David’s Not-so-grand European Tour: Part V

Day three in London coincided with the Chinese New Year, and EY and I celebrated by going to… Cambridge, which of course is known to the world because of the University there.

We met up at King’s Cross Station at 10:45 and took the next train to Cambridge. The ride was short, just under an hour. The most memorable thing about the ride is the changing air pressure (while the train enter tunnels and etc.) affecting my ears.

We took the bus to the town centre after getting off the train. Cambridge is a more vibrant town than I originally thought, as it serves as a hub to the surrounding areas, according to my guide, EY.

A few of my friends know that I love visiting university campuses, and Cambridge is certainly a worthwhile visit for people like me. We went around several residential colleges, including St. John’s, King’s, Queens’ and Trinity. Highlights of the tour included the Bridge of Sigh, the River Cam, and the King’s College Chapel.

Although the environment at Cambridge does not have the grandeur simiilar to Stanford (another great campus that I have been to), it does give out an aura of history and temperament (is that the right word?) of a prestigous education institution.

After touring the colleges, we sat down at a tea house and had tea (a visit to the UK would not be complete without this). It was all very relaxing, even though the weather was not the best.

We headed back to London in mid-afternoon. Since it is too early for dinner, I dragged EY to the British Museum again (sorry!). The great thing about free admission is not only that I don’t have to pay, but I can choose to go whenever I want and any number of times I want. This time around, we visited mostly the Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) exhibits.

To me, the Chinese Exhitbit was a little disappointing, as I didn’t find anything strikingly impressive (so where are the booty from the 19th century wars?), and the organization of the exhibit is somewhat disjointed and lacked meaning. Afterwards, I read that some of the British Museum’s Chinese Collection went on display in Beijing shortly after I returned to Vancouver. So I wonder if the “better” things were shipped over to China already by the time I was there. The Jade Exhibit is probably my most memorable exhibit within the Chinese Collection.

The Japanese Collection, on the other hand, was very well organized. The exhibit halls are organized in a chronological fashion. A large variety of types of items (e.g. clothing, painting, everyday household items) are displayed to show the various aspects of life in different eras. The captions are well written and expressive. The exhibits are intended to educate people about how Japanese culture has evolved over the its history, instead of just a static collection of artifacts (e.g. pots and porcelain) that hold little meaning to observers, as displayed in the Chinese Collection.

After spending a couple hours at the Museum, we walked down to Chinatown for Japanese curry (yes, again!) at a different restaurant as the night before. I thought the curry there is better than the one I had on the previous night. After studying photographic evidence, Mr. Fung concluded that the second Japanese curry was more authentic than the first one. Nonetheless, my craving of Japanese curry is finally satisfied!

EY and I took a brief walk around some malls after dinner, but then she needed to leave early to tend for other businesses. Before we part, she recommended me to go down to Charing Cross Station and experience the Thames at night. It was not the last time we see each other that night though, as we thought it was.

I followed EY’s instructions and walked on the Golden Jubilee Bridge to cross the Thames from Charing Cross. I was walking along Belvedere Road until I discover that there is a riverside walkway (The Queen’s Walk). Even though it was a Sunday night, there were still a lot of tourists along the riverside area. The night scene along Thames is fantastic, comparable to the night harbour scene of Hong Kong (not sure if that is an appropriate comparison). The London Eye looked big when I was walking beside/underneath it. I didn’t get on it though. What is the fun of going on a ferris wheel alone? Although I think the view would be nothing short of magnificent up there.

I was under the London Eye when I got a call from EY. It turns out that she left the things that she bought from Cambridge in my backpack. I guess we both are quite forgetful. :p We agreed to meet after I finish my night tour of the Thames. Moving on, I walked across the Westminster Bridge and observe the Westminster Palace and the Big Ben at night. Overall, it was a very pleasant walk and I was quite pleased.

I took the tube to Finchley Road and met up with EY to gave her back her things. We said good bye for real this time, but I’m sure we’ll meet again some time in the future.

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