First impressions of London

I’ve been in London a week now and my first impressions on day one were that “it’s old, cold, grey and green”. It is spring here so its not actually that cold, but it was really hot in Asia and I’m a wuss when it comes to being cold.

The plan is to stay here in London, find an awesome job, settle and make the most of my new British passport. After the first week I will admit I have doubts about this plan. Yesterday I shed a few tears and thought “what the F* was I thinking?”. If I’m honest, my first impressions aren’t fantastic. But to be fair on London, being broke, unemployed and having just had 6 months in Asia (where it was warm and constantly sunny) has not helped. I also managed to get a cold on my 2nd day so have been feeling a bit rubbish.

I get the impression that many Kiwis who come to London are in awe at its size, the history and charm..etc. All of this is a little lost on me as I’ve been here before and have lived in other big cities before. I do like London, I just don’t love it yet. It is a little bit like Brussels, but not as charming or interesting. Quite frankly I’ve been spoilt by my travels and am being a little bit of a brat! I’d love to live in Europe again, but I don’t speak any other languages so it makes finding work near impossible. London is a relatively easy place to find work and my family is here, so London it is.

London is huge and I’m living on the outskirts. Commuting has never been my favourite thing and I can see there is going to be a lot of time wasted commuting in this city. The public transport is fantastic though, expensive but fantastic. My place is a 15min walk to the train station and a 30-40mins walk to the tube station. If I’m feeling lazy (or if its raining) I can catch the train to the tube station. I have decided that I prefer the train as being so far underground a little creepy. The tube is a little smelly, claustrophobic, a rabbit warren of stairs/passageways when you change lines, and it’s a little creepy. I suspect I’ll get used to it fairly quick as it’s definitely the easiest/fastest way to get around the city.

Supermarket shopping here has been a joy after 6 months in Asia. In Mysore I went to the supermarket 3-4 times and did a lot of my shopping at small local street shops/markets. In Bangkok I was disappointed by the supermarket as the food was highly processed and I couldn’t find familiar vegetables that I’d been craving. In London I found familiar fruit and vegetables, a good range of organic products and my favourite herbal tea comes from the UK so it is cheap. I also found my favourite chocolate, fresh free range organic eggs and artisan bread. There are also plenty of ‘international supermarkets’ so I was able to easily find spices, rice and chilli sauce.

The EU rules state that produce must have the country of origin in the packaging which I think is really cool, but the packaging is not so cool. Everything here comes pre-packed in plastic which is not currently recyclable. In general though, food shopping is MUCH cheaper here than in New Zealand.

They have a really good recycling system here in London that I’m impressed with. Each household has 3 bins.  1 for rubbish, 1 for compost and 1 for recycling. The rubbish bin gets collected fortnightly which forces residents to recycle and use the compost bins.  They even give each house a small compost bin for the bench. As soon as the plastic packaging at the supermarket is recyclable, it will be a really good system.

The other big thing that has left an impression… central heating and double glazing is awesome. It must be costly to run the central heating, but its lovely. The whole house is warm. Er.. except my room as my radiator is a bit broken and needs fixing. Houses in New Zealand are typically very cold as we only heat the rooms that are being used, we don’t have double glazing and we have a “put a jersey on” type of an attitude. This is changing thankfully as many homes get insulated and I have a few friends who are now installing double glazing and central heating.

So, as you can see my first impressions aren’t great. But they aren’t terrible either. I’m very lucky to be able to stay with family as I get settled. I’ve got two brothers here, both with partners and one with two children who are under 4. Its been wonderful to spend time with the family and overall I’m feeling OK about the move here.  My plan is to find work ASAP, find a yoga studio to go to regularly (probably one in the city) and join a local community choir. I know that if I don’t make an effort to like London, London won’t make an effort to be kind to me!



Resting up in Hua Hin

I spent almost week in Hua Hin with the family before heading to India for my month of yoga therapy. This was good because after the flight from NZ I needed some R&R to give the hip a chance to settle down again.

Dad booked us into a lovely resort which was hard to find but lovely. Several steps up from my usual standard of accommodation! I spent a lot of time reading, lazing by the pool and eating AMAZING thai seafood.

Hua Hin is a lovely wee beach town on the coast south of Bangkok. The beach isn’t as spectacular as some of the islands in southern thailand but its nice enough. I think it took us 3hours to drive from Dad’s place. Hua Hin is MUCH MUCH MUCH nicer than pattya, it has all the resorts and tourist attractions but is a lot less seedy. I really liked it.

Here are some photos and a link to more info about Hua Hin.

Home sweet home…

So this is the last blog entry for a while…. After a good 18 months gallivanting around Asia (with a 4 month stint at home in the middle) I am back in New Zealand theoretically for good! I say theoretically because we all know its highly likely I will have the urge to go on another big adventure… life is too short, the globe is too big and there are plenty more adventures to be had!

No, seriously – I am home for good. I even signed a permanent contract (I can say the ‘P’ word now),I signed up for an 18 month gym membership, have a contract with vodaphone. Gosh, I even bought a new bed.

Its good being back in Wellington, I feel a lot more settled than when I moved back home after my other OEs (2yrs in Bangkok, 2yrs in Belgium). I think I may actually settle this time. It’s funny though, I’ve come a full circle… I got the exact same job I left in Aug 07 back (I am even sitting at the same desk) and I have moved back into one of my old flats… it’s almost like I never went away.

So my friends… this is it. For now…. home sweet home 🙂

Thailand – the last visit for a while…

So, as you know after I finished up being a wannabe yogi in India I headed back to Thailand to stay with my dad. I was pretty broke and needed to sort myself out – so Dad’s seemed to be a very good place to go! Thanks dad. 🙂

After India I couldn’t get over how nice, clean and quiet Bangkok is! I found the infrastructure to be overwhelming; it was like being back in the modern world – fast cars, motorways, mega shopping malls – consumerism everywhere – talk about a direct entry back into the rat race. I noticed an absence of rubbish, an absence of men urinating in the street, and of course… a serious absence of city cows! I guess it is kind of lucky I didn’t go straight back to NZ from India or I would have really had a sensory overload – all things are relative huh?!

While at dads I helped him out with a few projects, soaked up the warmth and enjoyed eating good Thai food and hanging out with family. I washed my clothes using a washing machine for the first time in months (instead of a bucket) and I had the longest nicest longest hot shower (much to the detriment of my Indian tan!) It was good to be back in into civilisation.

So I ended up spending about 8 weeks at Dads all up… during this time I managed to get my old job back in NZ, found a flat (ironically it’s the same flat I lived at before going overseas), had a side trip to Malaysia, went to the beach, had a day trip to Ayutthaya, ate plenty of good food and booked tickets to New Zealand!

Here is a random selection of photos, mostly of family and food!