Saturday, January 11, 2014

London diary: part i

Big Ben, tourists and a christmas tree as seen from Trafalgar Square.

I edited these photos and now write this with a soft longing in my heart. This London trip has been so  good to me, and I surprised myself with the realisation that I want to be back among those rainbow crowds in one of the biggest capital cities in the world –because I'm usually not a fan of crowds at all. But to be in London is to be among crowds in a way that it seems to be tied in with the city's personality. 

I suppose I'll start with an explanation. There are friends and people in London that I would love to meet up with, so if you're one of them and you're reading this, I did not this particular time because it was a personal trip I took with my boyfriend and we had made our own plans. I would, however, be more than willing to do so the next time I visit as there are faces I haven't seen in ages and miss dearly. And now I shall start with my memories. 


We woke up early on boxing day morning, the cab already called for the evening before. And when I say early, I mean less than four hours past midnight. Our eyes were unusually wide for such an hour, but we were excited for our first flight together and for me, the first trip that I would pay fully out of my own earnings. 

The taxi took us along the long, empty, early morning roads that had frosted up from the night before as I stared out and occasionally chatted to Wenkai. It was only when we were inside the airport and realised that we were more than an hour early that drowsiness hit me and I lay my head down on Wenkai's shoulder, eyes shut but not being able to fully sleep. Music played through the overhead speakers and I thought they sounded overly cheerful as I half-watched a lady drawing the shutter doors to open a souvenir shop in that tiny, dim airport. 

Drenched pigeon.

I don't remember much of us boarding the plane, but we go about with such ease like we've flown together all our lives and soon we are landing on Gatwick's runway and I look out and see a pretty incredible sunrise. I remember how sunrises always fool me into thinking that getting up early was worth it. 

We catch the bus that would take us to the city centre and as much as I want to, I don't allow myself to sleep during the ride as my eyes insist on staring out of the square I wiped clean on the fogged up window to see the scenery we are travelling past. I say to London in my head that it looks lovely today and that I'm glad to see it. It smiles back in sun rays to me. 

When we arrive in the city, we meet up with Wenkai's friends, one of whom we were going to stay with, and we go for Malaysian food which we have been missing. The food at the restaurant we go to is quite authentic and we pay somewhat around ten times the amount we would pay back home. I don't take much photos with my camera, only some with my iPhone, as I see the place with my own eyes first. However, I join in the conversation occasionally and it pleases me to realise that I can get along pretty well with his friends as well. They later insist on taking my bag for me, which was one of the first of many kindness they would later show that I am so very grateful for. 

I soon find it funny how people always say how much rougher and ruder and more impatient people from bigger cities like London are because the people I meet have been so much friendlier than what everyone always describes. I start photographing strangers I find interesting in the tube, finding it a lot easier using my phone. We see so many different kinds of people all the time. There was a row of strangers reading and later a man who had to hold his bouquet of flowers high above the crowd's heads as everyone jammed in on a very busy line. 

We visited the National Gallery again, and I was observing the way light fell and lit the subjects in the paintings at first as well as the compositions, but then later moved on to observe the expressions of the subjects as I realised how well they were captured. We didn't get to visit the inside of Westminster Abbey which I had wanted to show to Wenkai, but it was alright because we had to catch the 'Wicked' play. We ate sushi at a chain for lunch before heading to the theatre. 

Oh, Santa!
Trinkets at Camden market.
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.

This was where I decided to become a bird photographer. I thought that the texture of the water was pretty wonderful!

A few mornings later, we woke up to sunshine from the windows as it was drawn, and Wenkai's friend, Fang Yu, whom we had been staying with brought us to this park called Hampsteath Heath. There was a house called Kenwood at the grounds which one could immediately tell belonged to a rich man from the past as we queued at the front door to get in. The interiors were all grandeur, with little of the walls left empty and uncovered by paintings in large, gold frames. 

There was a library in cupcake colours –pastel blue and pink– and fine elaborate carvings which I could only wish to have someday. The curtains in the rooms hung thick and majestic, crowning the sunlight that streamed in abundantly.  

That day had also been a day of crowds. We walked past countless others, many with mud-soaked dogs who had ran through the mud, and I started to get a bit impatient when I had to wait (again!) for a clear view before I could press my camera shutter as people would just constantly walk past, oblivious to the fact that one had their camera to their eyes. I later told myself that it would have been silly to get mad at that. Cities are a place of people and all of us were here to enjoy our holidays. A little kindness (and patience, I suppose) could prevent another's day from being spoiled as well as our own.   

Nature's little light bulbs lit in the sun.

I have a few more photos to share, which I probably will in a separate post, but I'll end this here. 

I leave London, always with a little piece of it in me, knowing that it is never the last time I see this city. I will return again. 

To its hustle and bustle, the ebb and flow I seem to have been able to tune myself to. I don't even mind its crowds half as much anymore, knowing that it's just a part of its personality. I've gotten to know its rainbow veins, the underground that runs through the city's skin, providing the city with its life and energy. I have come to see it through more romanticised eyes, no longer ugly like my second trip here had made me think of it. It is fuel; there is so much fuel here and I now see how it is to feed our growth. 

London said goodbye with misty eyes.


  1. Oh I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this post and looking at all the amazing pictures. As I read, wanderlust started flowing through my veins again, making my heart beat really fast. How I miss the UK! I would give anything to go there again. And just like you, I know I will return. There's so much I like about that place. As I live in a big city, I normally dislike other big cities haha, but London is fantastic. It's not chaotic at all. It's like everything makes sense there. We MUST go there together soon, yes? I send you the biggest of hugs and lots of love :D

  2. I loved my time in London years ago. So many interesting shots. The wine drinking Santa is my favorite.

    (Came here from documenting delight)

  3. Oh my, this is so beautiful! I visited London two years ago with my family and this brings back a slew of lovely memories. You have a great eye for colour and detail.

    Thank you for this, it made my morning and made me want to go back to London :)

  4. Beautiful photographs! Made me feel like I'd been there. :)

  5. Sorry that this is such a late reply, but thank you all. I really appreciate that you took the time to look at my blog and that it gave you such positive vibes. :)

    And Alexis, yes! :D