“The fake light that is disappearing, the true light that is being born in these hands…”

Inside the National Science Museum
National Science Museum
Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens
Portrait Gallery
Portrait Gallery
Portrait Gallery
Princes Street and National Gallery

Pictures, from top to bottom, right to left: National Science Museum, Royal Botanic Gardens, National Portrait Gallery, Princes Street, National Gallery

I miss-planned today.

I planned to get up early so I could have time to get ready and to enjoy my hotel breakfast to the fullest.

OK, so maybe I overestimated my hotel breakfast. I got up early, got ready and headed down – and it wasn’t quite the buffet I was expecting. I had a nice enough bacon and sausage sandwich which I wanted to follow with a selection of fresh fruit – except there wasn’t any fresh fruit, apart from limp looking grapefruit and orange. I’m more a tropical fruit fan. In the end I had a muffin. It was all painfully average. I then had an awkward half an hour wait in my room, with little to do, before I could head out – the botanic gardens I was heading to only opened at 10am, so there was such a thing as arriving too early. As it turns out, I was early anyway.

I left the hotel at 9 and walked to the bus stop and waited ages for the bus, somehow managed to get the bus and to get off the bus. Using buses in cities not your own is always confusing. Heck, even in my own city its confusing – its hard to know the rules, and very difficult to know where you are and where to get off. (So few buses bother to have displays telling you this…) Thankfully my GPS came through for me once more and I managed that. Alas, I ended up being 15 minutes early. I walked about in a circular route of the surrounding area until I was 5 minutes early, then I stood and huddled outside the gates. It was bitterly cold. Eventually someone came to open the gates- a very nice man from whom I bought a map and a ticket to the glasshouses and who showed me on said map how to get to the glasshouses and where to buy coffee – clearly what he thought were the priorities on such a cold day! I walked to the glasshouses but wasn’t sure if they were open yet so ended up having a meander around the rest of the gardens first. It was pretty barren but still quite nice – very quiet and still, which was relaxing. I love it when its so quiet the most dominant sound is that of the birds singing. I circled back round to the glasshouses and went in. They were amazing. There were many different glasshouses modelled after different environments – they had gorgeous orchids, and huge palms, even a cocoa tree, and cacti! And in the end, a mini aquarium. I had so much fun exploring and took a load of pictures. It also made me smile to see that the glasshouses are sponsored by tourism Malaysia – a lot of the signs talked about Malaysia and they had a little stall set up with Malaysian products like kaya and white guava and “kopi”. It made me feel nostalgic. Just yesterday I found myself face to face with a Tune Hotel. Malaysia is everywhere – perhaps it always was, its only now I’ve lived there that I’m noticing, that I’m paying attention, as these little things bring back memories…

Even in Japan, right outside Shinagawa station was a huge “visit Malaysia” sign.

Anyway, I emerged just after lunch time and made my way back to the gate. As I left the gardens the sound of tapping glass startled me and I turned round to see the man in the ticket office waving at me. I grinned and waved back then turned back to the main road. How sweet. Feeling cheerful now I waited for the bus, eager to get back to town. I was definitely thinking about a hot coffee by this point. The bus came and the bus driver helpfully instructed me where to get off, even giving me directions to where I wanted to go. Needless to say I got off at just the right point…to get to where I wanted to be yes, and also right in front of a Starbucks. I paid for a caramel soy latte and received a soy latte but nonetheless, it was nice to sit there with a hot coffee, writing out a postcard to my sister.

I’ve grown to appreciate Starbucks even more now that I know they do soy milk. I really wanted cereal for breakfast this morning, but I couldn’t as there was no milk alternative. Yesterday I was in Sainsbury’s looking for snacks – I cannot afford to buy lunch and supper, so I’ve decided to just have a large breakfast, snack regularly in the day , then have a large supper. And only the most expensive cereal bars were dairy free. Its a little annoying – the stuff is everywhere. -__-

Afterwards I walked down to the National Portrait gallery, which was a gorgeous building with some interesting paintings, not to mention a beautiful library. (I dream of having a library like that – wall to wall books, and where you need stairs to reach the upper levels.) I then headed on to the National Art Gallery – which was equally awesome – there were some truly beautiful, epic and startlingly lifelike paintings of people and scenery. Wonderful. As time went on though I did start to feel quite overwhelmed by all this art viewing, and was eager to eat. So I left and made my way to a Thai restaurant for supper. This restaurant was lovely – beautiful decor, nice staff and utterly delicious, authentic food – I had a starter, main and a dessert and I am so stuffed now, but in a very content way. It reminded me of being in Thailand – me and my sister were always eating when in Thailand. From restaurants, to cafeterias to street stalls, the food in Thailand was incredibly good – some days we had two suppers! It was just so good, and so cheap. Anyway, it was a bit awkward eating alone – I dislike how in this country its not seen as proper to eat alone. (Or even to be alone. Why are people in this country so afraid of their own company? Just the other day I was overhearing a girl talking about how she could hardly go to the cinema alone – why not???) Its one of the things I love about Japan – nobody cares if you eat alone, because there are plenty of other people doing so. I wish it was like that here – instead its slightly awkward. I got out of there and made my way back to my hotel and am now planning to curl up in bed and read, and take yet another early night.

I’m loving being on holiday. My anxiety is right round the corner, waiting for me, but right now I can push it away, ignore it as best I can. I’m having fun, doing nothing, indulging in hours of looking at plants and paintings and going to restaurants I technically cannot afford. It does feel a bit awkward coming here in non tourist season, as an obvious student, who actually looks like she’s 12 so who knows what people are thinking. But whatever. Whatever to everything. I’m on holiday, I’m having fun. Real life and its responsibilities can wait for a little bit.