From Sola Norway Airport, I took a 2.5 hour $40 flight to London Heathrow to start my vacation, finally! I took some time off after my work trips to Brazil, Netherlands, and Norway to visit my dear good friends Kim & Tim, who were residing in Brighton, UK. Everyone thinks my job is vacation, but it is not! I work all the time when I'm traveling, but this time, I can travel care free without having to worry about checking my emails or do work! Very nice (insert Borat voice here)! I got a little snack from the airport's Marks & Spencer's and went outside to search for the National Express bus (27.50 Pounds one way) which takes me directly to Brighton. This is the cheapest and easiest route to Brighton. If you take this option, be advised that there will not be many signs available for you at the airport... if you are unsure, keep asking around, and people will point you to the right direction.
After the 1 hour 50 minute bus ride, I ended up at the last station in Brighton, closest to the pier. I had about an hour to spare before Kim & Tim would get off work, so I took this time to relax, kick my feet up on top of my luggage at the bar, and drink a beer while enjoying the nice weather! Surprisingly it was blue clear sunny skies with about 70 degree weather, something very rare in the UK. Kim and Tim met me at the pier and we lugged both of my heavy luggages through the rocky beach to enjoy the sunset with fries and beer. It was so good to just finally sit and relax, especially with my dear friends whom I have not seen for over 2 years!
Since both Kim & Tim had work during the day, I would slowly start my days waking whenever I want and meeting both of them on each of their lunch breaks and after work hours. In the meantime, I took the time to explore on my own. There are a ton of great shopping places like North Laine and the Brighton Lanes with uncommon shops filled with antiques, funky unique gifts, retro inspired merchandise, vintage clothing, and basically anything you are you looking for, if you look hard enough! Of course there are more conventional British stores and shopping areas with H&M, Primark, Mango, etc. Also, along the pier of the beach is the Artists Quarter where independent artists sell their merchandise from paintings to yard sculptures.
Every corner of Brighton was interesting with a mix of Victorian, Regency, and even Indo-Gothic architecture (the Royal Pavilion) painted in every shade of the rainbow. Brighton is actually considered the Gay capital of UK. With the city's vibrant culture, it is understandable how this city embraces this title. The whole city exudes a bohemian and artistic aura that really reminds me of San Francisco, but is topped with a British accent and Dark Chocolate Digestives (I know, it sounds unappetizing, but this is seriously the one thing I missed the most about my summer living in London 2.5 years ago... so tasty and a good source of fiber ;-) )
My time in Brighton was filled with mundane things that normal people with normal people schedules get to do.. and it was AWESOME! I got my eyelashes refilled, hair done, joined my friends for Happy Hour, enjoyed a picnic on the beach, shopping just because, tried out new foods and restaurants (the food truck park was great, cheap eats and quality food), taking ugly ass photos and being stoopit with my friends, and I even got my kimchee AND pho fix (I accept and embrace this part of my Korean-ness... I need my kimchee)! There is so much variety here in this little coastal UK city. When I first arrived and saw the Royal Pavilion, it did not make sense any fucking sense to me. What is this bizarre Indo-Gothic building? How is this the symbol of the city? But after experiencing the quirkiness and diversity of this city, it all made sense... What doesn't make sense, makes sense in this city... did that make sense? :-P This city really oozes eccentricity, and that is what I love about Brighton.
I originally planned 5 days to visit Brighton, thinking that it could be too long of a stay, but I honestly was devastated to leave. I had such an amazing time exploring the colorful and friendly city of Brighton, soaking in the sun with the beautiful weather we had all week, playing DDR for old time's sake (Kim & I would go to Putt Putt and play DDR for hours, like the good Asians we are), foncy wine and cheese picnics on the beach, happy hours, visiting all the quirky little stores and boutiques, taking ugly photos on the Brighton Pier, and most importantly, catching up and spending time with Kim & Tim. It really has been too long! Although it has been over 2 years since I last saw them in Ghent, Belgium, it was like time has never really passed. I am lucky to have friends like that, where time doesn't affect our friendship and we can always pick up where we left off. I have been blessed to have friends globally who accept me and love me for I am! :)
Thank you so much Kim & Tim for the hospitality and for all the laughs! I will never forget how we towel fanned the whole kitchen trying to make pizza out of the smoking oven, or how we bitched the lady out at the hair salon that messed up my ombre, or screaming "TUNNNAAA" in a super ugly British accent, or how you troopered through a broken, taped-up, rubber banded, paper clipped shoe to stay out as long as you can for my last night, and my personal favorite,"Suck mah balls, bitch." The whole five nights I spent with you two was filled with so much happiness and was extremely carefree/stressfree :) Love you guys!!!!!!!!! I seriously have no idea what I have done in my life to deserve such amazing people in my life, but I am completely and utterly thankful for it.