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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2 Days in Edinburgh

Assalammualaikum!

Yes, Aisyah, my sister has arrived in the UK!
She will be here until my convocation day, so she will be spending almost one month with me.
And guess what, the cheapest air ticket we can find was from Qatar Airways from Kuala Lumpur to Edinburgh, it cost us about GBP604 (trust me, that is not actually cheap).

Anyway, Wasil and I arrived Edinburgh at noon and we took the Airlink 100 to the airport.
I have been very excited about her arrival for the past month and I have even prepared the simple classic airport "Welcome" banner.




Aisyah was supposed to land at 1315 but to our despair, we were still waiting for her at 1415.
I met Joash, one of my IMU seniors as he was also waiting for his parents who were also on the same flight, and his family arrived way earlier than Aisyah. I was already tired, hungry and worried at the same time. She did not miss the flight from Doha, did she?
Has she been detained by the UKBA?
I was ready with a camera in my hand, ready to capture the moment she walks out of the International Arrivals gate, and I have captured countless "only gate" pictures, out of boredom.

And at last, I saw her walking out of the gates! And I started to frantically shoot her pictures.



See that happy girl?
Haha...
I was so hungry at that time, I opened her bag to find breads and other food that mama packed for her.

Her first purchase in the UK, two bottles of water for £2 from WH Smith

We then went back to Edinburgh city centre by the Airlink 100, and checked in at Travelodge, Waterloo Place.
After prayer, we went to Royal Mile for a wee picture time!
It was very fun, as it has been many years since we hung out together. Wasil has not been back to Malaysia for the past two years. Too bad our youngest brother could not be here, or it would have been even more memorable.


The next day, we joined the free walking tour by Sandemans, and our guide, Kiel, an Australian man was very good, informative and very knowledgable. The tour starts at 11am and it lasted for about 2.5hrs.

We walked the initial part of the Royal Mile, visited the Greyfriar graveyard and continued to the Grassmarket.
This was actually my third time joining a free walking tour, and every time the tourguide has different story to tell, and we can see the different passion and knowledge they have.



This is David Hume statue. It was said that when this statue was built, the Government at that time wanted to replicate, and mimmick the Greek/Romans hence Hume was wearing a toga. Lol..
See his toe in the earlier picture? The toe has gotten yellow, because many people believed that rubbing his toe will bring luck! Well, I think it can bring us germs,


I will really miss these kinds of buildings; ancient looking, grey, and almost dirty big buildings. I will be going back to a country with many skyscrappers and highways.
No more walking from one tourist attraction to the other.


Okay, our next destination: Dublin!
See you soon~

-Because life is a test-

-AkMaR-
http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Assalammualaikum!

I mentioned before that I am trying to finish all my novels before I go back to Malaysia, haven't I?

So few days ago I was in the middle of "Who's That Girl?" by Alexandra Potter.
It was a story about a "paranormal" experience Charlotte was having, where she literally "time-travelled" and see her 21 year-old self, and even talked to her.
Apparently she has changed so much over the 10 year period that even her younger self could not recognise her.

The story started by describing Charlotte and her hectic lifestyle.
At 31, she is a successful but very busy woman with her own PR company.

However, I find it hard to get very absorbed with this story. The storyline was very fast-paced, but not funny.
I tend to compare authors and although I find Sophie Kinsella's writing fast-paced as well, her lines are actually funny. The characters are funny and alive. But not this one.
So halfway, I gave up and put it in one of the boxes I am going to ship home - that means I will see it again in two months time.


I then picked up Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, which I bought for £1.40 from the market.
And I finished it about 24 hours later!

However, I really hate Becky Brandon - the main character of the Shopaholic series.
I think she is very immature and almost incompetent - she can't plan, she can't see the seriousness of several banks collapsing, she buys cardigans that cost more than £100, and she's married to Luke Brandon - a mature, calm, patient, handsome and successful businessman.
It's just unfair and unrealistic.

She wants to host a surprise party for her husband, and she wants marquee and fire-eaters and good food, and costumes and performances, basically she just wants to blow her husband's mind off with the "wow-ness" of the party.
But she has got no idea how much that will cost her. Instead, she started making friends with her husband's secretary and got her to send an invitation email to the surprise party - without knowing that her husband's acquaintances are those people of very high ranks - ministers and businessmen - well, Luke runs a successful PR company.
When she realised she could not please all these invitees (bouncers, toilets, valet parkings, masseur etc) she started doing all sort of unrealistic things to make everything work.
Basically she creates problem for herself, and solve it by creating an even bigger problem.
And that totally doesn't sit well with me.

