It still feels surreal to be in London. My life has dramatically changed in a week. I still do not have a routine yet and I am still trying to get to know new people in Lee Abbey London but I know I will regard London as my second home soon enough. But for now, I am also enjoying some time alone in London as a tourist this week since school has not started yet. With a strange twist of fate, I met up with Laia on my first day in London. The jetlag makes the whole episode feel even more surreal for me – I can’t believe I am walking on the streets of London with a friend whom I have thought I might not see again. Life works in mysterious ways, I hope our paths will cross again soon enough. 🙂 I like London so far, I like how cosmopolitan it is. I wonder does speaking with a British accent make a person British? Or are there other cultural markers to differentiate between the in-group and out-group? The weather is quite unpredictable in London even by Singapore’s standards – hopefully I can get a hang of the mood of the weather soon.
We met at Charing Cross Station and I was undoubtedly impressed by what I saw when I got onto the street-level. Trafalgar Square is a pretty nice area with a very high column (Nelson’s Column) surrounded by majestic lion statues. There are many different activities in the square – tourists climb onto the lions, tourists take photos with painted men seated on nothing and groups of people (Hong Kong, Iran) protest about what is going on back home.
We walked from Trafalgar Square through the Horse Guards. The Horse Guards is now the headquarters of two major army commands: the London District and the Household Cavalry. Most tourists probably came to see the Household Cavalry and take photo of the mounted trooper. I actually pity these guys, they probably feel more like clowns than military men. Some people did funny shots beside them and they couldn’t even move. I also wonder what the modern function of these soldiers is. Are they supposed to intimidate or entertain?
We walked through the Horse Guards down The Mall to the outside of Buckingham Palace. It was a nice, sunny day so everyone around us is in a good mood. There are children chasing squirrels in the park and adults just lazing on the greens inside St James Park. St James Park and The Mall are both very nicely manicured areas, they are pretty but they did not surprise me. After that, we sat outside Buckingham Palace for a while to enjoy the sun. It was such a nice day. 🙂
After lazing around for a while, we went back to the National Gallery (free) just beside the Trafalgar Square. The National Gallery has so many art pieces from different eras. I am a big fan of Claude Monet so I was really happy to see some of his masterpieces again, including the famous Water Lilies. It is quite awesome, I can already see myself going inside the National Gallery just to see Monet’s artwork when I happen to be around the area in the future. From a curator in the National Gallery, I learnt the importance of perspective in European art. Finally I understand why so many artists like to paint people who are seemingly staring/ watching the viewer of the artwork. This is a way they use to try to engage the viewers. Well, I must admit that these paintings with faces that stare at the viewers have an effect on me but it is not a good effect though. I always feel like I am intruding on the privacy of the people inside the paintings when I look at them. We ended the day with British afternoon tea. What a great, sunny first day I had in London. Hopefully it is a good symbol for the days to come. 🙂