Dragged myself out of bed, pretty much literally, to head for Birmingham. The problem with waking up is that I'm always so cold the moment I throw off the covers that I absolutely do not want to get out of bed. Thank God that the earliest possible lecture or seminar slot is at 9 am, so at least I get to sleep till 8 am if I'm lazy and don't feel like putting gunk in my hair, which is what always takes up most of the time I need to get out of my room anyway. The cold always makes me have second thoughts about spending longer than absolutely necessary to get ready, as the water from the cold tap is beyond icy. Why can't they have mixed taps like those in Singapore? Way more convenient if you ask me. Apparently, there are regulations that stipulate the hot water tap has to supply water of a certain temperature, which sounds like a sensible idea for quality control, until you realise it also means that you're dealing with either icy or boiling water. I guess mixed taps are just one of those minor inconveniences that one only notices when they're gone?
Anyway, I didn't register for the Birmingham trip earlier in the week, so I obviously didn't have a ticket. The helper said I could come along if there were still seats left on the coach. I wasn't the only one caught in that situation, but we all made it onto the coach in the end. Only reason I decided to go was because Adrian, Amisha and Natalie were going, otherwise I'd just have stayed in my room all Saturday, venturing out only to Tesco to get sandwiches for lunch and dinner. I probably would have got some reading done too! Alas, instead I found myself in the lovely city of Birmingham. Along the way to the city centre, we stopped at a Cadbury store! I like chocolate in general, but Cadbury is one of the particular brands for which I have great affection. I would have loved to have gone into the exhibition, but there really wasn't enough time for that, so I contented myself with buying three slabs of chocolate. Some book about the history of Cadbury was on sale, but I didn't see any copies lying around in the store, and I couldn't be bothered to hunt for them. A pity, for it might have been an interesting read...
The Birmingham trip was a guided tour that we paid money for, but it was pretty unexciting stuff. Just the coach driving us around the city and the guide pointing out the sights. Natalie was saying how she would rather they just drop us off and let us go off on our own. When they finally did, we headed for the Bullring, which is a huge mall that puts VivoCity to shame. Orchard Road could probably look like that someday, if they converted all the roads to pedestrians-only and built structures to link up the larger malls. Shopper's paradise! We went to Zara, where I saw stuff that I wouldn't have considered buying while in Singapore, but over here, it suddenly feels so much cheaper, even though it isn't actually so. Resisted, until we passed by Topman, where I ducked in for a few minutes to pick up some bling. Got myself three rings! They were already cheaper than the ones in Singapore, and with my ISIC, I got a further discount. I suspect Topman is going to form a large part of my wardrobe eventually, at least while I'm in the UK.
Saw street preachers on our way to and from lunch. Scary people. Really in-your-face kind of stuff, just yelling on the streets. I suppose their hearts were in the right place, but I don't really get how shouting about God is going to attract anything more than derisive glances in a place like the UK. Anyway, we had lunch in Chinatown, which cost us way more than it should have, even for Chinese food in the UK. I had sambal fried rice, a really huge helping, so at least it felt sort of worth it. The rice was really good, as good as stuff I've tasted back in Singapore, even if the menu advertised it as Malaysian-style. It was probably the only moment so far when I truly missed something about home. In Singapore, you kind of take food for granted because it's so easily available, at all sorts of prices. I guess the good thing about not cooking is that I'm forced to eat sandwiches, and that somehow also means I tend to eat less here, especially junk food. I hope I lose weight! All the walking to and from Westwood should tone my legs, I guess?