2016年拿了绿卡之后终于消停了几年。那阵子经常纽约北京两边跑，都很方便。再往后Trump上台，美国各种妖魔鬼怪的事情都开始了，各种反移民各种hate crime。前两天看的Ronnie Chieng的show里面说二十年前各个国家的人有机会来美国那基本都是no-brainer，即使在原来的国家过得很不错，也是说来就来了，”why wouldn’t you go“。这些年慢慢反倒变成了”why would you go”。尤其是中国的收入水平越来越高，媒体煽动的对美国的对立情绪越来越明显。看国内媒体的人多多少少都会受到影响。确实是越来越多的人有种”why would I go”的想法了。
Two weeks ago, I came back from Big Bend and was catching up on work. When chatting with Nicole on Friday night, I realized that she would have some data discussions in London the week after. I just decided that I should go to London and join these discussions and bought a flight ticket for Sunday. Guess I still had plenty of desire to travel after Texas.
On the way to London, my phone showed me I visited London in the same week five years ago. The weather was ok on my last visit, but apparently this is not a great season to visit London as it’s often rainy and gloomy. This time I wasn’t so lucky, it was rainy throughout the whole trip. And I noticed lots of people in London wear waterproof clothes, often plastic and flashy. It reminded me of people in Tokyo often wear masks even before the pandemic.
Another different impression I had on London was the food felt better. It might be due to the neighborhood I stayed at, Shoreditch. Last time I was underwhelmed by food in London. On this trip I had several legit Asian meals, like Chinese Biang Biang noodles and Vietnamese pho. Also had an excellent Indian dinner and some decent European meals. The breakfast at the hotel was amazing; I was impressed by the scrambled eggs on the first morning. Even the fish and chips I had this time tasted better than I remembered. Shoreditch is a pretty hip area on the east side of London. Lots of graffiti, lots of bars, and lots of nightclubs. It’s easy to connect it to Lower East Side in NYC.
Right after landing, I learned there would be a “tube strike” from Tuesday to Thursday during the week of my visit, aka. most subways were not running for three days. People were mostly working from home these days, and the tube strike just made it an obvious for most people to stay at home this week. So I was facing a huge and mostly empty office most of this week. Good thing is there are still some people in the office, who either live nearby or use other transportation ways. But still… I wish I had known about the strike before booking the tickets.
The whole week was largely filled with meetings. On Friday night I went to watch a musical, Cinderella, and found there were quite a few little girls dressed as Cinderella in the audience, lol. It was a pretty entertaining show anyway, and it felt good to go back to a theatre after these years. On Saturday I had a lunch with a colleage, then went to the British Museum to see a Stonehenge exhibition. Triangle Strategy went out on Thursday night this week. So I poured quite a lot of hours into this game in the later nights and on the flight back.
Oh, covid. Yes, London is basically “100% back to normal”, just like Texas. No one wears masks anywhere. It’s not hard to forget about covid after staying there for a few days. It’s kind of funny that airports and flights still require masks and everyone switches to mask mode there, but once you’re out of airport, forget about it.
I started coughing two days after I’m back from London on Tuesday. I took an at-home covid test and it was negative. So I thought it was just a cold and thought I got it from Wen. But on Thursday I was still coughing pretty badly, which felt too long for a cold. I took another at-home test and it showed positive this time… the coughing was mostly gone on Saturday so the symptom lasted for about 3 days. On Monday I went for a PCR test to confirm it was indeed covid, and it came back as positive, too. So now I finally got my “covid badge” I guess. And it was probably omicron since the symptom is quite mild. Wen also started coughing since Friday or Saturday, and it last two or three days for her as well.
Big Bend在遥远的德州西部，被称为far west Texas的区域。离任何一个大一点的机场都很远，飞到El Paso要再开五小时，San Antonio要开六小时，Austin则是七个小时。考虑到纽约到San Antonio有直飞，我就选择飞San Antonio了。无论怎样，都是个单程就要花一整天还多的行程。从San Antonio开到Big Bend可以走I-10，也可以走90号公路，时间相仿。我来回各走了一下，强烈推荐走90号，车速略低但是车少很多，并且风景也好一些。走I-10唯一的好处是可以经过一些小城镇，如果中间想歇脚的话选择比较多。
Big Bend大致可以分成三部分：西侧主要是Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive，尽头有Saint Elena峡谷可以徒步看Rio Grande河；中部是Chisos Mountain，山地主要都在这里，有很多徒步线路；东侧可以从Boquillas过境去墨西哥的小村，恐龙化石展览，以及一些徒步线路。