Personal,  Travel

Autumn in London

The first thing I notice when I arrive in Heathrow was that they don’t have a free wifi access. My friend sending me information on how I’m going to get to my hotel via Whatsapp, and I can’t get the message. I don’t know how, but I got his last message, “Don’t pay for anything.” So, I immediately assumed someone has been waiting for me outside.

An awkward 20 something South Asian man standing holding my name in his hand. I nod to him to give him sign that it’s my name and we walk. Next step, I expect him to help me with my huge 20 kg luggage. He didn’t. Welcome to London, I sighed. No more princess treatment like in Jakarta, all on my own.

My taxi driver is Muslim, and so all of my other taxi drivers while I was in London. They come from different countries, like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, etc. Unlike the the regular black square London Taxi, the taxi I’ve been using was look like private cars but they can be rented as a taxi on several destination. From airport to hotel will cost around 45 Pounds. For short destination from 5 to 20 Pounds. I use it a lot to get from hotel to the nearest Underground station.

I chat a lot with taxi drivers and they immediately said that I’m friendly, “Indonesian girls are pretty and friendly.” I laughed. It’s a fact :P *high five girls* From them I learn a little bit about living in London. The cost. The traffic. And I make a mental comparison with Jakarta. I think Jakarta and London are both expensive city. But for property, London price even crazier.

I observe that the front staff in my hotel was mostly someone from Europe. I chat with a Slovakian girl in one of London cafe. Because of the crisis in Eastern Europe (and most of Europe nations), they come to London for a better life. They’re mostly lovely looking man or woman, free to enter London with their visa, and  they don’t need work visa to get a job. I thought it’s easier for them to get a job. But the girl I was talking to said it’s still not that easy. She wish to work her career as a singer and I wish her luck.

Getting around London is pretty easy. My friend said you won’t get lost in London. Just get your Oyster card and hop to the tube (London’s Underground train). The tube map is one of the most complicated in the world. But I managed to travel by myself with the help of some iPhone apps like TubeMap and offline London Map from Lonely Planet app. When I got on the wrong train, I simply asked someone, everybody speak good English of course, and the worst thing that could happen to you was someone laughing at you for your stupidity in choosing the wrong train. That happened to me :))

One thing though. As a girl traveling alone, I didn’t anticipated the ‘unwanted attention’ from men. Well, I’m not a super model. I’m wearing hijab. And my body language is strong and confident. But still, I got aggressively ‘hit’ by strangers on the street. They can just stop me and start conversation, “Where are you from? Care to have a coffee together?” or calling me from the next table, ask to join his. Wow. At one point I feel kind of scared. Maybe this is why people walking so fast with their eyes looking at their feet most of the time.

It was Fall in London, the weather more colder than my last visit, and it was raining most of the time. I enjoy my time walking by London canals where some people live in their boat, went to Westminster because the last time I didn’t have time to take picture for my avatar haha, to Shakespeare Globe Theatre but not watching anything yet, strolling by Thames river at night with the full moon above the river, enjoying Van Gogh’s Sunflower in National Gallery and wondering why people ponder in front of a painting, listening to demonstration in Trafalgar Square about child abuse overlooking Big Ben behind it, eating my first London street food in Camden Market, and joining the Friday night crowd in Piccadilly.

I would really miss walking (I walked a lot in London). In Jakarta, walking is simply impossible with the non-existent sidewalk and the air pollution. I will miss the tranquility I got in places like London canals and the historical museum. Shirley even said that the way I travel is like old people. People in their 20s usually will party hard in London. LOL. Thanks, but no thanks. If I want party, I’ll go to Bali. Only 1 hour 45 minutes flight. But no, I also won’t party in Bali. I go straight to Ubud and read books with rice field view in front of me. Now I feel really really old :))

“I’ve been looking at you. The way you dress is pretty! Where are you from?” The lady smile at me. I just got hit by a girl. Turned out in London, men and women are not afraid to express what’s on their mind. I smile at her, “Thanks. I’m Indonesian.”



A writer of 30 books. Co-Founder & CMO & Initiate StartupLokal, the biggest startup community in Indonesia. Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech Indonesia.


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