Travel Tips: Visiting Aberdeen, Scotland on a Malaysian budget

https://www.astroawani.com/gaya-hidup/travel-tips-visiting-aberdeen-scotland-on-a-malaysian-budget-98983

Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli

Travel Tips: Visiting Aberdeen, Scotland on a Malaysian budget
A sight familiar with all fans of the Harry Potter movies

Situated in the far northeast corner of the British Isles, Aberdeen is the third largest city in Scotland.Nicknamed ‘the oil capital of Europe’, Aberdeen is about 882km north of British capital city, London.Nevertheless, this city is not just all about oil and gas – it is also home to one of UK’s top tertiary institution, the University of Aberdeen.Aberdeen is an ancient settlement established in 1179 and was granted city status in 1891.

This modern city has a population of about 200, 000 people with cool temperatures ranging between -5 degree celcius in winter and about 15 in summer.This city is surrounded by buildings with distinct Scottish architecture that has stood the test of time.Although not as popular as other Scottish cities like Edinburgh or Glasgow, Aberdeen is worth visiting.

Scottish countryside
Scotland is arguably one of the most beautiful places on the planet

Off to Aberdeen

My visit to Scotland was in response to an invitation by the Head of the Law Research Society (LRS) of the School of Law, University of Aberdeen, Mr. Eddy Wifa, to deliver an academic lecture here on 3 March 2016.

Some important facts for Malaysians visiting Aberdeen:

• Malaysia Airlines does not fly direct to Aberdeen and one has to transit in London Heathrow Airport before continuing an onward journey with Flybe or British Airways to Aberdeen. The return tickets might cost up to RM4,500

• Alternatively, one could also fly with either Etihad, Qatar or Emirates which would cost around RM3700 for a return ticket

• However, flying with any of these airlines would require transiting in Abu Dhabi, Doha or Dubai respectively and after that to Manchester before reaching Aberdeen

• The simplest alternative is to fly with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (RM3600 return) from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and subsequently to Aberdeen

• The flight time from KLIA to Schiphol is 11 hours and the onward journey to Aberdeen is about 2 hours

• The distance between KLIA and Aberdeen is approximately 10,600 kmThe airfare to Aberdeen was borne by myself, however, the ground arrangements were taken care of by Mr. Fareed Hasan, a 3rd year Malaysian PhD candidate attached with the School of Law of the University of Aberdeen, a member of the LRS.

Glenfinnan Aqueduct
The Glenfinnan Aqueduct

Aberdeen

Similar to other European cities, Aberdeen is well linked with excellent roads, good rail networks and a modern airport. £1 is now about RM5.77 – yes, very pricey but the price of foodstuff in the city is reasonable, ranging between £1 to £8, depending where you dine.

Halal-certified food is available but is not as easily obtained as compared to London. Therefore, bringing your own food could be a viable option.Accomodation could be very expensive in Aberdeen and the most reasonable-priced hotel is Copthorne Hotel Aberdeen, about RM250 per night.

This hotel is smacked in the middle of the city, about 12 minutes walking distance to Aberdeen’s largest shopping mall, the Union Square.If this is too expensive, the best option is to look for a host via Airbnb over the internet.

Useful tips for Malaysians while in Aberdeen:

• Malaysian passport could be used freely to travel all around Europe without the need of a visa

• You might be asked a number of questions by the immigration officials, particularly if your passport has a lot of immigration stamps

• Have your currency exchanged prior to departure into Europe as Ringgit is not accepted here

• The taxi fare from Aberdeen Dyce Airport to the city centre is £12

• The day-pass for Aberdeen City Bus is £4

• The weather is chilly both in summer and winter – have your winter jacket ready before flying up to Aberdeen.

Walking is the best way to explore Aberdeen:

• Visit Marischal College – the second biggest granite building in the world after the Escorial in Spain

• The Aberdeen Town House – steeped in traditional Scottish architecture

• Aberdeen Beach – although not as amazing as what we have in Malaysia, still lovely to stroll by the beach and have a bite of fish and chips

University of Aberdeen

King’s College
Multinational members of the LRS at the King’s College (writer is 5th from right)

A visit to the beautiful King’s College at the University of Aberdeen is a must.Steeped in exquisite Scottish architecture, the King’s College is one of the oldest structures erected in the city.It was at this very building I delivered my lecture entitled ‘Challenges to ASEAN Integration’ to multinational members of the LRS of the University of Aberdeen hailing from Malaysia, Thailand, the Gambia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Poland, Greece and Italy.

