Sunday, 27 January 2013

LIFE OVERSEAS : Passage to Northern Ireland


EXPLORE: The writer plays tourist with her siblings

I HAVE been living in Ireland for the last two years but there are many places that I have yet to see.
Since my brother and sister paid me a visit recently, we decided to be slightly more adventurous and explore Northern Ireland.
So we took off on a four-hour car trip, stopping along the way at famous places such as Newgrange, a tomb in Boyne Valley.
It is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Site dating back to 3200 BC, before Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza. Wise, ancient architects planned the position of every single stone in the tomb to create something magical.
During the winter solstice, the rising sun shines directly through the entrance, illuminating the passage tomb for about 17 minutes.
There are many theories about why the tomb was built in such a way, but none can be proven.
Perhaps the people believed that the sun was a god and if light shone on the dead, it would allow them to move onto the next life? The tour guide encouraged us to let our minds roam free and come up our own speculations.
Once we crossed the border into Northern Ireland, we stopped at Giant’s Causeway, also a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Giant’s Causeway is filled with thousands of basalt columns which are mostly hexagonal in shape. The top of each column forms stepping stones which enabled us to climb to the summit.
I saw a woman who slipped while climbing the steps. It made me tried my best to stay balanced.
The scenery was captivating and indeed it revealed the extraordinary beauty of nature. However, the causeway only extends halfway across the ocean and does not connect to Scotland.
Legend has it that Giant’s Causeway was built by Irish warrior Fionn MacCool, who wanted to link Northern Ireland and Scotland. However, he was challenged by Scottish giant Benandonner. To scare him off, MacCool disguised himself as a baby and his wife told Benandonner that the child was hers. Benandonner was alarmed at the size of the baby and feared the father’s size. So, he ran back to Scotland, destroying the causeway along the way so that MacCool would not be able to follow him.
After hearing that intriguing myth, we headed for Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. It is a short bridge of 20m that connects the tiny island of Carrick-a-Rede to the mainland. The bridge hangs 30m over hundreds of sharp rocks below.
We walked 1km towards the bridge as cars were not allowed on the small trails. We lined up to walk across the bridge. A maximum of eight people are allowed on it at the same time.
Heights do not bother me too much but it did become much more terrifying once I stepped onto the bridge. As I took a few more steps out from the cover of a mountain, strong gusts of wind blew.
The rope bridge began to shake tremendously and adrenaline flooded my veins as I realised that I would drown if I fell off the bridge or get torn apart by the rocks. Thankfully, I reached the other side and felt much more confident crossing the bridge on the way back.

The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland. She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart


Read more:LIFE OVERSEAS: Passage to Northern Ireland - You - New Straits Timeshttp://www.nst.com.my/channels/you/life-overseas-passage-to-northern-ireland-1.208240#ixzz2JBSy1jKk

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