But I kept reading.
I want to know how bad her failure will be. How will she get out of this mess. She wasn't willing to give the party up, she won't settle for a nice dinner with family members. She wants a party with such a huge scale that she herself has never been to.
This sort of thing happened in other Shopaholic books as well, Becky always get herself in such a mess (and most of the time it is a financial mess and most of the time it was due to her shopping) but in the end, because of her "strength", somebody will come to her rescue and she'll get what she wants and everyone will be happy.

In this book, her "strengths" were: never give up, stubborn and determined.
That is someone came and helped her fund that party for Luke.

Sophie Kinsella has written quite many books and some of the non-Shopaholic series I've read were Undomestic Goddess, Twenties Girl, Can You Keep A Secret? and Remember Me?
I like all these stories and their main characters.
And I really dislike Becky Bloomwood.
But I still want to read the rest of the Shopaholic series.

Oh, this book is called Mini Shopaholic because Becky has got a two-year-old daughter who is very stubborn and likes new things as well - new toys, new dresses and stuff.

Hmm, tu je kot nk cerita about this book.
My next book: either HRH or Vanished, both by Danielle Steel.

-Because life is a test-

I have read Shopaholic Abroad (I think), Shopaholic Ties The Knot, Shopaholic & Sister and Mini Shopaholic
-AkMaR-
http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com

Saturday, June 7, 2014

No More a Medical Student

Assalammualaikum!
Dah! It's already 06 June 2014!

Today is the day I "get discharged from" School of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, University of Manchester.
This morning the final result arrived by email. It says: MBChB.
Woohooo~

So yes, starting tomorrow I am no more a medical student.
I am officially an unemployed medical graduate :)


My convocation will be on July 8th, that's one month from now! *gasp gasp x sabar*
My outfit for the day is ready, so has my hijab.
I still have no suitable shoes to wear, so I am going shopping with Kiew at Manchester next week. Hopefully TK Maxx has something nice and cheap :D

Haritu struggle gler when I wanted to measure my head circumference to order the graduation hat.
When I measured with Kiew, we have decided that I will take 155cm. Well, I need to wear my hijab and I don't want to squash my hijab awning kn. Nti forehead nmpk besar gler. So I measured only my crown bit, not exactly the frontal-occipital circumference. This pict is almost like a wedding pict, once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. I can't afford to look awful!

But then, when Akmal came to measure his (because in Preston, I am the only one with a measuring tape lol), I suddenly remembered that most likely I will wear the lilt2 kind of shawl hence my head WILL be bigger. Will 155cm be enough? And when I googled images of girls wearing the graduation hat with hijab, most of them HAVE their awning squashed. That means, they really wear it like a proper hat, not just a crown.

So, I had to re-measure my head with an extra hijab some more. So most likely I will take 159cm now.
I'd rather a loose hat that I can pin it to my hijab than a tight one that will squeeze and cramp my head for hours and I'll end up with tension headache at the end of the day.

Lol, I can't believe I am no more a student now.
Dh xde identiti dh lepas ni. If ppl ask, obviously I can't say I am a doctor. But I am not a student anymore either.
Fortunately though, my student card says 30-JUN-2014 as the expiry date. Hence I can still use it for student privilege until 30th June 2014. That's good. Because I will be going to Ireland and France with Aisyah when she comes. And I NEED that student discount.

Ok, that's all for now.
Goodnight!


-Because life is a test-

Yeayyy! Nak buat mcm ni lah nti on my graduation day. I hope other people will join me! 

06.06.14
11.41pm

-AkMaR-
http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com

Mad about Blogging and Bloggers

Assalammualaikum!

Gler betul.
For the past few days, I have been sooo into blogging that I can't stop myself from writing (but I have been refraining myself from writing more than one post per day) and worst of all, reading others' blogs.
I don't know what has got into me. Mcm nak gler dok tekan "Next Blog>> - Next Blog>> - Next Blog>>" on top of the blogger.com screen.



