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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paris, Friends From Around France, and Mint Tea.

Current location
In my room: Chambre 1403 Bâtiment AB, Résidence Universitaire Jean Medecin, 25 Rue Robert Latouche, 06200, Nice, France. (Now that you have my address, you must send me presents)
Now listening to
Owl City – current song: Hot Air Balloon
Sleepy, impatiently waiting for my hair to dry (it’s getting quite long now and takes forever to dry)
Last meal
Tuna sandwiches with mayonnaise (I only intended to have that as a starter to be followed up with spaghetti, but then I ended up only having sandwiches for buka puasa – no surprise of course, since I ate six slices of bread and finished two cans of tuna)
Other activities
Sipping tasty tasty mint tea.

image Pictured to the left is the delicious tea that I am enjoying right now. Well of course, as I’m writing this, there aren’t any more sugar cubes on the plate because most of them are in my tummy, and the rest have dissolved into hot, steamy minty goodness in a purple cup.

At this point I’ve actually finished the tea; it’s so good I can’t even get through one paragraph before consuming all of it. I shan’t brew anymore because this is already my third cup tonight and it’s terribly expensive tea, all the way from China, with mint from Morocco, which is fancy enough for me.

I bought it in a tea shop along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, when I was in Paris during the weekend. If you’ve been following the updates on my blog recently, you should know that I’ve been  you must obviously be reading the wrong blog, because I haven’t posted anything in ages.

Well that’s fine, because here I am, writing just for you, telling you all about my awesome trip to Paris, which you obviously didn’t go to, because you don’t have a picture with a gorilla in front of the Eiffel tower to prove it:
King Kong never died...he just moved from the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower. 

I left to Paris by train on Friday 20th August at 1.35 pm. It was actually a direct train to Paris, but I simply had to get down at Aix-en-Provence to meet up with my friends from Aix before hopping on the 5.42 train to Paris Gare de Lyon (That’s the name of the train station – I find it unnecessarily confusing because Lyon is the name of another city in France located nowhere near Paris). Because of my decision to transit at Aix instead of going straight to Paris, I ended up paying more than 80 Euros instead of something like 49 Euros, which is what I paid for the return trip (direct from Paris to Nice). All that extra cost and in the end I just got to spend a few minutes at the Aix train station with my friends, and we didn’t even sit together in the train. Whatever. At least the lady sitting next to me gave up her seat to let Yusuf sit with me =)
We arrived at the exact scheduled time in Paris, at 8.16 pm. We then went straight to the Malaysian Embassy by metro and proceeded to stuff ourselves with Biryani, sambal, ayam masak merah, curry and lots of delicious kuih-muih.

During our stay in Paris, nine of us stayed in Encik Faris’ House. He’s the JPA representative and the person responsible for the Malaysian students in France). He’s really cool, and totally made our stay really comfortable (not to mention free, yay!)

The next day (our first day in Paris) we woke up around midday and then lazily got ready to head out. We couldn’t possibly go to Paris and not see all those really famous tourist attractions now could we? So we went and took a bus to the Eiffel tower, and took tons of pictures there, not once stopping to ponder about its cultural or historical significance, which didn’t bother me one bit. We did grasp that it’s really big, and since it’s made of metal, rusty.

Of course, by taking lots of pictures, we effectively announced to all the thousands of beggars around the Eiffel tower that we were tourists, and presumably gullible and loaded with money. The Bolivian, Vietnamese, Bangladeshi and all the other beggars of multitudinous origins identified us within seconds, and wasted no time in surrounding us, robbing us of all our oxygen while insisting that it is their divine right that we give them all our coins because they have leukaemia.

We gave them nothing, and spent the next hour ignoring the beggars and Eiffel tower replica vendors while resting on a bench because fighting away all the crazy people was quite tiring. Plus, we were fasting, and it was really hot, and we really didn’t want to walk.

Later, we went to the Grande Mosquée de Paris, where we prayed then slept for an hour or so. By now I’m pretty sure how we spent most of our stay in Paris: sitting around on benches, and sleeping. I loved it! The lazy in me was thoroughly amused and fulfilled.

imageThis mosque was built in 1929, I think. 

At the mosque, we did meet a kind stranger who goes by the name Khairuddeen, who then brought us to a slummy area called Barbès, where there were at least ten million people, all of whom were Arab, selling all sorts of counterfeit things, and sweet middle eastern cakes that give you diabetes just by smelling them.  

imageIf these were exported to the rest of the world, they would quickly become the leading cause of diabetes

Khairuddeen warned us to be careful of thieves and pickpockets. In any case, common sense told me to be wary, so I didn’t take any pictures, because I didn’t want to get my really expensive iPhone 4 snatched away. (Did I mention I have an iPhone, by the way?)

