So this is the story of my FIRST trip down to London. Before I go any further; YES it was my first trip! Whenever I say that to people, they just go crazy as though it is a sin to have not gone down to London. Well now back to my story:
As I would have stated before, I am part of the UKSSC and I was going down to London to go the Singaporean Embassy to assume my responsibilities as the regional director for Scotland. So finally I had a reason to go down to London, so I made a trip out of it because why not? Well I booked my flights with easyjet and bus-ed down to Edinburgh where my adventure started!
Tip 1: I took the flight mainly cause the train or the bus trainings were not favourable. If you on a budget, check out the bus prices to London, it’ Super cheap ranging from as low as 3 pounds onwards in Megabus.com
After arriving London at around 2200 in the 17 of November, we headed to the nearest M& S to get some dinner first, it was a long trip down to London and we had no time to get dinner. Soon after that we made our way down to our hotel, we had little energy to do anything else and we just crashed to get enough rest for the next day.
Tip 2: when looking for accommodations it’s always best to find a friend in London. London’s being a major city in the world, accommodations are generally expensive with a minimum of 19 pounds per night to get a place as close to zone 1 as possible. Places in zone 1 ask 22 pounds per night minimum. For more details and offers, be sure to check out the hostelworld app. It has great choices and their ratings are very impartial in my opinion.
We woke up the next day and headed to the Singaporean embassy where I as scheduled to be till 4 in the evening. But it seemed as though I was early, the tourist within me diverted my attention to Hyde Park which was just 10 min away. We then spent the next 40min there; taking pics and posing with all the swans there were in the lake. Then of course, turn up at the embassy late (but that’s fine, we took great pics!)
Tip 3: London is a great place to take pictures with the urban environment as the background, with so many beautiful Parks and monuments, it’s simply just the best place to take pictures off!
Once at the embassy we had our ceremony and were welcomed by a great meal by this awesome restaurant called “Rasa Sayang”. They specialise in Southeast Asian local delights, which is where I am from and I couldn’t wait to eat as much as possible. And I did. When food is involved, there is no need for shame. Then again, I was in the presence of the High Commissioner of the Singapore for the United Kingdom; so, I had to maintain a certain decorum. Sad.
Tip 4: This might a bit of an obvious thing but when there is free food, don’t waste the opportunity. Make sure your hearts and stomach are full! Hahaha
Soon after my stay in the embassy, we made our way out to the town to do some sightseeing and eat some Korean and Japanese food.
Tip 5: London is such a well-connected city. There are so many transportation options. But at times, if you use the map you will see that at times, walking around the city is actually the best option. A good way to find this out is by using the ‘Citymapper’ app. It helps you find out which is the best way to a specific place. It shows the transportation timings, duration, directions and even options to order a taxi if you find the walk or wait a bit too long.
The next day we had a very packed day, we had to do a little more exploration and wanted to make sure we didn’t want to spend to much money or time at one place. With the clock ticking, we have exactly 2.5 hours to see the Buckingham palace, one of those red telephone booths, west minister and do some shopping near the Knightsbridge area. That’s a lot to do and I am proud to say though we tired ourselves out, we manged to go to all those places in just enough time to reach Luton airport for our trip back to Edinburgh
Tip 6: One good way to plan a route and make sure you go to each place is by using the ‘transport for London (tfl)’ app. It is available in both android and apple store and personally my favourite. One thing to note is that, you need to sign in with your contactless or oyster card. Other than that, it is simply the best app and very user friendly too.
Tip 7: one thing to note when using the train to stations outside the tube map that you can find easily on google or the tfl app; be sure to ask the staff there to see if you can still use the oyster or contactless card. I was surprised to find out I couldn’t use the card when I arrived at Luton but was told I can refund the maximum fare when you go online to the tfl webpage to apply for one.
Tip 8: before going London, or anywhere for that matter, ask some one who is from there on some tips and advise on how to get by in the city you will going to. Though, you could be the best in reaching and figuring out everything for yourself, a local’s tips and guidance is very useful especially if it is an unfamiliar place that you are going too.
Tip 9: Be safe, take a lot of pictures and most importantly have loads of fun!