Tuesday, April 2, 2013

First Day in London, Speakers Corner & Westminster at Night 3/31/2013

After I dropped off my luggage at my hostel, I got connected to the internet and started to plan my day.  I read about Speakers' Corner at Hyde Park in Rick Steves' Europe through the backdoor and thought that would be a great way to start my trip to London.  Speakers' Corner is held on Sundays at London's Hyde Park, people come out to speak their mind on various topics.

I looked up directions to Hyde Park on the Transport for London Website, the website returned a 1 hour itenerary via train and bus from my hostel.  I decided I would not go to Hyde Park for Speakers' Corner on this trip to London, the journey was much longer than I had anticipated. I went to speak to the hostel staff/bartender about Hyde Park and getting around London.  He told me Hyde Park was a short 15 to 20 minute walk down our street, was easy to get to, and showed me the location on the map.  I got my things together and set out for Hyde Park.

The hostel staffer was right, it was a quick walk to Hyde Park.  I stopped at a couple of cell phone shops along the way and asked about prices, about 20 minutes later I was at the entrance of Hyde Park.  It did not take me long to find Speakers' Corner, there were several small crowds gathered around people standing on step ladders, I did not see anyone standing on a soap box.

I went to see the speakers where the largest crowd was gathered, there was an older White woman speaking about Britain being for White people, and a Black man dressed as a police officer waving flags.  When I walked up the woman and man were arguing with a Muslim man, the Black man said, "shut up darkie!" I was surprised to hear a Black man calling a Muslim a darkie, darkie is a used as a dergatory term for Black people in the US.  I listened closely to the discussion to try to figure out what exactly they were arguing about.  The White woman began arguing with the Muslim, told him he was in their space and get his own crowd.  The Black man dressed as a cop called the Muslim darkie again.
From Speakers' Corner Hyde Park, London March 31, 2013

Based on what I heard from the White woman and Black man dressed as a cop and looking at their props, they were discussing racial profiling in the UK. The White woman was also discussing British immigration policies and every few seconds would break into, "Britain for the Whites, the Queen is White" etc. The Black man walked around waving flags, he dramatically pointed them at me several times.  A man standing next to me commented on the theatrics of the pair and laughed, he then told them their crowd was leaving.
From Speakers' Corner Hyde Park, London March 31, 2013

The Muslim man they called Darkie started to gather his own crowd in a separate location, he was debating people about Islam and Christianity.  The Muslim man said more people have memorized the Koran than any other religious work in the world, a man interjected, saying that did not mean anything.  There was a debate about whether Islam was the correct religion because more people have memorized the Koran than other religious works.  I listened to this debate for awhile, then moved to the third speaker who had amassed a sizeable crowd.

The third speaker was also Muslim and was debating a man about suicide bombers.  The Muslim was saying Islam is a peaceful religion and a man in the audience brought up suicide bombers, saying no other religion has used them to target people, not Christianity, Budhism, etc.  The Muslim speaker brought up Japanese Kamikaze during World War II, the man in the audience responded saying that was a military conflict, not equivalent to Muslim suicide bombers today. The debate continued, I had my fill, I was cold and ready to head back to my hostel to check in.  I was tempted to get on my own Soapbox, I have plenty to talk about, but I didn't, I decided to attend my first Hyde Park Speakers' Corner as an observer.  I may get on my own Soap box in Hyde Park on my return trip to London.

Speakers' Corner London's Hyde Park 3/31/2013

I walked back to my hostel, on my way back I bought a cell phone for 20 GBP, was the best deal I got after speaking to several dealers.  I checked in at the hostel and headed up to my room.  My room is on the top floor of the hostel, an all female room that sleeps six.  I had the bottom bunk, there are two 3 bed bunk beds in the room, being on the bottom, I am only a few inches off the floor, no room to sit up either  I realized why hostels work, after being out sight seeing, walking around, you are dead tired, the room does not have to be fancy, you have a place to sleep and it is enough.  The bed is comfortable and has a warm duvet.

Around 9pm I took the tube to Westminster station to see London's sights at night.  The view was amazing at night, I saw Big Ben and the houses of Parliament lit up, I also saw the London Eye, all these are along the Thames River.  Some French tourists took photos of me with Big Ben and the London Eye in the background.  I walked around a little, to Parliament square, along the Thames, until the cold becamse unbearable and I went back to Westminster station for the trip back to my hostel.

Me at Big Ben & Parliament

Me with London Eye in the Background

I stopped and got Pakistani food, Chiken Tikka Kabob, on my way back to the hostel.  I got turned around briefly after eating dinner, I headed in the opposite direction of my hostel.  I realized I was going the wrong way when I passed things I did not recognize, an Islamic center, a Dominos Pizza, etc. I turned around and made it back to my hostel around midnight.  My two Hostel roommates were already sleep, lights were off.  I had to use the light from my computer to find my things and get ready for bed.   My hostel mates both moved to London to work, one from Southern France, the other Bern, Switzerland, they are not here to go sightseeing, staying in the hostel until their flats are ready.

1 comment:

  1. Iam glad your having a good time. Looks like you found some peace. : ) Ann