The funny thing is, all the blogs I stumbled upon are non-Malaysians and non-English.
Norwegian la, German la, even Spanish pun ade.
And pulak tu, all the blogs that blogger.com suggested are the ones that are sooo outdated, latest post was like 8 months ago, 1 year ago, 2 years ago and so on. Oh come on la blogger.com, give me something new la.
I really want to read people's stories. Like real people's stories.
Even better, I want to read my friends' stories but it seems all of my friends are in a hiatus now.
In fact, they have been hiatus for more than 6 months!
Haih, tu la. Kwn sume bdk medic, sape ada masa nk update blog all the time (or monthly at least).

I even revamped and declutter my Bloglist. Turns out many of my friends have private-ed their blogs. Patut le no updates from them. It took me hours to do these things.

I deactivated my Facebook account about two months ago, if not I would have written a status Sape ada blog cepat bagi link sinih. I wanna read your stories".
I ended up reactivating it for a very short while, went through my News Feed and looked at the "About" of all my friends yg rajin mengupdate fb. Who knows if they blog as well?
But none of them do.

So in the end I randomly googled "Jom Blogwalking" and I found this Jom Blogwalking blog. It lists out many many blogs (from A - Z) and all of them are Malaysians'!
So I went through the blogs one by one, not all of them though (I stopped in the middle of A)!

And from one of them, the writer mentioned bloggers like "Fatin Liyana Asri", "Maria Elena" and "Hanis Zalikha" have tens of thousands of readers/followers. So of course, I googled them haha.
Terus melekat! I read their blogs and from their blogs, I was directed to many other blogs.

And then I googled "Blogger Popular Malaysia" - hahaha..
And found even more blogs.
Envy jgk la, how could these people get like tens of thousands of readers?
No wonder they can make so much money out Ads and stuff.
Tp fkir2 balik, I don't want that many readers on my blog la. No privacy.

Oh, come la let me tell a bit about the "famous" blogs I stumbled upon today.

1) Maria Elena
She is a new mother, comel gmbr2 anak dia.
She writes about her life mostly.
And oh, I read somewhere that she wrote about her journey from being a free-hair to a hijabi. Well done~

2)Fatin Liyana
She is a fourth year medic student!
God... cemane la boleh ada masa to write so much. And she even models for some muslimah clothings.

3) Geek in The Pink
She is a young English teacher.
I have not read much of her blog but her writing is quite relaxed, I may read more if I have the time and will to.

4) Yuyu Zulaikha
She's a young married woman too.
Wrote about her life and her pregnancy so far.

From all the blogs I have read today, it seems most of them are fashionable women.
They usually have some make-up tips or shawl tutorials and stuff in the blog.
And they have nice and beautiful pictures too. Nmpk cantik glee in the pictures but of course, beautiful in pictures doesn't mean beautiful in real life. Boleh je mekap and Photoshop bagai.

And their writings are usually funny and so laid-back.
Something like "u'olls sume", "i'olls" and "Wahahahaha" and stuff.

Maybe THAT is the secret recipe to a successful blog.
Anyway, hopefully this post does not make me sound too envious of them!
Diorg best la, and we should not be envious of other people's achievement, right?
:D
I have put up their links on my bloglist on the right side of this blog. Baca la kalau berminat :D

Ok, that's all for now.
Gotta go prepare dinner.
X sabar nak balik Msia, where meals are always ready on the table. Heh~

-Because life is a test-

06 June 2014
7.36pm
-AkMaR-
http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My Post-Exam Turkey Trip - part 2 (Pamukkale and Paragliding!)



Assalammualaikum.

Okay, so I have brought you all through my days in Istanbul.
On our second day in Turkey i.e 20 Jan 2014, we set off to Pamukkale on a night bus.

Day 2 Monday 20th Jan 2014 ; 2130hrs to Pamukkale

At 2130, the bus departed. They were only around 10 of us in that huge bus.
Each of us have our own mini TV screen in front of us, like the ones on the plane. A headphone was also provided. I sit next to Kiew but because I want to stretch my leg, I went to an empty row of seats nearby. We can watch movies or listen to music on the mini screen but unfortunately the anime were translated into Turkish, and there was no subtitle.

About 2 hours after boarding, the bus stopped at another station and there were sooo many people boarding. I had to give the place away and returned to the seat next to Kiew. It wasn't that cramped but it will be better to have two seats to yourself, won't it?

To my surprise, the bus waiter and came with a trolley and gave us drinks and sandwich!
Juice, carbonated drinks or simply water. Diana told me that the buses have drinks but I thought this tour company of mine will buy us a cheaper ticket hence they will not provide drinks.

