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Tag Archives: Travelling

The Scotland Adventure: learning, travelling, and brotherhood (Part 1)

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It was Friday (24/05/2013). It was the day I rarely waiting for. It was so special day, because I will start my first travelling adventure to Scotland. In the early morning, I went to the lab as usual for doing my PhD stuff. But, to be honest, my mind was in the Scotland already. Again, it made me not too serious and less productive in doing my PhD stuff. I left the Lab at 12.45 am for Jumah Prayer at Portland Building, In the University Park.

After Jumah Prayer, I went home to get my lunch meal and for packing my stuff for the travelling. I just brought a medium size bag, a jacket and two sweaters. Before going to Nottingham coach station, I must be Invigilator for an examination in the Sport Center. The exam started at 04.30 and finished at 06.00. Promptly, after the exam ended, I run to the bus stop to catch the bus to Nottingham coach station. Fortunately, I got on the bus, in 1 minute afterward.

Leaving from Nottingham Coach Station

In Nottingham coach station, I met my travelling mates i.e. Mas Walid, Mas Udin, and Arif (from right to the left in the following picture). We are from different knowledge background and we learn in different school in the university, but we have many similarities. We share the same mother language, i.e. Javanese, We are in slightly different age, and each of us is a father of  round two year old child. Another important thing was we grew in fanatic Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) family.

To begin with, we would travel from Nottingham to Birmingham, and followed by another Bus trip  Birmingham to Edinburgh (read: edinbra) by National Express Coach (Bus). National Express was the only public  coach (Bus) transport connecting cities  in the England and other area in the UK. Compare to other transportation modes such as Train or Plane, coach was the lowest cost. Train and Plane could cost twice than the coach fare. We got 4 adult return tickets (include leaving and returning ticket) for  £304 that I bought online a week in advance. It could be much more expensive if we bought close to the day. Yeah, in the UK, all transportation mode devised dynamic pricing system (or revenue management system). There was no fixed price, it highly depended on the demand. If you bought the ticket quite long before the travelling date, you could get fairly cheap ticket. Conversely, if you bought the ticket very close to the travelling date or the date was the peak time because of weekend, or holidays, it could extremely expensive.

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The national express coach was quite convenience. The interior was like in the economy class plane. It was quite different with the system in Indonesia, in the UK, you are required to wear your seat belt by law. It was simply for safety reason. The bus was leaving quite on time with the schedule. To be punctual was typical transportation scheduling system in the UK. Not only the plane and the train system, the bus system in the UK was also tightly scheduled. Apparently,  The Bus was not directly heading to Birmingham but it temporarily stopped at Leicester (read Lester),  and Coventry first.

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From Nottingham to Birmingham, it took 2 hours and a quarter time. During the time, I made Ashar prayer while seating on  the Bus because I run out the time to do it before. It was Spring  in the UK, in which the Maghrib prayer was at around 09.15 PM, so I had quite enough time to make Ashar prayer on the bus. In the rest of the time to the Birmingham, we had never ending chats among us while enjoying ASDA smart price snack i.e. potatoes, corn, and union rings crisps from Arif :D. It was extremely cheap, 10 packages of snack just for £0.5 and the taste was not different with £1 per package snack.

Finally, we arrived at Birmingham coach station at around 09.15 PM. The landmark of city of Birmingham is the bullring building. At glance, it looks like Durian Building in Singapore. Birmingham is also the Host of All England Events in the UK. In my view, Birmingham is more vibrant city compare to Nottingham.

In the Coach station, we took urinate and Wudlu in the toilet. Similar to the toilet service in the bus station in Indonesia, it is not free toilet services. Here, you must pay £0.3 for toilet  service. There was a blocker system to the toilet that will block you until you insert in 30 pence coins. While waiting for the next trip from Birmingham heading to Edinburgh at 10.30 PM, we made Maghrib and Isyak prayer altogether. In the country where Muslim is minority, it was extremely difficult difficult to find  a prayer room in public places. Fortunately, the coach station was very clean, cozy, and there were many waiting seats available there.

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The problem was that we were forgetful to bring a prayer mate. Finally, we decided to make the prayer while seating. We made jamaah prayer for Maghrib and Isyak altogether. Since, we made jamaah prayer, the prayer should be recited loudly in the bus station. We really did not care about people around us. It was very likely that they thought that we did something weird.