My friend, however, probably didn’t get the memo and decided to play some silly game on his iPhone right in the middle of Barbès, instantly attracting everyone’s attention and greedy, thieving hands. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t get to finish his game because his iPhone was promptly snatched away. I shall refrain from bursting out in laughter at this point. [It’s not so bad though, at least he wasn’t hurt, and he does have insurance, so he’ll just get a replacement anyway. At least this would have taught him a lesson to not parade your expensive gadgets in a place where you might lose your watch when you extend your hand to give a poor beggar lady a few cents. 

That night we did walk around a bit, to see Paris by night, all the while taking care not to go too far from home, because that would be just too much trouble.

  I prefer the picture with the gorilla. 
They say Paris is a romantic city...

Fast forward to the next day: We slept in again, and only got up around noon.
imageThis is how we spent most of our time in Paris. I Love it!

imageOne hour later... 

Once we finally got off our lazy asses, we headed to La Seine (That’s the river that flows through Paris) to get onto the Bateaux Mouches. Basically it’s a river cruise along the Seine from which we can see all the most important and famous Parisian monuments. It cost 10 euros per person. It was really hot though, because it was smack in the middle of the afternoon and we were right under the hot summer sun. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at one point, and none of us really enjoyed it very much, but at least we got to see stuff like the Notre Dame, and other things which I can’t recall right now. Good thing we did see them from atop the cruise boat, because that’s all we ever saw of those monuments. Hahahahaha.  Yes, this was the laziest Paris trip ever. By this point we were terribly tired and sleepy, so went home to freshen up before going for dinner later with the Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports who happened to be in Paris for the Badminton and Hockey matches.

We went to a nice Indian Restaurant, Al-Jawad it was called I think, and Ikhwan and I got to sit at the same table with the important people: That assistant minister, the Malaysian ambassador and his wife, and one other lady whom I think might be the secretary or something. We had biryani and tasty min tea. OHMYGOD mint tea! [It was so good I asked for another pot, and I felt really VIP]

I just realized that I don’t have pictures with the minister. Well, there are plenty of pictures on other cameras; I just didn’t take any myself. After that, my friends went cycling, but since I don’t know how to ride a bike, I went home and that’s that. I really must learn how to cycle... 

For the third day, we’d decided that we really must get up early and make a point to actually see Paris, and do all the things that tourists normally do, like visit places for example. As our nature would have it however, we ended up waking up at 2 pm. We wasted no time (Hahaha, yeah right) and headed to the Champs-Elysées, where we did some window shopping at sports boutiques and car retail outlets. Then we went to the Arc de Triomphe, and then we headed to the Concorde, Le Jardin des Tuileries, and the louvre. Here are some pictures:
imageArc de Triomphe 
imageThe obelisk at the Concorde. 

When we got to the Louvre it was already closed, so we could only enter the glass pyramid at the entrance, and then we found a place to sit and we just passed the time doing precisely nothing for a good time before taking the metro to a Thai restaurant for a buffet dinner! 

I realize now that I probably should have taken more pictures. I’ll probably update this post later with more pictures when I get them from my friends. 

After eating assorted noodles to our hearts’ content, we decided that that wasn’t enough, and we went on to an Muniandy’s, an Indian restaurant to have teh susu! Here, I have a picture:
imageYes, this is in Paris. No, this is not a Mamak in Malaysia. 

The next morning, our fourth and my last day in Paris, we got up at a record early time. 10.30 am! That, of course, after planning to get up at 8.30, but hey, at least it was still morning when we got up! We went to the Musée de Grevin, a wax museum, and saw wax dummies of famous personalities including Barack Obama, Madonna, Jimmy Hendrix, Esmerelda, Elton John and Celine Dion. There were some famous sports people too, but I don’t remember which, because most of us were too distracted by the Lara Croft statue.

After that, we went back to the embassy to pray (and need I say it – take a short nap) before my friends headed off to watch the hockey match at 3 pm, and I made my way to the train station where I took the 5.45 pm train back to Nice arriving at 11.24.

It is now 2.56 am, I must sleep. I have a French test tomorrow. Of all the days I’ve had to update my blog, I chose today, the day right before the TCF. I cannot miss class tomorrow; it would look so bad if I did. Not that it isn't already terrible that I missed 7 days of class in a row. But then again, it turns out I'm lucky I did go to Paris because one of the questions I had for the French oral test today was "Imagine you are staying in Paris for a while. Inform yourself about the public transport in Paris by asking relevant questions to the examiner." I was definitely meant to go to Paris. 

I think I’ll take some tea to help me sleep. Good night, internet!

1 comment:

drifter said...

...Is it okay to miss 7 days of classes?

Omg I rmmbr those beggars. Horrid.

I like this post. Haha!

(perhaps it's about time you get yourself a hairdryer)

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