In one week, I have visited Westminister twice – once with my brother and the other time with Aneke from Germany and Martina from Czech Republic. Westminister is probably the most photographed tourist area in London and it is rightfully so because it is so beautiful. Initially, I thought that I would not be impressed by the sight of Big Ben because I have already seen it so many times on photos. But I must admit that the Gothic-styled Palace of Westminister is really awe-inspiring. The Palace of Westminister is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. I stood on the bridge, admired the palace for close to an hour while listening to the different languages spoken by the passer-bys and thought about many things. I thought that it is incredible just how many tourists from all over the world gather in this one spot. I thought about how nice it is that the world has developed to a point that people could afford to travel and tour other parts of the world. I thought about how unfair it is that some can afford to relax and travel while others struggle to survive. The grandeur of the Palace of Westminister perhaps epitomizes the inequality of the world even though it is a symbol of democracy. In any case, I would love to enter the palace one day to listen to the English parliamentary debate.
On the other side of the Thames River stands London Eye – yet another icon of London. Perhaps since Singapore has one of these Ferris wheels, I was not too impressed by the sight. Maybe one day in the evening (perhaps when my parents visit me), I will take the London Eye to admire the night scenery.
Westminister Abbey is a short walk away from the Palace of Westminister. It is funny how usually tourists have to pay 15 pounds to enter the church but tourists get to enter the church for free during service. One day, I went with Aneke and Martina for the service at 3 pm on a Sunday. We were worried that we would be late for the service so we ran from the tube to Westminister Abbey – it must be quite a funny sight to see 3 girls running in this area filled with tourists. I think they have service at different hours of the day and the information is readily available online. Westminister Abbey is popular these days because it was the venue for the highly sensationalized royal wedding between William and Kate. The service at Westminister Abbey is quite different from the one and only service I went for in Singapore. At Westminister Abbey, things seem quite traditional. The pastor read some passages from the Bible, the choir sang some songs and people stood and sat at appropriate times. In Singapore, I remember there were testimonies given by church members and the pastor aggressively preached about the existence of God and the necessity of the concept of God today. It is interesting how it is the same God and belief system and yet the atmosphere in the religious institutions are very different because of the different cultures.