The lecture discussed challenges and impediments to ASEAN integration from political, socio-economic and humanitarian issues – ranging from the overlapping maritime claims over the South China Sea to transboundary pollution problems to the plight of the Rohingyas.


Aberdeen and Beyond

Visitors who wish to visit other cities may travel down to Edinburgh or Glasgow by car or public transportation like the ScotRail service or Megabus.

The journey from Aberdeen to either Edinburgh or Glasgow would usually take around three hours. The train and bus services to these cities are quite frequent with ticket prices ranging from as low as £5 to £25, depending on the booking time. Prices will definitely go up if last minute bookings are made. Nevertheless, for those who long for adventure and enjoy the natural beauty of Scotland, then head to Isle of Skye, located about 366km to the west of Aberdeen.

Isle of Skye
The gloomy-yet-breathtaking Isle of Skye

One usually needs four to five days to enjoy the journey to Isle of Skye but it is still possible to visit this beautiful place over the weekend.A comfortable SUV could be rented out (with insurance cover and fuel) for approximately £80 for three days.The road trip from Aberdeen to Skye offers amazingly breathtaking and picturesque views of Scottish placid countrysides and mirror-like lochs.

7 affordable things to do between Aberdeen and Skye:

1) Take a drive down to Stonehaven, Dundee, Perth and all the way to Oban, a small peaceful fishing town about 5 hours drive from Aberdeen

2) Consider spending a night in Oban, as there are a number of B&Bs in the town (ranging from £40 to £75 per night)

3) Drive up to Fort William and then to Glenfinnan Aqueduct, the rail bridge made popular by the movie Harry Potter

4) Drive to the Isle of Sky via the small towns of Invergarry and Kyle of Loclacsh to witness some of the amazing views of snowy mountains and Scottish green valleys

5) Stop over to marvel at Eilean Donan Castle, a castle not too far from Kyle of Loclacsh

6) Have a quick visit to the Isle of Skye and then take a ferry from Armadale to Mallaig before heading up to the world-famous mystical ‘Loch Ness’

7) Take a ferry to navigate down Loch Ness and explore the ruins of Fort Urquhart, where one could get a brief insights of Scottish history.

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle with Malaysian buddies

The roadtrip between Mallaig and Loch Ness is indeed interesting as travellers may encounter wildlife roaming freely.I spotted red deer and highland cows, among others.

Cows
Highland Cows

The journey could take up to 3 hours and should the sun is setting down upon arrival in Loch Ness, travellers may consider spending a night in Inverness. (the accommodation rate in Inverness is more or less similar with that of Oban. Inverness has more options though).

Inverness or Inbhir Nis in Scottish Gaelic
Inverness, or Inbhir Nis in Scottish Gaelic

Inverness is, although slightly larger than Oban, a tranquil little town not too far from Loch Ness (about 20kms away). This town is a good base for those who wish to explore this mystical lake.Scotland is one of the places in Europe where travellers may have the chance to marvel at the beautiful Northern Lights or aurora, particularly during a clear wintery night.

I was lucky to have witnessed it myself in areas between Inverness and Elgin. It was one of the most astounding sights I have ever laid my eyes upon.The Aurora moves gently like dancing clouds, emerging and disappearing gracefully and lighted up the skies in areas that are supposed to be super-dark. Glowing like force-fields, I have never thought I would be able to witness one of mother-nature’s most spectacular phenomena.

Unfortunately, none of us were in possession of a DSLR camera to record that amazing moment.We were nonetheless fortunate to be able to witness and capture the beautiful northern lights deep in our minds.

Conclusion

Scotland is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.Despite the cold Scottish wintery weather, this land is undeniably a little piece of heaven on earth – a trip worth every penny. I am grateful to the LRS of the School of Law of University of Aberdeen for the invite and wish to return again to Scotland one day.


Mohd Hazmi bin Mohd Rusli (Ph. D) is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Syariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia and a visiting professor at the School of Law, Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia.

The opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Astro AWANI.

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