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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Off the Beaten Track: London

This is my second time to London and there's still no lack of things to do. London was simply magical with the Harry Potter Studio tour, insightful with Dans Le Noir but I have wayward interests. 

If you are looking for normal things to do like markets, musicals and shopping, you can find the charm of London here. Otherwise read on for the sinister side of the Brits. 

First, there is Postman's Park near St Paul's tube where people who died in heroic deaths are remembered. 
I spend a morbid afternoon just reading stories how people gave up their lives for another. A hero knows no age, the youngest memorial was 8 and the oldest at 63. The most heart wrenching story was the boy who died while cradling his drowning friend to keep him company, or the younger brother who took off his clothes trying to save his sister from a fire was burned to death. 
If you can stomach a good meal after a walk in the park, you can fine dine in Jamie Oliver's Bread Street.
I've always wanted to attend a court session in Singapore but it seemed like it is a past time of the retirees (other than Yangtze, the remaining porn theatre in Chinatown) because court sessions are usually in the day at odd hours.

As a tourist, you have all the time in the day. I found out that one can attend one of those court sessions in the Central Criminal Court in London. Definitely should be on the list of Free Things to Do for the cheapskates budget travellers. You can check out the notice board in front of the court to know what trials are on. The court is located near Cheapside tube (i'm not joking). 
We start from Barbarican tube and walk towards the medieval part of the city. The Blood and Tears walk unravels layers after layers of history hidden under the streets in this area. Declan is a researcher and former professional actor, the perfect combination to do the haunting guided walk. The researcher progressively digs into the dark areas of your mind, bringing out imagination you wouldn't want to. The professional actor recites each story with enthusiasm and fitting tone. Declan's website is very detailed with all aspects of the tour and in print, he sounds arrogant. The sense of entitlement allows him to be, after all, the walk did receive rave reviews and i must say i enjoyed it. It is also reasonably priced at 10 pounds. The only complain was the walk left me breathless not because of the chilling stories, it is because of the speed walking. At that pace we were walking, it was difficult to let the story sit and the hair to stand. However, there are areas where you don't want to stay too long. Like on Fleet Street, where one of my friends felt the concrete floor sunk in as if he was going to be pulled into an alternate universe any moment. He was the only one who felt it. 

I'd say Blood and Tears is more of a sinister psychological walk rather than a haunted tour. We do not go around hunting for ghosts with infrared goggles but rather, we hear captivating stories from Declan about London's worst murders. It is also interactive as Declan asks the group questions, for a split second, i felt like i was a detective. I learned that in 14 years of him conducting the tour, 70% of his participants are female. As they say, hell hath no fury of a woman scorned. Do not mess with the gender who has a more sinister interest.

If not for the walk, you wouldn't hear stories like Jack Sheppard, a burglar who was imprisoned 4 times but escaped all times in a high security prision in the 14th century. The serial thief was later caught piss drunk and sentenced to death. Or that Thomas Neilcream who rumoured to have confessed he is the legendary Jack the Ripper but was in prison when Ripper's murders happen. 

David Icke, a conspiracy theorist was proper-gates the world is ruled by politicians and celebrities. That the President of the United States and Britney Spears are reptilians. If you look up proof of reptilians on Youtube, you find pretty scary clips. Some are pretty amusing how people draw relevance, but even so it's too freaky to embed them in my blog.

So i scurried home like a frightened mouse after the Blood and Tears walk, knowing that Jack the Ripper was never found/convicted.  

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