Big Joe Meets Big Ben

I could have never imagine visiting London alone. And certainly not like this – under 40 hours. I had always imagine visiting Europe with my friends – the backpackers way – fine and slow. London, Paris would have been more romantic than it is to me now.

Certainly, the long-haul flight is torturing – both mentally and physcially. Worst, I was hoping for a “beautiful” girl companion on board – but I should have known – in business class, you only get dirty old men like myself. There is hardly any ladies in my class. I was surrounded by 40s old Englishmen. For the slow 16-hour flight, I could only strapped tight to my seat (watching 4 re-runs of i-Robot, Secret, Invasion and Black Hawk Down). I wish I had a nice, young female neighbour – so I can chat with her and maybe “court” her to be my 40-hour guide in UK.

I touched down Heathrow Airport (at 4am Shanghai time). Greeting me was an Indian driver from Hilton. He was so friendly and chatty and he made detours and show me the city. The minute I touched down London, I fell in love with this place. It is so beautiful. There is no intense highrise skyscrappers and fly-overs. The city is filled with trees and grand buildings. I was enchanted by the old buildings and people. It is a metropolis by people and not buildings. You see lots of different kind of people here – the Arabs, the Chinese and the Europeans. It reminds me of Perth.

With about 4 hours of free time, I roamed the city alone with my faithful Canon camera (plus the bendable tripod!). Surprisingly, London isn’t as cold as Shanghai. And it is really a tourist-friendly place. With limited time, I went to a couple of “important places” that I always wanted to visit. I chose “The London Eye”, “Big Ben”, “History Nature Museum”, “Harrods” and the “Buckingham Palace”. And I visited the original Number 141 office at Westbourne Terrace (the origin place for 141 worldwide).

I made a joke out of myself at the museum. I was standing at the guard house and asked “How much is the ticket?” The guard replied “Sir, you can’t buy a ticket.” I was shocked, thinking it is only open for the local. So I asked, “Why? How do I get in?” And she answered “The museum is free, sir.”

Tell me, is our museum in Singapore free? Now I remember what Tracy told me. In big international cities like New York and Sidney, the museum is free for all. It is for the public and the country finance it. Yes, there are also donation boxes in the museum where public can donate. Guess, our high GST and ERP tax can’t even afford to offer us a free museum back home.

It is a good thing that I brought my “bendable tripod” along. I achieved many “self-timer” takes. Of course, the people in London are friendly to snap you a shot!

Sadly I couldn’t extend my stay (cos’ I have a meeting in HK next). At the very least, it is worth the torture of enduring 16 hours x 2 journey. A very good first impression and a lasting love for this place.

One Response to Big Joe Meets Big Ben

  1. zilei says:

    Awesome Picture. I will visit London next year. hehe.

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