A Travellerspoint blog

London, that familiar place

Some people I know thinks that London is all about rainy weather, British accents, fish & chips, Harry Potter and the Queen. But London is much more than that. I've been to London about three times and the moment I leave, I immediately plan my next trip back there. In fact, I was so close in going on a trip next month but alas, the trip have to wait due to some prior commitments.

London is historical. Home to the world's oldest underground railway network, the London Underground and to four World Heritage Sites namely; the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Kew Garden and Greenwich town, and to Trafalgar Square and to Buckingham Palace and to the Windsor Family. London is also the first city to host the modern summer Olympics three times, ever. London indeed creates history and dwells in it.

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Tower Bridge

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part of Tower of London

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London eye

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Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster

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Harrods

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as stated

Enough about all the facts though, we all know London is old and awesome and most of us only dream to live there (partly due to its extravagantly high cost-of-living) but what I want to write about is how London leaves a lasting impression on all of us in one way or another, with more emphasize on my experiences though. My previous trip was back in 2008 and I still remember it clearly as if it was only a few months ago. London is that city that somehow seems familiar although it's your first time there.

For me, maybe it's because I've got lots of family there but maybe it's the street names. I'm sure you've came across street names such as Queen street or Kingsway or London Street in other english-speaking cities. Or maybe it's because areas of London are fondly remembered in Monopoly (Yes, the days of Monopoly may very well have been over for most us but there is no doubt that after the years of playing it, we can probably name most areas in London, from prime areas such as Mayfair and Park Lane to not so prime areas such as Old Kent Road off by heart.) Or maybe it's because people always mention names of famous London landmarks. Whatever it is, there is a sense of familiarity in London.

The food that London has to offer is also nowhere short from awesome. I'm guessing everyone knows Gordon Ramsay, the chef that's always on TV. He resides in London and it should come with no surprise that he has quite a few restaurants in London. The food was amazing at the Claridges.

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Gordon Ramsay's

Personally, whenever i'm in London, the Roast Duck rice in the Four Seasons Restaurant, Bayswater is a must-eat for me. The duck is roasted to perfection and served just like how it is back home in Malaysia (or maybe even better than home). Maybe that's another reason why London seems familiar to me.

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Roast duck

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Roast duck

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Four Seasons, Bayswater

Or maybe its the oysters served in The Oyster Bar, Harrods. The best oysters are sold there and it's quite expensive but hey, live oysters from Norway- what more can you ask for? The oysters are just as good, if not better, as the famed Bluff Oysters from New Zealand. It indeed reminds me of New Zealand (home).

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The bottom line is, whether it's history, architecture, food, culture or anything else, London has a good balance of it. There's something for everyone and that's why being in London feels like being in a home away from home.

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Writing off,
Rich

Posted by richsta 21:39 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london united_kingdom england olympics big_ben tower_bridge gordon_ramsay four_seasons Comments (0)

Lake Tekapo and kiwi salmon.

If someone were to ask me to describe Lake Tekapo in one word, I would tell him or her that it's impossible. But if I had to, the first word that would come into my mind would have to be picturesque.

Yes, Lake Tekapo is indeed picturesque as it fills all the criteria for it to be a landscape photographer's haven. Think about it, amongst the hundreds of miles of dense mountains and hills which forms the backbone of the Southern Alps, there is, conveniently, a large serene lake. Amid that, there's a stunning little church that fits right in this 'postcard'. To top it off, most of the mountains surrounding the lake are snowcapped.

You may think,"Yeah right. How can something be that perfect". Well, check out these few shots I took a couple of weeks ago;

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It was perfect timing for some photography cause it snowed heavily the night before I arrived. See what I mean? picturesque.

The little church is called the Church of the Good Shepherd. It's probably the most stunning little church in New Zealand. Built around the 1930s,it was the first church to be built in the Mackenzie Basin and up till this day, there are still regular services at this church. (I got these info from wikipedia)

The church itself was small but it was perfect for photographing without a wide angle lens. A few more shots I took;

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The world's highest salmon farm is located minutes away from Lake Tekapo. Thus its no surprise that the only japanese restaurant operating in Tekapo, called Kohan, is indeed famous for its salmon sashimi and salmon-don. I've always recommended everyone who goes to Tekapo to try out the japanese food and I will continue to do so. I always seem to get the same response of bewilderment from them though. Japanese food? In New Zealand?

