[26 Jun.] Arrival!
I am here in London! After nine and a half sleepless (sigh) flight, I landed safely in London Heathrow at local time 11:30am, which was fifty minutes ahead of schedule. London is truly breathtaking in multiple ways; I shall elaborate on that later.
Most of my friends know that I was extremely nervous about leaving the day before. I sent at least twenty Snaps to everyone every hour just to project what misfortunes I would face when I arrive. Spoilers: It wasn't bad at all! However, even though I triple checked my packing list before leaving, I still managed to forget something hugely important! (Will get to this later.)
Anyway, I left my home in SoCal at 2pm. I said goodbye to my parents right before I checked in. After I got past the TSA, I wondered around the airport, trying my best to not use my phone. I almost impulse-purchased Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
The flight itself was actually the worst part. I somehow failed to fall asleep on a ten-hour flight. I literally tried closing my eyes twice and laying in a somewhat comfortable position. I think I fell asleep for around thirty minutes one time, but mostly I was just sitting with my eyes closed, which was excruciatingly boring and disappointing. I eventually gave up and watched two movies: Doctor Strange and Hidden Figures. Also, did I mention how my flight company was United? Like, United being ahead of schedule for once?! With HD movies?! It seems like the Sun is rising from the west!
In the last hour of the flight, I could see the lands of the United Kingdom beneath me. The fields were so green and smooth, unlike United States' rugged and diverse landscapes. The roads are so tiny and wavy; it was as if the builders actively tried to avoid damaging their surrounding nature. When we flew over the city of London, I was taken away by the magnificent sight of the sprawling metropolis. I've never actually seen a metropolis so far up before, even Canton, because Canton would always get covered up by smog or clouds (summer monsoon seasons). I could see the London Bridge, the Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye all at once. The River Thames sliced through the city dominantly. Tall, cluttered skyscrapers dazzled under the sunlight. It was truly a sight to behold. When I landed, I bought a SIM card for 35 pounds with a whopping 12 GB of data.
The London Underground is another story. I thought it would be bigger, like gigantic, but the vehicle itself is rather small. NorCal friends, think of the MUNI trains. The tube trains are that size but just longer and with more compartments. I bought an Oyster Card (think Clipper Card but British) for 35 pounds, and I proceeded to make my way to my Airbnb (I am staying in London for five days before making my way to Cambridge). The process took three hours and three line transfers, which were a huge hassle due to my heavily loaded luggage. In addition, the train became progressively more crammed as it approached Central London. It was so crammed at one point that I literally had my face pressed to the window like in cartoons.
The tube brought me from the city life of London to the suburbia (which I am staying in). It was a sudden change. The suburbia reminded me so much of Canton due to its houses. The houses are shaped like typical American houses, but instead, they are built by bricks and concrete, not wood. This means that the houses are highly susceptible to humidity, which is a problem here consider the amount of rain and moisture this land gets. The walls of the houses are overgrown with weeds and blackened by decomposition like the old buildings in China. In fact, the suburbia of London reminded me so much of the Chinese countryside that I thought I came to the wrong place. Maybe the buildings are historical on their own.
My Airbnb host's name is Susan. She lives alone, and she works as an executive for a company. Her flat is small but homely, and my room is just the perfect size for a tired traveller. When I arrived, I realized that I forgot *ahem* to bring a plug adapter because the electric sockets in the U.K. are different than those in the US. Luckily, Susan was able to find a spare one for me to use. When I go explore London tomorrow, I need to remember to buy one for myself...
Photos will officially start coming in tomorrow! (Hopefully...) Today, I just want to relax for the rest of day. I am very tired and am still adjusting to the time zone, not to mention that I technically pulled an all-nighter (I am weak, I know).
Also, today was a beautiful day for me to speak in a horrible British accent to people here!