The anglophile inside has revealed itself even before I arrived in the fair city of London. For starters, Malaysians do not need a tourist visa and an adapter for my chargers which saves a lot of pain. And oh, the many lessons I have learned in this dreadfully short one-week visit.
Lesson 0: Get a smartphone, sniff for wifi and switch off the cellular data function at all times. I got an iPhone4 for this trip and it became my laptop-cum-camera-cum-telephone box (you can’t carry a red telephone box with you for starters. Her Majesty’s bobbies would come after you with their truncheons). All the photos were taken with the iPhone4 and I could do so discreetly (very useful in museums, the tube, meal tables, hurhur) and beautifully ( brilliant colours and focus). Perfect in every way, except of course, I wish Steve Jobs could extend its short battery life. <全部アイフォンでとった。アップルすごい！>
Tower Bridge and cloudy skies at Tower Hill where it began to drizzle soon after.
Armour galore in the White Tower!こんなプラモがいいんですね！
The famous Greenwich Meridian Time line.↑GMT+-
Relaxing on the cool grass and feeding pigeons while enjoying the warbling waters of Princess Diana fountain in Kensington Gardens(^^)
The National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. Lovely weather and colour isn’t it? Thanks to iPhone (>w<)
National Portrait Gallery next door: Portrait of Sir Stamford Raffles, the colonial visionary who founded Singapore.
The grand Aquarium and London Eye along the Thames (as my own eyes began to swell…(3A3))
Queen Boudicca、an example on why you shouldn’t fuck with women, more figurative than literal. Check out the thong <0><0>.
The eminent King’s College in Cambridge.
The architectural marvel at James Street in Covent Garden.
Twinings at the Strand, since 1706. The varieties of tea blends are astounding.
If you see Big Ben, you know you are in London.
The back entrance of Westminster Abbey where HRH Prince William and Catherine were wedded on 29 April 11.
Westminster Abbey holds a memorial service for the East Japan earthquake on 5 June. 六月五日ウェストミンスター寺院が東日本大地震追悼礼拝をする。
The grand British Musuem, where the history of the world is kept.
Inside the British museum. Isn’t the roof marvellous?
British museum: The Elgin marbles which was taken from the Parthenon… Greece is still pissed.
British museum: The amazingly dramatic depiction of the Royal lion hunt by the Assyrians.
British museum: One of the many well-preserved mummies around.
British museum: Japanese British tea house. 本田菊ｘアーサーカークランド ｗｗｗ
Harrods: Oh my god, Hello Kitty x Harrods?!イギリスもキティに嵌まってる？
Harrods: The famous bears of Harrods.かわいいいいオマワリサンとソルジャー♥
To get to London, what better way than to fly in its national carrier, British Airways? Just 13 hours from Singapore.
Lesson 1: For solo travellers who’d like to have the opportunity to sit next to children or even babysit them, choose the front row seats where the cots are. On my flight to London, my fellow passenger was an Englishman with his toddler, Mr B. Mr B was an adorable little gent who strews die-cast cars and carrot-cucumber sticks around him, has an incredibly tough head and has a preference for inner seats. I was really impressed by the attentiveness of Mr B’s father and the air stewards who made sure that Mr B has a comfortable overnight flight. I’m privileged to babysit Mr B temporarily and watch his “butlers” attend to his needs. (/w\)
3 friends in the Tube. London is in the Oyster card (Suicaと同じ用のカード).
Faeries do exist in London and they take buses! 夜バスで妖精さんが乗った！
Lesson 2: Stand on the Right. Mind the Gap (and the cow!). Watch out for Station Closures. Carry a Map. While on escalators in Singapore and Tokyo, keep to the left. In London, keep to the right. The platform gap of London’s stations could be as abysmally wide as 15cm! Now that is what I call a gap worth minding. With the 2012 London Olympics looming, the city is preparing to expand key stations such as Tottenham Court with lots of construction work on weekends and throughout the week. We wouldn’t want the Londoner to risk getting his toes rolled over by the vicious wheels of the tourists’ Samsonite now do we? Another thing that surprised me while commuting on the Tube is the only time I heard the English language being spoken is when there is a public announcement being made. Tourists and immigrants have helped make the train ride a multi-cultural experience. On my arrival to Earls Court, I feared the place would be similar to the labyrinth-like cities of Japan that even a map is useful as an accessory to show that you are a hopelessly lost tourist. In London, there are street signs clearly marking the direction and area. With a map in hand, I am confident to say that a friendly Londoner would approach a hapless tourist to offer help. After I was discharged from hospital(we’ll get to that in a while), I shuffled to Embankment station for bearings, trying to find my way back to Leicester Square in the rain. I had a Lonely Planet guidebook in hand and was scrutinising the map on the information post when a kind Londoner approached me and asked where I need to go. He looked like he was on his way home with his bag of grocery. He walked me towards the direction of Leicester Square in the rain, he didn’t have an umbrella mind you.
