Sunday, March 02, 2003


This weekend I have decided to stick to London and take it easy for a weekend. I started the day with a nice breakfast at Caf� Italia. On my way to the ticket machine at the tube station, I noticed a sign that says there might be delays this weekend because of machine upgrades so that �Oyster� can be implemented. I asked the ticket kiosk what �Oyster� was, and they said it was a new ticketing system that has a smartcard built in. Readers from Hong Kong should know exactly what I am talking about, as they call it �Octopus� there. All these sea creatures: Octopus, Oyster, what�s next, Shrimp and Lobster? How about Mussels?

After laughing to myself of the silly name of Oyster, I decided to visit Harrod�s, the famous department store in London. It was opened in the late 1800�s, and used to be the place where the rich would buy their groceries and household goods. Now they just sell things much more expensive than other stores. Of course, who could forget that the owner�s son is the person with Princess Diana on the night of her death? One word to describe Harrod�s is - HUGE. They give out maps to patrons, just so they won�t get lost. You can find almost anything in the store, from cheese to chocolate (stop drooling), fragrances, designer clothing, electronics, etc. The most spectacular sight of all was the Egyptian escalator located in the centre of the store. At the bottom of these escalators was a small memorial of Diana with her engagement ring and the glass she last drank from before she was in the tragic car accident. Since I cannot even afford to visit the washroom (it costs �1 just to go), I left promptly after taking several photos.

My next stop is Convent Garden, a street lined with market stalls and street performers. To my surprise, I stumbled upon the Canada Shop, where they sell Canadian products that is not normally sold in the UK! I saw lots of Canadian flags, Crispy Crunch, Reese Peanut Butter Cups, Jolly Ranchers, Mr. Big, Wunderbar, and A&W Root Beer! They also have a lot of hockey related memorabilia and even advertisements for a local hockey team. Makes me proud to be a Canadian! :)

Convent Garden was really dynamic and lively, as many street performers gather tourists and locals alike to watch them. This one woman was singing opera to a few tables enjoying their lunch, while this comedian was juggling and performing tricks. On the market side, they have arts and crafts, clothing, and other sorts of �junk� that your mother would yell at you for buying. (�What are you going to do with that?�)

I went to Wagamama for lunch. This Japanese noodle bar is a pioneer in London, and the coolest thing is that they use wireless internet to take orders. Each wait staff is equipped with an iPaq that has the PCMCIA sleeve with a wireless network card, and they send their orders to the kitchen by sending messages through the wireless network. Now how cool is that? Okay, call me a geek, but I�d like to see any restaurant in Toronto do that now. You know, I actually thought about doing that as my fourth year project, thank goodness that I didn�t (otherwise it would have been boring).

Spent the rest of the day running and hiding from the rain. It started pouring around 2:00pm and was intermittent throughout the day.

Oh one more thing. On my way home, I was sitting across from two people who were traveling together. The girl spoke perfect English, while the bloke spoke English with a heavy Chinese accent. (they are both Chinese) The funniest thing was the girl would go on asking the bloke for an opinion (eg. Did you like the movie?) and the bloke would reply (eg. Yes). The girl would then rebut his opinion (eg. I didn�t think it was that good), then the bloke would step back with his opinion (eg. Actually I don�t think it was very good either). Obviously the bloke is after the girl. You had to be there.

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