Thursday, 23 July 2009

Back in Blighty :: 17-26 Jul '09

Things that I've noticed about Blighty since being away for the last six months:

- The UK is grey. Really grey. Aside from the weather, many of the historical buildings are made of stone, which further contributes to the general greyness. The fact that everything is almost permanently bathed in sunshine yellow in Singapore is something that I have come to take for granted. Until now.

- Crime. There's a lot more of it in London. We saw a huge police raid, complete with two cars, two vans, and numerous officers, including two with enormous machine guns, on the way to visit our friend in Stoke Newington. We were here for six days when we saw that. In six months in Singapore, I have not seen anything that even vaguely resembles such serious criminal law enforcement.

- Dirt. Strangely, despite being a chewing gum aficionado, I totally understand why Singapore has outlawed chemically enhanced latex mastication. Long trodden black dots litter the pavements, bins overflow and the sewers are rather pungent since the recent heavy rains. The cleanliness of Sin City is yet another feature that I have grown to take for granted. No longer.

- Public transport sucks. There are, sadly, no two ways about it. London's 100+ year old tube network is dirty, noticeably old and unreliable. What you can calculate by counting stops is meaningless when you have to factor in signal failures and suicides. Singapore's uber-clean, super efficient and slick service is eons ahead of London. The only thing Singaporeans could do better is manage their ridiculous kiasu attitude and actually wait for people to get off before boarding.

- Vibrancy of the East End. London's East End will always hold a special place in our hearts. The aforementioned greyness, crime and dirt seem fitting of the East, where edginess pervades all things from atmosphere to haircuts.

- Friends. Of course, we can't replace the friends we have in the UK. It is difficult, having been away for the last few months living the life of Riley. We have many tales of adventures; the ones we have left behind speak of long winters, mundane jobs and far-flung daydreams. However, it's good to know that some of our friends have plans to visit us in Singapore or meet us on some cool island in South East Asia. I can think of worse ways to spend the last days of my twenties.

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