Monster blister, the boil that started it all.
Warded：Tuna salad pasta and a jug of water.
Warded: ”NSAIDS” to notify staff what NOT to give me. The staff took good care of me, a tourist (3w3)キュン
Lesson 3: I am happy to pay the whopping 16% VAT because it contributes to the NHS (national health service). The medical services are priceless. The thought of getting a tax refund never crossed my mind after I admitted myself to St. Thomas’ hospital for an eye-popping allergic reaction. It all started after I took ibuprofen as recommended by a kind Englishman whom I met along the streets of St Pancras at midnight. After the horrific discovery of a monstrous blister on my left little toe and thanks to the uncaring, apathetic staff at the Generator hostel, I made my way to some hospital which I have no idea how far it would take. The pain took all caution out of my mind and I trotted the dark quiet streets alone, and cold, in search of a clinic or a hospital. I was fortunate to approach an Englishman (ティムさん) from Manchester who happened to be an army medic and he took a look at the monstrosity and advised me not to walk the streets in the area alone and recommended some anti-inflammatory painkillers and remedies. He and his Canadian friend chatted with me in the cold and it made me forget about the pain and piss. Despite the disappearance of the suit and bowler hat ensemble, the English Gentleman still exists in England! I took some ibuprofen the next morning and headed to Leicester square to purchase a ticket to see Les Miserables in the evening. As usual I rambled on aimlessly and found myself in the magnificent Trafalgar Square, trotted further along the Thames to see Big Ben. It was then my eyes started watering and my gut told me it could be a reaction to the ibuprofen I took. Lady Luck smiles on me again when I found St Thomas: hospital just opposite the bridge where Big Ben is. The medical staff directed me to the Accident and Emergency to take a queue number to be registered. By this time, my eyes have swollen to the point where my vision was only 70%. The black admin staff took my particulars down and I highlighted to him that I’m not a UK citizen. Contrary to the complaint of our mentor minister perhaps it’s just his luck that there were alot of patients on that night), it only took me 15 mins before I was taken to the consultation station where the doctor diagnosed my condition as an allergic reaction to NSAIDS. A nurse (Amy) led me to a room where I was given some antihistamines and steroids and I was put under observation for the next few hours to ensure that I did not get an asthmatic attack from the ibuprofen. Later, they put me into a ward where I was very impressed by the care and attention given to the patients by the nurses and doctors. I told the nurse that I would like to be discharged as soon as possible as I had a musical to catch. The kind nurse (Katy) brought me lunch that is available in the pantry and a jug of water. The doctor discharged me upon my request and advised me not to take NSAIDs (anything that ends with -fen). At the pharmacy, I collected the steroids and antihistamines and asked how much they were. The pharmacist told me I do not need to pay for anything and sent me off with a smile. From what I described, it seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? Excellent medical treatment, compassionate staff and it is all free, even for non-UK citizens. That made me fall in love with London even harder than before.
Lovely performance at the Vortex jazz bar. The bass player was cute. (♥w♥)
Blood Brothers:The only musical that made me cry.(;w;)
Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre. The best of the 5!
Inside the Victoria theatre where Billy Eliot was performed. Love the dances!
We Will Rock You where the script is badly written around the music of legendary Queen.
