I’ve never been a big fan of London. Sure, it has it’s redeeming features: excellent museums, quirky little corners (Camden is a particular favourite) and some great architecture, but overall it’s just overpriced and – compared to most of the capitals I’ve been lucky enough to visit – not really very fun. I guess familiarity breeds a relative lack of excitement.
London is home to a whole host of my best friends, however, so it really is a ‘must visit’ for me every time I come back to the UK. I dutifully made my trip down (I can hardly drag everyone down to Salisbury any more times!) from Coventry, safe in the knowledge that I had a great excuse (my sister’s engagement party – see future entry!) to run away fairly quickly.
The best way to overcome my aversion to our capital seemed to be to pretend to still be in Korea, and spend some time in the company of Calum, another former Berlitz man. After a quick coffee and in depth discussion about how much we miss various forms of fermented vegetables and compressed rice, we headed for the Korean section of the British museum and took photos in front of the mock-up Korean house. Unfortunately we couldn’t actually track down any Korean food, which would have topped the day off, but talking Seoul again was a very necessary and enjoyable pastime.
Next up I changed the focus to an entirely different part of Asia: Thailand. This blog starts out with backdated entries (emails home) from my time traveling around Thailand with Dickon, one of my oldest and closest friends. Three years later, and a large number of the people we met out there have ended up in London. Time for a reunion! After meeting Dickon in Blackfriars, We gradually met up with a whole host of people around Covent Garden, ate some Japanese food and a stumbled around a whole host of bars before finishing up in an extremely cheesy club.
London’s prices are frightening. It’s difficult to grasp the economics behind why the salaries are similar in Seoul and London, yet the price of a pretty much everything in London is over double, and the price of spirits more than quadruple what it is back in Korea. You only have to look at the average savings as a percentage of salary in Korea and in the UK to see how much of an effect this has (around 40% in Korea, compared to less than 10% in the UK, if I remember rightly). Ridiculous. Having said that, the quality of local beer is infinitely higher than the chemical stuff you get in Seoul.
I’ll miss Seoul’s nightlife for a long time, being both affordable and wild: a great combination. 3am (if you’re lucky) closing times and twenty quid entry fees are not something I plan to get used to. Fortunately I don’t have to, and the trip was definitely worth if for catching up with some old friends. I’ve heard Dublin is equally (if not more expensive), I guess I’d better brace myself!
My annual wallet-damaging trip to London’s over, it was great to see everyone, but I don’t envy you guys at all!