Anyway, we slept throughout the journey until at around 5.30am we stopped at a rest station and prayed Subuh. At around 8.30am, we reached Denizli. 11 hours of bus ride! When I got down, a man was already with my friends, taking our luggages. Apparently he was holding a cardboard bearing my name. Haihhh...popular btul my name in Turkey. He drove us to Pamukkale, but his driving was craaazyyy~ We screamed a few times in the car when he almost hit a dog and took deathly turns.
Halfway, I remembered that I left a plastic bag in the night bus. Haihh.. It contains my dirty clothes and toiletries essentials ie facial wash, facial cream etc.
I dared not ask the man to return to the bus station.
1) I dont want to trouble him. 2) I also don't want to go thru that crazy dangerous journey again.

Anyway, we reached the office of the tour company.
I then realised that Troublefreeholiday is a small company. He subbed a lot other tour company. Eg, the man that drove us from our Istanbul hotel to Otogar was from another company, the tour company that will bring us around Pamukkale is another tour company. That means, we paid for his service of searching. And he gave us better price because he gets cheaper price from the tour company.

Anyway, the tour company briefed us on our activity of the day and also promoted to us paragliding! I was very enthralled and wanted to go for it. Fortunately my friends had the same thought (but later I found everyone were actually scared). We paid 150 Euro / £42 per person for the paragliding.


You know paragliding? That activity where you go to the top of a cliff and run towards the edge and FLYYYYY~

Since check-ins are usually 2pm, the tour company manager decided to bring us to his uncle's hotel so that we can change and have breakfast. I think this was a bad idea, but I wasn't aware when he made the decision. We should have just insisted on trying to go to our hotel, if they have empty rooms I am sure they will let us check-in.
He was trying to get our money for the breakfast.

In his "uncle's" hotel, we were given a room which has been made into a store room to change!
We can't shower, the room was full of clean bedsheets and blankets and towels. Thank God we can have a toilet to wash our faces and brush teeth.
Haihh.. and the auntie then gave us each a plate of Turkish breakfast for 10 Lira.
The auntie cant speak English so we cant cancel the plate. We planned to order only 2 or 3 plates for the 4 of us.

Anyway another man fetched us and headed to fetch another couple that will also join our tour.
Guess what, the man greeted Kiew "anyeong ha seyo!"
Hahaha.. He was Korean and he thought Kiew was one too. When we said we are from Malaysia, he told us he went to a place with big casino. Oh Genting rupanye. Kesian plk Malaysia, famous with casino haih.

Pamukkale Itself

Anyway, the tour guide named Hayati brought us up to Pamukkale.
He explained to us that Pamukkale was first a pagan country, which was then "transferred" to the Rome but with heavy Greek influence. Hence this historical city has many Roman ruins.
The first city was called Necropolis, which means the "City of the Dead". Well, that make sense. In medical term, "necro" is death. This was a city full of coffins. It was essentially a large cemetery.

He explained to us about the different structure of the coffins, which ones are more expensive and what they all meant. It was a good historical trip.

We separated from the tour guide at around 1pm and he told us to be at the bottom of the cliff by abt 2pm so that we we have time to go paragliding. We walked down the beautiful travertine terraces! Some of the water pool had cold water, some warm and some very very excruciatingly cooold.. It was very beautiful and I can't believe the travertine was very hard! It looked very soft, almost like snow.

This surface is actually very very hot that my tears come out having to walk on them!

This water is ironically cool~

It looks snowy soft yet hard at the same time, doesn't it? These are called travertines.

Kiew, me and Syahidah

Paragliding

Now, here comes the exciting part.
Each of us paid 150 Lira for this once-in-a-lifetime paragliding experience.
Kiew is the height squeamish type, she can't even bare the thrill rides at Alton Tower but somehow she got dragged into this whole paragliding drama with us so for the whole day she has been complaining about it.

Two paragliding instructors came to fetch us from the foot of Pamukkale and drive us up a very high mountain/hill, and the road was very scary. They kept making jokes and told us how brave Malaysian girls are, they always bring Malaysian girls up here for paragliding and none of them cried etc etc.
Out of the two, only one can speak English.

When we arrive up there, he said only two of us can go at one time so Kiew quickly said "I'll go first!".
Wow, she really want to finish this whole thing fast, doesn't she?
So the instructors prepared the two of them. Kiew got the non-English speaking instructor.

