long days continued…

sheez, our days are so packed that these posts get really long! anyways, the next thing we did was to go to check out the London Eye. this is basically this *ginormous* bicycle wheel looking thing that is a ferris wheel. this thing is 433 feet high!! attached to the wheel are these pods that hold about 25 people. you can buy a ticket and it takes about a half an hour to make a full circle on this thing. i’m really not sure why i decided to go on this thing since i am deathly afraid of heights. as soon as i got in i started getting super nervous. ugh! in the end, i was glad i did it though. from that high up (1.5 football fields!), you get some incredible views of london!

after the London Eye, we ran into some touts trying to get us to go to the saatchi gallery. usually we try to avoid anyone trying to sell us anything, but when they showed us pictures of some of the art inside, we decided to check it out. we were *so* glad that we did. this gallery was absolutely incredible. it was all really modern art (last decade) and blew the tate modern art museum away. they had some art pieces that were so crazy and intense. for instance: this guy had a whole real shark in formaldahyde suspended in a cube. there was a room where the whole room was filled waist-height w/ used engine oil. you walk through a notch cut in the center of the room and the whole room is reflected mirror image because of the oil. there was a huge 7 foot tall aquarium that was made to look like a cubicle w/ an office desk, computer and chair, but there were fish swimming around inside. basically, everything we saw there was totally cutting edge.

by the time we left the gallery, we were exhausted. our feet were totally killing us. we’ve done soooo much walking here that it’s ridiculous. my feet will never be the same. we were also feeling super sleepy, so we took a nap as well.

got up later since it was friday night and we were absolutely determined to check out some nightlife. we decided to eat on the cheap so we just got some small sandwiches and a coffee. guess how much that cost?? about 30$ for the 3 of us. can you believe it?? ouch!! everything here is sooooo expensive. we haven’t even been able to stick to our budget of 175$ per day for the two of us which is crazy seeing as a lot of countries we’ll be going to, we’re budgeting 50$ per day for the two of us!!

anyways, we ended up going to this really cool club called “the end club”. they were playing breakbeat and the music was really good all night. it was definitely fun to finally get out and party and stuff. i kinda felt like i was in a scene from Human Traffic or something. clubs here dont start until around 11pm, and this place was still going strong when we left after 3am. i wanted to stay later but we were all just sooo tired!! did i mention that the bottled beers were over 6$??

after the club we had trouble finding a taxi to get back home. luckily there was a guy on a bike rickshaw that pedalled all three of us back to our hostel. i can’t believe this one little guy was able to pull us all. we finally got back to our hostel around 4am to find some backpacker completely passed out on the ground in front of the hostel w/ his drunk american friends yelling and taking photos of themselves poking his butt. nice. heh.

sheez, what a long long day….

*v

long days…

the next day we got up early and had our usual toast/coffee/”juice” breakfast. we still haven’t completely adjusted to the time, so we wake up early w/ no need for an alarm. all the loud noise of people banging around in our room and slamming doors at odd hours helps us wake up too 😉 .

our first stop of today was the tower of london. this is this huge castle in the middle of london, and is where the royal family used to live. we got a tour and learned all about the history of the place and all about the brutal executions that used to go one there. one of the interesting things we learned on the tour was that all of the waste from the castle was just dumped into the moat surrounding it. can you imagine how bad this place would have smelled being surrounded by a stinky cesspit of human waste mixed w/ garbage?? yuck! after the tour we walked around the castle a bit.

this place was really cool. it’s really neat to be able to walk through places that you know are hundreds and hundres of years old. and it’s pretty crazy to think that even though ths castle is roughly *1,000* years old, that during our trip we’re gonna visit places that are 3 times as old as this. a couple other cool things that we saw there were: the crown jewels (unbelievable how much gold/gems they had there), the ravens (there’s a myth about if the ravens leave the tower, england will fall), and all sorts of crazy suits of armor and old medieval stuff. it’s really weird to me to think that knights actually existed. in my mind they seem like just another mythical thing you find in stories like unicorns, dragons, etc…

After checking out Tower Bridge, we grabbed a bite to eat. i decided to just go for it and ordered sheppards pie which is ground beef in gravy with baked mashed potatoes on top. it tasted really really good! it’s so weird though… i haven’t eaten any kind of red meat in over 3 years. it’s been really difficult for me to decide whether or not to eat red meat on this trip, but in the end i finally decided to do it. i’ll probably go back to just eating fish and fowl when i get back though. i also tried some of caryn’s Bangers and Mash, (weird mushy hot dogs w/ mashed potatoes and gravy) so now i’ve officially tried the three main foods i associate w/ the uk.

after lunch we crossed town on the tube. dude, this tube is so great. you can get to any part of london in pretty much no time flat, and it’s easy to navigate. why the hell dont we have these things on the west coast? you’d think san jose especially, being so spread out, would wise up and have a subway system.

