My next destination in UK was Leeds. The reasons? Well, I have friends there. Yeah, I know, I’m kinda cheap. I keep bothering my friends so I can travel at low cost 😔😭 Bless their souls for being so kind and nice to me 🙏🙇♀️
Anyway, I left London for Leeds in the morning using National Express. Previously when some friends asked me how I’d get to Leeds and I said by bus, they looked surprised because, well, it’s a damn 4 hours. But I thought it’s no biggie. I mean, I went to Los Angeles from Tucson by bus and it took me more than 8 damn hours. And when I was in Indonesia, I also took buses from my hometown to where my university was and it took me around 3-4hours and sometimes more and we know how Indonesian local buses including the traffic, so I thought taking a bus here in UK would be okay. But that’s not the case. I don’t know why but I couldn’t recline the seat so my back got a little stiff. It was tiring.
I arrived in Leeds at 1.50pm in the afternoon and my friends were already there in the station waiting for me. (They were picking me up ❤️). The first thing I sought for was, of course, the toilet. Not that I needed to use it, but I was just curious. Maybe it was not free only in London. But guess what? It wasn’t free in Leeds either. I should pay to get in. I forgot how much, but I guess it’s around 30pence if not 40 pence. So, well, bye!
From the bus station, we headed to my friend’s place to put my backpack. She also prepared lunch for us. I was so happy 😭😭😭 She and her husband then took us (my friend from Lancaster joined me) around Leeds. We took public local buses. We used group ticket for a day pass so it could be cheaper. And perhaps, I liked Leeds better than London because it’s not as crowded and noisy. As my friends said, it also has a lot of Muslim communities too so it has several mosques there and, accordingly, it’s easier to find halal food. Wow.
However, my friend said that they lived in a ‘slum’ area because it was cheaper. (Well, I chose a cheap studio apt too so I could save. That’s what Indonesian students on a scholarship usually do 🙈😁✌️). It’s understandable. And I could see it first-hand, because, well, some parts of the town were so dirty; we could see rubbish almost anywhere. What saddened me was that when my friend told me that the ‘Whites’ were happy during Ramadhan, because the Muslims (immigrants) did not litter as much during fasting month. It felt like the ones who made the town dirty was the Muslims. It made me sad 😔😭 (Because we Muslims are taught to keep things clean. Remember when I said, “Cleanliness is part of your faith”?)
In Leeds, my friend and her husband showed us around. The university, the market, and some landmarks (?). We also took a trip by boat and to my surprise, it was free. We only needed to put donate voluntarily. It was fun. When we were there, there was also this World Cup match going on between England and Colombia so the crowd cheered as England won the game. And before I forgot, we also bought sweet corn. It was like the one we had in Indonesia, which we called Jasuke (Jagung Susu Keju – Corn, Milk and Cheese), except that the one in Leeds didn’t have the milk and the cheese because it was “low fat” sweet corn. (Seriously, these people corrupted the fat I needed! 🤷🤷🤷)
We didn’t do much in Leeds, because we spent more time talking and telling stories. Well, we haven’t seen each other in a while so yes, I missed them. We talked about a lot of stuff, and what struck me was that, somehow, maybe studying in UK was harder than studying in US. I don’t know. My friends are brilliant, that I have no doubt. Now I’m not sure if I would survive if I were studying in UK…
Anyway, the next day we went to Knaresborough (pronounced something like Knaresbraaah). My friends bought the ticket for me using their friend’s railcard to get a cheaper price. Not sure if I should not tell this part, but anyway, when the officer checked the ticket in the train (ok, this was new, I didn’t expect it like that, because that ticket-checking was so like in Indonesia, but this was UK, so…), I should also present the railcard. The officer couldn’t tell if it’s the same person in the railcard photo because we both wear hijab. So, there, I paid a cheaper price.
My first impression of Knaresborough was, “Wow”. Have you seen any traveling photo where they captured a bridge and its perfect reflection on the river/lake beneath so that it forms an oval or a circle? I finally witnessed one in Knaresborough! It’s beautiful, it’s gorgeous. I really love it. We walked around and took a lot of pictures. It was kinda silly actually. Well, the locals might think we were crazy for taking pictures in front of a private house just because there were flowers on the door, for example, but hey, for us it’s beautiful, so we just had to take pictures 😁🙈😅✌️
Then we tried this boat-rowing experience and the drama started. The guy in charge was so nice in the beginning. He asked where we’re from and stuff. (Dang, now that I think about, I shouldn’t have said that I was from Indonesia. I mean, it was so embarrassing; I dont want my country and my people to be labelled as bad just because of what I did 😔😭). I was so clumsy. I learned very slowly. And this guy seemed so mad. He said it was fine but we all knew it wasn’t.