Both of them putting on the paragliding gear
Kiew looking cute with her massive "turtle" bag

There were many paragliders on the hilltop, many of them came in groups wearing the same tshirts.
I think they must be those outdoor people whose hobby include paragliding, bungee jumping and stuff.
They sang like a group of scout boys and they played games.

The hilltop itself was bare, with one small cafe with a smelly toilet attached to it.
Whenever the wind blows strong, the strong smell of the toilet came with it. Ugh~
Apart from that, there is not even a single tree that we can sit under for shades.
Bare, everything is bare.
And there was one windsock pole and all eyes seemed to be glued there, looking for the perfect wind.

The environment.

We waited for the "perfect wind" for what seemed like forever.
Ibrizah and I looked for a spot with our cameras ready in hand, and waited...and waited...

and waited....

and waited....

and waited....

Then Syahidah's instructor came to us. He said the wind is not good now.
Without good speed and direction of wind, the paragliding parachute will not expand properly and stuff.
After updating us, he goes back to Syahidah and waited.

and waited...

and waited...

and waited...

Many paragliders were waiting too, sitting down in their gear.
Then suddenly a pair of paragliders started running towards the hill edge, their parachute expanded nicely and then within a split second both of them tumbled down like a huge rock collecting snow on the way down a snowy hill, stopping just before the edge.
Everyone was shocked, Ibrizah nearly screamed.

We started to be anxious, should we call this whole thing off?
Will the instructors try dangerous things i.e. flying even without good wind and take the risk to get the €150 from each of us?
But I really want to try paragliding!
While we were discussing, suddenly Kiew and her instructor started running off.
We were so shocked and looked at her intently that I forgot to take my phone out to record the moment as I intended to.
I can see both of them running and Kiew's legs were already up in the air while the instructor was running with all his might (well, we can safely say that Kiew's height is just 2/3 of the instructor's) and their parachute was opened nicely in the air, making the crescent shape.
But within seconds, both of them tumbled down just like the pair before!
I was so shocked and scared!

What happened?
What happened to Kiew? Why did they fall down?
Kiew is so small sized, what if she broke something?
How do I contact the Malaysian High Commission? They will surely help us, won't they?
Will the medical fee here be expensive? We do not have any travel insurance!
We stood up but dared not go to the middle of the field.
Kiew and her instructor were still wrapped in their parachute.
Then the instructor came out and unwrap Kiew from the huge parachute.
Both of them walked back to us. Kiew looked okay, she wasn't limping or holding any of her arms in pain.
Ok initial assessment so far so good.

When she came to us she was quite breathless and in shock. She said she didn't know what happened.
One second she was not touching the ground and the other second she was already on top of the instructor.
She thinks the instructor purposely fell to the ground in such a way that she will fall on top of him, so that he bears most of the injury. She had a bruise on her shoulder, from where the turtle bag pulled her down but apart from that, she survived unscathed. But the instructor looked uncomfortable but not in so much pain. He looked like he injured his legs but has not fractured anything.

With his minimal English, Kiew's instructor tried to explain what happened and asked if Kiew is alright. He looked so concerned, maybe because Kiew is small-sized. He must have felt some kind of need to protect Kiew, like me.

He then asked Kiew if she would like to try again and when Kiew did not know what to answer, he suggested to go and wait again at the place where they waited before. But after some discussion among the two instructors, they came to us and said they had to cancel this off. The wind was not helping and it will be dangerous to try again.
So they drove us down the hill. I did not ask about the refund, because we paid the tour company not them.

They drove us back to the tour company office and bid goodbye saying we should come again. They are nice people.

The tour person then returned my money (I paid using £ in cash so he simply returned my money) but since Kiew, Syahidah and Ibrizah paid by card, the man said he will cancel the transaction the next day. It turns out much later that only Syahidah and Ibrizah received their refund. Kiew did not. Pity her.

He then sent us to a restaurant for lunch (at 5pm!) because it is included in our tour package and sent us to our hotel.
Our hotel was nice, we stayed at Artemis Yoruk Hotel. There were 5 beds in the room so the one extra bed was used as a platform to put all our stuff.

We were so bored of Turkish food by then and were very relieved that there was a restaurant serving Korean + Japanese food and it is halal!
So yea, I ate bibimpbap in Turkey, lol.
The lady is a Japanese who married a Turkish man and have stayed there for almost 10 years.

All in all, I actually enjoyed this trip and if possible I would want to come again.

'til then!