Lesson 4: Be Nice. Smile more. Speak proper English.You might get a good seat. In just 7 days, I managed to squeeze 5 musicals into my itinerary. I burnt almost 200 quid on the tickets but you can’t experience the grand old theaters and ice cream during intermission anywhere else (perhaps the States?). In chronological order, I watched Les Miserables, Billy Eliot, The Lion King, Blood Brothers and We Will Rock You. I tried those discounted ticket booths at Leicester Square and managed to get a seat for 18 quid but with 70% view. Then I tried purchasing from the box office itself in the morning when it opens at 10am. The tickets cost up to 50 quid and depending on the person at the counter, they could actually put you in very good seats for the same or lower price. The best deal I got was for Blood Brothers where the lady seemed quite terse at first but after making small talk with her while fumbling at the coins, she put me into the center seat, 4 rows from the stage with a really good view of the cast. A good thing too because the musical was one of the best I’ve ever watched. There was emotional gravity in the performance and when it came to the tragic scene, I started crying with the audience. (;w;)
The famous English breakfast to start the day right…
Enjoy some Afternoon Tea at one’s leisure…Mmm Lovely scones.
What better way to end the day (and trip) in London with a roast beef dinner?
Hearty soups, crisp sandwiches and free wifi at Pret a Manger.
A calorific takeaway lunch on board the train from Cambridge to London. Colossal Cornish pasty…（凄く大きいです；）.
Light lunch of clam chowder soup and a scrumptious chocolate and orange muffin at the courtyard of Westminster Abbey.
JK Sheeky’s famous fish pie. The food and service is worth the 30 quid.♥>゜)))彡♥
Dining at JK Sheeky’s. Walls are covered with photos of celebrities.
Cheese and Bacon chips with a refreshing pint of Magner’s cider to wash it all down(including the bitter defeat of Man United to Barca).
…Fish and chips with pie in Greenwich (まずい！＞＜；). No wonder British cuisine gets such a bad rap.
One of the gourmet highlights of my trip in London- Salmon and Teriyaki chicken bento (ちくしょ!何でロンドンにこんな美味しいものがあるの？！はぁはぁ).
Lesson 5: Hardcore Vegan, Blood-thirsty Carnivore, Finicky Gourmet, Belt-tightening Budget, Anything Asian … London has everything to satisfy the Global Appetite. When one thinks of British food, one hardly connotes it with the word “gourmet”, thanks to a French official’s stark comment on the gastronomic value of the much maligned (maybe not) cuisine. The famous full English Breakfast, a plate piled with fried eggs, thick juicy sausages, artery-clogging-sodium-saturated bacon strips, juicy grilled tomato (probably the only healthy item on the plate) drowned in thick brown gravy sauce and partnered with crisp slices of toast covered in butter and jam, a hearty bowl of oats porridge, some fruit or yogurt and washed all these down with a revitalizing cup of English Breakfast tea. Then there is the oil-soaked newspaper which cradles crispy batter-fried fish in a bed of salt-sprinkled chips (thick fingers of deep-fried potato. The New World reshaped it into a dainty stick which they call
French Freedom Fries.). Despite the health-threatening high-cholesterol offerings the British menu has, who could resist the classic English tradition of Afternoon tea where one enjoys a lovely cup of tea with boulders of scones covered in cold clotted cream and ruby red strawberry jam, the assortment of sandwiches and cakes to complement the leisurely experience? Thank god and the immigration policy-makers, newcomers from all corners of the earth brought along with them their uniquely tantalising cuisines to make the global traveller feel right at home on the dinner table. The Teriyaki chicken and salmon bento by a native Japanese chef in Leicester Square was possibly the best I ever had in my travels. Huge hunks of fried chicken and a massive slice of salmon bathed in sweet, savoury teriyaki sauce is neatly placed next to a bed of fresh crisp salad and 2 tuna maki. Fish and chips in Greenwich was a real disappointment, it could hardly match the ones I have in Singapore. The saving grace was the heavenly fish pie from JK Sheeky’s at St Martins in the Fields where I unknowingly find myself in a respectable restaurant served by waiters and surrounded by well-dressed people. The luscious cream cheese potage with fresh hunks of salmon and cod swimming under the crisp fluffy potato crust was to die for. 30 quid for the experience and satisfaction was worth it. And on days where one needs a quick bite, I usually find the ubiquitous Pret a Manger outlet for some freshly made sandwiches and thick wholesome soups, AND (more importantly) free wifi. The perfect meal to conclude the trip was roast beef with brown gravy, mushrooms, potato and carrots for dinner on my flight back home. Absolutely wonderful! (^p^)
I’m not done with London yet. Just you wait, you’ll find me crossing over to Albion’s shores once more.