Until James, one of my friends from the UK told me that I can actually book and stay in one of the colleges in Oxford University, I did not know that I can experience students lives in one of the most famous universities in the world. Thanks to him, not only I experienced the student life there, but I also get to go to many Oxford colleges for free as he works for Oxford University.
Technology has dramatically changed people’s travel experiences by allowing people search and browse pictures, articles and videos of their destination on-line nowadays. Before the space for my imagination of one of the greatest culture and economy hub in Europe – London runs out, I decided to travel to UK’s capital for the fist time. Besides, the pound sterling is very weak, as nearly as half of a few years ago for my Japanese yen. I thought this could be
Since I have travelled to some metropolitan cities like New York a few times already, my expectation for London is similar to New York except that everyone would be speaking a different accent of the English language. To my big surprise, London’s public space such as the underground is well-maintained and much cleaner than that of New York despite being of the oldest subways in the world. The train itself is also cleaner than the ones in Paris.
A connecting tube between two station in London underground
Compared to the concrete jungle in Tokyo or high-rise buildings in New York, London has its incredibly lush greenery and parks in the city centre. Despite being a modern financial and economic centre in Europe, most of the buildings in London are well preserved for hundreds of years with beautiful architecture and designs dated back Victoria and George eras. It is quite a scenery for people like me who are used to dwelling in high-rise buildings to saunter around these old buildings and walk under the huge green lawns in the park.
It is also quite strange when
I was lucky enough that the weather was lovely during my stay, a great escape from the rainy season (Tsuyu) in Tokyo. Summer (especially July and August) is truly the best time to visit London. It does not get hot as cities that I used to live like Shanghai, Tokyo and New York. People are mostly polite and welcoming.
Londoners absolutely love flowers. You can see flowers decorated everywhere both on the street or on people’s home.
London has one of the oldest department stores in the world. I enjoyed both the shopping experiences in the famous department store ‘Harrods’ with glamours interior design and the magic experience staying hundreds-years-old college in Oxford as a student. There are no cafeterias at Oxford University. There is only a place called dining hall. How fancy! Having breakfast or we shall say dining there feels not just like formal but also a privilege. I have heard that from times to times, dinner will be served and pre-booked and proper attire are required to dine there. I think it is a nice tradition to keep from time to time. My friend James helped me to get into these colleges and experienced the lives there
Many of British friends in Singapore and Tokyo had already warned me about British food, however, I have enjoyed some of their dishes such as fish pies. The ales in the pubs in Oxford are definitely the best that I ever had. And there are so many of them. The vegetables comes with the pies did not have much taste but, hey, it is quite healthy in my opinion.
One of my friends in London took me to this old British pub to try their fish and chips and the ale
London has an astronomical number of food options. I tried some nice Italian pasta dish and a glass wine near where I stayed. The chef recommended me a pasta dish called langoustine Linguine. The pasta was freshly prepared so was the prawn. The waiter even took out a basil plant and started cutting off fresh leaves from the plant into the olive oil for the bread. It was really tasty but of course, the price was also steep – 43.7 pounds for 1 glass of wine and a dish of pasta.
Overall, London is a great city to visit in the
Disembarked at LaGuardia Airport, I was still digesting a self-perceived racism experience from the steward in Delta airline. During the flight, an old Japanese old lady sat on my right and a white man on my left. When it comes to tea time, a steward came and asked the Japanese old lady whether she wants tea or coffee without addressing her, but with his arm crossed, insinuating his impatience and carelessness. I was treated better maybe only a little better, as I was, at least, addressed as “the middle, tea or coffee?” There is no question that this simple English would be helpful for non-native English speakers to understand. When it comes to the turn for the white man on my right, he was greeted with “Sir, would you like a tea or coffee?” The steward might have been tired of lots of Asian faces who have limited command of English languages on the plane, thus, did not care much about how to address them properly. But his attitude for sure did not satisfy me who had been accustomed to the superior services from these Japanese airlines.
This was my second journey to New York, which could mean it would be not as exciting as the first trip two years ago, and this was not a good start to the vacation. However, this time the fact that my best friend Anthony is in New York and I would be his guest could be the most promise of the happiness of this trip.
As Confucius said, “有朋自遠方来 不亦楽乎” – To have friends coming in from afar, how delightful! It’s been a while since we last met in Tokyo and in Singapore, but it felt like it was just yesterday. I clearly remember he visited me in Singapore while I was there by myself and struggled with the relationship with my wife. It was indeed a delightful feeling and now it is my turn!
In New York, Anthony took me to a cafe that serves proper omelettes, the quality of which Anthony grew up with. Unlike him, who has a penchant for eggs, I did find it quite tasty compared to the ones in Japan. I enjoyed a show called “the Book of Mormon”, in the theatre for the first time in my life. While I watched the American people mocking one of their own religions at Broadway, I was switching between the thoughts of the universe and trying to catch up the fast-paced speaking English.