-Because life is a test-

A nice view of Pamukkale from top


-AkMaR-
http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Cheshire Oaks Day Trip


Assalammualaikum!

Cheshire Oaks is a designer outlet shopping village located in Ellesmere Port in well, in Cheshire.
I have always heard of the place, ever since I was in third year (which was my first year in the UK) but I have never been there. I longed to go there during Boxing Day but public transportations don't work on Boxing Day, I don't drive and there was no one that can drive me there :( I even thought of getting a cab to go there last year but I can't imagine how expensive it is going to be *gasp*

So on Monday Kiew and I had itchy hands and minds, we want to go shopping.
Even if we do not actually buy anything, we would like to go shopping.
So she started to ask around how to get to Cheshire Oaks and soon enough, Ling Wei and Akmal agreed to join us :D

The Journey
We all agreed to go out of the house at 9am to catch either the 9.30am or 9.47 train to Liverpool and take either bus / train to Ellesmere Port. The 9.30am train was a direct train to Liverpool while the 9.47 train requires us to change at Wigan. So we run and run and rush to catch the 9.30 train and we arrived there on time, 9.28am. We wanted to buy the tickets but to our horror, we can't use our Railcard discount for trains before 10am! Grrrr~~ I knew abt this but somehow it slipped my mind - dush.

So we can't take the 9.30 train and needless to say, even the 9.47am train.

We sat down at the coffee shop, trying to think and brainstorm. Do we really want to pay more to get there earlier?
We can definitely catch the 9.47 train now, but it cost £12! Trains after 10am will cost only £8.50. That's £3.50 extra!
The next train is 9.58am haish. We can't take that as well.
And the next one is....10.30am! A direct train to Liverpool is every one hour so yeah, 9.30 - 10.30 - 11.30 and so on.
So we waited at the train station for 1 hour.

10.30 on the train to Liverpool - Akmal and I had our breakfast while we were waiting/brainstorming in the rail station so we were still full but Kiew had hers before we set off from home i.e. 8am. So she started to get hungry. Ling Wei? She's on diet so she didn't even have breakfast.

We reached Liverpool an hour later and after asking many counters, we have decided to go to Ellesmere Port by train and buy a PLUS bus ticket (u can only buy PLUS bus ticket if you buy a rail ticket at the same time) and get a bus to Cheshire Oaks from the rail station.

We took the 11.50am train to Ellesmere Port and to our horror again, there were sooo many stops before we reach Ellesmere Port. The journey to Ellesmere Port takes almost an hour so by the time we reached Ellesmere Port it was already 12.30pm and Kiew has been grumbling "hungry hungry hungry hungry hungry" ever since we stepped down at Liverpool.

12.30pm - Reached Ellesmere Port. That's 3 hours after we left the house! We could have reached London by Virgin Train in this amount of time. Anyway, we walked out of the station, to find Ellesmere Port Railway Station a very very secluded place. We did not know where to go. After about 300m of walking, we saw a bus stop and there were 2 aunties already waiting there - we saw her in the train just now. The bus stop funnily, didn't have any timetable or anything that says "I am a functioning bus stop"
The aunties did not know either, we talked for a while - telling each other how confused and how clueless we are now. One of them asked some passerby but none know if this bus stop works. What?? Haih.

After about 10 mins of waiting, I started googling how to reach Cheshire Oaks and found a timetable for a bus no 36 that departs Ellesmere Port Rail Station at 12.45pm for Cheshire Oaks. It was already 12.42pm at that time, the bus should be coming in a few minutes. The problem is, we have no idea if we were waiting at the correct place. After 5 minutes, a bus came but it was not 36. He pulled over and shouted to us from his driver seat "Buses do not stop hereeee! You need to walk back and you will find another bus stopppp~ Thereee thereee~~" pointing his finger at the rail station.

Haih, I knew it! We have waited at the wrong place. Now we must have missed the 1245 bus!
So we walked back and found a
super small, insignificant bus stop, symbolised by only one poor post. There is a timetable on that post, we completely missed it! And of course, it says 1245 - 1315 - 1345 on it. The 36 bus serves this place every 30minutes. It was already 1250pm at that time, we were really hoping the 1245 bus got delayed, but it didn't. So we had to wait till 1315 and Kiew was already super hungry, Ling Wei too and among them they shared one small packet of biscuit, I was really in need of toilet and there was no toilet in the station. Things were just not right.

