#WeekendCoffeeShare – Garden Transitions, Colors, and Experiment

Good morning! Welcome to #WeekendCoffeeShare, thank you for joining me on this Saturday morning, hopefully in my garden.

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Trip Down River Thames #Water #SundayStills

I have never been a fan of boat rides.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #251: Buildings and Other Structures

Happy Sunday! Anne from the blog Slow Shutter Speed is the host for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge and we’re focusing on buildings and architectures this week.

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#WeekendCoffeeShare – End of May 2023 Garden

Good morning! Welcome to #WeekendCoffeeShare, thank you for joining me on this Saturday morning, hopefully in my garden.

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UK Trip 2023 Reflection

Overall, even with all the frustration and anxiety, I suppose this has been a good trip.

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UK Trip Day 11

Guess what? We are right back to where we started – The British Museum.

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UK Trip Day 10

It’s another down day as we spent another day at mom’s friends’ house. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired, spending the day on the couch, cycling between editing pictures, blogging, and napping.

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UK Trip Day 9

At last, a day to slow down and take it easy.

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UK Trip Day 8

I only have one word to describe about this day – LONG!

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UK Trip Day 7

The thing about Glasgow is the weather. We were there for three days and for three days, all we saw was clouds. It was like the first few days when I visited China in 2017. I kept expecting blue skies and sunshine but got none. So I decided to turn the photos into monochrome.

According to YouTube, there’s not much to see in Glasgow. It doesn’t seem to be a popular tourist destination. I tried to plan the trip for Glasgow the same way as Edinburgh and London but couldn’t. Most YouTuber talked about food, whiskey, and shopping when it comes to Glasgow but surprisingly, the city is chock full of history. There’s a story behind every building and street.

We decided to join a tour on our final day in Glasgow, one of those hop-on-hop-off sightseeing buses. We were tired of walking. According to my Fitbit, I walked about 50 miles last week. That’s a lot of miles.

We went around the city 4 times. We went around all 21 stops the first time listening to the audio commentary. Then mom got cold, so we made a pitstop back to the hotel to grab a coat before hopping back onto the bus. On the second go-around, we got off at the 12th stop for the Riverside Museum, which is a museum dedicated to the everyday life and transportation.

I was thoroughly intrigued and surprised at the advancement of transportation in the UK. For a moment there, it seemed like the US was a little behind at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

After the Riverside Museum and seeing the “Tall Ship” Glenlee, we hopped back onto the bus and headed for the People’s Palace. This is the fountain outside of the People’s Palace. It’s said to be the largest terra cotta fountain in the world, according to the tour guide.

The People’s Palace is another fascinated place for history geeks like me. It detailed the everyday life of people of Glasgow in the late 19th and early 20th century. I particularly loved the photography exhibit. It was a project of 80+ photographs detailing a day of life in Glasgow in 1955.

These two places were definitely the highlights of Glasgow.

We hopped back onto the bus one last time before called it a day. This time, we encountered a live guide. It was super helpful to have someone point out each and every buildings and landmark instead of having to guess according to the recorded commentary as sometimes, we get stuck in traffic or if the driver was driving too fast.

Like I said, Glasgow is an absolute fascinating place for history geeks.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #250: Skyscape or Cloudscape

Happy Sunday! Amy from The World is a Book… is the hostess for this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge and what a great theme she’s chosen for this week – Cloudscape or Skyscape.

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#WeekendCoffeeShare – UK Trip Day 6

Good morning! Welcome to #WeekendCoffeeShare, thank you for joining me on this Saturday morning in the beautiful historic city of Glasgow, Scotland.

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UK Trip Day 5

I watched the sunrise from a train this morning as I headed to Scotland.

Before I left for the UK, I remember checking the weather daily only to feel disappointed because it would forecast rain but 4 days in London, there was mostly blue skies and sun with afternoon clouds and a few minutes of drizzle, that’s it. I was surprised by the weather and now I got to see a sunrise?

I arrived, at last, in Glasgow after a 5-and-a-half-hour train ride, well, 4-and-a-quarter with about a 30-minute layover in Edinburgh.

If there was a day to feel extremely overwhelmed, it was today.

Firstly, my alarm went off at 4 AM. Everything was going fine until mom and I got on the train. When I bought the tickets online the week before the trip, I had seats reserved for the train but mom decided she didn’t want to sit in our assigned seats. She put her coffee on the table but decided to sit in the row behind. So I decided to do her a favor and carried her coffee.

Who would’ve thought the moment I grabbed the coffee by the lid, the cup would fall beneath, spilling coffee everywhere. Mom was furious. “Why did you touch my coffee?” She growled.

