Day Three in London: Travel Blunders (feat. Buckingham Palace)

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Three days in London felt a lot like skimming across the surface of the city's highlights. I would say that if you prefer to walk through the city at a comfortable pace, experience the main attractions thoroughly, and visit some of the quirkier neighbourhoods, you will need a good four to five days. On the third day, my sister and I were supposed to catch the bus/ferry from London back to Paris for our respective return flights home... only to realize that we booked the buses on the wrong dates.




A jolt of panic went through us, but the initial shock was overcome by rational thinking: rectify the problem by calling them and switching the dates up? Of course, Fate has it that it's not going to be so simple. We tried calling the bus company from the hotel reception we were staying at - but no one was picking up the line.. what to do?

How apt.. "wait" - No I wasn't crying, these are Asian eyes
Photo opportunity!

Upon reaching the bus station office, they merely told us, with a overwhelming dosage of nonchalance, 'No more tickets for buses tonight. You can come and try to see if somebody doesn't show up, and in that case, you can take their seats.' The thought of not having accommodation for the night seemed less crucial.
The weight of the situation dawned on me then: If I don't get onto the bus to Paris by the next morning, I will miss my connecting flight back to Singapore.


Moral of the story: Check your bus timings and tickets at least three times. And always take a picture while you're panicking... yes.


So it's all a waiting game now - we have to be at the bus terminal at 8.30pm/9.30pm/10.30pm/11.30pm to see if there were any no-shows for us to replace. And it was only mid-afternoon... so we went to The Buckingham Palace to calm our ruffled nerves. It all makes sense, right? 


Too happy to be appropriate


Too happy to be appropriate





About to be stranded in London! Let's do some jump shots to celebrate! #Priorities

Oh Wifi. The foundation of the hierarchy of needs.
Faux sad face selfie
The gravity of the situation slowly sank in as the minutes ticked closer to 8.30pm. We decided to shuffle into a Starbucks outlet right next to Buckingham Palace, distract ourselves with some much-needed Wifi and indulge in some ice-blended mocha.



About to leave London... what else was on my to-do list?! Taking a photo with the red payphone booth... and an apt expression too. Honestly looking back, why was I so calm?!


After that, there was an abject lack of photos because my mood became exponentially negative and waiting for no-shows is much more stressful and impossible than expected. It was a competitive sport; we soon realized that we weren't the only ones who were bargaining for date switches. Moreover, the bus station staff refused us tickets despite some no-shows on the 8.30pm and 9.30pm bus. The boarding cut-off time was 10 minutes before the stipulated time.
What was communicated to us initially was:
If there were any latecomers later than 8.20pm/9.20pm (respectively), we could technically take their places.
Nevertheless, the boarding counter staff (different from the guy in the office which was then closed) did not allow us to get onto the not-entirely-filled bus. This got us very enraged and we became even more determined than ever to squeeze ourselves up the 10.30pm or 11.30pm bus by hook or by crook.
Eventually, at 10.30pm, there were indeed a couple of no-shows and the guy at the counter was about to refuse us for the third time, giving us a completely triumphant face on how much power he wielded. For a moment I wondered if his meanness had anything to do with me being Asian, but pushing all irrelevant thoughts aside, we decided to ask another staff who was in-charge of arranging the seats on the bus if there were any empty seats for that night. Bless his soul - he said he would check it for us. Off he goes into the bus bay, and after a few minutes he returned...
'There are five seats available.'
We glanced nervously at the others who were in the same predicament as us but quickly plonked our passports across the counter to secure the seats. A Somali girl who was conversing with us (she was heading back to Paris where her cousin lives) also did the same. They printed our boarding passes and let us into the bus bay. We loaded our luggages, plopped ourselves onto the remaining empty seats, catching our breaths at the close shave. That sweet moment of relief! We were back on track again.


Even though we got on, the night ahead was young and treacherous. I told myself that if I could get onto the bus (and ultimately catching my flight) - I don't mind any sort of arduous journey.



The bus turned out to be functional, but the ride wasn't exactly smooth. Even for someone who is usually not prone to motion sickness, it was very uncomfortable. Luckily or unluckily, I didn't have much of a dinner that night, so there was nothing to throw up anyway. I was very sleep-deprived, but the throbbing headache makes it really difficult to fall asleep. I managed to grab some sleep though before getting abruptly awaken to board the ferry to cross the English Channel. 



Contrary to popular beliefs, the ferry was not at all fun... it was freezing my bones away, and even with a heat pack and a pitiful towel (I wasn't expecting it to be so cold, I didn't bring much fabric on my carry-on bag), it was a hell of a shivering two hours. It's impossible to sleep, and watching the crashing waves against the ferry reminds me of the Titanic... I was kind of laughing at my own bad mood at the moment...convinced that I really don't have much of a temper. (Is that a humble brag? Perhaps)


Anyway, the rest of the night was pretty uneventful. We got off at Douvres-la-Délivrande on the other side of the English Channel, and then continued our journey straight to Paris CDG Airport. After that, we decided to be a little more adventurous and challenge the Western European transport system to scare us once again... more travel stories (less epic than this) coming up... (I can soon create my own drama series)

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