This is my first attempt to try and upload photos - relive memories, really - from what will have to be the biggest adventure of my quarter life, yet.
And don’t get me wrong - I have traveled far and wide (not enough, sure, but slowly, we’re getting there) - from the dangerous and equally fun late-night streets of Mexico, filled with Tequila and uneasy tongues, to trekking the histories that traced each pavement in Cambodia, the color and chaos that is Hong Kong and Singapore, the sun and seas of my beautiful home country; I have been reckless, danced under street lamps, performed in front of crowds, raced cars, written prose, tried to learn a new language, sunk my nose in books and fallen in love like a madman on the loose, but nothing ever in comparison to how easily this trip swept me off my feet - and brought me right on top of the misty grounds of Arthur’s Seat in Scotland, and the busy, roaring, incredibly fascinating, streets of London - where I, of all places in the world, found who I truly ought to be.
It’s not to romanticise anything, and I (if you are thinking it, too) agree that this essay has started on such a glimmered note it’s hard to really focus and recount what I exactly did in my almost-2-week stay there, but there are just some places in this world, I guess, that you step onto and realise, a once chipped part of you has been found (okay, maybe it is a little bit romanticised).
Forgive me. I haven't written about anything I loved as much as this, ever since my heart got broken (which, I truly believe, will have to be my first ever heartbreak as a grown ass woman in her early twenties, capable of loving and leaving whenever she pleased, but apparently incredibly incapable of letting go of people who don’t love her enough to diminish their pride, break down their walls, overpower their inhibitions so love may overcome…but that’s for a whole different discussion - ) so I am thrilled - ecstatic, to share with you my newfound love for the UK. Vivat! Vivat Regina!
After securing my visa, and getting my acceptance letter in University Arts London to study Digital Marketing and Strategy (swanky I know), I decided to start piecing together my trip. I had a couple of free dates before my 5-day course began so, in an effort to maximize my stay, I booked a flight from London to Scotland, not knowing, really, what there is to see - except, maybe, good scotch (worth flying for), some old, barren castles, cold weather, and gentlemen with nice beards and odd accents (also worth flying for).
So when I arrived in Edinburgh - the sun, with cold, biting winds, all in my welcome committee - you could imagine how surprised I was to ride the tram to what I will admit now, turned out to be my most favourite city in the whole entire world (redundancy check). I tried my first AirBnB experience - with a lovely young couple who clearly drank too much, ate fish and chips in the park that spread out on the foot of an old, regal castle, walked around in galleries that did not ask for entrance fees (just your kind donations), watched street artists, went into museums, castles, shops, a horror house, with followers I met by posting on my social media, had tea and sweets, Nando’s, Haggis (which I abhorred), drank fantastic scotch, watched the sunset from North Bridge, right before going on a pub crawl - alone. All this in 3 days. Spaghetti legs, burnt forehead, and a reluctant heart after which, I had to fly back to London.
With most of my friends’ recollection of their trips to London and through the wonderful trolls of the Interwebs, I expected everyone to be quite fancy, all up to their own businesses, bordering mean, its weather, gloomy, dreadful - but London and its people were the exact opposite. That city was just so…alive. As if you can feel its pavements breathe in and out, carrying through its veins all sorts of sound, color, and chaos; as if you can be anyone you ever dreamed of, and flourish - like you can lose your way and the tube will come to your footstep right on the rescue to put you back on track. Sunny London is exhilarating, with trips to Tate Modern, China Town, Prince of Wales Theatre (to watch Book of Mormon), British Museum, Oxford Street (shopping central), Baker Street (area where The Beatles Store, Madame Tussauds, Sherlock Holmes Museum are), Camden Town (quirky shops and pubs, where Amy Winehouse lived (!!!)), to name a few - drawing one to conclude that dropping everything back home and living there instead (with what little money one had) could actually be a good idea.
At night, we went to Queen of Hoxton, Fabric, World’s End, and a couple of other secret places and pubs that I will leave anonymous for you to discover. And on my last day in London, I was invited out on a date to St. Paul’s Cathedral, Covent Garden, Borough Market, by a nice English boy. (Aha, kala nyo ah!)
You are an artist - my dad would always assure me - whenever I am fickle, sad, reckless, mad, thoroughly and beyond-me in love; whenever I am truly happy and hopeful, it all points back to who I sincerely am deep down inside: an artist waiting for the perfect creation, one that gave answers and assurance to my exhaust - one that could calm my rather spent, disarrayed, heart, - and in those streets, with those strangers, in the freezing warmth of an unknown place, I found just that. The adventure of a lifetime, an unapologetic thrill that eventually made me realise that I could be honest with myself without having to make up excuses for it.
I hope wherever you are, you find that. And if home doesn’t ever feel like home - remember that it is always just inside you.