Friday, July 28, 2006

The Frog Speaks Again: Part II


Despite still being in my holiday mood, it has now been 6 days since I came back from my fantastic vacation in Spain. Not like some people I know, I’m not intending to write a book or to post countless entries about my vacation, hehehe… no offence Kuds! What I can summarise here is that I had a fantastic trip to Spain, covering 5 interesting cities (Madrid, Barcelona, Andalusia: Seville, Cordoba, Granada) in a short time but enough for me to enjoy Spanish culture and music, eat fantastic Spanish cuisine, spend time with my good friend in Madrid, not to mention that he’s a fantastic host too, and last but not least, I had a fantastic travel mate all the way till the very last day.

13th – 15th July 2006

Arrived on Thursday at the airport, picked up by Anuar who purposely hide behind this wall and made me searched for him like a crazy, ‘jakun’ tourist. Went back to his apartment in a taxi which pretty much looked like the Penang ‘teksi sapu’ heehe… Other than the extremely boiling temperature, Madrid is a really busy city with skyscrapers and countless people. Inhaling dusty air with a quenching thirst is not really a good combination. I felt like a roasted duck walking in town. Despite all those things, my fantastic host managed to put a blind on us and showed the better sides of Madrid.

We had a fantastic time walking around the plazas (Spain has countless plazas - an open area, surrounded by a square building which are apartments, cafes and restaurants), made a mess of our hands and faces with gelatos, walked around the gardens, listened to live music and the crowd from his balcony and of course, I had a wonderful dinner cooked by him. I have to admit, for someone who actually cooked for someone else for the first time (according to him), he actually impressed me. I would love to have another taste of his carbonara. Oh, and I loveeee the gazpacho.

Kudo landed in Madrid the day after. This time, we both picked him up. He just have this ‘thing’ that makes people just can’t stop picking on him. It was funny but fun to finally have him around. He dressed up like a total tourist with his big camera around his neck and his newly bought Berghaus Backpack. Hehhe.. We spent the next 2 days exploring the city, doing some shopping (rebajas/sale everywhere ok!!), ate tapas, ate more tapas and night time was spent at this kedai mamak ‘Chocolateria’ where apparently the best churros was served (according to the Lonely Planet and our Madrid old-timer).

We flew to Barcelona on Saturday night. Anuar was supposed to join us but he had to cancel the plan due to some commitment at work. The time spent in Madrid was short but we spent most of the time hanging out and eating tapas and more tapas.
Kudo will give you a more comprehensive elaboration on the places that we visited and dined. You can also take a peek on the pictures that I managed to take when I was there.
The Frog Speaks Again : Part I


I know my close friends have been ringing me asking me how my Spain trip was. One word: BRILLIANT!!

But! Before I ramble on, shall I write to you about my extremely distressing experience on the motorway today? Ok. Well, since Thursday, I’ve been driving to and fro to Middlesborough for my Foundation Shadowing. (I know!! Time seems to fly so fast. It seems like yesterday I’ve just started working in Sunderland and now, I’m actually moving to Middlesborough to continue my foundation years). Anyways, it takes about 40 minutes to get to James Cook Hospital from Sunderland. By saying that, I have to yet travel another 20 minutes to Northallerton, which is a small town in North Yorkshire, where I’ll be doing 4 months of my 1-year rotations over there. The remaining 8 months will then be spent in James Cook.

The road to Middlesborough isn’t bad at all since most of the time I’ll be driving on the motorway BUT, the journey to Friarage Hospital in Northallerton is… how shall I say it… hmmph.. challenging? With narrow winding roads, farms on both sides of the road, with sheeps, cows, horses(?chicken, I swear I saw 2 of them crossing the road!). Not to mention driving at a speed of 20mph when you have a huge tractor in front of you and you can’t really overtake it coz the road is too narrow. And I had to spend extra 20 minutes on my way there coz I had to follow this big lorry with 2 horses’ heads sticking out from the carriage, staring boringly at my red, impatience face.
Sabar je lah!

To cut my not-so-long story short, I managed to sort things out pretty quickly on the ward (oh, I’ll be starting with Respiratory medicine, yeay!) and head back ASAP to Sunderland. Well, while I was driving on A684, 55mph (yeah, the same road with the chicken crossing), I was actually enjoying the view (funny enough), listening to Jason Mraz’s Life is Wonderful song on my ipod, despite my car being nothing but a moving fully-heated oven, suddenly there was this loud explosion and my car swayed to the left and hit the curb. Then I could hear this ‘gedek, gedek, gedek’ sound and I couldn’t actually control my steering. SO, I pulled over, in the middle of the sahara, and as I suspected, I punctured my left-front tyre!! Damn it!! Must be the broken glass, nail, God knows but I have a flat tyre!! Luckily I wasn’t driving fast and managed to still manoeuvre my steering.

What did I do? I went back into my car. Sat there for 5 minutes, trying to take in everything… This can’t be happening. My first ever road accident. I’m alone, in the middle of nowhere. No one was around, just the cows and the horses. (Where’s the chicken? NVM). After 5 minutes of hypoventilating myself, I called my Sheila’s Wheels breakdown cover. I swear I could hear the Sheila’s Wheels song on the background and I could see the 3 ladies in pink dancing in the pink car! (You know, that annoying advert).

Anyways, help arrived after 1/2hr and I actually had to drive to Northallerton to get a proper tyre fitted by the garage. Unfortunately, my alloy wheel was pretty badly damaged from the collision and the garage couldn’t fit a new tyre on it. So I had to drive to the nearest Toyota dealer shop and they didn’t have that model in stock until tomorrow. I need to get to Sunderland so I actually drove back to Sunderland with that Space-saver tyre (is that what u call it?) on the motorway, driving at average 50mph. That is actually pretty slow on a motorway. Despite staying on the left lane, I did occasionally get voices and honks coming from other drivers for my slow-moving vehicle especially when the roads were narrow. Not to mention one occasion where someone gave me a middle finger after driving out from this one-lane road. And apparently there were trains of cars behind him, equally pissed off, I shall say. Not trying to blame anyone or trying to be nasty but, I CAN’T FUCKING DRIVE ANY FUCKING FASTER THAN THIS FUCKING SPEED YOU MORON!!!

Ehem.. Please ignore my French.

Well, I managed to reach Sunderland safely and feed myself with a large Burritos. I called the Durham Toyota Dealer and they are going to order one for me to pick up tomorrow morning. I then have to go to the garage to get a new tyre fit in. Well, that’s not the worst part yet. After all the hassles, I now will have to pay a bloody £190.00 for the wheel! Good Job!

To think of it from a brighter side, at least I’m safe. After all, a broken wheel can be fixed, but a life, is priceless.
That's my story.