Then at last, the 1315 bus no 36 came and it accepts our PLUS bus ticket, we were so worried it doesn't.

The Lunch
When we finally arrived Cheshire Oaks, we were hungry but were mesmerised by the number of shops there, there were Clarks', SuperDry Store, NEXT Clearance and Paperchase too! We got excited, and forgot about our tough journey here.

We rushed to Wagamama and had our lunch~
This was the only time we had time for pictures - there rest were just walking around the village.

Ling Wei and Kiew
Akmal and me
Prawn Raisukaree £11.75
Firecrackers Prawn £10.75

Since the meats are not halal, Akmal and I can only eat seafood based food - prawns!

The Shopping!

Oh well, not much I can say here.
We were very excited to walk around the village after our lunch and soon enough, we went separate ways.
The Clarks' Outlet were huge and has many shoes. Too bad I do not have the budget to buy more shoes, I have enough shoes already.
But the outlet do not have the normal shoes that we see in high street stores - I think they sell outdated shoes, hence the low prices. To compare, a pair of flats in a high street store will cost about £36.99 but here most of them are £29.99. And there a lot more designs available. If I have the money, I might have bought a few pairs from here.
But I think it'll better if I buy a good flats from Bata back home - a good one will cost me about RM70, which is hurm....£15?

And most of the stores do not have many things to choose from - the Superdry Store, according to Kiew has very outdated clothes. She likes going into SuperDry Stores so she knows what are there in the market.

I didn't even go into shops like Burberry or Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein. I do not feel like buying anything from there. Too expensive!

To even finish strolling through the shopping village took us a few hours and we headed back home at 7.15pm. God.. so late!
We had dinner in Liverpool and reached Preston at 2300. Huarrghhh... So tired~

The catch of the day: Akmal got himself two polo shirts, Ling Wei bought a Skechers shoes, I bought some chocolate to nibble nibble and Kiew got herself some doughnuts.

We concluded that the visit was worth it, but not worth to come again.
The store I loved the most is Clark's but since I am not planning to buy many shoes....


'til then!

-Because life is a test-


-AkMaR-
http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain


Assalammualaikum.

You know that feeling when you are glued to a book and you seem to not able to keep your MIND off them even though your HANDS are?
I am so much into books these days, again.
And I am glad I picked it up again.

I used to be such a reader, especially before I entered medical school.
The amount of readings required by medical school seemed to separate me from my books.

**The Horrible Morrible Ice Breaking**

During my first week in the UK, there was an ice-breaking session held by the Undergraduate Dept; you know the one that people make 2 circles of chairs - the smaller circle is within the other one and every 1-2 minutes the person in the inner move to the next chair and have 1-2 minutes to "break the ice" with the person on the outer circle they came to?

Well, one of the men quickly asked me "What is your hobby?" and I quickly answered "Reading!". And he looked very excited, the kind of face people make as if to say "ME TOOO!!" and started asking "Really? Cool! So what do you read?" (or something like that. I can't remember his exact sentence but he did ask me what did I read)

"What do you read?" - I was very startled at the question; the ice breaking session itself was a bit too fast-paced for me - having to move around every minute and I was still very shy, and he looked so confident I felt so small talking to him (with time I got to know that he is already a dentist when he entered medical school, so he IS older than me, and a lot more confident, and speaks even faster. His name is Richard C. I think I better write it down here - I almost forgot his name).

At that very short moment, thousands of things were running through my mind - what do I tell him? What does "What do you read?" even mean? Does he want me to list out all the books I've read? That's crazy! Or should I say I read Harry Potter? Oh maybe he is talking about "other" kinds of readings - like self-motivation books or political books? Oh no, I don't read those kind of books, they are boring.

God, why did I say I like reading? I should have said sleeping or shopping or maybe even cooking - the odds that he likes cooking too will be very small, won't it? Maybe English and Malaysians define "Hobby: Reading" differently. Maybe in England, people who likes reading are supposed to be able to talk intelligently about the world in one minute. In Malaysia it's not so often people say that their hobby is reading - because really we are not a reading society - we have to work on that. So whenever I say my hobby is reading, no one will ask any further. God, I must look so stupid to him now.


Seeing me startled at the question, he shot an understanding look (or maybe he didn't, maybe I imagined it) and I think he changed the topic and soon enough (to my absolute relief), the time is up and he had to move to the next chair and break the ice with the next person and someone else came in front of me. But I can't quite focus anymore - maybe he think I lied. I can't even answer a simple question. Oh I have embarrassed all Malaysians - maybe I am not a reader. What is my hobby then? I can't do gardening, I can't jog, I don't do music at all - I really need to rethink my life.

