This is the fourth post in the “Christa in the UK” series – stories from the year 2009 and 2010 during my time living, studying, working and traveling in a small beach town called Bournemouth in South West England.
After dealing with homesickness, I started to love my new life as a student. Of course there were sleepless nights – those nights before the deadline of an assignment. But there were also other fun days, filled with the excitement of exploring a new place and making new friends from all over the world!
As we were approaching year end and the end of our first term, plans started to come up. Most of our European friends has made plans to come home for Christmas and New Year, basically leaving us Asians with no plans (yet). With a group of other Indonesians, I decided to plan a road trip throughout the UK during our term break/year end holiday. In between assignments deadline we began to build our plan – cities to go, places to visit, modes of transportation, budget, and all that. We also asked a group of friends to join us. In the end, there were 10 of us. 5 Indonesians, 2 Taiwanese, 1 Chinese, and 2 Thai. So fun! I had written the travel experience as a guest post in my friend Aggy’s blog and you can read it here.. what I haven’t shared there is the fact that I had my birthday during that trip! Yay!
We started the trip on the eve of Christmas. We decided to have a road trip and rented two cars for 10 of us. Our first destination was Bath – a small town up north of Bournemouth, less than 2 hours drive away. It was already dark when we arrived, and we were very much surprised to find out that the town was like a dead town! Our destination was the town centre but we saw almost no one on the streets. The shops were all closed, even though it’s only around 6PM. No restaurants nor pubs were open.. except a restaurant called Market, where we ended up having our Christmas Eve dinner!
After dinner, we spent some time wandering around Bath’s empty city centre, just having fun with each other because really, we felt like the town was ours! Hahaha. And then we left for our next destination, Bristol. Of course, everything was closed as well there. Being international students, we were not aware of the fact that during Christmas eve, British people tend to spend time at home and all shops would be closed. It will continue to be like that until Christmas day.. and then everything will start to go back normal on Boxing day which is the 26th of December. So yeah, we did not get to do much in Bristol except strolling around the empty town centre. We probably spent only a couple hours there before we left to our next destination… Liverpool!
It would normally take us around 3 hours from Bristol to Liverpool but somewhere along the way my friend in the other car called and asked to stop at the nearest motorway service areas. Because I was driving previously, I failed to realise that it was some time past midnight already, which meant it’s the 25th of December and I turned 23 already! That’s why I was so surprised when everyone gathered around me and sang me happy birthday. They gave me some nice presents as well 🙂
It was definitely a moment to remember, It’s not every year I got to spend my birthday so far away from home, in the middle of nowhere, but surrounded with good friends and warm attention!
After the quick birthday surprise, we continued our journey and reached Liverpool early in the morning. As predicted, everything was closed as well but we managed to find a Chinese Restaurant so we could have a nice dinner to celebrate Christmas and… my birthday. It was a very memorable day 🙂