May 20th 2010
I got to Belfast (North Ireland) some time in the afternoon. My initial impression was that Belfast looked industrial and pretty boring. The colors were dull, buildings were old. I checked into my hostel (Belfast Youth International Hostel) and even the hostel had a boring feel. No one was hanging out in the lounge, no one was using the computers, the feel of the place was just BLEH.
Went out to get lost and ended up in the city area. I was looking for a place to get some lunch, specifically, some ulster fry. I asked a construction worker where I could get some and he directed me to a restaurant called Wetherspoon. He spoke Irish Gaelic to his coworker and I thought that was interesting. Anyway, found my way to Wetherspoon and checked out the menu. I noticed they didn’t use Euro but Pound Sterling instead. Shit. Well, had to go find a bank first.
Walked into the first bank I came across. I put my ATM card into their machine, turns out the ATM machines in North Ireland use a chip on it. I crashed their system. Whoops, oh well, went to the teller and he got my money for me.
As I made my way back to Wetherspoons, I looked around me. The city, like any other, was full of ppl just going about their daily lives be it work or school or hanging out. I ordered the ulster fry, it’s really just eggs, ham, sausage, baked beans, and some Irish potato and soda bread. But the old guy sitting at the table next to me asked me if I was from Hong Kong or something. I said I was an American but was born/raised in Malaysia. He lit up. He started sharing his story about the time he left North Ireland when he was young and later ended up in Kuala Lumpur and worked/lived there. He was a bit difficult to understand (he’d been drinking a few beers, he’s a retiree, apparently his wife already passed…). But I shared a nice conversation with him (with him mostly rambling on about the same things without answering any questions I asked him). Now he’s back in Belfast to live out his days I guess…he was away for a long time apparently. Take care Tommy.
I finished my ulster fry (it was aite) and went out to explore. Ended up at City Hall, just in time for the 2 pm tour on the city’s history. Got to sit in the Lord Mayor’s chair for a pic. The Lord Mayor is the mayor (what could’ve given that away…). After the tour, I continued wandering the streets, didn’t find anything particularly interesting.
Couldn’t even get free internet at the hostel, I had to pay £1 for 20 mins of use so I decided not to write a blog entry. Showered, went out wandering again, decided to hit up Wetherspoons for dinner. Place was packed so I guess it’s a decent eatery. Ordered a steak/kidney pie. £5 and pretty good. Walked out, saw a movie theatre, decided to watch a movie. I was in luck, Robin Hood was just starting and I haven’t seen it. Decent flick. When I was there, I started to think about how I felt like I was home (I’ve seen a number of movies by myself at Irving Mall). Except when I walk out afterward, I was a long way from the familiar streets of Irving.
Went back to the hostel after to sleep. I haven’t been sleeping very well the past few days, hostels aren’t very comfortable.