Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tube Relief Challenge - 24 hour before the D Day.

Woke up startled at 6.45am on Wednesday morning. Had a bad dream and only managed to doze off three hours beforehand. I stumbled across my flat looking for the lightswitch, only to find out that I was looking at the wrong wall (I must be thinking that I was still in my old flat), and so needed to stumble across the other section of the wall. Switched the light on and standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, thinking what I should do next while my slow brain started to register that I needed to quickly get ready and packed my stuff as my coach will be living to London at 7.45am!

7.30am: Start walking (no, it's in fact running like a greyhound) to Old Steine to catch my coach and arrive there a minute before 7.45am (good record! since am a slow walker) just when the driver about to close and get ready to leave! Huffing and puffing, I get into the coach ready for the day.

10.20am: reach London Victoria. The clouds were hanging low, praying under my breath that I will be able to get to French consulate before the rain started to pour!

10.30am: Joining the other queuer by standing right in front of the gate of visa section at the French consulate. Now, some of you might be thinking what on earth was I doing standing in front of French consulate embassy like there is nothing better else to do, oh well.. of course, it's because I need to apply for a visa to go to France! simple, eh! nothing complicated ;) Anyway, just to remind the reader which might need to apply for visa in the future, you better plan your holiday well in advance since their meeting appointment always fully booked two months in advance! some nationality, like me, wasn't able to even get the visa the same day you applied (basically, you need to book an appointment to apply, then you go home and wait for them to send you the notification that you has been granted a visa-which usually take another one month- and only back to French consulate after that to have the passport stamped) so, maybe it's worth to plan half a year in advance! ;p

I was lucky that I managed to find a last minute cancelled appointment and managed to get there just the same time as am going to do the Tube Challenge the next day. Little that I knew, the next few days will be my longest days ever..

10.35am Heavy wind started to come and go, accompanied by the drops of rain that became more and more heavier every minutes (apparently I forgot to pray under my breath for the rain not to pour while am waiting outside, instead of just hoping it won't rain before I get to the French consulate. At this point, I started to curse under my breath.). By 10.50am, I was soaking wet and no matter how big my umbrella was, the wind with the rain just kept breaking through me.. half an hour to go until my appointment and long queue has started picking up in front of the French Consulate and we were left standing soaking wet for another half an hour! The Guard came out for a brief second handing out two big umbrellas, a nice gesture eventhough there are about 20people queueing there, means: two umbrellas weren't going to do any much help..

11.36am 5 minutes later than supposed to be, the gate had finally opened and in all the queuer. I had only managed to go out from the French consulate at 17.00. You might all be wondering, again, what the hell am I doing inside there.. hatching?! well, I wasn't really sure either, but I had spent the whole entire hours inside there waiting for my turned to be called. The first time I get in, there were about an additional 35 more people still waiting for their number to be called for interview. Each number lasted about 15-20minutes and only two to three counters were opened at any one time. Eventhough I was better equipped with my "Yes Man" book (Jon has post the review of it) to past the time (after learning from my past mistake to wait a whole full day in the French consulate), I still merrily nominate 24th August 2005 as one of my longest day ever in my whole entire life. Something that doesn't come up often.

17.15pm Bracing myself against the rain back to South Kensington station and getting ready to head to Ealing by now. Also just realised that am just arriving at South Kensington station at exactly "the most wonderful time" (= rush hour!) of the day. Soaked from head to toe, am ready to be squashed like an orange juice inside the tube. Lucky Jon was meeting me in South Kensington, so, at least I've got a friend, for I won't be squashed alone.

by 20.30pm, we finished dinner and now back in Jon's place reviewing our routes for tomorrow with me wasn't being able to stop sneezing and decided to call off our meeting in the pub with other challenger in the Amersham and instead tried to sleep off the cold!

23.00pm, I was still trying to sleep but the adrenaline has started to creep up by now..excited for the Tube Relief?! you bet..

2.30am, before even realising that I had dozed off, the bloody alarm has gone off and time to get prepared and ready. While Jon busy updating his blog, I was trying to steal few minutes to continue sleeping, to no success.

3.45am, I had discovered a new technique of sleeping called "sleeping on the go" by leaning my body halfway against the wall and sleep. It actually quite convenient and just about to doze off before being rudely awaken by Jon that has finished tying up his shoe lace!

4.00am getting into the taxi. Amersham, here we come!

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