Sunday, September 25, 2005

Dublin Trip

Well...it's been a fun 5 days. Dublin, Belfast and back to Dublin again...it's been a change in culture, a change in currency, a change in weather. We've run the whole gamut of experiences; from tram rides to bus rides to train rides, from Indian food to Hong Kong steamboat to Irish breakfast, from having a pint of Guinness on top of Dublin(literally) to having Irish coffee at teh airport, from meeting IMU friends to witnessing pub brawls, from sleeping cosily four in the same room to freezing together while waiting at a station... Too much to describe day by day, so I'll just pick out a few instances..

I'll say from the start off that I think I've drunk more alcohol during these 5 days than the last few weeks in Liverpool and the few months before. This was because we went to Irish pubs a few nights during our stay there. Not that we were forced to drink either, but it was something to be experienced. We went to the Porterhouse Pub that claimed to serve every type of beer ever brewed in the world. They had this promotion where they poured out 3 types of beer for 5 euros. Each type of beer was 1/3rd of a pint, so Jack and I tried a pint between ourselves. Hsu pheen tried out a fruit beer from Belgium which was something none of us had ever had before. What made the experience even better was that there was absolutely no smoke inside the pubs. This is due to the superb ruling that says NO SMOKING INSIDE PUBS which well enforced in Ireland. Plus, the Irish live bands played wierd instruments like the highland pipes, adding to the atmosphere...it was almost like Starbucks with alcohol..one could actually talk and be heard in there. No doubt about it...a refreshing change from the loud headbanging clubs in Liverpool and Malaysia(not that I would choose pubbing over a good book anytime though:-) )

In Dublin we took a bus tour around the city, which introduced us to around 20 different tourist attractions, which we tried to squeeze into a day. In the end we only managed to visit the Guiness distillery, the Jameson Whiskey distillery, and the Dublin Zoo. I've gotten pretty tired of talking bout the Guinness since it seems to be THE place to visit in Dublin so I'll say something about the zoo instead. We were feeling slightly lightheaded when we visited the zoo cos we'd just finished the free pint of stout given on completion of the Guinness tour. So half the time Jack and Alex were making up dialogue for the animals and taking photos while trying to get the animals' attention, making for quite an interesting time.. Jack especially wanted to see the penguins and the polar bears. We succeeded on the first but were stumped by the second. However we did manage to run quite far around the zoo, catching the lions in heat, the otters who lept following us, the tapir whom Jack promptly declared to be Malaysian, the rhinos who were too bored to fight, the sea lions which looked like 'animals with amputated limbs' according to Alex and lots more.

The other fun part was meeting up friends from IMU. wE met Prakash in Dublin and he seemed to be in good shape(though he did get sick when we left). He seemed to be busy with rotations and was quite enthusiastic about his posting. In Belfast we met Ying Feng, Siao Wen, Ching Ling, Laurene and Kevin Tan plus a whole bunch of seniors. The Belfast people introduced us to their rooms, after which we chilled in their kitchen. Back in Dublin we met Bern who came all the way from Galway to meet us and Aaron. The common thing about everyone was that they were so delighted to meet up together again..Not everyone knew each other that well in IMU, but in these conditions everyone was eager to talk to each other and catch up. Which got me thinking; 'when we have a reunion next time, the response would probably be phenomenal' There was much exchanging of UK handphone numbers and lots of talk(esp by Ching Ling). Bern joined us for a visit to Trinity college on Sat morning, still his lame self:-) Aaron seemed fine as well, having found Victor Voon to help him settle down.

On Friday morning, we had breakfast? at 3am in....of all places, a Chinese restaurant in Belfast. And of all things, we had steamboat, cooked in the typical Hong Kong style. When the soup came, I was surprised to see what looked like bits of fried onion floating together with chilli slices. Being hungry, all of us dug in and a deathly silence fell around the table. All of us were trying to maintain our composure, cos' the fried onions were actually some kind of super spicy spice that went into your nostrils and up into your head if you bit on them. The whole meal was veryvery hot and different from any steamboat any of us had before(Jack claimed Taiwan steamboat was similar but hotter though). The spices gave the soup a really different taste. I recognised star of anise but the rest of the spices were little round balls which I couldn't identify. A more normal meal was the Irish breakfast we had this morning in Dublin... Bacon, a fried egg, pudding, sausages and thick slices of toast. Yup, sounds typical right? They call it a 'fried up' breakfast cos' everything is fried except the coffee. We also had a huge raspberry scone each, which would have been better served piping from the oven.

Bern and I stayed back at the cafe for a chat with Victor Voon while the others left for last minute shopping. David, Shubs, think you remember him from CSU right? He's the senior who was our patient a few times before Sem 3 exams. It was a good time of catching up and he encouraged us a lot. Typical of any Christian senior( and especially one from ECF:-) ) he wanted to find out whether or not we'd found a church where we were at home with. Came away refreshed and encouraged to press on in Liverpool.

There were the not so good times of the trip too... like us missing our flight home due to protests in the city centre, seeing 2 ppl getting beaten up by pub bouncers in Belfast and some other occasions. But I think on the whole we had a pretty good time, thanks hugely to Nigel(Hsu Pheen's friend) and Suann(Alex's friend) who kindly let us bunk in their houses for the duration. And so, Sat night saw 4 tired but satisfied medical students trudging up the road to Agnes Jones House..

That should be all..sorry if I'm not making sense sometimes cos trying to type as much as poss be4 I lose the inclination to do so:-) Going to be really busy next wweek cos classes are finally starting.. But b4 that, some photos...




Us at Liverpool John Lennon Airport


This particular whiskey gets up your nose and ears!


The house where Oscar Wilde once stayed in..




The Suir Road LUAS station(LUAS is the tram system in Dublin)..


Dublin Zoo.


Tourists enjoying a free pint of Guinness stout on top of the distillery.

The church where Bram Stoker was married (the guy who wrote Dracula).

At DUBLIN airport..

There we go.. a straightforward post.. can't go wrong there.

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