“It’s an accident,” I told her. I was trying to be nice but she just made me feel bad as I stood there, paralyzed as she cleaned up the mess with napkins. I was afraid to move, paralyzed by anxiety and fear, afraid if I intervened, more would go wrong.

Was I wrong to stand there like a deer in the headlights?

Probably but didn’t I have the right to be afraid?

Fortunately, the train remained quiet until we reached Newcastle when 4 people came aboard and insisted in sitting in our seats, which meant we had to move. I took a row while mom took another.

To be honest, one of my fears on this trip was not being able to understand the Scottish accent but it wasn’t difficult at all. I knew exactly what the man said when he told me to pay at the “till” and exactly what it meant when the meat is labeled at “minced” (maybe it’s also an English thing, not a Scottish thing).

I actually think the Scottish accent is one of the most beautiful accent I’ve every heard. Of course, despite constantly bragging about learning to speak English by watching the BBC, mom hasn’t been able to understand a thing since we arrived in the UK.

At first, I thought it was the slangs that’s getting her but I’m starting to think she’s just like her family – lazy and just wanted to rely on me.

CFFC: Catching People Unaware

It’s easy to catch people unaware in a city of 9 million people (according to the internet), especially during rush hour.

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UK Trip Day 4

This is Day 4 and our final day in London.

Of course, what’s a trip to the UK without seeing the famous Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard. It was surprising underwhelming as it began and ended before I knew it. I couldn’t really see much of anything as there was a huge crowd. People was even sitting at the top of the fountain across from the palace.

As we were walking there, mom asked, “Do you think we’ll see King Charles?”

“I doubt it,” I told her. Buckingham Palace is currently being remodeled and not allow in. I doubt the King would work in an “under-construction” office.

After getting a glimpse of the Guard, we continued to St. James Park toward the underground station to Tower Hill for the Tower Bridge and Tower of London.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s listening to stories about imprisonment and beheading. Call me gruesome but these things fascinate me. Thankfully, there was a tour for that. We gathered at the moat where familiar herbs and wildflowers grew and someone called Yeoman Warder told stories about the place.

The tower had been so many things and it was absolutely fascinating to learn all those things.

As mom and I posted our trip on social media, mom’s friends thought we were weird that we went to the UK to go to museums unlike most people who travel to shop. Call us crazy but we hate shopping. It’s just one of those things I would rather do online on Amazon, not in person.

I am writing this on Day 5 – May 18 – on the train to Scotland, which I’m looking forward because we will be staying at a 4-Star hotel in Glasgow for the next 3 nights. After being in the smallest hotel room I’ve ever been in (beside Hong Kong), I’m looking forward to a room where I can turn without bumping elbows with Mom.

UK Trip Day 3

I have been trying to enjoy the city but inside, every second of everyday, I’ve been counting down the days until when I can get home.

London is not for me.

I have been dodging people left and right today. People here don’t seem to look where they walk or they are purposely walking into people or they are blind. I was standing outside the restaurant waiting for mom to get dinner when someone walk right into me and bumped my sore shoulder.

My sore shoulder from sleeping on the plane and walking around with a heavy backpack in the airport that day.

Turned out, the guy was looking down at his phone. Dude, looking down at a phone can’t be more important than watching out where you walk.

Anyway, I’m not sure I’m liking London – bicycles don’t stop for pedestrians, people crossing the streets wherever they want, and the stampede of zombie-like people rushing from the opposite direction. It added so much to my existing anxiety. Also, what’s up with shops closing at 6 PM on Sunday? Still, I’m quite impressed at the space utilization like dropping a library in the middle of the city and almost every building in the city has a rich history.

We went on a river cruise today and toured the River Thames, saw Big Ben, learned a bit of history of London’s bridges, and took a walk around Greenwich – Royal Maritime Museum, Old Naval College, etc. It turned out Big Ben is not the clock but the bell that goes off every 15 minutes and the Waterloo Bridge was built entirely by women and it’s the only bridge project to be completed on time and on budget. I didn’t know that.

This was the sky when we were returning to Westminster from Greenwich. I still can’t believe how the weather changes in London. Mom said the weather here is like an emotional child. It’s crazy that the day started out clear and blue but ended with dark clouds that threatened to rain. Talk about a dramatic sky, something I don’t really get to experience often at home. Thankfully, there was no rain.

We’ve been lucky that the worst weather we’ve experienced so far was a few minutes of mist. Hopefully, it will hold.

UK Trip Day 2

We visited the British Museum today and boy oh boy, did it feel like deja vu.

It felt exactly like day #2 of the trip last year. Mom seemed to want a million pictures taken of her and no matter how I took it, it’s never good enough. “There’s a pole shooting out of my head.” “I look so ugly.” “Don’t you know how to take good pictures?”

It just made me about to boil!