First he asked who’d row the boat. I said I would. He gave the oars to me. I thought it was going to be easy. I have kayaked in Ohio before and it was fun-and super easy. I kayaked around the lake without so much trouble in Ohio, and I was alone. I got it. So I thought what would be so hard about rowing a boat? My friend and her husband got their own boat. My other friend was with me. Each paid £6 and it was for an-hour ride, so we might as well get two boats. That’s what we thought. I thought, since I also had a friend on the boat, then I’d be okay in case things go wrong. But that’s not the case. My friend didn’t look so eager to row the boat 🙈😅
So I started rowing the boat, right? In the beginning I was trying to figure out what happened if I rowed it this way and that way so that I could know how to navigate and move it the right way. I was still learning but the guy kept screaming at us giving us directions on how to row correctly. He said something like, “Listen young lady, you put your right hand on your tigh, …” Apparently, instead of my right hand, I put my left hand there instead. He seemed upset. But it could happen, right? Sometimes even in your mother tongue, it doesn’t synchronize, like you say ‘right’ when you mean ‘left’ and vice versa. And maybe he thought I didn’t understand English because later on a Malaysian waiter came speak to us in Malay. I was so baffled. I didn’t even know how to respond anymore. I was so embarrassed because on the side of the river where I was trying to row the boat, there were many people eating (it’s near a ‘restaurant’, by the way), and I felt like everyone was staring and laughing at me. I felt humiliated. I felt like disappearing at that instance. I even thought that maybe I should just get off the boat and ask him to return my money. LoL
But at the same time I was so engrossed in figuring out how the row worked, I refused to give up. The guy kept coming at us. He said, “When I told you, you did it correctly but the moment I left, you did it wrong.” I understood his frustration or fury. Near the “harbor”, there was this line of ‘dangerous area’ on the left, where we might not cross. We were supposed to go right, but somehow, while I was still figuring out how to move the boat, we were approaching that line/area. He said, “If you go there, I’ll have to rescue you.” I understand. At this point, I could only blame myself for not doing it correctly and quickly. But I was trying, ok? It’s not as if I was intentionally going to that dangerous area. I didn’t want to die (yet) no matter how fucked up I’d been feeling for living in this world. I still wanted to travel! He didn’t understand. I was feeling bad. My friend tried to joke with me, “If someone recorded this, we’d be very popular on 9gag.” But I didn’t want such attention. I felt so embarrassed already. But I laughed anyway. I didn’t want her to panick with me either.
We spent about 15minutes before I could finally move onto the right direction. I was wrong. It was different from the kayaking-experience that I did in Ohio. I just remember that in Ohio I only used one oar to row the boat from both the left and the right side. This time O should use two oars. One by right hand, and the other by left hand. Apparently, my hands’ power wasn’t balanced. My right hand was stronger so it kinda difficult to row the left one. Thus, the boat tended to move onto the left because I rowed the right side stronger. The oars were also not securely in place. They kept getting off their hooks on the boats so I was also dreading that they would fall into the water. (Ok, I was making excuses here, but I seriously didn’t want the oars to fall into the water. I didnt need further embarrassment). Hence, I often rowed it in turn, like rowing the left oar using my right hand while leaving my right oar alone to get back to the right track and rowing the right oar alone when I got too far to the right because when I rowed it together it didn’t really go straight as my right hand was stronger. It was kinda moving in the opposite direction. And, I forgot to tell you, the right direction was for the boat to move backward, not forward. That’s my first mistake. I was facing forward and I moved the boat upfront. He said it’s the wrong way. I moved backward so I couldn’t really see what’s behind me. *Sigh And, well, he did give me the instructions and I understood it very well. But theory is different from practice. Like when you learn how to swim, theoretically you know you should inhale/breathe using your mouth instead of your nose, but when you’re in the water, sometimes, especially in the beginning, you tend to forget all that, you can’t help it, not that you want it. You just need time to practice. That guy didn’t want me to take my time learning and practicing. *Sigh
Then we rowed along the river, under two bridges, about 30minutes, and went back to return the boat because we only had 1hour. It’s frustrating. Just when I had figured out how the oars worked, I had to return the boat. It was fun, though. My friend was being “my eyes”. She’d tell me if I was too close to the edge or if I was about to hit the shaft (or pillar?) of the bridge, if I should bring the boat a bit to the right, left, etc. It’s ‘teamwork’ 😌🤗
When I returned the boat, I said sorry repeatedly because in all seriousness I didnt mean to upset him or make him worry about us crossing the dangerous line or his having to rescue us. He said it was fine. But he didn’t look fine. Later my friend and her husband, who returned the boat first, told me that he shouted at them asking where we were and that we should just have been in the same boat with them. This was where I got upset. He shouldn’t take out his fury on my friends. They were innocent! I was so mad.
My friend tried to put me at ease by saying that it’s normal for people to be ‘awkward’ at the beginning. Almost everyone who rented the boat seemed to have difficulties rowing it. There was even someone crossing the dangerous line before me. They tried their best to make me feel better. They even said sorry and asked if I wasn’t mad at them. Gosh, of course not. It wasn’t their fault! But I really appreciate that. The problem is that I dont really compare myself to others anymore. Thus, whether people succeed or fail, if I want to succeed then I should just succeed…and if I’m okay to ‘fail’, then I would be okay even if everyone else succeeds. I’m done competing with others. It’s exhausting.
Well, then we walked around and visited more places, like the castle, the garden, etc. We ran into this school kid when we were trying to find a garden and he asked if he could help us. Oh my God, he was so cute with the accent I felt like talking to a kid I usually watched in Western movies 🙈😅✌️✌️✌️ But we couldn’t find it. We just ate Fish and Chips (like typical English people 😌🤗). Then we just strolled around waiting for 8pm to get on the train to go back home to Leeds. We couldn’t go on the train at 4pm till 8pm because the ticket wasn’t valid for rush hours. Thus, we just stayed around Knaresborough castle. We didn’t even go up the castle because it wasn’t free. LoL But I was happy because I was spending time with nice and lovely friends. I even fell asleep some time under the sun. Haha (I guess I’m really a ‘hot’ girl. I couldn’t really stand the cold 😌🤗)
And that’s it. We then went back, had dinner, and took a rest because the next day we were bound to go to York 😊
PS: I tried Samyang for the first time in Leeds and, damn, it was so hot and spicy I couldn’t stand it 😱😱😱 I don’t prefer spicy/hot food but I thought I’d be okay. I wasn’t. Well, I learned my lesson.
PPS: The public toilets around the tourism places in Knaresborough were free so I made good use of it 😌🤗✌️