sold out. So we settled on the next best thing, another opera called Die Vogel (The Bird), which was all in German, unlike the ones at the State Opera where Parsifal was playing, which had English subtitles. But hey, music transcends words, right?
The opera was literally about...a bird. And for those of you who know me, I generally don't like stories that revolve around animals (Lion King excluded). I mean, the bird had a gorgeous voice. It reminded me of Aurora from Disney's Sleeping Beauty. But anyway, more birds came out, then some guys with a plane (I think it was symbolic of something, but the meaning was lost on me) and then it was time for an intermission. Now, we had been under the impression that this opera was going to be about five hours long. So, as I was struggling to stay awake under the dim lighting in my comfy chair, I figured I would sleep through the first couple of acts and wake up for the last one, as I could not fathom staying awake for the whole damn thing. About an hour later, I was awoken by a violent explosion on stage (at which point some boat-looking thing was on fire), and five minutes later, the opera ended. Apparently, it had only been two hours long, and I missed almost the entire thing, including a bizarre love story between the main bird and one of the plane guys. Great.
The next night (our last night in Vienna), we decided to give it another try. This time, we went to watch the Vienna Mozart Orchestra. The musicians were all dressed in period costumes, and there were two opera singers and a choir. The music was great, though my seat and view left much to be desired (I was in the very last box at the very back of the hall behind a pillar...although, I was sitting in an actual chair, so if I just turned and slid it slightly to the left, I could move it a little away from the pillar. But seriously, who puts a seat BEHIND a pillar, anyway?) The last number was great, everyone was really enjoying it and clapping along. I still haven't figured out what it's called, and it is NOT on the CD that the stupid lady said was the same as the performance and I stupidly bought.
Despite some low points and wasting a lot of time at Starbucks, Vienna was wonderful. I hope I can go back someday.
Prague, Czech Republic
Cheap cheap cheap. I said that word so many times during our stay in Prague that Helen said I couldn't use it anymore. Anyway, the currency in the Czech Republic is the koruna, and the conversion is something like 25 koruna to the dollar. And everything was CHEAP. Bottled water for 50 cents, WHEN have you ever seen that? We'd eat an entire meal and dessert at a decent restaurant for something like . It took us a while to get used to seeing the huge numbers, as we were used to euros and pounds ("Eek, 100?! Oh wait, that's four bucks. Whew.").
Anyway, Prague is quite pretty, and their local food is delicous. I'm still a little confused about what their "dumplings" are, though. I ordered a barbeque pork dish that was supposed to come with dumplings on the side, but all I got were five slices of bread and some veggies. Hmm.
Yay, back in Germany! We saw the East Side Gallery (the parts of the Berlin Wall that were restored), the Brandenburger Tor (the gate that used to separate East and West Berlin), and Check Point Charlie. My memory might be a little fuzzy at this point, but I think I enjoyed Munich more than Berlin. Although, it was really cool and gave me a very surreal feeling being in the city that I studied so much in history. I'm definitely glad I didn't skip it.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I love Holland, I really do. When I was there in the summer to visit my aunt, I didn't think it was all that impressive, but once I arrived in Amsterdam I realized how much I really loved it there and being back. We visited the Van Gogh Museum, which was great. I bought a poster that actually came with a tube that had a handle, which Helen BROKE after swinging it around and going "ding ding ding" so many times! (Haha, juuuust kidding, Helen! ^____^) But the Anne Frank house was the most depressing thing ever. I can imagine why people leave this place in tears.
We were in Brussels for only half a day waiting for our flight back to London, thank God. It was the most boring place ever. If you ever want to visit Belgium, go to Antwerp.
THE END! That was everything, I think. Cute/funny/embarrassing memories:
- Kim: (running through the rain at full speed looking for a toilet): This rain hurts! >__<
Helen: That's because it's HAILING.
- Helen: Is that tram 3 or 5?
Kim: No, it's like number three thousand twelve!
In actuality, the sign on the bus was some Czech word with a lot of accent marks that I had misread as "3012".
- The malfunctioning tram ticket machine in Munich. It would take some of our change, but not all of it, and spit back out random coins. So, rather than doing something sensible like asking someone about it, Helen and I just kept putting coins in as fast as we could, and when we ran out of coins, we'd start using the ones the machine was spitting back out at us, then repeating the process when the machine finally closed its change slot. Boy, those Germans must have though we were a riot, frantically putting coins into the machine and laughing the whole time. Finally, a REALLY nice guy actually took us across the street to the train station to use another machine. So nice!
- While crossing the street, there were some construction cones. Seeing no potholes or immediate danger, I accidentally walked between two of the cones. Suddenly these two big construction guys went "Hey!" in unison and I got scared. Turned out they were painting the crosswalk lines, and I was stepping all over them.
- We were in the same couchette cabin as the cutest old couple ever. They took the top bunks, and every time we looked up we saw them holding hands across the gap between the two beds. Awww!
- While waiting for our train at our favorite station, Hauptbahnhof, we saw a tiny mouse run out of one of the food court kitchens. Kinda cute until two of its other friends came out. We left the food court after that.
______ Friday, 16 April 2004
Got back yesterday night from my trip around Europe. Then I got woken up at 10am by people testing the new fire alarms installed in each and every one of our rooms and in the hallway. Let it be known that they are working, and are VERY effective. You could swear that they were actually installed IN your ear rather than on the ceiling. That went on for about 15 minutes, by which time I was pretty sure I had gone deaf.