Anyway, I still saw a lot at the museum despite a majority of it didn’t interest me. I might be one of those weirdos who only likes US history. World history like looking at Egyptian mummies and trying to be amused by a tablet that’s thousands of years old and contain an ancient language absolutely bores me. I wasn’t interested when I was in 6th grade and certainly not interested in it now.

Everything somehow looked similar to me. Perhaps it’s because they are all the color but like I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I’m as tone-deaf about art as some people about music.

That is not to say I found nothing interesting about my visit. I thoroughly enjoyed the clocks and watches exhibit. I enjoyed looking at the evolution of these time-telling devices and as someone who likes to take things apart to find out how it works, I was fascinated by the mechanics behind these ancient times pieces.

I was also intrigued by things like this Japanese bowl, which took the artist 6 months to make. I think I found this intriguing because as someone who’s never satisfied with the ordinary, this is not anything that’s ordinary.

After the museum, we made our way to Chinatown and I must admit, London Chinatown is nothing like I’ve imagined and it’s one that’s different than all the other Chinatowns I’ve visited so far. The part I visited was a pedestrian promenade – foot traffic only.

Maybe I’ve watched too many TV shows and movies because London is nothing I thought it’d be or maybe I just haven’t visited the parts of London that hasn’t been in TV or movies yet.

UK Trip Day 1

This is the view from my hotel room near Kings Cross Station. It’s been a long day or rather, a long half-day.

I arrived in the UK at around 11:30 AM with 2 sore shoulders from carrying my heavy backpack through the Salt Lake Airport and LAX the day before. I’m still pissed at mom for making me walk from Terminal 7 to the International terminal and back. Our flight was out of Terminal 7 but because there was hardly anything good to eat there other than sandwiches and coffee, especially for someone like my mom.

When we arrived at the terminal after a 40-minute walk (through terminal 6, 5, and 4), mom threw a tantrum when I said I need a minute to get online and find a directory of the restaurants available. She stormed off at a speed I couldn’t keep up because of my already sore shoulders.

In my defense, I didn’t ask her to come along. It was why I dropped my backpack with her. I thought I would walk there, get her something, and walk back. I like walking, you see. My knees actually feel better when I’m not stationary but I don’t like walking when I’m carrying a heavy load on my problematic back.

Nope, she insisted she come along.

We ended up buying Starbucks at Terminal 6.

The 10-and-half-hour plane ride was, you know, a 10-and-half-hour plane ride. The Boeing 787 was exactly like any other planes I’ve been on other than a few advanced features like color-changing windows. Thankfully, I was able to sleep – my Fitbit clocked me sleeping for 4 hours – and I was able to eat unlike the past international flights I’ve been on.

Of course, the thing I was looking forward to – getting the stamp on my passport – was a disappointment. There was no stamp. They say I don’t need it carrying US passport. All I had to do was scan my passport into their system and I was good to go.

So then, I led the way to the Underground where we hopped on the Piccadilly Line and rode until we reached Kings Cross Station. Whoever said London is small is lying because for a small city, I don’t think I’ve ever walked so much in my life.

As I’m writing this, it’s 12:45 AM London time on May 15, 5:45 PM at home, still May 14 and I can’t sleep. I managed to sleep for two hours before mom woke me. Now, I’m wide awake, struggling to sleep because of the time difference. Ugh!

At least it’s finally quiet down out there. It’s been scary – loads of police sirens, loud bangs like fireworks or gun fire, and weird crazy people on the streets. I guess it’s just typical city life.

US-Canada Trip 2022 After Thoughts

As of Sunday evening, I was home again, in my own bed, enjoying a quiet night rest. No more sharing a bed with Mom, no more listening to her snoring, and no more having to listen to her loud YouTube playing all night long. The trip has ended at last.

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US-Canada Trip 2022 Day 11

For reference, day 11 is referring to September 30 2022.

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US-Canada Trip 2022 Day 10

For reference, day 10 is referring to September 29, 2022.

2 more days until home…

I felt a bit better, not coughing as much, though my voice still sounded pretty bad. The tough part has been getting through the night because that’s when the stuffy nose comes and I begin to feel like I’m choking. I think it might be caused by the dust in the motels which exacerbated the problem.

We stopped by the New Jersey State House in the morning. It was sorta a drop-by since we were heading toward Trenton to avoid bridge tolls. In the west, we call this the Capitol Building. I’ve never heard of it referred to as “State House” before. I learned that when I couldn’t find “New Jersey Capitol” on Google Maps.

This is definitely by far the oldest Capitol building I’ve ever been to. It was originally built in the late 18th Century before it was burned, rebuilt, renovated, and added several more wings over the years to accommodate the growing state.

