London 2000

Trip Start Nov 02, 2000
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Trip End Nov 16, 2004


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Monday, November 20, 2000

I arrived in London in 2000, fresh-faced and eager to see a new side of the world. London's tossed me in all sorts of directions, emotionally and physically. It's a great hub. Busy, wild, exciting, buzzy, dirty, beautiful, strange old London...it would take me ages to sum up four years here in this little box. Better to recollect over a bottle of red wine sometime.

I was at the first anti-war protest in London February 15 2003 starting at Embankment in Central London and ending in Hyde Park. I got a little snap-happy with my Nikon which I've named Gladys...a good welsh name...she served me well and I've attached a lot of photos for you to see. A good little practise exercise with photojournalism.

Also, can't sign this entry off without you reading about my first impression of London. It makes me laugh to read it four years later!

"Monday November 13, 2000:

Hey guys I've just survived my first few days. The time here has already passed quickly. My weekend was a whirlwind of flat hunting and sight-seeing.

My favorite part so far has been the adventures on the tube. I'm considering starting to write chronicles on the tube and name them "Kim's confrontations on the London Tube", imaginative huh?

For instance, there is a serious problem with 'tube rage', very similar to
car rage, people swear and push others out of the way...it may sound
frightening, but in fact it can be quite entertaining. One woman got mad at
another while I was on the Piccadilly Circus line. I assure you that I
was not involved, but did smirk as I watched the abusive cusses
fly. Classy.

We are literally packed on their like sardines. It truly is a
terrorist's wet dream. And Londoners are well aware that the terrorist
threat is a possible reality. For instance when I got onto the tube from
Heathrow airport we had to go through security to make sure that my luggage
wasn't a bomb. There was actually a bomb on its way to London and was
tracked down in Belfast on Saturday. The IRA was planning to plant it at
the Remembrance Day ceremonies in the dome...that would've been a real
tragedy considering thousands turned out for the show.

Enough about mass death threats...on to lighter topics...so I was flat hunting
this weekend and as a result I rode the tube all around the city, even as
far as 40 minutes into suburbia. I saw some really shoddy places...totally
unlivable and wafting with nasty smells. Others were fairly clean and
decent. I'm not sure I've hit the right place yet, but in the meantime I'm
living with my boss who is very good natured and feeds me mass amounts of
food. Her house is an old English Victorian-style with tiny fire places in
almost every room. She sometimes lights them for me at night and it reminds
me of home...it's a very comfortable place to live and I'm lucky to have had
the luxury of being provided with meals...good ones at that.

The water here is pretty crappy. I try to drink bottled water when I can, it just
tastes better. I had dinner with my boss and her son who is in his last
semester of med school. We had a good chat about the medical school system
here. This one's for you Robin...it appears that you don't have to write any
standardized tests here to get in. There is fierce competition as far as
grade-point-averages are concerned. There also seems to be a shortage of
docs here so people are complaining, just like in Canada, that the system is
inefficient and is particularly to blame for the shortages.

There is also some serious anti-American sentiment going on here.
Just last night I was watching a standup comedy show on TV. The Irish were
making me cry tears of laughter...but when an American comedian was introduced people barely laughed and he remarked on how difficult he found it to be American
in the UK. Poor yanks.

I also discovered through conversation that some members of the European
Union believe that if everyone unites and once the Euro becomes
strong enough they think they will be able to overthrow the US and regain
status as a world superpower. It seems ridiculous to me but good effort to them.

Now enough death and politics which always go hand in hand. I've had the
pleasure of visiting my first London pub and apart from the steep prices in
beer; I was delighted to learn that tipping is less frequent that I
previously thought. Yah, I can save a few bucks by being the cheap ass
person that doesn't tip without having bartenders refuse to serve me for my
cheap ways. I always hated tipping for bad service at home.

I also went to Camden Town market this weekend. What a cool place to buy
...well, everything! The jackets, jewelry, shoes, shoes, shoes...dance, rave,
house, acid jazz, techno, and electronic music is all over the place...mixes
I've never heard before but are amazing to hear. I also went to this
underground rave clothing house. You walk through cave-like rooms and the
designers are so exclusive that I tried to take pictures of some of the
wacked out clothes on the racks (like tire dresses and metal breasted rave
crop tops) and they threatened to take my camera if I snapped another.

Everything in there was glowing in the dark and the music was so loud that I
could barely talk to Amy (friend from Vancouver who I'm hanging out with).
Speaking of art...as those clothes are best classified...there is also an
amazing number of dance companies and the Royal Ballet has a number of
performances lined up. I can actually get some tickets for as little as 2
pounds ($4.50 CDN) but the seats blow.

A little off topic, but also really interesting is these pizza scooters they
have. They deliver pizza on the back of scooters and they keep them in
these big boxes. It makes the scooter look lopsided and they really are
funny, wobbly little things.

There are also a mass of weird salads here. It's fabulous. I love weird
salads. Salads made of corn, noodles, spinach, veggies, okay...I don't mean
to gross people out but I love these salads and apparently so do Londoners (might I mention that this weird salad place closed down two years later!).

So tonight I'm off to look at another flat (this one is shared with 4
English girls) might be nice considering the cost that 5 people pay. I'll
let you know when I finally find one I like. I'm actually going for a
second visit to the first flat I saw. This time I'd like to really scour
the place just to be certain.

Mom and Dad, I got a hold of my French buddy Alex and we are going to meet
tomorrow I think. She has the thickest accent and I'm sure I'll have to
brush up on my French just to carry another conversation with her.

So that's the low-down from London. With every passing day is more to see and do. I've adopted the word "keen" while I've been here. I've only heard it used a few times, but it just stuck with me. It's hilarious because I catch myself saying things like "I'm really keen on the ballet" or "I wasn't too keen on that flat"...I sound terrible with my Canadian accent - laughable really, like a Brit wannabe.

Well I must try to do some work, after all that is why I'm here...it's a very
laid-back office and I'm not exactly consumed with responsibilities as of
yet...this week I've designed a CD label, created awards and am planning a
Christmas gala? I'm sure things will pick up soon, but for now, what the
hell...enjoy it while it lasts. Oh and I might head to Brussels in two weeks
time for a weekend abroad with Amy. I'm still trying to get my Christmas plans
in order. I'll keep you posted.

It will take me 7 months just to see everything in London.

Cheers all,
Kim"
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