Another highlight of the trip was the visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the third most visited museum in the world. Coincidently, Anthony and I visited the Louvre back in 2009 together in Paris, the most visited museum in the world. I learnt a lot about the Byzantine empire and medieval history in Europe. Although most of the art was centred around Christianity, it is a wonder to behold these masterpieces while imagining what kind of life people were living back then.
A catch-up with ex-Morgan Stanley colleague Susumu got me to the Internet Googling what kind of jobs in New York that I could find and they pay. The result of almost-three-times high compensation as Tokyo is like an invitation to deepen my attraction to work in the low latency trading firm here. New York might not be my favourite place to live, but it definitely is a place that I can spend for a few years to gain some serious professional development. We went to a rooftop bar near Chinatown. The bar experiences were not particularly interesting except that Anthony was asked about the details of a drink by a girl but he could not articulate and pick her up. However, on the way back, we got a chance to pool a taxi ride with a Jewish lady. I started the conversation and got to know she was a relationship consultant. As soon as I insinuate that Anthony was single, she immediately spotted my tempt as a wingman. I guess I need to step up my game next time. She was tall and thin and beautiful by Anthony’s word. He seemed also like her beauty as well as her intelligence.
The grand and magnificent new york public library made me want to come to New York to study here every day until I saw the tranquil Harvard Business School campus with a lavish green lawn in an idyllic setting, a place where I could temporarily forget all the troubles and annoyances back home and stay calm. Walking in the neighbourhood near Harvard University where all the brick sidewalks, made me time slip back to the colonial era in America. Boston is better than New York in the sense that it has the balance between over-crowded and bustling streets and totally rural village.
In Boston, Anthony and I visited Harvard campus and tried various cuisines from high-end Italian food in these tourist areas to the “American house favourite” potato fries near Boston’s rail station. The adorable squirrels in the Boston Common park were almost like domestic pets. We pretended to have some food in our hands and they would just come after us. Just by looking at them, made me happy.
A week was too short to experience the New York life. With the imagination of how would my life would be if I move to New York and reminisce of the old good times in Tokyo, I am already on my plane back to Tokyo, which awaits me to embrace the reality and challenges of the life there.
My cover for one of my favourite songs during my high school time.
This shop in Somerset allows you to make 抹茶 (Japanese green tea ) by yourself, which is rarely seen in Japan. It was quite a good deal as well (4 SGD) for a sweet and tea set.
People here in Singapore love self-service including making your own tea. Except that I am not quite sure whether people here know how to make the proper maccha. Well, don’t forget to pay the 17% tax and service charge as well as making yourself a couple of tea:-)
Compared with the real one that I tried in Kyoto.
I spent 26 dollars for a margarita pizza here in Singapore . What I got was a piece of biscuit with some thin slice of cheap cheese and some catch-up on top?
Where is the chewy dough and mozzarella cheese and basil leaves, which are the essential ingrediants for a pizza to be claimed as a margarita pizza?
Who can tell me where I can get real pizza in Singapore ?
I miss the Itlalian restaurant in Tokyo .
She was by herself in the rain.
She didn’t know where to go to find her mother and a shelter.
She thought she would die in this cold rain without any food.
Life was difficult for her. However, she finds a shelter and a warm shoulder to sleep.
Our life can be as difficult as hers, but if we are lucky enough to find a warm shoulder to lean on one day, please don’t take that for granted.
It was an also good feeling to have someone who loves and show fondness to you, even she was just a cat.
“having here or take away?”
或者直接说“打包La”, most non-Chinese speakers in Singapore can understand “Da Pao”, which means take away.
“For here, or to go?” – 美国
“Have here, or take away?” – 澳大利亚
“Is that to eat in or take away?”， “Eat in or take away?” – 英国
I came across a furniture shop at Buona Vista and loved some of the craftsman furniture there. A further research on the Internet led me to order a desk with the solid teak wood. It is a very durable wood type that is native to South East Asia and is beloved by many early European colonist.
This is my first big investment in furniture, as I have been moving to different countries for the last a few years and always hesitated to buy cheap ones and sell them when I leave the country. I have been always hesitated to buy a serious furniture that probably can last a lifetime. However, as I grow older, I felt it is time to make some of my belongs permanent.
The furniture shop showed me a few samples from his brochures, but I didn’t like any of them. So with some of the inspiration from the Internet, I started to design this piece. After a few email and prototype exchange of the desk with the furniture shop owner, we finally agreed upon a design that I like. It was a long wait, more than three months until I received the final work. I am quite happy with the final product except for some minor issues near the handler inside the drawer. But I am not living in Japan anymore. So I understand I should not expect a perfect product. It was a long wait, more than three months until I received the final work. He didn’t disappoint me. I am quite happy with the final product except for some minor issues near the handler inside the drawer. But I am not living in Japan anymore. So I should not be fussy and picky like the Japanese customers and not expect a perfect product.
Here it is, a solid teak writing desk made in Singapore.
Occasionally, she came to the tree in front of my window. This is my first time to see a hornbill in real life. Maybe my flat is close to the Bukit Timah natural reserve.