It was also the one with the tightest security measures. It was like going through the TSA checkpoint at an airport. I must empty my pockets, place everything in a bucket, and walk through the scanner. We were also not allowed to tour the building ourselves. We needed to call and schedule a tour. Thankfully, the people at the Capitol building were willing to do an impromptu tour.

I learned a lot about the state of New Jersey on this tour like how it’s blueberries and peaches are well-known. I find it so fascinated to learn fun facts like these. The tour ended after 20 minutes and our guide led us to the door.

The outside of the complex is just as interesting as the inside like this tree that was dedicated to George Washington who famously crossed the Delaware River nearby and this fountain, which makes a great photo opp.

After the State House, we headed to Chambersburg, PA, where we will spend the next 2 nights and we’re planning to tour Gettysburg the next day,

US-Canada Trip 2022 Day 9

For reference, day 9 is referring to September 28, 2022.

It’s day 2 in Philadelphia and I would say it felt more relaxed than normal. There wasn’t much rushing from place to place. I think the expectation has been lowered ever since we got sick, to not try to see the entire city but to focus on one place at a time. If there’s time, we’ll see more.

Mom seemed convinced she contracted COVID from the guy sitting next to her on the plane. He wore a mask and his wife next to him seemed to be on medication that made her sleepy and confused. She was listening to the symptoms of COVID all night long.

We stayed in a hotel in downtown Philadelphia the night after staying in the worst motel imaginable. The downtown hotel felt like heaven compare to the other motel. The first thing I did was take 2 showers to rid the smell of cigarettes from my body and hair. I washed and rinsed and washed and rinsed until I could no longer smell that dreadful scent.

We spent the morning visiting the National Constitution Center, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Once again, mom didn’t like it because of the so-called “skewed perspective.” I wanted to read every placard on display in that museum but each time I found something interesting, I’d get pulled away by mom.

The exhibits I enjoyed the most were the Civil War and Women’s suffrage exhibits. I find Civil War to be one of the most fascinating time in US history and I briefly listened to a podcast on women’s suffrage last month, so I was excited to learn more. Mom was uninterested to go to both exhibits but thankfully, she let me go alone while she waited outside.

I don’t know why I keep getting the feeling of being undermined. For example, I got hungry and wanted to make myself a bowl of noodle soup. Mom wanted me to wait until she got back but I figured I’m a grown-up and I can make it myself. I overheated the water and made a tiny mess in the microwave.

“I told you to wait for me.” She clicked her tongue. I hate it when she does that because that’s when I know I done something she thinks is wrong which has been often on this trip.

Anyway, it’s back to Jersey tonight because we couldn’t book an extra night in downtown Philly. We’re heading back to Trenton, NJ to see New Jersey State House before crossing over to Pennsylvania and head for Gettysburg where we’ll stay for the next 2 nights.

US-Canada Trip 2022 Day 8

For reference, day 8 is referring to September 27, 2022.

I have so many thoughts at the moment. I don’t know whether that’s due to sleep deprivation or the fact that I am now sick, too, caught whatever Mom got from sharing a bed and probably not covering her mouth when she coughed around me. I feel like shit. My nose is stuffy, my voice is hoarse and at times, gone, and I’m coughing like there’s no tomorrow.

I’ve also been getting next to no sleep with mom blasting YouTube all night long while unconsciously snatching the covers, leaving me with nothing, and snoring so loud and I mean loud. I think my sleep at night has been more like catnaps – waking up every so often like someone’s anticipating the alarm to ring.

This morning, I woke up in the worst motel room imaginable, my hair and body reek of cigarette smoke and marijuana. I felt a bit better, not coughing as much. Mom was quite the opposite. She looked like she’s going to cough out a lung. That’s the last time I will ever share a bed.

At 9:30 AM, we arrived in the heart of Philadelphia, PA – the city of Brotherly Love. The traffic felt absolutely chaotic. The moment we got off the Ben Franklin bridge, we saw people walking in the middle of the road, among cars!

Aren’t they afraid of being hit? It is a highway after all.

After parking the car in the lot next to the hotel, we made our way around the city – first to Chinatown and then to Independence Hall.

I have never been to Independence Hall nor seen the Liberty Bell in person, only in movies. So I was excited to expand my knowledge of U.S. History.

Or so I thought…

Mom rushed me from one display to the next without ever allowing me to read the text. I told her to hold on and wait for me a few times but her answer was always, “there’s nothing to see here.” She said Independence Hall has changed drastically since her last visit which was 24 years ago. She said the history placards have been rewritten by the recent presidents to make the history of the Founding Fathers skew toward the institution of slavery.

To be honest, from the texts I managed to read, I did not see any skewing and biases toward African American. Sure, history is always told from one perspective and that perspective isn’t always right but that’s just what history is, isn’t it?