the experience of travel

14 Mar

London

12.3.13 Wednesday

These few days have been really wonderful to be in London.
It has been about 2C in the day, and windy, but it has been sunny and blue.

This kind of weather is excellent for walking. I am always wrapped up warm so the cold is not a deterrant. In fact, it can be really nice to walk in this cold weather.

I read in the papers of snow in other parts of uk, but nothing like that in London. We do get the occasional hail, or tiny bits of snow flakes, which melts the instant it hit’s the ground.

As usual, if all you get is information from newspapers u would think we are being snow bound and trapped in traffic. But it is nothing like that in London.

0C is not uncomfortable, when u consider people in Canada, or usa suffering -10C or -20C. That is cold.

Even if the day is not sunny, like that day a few days ago, it is still very pleasant to go out. Then head for an indoor attraction. I went to Westfield in shepherd’s bush. It is the first time I went there, even though they have been opened about 3yrs ago, and it is quite a nice shopping complex.

It has glass ceiling which allows natural light to come in. I like that. And it is a vast space, so u don’t feel cooped up. And there are lots of seating, and not only at the coffee shops. No one hassles u if u just sit and have a rest. U can even have a short nap.

It is a rare shopping complex which provides so many seats for just resting instead of forcing u to keep moving or buy something. I see people on their laptops, so wifi is available. Not sure if it is free but it should be.

A warm shopping complex with its controlled environment is ideal for a cold day with strong winds outside. You would think all the people here would go to these shopping malls. But we have only this one built not long ago. Shopping malls like the big ones in asia don’t seem to catch on here in uk. I wonder why?

In s.e.asia. I know people like to go to the air-conditioned malls just to hang around in the cool. In fact, we have to because it can be really uncomfortable to be outdoors in that heat, but in uk, it is pleasant to be outdoors even if it is cold. So there is no great incentive to hang around these shopping malls.

Sometimes inside department stores, it can get so hot, I am glad to get out.

It is a fact that with the cold u can dress warmly , but when it is hot, there is nothing u can do. Even being naked is no help. In fact it may be better to wear something white and cover yourself all over, rather like the arab men do. White reflects the heat. But their women wear black. It must be really hot under their black covering.

When the sun is shining, even though cold, it is much nicer to be outside. Maybe that is why oxford st is still very popular as a shopping street, even though u can have a long walk between shops. And u can get a snow shower , as happened when I walked there recently.

London is blessed with lots of public open spaces, like the parks, and the squares where u can sit without having to pay for it. In the park, u can see the flowers , though the daffodils in st james are not yet in full bloom. You can watch the public. Leicester square is a good place to sit and watch people. There is that marble seating all round the perimeter of the square, as well as benches inside the square garden. Just chose a spot that the sun shines on. It is a nice spot to eat your packed lunch too.

I went inside one of the cinema complexes in Leicester square and noticed that the cinema tickets cost £14. That is why I have not gone to see a film for ages.

You might ask yourself what can a person do if they don’t want to spend anything?

U can pack a lunch and a thermos, and go window shopping.

It can be fun, I was passing this place in the haymarket, a street that leads off picadilly circus, and saw a group of Japanese going inside and followed them. It was a department store with all the English goods in one roof. All the things that Japanese tourists thing is typically English. All the clothing in small sizes too. Haha. And even shopping bags with the harrods logo and name on them. And all the shop assistants were Japanese looking and speaks Japanese, even to me.

The tourists could have gone to the harrods shop, itself, or Fortnum and mason to buy the tea, and get the full experience of shopping in the real thing. After all didn’t they come all this way to experience that?

But I guess when it is about the serious business of buying the stuff, they much prefer coming here and getting it all in one stop and be able to be served by Japanese speaking shop assistants.

I found out regent street is closed to buses. So if ever your bus route go through there, avoid that bus.

I made a mistake with the bus 88. It goes pass my place so I usually take that bus. But I made the mistake of going to oxford circus to catch the bus rather than go down to haymarket. And so I was stuck in the bus whilst it went along lower oxford st, to Bloomsbury and then swung round back to piccadilly. It took an age. I could have walked quicker. Ah well, I was not thinking.

It was not that awful, because I am in no hurry to get anywhere.

If u are thinking of going the full length of the bus route, it might be better to just get off at both ends of regent st, walk along regent st and catch the bus further up.

Well, that is a bit of local information for you.haha.

13.3.13 Thursday
I read this ‘lovely girls, very cheap’ by decca aitkenhead. It is an except in the new granta book of travel, 2011, which I borrowed from the library.

‘Everyone who came to Thailand to spend foreign earnings on fun was defined by the gap between their wealth and Thailand’s poverty. Despite the backpackers’ belief in their own poverty, what they actually take from Thailand is the experience of being immensely rich. They behave in the same careless, bored and discontented way as rich people anywhere, with no purpose but their own amusement. Guarding their money like their own. It is a cruel irony for those who set off imagining they will find themselves by travelling, and find instead their identities are reduced to the sum of their traveller’s cheques’.

I think that really hit the nail on the head. It encapsulates what the travelling is to many people especially to those who travel to the world’s poor areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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