Anyway, so hereís a blow-by-blow account of my trip. Itíll be long, so bear with me.
Barcelona & Madrid, Spain
Started off my Easter vacation by missing my flight from London Stansted to Barcelona. Since Phuong and I couldnít catch another flight until the next morning, we spent the night at the airport. It was actually pretty fun since there were all these shops open 24 hours, but I donít think I slept for more than an hour that night because the seats were so uncomfortable. Couches they definitely are not. My advice, donít sleep at an airport. Well, maybe once, just for the experience. But after that, no.
Anyway, despite the fact that it was raining on and off (mostly on) during our week in Spain, it was great. I highly recommend Barcelona, Madrid, and a little city called Santander, which has the most gorgeous beach Iíve seen in my life, even in gloomy, 20 degree weather. Toledo was not so fun, since it was raining all day. I think it was more of a place to visit in the summer. In Madrid, however, Phuong and I stumbled upon the cutest little restaurant with the most delicious (and cheap!) food ever. Our favorite hard-working waiter looked a lot like Mario (of Super Mario Bros.) so we nicknamed him Mario, and the other waiter who was letting poor Mario do all the work we nicknamed Luigi ^___^
During this time, I finally had to come to grips at how crap my Spanish had become. However, I did manage to buy a pair of shoes all by myself during my day alone in Madrid after Phuong left ^___^ I also hit the Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums that day, where I got to see Picassoís Guernica and some great Dali stuff.
Helen and I were supposed to meet at the station in Madrid to head off to Lisbon together, but we ended up missing each other so I spent a day and a half in Lisbon all by myself. Unfortunately, I have to admit that Lisbon wasnít as impressive as I had expected. The open-top bus tour was pretty badÖhalf the time the audio headphones were silent, and basically left me riding at the top of a bus by myself staring blankly at everything we passed by. The high point of my stay would probably be the accommodation, which was not a hostel but a hotel. It had a TV, a bathroom, and even a hair dryer.
Helen and I finally met up at Hendaye, where I spent the entire day waiting for my train connection to Geneva. If I ever in my life felt like I so badly wasted a day, this was it. There was no luggage storage, so I was forced to sit in the tiny station by myself for about 10 hours until Helenís train arrived. All that I had to survive was a vending machine filled with food I could NOT eat because I gave up snacks for Lent.
The good news was, Geneva was nice. We visited the UN building and the headquarters of the Red Cross. The highlight would have to be eating at this place called Edelweiss, where we had some fondue and a great dessert of chocolate fondue. There was even this yodeling band playing the whole time. What fun!
Okay, so we heard that Interlaken was this gorgeous place that we absolutely had to visit to see the ďrealĒ Switzerland. Well, it turns out that while the train ride there was *amazing* (snowy mountains, beautiful lakes, the whole deal), the only reason people visited Interlaken was either to ski (which we were not equipped or prepared for) or, according to the souvenir shop guy, to visit the mountaintop of Jungfrau, the ďtop of EuropeĒ with a magnificent view of the Swiss Alps. Unfortunately, it cost about 0+ to take the train up there, so we ended up just wandering around the town. I mean village. I mean little cluster of buildings the size of my neighborhood. The souvenir shop guy was not joking when he said that Interlaken took no more than half an hour to explore. We settled for taking pictures and buying postcards OF Jungfrau, which fortunately we could at least see from Interlaken. So yeah, donít go to Interlaken unless you want to ski/snowboard or see Jungfrau.
If I had any one regret on this trip (other than the loss of one entire day of my life in Hendaye), Zurich would be it. I donít know what we were missing, but this place was just not all that great. In addition, if we had just skipped Zurich, we could have gone to Athens, which we had to skip because it would take about two days to get there and back again, and weíd only have about a day to spend there, which didnít seem worth it to us. So, I donít have much to say about this place, as we didnít really do anything there.
Since we had about three days to kill because we cancelled Athens, Helen and I decided to take a day trip to Pompeii. This was definitely worth it. I mean, youíve always heard about Pompeii from your history books, but the feeling you get from actually SEEING it is another thing altogether. The place was *huge*Öa small town it definitely was not.
My absolute favorite country in Europe has to be Germany. My absolute favorite city has always been Paris, but Germany as a whole was so wonderfully efficient and clean that I couldnít help but love it. Munich was the second of our unplanned stops after we cancelled Athens, and it was great. Let me tell you, the Munich Hauptbahnhof train station had the most excellent food court I have ever seen, and that includes shopping malls and all that. It had donners, pastries (one of which I had at least once a day), seafood, and everything! Who would expect that from a train station? Only in Germany!
Anyway, it happened to snow in Munich while we were there too, which was gorgeous! If only I had brought more to wear than a light leather jacket, Iím sure I would have enjoyed it more. Also during our stay we visited the Neuschwanstein castle of the ďMad King Ludwig,Ē which I have to say has been the most beautiful castle Iíve ever seen save for Versailles. I heard it was the castle that the Disneyland castle was modeled after, but of course the latter pales in comparison. It really does look like a fairytale castle, sitting by itself on its own mountain overlooking the town surrounded by a forest, lake, and mountains.
Okay, on second thought, Iíll continue this next time. This entry has gotten horrendously long. Hope everyone had a great Easter and/or spring break! And congrats to my little sister, who finally got her license after months of dragging her feet. A little terror on the road, she will be.