Of course, if you get to try the salmon, try not to compare it with the ones you get in Japan. Don't compare kiwi and fuji apples but compare kiwi with kiwi. Evidently, salmon found in other restaurants in New Zealand most likely won't be as fresh as the ones you will find in Tekapo.

If photography is your passion and you want some really nice landscape shots, Lake Tekapo should definitely be on your list. But if you're not an avid photographer, you still have to visit this place at least once in your lifetime to enjoy the stunning views or maybe even get some salmon.. kiwi salmon!

Writing off,
Rich

Posted by richsta 04:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged lake_tekapo salmon new_zealand south_island church_of_the_good_shepherd mackenzie_basin Comments (0)

Tokyo, with food

The fact that i'm writing about Tokyo even though it's been 3 years since my trip goes to show how awesome it was. Tokyo can be described with many adjectives, many of which I don't even know the meaning of but it can also be described with many cliches. Tokyo, or in kanji, 東京 (which means eastern capital or capital of the east - take your pick) is the world's largest metropolitan area with a mind-boogling 32 million residents. That's ... a lot of people. A city of that size like any big metropolis have their share of issues; "crowded", "polluted", "impersonal" - amongst the cliches that follows a metropolis.

Yes, it's true. There's no doubt that Tokyo, with its 32 million residents live in a very crowded society. Commuters are sandwiched together in a train on a daily basis while homes are as small as can be. But, despite all these, Tokyo is special and I will tell you why. Where else in the world are municipalities called "special wards" or "特別区 - tokubetsu-ku" but in Tokyo. Where else in the world is there a special area designated for anime,manga,video games and the sorts? Where else in the world is the government office called the National Diet Building?

My flight from Auckland arrived in Tokyo around 5pm local time. As first impressions are said to be the lasting ones, I was in awe with Narita Airport. It was MASSIVE. I quickly came to grips that I'm no longer in good ol quiet New Zealand. With my limited ability to speak in Japanese (but with some english words and hand gestures, of course), I managed to get some bus tickets to my hotel. I've always known that Tokyo was a massive city but I realized the scale of it when it took me an hour and a half to reach my hotel from the airport. I was greeted by Masahiro, a good friend whom I've known since high school. Over the next few days, I also met with Sakiko and Manami (more friends from high school). People always said that the only way you can truly experience the culture of a country is by mixing with its locals. I found that to be very true and I do advice anyone reading this to definitely, without hesitation, get out there and meet the locals whilst in a foreign country. Do what they do. Speak the way they speak. Most importantly, keep in contact with them so when it's their turn to visit your home country, you can show them around too.

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View from hotel

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Masa and I

Japanese food is famous the world over and for good reasons! My trip was nothing more than a gastronomic explosion of the world's favorite cuisine. The sushi in Tsukiji Market was the freshest I've ever tasted- the fish was sliced up into sashimi almost right after it got caught. The Una-don (Grilled eel with rice) I had in Asakusa was served with an eel that was fished right out of a tank, scaled, sliced and grilled there and then. The tempura I had in Ten-Ichi was also so fresh that couldn't help but suspect that most of the restaurants in Tokyo harbor a tank to keep their seafood. Its no wonder why Tokyo restaurants have the most number of Michelin stars than any other city in the world!

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Nabemono (なべ物)

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Una-don (鰻丼)

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Sashimi

In it all, like any other big city, Tokyo clearly has its share of social issues. But Tokyo is unique. Tokyoites have every reason to be proud of their city. It's sophisticated yet down to earth. Impersonal yet very friendly. Crowded yet serene. Ultra-modern yet very traditional. The only thing I don't miss about Tokyo has to be Basashi or Horse-meat sashimi. That's right, it's badass.

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Basashi

Posted by richsta 00:57 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo sushi sashimi Comments (0)

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