Day 8: Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle

everything that's broke
leave it to the breeze
let the ashes fall

Let It Go - James Bay

Day 8, I took a day tour that visited Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Warwick Castle. The tour group was again very big. I happened to sit next to a Singapore lady who's currently based in Hong Kong. She's in the banking industry and was in the UK for work. She's very hardworking, she brought her work in this trip. I talked to her a bit. Found out that she went on a trip to South America some months ago alone. I was very fascinated. I asked her how it was with zika virus around, she said she felt it's was over hyped. I wonder if it's a sign from God. It's like meeting Carl for the first time years ago, the first woman I knew who traveled alone. Me this time meeting another Singaporean woman who traveled to South America alone, a place that's quite on top of my list, is this a sign God? A sign that I can do this?

Anyways, first stop was to Oxford. I learned that Oxford university is composed of many colleges. Reading Wikipedia helps me understand this concept more. The guide took us on a walking tour around the main places. We didn't enter any of the buildings. Honestly I don't remember much of the places that the guide brought us around. There's this Bodleian Library which was used in Harry Potter movie as the hospital wing.

After the walking tour, we're given some time to explore on our own. I wasn't quite sure on what to do and I ended up visiting Balliol College which was nearby. You need to pay 2 GBP to enter. The colleges function as hall of residences as well and it made me think of my hall of residence back in NUS. It's not as cool; we didn't have a chapel, tower, or a beautiful garden, but we also didn't have random tourists walking around. We couldn't enter any of the buildings except for the chapel, but I still wondered if the students feel it's weird having all these tourists walking in. At that time the college felt very quiet, with not many people around, except for the few random tourists such as me. I wonder if it's because the school is on a break or if it's because it's a Sunday.

After Oxford, we made our way to Stratford-upon-Avon which is Shakespeare's birth place and also where one of Singapore founding fathers, Lew Kuan Yew, eloped. We got the chance to visit the Shakespeare’s Birthplace museum where you can see some exhibits about his life and works.

You also get to get into the house where he's supposedly born. The house is not very big and the rooms have been staged with things or art works to represent what life was like back then.

In the garden, there were actors enacting some parts of Shakespeare's plays. After this I made my way to the River Avon. There were so many people there that I didn't feel like exploring it. There's like a small pop up market by the side of the river. I only explored a bit of it and then I decided to walk back. I really don't enjoy crowd much.

Our last stop was Warwick Castle. The guide explained this castle a bit in the bus and she made a strange comment when she said if all of us were wondering if we're visiting a theme park.

The castle was bought by an entertainment company and when they opened in to the public, well they made it very commercial. There's a lot of games and activities for the kids. There were people in costumes greeting visitors and it really does have a theme park feel to it. In the castle, the rooms are staged with Madame Tussauds' like characters. It felt very Downton Abbey for me actually and it was rather interesting in a strange way.

One of the most precious room in the castle is perhaps the room that contained Queen Anne's bed. After exploring the castle, I went to explore the ground. The ground of the castle is very big and I didn't explore it all. There's this peacock garden with real peacocks. I didn't expect that. I thought when I saw feathers fluttering, they weren't real. Only when I came closer I saw that indeed there are peacocks. Lucky for us, there was one bird spreading its feathers.

It is rather strange visiting Warwick Castle. I totally didn't expect this, but I guess it's a good experience. I get to learn something about England. Downton Abbey towards the end touched on issues on how difficult it was for the nobility to manage their big estates and a lot of them fell to crumble. It also brought back to mind the comments one of the guides in Scotland said about how the whole land of Scotland are owned by only a few hundred people, but that doesn't mean they're really rich. They're perhaps land rich, but they may not have a lot of capital. A castle is difficult to maintain, you will need a lot of fund and you need to think on how to get those fund. While it's weird that this castle is managed this way for tourism, it's perhaps a good kind of different. The kids visiting seemed to be having a lot of fun. For pictures from these places, please go here.

On other note, I finished reading The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. So this is like the 3rd book of the year. It's quite an interesting story, but I don't know if I like it much. There's a warrior, knight, dragon, and a old couple. Maybe it would make a good movie. The book started with an old couple. It talked about how they often forget things. I wonder if it's some sort of allegory for how old couple may forget important things about their lives due to sickness like Alzheimer. Do I use the word allegory correctly? :( Anyways, the ending felt sad and I don't know how to feel about the whole story. Kazuo Ishiguro writes beautifully for sure but out of the 2 books of his I read, this one and The Remains of the Day, I'm just not totally in love with his works. The Remains of the Day has an argument about politic that really stays with me though. I often think about it when I look at the world political situation, especially during election. So I guess he actually did a great job. If your work can stay with people and make them think about the world in a different perspective, well it's rare and it's quite an achievement. Right now I am reading the 3rd book of the Buru Quartet, the tetralogy written by the Indonesian author, Pramoedya Ananta Toer. My cousin kindly hunted for book 3 and 4 and gifted them to me when I went home during Chinese New Year. I just started on Jejak Langkah (or Footsteps in English) and our main character is in Jakarta now. His description on Jakarta is so interesting. The author used the word Jakarta, but I wonder if it's still known as Batavia. The Jakarta during colonial time had a lot swamps and monkeys roaming around. I am really really curious to see how Jakarta looked like back then, truly curious.

:) eKa @ 10:13:00 PM •

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