I hope you are not getting tired of my old old UK memoirs, because today I am going to write another one…
Scotland might be my first road trip in the UK, but it wasn’t my first time venturing outside Liverpool. You see, I was in Liverpool with a big bunch of mates from college, but I do have other friends who were at that time also studying in England. My friends from high school. I made plans to meet up with them when I arrived in England, so on my third week, I packed some clothes into my small suitcase, hopped onto a train, and two hours later found myself in a town called Wolverhampton.
By the way, I bought my train tickets one week in advance. If you are a cheapo or a peasant student like I was, this move is mandatory because it will bring you wonderful discounts. For example, my Liverpool – Wolverhampton return trip was £21 on normal price, but because I bought one week in advance, I paid only £7.
This blog post will be about my first ever (and the only) solo trip when I was studying in England…
The friend that was hosting us was studying in the University of Wolverhampton, and for some strange reasons, she had a whole house in Wolverhampton when we visited her.
No, actually not that strange a reason lah. She co-rented the house with another friend, and since it was summer holidays, that friend went back to her home country for vacation, leaving her home alone for a couple of weeks. We were given permission to stay in that vacant room.
There was another friend who also came to visit on the same weekend, coming all the way from Leeds, which was even further away from Liverpool. When I arrived at the train station, both of them were there waiting for me. We then made the 15 minutes walk back to the house, and on our way, we passed by this football stadium.
The stadium is called The Molineux, and it is the home stadium for Wolverhampton Wanderers. If you have no idea what Wolverhampton Wanderers is, fret not. I think even among football fans, not many know this club. In recent history, they only played in the English Premier League for one season: 2003/2004, and was immediately relegated.
And, I have absolutely no idea who the heck is Billy Wright. He is probably a very famous footballer from the older generation though, seeing that he has his own statue in front of the stadium, and he’s got a CBE (UK’s equivalent of a Datukship in Malaysia).
We didn’t do much sightseeing in Wolverhampton. Mostly we stayed in my friend’s house. She cooked us a lovely dinner of tom yum soup, sweet and sour (and spicy) chicken and something else. In fact, she is one of my earliest mentor in cooking.
There’s nothing much in Wolverhampton itself to be honest. I mean, yeah, if you talk to someone who comes from Wolverhampton, chances are he/she will tell you Wolverhampton is the most amazing town in the whole of UK, nay, even the whole world. But… you know… yeah…
We were brought to the university for a quick visit. But since it was the summer holidays, most of the university was closed, and we weren’t able to see a great deal…
We were also brought to the St Peter’s Collegiate Church, which is, well… Wolverhampton’s main church. I think I’ve said it a million times already, so I won’t say anymore on what I think of England and churches.
And of course, who could forget the art gallery? Every city and town has it’s own art gallery. Wolverhampton is no different.
Actually the exhibits in Wolverhampton’s art gallery is quite interesting. One good thing is that most of the props here can be touched and played with..
Err… let’s move on…
We spent one day in Wolverhampton, and on the other day, my friend took us on another 20 minutes train ride to visit Birmingham. I was (and still am) so grateful for her introducing this city to us. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK, just behind London. Strangely, none of my seniors recommended us to visit this city. None of my college friends even know what Birmingham is. Thankfully, I came, I saw, and I knew. When I got back to Liverpool and showed them my photos, they were impressed.
We visited the Bull Ring, a big ass shopping center. Well, technically, it is actually four buildings of shops connected by a huge underground labyrinth into one giant shopping structure. I read the brochure from the information counter which said the Bull Ring was the largest shopping center in the whole of the United Kingdom. I thought it was very impressive at that time, except that a couple months later I also visited the Trafford Center in Manchester that claimed the exact same title, but that’s another story for another day. Until today, I have no idea which one of them had the legitimate claim, or maybe none of them were legitimate.
Yeah, this was also where I had my first Krispy Kreme Doughnuts experience.
We also went to Birmingham’s Chinatown.
Well, I thought Birmingham’s Chinatown arch was crappy compared to the one in Liverpool, but it seemed more like the real deal, especially with it being a no car zone, and some Chinese shops along the walkway behind the arch. Except that, once we got past the walkway into the center plaza, instead of more Chinese shops, we were greeted by this,
Iguanas, a MEXICAN restaurant. WTF…
Let’s see. Oh yes, my friend also showed us the lovely canals of Birmingham. And of course, introduced us to the pleasures of having lunch inside a boat, which I have already written about. Here’s more photos of the canal…
My friend wanted to show us an interesting building called The Mailbox. It is located by the canal side, and apparently it is a very special building.
But then, as we neared that building, we saw something going on.
They were at The Mailbox, staring across the canal. So we did the same too.
Night of Decadence, huh? We got totally distracted and decadently watched the sexy ladies and hot hunks doing catwalk until the show ended. I think we spent about two hours there. By the time we realized it, it was already dark. I think we did have dinner in a restaurant inside The Mailbox, but I couldn’t find any photos to back this memory up.
Anyway, we then made our way back to the Bull Ring for one last view. My friend wanted to show us this,
I don’t know what these are, probably just for decoration purposes. But they are colorful and pretty, aren’t they? And some of those windows had matching lights.
And then we caught the last train back to Wolverhampton.
And then I think that’s all I have to write for this time. It was a good trip. I got to meet up with two of my high school friends who I have not met for a long time (back then), and I got to explore Birmingham for the first time. It set the stage for me to play tour guide instead on my second trip here…