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After making the prayer, we managed to buy our dinner meal. However, it was not trivial  thing to find food in the Bus Station in the UK. We just imagined that we could find food stall for Rawon and Soto like in Indonesia Bus Station.  The only available one was Starbuck Coffee and unfortunately it had been closed as well. We had the last hope for the vending machine selling for snack and hot drink in the bus station. However, again it did not work at that time. So pity we were.

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Time was ticking so swiftly. At exactly 10.30 PM, we continued the journey from Birmingham heading to Edinburgh. It would be very long journey i.e. 9 hours. We had prepared a sleeping bag for sleeping on the Bus.  Since we did not get our dinner yet, we were extremely starving. Luckily, Arif brought a dinner box. He cooked rice and delicious cuisine consisted in Tempe and eggs. Although, it was prepared for one person only, Arif kindly and generously shared his food with us. He had only two dinner boxes, one box for Mas Walid and Mas Udin and another box for Arif and Me. We ate our food without spoon. Somehow, there is always genuine happiness in each single caring, sharing, and simplicity.

At the rest of the time, we were sleeping on the Bus. It was tiring yet a pleasant and joyful trip. A long the Journey, the bus temporarily stopped at Manchester, Preston, Lancaster, New Castle, Glassgow, and finally ended the Journey at Edinburgh. Thanks God, We had a very pleasant and safe trip.

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Traveling to Lancaster University for NATCOR Shortcourse

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It was Monday (08/04/13). I woke up very early in the morning, because I had to travel to Lancaster for NATCOR Short course in Stochastic Modeling. NATCOR is National Taught Course Center in Operation Research. It was 5-day course held in Lancaster University Management School.  I felt very lucky, because my University paid me every thing (including registration, transportation, and accommodation fee)  for this course and other two courses in forthcoming months. For me, it meant free Traveling.

at 6.15 am I caught the bus from my house to Beeston train station. I arrived at Beeston train station 10 minutes later. At the station, I went to ticket machine to print out my ticket that I have booked online. It was 104 pound return ticket to Lancaster including the Plus Bus ticket.

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The train departed at 07.15 from Beeston and arrived at Nottingham 07.25. I had to get off at Nottingham train station to change to another train leaving for Manchester Piccadely from Nottingham train station.

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I had to wait for several minutes because the train would depart at 07.45.  I went to coffee shop for nothing, because I was fasting. I just took a seat and killed the time. Finally, the train came at platform number 6 and I got on the train at 07.40. It was East Midland train. It was a very fast and cozy train. The typical public transport services in the UK. There are much more  number of seats than the number of passengers.

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The most enjoyable thing traveling by train was the country side scenery a long the journey. I also enjoyed reading in the train as well. However, since it was my first traveling to Lancaster the country side view from the train window was much more interesting and amazing.

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Finally, I arrived Manchester punctually at 09.36 am. Manchester is very famous city in Indonesia. There are so many Manchester United football club fans in Indonesia. Thus, there are many many Indonesians really want to visit this city. At glance, Manchester is very vibrant city, it is the second largest city in the UK after London.

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Here, I had to change to another train again, it was Tranpennine Express. It departed 09.46 from Manchester to Preston and arrived at Preston at 10:33 PM.

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Again, from Preston I had to change to another train. It was Virgin Trains that departed from Preston at 10.41 am and arrived at 10:54 am. Finally, we arrived at Lancaster, a small city at West Northern of UK.

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From the Lancaster train station I caught bus to the University of Lancaster. We traveled through city center before finally I arrived at  nearby country side where The University is located. It is located in the middle of forest and farming area where I could easily find a swarm of sheep and horses . It is so quite place to study.

I will be studying stochastic modelling with some prominent Professors at this school for 5 days. I met around a hundred other students from different nationalities attending this course. It is always great pleasure for me to know many new people from different culture and backgrounds. I got many new friends from Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Egypt, Zambia, Nigeria and many more. Unfortunately, I did not met student from my beloved country, Indonesia.

At the first day, we had a half day lecture series that ended at 05.00 PM. After the course, we stayed at the student hall around the campus. I felt like living in the middle of farming field in the very rural village in a random country. It is so quite place, indeed.

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Hope I would have incredible stimulating and fantastic week in this University, then. Ammiin.