News from England, or, How I learned to stop worrying and enjoy steak and kidney pie

Canadian expat learns China and Asia are vastly different

WARWICK: A China-based Canadian expatriate has learned his adopted country and the United Kingdom are vastly different nations.

“Who would have known,” he said, “There are places in the world where English is readily spoken.”

The shocked traveler can now muse about the cultural difference between Asia and the UK, as well Asia and Canada. His friends, speaking off the record, now live in fear of his return, and the mundane and pointless conversation that are sure to follow.


Queen Elizabeth II

Okay, I’ve been in England almost two weeks. I’ve seen castles, churches, old cemeteries, and a pub or two. I still haven’t had bangers and mash, or been knighted. I’m sure both will happen next week. I’m sure mine is the only residence in China with a photo of Queen Elizabeth II hanging on the wall. For that alone I should be made Sir Stevo.

What have I observed so far in my English sojourn?

  • The English are polite people. I do like being called “luv” or “boss” by random store clerks. I’m waiting to be called “guv.”
  • I am no longer the center of attention. When I walk into a store heads don’t crane to track my movements. Old women don’t root through my cart to examine my purchases.
  • I have not once been called “foreigner” in any language.
  • People are daft to live this far north of the equator. The sun doesn’t rise until 8 am and sets at 4:30 pm.
  • When converted into Chinese currency, everything in England is expensive. My crosstown bus ride yesterday would have paid for a generous, beer-soaked meal in China.
  • There are in fact countries in the world where cheese is readily accessible. Dropping to your hands and knees in the supermarket dairy aisle to thank the cheese gods does draw attention.
  • Cats aren’t as bad as I have made them out to be. After living with one for a week I can say they are actually (sort of) cool.  Well, this one is.
  • Spending an afternoon helping your wife make a dentist appointment is not as gratifying as seeing the local sites.
  • It is impossible not to make noise while in the kitchen of your host’s home at 5 am.
  • Like China, old people travel in packs. This must be an international rule, or something deep in the collective unconscious.
  • Chinese food is readily available but not very good. Curry is everywhere, but knowing little about Indian food makes ordering problematic.
  • Relaxing is difficult after months of Type A GO GO GO behavior.
  • Everything is easier when you can understand the language, but not nearly as fun.
  • Exploring history is cool where ever you are.

An incomplete list, I’m sure.

I have shot a lot of photos but because my wee computer is lacking Photoshop I cannot process the RAW files and post them for your viewing pleasure. I have yet to take a self-portrait. I’m certain Ron is quivering with anticipation.

I discovered Asian Ramblings is a finalist in the 2009 Bloggies. Please give me your vote and I’ll send you shiny Chinese trinkets upon my return to the Orient.

That’s all for now. Ta, Cheers, and all that.

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Stevo says:

    note: I may be able to scare up some photos, if anyone is interested.

    Stevo´s last blog post..Chinese Lunar New Year: The Zodiac Animals

  2. Finding a good curry in London is a bit of a minefield – the vast majority of curry houses are vile (not that most people care, as they only visit after 10 pints of lager). Avoid the tourist traps – most in Brick Lane are not very good – and seek out ones in less touristy areas where Indians (e.g. Southall in west London) or Pakistanis (e.g. Tooting in south London) live. Any restaurant with south Asian customers is normally a good sign. It’s worth the effort though, as a good curry is hard to beat. Make mine a Chicken Dhansak.

    Itinerant Geoff´s last blog post..Choosing the right backpack

  3. *hopefully* steak and kidney pie?

    I would say it could explain the cat, but I’m sure it’s just you, Stevo — congrats on the Bloggie finalism!

    thelittlefluffycat´s last blog post..oooh….

  4. Ron in L.A. says:

    You do know that you can have lots of fun by just refusing to speak English…

    And you also know that your gear can shoot Raw+jpeg…

    What you probably don’t know is that using the word quiver and my name in a sentence will probably end up making us poster children for the No on 8 campaign, not that there’s anything wrong with that, I’m just saying… 😉

    I voted and will spread the word…

    R(etc… )

    Ron in L.A.´s last blog post..Bzzzzzzzzz…

  5. truce says:

    Bangers and Mash is a vital ingredient of any stay in the land of my birth. Get it down yer neck, as they say.

    And you could pretty much order anything in an English Indian restaurant and it will turn up as an orange sauce concealing Some Kind of Meat…

    truce´s last blog post..Wish me luck. Or a quick death.

  6. Jackie says:

    Trinkets? Hmmm?

    I like one cat, even though I’m allergic.

  7. Jackie says:

    There. Voted. Send trinkets.

  8. Stevo says:

    Geoff: Welcome and thanks for the tips.

    LFC: Merci.

    Ron: I know I can shoot RAW and JPG, but I didn’t buy a 16G CF card, like I wanted to, before getting here. Shooting both quickly chews up the space on my 4G cards.

    Truce: I did finally eat Bangers and Mash last night. It was quite tasty.

    Jackie: Trinkets will have to wait until I get back to China. You eat dog, right?

  9. I bet they got CF cards in England.

    thelittlefluffycat´s last blog post..A Very Good Day

  10. Shawn says:

    Oh yikes! I ate dog once, but didn’t find out till it was too late.

    You got my vote.

    Shawn´s last blog post..Decision Reached (Sort Of)

  11. Shawn says:

    BTW start scarin’ those photos.

    Shawn´s last blog post..Decision Reached (Sort Of)

  12. Carrie says:

    Sir Stevo? Kinda has a nice ring to it. You should work on that. BTW, I’m really looking forward to your photos, luv.

    Carrie´s last blog post..The Story of Our Wedding in Mexico

  13. “I am no longer the center of attention. When I walk into a store heads don’t crane to track my movements. Old women don’t root through my cart to examine my purchases.”

    Maybe you have to be here to get this one but THAT has got to be nice …

    I voted … I have enough trinkets, please send cash.

  14. Robin says:

    I voted for you, Sir Stevo.

    And was happy to see you finally had bangers and mash. Have you tried bubble & squeak yet? Or toad in a hole?

    Glad to hear you’re taking plenty of dolly mixtures (see Cockney rhyming slang for translation).

    Robin´s last blog post..The snow was our beauty

  15. mercury727 says:

    its that time of year, days are weird and oh so short

    mercury727´s last blog post..darkdaylight

  16. Corina says:

    It sounds like you’re enjoying your break and your visit with Mrs. Stevo! Good for you. I voted. No need for trinkets. I would have voted for you anyway!

    Corina´s last blog post..Remembering

  17. Stevo says:

    LFC: They do, but they are pricey.

    Shawn: I have never eaten dog. My father-in-law ate my dog, but that is a story for another time.

    Carrie: Thanks, Pet.

    Expatriate Games: I’ll send cash, Thai Bhat keyi ma?

    Robin: No bubble and squeak yet – tonight I hope.

    m727: Too short.

    Corina: Thanks muchly!

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