But that was 3 years ago.

I know now, I should have said I like reading story books, or to make it sound more professional maybe I should say "fictions". To make it sound even more confident and "yes I know what I am talking about", I can say love stories or comedy, not so much of the thriller type. I can also say I like Daniel Steel and Sophie Kinsella, I can say I really love Harry Potter series but I have never tried reading JK Rowling's other books. And sometimes I read non-fictional like recently I have just finished Extreme Rambling by Mark Thomas or Fikah Luar Negara by Maszle Malik or Men are From Mars.Women are from Venus by John Gray.

It took me three years to understand that question - to know what exactly he meant.
Because people just don't ask me questions like that back in Malaysia.
So you can imagine how hard it was for me to settle down here. I cruised through my third year of med school without actually knowing I was doing it.

**The Book**

You see, I have been trying very hard to pack my things into boxes and ship them back home - as I am leaving this country in less than 2 months. I started with my textbooks - it was quite easy because I know exactly which ones I still want and which ones I can give away to the hospital library.
Same goes for my lecture notes - those that can go to recycle bins and those precious enough to be treasured and bring back home.
I am going to ship my things through Edaran Express - a Malaysian shipping company based in Manchester. They provide the boxes which they sent to our house and they will also collect them from our house and deliver it to our house in Malaysia - it's a door-to-door service. They charge us by box and the box is HUGE. I can fit into one of them, although it will be easier if I can cut myself into slices. Anyway, the box is huge so I wanted to put my stuff into smaller boxes and arrange those boxes into the big box.

One of my biggest problems is my storybooks. Anyone lived in the UK can tell you that the books here are really cheap - even after you times it by 5 and make it into Malaysian currency, because there are just so many used books around. I used to save my school allowances for months before I can buy a Harry Potter book, which cost more than RM35. And I really hated seeing the UK price at the back cover of the book. It always say something like £5.99 or £6.99. At that time I knew even if I converted the £ to RM, it may cost the same but knowing that people in the UK paid only £5.99 made me so jealous. Why can't the price be RM5.99 here? Why must it be RM39.99?

So now, back to my point.
The storybooks here are very cheap so over these three years I have been buying more books than I had for the past 21 years in Malaysia combined (I may be exaggerating but you get the point). But I have only 2% of the time I had compared to when in Malaysia - before med school to be exact. So I didn't get to finish many of them. And now when I finally have the time, I need to post them back home because the shipping itself takes 2 months. If I don't ship them now, I will get them much later. And my sister is coming in two weeks, I need to finish packing before she arrives.

I now have this huge mission - I intend to finish ALL the books before shipping them home, and I have two weeks to finish more than 10 books - almost impossible but I am going to try as hard as I can.


Two days ago, I put "The Lost Daughter" into a box because I have never read Diane Chamberlain's books before and I am more interested in reading H.R.H by Daniel Steel first or Sophie Kinsella's Mini Shopaholic first. So I thought I can let The Lost Daughter go into the box and see it again after two months. I bought it because it was cheap (all my books now cost less than £2.50), the cover was beautiful and feminine and the synopsis was quite interesting. But a few hours after putting it into the box, I took it out again and started reading it - because at that time I felt like reading. Since then I was glued to it until this morning I finally finished all the 522 pages and is ready to put it back into the box.

Diane's writing is a lot different from Sophie Kinsella's. I can compare it to Daniel Steel's though. Both of them write about strong willed women who underwent lots of things during their childhood and how much the upbringing affected them and the decisions they made in life. The main character is always a woman - a strong one. And I think I started to like her writings. Maybe if I find her books in the future, I'll buy it. One of the comments on the book cover said "For fans of Judi Picoult, this is a must read". And it didn't quote where the comment came from. I don't understand why someone compare her to Judi Picoult. I don't think they are the same person with different pen names. I read Judi Picoult's Salem Falls before but I don't remember being gripped and glued to the book as much as I was with this one. Maybe I should try to read hers more. They said My Sister's Keeper is a good book, I'll try buy it if is cheap i.e. less than £3..


I should restart packing now. I will leave my storybooks for now and concentrate on my clothes - unwanted ones should go to charity.

'til then!



-Because life is a test-




-AkMaR-
http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com