I’d never been to Cambridge before, and so with a holiday day to take off work, I booked a Friday off; little did I know it would be the last sunny weekday of the year, but I definitely knew that I’d make the most of that day.
We caught the train from Kings Cross to Cambridge, and immediately sought food. During our walk into the centre, I discovered just how popular Asian food was there. Between each classical building was a Chinese, Korean, or Japanese restuarant. I also spotted two iced tea/shake shops- exactly what was around in China- and it brought back feelings of nostalgia I’d lono forgotten! It reminded me of Becky recommending the first Chocolate tea to me; finding one called Chocoliss, the name of my friend; introducing Hafsa to the shops. People I barely communicate with now, but were at the top of my list to show the latest discoveries to at the time. It’s sad, but that’s just a fact of life and part of travelling, isn’t it?
Anyway, we continued walking and mooched around the Market Square. After a pit stop outside one of the colleges, we continued walking; past punting, the Mathematical Bridge, cows in a field, noisy pubs, Freshers unpacking, abandoned bunting. We stopped off at a riverside pub for a couple of hours, tasting the different beers and salivating over the food that was served to other tables.
As we walked back, we decided to go to a North China Dumplings restaurant. In China, they were my favourite food; I even learnt how to make them one night in a Guilin hostel with some temporary French friends. We ordered pork and lamb dumplings, poured out soy sauce and chilli sauce into two little dishes, and used our chopsticks to devour the small but filling dinner.
I couldn’t leave without buying an iced drink; so, I relived another China memory, and bought a chocolate drink which was made just the same way, with the plastic lid sealed on by a machine so you could tip it around in your bag (if you so wanted) without it leaking. Weird, little things like that take me right back to China.
As we left Cambridge that evening, I thought about how I’d expected a thoroughly British day. In part, I did; looking at the grand buildings and reading about their histories, buying local produce and seeing the local areas. But what stuck out the most for me- and what I (not so secretly) enjoyed the most- was the Chinese presence; the food, the smells, the shops. I love it, I miss it, and I realised that I must return.