Sunday, 2 November 2014

Lake District

12th October 2014

“I’ve finally seen the Buckingham Palace! One more thing off my bucket list!”

“I was at Edinburgh over the weekends! The architecture is AMAZING.”

“You MUST go to Wales! I guarantee you, it’s the most beautiful place on earth.”

Campus was buzzing with freshmen zealously proclaiming the splendor of the places they had visited in the UK.

It had been more than a month since I arrived in Manchester. Short weekend trips were the most common topics amongst the freshmen; everyone had experiences to share. Except for me. To my apartment I returned, with wanderlust burning within me.

I flipped open my Macbook Pro and Googled:

“Groupon Manchester Getaways”

Liverpool Hotel with Breakfast – From £99
Edinburgh Break – From £103
Amsterdam with Flights – From £135
Lake District Stay – From £125

LAKE DISTRICT. My eyes rested on the captivating, scenic pictures. A baffling combination of tranquillity and adventure washed over me as I gazed into the display of colours, perfectly arranged to provide maximum pleasure to the human eye.

It took me quite some time and effort to pull my attention away from the images; to double-check the price I had to pay to experience the fullness of its beauty. £125. It was probably one of the most reasonable prices I could find off the net. Yet, it was an amount that I still couldn’t afford – especially not when tuition fees had drained almost all of my savings! 

Disgruntled, I knocked on my boyfriend’s door to “bitch, moan, and whine”. Poor Marc; as usual, he had to listen to the full story on how resentful I was that tuition fees were so much more expensive for international students, how I hated rich people who spent their money like water when I was saving every penny, and how life sucked in general.


25th October 2014

“Happy Birthday dear! I have a surprise for you… We’re leaving for Lake District in two days!”

Put your hands together for the winner of the best boyfriend award.


27th October 2014

Waking up early for classes had always been the bane of my existence. Yet, it took me no effort to jump out of bed to catch the earliest train to Windermere, Lake District. (We decided that we were going to make the most out of the 3 days in Lake District by first, arriving as early as possible.) I peeked out of the window and was greeted by the mellow rays of the morning sun, gracing the surface of my skin with gentle warmth. The weather seemed to reflect my optimism; which didn’t last for long.

Fast-forward two hours. We stepped out of the train and were slapped in the face by the unrelenting wind. Like a fully employed octopus, we activated every inch of our limbs to prevent our belongings from flying away – scarf, beanie, back pack, luggage… Finally, we made it to shelter. Just then, a middle-aged man dressed in burgundy windbreaker, assumedly the ticketing officer, patted our shoulders and said, “Tough luck guys! Tomorrow isn’t gonna get any better.” I bit my lower lip to prevent myself from swearing and being stereotyped as an uncouth Asian.

“Where should we go to take the bus 508?” I asked politely, confident of the research I did on my travel options. Rather, travel option.

“508??? It’s not running today. Where are you headed to?”

“Haweswater hotel.”

“HAWESWATER! No way. Have you booked it? Have you paid?”

My heart sank. What did he mean by saying that?

 “It’s extremely remote! You can’t go there without a car. I haven’t heard of such a case, at least not in my time here. You can try the Information Centre. They might be able to advise you.”

Annoyed and frustrated, we left the train station in search of more effective help. A delicate and demure looking granny stood behind the Information Helpdesk not too far from the train station. “We’re looking for ways to go to Haweswater Hotel. Apparently, someone said bus 508 isn’t running today.” I forgot my manners.

“Oh my, where did you hear it from, my dear? I’m pretty sure it’s running! Wait, give me a moment, I’ll call the bus company.”

It turned out that the bus was indeed running. But we missed it. By a mere 5 minutes. Because some smart aleck had given us false information that it wasn’t running and hence squandered our precious time. The next bus was in 2 hours. I was fuming with rage that a significant portion of the day in Lake District was going to be wasted. Yet in hindsight, I seem to have gained an epiphany that sometimes you pay for your own mistakes, sometimes you pay for others’ mistakes, and sometimes others’ pay for your mistake. It’s all part and parcel of life.

It was a long and nausea-invoking journey, given the treacherous weather and the winding roads. To make things worse, we missed our stop and ended up at a town called “Penrith”. Everything that could possibly go wrong had gone wrong thus far.

It was not until chancing upon The Penrith Castle (to be more accurate, the ruins of The Penrith Castle) that things started to take a turn for the better. It was an unassuming structure from afar. Yet, its potential was inescapable from the eyes of a skilled photographer. Marc had scouted the location of his first photo-shoot.

By the time we arrived at Haweswater, the sun had already gone down. The first day was over.


28th October 2014

The loud banging of our windows the following morning awakened us. Damn it. Our second day was going to be ruined as well…

No, I wasn’t going to let that happen. Being the stubborn person that I am, I was adamant about exploring the area despite the unpleasant weather. We geared up in our hiking suits and prepared to embark on our challenging, but all the more memorable, journey. Of course, beneath the layers of insulation was a piece of pretty cloth meant for our mandatory photo shoot.

I barely survived for 10 minutes without my insulators before my teeth started chattering and my fingertips became numb. That concluded the set of photos in my dainty black dress and 4-inch heels.

The remaining of the journey consisted of a congruous mix of grunting in vexation and gasping in awe. Hiking the undulating terrain with gusts of wind at 45mph was definitely not easy. Yet, each milestone that we reached brought new inspirations and made it all worth it. The gloomy weather along with the thick layers of mist and frost acquired its own subtle form of beauty.


29th October 2014

Finally. The sun decided to mockingly flaunt its magnificence on the day of our departure. We had no time to waste. We put on the final set of clothes that we had set aside for the photo-shoots. 3 hours, let’s go! We went all out – climbing rocks and bashing through vegetation. Heck the miniskirt and frictionless boots that I was wearing!

By the time we arrived back at Windermere Train Station, we were exhausted. We had initially planned to explore the area, as it was the main tourist attraction in the entire Lake District. It was impossible. Our bodies refused to move an inch as our muscles screamed in agony at the prior intense build up of lactic acid. We settled for tea and scone, with a book in hand, at a nearby café.


1 November 2014

Reminiscing about the trip today, I’m more than pleased that we chose Haweswater. The lakes in Windermere are indeed beautiful, as seen in many of the photos on the Internet. But Haweswater Resevoir and its surrounding terrain are breathtaking. Quoting the blatant ticket officer, “I don’t know how you’re going to get there because it’s just so remote, but if you do, it’s the most beautiful thing ever.” I’m glad that we got there.
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