when we’re not in the underground, we try to naviagte around the streets of london, and let me tell ya, it’s crazy! everything here in this city is moving about at a frantic pace. the city never sleeps and people are constantly rushing everywhere. there’s this electric energy in the air and it feels like there’s stuff constantly going on. unfortunately, the cars here also go at a frantic pace and since we’re still used to looking the wrong way when we cross the street, we’re in serious danger of being run over. in fact, pretty much every time we cross the street we’re paranoid of the cars whizzing by. yikes!

i really love getting used to the feel of a new place. it’s weird, on one hand, london is definitely a lot less different than a lot of places i’ve travelled: western culture, same language as the US, etc.. but it still has so much stuff that keeps it unique and separates it from where i’m from. all the little differences like which direction the cars go, how people talk, the food, etc are an endless source of fascination to me. i totally want to take it all in and sample it all… get completely immersed. i want to try all the weird candies i see sold in the stores, read the different newspapers, see the sites, try everything there is to try… but unfortunately i’m only here for a week. that’s just a drop in the bucket, and i’ll leave london barely knowing anything aboout it… i proably wont even have enough time to be able to decipher all the british coins i have jingling around in my pocket.

*continued in next post*

early nights…

2 nights ago, after i posted my last entry, we deicided to try to go out. unfortunately, there’s this stupid law here where bars and pubs must be closed by 11pm. 11?! and i thought 2am back home was pretty bad. fortunately, there’s this loophole. for some reason, if the place is a “dance club” instead of a bar, it’s allowed to stay open way later (not sure how much later, but at least 4am). so we wander around trying to find one of these places and it turns out that the Cheers here has music playing and is thus a dance club and is serving alcohol late. sweet! unfortunately, they end up not letting me in because i was wearing shorts. a dress code… at Cheers of all places?? sheeez. well, i think i learned my lesson. i’m gonna try to wear pants as much as i can from now. maybe even all the time. weird eh?

so many things to see

we slept for 13 hours straight last night. literally. feeling much better now 🙂

so, the hostel we’re staying at is called piccadilly backpacker hostel. it’s humongous, 7 stories tall, and it’s been pretty cool so far. the location of it is great: right in the center of town and only several blocks from buckingham palace and other important stuff. today, when we woke up, we got free breakfast which consisted of: a plate w/ 2 pieces of white toast, a cup with a tiny bit of instant coffee in it, orangeish liquid (orange juice??), and huge vats of butter and mystery jam for the toast. i dunno, for something reason, there was something i really liked about how ghetto the breakfast was. it was cool to be in this room surrounded by people from every different country and speaking all sorts of different languages and eating this cheezy meal. oh, the one annoying thing about the hostel though, is that it has only one *very* slow elevator. ugh. so most of the times we just give up and walk up/down all 7 flights of stairs. last night, caryn and i got our own room, so we were able to sleep no problem, but tonight we’ll have a dorm room, so we’ll see how that goes.

after breakfast, we went to buckingham palace again to see the changing of the guards. it was pretty cool, but to be honest, we got kinda bored after the fisrt 20 minutes. it was hot outside, and there was a total mob scene outside the palace. sheez, if we got bored standing out there in the hot sun for 30 minutes, how do the guards survive?? standing still outside for hours on end in those furry hats?? ouch!!

next we went to go see westminster abbey. we were way impressed by that place. the church itself is extremely beautiful from the outside w/ impressive architecture and completely amazing stained glass windows. the inside was extremely ornamental and beautiful as well. one thing i had never realized about westminster was that it is the place where a ton of famous people are buried. they had graves there for everyone ranging from queen elizabeth to Isaac Newton to Lewis Carrol. walking around inside the church was really cool. it’s funny, when i was younger i was very afraid of checking out churches… i felt like somehow just being inside a church was in some way going against my religion. heh, luckily i dont really feel that way anymore or i’d definitely be missing out on some cool stuff.

then we went to go check out big ben and took some obligatory photos there. we also went to the tate modern art museum. i kinda left that place w/ mixed feelings about it. there was some really good stuff in there, like Dali, Magrite, Picasso, and some others but at the same time, a lot of the stuff in there i didnt really care for. oh well.

by this point we started getting tired again. damn jet lag. even w/ all the sleep we got last night we still were sleepy by around 7ish. but also part of the reason we were tired was the sheer quantity of stuff we saw today. being here has such a different feel to it than my last trip. in thailand you spend most of they either just chilling or you do like one activity, while here in europe it’s all about checking out the sites and attractions.

hrm, what else is there to say about today? we went to our first british pub here. we tried malaysian food for the first time and that was pretty good. my shorts have a pickpocket-proof pocket and it’s damn annoying (read: the zipper is broken and comes apart every time it is pulled).

the computers here dont have usb ports so i can’t post photos unfortunately, but hopefully i’ll be able to next week in france!

