Cultural Insight

Trip Start Dec 26, 2005
Trip End Jan 25, 2009

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Tuesday, May 16, 2006

For those interested, I have since worked out (refer last entry for Beijing) that the total cost of re-issuing my passport was a ridiculous $A872 - can you believe it! I'm sure it could of been a lot worse, especially if I had of lost absolutely everything! Also consider the amount of time lost, the hassle incurred and the changes to my travel plans. This included making changes to my travel plans to effect the issue of both an emergency passport (so I could leave China) and ordinary passport. Let's hope travel insurance will come to the party and refund most of this. Without a refund from Zurich, it has put a huge dent in my budget for both China and the UK. I never want to lose a passport again... I think I'll ditch international travel forever more if I do! It's just not worth the cost and hassle.

Tip... ditch hotmail, especially the new version. I have since logged in and hotmail has decided to delete all but my last 6 emails so I hate to think of the contacts and/or emails I've lost. I try to write all contacts into my hardcopy diary - thank goodness for that. John (China), if you're reading this, I'm going to take you up on your offer to move to gmail as soon as possible.

I'm very much enjoying the weather here, even though it is cloudy, overcast and raining lightly. It is cool and that's the way I like it.

Wendy and I had a good ol' chat about the English people. The people appear very offstandish and unfriendly. I've had this observation confirmed by other English people I've met and travelled with... Dave and Rachel... if you're reading this, I want to make contact! Travelling on the train is quite awful actually... there is no eye contact, no smiling, hardly any talking, and complete disinterest in being human. Walking through some of the tube stations during peak hour is quite a bland experience... I can't believe how quiet it was with noone talking etc. I had a chuckle to myself when I saw one tube station's musician holding a sign say 'it's ok to smile' - bless him. The English are quite reserved... I've been told to make the initiative if I expect to form friendships here with the English. The service in most establishments I've been in has been quite ordinary. At one cafe I went to, I said 'good morning' only to have the woman return a grunt. I'd be interested to hear of what my English readers think about this. Luckily, Wendy will be introducing me to quite a few of her friends and business aquaintances so I look forward to that in forming a better understanding of the English.

I continue to enjoy the comforts here at the White Cottage. Wendy is absolutely fantastic in attending to my every need... sometimes it feels a bit awkward having everything done for you after having to do everything for myself but I'm definitely enjoying the very warm hospitality here. It is great having home cooked meals again. But wait for it... I'm having Chinese take out tonight. It will be good to compare this to the authentic food I had in China.

Tonight I met Dorothy, a friend of Wendy's who lives on the same street and is in her early 60s. I loved her... had such a fantastic sense of humour and made me feel very welcome in her stately home - she gave us a grand tour of her bathroom renovations and other rooms in the house. She gave us a rundown of the history of her home, including the fact that it use to be a nursery and the previous tenants trashed it with food strewn all over the doors, walls and floors. She was reluctant to buy it back in the 1970s but over the years has returned it to its natural glory. Dorothy has lived in Cornwall street since the 1970s so is an expert on the area... shared a few murder stories that have happened in the immediate area over a couple of glasses of Eastern Australia's Jacob's Creek wine. It was refreshing having some Australian wine here in England... I'm not meaning to be bias, but our Aussie wine is simply world class compared to the other wine I've had throughout my journeys so far. We are blessed to have such great wine... I will cherish having my favourite Shiraz and Chardonnay's on my return. Anyway, I admired Dorothy's frankness and honesty. She was sure a lot of fun and adds to the list of wonderful people I'm meeting on my journey.

I have basically switched off from touring at the moment but still managed to walk to Cheam Village and NonSuch Park. NonSuch Park is beautiful, and houses one of King George the VIII's castles. I find it refreshing to walk through such pristine gardens after the hustle and bustle of Chinese cities.

I also drove today... after 5 months of not being behind the car. Wendy is in the process of going for her UK driver's licence so avoids the driving. I very much enjoyed getting behind the wheel of Wendy's Suzuki Vitara for our drive to the nursery to buy some flowers for their impressive garden. Driving here is ok because they drive on the left side of the road, but some things like no stop signs make it a little tricky. And the speed limits are in miles per hour... confusing. But, nevertheless, I loved driving again - I miss my blue Ford Falcon AU Sedan.

I'm off to Cambridge tomorrow.
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shanewilson on

Re: The castle you visited
Oops! Thanks Boris for the update... English (and Chinese?????:)) history has never been my forte... but my travels through both countris has increased my appetite to learn more. I've got a real interest in learning about the Kings and Queens of England. I'm loving England... a taste of home.

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