London - It feels like we're back in Singapore

Posted by ~Summer~ on May 11, 2011

Shortly a month after we got back from Oslo, we were preparing to set off to London to spend the May Day holidays. While Oslo was Angel's first overseas vacation, going to London was when she boarded the aeroplane for the first time and took her first flight. I had my first flight when I was around 20 years old, Angel had hers before she was 6 months!

Things I like about London  
1. Leicester Square, Chinatown with its wide range of yummylicious Chinese food
2. The endless shopping streets
3. The beautiful night scenery
4. The cabs (not as expensive as expected and fits strollers and luggages nicely!)
5. The English signboards and TV channels (finally, we could understand what they were talking about)

Things I don't like so much about London
1. The unpredictable and rainy weather (It rained 2 out of the 3 days we were there!)
2. The child-unfriendly facilities (for eg. the tube with the long flights of stairs, the restaurants with no space for strollers)
3. The rushing crowds, traffic jam, cars which loved to horn, the air pollution and super fast pace of life (it was virtually impossible to push my baby through the crowds without getting manhandled)

Actually, London reminded me a lot of Singapore, which wasn't peculiar since we used to be a British colony. From the streets, traffic, crowds, food and even infrastructure design, sometimes I felt back I was back at home. I had to admit that I was a little overwhelmed at first after having been used to Karlskrona's simple, peaceful and slower way of life. With all the shoving, pushing and hustling to get onto trains or in shopping centers, I was reminded that this was how I used to live for the first 25 years of my life.

A tip that I received on how to lessen the pressure on your baby's ears during take-off and landing was to simple latch her on and breastfeed, or let her suck for comfort. That way, they will keep swallowing just like how we keep gulping down saliva to clear the ear blocks.

My favourite seat on the plane is the window seat. It doesn't really matter that I have to squeeze through two passengers to get to the loo. For one, I'm not that bulky and two, I'm quite an expert at holding my bladder and I only need to visit the loo once on a 12-hours long haul flight from Singapore to Copenhagen. I just love to look out of the window even if all I can see are white fluffy clouds or pitch black darkness. It just makes me feel happy to know I am in the air.

There, we reached the Heathrow Airport in London! Angel looked so happy to get out of the plane! We took the Airport Express train from Heathrow to Paddington and then took a cab to the Millenium Hotel. I was pleasantly surprised and glad at how we could just bring our strollers and luggage directly into the cab. Finally, we did not need to wake a sleeping baby just to fold and store the stroller in the boot.

I had to say that Millenium Hotel had one of the most comfortable beds I had ever slept on in my life. Much as I was tempted to sleep in it right away, jw reminded me that time was of the essence and pretty soon we were on our way out to explore the metropolitan city.

The first thing we did was to, well, fill up our growling stomachs. Where could be a more perfect place for us other than Leicester Square, the Chinatown? My hubby, who adores Chinese food by the way, was so elated when we saw the long food streets here selling all kinds of Asian food that we had been deprived of.

Oh, we met up with Justin, one of jw's best buddies, who was studying in London. Then, we decided to dine at this crowded Malaysian restaurant. Between the three of us, we ordered laksa, beef rendang, asam fish, carrot cake and fried vermicelli! Actually, it was jw and I who ordered most of them, much to Justin's astonishment. Try living in Karlskrona for two years and you will know why.

I can't say the food was the best I had eaten, but considering the fact that we could indulge in so many Asian dishes at one go and satisfy our food cravings, it was a pretty good meal that we had. Plus, it wasn't as expensive as I thought. Cheaper than Sweden and way less than Oslo.


Angel was all dressed up and ready for more sightseeing on Day 2!

We went for some shopping and our favourite shopping outlet was probably Primark. Why? Because it's affordable and offers a wide range of items from clothing to baby books. Ok. The biggest draw was that it was cheap, I mean dirt-cheap!! I bought a few pretty party dresses for Angel at only £5 each!

In the afternoon, we met up with another two good friends from Singapore. How nice it was to reunite in London after not seeing each other for so long! Here was my buddy Joanne, who was seeing and carrying Angel for the first time ever.

For lunch, we went to the famous Four Seasons restaurant and had roasted pork, chicken, duck and char siew. Jw and I devoured and enjoyed every bit of the food there. I probably could eat another two bowls of rice with all the yummy dishes.

 After lunch, we took a stroll to the beautiful and tranquil Hyde Park. With the bright sun, clear skies and green fields, it made the perfect spot for couples to relax, for families to have picnics, or for friends to just take a walk and catch up on the good old times. Which was exactly what we did.

The one thing that attracted Angel the most was the gigantic Round Pond in the park with its beautiful looking swans and ducks.

 You know what is the one good thing of having friends on a holiday? You get to take many nice shots without having to ask strangers for help and depend on the garbage bin as a tripod. Ok, that is what we usually do to get the valuable family or couple shots.

 Yes. I did take hold of the opportunity to take many hubby-wifey pics as you can tell.

Following Hyde Park, we made our way to Harrods for some shopping. Well, that was the plan, before I realised that Harrods mainly sold luxurious clothing, luxurious accessories, luxurious toys, luxurious beauty products and even the food was luxurious considering the price. We went to the kids section in the hope of buying something for Angel, but it ended up we were turning up the price tags and amazing ourselves when we discovered that one baby jacket could easily cost £500. Ok, they only sold branded stuff. In order not to leave empty-handed, we found this souvenir car plate for Angel which had her name on it. Yay! She had a present from Harrods!
The Big Ben, a nickname given to the clock tower at at the north end of the Palace of Westminster, has become one of the most prominent symbols of London. It is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world.


