If I had known that I needed to apply for a visa though, I would've made better use of it. It seems excessive to pay $45 for a visa to visit a small part of the capital of a country for effectively two days (my flight on Sunday is at 11.15am). Ah well. The original reasoning was that I needed Thursday to get work done, and I kind of got work done, so I accomplished something, I guess.
I would like to rant about the taxi rides I took to the embassy from work and from the embassy back home. In respect of the former, the guy was just a lazy fuck. He didn't know where exactly the place was and for some reason, didn't feel like opening Google maps on his phone which was right there. When I gave him the wrong directions which caused him to overshoot, he still didn't feel like using Google maps to find the place. In the end, he dropped me off at a hotel when my destination was just after the freaking traffic light 50m from the hotel. I don't know if he simply didn't want to go up a no-through road or if he genuinely thought that the embassy was behind the hotel; whatever it was, I didn't want to argue with a lazy fuck so I got out and walked 5 minutes.
In respect of the taxi ride back home, what is it about some taxi drivers and their inability to brake properly? The braking was so jerky that it made me car sick. Worse, he drove erratically like a crazy person, speeding up suddenly and narrowly missing hitting the cars in the other lanes. At Hume Avenue, he almost crashed into a taxi in front of him. Some taxi drivers are really crazy.
I booked my flight to London. I booked a return because I'm coming back in December to present a paper at a conference in NUS (omg, I'm so scared). It cost me close to $2,000, and it's only a few dollars more expensive than a one-way ticket. I can't believe how expensive a one-way is!
I'm going to weep when I get my credit card bill for this month. I applied for my visa online and I had to pay over $1,000 for this stupid NHS health surchage, and $700 for the visa itself. Freaking UK Home Office. I don't remember paying an NHS surcharge when I went to London for my Masters. In any case, I wasn't planning on using the NHS at all unless I absolutely had to, but since I just paid $1,000 for it (spread over four years), I'm going to go to the bloody GP each time I have the sniffles or a sore throat or a cough, just to get my money's worth.
Also, I just found out that there is no direct train service from Heathrow to Cambridge. I have to go to Central London. Er, no thank you, I'm not dragging my huge suitcase up and down the stairs in the Tube stations at what will probably be 5pm (I reach London at 3-ish in the afternoon. Immigration will take at least an hour). I guess I will take the National Express bus and reach Cambridge at like, 7pm, which actually defeats the purpose of taking this flight. I thought it would be good to be in Cambridge sometime in the afternoon so that I can sort out accommodation matters and buy essential things, but I forgot that I will be flying to London, and as a result, it will take ages to get to Cambridge. Great.
I almost booked a 9am return flight just to save a a couple of hundred of dollars, but wow, that would mean that I would have to leave Cambridge at 5am? And I would have to wake up at 4am? Is that even humanly possible? I must not be human because that's just not possible.
Sigh. I'm not even there yet and I'm already feeling the hassle of not living in a major city. I ran into Nelson in the parking lot on campus today; he'd just finished his LLM in Cambridge. He advised me to get a bike (a bicycle, not motorbike). When I asked how the buses are, he said that they suck and that the waiting time is about 30 minutes.
Oh my god, pardon my French but fuck my life. The reason I didn't cycle in the Netherlands was because I am so out of touch with it that it scares the crap out of me. But waiting 30 minutes for the bus?!?!!?!?!?!? Again, is that actually humanly possible?!
Maybe I will just buy a car. How the hell am I gonna cycle in the winter anyway?! I wonder if I can just park along the streets.
I totally miss London already. I'm going to miss the Tube and the incredibly well-connected and efficient bus service. I was going to ponder about how I'm gonna get home from nights out, but it's Cambridge; there aren't gonna be any nights out.
At moments like these, I just have to remind myself that I am going to do a PhD at my dream school, and that's the only thing that matters. Everything else is irrelevant...yes, I think I can believe this eventually if I repeat it often enough...
Regarding the Tinder guys, I stopped talking to a couple of them because the conversation was boring. One of them had a picture of himself at the famous pad thai place in Bangkok with amazing pad thai, which was half the reason I swiped right. Too bad pad thai guy turned out to be quite boring.
I continue to talk to a couple of others, both of whom are (apparently) scientists with PhDs. One of them is American, works at NUS and lives near the Botanic Gardens. How convenient!
The other one is more interesting. He's French (I guessed this from his very first message in which he wrote, 'Hi Yalan !' The punctuation is telling 100% of the time), apparently tall, can't tell if he's good-looking, but I am completely intrigued by the fact that he listens to classical music! I think back to all the men that I've ever known throughout my life and I can't think of a single one who listens to classical music. He's also the one with whom I discussed my preference for Monet over Renoir and to whom I name-dropped a bunch of philosophers as though I'd read any of them in detail. He in turn name-dropped a bunch of artists, some of whom I had to look up, so I am definitely intrigued. Also had a brief and interesting discussion about truths, opinions, normative statements, etc., spurred by his asking if I thought that reading those philosophers made me a better person. Needless to say, I replied that reading philosophy, at the very least, helps a person distinguish good reasons for holding a certain opinion from bad ones, and therefore helps them make better arguments. That led to the discussion about truths and opinions and so forth.
He was clever enough to pick up on my shamelessly obvious hint to extend an invitation to talk face-to-face; my shamelessly obvious hint was something along the lines of, 'I would love to hear more about what you do!' (To be fair, it does sound pretty interesting, so I wasn't lying.) Right now, I am actually looking forward to this one, especially the philosophical debate. He's also older (I think he's 36; I can't remember) so this kind of fits my 'older man' type, and even better - older man who appreciates high culture, who seems really intelligent, and who speaks my favourite European language. What could possibly go wrong, right?
Right, don't answer that. I haven't had a completely disastrous date yet, and I would be quite sad if this one were to be the first disastrous one. I don't expect anything to come out of it but it would be nice if it goes well because...I mean, all the elements are in place. If he suddenly tells me that he reads, especially if he says that he reads Flaubert or Zola or some other super famous French writers, I think it would just be too good to be true.
Speaking of French literature, what I'm about to say will sound absolutely preposterous now because my """command""" of French is a joke, but here goes: it would be really nice if I could read Flaubert or Foucault or even Voltaire's Candide (I say 'even' because I read the English translation years ago) in the original French. That would really be amazing. Albert Camus, too. I still haven't read L'Etranger because of my refusal to read translations, but I'd have to do that if I want to understand Foucault better (which I do, and which I will get to...eventually). I would also mention Derrida, but I honestly think that I'd never be able to understand him in my lifetime, so I won't even bother.
It's so late. I have to get up in 6 hours or so. I'm so excited though! I can't wait to see Pieter and Julian again!