14th June 2009
I woke up to the sound of ceaseless French mutterings. I peeled off my eyelids and saw two Algiers/Moroccan? cleaning pakciks standing in front of me. They were gesturing wildly to me, speaking hurriedly in French and somehow I understood despite my zero knowledge of the language that they were telling me to go off to a safer place to sleep. Like where else, pakcik?
Their intention was good so I humored them. I wandered down to the departure hall and continued sleeping there. At 2am, I gave up. CDG should invest on more comfortable chairs. I took out my beat up copy of The Firm (the only one that was light enough sans a hardcover) and started reading.
At four, I hiked up back to the arrival hall. The monitor was already lining up the arrivals for the morning. MH20 from Kuala Lumpur due at 6.45 am. I smiled, knowing my torture would end soon, and it would all be worth it.
I waited patiently for another 2 hours. People started pouring in. Some Malaysian faces which didn’t give me a double take even when I smiled at them. Whatever. Mesti ingat aku nak pi beg off for a free ride. Thanks la wey.
Finally I saw Kerol’s familiar head stepped out. I breathed out a huge sigh of relief. I called out a simple ‘Oi’, and he immediately recognized my voice. He hurried over, threw his hands around me and hugged me close. Hahha. Sentiment jugak adik aku ni. Then Angah appeared, followed by Ayah, Pak Dak, Mak and Mak Dak. After a round of hugs and salams, I ushered them to the RER B. Oh, I spent a night a week before studying the metro so I was pretty confident of the route.
We were due to be at out rented apartment at 8. In Paris, I found out it is much cheaper to rent an apartment than staying in hostels if you’re going in a large group. Besides, it provides you with amenities that hostels can’t provide. We arrived at Rambuteau without much hassle, met Eric (I think his name was Eric) and were immediately settled in. The apartment was large, I didn’t expect it to be when I saw the photos. €20 per head per night is quite a deal. With the exception of the steep €500 deposit, I was quite satisfied with the apartment.
Eric had one piece of advice for us: just walk. And walk some more. It’s the best way to explore Paris. Don’t waste money on exhibitions/museum entries. He had a point. My comment would be tasteless to arts lovers but if I can’t distinguish between a Matisse and a Van Gogh, why bother, right?
After a hearty breakfast (the abang-abang kakak-kakak stewards/esses were kind enough to spare some extra nasik lemak and kacang goreng), we set off for our walk. Our apartment was conveniently located within walking distance with Seine River, where all the historical attractions of Paris are lined up. We made it to The Louvre on the first day. It was humongous, and unfortunately I didn’t make it beyond the garden and the entrance. Maybe one day I will.
Next to Louvre is the Palais Royal. Crossed the Pont Neuf when everybody started yawning. We headed back, dropped by at the grocery to buy some stuff for dinner and headed home.
15th June 2009
It was drizzling for the major part of the day. But it didn’t hinder us from venturing outside. Ayah acted as the walking encyclopedia. It’s time like this that it pays to have a geeky father. Hahha. He pointed out various historical buildings complete with its story and description, and I felt ashamed that I couldn’t even attempt to stay awake in my Form 5 history lesson.
Of course, the highlight of the entire Paris trip was the Eiffel Tower sighting. Despite the unfavourable weather, we trekked down to the 7th arrondissement from the 1st. I kid you not. We didn’t stop once to take the metro. It was almost twilight when we caught the first glimpse of the tower which was once considered as an eyesore by the Parisians. One random trivia, Eiffel Tower was only meant to stand for 20 years before it was supposed to be taken down. In the end, the City Council found it to be indispensible for radios and satellites, therefore the dismantlement was retrenched (credits to Paths of Glory. Yep, I did finally buy it :D).
To capture the whole tower in its glory proved to be difficult though, but Kerol came up with an akai yang baik punya, considering that brat is nowhere near a professional photographer. He asked me to stand on one the the concrete stool and he squatted down and took a photo from the inferior angle. Soon all the American high school kids who were on summer trip standing nearby copied his idea and took turns standing on the stool. Really, I should make him claim copyright settlements.
It was already dark when we were finally done bargaining with the Banglas selling the miniature tower. My Pak Dak is definitely something else. Earlier the day a Malaysian Tourism guy we ran into bragged about bagging 4 towers for a euro. He bagged 5 at the same price. Hebatness. We agreed metro was in order.
16th June 2009
The target of the day: Arc de Triomphe. Simply cause it is located on the 8th. I decided to be kind and packed them up to metro. Took photo of one of the famous streets in the world: Champs-Elysees. Most of the day was spent walking some more and shopping a bit. Nothing worth mentioning.
17th June 2009
We had to scrub the house clean in order to get back our €500 deposit. Ayah was chillax, but dey I could do a lot with €500. Eric came at 9 on the dot, and was very pleased with our housekeeping talent. I swear he wanted to pay us back extra for lessening his burden. Itu belum lagi I set the laundry in motion. Kalau ye, maybe I’d get away with an extra €100. Ayah cakap, show him that Malaysians are not slobs. Hahha. Pak Dak took the opportunity to pass his homestay business card, and we departed from Rambuteau and headed for Beauvais.
To get to Beuavais, we had to take a coach from Porte Maillot. It wasn’t much of a hassle, just a long ass wait. They should take a page out of AirAsia coaches. At least we have the liberty to take any buses we want at any convenient time. In Porte Maillot, we had to wait for the specific bus that is lined with our flight to depart; meaning to say we can’t go earlier if we wanted to.
The customs at Beauvais was sampah too. Granted the lady was only doing her job and being polite at it. She asked me how old I was. At first I was puzzled. What does the content of my bag have to do with my age? Then it finally dawned on me, and I answered “25. Too young to consider killing myself, you know” at which she smiled. I was ushered to a curtained compartment and was asked to take off my tudung. I could not really give a rat’s ass and obeyed. Despite my annoyance, I tried to display my nonchalance. I didn’t want them to think that they have the upper hand. I was very accommodating and in the end, they apologized for the inconvenience. Screw you. Nasib baik aku tak pakai tudung putar-putar ala Wardina. At the time I was pissed off at all the suicide bombers out there.
Shoot. Laundry time. Washing machine dah jual. Wuhuhuhu…..