I love big cities. The two places I’ve spent most of my life living in have been Kuala Lumpur and Sydney so it’s no secret that I have grown up conditioned to be an urbanite. London comes in very close as one of my favourite places in the world which is half the reason how I ended up back here again after my first visit less than nine months ago.
The flight was mostly uneventful, the greatest thing about flying Norwegian Air is that there is WiFi on the plane. Although I was knocked unconscious for most of the plane ride since I spent most of last night fervently packing and cleaning. Later I some how made it to my hotel with no Internet and nothing but intuition and a map of the tube I picked up at Victoria Station. Most people may not understand the gravity of this achievement. To illustrate my point I have once literally spent 20 minutes looking for a place on my GPS, 70 m away from where I was currently standing. I was also about to play the victory fanfare as I approached my hotel but my winning at life streak ended about 5 metres away from the hotel entrance when a random guy started trying to talk to me through my headphones.
HELLO HOW ARE YOU. ARE YOU JAPANESE OR KOREAN? WANT TO COME TO LONDON?
I got to the hotel and freshened up before going to dinner with Hillary and Nic who had gratuitously extended their stay in London to coincide with my visit. On top of that they also accommodated my need to satiate my Asian stomach. I don’t want to be politically incorrect and say that I was starving while in Stockholm, but on top of everything being heinously expensive, the lack of quality Asian food is almost a feat in itself. As you can see I’ve even resorted to throwing all of my favourite cuisines under the umbrella of ‘Asian’ because there really is no distinction in a city where giant restaurant plaques bear the slogan ‘Thai Mongolian Sushi Dumpling Buffet’. I digress, please look at this food. We dined at Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant which was a stone’s throw away from my hotel.
Haters be hating and pro-Gold Mine Restaurant’s duck, but until I return to London again to try it, my allegiance is with Four Seasons.
We even felt fancy that night and got the more expensive dau miu (pea shoots)! The duck was excellent as was the tofu and the beef but really, that plate of vegetables was like tasting the soil of our tanah air.
Later on we had beer, tea and waffles, catching up in broken Malay riddled with British anecdotes. In some wicked twist of fate Hillary and Nic had to leave London a little more than 24 hours later (much earlier than expected) so in hindsight I was really grateful for that time we got.
The next day, I spent the morning Skyping Robert before heading out to meander into the city. Realistically every place I intended to go to was in walking distance but I decided to get off at Marble Arch and proceed in a straight line down Oxford Street.
Even from the night before, I wasn’t truly prepared for the never-ending flow of people in London. Sydney and KL are pretty populated areas too but five weeks in Stockholm have spoiled me with the abundance of personal space I get. Our T-bana subway trains are hardly ever full with the trains themselves built larger than that of the Tube. The ceiling of the Tube trains kind of slope inwards as well adding to the whole claustrophobic experience.
I couldn’t believe that phone service did not extend down to the Tube stations or trains. Like any busy city people spend half their time in transit and it seemed incredulous to think you would be completely incommunicado for the whole duration. As my friends have told me if anyone calls you and says ‘I’m on the way, I’m on the Tube’ they are lying because nowhere anywhere on any line can you receive calls.
Prior to London I made a pact with my mom, my wallet and I to not spend any money on things that were not food. Going to Oxford Circus to look and not shop is like telling Hannibal to perform surgery and not even getting to keep the spoils. I did manage to keep it all in my pants and my bag though so cheers all around.
People watching is a lot of fun but it makes for a hungry past time. Around 2 pm I got to meet up with more incredible people that I was extremely close to in high school. They too indulged me by agreeing with my meal choice of Burger & Lobster, a meal I missed out on nine months ago and was determined not to miss out again.
20 GBP gets you either a whole lobster or a burger or a lobster roll. My friends tell me that the burger is actually very good as is the lobster roll come summer time but honestly, how can anyone say no to an actual whole lobster? I didn’t come from a deprived childhood at all but I can’t say I’ve ever had an entire lobster to myself. And while I’m saying lobster about ten times in this paragraph, relevant video segue.
Chiaw Yin took this photo of me wearing my bib, which was a completely necessary accessory because you abandon all table manners (especially amongst friends you’ve known for as long as I’ve known them) and attack with your hands and teeth.
I was the last to finish but only because I was savouring every bite while wishing this meal would never end. The chips were nice too when they were hot but I made the mistake of eating them last and by then they were cold. You can’t see it in this particular photo but everything also came with garlic butter which would literally go on any kind of food. Wedges, sushi, nasi lemak, and world peace all deserve to come with a side of garlic butter. I am also loving the presentation of it in a gravy boat, has anyone ever noticed that they’re kind of shaped like genie lamps? Very appropriate for this particular sauce because it accentuated its majesty and alluded to how magical the taste was.
Looking at this photo makes me reminisce about how six years ago we all used to eat MYR 1.00 (0.18 GBP) fried wontons that were incredibly delicious but look where we are now! I had such a good first night and first day in London with these people, and the trip only got better as you will see in the second post.
Now Playing: HAIM – If I Could Change Your Mind