I’m in the UK now. I’m tired as well. I don’t think I’m quite cut out for more than two months of travel. That or I reached a peak with China that is hard to get over.
Anyway, I have been reminded why I like London. It’s beautiful. I love the architecture and the history. Maybe that’s why I’m more drawn to living on the East coast in places like Boston, Philly, or D.C. where you can see the old architecture and history.
My hostel is right by the Tower of London, this is the night I arrived with The Shard in the distance.
I went to the National Gallery and saw a lot of paintings. It’s way different seeing paintings in real life than textbooks.
Then I walked to Chinatown and stopped in a few bakeries and debated whether or not to get ice cream.
But I resisted and got some pastries, 油条 (Chinese dough stick)…
Red bean mooncake, Nutella filled taiyaki, ..and a Beijing style Chinese crepe. It was on my list in China but since I never was actually in Beijing, I never got to try it. It’s a thin crepe, covered in egg and scallion, then a soy sauce mixture, then pork belly and Chinese sausage (hot dog), and then this crispy tortilla-like crisp, and then a piece of 油条. So filling.
Then stopped in The British Museum and didn’t stay too long because I had already walked a lot by then and my feet were getting noticeably tired.
Even just the buildings of these museums are beautiful and impressive.
I was on the lookout for these gummies Carl gave me back in Vietnam. I couldn’t remember the name though, just what they looked like. I found them though! I think the are a pretty common fruit gummy because it didn’t take too long to find them.
I took a day trip to Oxford and walked around the buildings and went to The Eagle and Child where C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien would drink. I had a Sunday roast since it was Sunday so I figured this would be the best time to get one.
And also got ice cream to keep up my tradition of getting ice cream in every city.
I’ve hung out with a couple of people on a pub crawl and in my hostel. The pub crawl was great although everyone was above 30 years old. However, I feel like I get along pretty well with people in the later twenties and above. Maybe it’s because my interests are more about politics, international relations, culture, life experiences, etc. and so I kind of like talking about those things.
The group from my hostel is more around my age and for the most part a nice crowd. There is someone who is Vietnamese who is a bit annoying, particularly with me being Chinese. It’s hard to explain because it’s the other side of the spectrum now and it’s complicated. But it’s a similar situation of a person boxing me into a category and only letting me be the thing they find acceptable for me to be. Which in this case is specifically Hong Kong Chinese (they refused to believe that I’m from Jiujiang, mainland China).
And I know it seems like I bring up this kind of thing every single post but that’s pretty much how frequently it happens. So if me posting about it seems repetitive and tiring me that’s a bit of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of it.
I’m tired of traveling at this point. I would like to just live somewhere and feel like I’m settled in, make lasting connections. And I can see that being a possibility in a lot of cities but I guess it’s just tiring to get attached to all these places and feel sad the next week because I have to leave. Get attached to people that I will never see again.
Yeah. I think when I say I’m tired, it’s not really physical tire but the mental and emotional tire. I find myself wishing I could go back to Gubeikou and hang out with Song and Jim, go back to Hong Kong and have another excited conversation with my roommate, go back to Saigon and hang out with all my friends, sit and write in The Exile back on Gili with the staff who were all joking around with me.
So it’s not that I’m tired and want to go home (although sleeping in my bed will be nice). But I’m tired of having to make new connections and tired of missing the people I have really good memories with.
I stopped in a bookstore to get a book to read while I’m sitting in these coffee shops and on the tube and bought Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I had a very brief but really genuinely nice conversation about the book with the guy at the register. He had read it along with Coates’ new book and so we just raved about the topic issue and it’s impact. It stood out to me because:
- I don’t usually have meaningful conversations with locals, just small talk mostly
- I don’t usually get very friendly customer service here (it may be a UK thing, not necessarily race related) and he was genuinely nice
- I rarely come across white U.S. men near my age who are at least okay with talking about race. Not all, but most of my white male friends from college didn’t really want to discuss race issues. So it was just interesting that a white British man was interested in learning about the Black American experience and seemed okay with talking about racism. In general, I’m pretty interested in how race and racism vary in different parts of the world.
I have one full day left in London. I think I’ll write maybe one last post that is summing up my total trip.
I’ll have a layover in Iceland for one day so it may or may not include that depending on how eventful that one day is.
This is my ice cream for London. Although I have one more day so maybe I’ll sneak in an extra ice cream.
This is a full English breakfast