 The London Eye stands at 135 metres tall and is located on the banks of River Thames. It is the tallest ferris wheel in Europe and originally in the world before it was surpassed by the 160 metres Star of Nanchang in 2006 and then the 165 metres Singapore Flyer in 2008. Am I supposed to shout hooray? I am just wondering how tall the tallest one would be 50 years later.

Anyway, we decided to take a ride on the London Eye! It wasn't a smooth-sailing journey for certain reasons. Firstly, despite the capsule was huge enough, the staff insisted that we had to fold up our stroller before we could enter. This would usually be chicken feat, however we had just visited the Asian food store and bought tonnes of canned food, spices, sauces and other supplies. We had just dumped all of them (some without bags) into the storage space below the stroller. That left us to work at an amazing speed to remove the baby, re-pack the stuff, fold the stroller and get through the gantry while feeling the poking glares from the people behind. Secondly, it was raining! Not only did it obstruct our view (see my proof below!), it also made things very inconvenient when you had to travel with an infant. Moreover, there was no covered walkway that could lead us to a taxi stand after we finished the ride, so we were kind of trapped.

Nonetheless, it was a been there and done that achievement for us, especially for my 5-month old baby. Oh, by the way I had to nurse my hungry and cranky baby on the London Eye! That was definitely memorable for me. Judging from how the people in London didn't really seem to be open to the concept of nursing in public (as compared to Sweden), I probably am one of the few mums who have done it there. In the Scandinavian countries, it is such a common sight to find mummies nursing their babies in restaurants and all, of course we try to do it discreetly and I always have on a nursing top. However, in London and Singapore, it is a rare sight and most people seem to do it in nursing rooms (which is not always readily available when you need it) or in places I can't see. 
 Angel was so tired when we got back that evening and she totally K.O. in this picture. I love to see her cute little mouth slightly open when she sleeps. Well, I tried to imitate that cute look, but I probably only made my hubby feel abhorrent.

For dinner, we dined at the rather famous Shogun restaurant at our hotel which we had to wait for nearly an hour. No choice, it was still raining (remember why I didn't like the weather here?) and we were craving for some yummy Japanese food. Fortunately, the wait was worth it because we had quite a delectable and enjoyable meal eventually.

On our last day in London, water droplets were still falling from the sky. In spite of that, we went for some sightseeing on foot and first up was the Tower of London. Also called Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, this historical castle is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

By the way, we did not bring out the stroller today because we had learnt our lesson. London is not child-friendly! Just the flights of stairs we had to climb when taking the tube, not to mention you usually need to change lines and walk through passage ways and then more stairs, was enough to wear us out. Moreover, it was hard to get onto the crowded trains when you had a stroller with you. Hello Singapore, this is just like you! So, we decided to stick to our Baby Bjorn carrier and take turns to carry our baby.

This is the Tower Bridge, a combined bascule and suspension bridge which sits over River Thames. It has become such an iconic symbol of London that it is sometimes mistaken for the London Bridge. You know, the nursery rhyme that all of us would have sung to our kids at one point or the other and do the silly action of falling down?

We took a walk across this magnificent bridge but first of all, we had to make sure that our sleeping baby was snug and protected from the rain. Thanks to the fact that I have a slim hubby, he was able to wrap his jacket around baby before zipping it up.

There was this Elephant Parade going on that showcased a series of brightly painted elephants across London. The purpose was to help the endangered Asian elephant from extinction in the wild. It has become London's largest outdoor art event on record and Best Cultural Attraction.


Then, we walked further up the river to discover for ourselves what else but the London Bridge! So, this was the real London Bridge. I couldn't say it was even half as impressive as the Tower Bridge, but hey, now we knew how it looked like!

Despite the drizzle, we actually took a long walk today and saw several fascinating sights. Our last stop for the day was Tate Modern, a modern art gallery consisting of works of international contemporary art dating from 1900 until today. It was said to be the most-visited modern art gallery in the world. I have to admit though, we don't really possess an eye for the abstract art and most of them were too profound for our simple minds.


Nonetheless, we decided to reward ourselves with some nice desserts at their cafe.

Soon it was time for our last night in London, upon my request, we made a trip to the banks of River Thames where I could catch the night view of Big Ben and the London Eye. You can call me stubborn but I didn't think the trip would be complete without some nice night portraits of the London Eye as memory keepsake. Well, it was a rather cold night and luckily jw and I were pretty much used to the chilly winds. So, here were the pictures we took.

Thanks much to Joanne and Robin for accompanying us on this walk, despite the fact that Rob seemed to be shivering throughout. I hope you managed to get some great shots too!

Finally, it was time to bid farewell to London. We had a nice breakfast where all the friendly aunties came up to say byebye to Angel. I wouldn't be able to resist my cute baby too, despite the messy all-stand-up hair and weird head band that mummy forced her to wear. It was great that Angel got to see so much at only 5 months of age, not that she would remember any of it next time. Hey, once again, there are always the pics and vids that mummy will show you when you grow up, yeah?

 Thanks to our baby, we experienced what it felt like to be the first passengers to board the plane. Shiok!

We had a fun-filled May Day vacation in London and it was really great to see some good old friends there. Hope you enjoyed it too, baby!

To see more of the world, visit my Travelogue page here.


Here is a simple video I made for this trip. Enjoy!

For a complete list of my videos, click here.


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