So, we’re back home and it feels… kinda weird. I miss SE Asia, especially the heat, the friendly people and the random events.
But home we are, and the bicyclating doesn’t stop! But it feels odd. To be riding on the left, for a start. On more than one occasion I’ve gone to cycle on the right and had to stop myself. Looking when joining a main road from a side street is also something that’s taking a bit of getting used to again. It just feels weird not putting your faith in other road users to look out for and avoid you when you join a main road!
Traffic lights are another curiosity. It feels so frustrating and futile to wait idly at traffic lights for ages as no-one moves, or when there’s no other traffic. In Cambodia, we’d all just be cycling around and between each other, taking care not to collide.
And the London car/bus/lorry drivers are definitely more aggressive – they speed past you much faster and give you much less room. It’s the pointless acceleration that you notice most. Why do drivers hit the gas so keenly (especially when they’re supposed to be in 20mph zones) only to have to break at the next set of lights / junction / bus pulling out? I miss the slow, cautious Asian drivers who would gently overtake you, giving you a nice wide berth as they did so, and the gentle but continuous flow of Asian traffic.
And I miss how dull and lifeless our roads seem in comparison to Asia. Hardly any people on foot (all in their cars), no kids on bikes on their way to school, no cows ‘pon da road, no crazy things attached to the back of motorbikes, no outrageously over-loaded minivans. Just boring grey cars, unpredictable buses and taxis, and slightly threatening lorries.
Having said all that, it is cool to be back on the bike again after the pause in China (Beijing would have been a fun place to ride but it just wasn’t practical), especially with this newly gained road confidence and fitness, and on the bike that’s seen me through 1,500 miles. It definitely feels faster, and the journey from home to Liverpool Street station (8km, just under 5 miles) took a mere 28 minutes. Faster and cheaper than taking public transport, and definitely more reliable.
One thing we have taken with us from SE Asia is the weather – returning to London in time for the spring blossom and the trees coming into leaf has been fantastic, and it still hasn’t rained! So I’m still yet to experience riding the new bike in rain. I wonder how long this can continue…