Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Living in UK, surviving away from the goodness of Asia

These 2 weeks has been a relaxing week, i don’t have many cupcakes work to do so I stayed at home most of the time. I did some PhD work and just a reflect on everything I have done. Suddenly I realise I have been in UK for 11 years (Arghhhhh) and thought, if someone told me in 1998 that I will stay here for more than 10 years, I probably give you a bunch of money and ask him to go away.

To anyone who are coming/planning/staying now in UK but from Asia originally, we all have the same complain. No good food, no entertainment, no wandering down the street at night, no dessert shop to eat after dinner. Sunday is absolutely boring and never ever trust your local Chines takeaway to deliver your mommy’s level of Chinese food. the list goes on.

I thought i’ll just share a few tips on how to survive in this rather grey country. This is purely based on own experience and no offence.

My home made sushi meal. With homemade sushi (sashimi from a local japanese shop/Atari-ya and homemade miso soup, no instant soup powder)

1) Buy many cookbook and cook at home
When i was in Hong Kong, i never ever cook my own food. Cafe de Coral saves my life and i pay less than 3GBP/5USD for a good meal with tea, soup and main course serve with rice. However a decent hot lunch in UK set you from 5GBP/8USD per meal so cooking your own at home becomes absolutely crucial.

2) Get a driving licence
it is difficult to go around without a car. And if you live in London, then it is ok, but in UK,you’re dodge with strike actions, engineering work, not enough drivers to drive the trains etc, and car is a good way to get around. Also, many places in UK cannot be reach easily with public transport (i.e. the famous bicester village) so car is a necessity
There’s car club nowadays so you don’t really need to own a car. Join a car club

3) Join a cultural society in Uni and they will know
If you love say Vietnamese food and not sure where to go, join a society and mingle with them. There’ll some food expert in all cultural society and can point to you where to go. I gather my knowledge via society events about where to eat in London, and survive

4) Invest on a computer and internet
the kid which I’m guardian of stayed with me for the past 2 weeks, and all he did was watching anime. now, 10 years ago, we have no laptop (they cost over £1000) and no internet. i know of a friend can’t survive in a foreign country coz there’s no internet. Nowadays mobile broadband is cheap and if you can’t have landline at where you live. Get a broadband USB stick. Invest on a good laptop so that you can do everything on it. I think I’ll die without my macbook and my broadband.

the afternoon tea I had in Buxted Park

5) Be a tourist
Every now and then, I travel. Maybe i travel too much, but travelling helps me to enjoy the country more. Imagine you are stuck in London, you will never know about the magical view in Bath, the academic atmosphere of Oxford, the clotted cream and scone in Cornwall. Also, the cheap airlines offer to take you out of the country to enjoy Europe. (that’s the reason why S came.. he wanted to travel in Europe). There are cheap day tour offered by coach company to take you out and see. And.. the best thing of UK? sitting in a beautiful cafe surrounded by cakes and scones, with a pot of tea...


  1. wow, thanks for those tips! i've always been dreaming of staying in UK and now after reading your tips i wanted it more! esp. the last one, travel to Europe. :D

  2. Oh I've always wanted to visit the UK :D I'm a gloomy weather kind of person, so I always pictured myself brooding in London hehe

  3. I hate the weather here. Its so hard to find good food at a decent price that matches its value. But I have to admit I NEVER get bored. Fed up YES. Bored NEVER! There is waaaay to much to do in London. I love the vibe, the fact that there are hundreds of different cultures melting into each other. So many mad people. So many experimental things to seek out. I just wish we would have a decent summer!!

    But you are's good to get away and see the rest of Europe or the country. I couldn't live anywhere else in Europe. If I leave here it will be to go to Tokyo or back home to Africa. :)

  4. Amen! I'm still freezing 13 years after I moved here from California!!

    I agree with Old Cow...I couldn't live anywhere else but London in Europe!

  5. Hehe...
    I got a warning before. Actually starting to feel it's not that bad. Well see if I would feel the same when I get there and stay for that long. =)

  6. I've lived in and near london all my life. =/ so i haven't seen much, so its kinda sad i cant relate to this post because it is home to me.

    I agree with the no dessert shops after dinner though. or congee stalls. unless you hit up late night chinatown...but that place is kinda dodgy at 2am....

  7. hey there
    I just read this blog post and found your blog from jamilla. I myself can't believe that I have been in the UK from 1994 and everything you say is true! I'm lucky though that I can visit Hong Kong each year - I make a point to as my family is there. But there are so many pluses of living in the UK in comparison to Asia for me - I'd miss the UK much more than missing HK if I had to leave - if you know what I mean.
    I do find it easy though to 'get out' of the stream of being in Chinese culture - I miss that sometimes, miss my mum playing mahjong with the aunties and the clanging of the mahjong cards. Miss Chinese TVB news in the background. Just little things. Most of all miss my family in HK.
    Glad I found your blog...gonna catch up now!
    If of interest, I have a blog too at



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