Day 6: Being a Traveler…or a Tourist?

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

Bright and early Sunday morning I crawled out of bed and came to Richard’s apartment for breakfast. We could not resist the delicious eggs and bacon…Well, that’s what I intended to happen. Instead, being a sleepyhead, I woke up too late (again, I know. I know. Sleep is quite addicting), and Richard had to take the Tube to UCL.

We went to the British Museum, and we caught the filming of a movie. No one told us what it was, though Richard insisted it was Wonderwoman. The green screen and the set-up was pretty fascinating to witness. I was too short to get a good picture, but this was the second time I stumbled onto a movie event. I wonder what’s next.

The British Museum had an impressive collection of artifacts. The Egyptian collection even included the Rosetta Stone. To fulfill one of my arts requirement, I am currently taking an Archaeology of Ancient Egypt and the Near East. How cool is it that both of the artifacts I have chosen to write my essay about were here in the museum? While I am typing away and reading dozens of texts, the objects are resting just 10 minutes away from my apartment. If only they would whisper to me their stories. As expected in academia, there are conflicting views and opposing theories. I wondered if the objects themselves have listened for centuries to the myriad explanations and silently chuckled. Perhaps they would never want to simply reveal the truth as the mystery keeps the interest alive.

There was also an entire room of remnants from the Parthenon and the Lion Hunt depiction from Assyria. The collection was so massive that I was not sure if I will ever be able to see each piece carefully. Even though I was only in one country, the history of ancient civilizations was brought to me. “Wow,” that thought popped into my head quite often. To imagine someone from thousands of years ago could achieve such feat without the advanced technology of today amazed me. It truly showed the immeasurable capacity of the human mind..what are the limits?

After a brief time at the British museum, we headed to the National Gallery. Of course, the tourist in me stopped by a small shop to buy postcards and a London keychain. Yes, the Big Ben now holds my room key. At many corners of attractions and on the streets of London, carts of candied peanuts can be found! I had always wanted to try. The smell of coconut, cinnamon and…all the goodness in the world was irresistible. At two pounds a cup, it wasn’t cheap but so satisfying.

We did a quick tour of the National Gallery and stopped by Trafalgar Square.  My second elective here is an 19th-20th Century Art in London course, which consists of analyzing contemporary artworks in historical and social context. I also got to see my first essay’s piece in person. Guess which one is it? (Hint: It’s also Richard’s and Alice’s favorite piece in the museum).

Dingdingding – the Water Lily Pond by Monet. With the majority of the canvas covered by green paint and subtle pinch of pink and perhaps blue, it was extraordinary how vibrant the picture remained. I planned to go back to these museums and spend a more extensive amount of time there.

After the gallery, I was tired due to the long hours of standing and the lack of sleep (weehee jet lag). I could see the Big Ben from Trafalgar Square in front of the National Gallery, but I was debating to go home. How did Richard remain so energetic? I will never know. If you know me well, my love for coffee would be no mystery. I have tried to curb my coffee consumption because it is rather expensive in London. A cup of coffee cost more than a bus ride to a new place! Travel > coffee? However, after a few sips of my hazelnut latte, I was revived. New rule for me to wake up: When in doubt, drink coffee.

We then walked to the direction of the Big Ben. As you can see from the top collage, we stopped by many location: Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, and Buckingham Palace. We did not get to go inside except for a smaller building of Westminster Abbey. I loved the stained glass windows! I hope I will have the chance to visit the inside of all these places soon.

After the rather long day, we went to the biggest Sainsbury’s I have seen so far to pick up ingredients for stew. The stew was proudly cooked in Richard’s studio apartment. His stove was a part of his microwave (how cool is that?). Potatoes, carrots, green beans, onions and beef —> Chi cutting/peeling while Richard actually cooking —> delicious stew. It was too delicious and savory that I ate it all before remembering to take a picture!

The day was a lengthy journey. Truth be told, I felt like a tourist every time I snapped a photo. Perhaps the novelty continued to fuel my drive to seek for places and take random walks. These grand buildings and the crowds of people on the sidewalk could make one feel so small. It was a humbling experience to see the works that have withstood the test of time, but they were also created by humans or individuals who at once felt such insignificance. Maybe they will never know about the great legacy they left behind, but I was glad they chose to leave one.

P.S. I may stop doing day-to-day recorded post but rather moments and glimpse of significant moments. Mainly because I will never catch up with the time lag, and my life isn’t too exciting. Thank you for reading! With love, Chi.


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