*v

day one..

my first day out has been a bit of a blur. i’ve gotten no sleep in the last 24 hours, and can barely keep my eyes open as i type this. going out or doing anything tonight is out of the question… i think i’m gonna have to crash at 8pm. we did do a *tiny* bit of walking around. we saw buckingham palace, and our hostel is right at piccadilly circle so it’s in a great location. we’ve already had fish and chips, and some good curry. also, we’ve already met up w/ tom and that’s been cool. well, hopefully tomorrow i’ll post more…

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done

last tuesday was my last day working at consumerreview. actually, it was my last day working anywhere for the next 370ish days. it’s a pretty crazy thing to know that you dont have any serious obligations for that long of a time. the three day weekend came and went, and i dont have to go back to work, nor do i have to go back to work next week, or next month, or even 3 months from now. if i think about it, when was the last time i’ve had a whole year off with no work to do? i guess it was back before kindergarten… 23 years ago. it’s all really bizarre.

although i’m glad not to have any work to do for the next year, it definitely was abit sad to leave CR. i really enjoyed working there, i really like the people, and the atmosphere of the place was always really cool. i’m definitely gonna miss some stuff about it.

this was my goodbye email to CR:

“hey everybody,

i just wanted to drop a note to say that it’s been an awesome time working here. when i finished college 5 years ago, i was hoping to find a job where i could work w/ computers and make good money, but at the same time not have to be a corporate drone. consumerreview was pretty much perfect for that. i remember my first day here, it was in the old santa clara office, and there weren’t even enough desks for everyone. we were all crowded in this room and the whole day all i could hear was people telling jokes, and Forrest and capm making fun of each other. everything about CR was just so *chill*. i knew from the very start that this would be a totally fun environment to work in. what other company has people riding mountain bikes inside the office?? so anyways, i had fun working w/ all of you and i’ll definitely keep you posted on where i’m at and what i’m doing around the world.”

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my poor car

i sold my car today. this is the first car that i’ve actually bought myself and i’ve had it for 5 years. it’s so sad to see it go. i definitely can use the extra $$ for my trip, but selling my car almost feel like betraying an old friend or putting your pet to sleep. not only that, but the car is only 5 years old and yet i only got about 1/4 the price of what i paid for it. i was hoping to keep the car at least until after burning man next week, but now it’s gone and i have nothing to get me to work or anywhere else. *sigh*

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bugs

i *hate* insects. they’re so damn freaky. i really wonder what kind of disguisting horrible things i’ll encounter while abroad. when i went to the dentist the other day, my dentist said that for everyone she knows who went to africa, the first thing they would tell her about their trip was how insanely huge all the bugs were. nice.

the reason i just thought of all this is cause randall found this photo in my thailand pics of a nasty spider that was in my bungalow. ugh. i also remember being kept up for hours one night listening to the ominous crunching sounds of a huge cockroach in my room. add to that mosquitos, sand flies, and weird grasshoppers. and still it’s all probably fairly benign compared to what i’ll see in africa..

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bittersweet

moving is always bittersweet. on one hand there’s always the anticipation of something new and exciting, but on the flip side, there’s the sadness of leaving something that’s been a large part of your life. today i started packing stuff away so that i can put it into storage. it really sucked. i’m trying to throw stuff away as much as possible since i’m such a packrat and i acquire so much junk… but it’s super hard for me to part with pretty much anything. *everything* has some kind of sentimental value to it. each thing i throw away pains me a lot. but i gotta do it.

it’s a really odd thing to think that all the stuff that i do pack, i wont see again for a whole year. usually when you move, you put everything in boxes, and then take it out the following week at the new place, but most of my stuff is going into storage. i keep trying to imagine what it’s gonna feel like a year from now opening up these boxes again and peering inside at the life that i left behind for so long. how am i gonna view all my possessions after spending a whole year w/ just a backpack to my name?

but it’s not just throwing away my possessions that makes me bummed. there’s so much more that i’m leaving behind than that. i’ve lived here for about 2.5 years, and i’m really gonna miss this place. i totally love this house, and i love SF. plus, i’m really gonna miss my roommates. i’ve been living w/ erica for about 5 years. that’s *such* a long time. it’s gonna be so bizarre not to live w/ her anymore. i’m really gonna miss being able to see her all the time.

it’s weird… everyone always says how every cloud has a silver lining… but the same usually applies in reverse. most good things have a dark lining. for every good thing you get, you usually have to give something up.. whether it be money, time, or whatnot. this rtw trip is definitely gonna be an incredible once in a life time experience, but at the same time, it’s rough that i’m gonna leave pretty much everything and everyone that i hold near and dear behind…

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Boots

wow, crazy! i got my profile listed on BootsnAll.Com. Mine is the second to the last one down in the second column.

That site is pretty dope… i think that other than lonely planet it’s probably the best travel site out there…

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