I had never been to the UK until last weekend. Even though I had chances to in the past, I was never very interested in visiting the country because I thought it’d be similar to America (after all, we all speak English and we were a British colony, right?). Boy was I wrong!!!
1. The British Accent: At the risk of sounding like an idiot… It was amazing to me that everyone I spoke to had a British accent. I felt like I was in Hogwarts. My mind was blown as I observed an Indian associate at Tesco speak with a Chinese client, both with a British accent!
2. British opinion on American accent: On the other hand, British men were telling me that the American accent sounds really exotic. Were they just trying to hit on me? My Asian-Canadian friend Joyce who lives in London confirms that men find Asian girls who speak with an American accent to be exotic. I suppose the accent-obsession works both ways. This ingenuous ad says it all…
3. A 5-6 digit (numbers and letters) postal code uniquely identifies any address in London, down to the apartment number. For example, my friend’s address is W9 1SQ which stands for 1 Alexandra Court, 63. *cue sound of mind exploding*
4. Popularity of drum and bass: I have been hearing various people say that drum and bass is dead, for quite some time. Those that say so have not been to London. Friday drum and bass night at Fabric was packed, with one of the best club atmospheres I have ever experienced. I had been to a pure drum and bass event before (read about my solo clubbing DnB experience in Fabric). When I asked people there if drum and bass was popular, they said yes, since 20 years ago they had been coming to Fabric for drum and bass. The two big dance music genres in London appear to be Techno and Drum and Bass!
5. The stiff upper lip: My friend Felicia who is on exchange at LSE tells me that “the stiff upper lip” is a point of national pride; the Brits value looking stoic. Though I didn’t feel this as much, as everyone I met was quite friendly, I thought it was a funny expression.
6. London Bridge is just a normal bridge. Another ignorant American moment – I was so disappointed until I looked east and realized that I had thought all along that Tower Bridge was the London Bridge.
7. Everything is red: buses, telephone booths, postal boxes… And I realized that the red telephone booths are everywhere (I thought it was just one!) The quintessential red double decker buses are a wonderful way to get around the city. Never thought about it before, but having a double decker means you can fit 2x the amount of passengers, therefore helping with congestion! Plus, it is only 1.50 pounds per trip and you get to take in the sights of the city. Definitely the way to go touring London. In the older models of the bus, there are no card readers (such as many of the line 15 buses). I was told someone would come collect the fare, but it never happened so got a ride for free… makes a difference in London :p
8. Low Tea: My friend told me that high tea was called this way because of the three-tiered platters they use to serve you tea, so we joked that we were having “low tea” because we didn’t get the 3-tiered tower (though I discovered later that high tea is called that way because of the high stools that people sat on, AND high tea is more like supper and not an afternoon snack). Nonetheless, I had discovery of love for afternoon tea. Doesn’t matter if your tea is high or low, taking tea in London was just exquisite! The teas, scones, and cakes were delicious, and it was definitely a 100% English experience.
9. Being upset with the stolen artifacts at the British museum: On a heavy note, the more I browsed the artifacts at the British museum, the angrier I felt. Usually, museums will put on the descriptions something like “donated/acquired from so-and-so at such-and-such date”. The British museum’s artifacts had no such explanations, presumably because most were just taken by them during the imperial ages. Looking at the tens of thousands of artifacts it holds, including gigantic statues, I couldn’t help but feel upset about how these legacies of human civilization are thousands of miles away from where they should be.
10. Free samples at Borough Market: Wow, this should be written in big bold letters across the internet and in guide books!!! One of the top highlights of my trip – tons and tons of FREE samples of all sorts of foods at the Borough Market… it is 100 times better than Costco!! If you’re a backpacker on a budget, go here and eat to your heart’s content. In addition to free samples, you can find absolutely every kind of produce there as well as ready-made international cuisine.
London is a super cool city! I would go back for a longer UK trip!