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England, August 14, 2000

The West is the Best

Its so nice to be censorship free again!

He's got a four-quack power bike!
No duck bicycles in the UK
I've been in London about 15 hours so far, and it might be my lack of sleep, intense jet lag, or one too many pints last night, but for some odd reason, this city is filled with kind English-speaking people.

When a guy standing next to me on the tube (London's subway) pointed at my Australian flag patch and asked where I'd been, it took me a full minute to realize that he wasn't just practicing his English or trying to steer me to a hotel. He was only making small talk in our crowded conditions, trying to pass the time with a smile.

This morning, after a 5 am run (yes, serious jet lag), I was happily served by a Peruvian cafe owner who let me run upstairs to my friend's apartment for a pen, without paying first. Not charging me triple because I was new to the city and not staring at me while I ate, she actually let me walk out of the cafe, maybe to disappear forever, on credit.

Yes, I am back in the West, and its gonna take me a while to adjust to the change, especially since this is England. When I tried to board a bus yesterday, I elbowed my way on, like I've been doing for the past three years, only to be confronted by angry passengers who kept telling me that they 'que in this country'.

Oblivious to what they meant since I'm not even used to anyone speaking to me directly, I totally forgot the incident till someone leaned over and explained that all English stand in ridiculously long lines, called a que, to maintain the sense of order and discipline that this island is know for. Woops!

I had to run upstairs at breakfast this morning because my meal was more expensive than I expected. A donut and a Snapple isn't as cheap in London as Beijing, and my pocket change wasn't gonna buy me much past a Chupa Chup lollie.

The loss of superstar status is gonna be the worst. No longer will $20 make for a great Saturday night at all the best clubs that Moscow or Beijing has to offer. In London, 20₤, which is $30, will only get you drunk in a bar, but not full of food or into a club. Oh woe is me who was of the elite and now just of the normal!

And don't even get me started on housing prices here. My next task is to find a place for Jingmei and I to live.

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