And thanks to the city of London for their early reminder during our visit in late-May:
More Little Vid, this time in the UK. As always, you can follow her adventures here.
Ironically enough, we failed to snap any photos of our favorite rubber ducky in Bath. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I suppose we were still pretty jet-lagged at that point.
Little Vid and an elephant of the Motherland
We had a classic London afternoon today, starting with afternoon tea and ending with a show on the West End. Rick Steves recommends the National Dining Rooms in the Sainsbury wing of the National Gallery, but it was too cavernous and stuffy for our tastes. Instead we opted for the warmer and lower-key National Cafe, located by the Getty entrance.
We skipped right past the cream tea (tea with a scone and clotted cream) to the full afternoon tea, which also includes a set of sandwiches and pastries in a photogenic three-tiered display:
- Sandwiches: ham and mustard, smoked salmon with dill and pepper, egg and watercress, tomato and cheese
- Sweets (clockwise from top): chocolate raspberry gel, strawberry shortcake, lemon meringue pie
- Scone: with raisins, clotted cream
I have to say, the food was surprisingly good. The bread was fresh (though I still don’t understand why they always want to cut off the crust), and the scone was flaky and not too buttery. And while the pastries weren’t amazing, they were well above my expectations, and we polished them all off (including the raspberry gel that reminded me of Passover).
After lingering over our pots of tea, it was off to our post-tea destination, a complete counter-balance to our proper English formality, the puppets of Avenue Q.
We landed in Heathrow this morning, and our groggy bodies somehow found their way to the bus terminal. Having decided that we’d recover from our jet lag in the English countryside before venturing into London, we boarded a bus to Woking and then caught a train to Salisbury, home of the eponymous cathedral and, of course, everyone’s favorite henge.
During our short layover in Woking, we popped into M&S and purchased a very nice English breakfast; quite different, I am sure, from the ones we’ll be consuming at our B&Bs in Salisbury and London.
If we can keep ourselves awake (I sense a cappuccino in my future), we’ll check out the cathedral and Stonehenge this afternoon. Both are sites that I visited with my father and brother back when I was a teenager, though Kenny has never been. At some point tomorrow we plan to catch a train to Bath.
We have only 10 days left in Thailand. I know it will be extremely difficult to leave. On the one hand, I do feel a bit ready to move on from our small town. It is lovely, but after three months I certainly feel like I’ve seen what it has to offer. On the other hand, it will be very hard to leave my volunteer assignment. Not that I didn’t accomplish my goals – on the contrary, the staff and I have accomplished a lot more than we expected. I just know that I will miss them horribly and I want to continue helping them work for democracy in Burma. The separation will also be a poignant reminder that while I’ve been here helping them voluntarily, this cause is their life and they can’t just leave. In fact, they can’t really go anywhere.
Here is our plan for the next six weeks. As usual, it’s ridiculous and it involves a lot of flights:
- Thailand: We have one more week volunteering in Mae Hong Son, then we head to New York (via Chiang Mai, Taipei, and San Francisco).
- New York: We’ll be in New York for about a week for Kenny’s sister’s wedding. We have a bunch of errands to run — AJWS post-mortem at their office, get new India visas, get yellow fever shots for Uganda, etc. — but we’ll also get to spend time with family and friends while we’re there. My parents are also coming to the wedding. I’m excited to see my Dad again so soon, and I’ve promised to take my Mom on the Jewish tour of New York (Lower East Side, Brooklyn, etc.).
- Boston: We will have four days in Boston to visit our dear friends Julie and Damian, and their newest addition, Sophie. A few friends from Seattle will be joining us.
- London: On our way to India for Sean and Archana’s wedding, we arranged for a four-day "layover" in London. Kenny has never been to Stonehenge, so we will probably try to squeeze that in too. It will be a weird, very first-world tourist experience in the middle of this year of Global South adventures, but hopefully New York and Boston will help with the transition. I expect that we’ll spend more money during four days in London than we typically spend in four weeks here in Thailand.
- Delhi: Delhi always seems to be our gateway to India. Gio is meeting us, and we’ll spend a couple of days showing him the sights (and we need to take him for a celebratory meal at Indian Accent). Then we plan to make a day trip to Agra, since we promised ourselves we’d see the Taj Mahal this time. It’s going to be HOT, but I suppose it can’t be much worse than April in Northern Thailand…
- Bangalore: The main event for us in India is Sean and Archana’s wedding in Bangalore, which promises to be an all-out traditional Tam-Bram affair. After the wedding, we’re all heading to a Jungle Retreat in the Nilgiris for a few days.
- Kampala: On June 11, we’ll fly from Bangalore to Dubai to Addis Ababa to Entebbe, in order to start our next volunteer assignment, which is a technology for agriculture project, based in Kampala.