It has been longed for Tingting, my wife, to pay her visit to the United Kingdom, but it never comes true until this summer, when we determined to arrange the marriage holiday to this lovely country. Within two months, she gets everything prepared, which includes passport, visa and the booking of air tickets. it is very close to the season for the new international students, and the air ticket in these summers never go cheap since the popularity of Asian students coming to UK for their masters.
However, for even the day before her arrival, when she has been on flight, either for sleeping like a swine or enjoying some ‘nice’ flight food, I have not formed a clear idea as where to show her. This is partly because I seldom travel myself, except for a trip to Isle of Man, Edinburgh and also, a three-day trip last year to London. Besides, I visited nowhere else but Manchester only on academic purpose. Her idea about the travelling, on the other hand, is quite straightforward. The only things that can beat her heart, before her coming to UK, is the Thames River and the London Tower bridge. For the fomer, it is well known for most Chinese if they have taken even some chapters of Doyle’s The detective Sherlock Holmes , for the latter, according to my wife’s words, that’s appeared on her English textbook when she was a secondary school student.
Traveling some places without any schedule or plan has formed my own style since my first visit to Hawaii. Some of my colleagues said that I would have to pay for such unconsciousness. That’s true, in fact, as I paid much more on transportation fare than booking in advance, but that provides some flexibilities that match the accidents well. For example, Tingting is still carrying on some timing confusions even after being in Lancaster for five days. The opportunity cost for a delay on trip (which equals to the cost of cancellation the advanced tickets to London, or a reduction on enjoyment of travelling) exceeds the gaps between the prices for an advanced and anytime off-peak ticket from Lancaster to London.
But there is really one thing missing up, which is the British weather. We enjoyed quite a few sunshine this summer but the weather can and does change dramatically just for days before her arrival. There suffered greatly from the showers and wind blowed heavily for the days of her arrival and around. We even have to stay at Lancaster, cooking and watching some movies online in my dorm, partly because of the weather, and partly because of her timing confusing. But what’s really important is that she needs a new pair of shoes that enables her of hiking and travelling around under such a cold weather. So we picked one day up and travelled to Preston.
Preston plays a central role in both governmental and commercial issues of Lancashire, and there you can find much larger shopping malls and halls in relative to Lancaster, where my university is located at. It is this trip that Tingting took her first lesson of living in Britian. That is, we were planning to travel to Preston by National Express, where the bus would pass through the Lancaster University. We waited there for two hours in cold winds but the bus never came. I phoned the customer service for times, but there is no clear reply until they told us the bus had left Lancaster minutes earlier than the schedule (that is in fact 15 minutes in advance).
Eventually we arrived at the Preston, whose shopping mall is located at a nice place, just opposite to the railway station. You can find all the brands, and it is the first time that I get to know where the nearest shopping centre is for my university. The size of the TKMaxx, a discount shop widely spread in UK that focus on sales of off-season products, is twice of large than that of Lancaster. But Tingting seems get the right feeling when entering some Chinese-similar shops. Fortuantely, there does have one, and they offered a 25% off that day. So we get the shoes settled there after paying 50 pounds for that.
We eventually paid a visit to London after several days. There is another reward for our booking late. We successfully find the accommodation located at LSE (London School of Economics ) for only 90 pounds per night. That is unbeatable as the price for the hotels nearly be can never be less than 200 per night considering its being the central area of London, the most prosperous and busy city in Europe. For the first day, however, we failed to catch the Big Bus, but walked to the British Museum as its being very close. This museum is very famous for its collection on antique for ancient Egypt and Greece, where you can see several mommies that are well preserved and maintained. In the Asia section, however, they do provide some very astonishing Indian and Chinese staffs. For Chinese staffs, you can even keep a very close eye to the sculptures made in Tang Dynasty, which is 1,500 years ago. As Tingting said, these kinds of collections is rare to see even in Taipei.
We spent four nights and five days in London, where we enjoyed some very relaxed trips. The big bus for the first day showed us around, for both the narrow streets that goes around the Thames River, and the famous London Tower Bridges. Also, the bus take us to some areas that the properties are only for the richests. Though the London that we see today are partially rebuilt after the London Big Fire and the World War II respectively, Tingting was still greatly shocked by the magnificent building there as what they present, from their design to their apprearnce, refers to nothing else but only luxury. London is really the heaven for the riches and hell for the poors. People here are always leading some fast but efficient life. Young people here in UK often have a dream of working and staying in UK, as they treat this melting pot as the place that they can show and prove themselves, and they can receive very good pay. However, the London-specific high salary can soon be moderated by the high house renting and transportation costs.
The life style is always changed dramatically by the enrollment of a lady, namely, his wife, and this rule works all around the world. As a lazy man that seldom went to the town center for food but only seeking some local changes on campus, I paid quite a few visits to the town with Tingting for food. I even break the no-dining rule and invited some of my friends for dinner. Tingting owns a strong preference on vegetables and fruits, which indeed is very luxury. We went to the town per two days for meat, fresh vegetables and fruits, though here in this country, food belonging to these categories are always not cheap. We cooked everyday and I temporarily said goodbye to the junk food available on campus, and of course, my paper and my office.
It has been over two years since her travel and over one year since my last time of writing this article that seems never completed. It has been so long that I find it too difficult even to conclude it as things has been charged dramatically since her visit. I have left UK for good and lived with her in Shenzhen for months, my PhD has been completed with a diploma in hand, I am now busying with job seeking but not with thesis writing anymore.
The experience in UK, especially of being a resident there in a small town for four years, has brought me much changes on the way of thinking and decision making. For my wife, this change might not be that significant considering her short stay for only three weeks. What she can still remember, is the air condition, the quality of fruits, the taste of croissant, garlic bread, and of course, the strong wind and cold weather there. When asking her about the British food, her comment is still simple and straightforward – I’d cook myself on daily basis,