Scotland Day 5-11: Glasgow

Well I supposed I grew accustomed to sleeping I the train since the southern England trip, as I managed, again, to sleep through the entire train ride to Glasgow, even it was only an hour long. Upon arrival, we see the signature River Clyde…

…with plenty of bridges! I do suppose that they don’t get many big ships here as none of these bridges seem to be able to turn/open! 

And how come I never know McGill has a bus operator company in Scotland? And it gives reasonable prices too?!

My host’s calendar… He’s a single father of a young son (7-8 years old I think), and I adore this!

Thought I’d take a look in the Riverside Museum, and that walking there from where I lived would be easy… Apparently not? It turned out that the walk needed a ferry – to which I have no objection – though I couldn’t find the ferry, nor the terminal, nor a ticket office… The only reasonable solution would be the subway lol

At the first sight, Glasgow subway appeared to be somewhat new and smartly designed… The platforms are a bit narrow but that could be explained by the small operational load. However, after some digging I realized that Glasgow is one of the first cities to have underground light rail services… Coal mines again, I suppose?

The riverside museum is a transport museum, and it showed the revolution of modern transportation… From horse-led rail-tracked double decker busses to the first subway carriage (still needed a wheel to make it move) to more modern cars and busses…

And who’s thought there was no windshields till some time after WWII?

The Riverside Museum didn’t take long as it focused more on models than history, and I’m not exactly interested in models… So I went out and decided to explore Kelvingrove. It’s supposed to be a museum/gallery, they say… But to me it’s more like fascinating organized chaos! On entering the place I came across an exhibition on animals (and indegenious lives?) across the globe and they had an interesting section on Canada…

So… Does it mean the geese in Britain is different than the geese in Canada? And that moose… To be honest I’d expect it to be much taller and more impressive but that’ll probably scare the young kids… The polar bear pup was adorable, but somehow I find the totem a bit weird here…?

Deciding that the totem was a gift from BC I went upstairs trying to find more treasure. There was an exhibition on world conflicts, with stuff from WWII, some Middle Eastern conflict, and a few more older European/African ones. It just seemed like they had a whole bunch of random things and put them together, until I came across this…

I was appalled. All of these are under a section called “souvenirs of war”. They’re not. They’re not awards and shields from your enemies, but booties from oppression and colonialism. I don’t know whether I should feel sad or infuriated, as they display these goods and explain like stealing/burning things was no big deal. Further, they know that China still considers these things as “stolen” (one reason I did not visit the British Museum in London) and still display them here as a “souvenir of war” – and hey, so much for not glorifying wars?

At the time I didn’t understand why the museum didn’t do a good job at explaining how conflicts happen. And now I think I do. I think they left it confusing because they don’t think it important for us to understand… They want us to appreciate their souvenirs and by association the Scots and their brave and noble deeds. Nice try…

It’s been a while since I’ve taken notice of this sort of sign… When I first arrived here I found them a bit unsettling, as they seem to encourage people to spy on each other – same thing as Harper’s barbarian practice hotline. Then that day I realized Britain may need such level of security to prevent major public incidents. I still do not approve of this practice (why would anyone like to turn one people against another?), but I pity the UK for thinking it has to do something like this. Stopping bombing other countries is probably a better strategy!

It was my last night with my first host in Glasgow, and we had a very good talk on the Scottish Independence. We’ve decided to break the North (anywhere north of Liverpool/Manchester) from England, unite with Ireland (north and south), Wales and Cornwall to set up a sovereign state called the United British Isles without England. The North, in the meantime, will be renamed as Borderland – a country underneath UBIE. My host had such a good sense of humour, and we had lots of fun together, from map reading to story telling to trivia finding – all conversations are friendly and lively. The only down side? No wifi lol.

The next day was Burns Cottage, one thing I’d been looking forward to for a long time but pushing off once I got to Glasgow… Most likely because I found a very unusual, addictive Chinese TV show. Good news, only 50 something episodes over a month or so, so I won’t need to worry about this too much…

Burns Museum was as good as the Shakespeare one, with no actors. They had more information, and the interactive games also helped. I also found a fantastic version of To A Mouse and Tam O’Shanter and would like to find them out later.

Burns cottage was a real cottage, with the thatch and all that. It really stood out in the tiny little suburban settlement of Alloway, but the inside is a bit disappointing – modernized for safety/convenience. I personally would prefer a real fire!

Just in time for sun when I reached the Auld Brig. There was also a bunch of people taking wedding photos. The bridesmaids all wore pink dresses and shiny, silver shoes, which made it very hard to navigate the cobble-covered bridge. To be honest, even I, wearing that pair of walking boots from Canterbury, found the cobbles difficult and annoying!

And finally, the Auld Kirk of Alloway, the setting of Tam O’Shanter… I haven’t read/heard the majority of the poem yet but when I do, I’ll refer it back to here!

Then came moving time. My day ended as I stayed with another host, a refugee from Syria. He’s got a vinyl player, a banjo and a guitar, claiming to be learning both.

He also drew his journey, from right to left, on his wall, all symbols connected together. I didn’t ask much at the time, though he told me the symbols mean Syria, Turkey, Greece, Macednia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France (2 places), Ireland and finally the ferry and Glasgow.

The next few days I didn’t go out a lot, as my host had a number of people over and we had lots of good conversations. The only time I went out and needed a bus, I found something new… The base of the Celtics is called Paradise, and that shone some lights on the lyrics in Paradise Lost:

Did you play in the Garden of Eden, were the goalkeepers gloves to you tossed? Cos it seems to me you’re the reason, you’re the reason why Paradise Lost.

More conversation days with my host and some Syrian breakfast came the following days. We were told of his story in much better detail, which seemed much too real yet incredible. Later I was also told that he survived the year with just over 1000 pounds – even more unbelievable! But considering he’d been primarily walking, truck/train hopping, staying in hostels and camps, dump diving for food… It wasn’t that impossible. And yes, I’ve learnt a few tricks over our conversation, and he became one of my sweetest hosts 😉

Finally came the day I leave. On my hassle to get to the station in time, I remembered to take a picture with the Scottish money, which I thought was fake at first lol

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