London with the Tams and the Kemps

We began this Europe trip (November 2019) from London, and we ended it in London as well. After Amsterdam, we flew back to London and stayed 3 days in the outskirts with our friends, the Tams. I can’t even tell you how wondrous it was to have home cooked meals after eating out for nearly 3 straight weeks! And they made RICE for us on the first night. I didn’t realize how deeply rooted the Asian gene was in me until I found myself missing rice all the time when we traveled to non-Asian countries, lol.

We had a lovely time just chillaxing at the Tam’s cozy home, barely leaving the house during those 3 days other than to go to church. We even got to help throw a surprise wedding anniversary dinner for Betty and Steve, which felt especially significant given that I was their 3 year old flower girl when they wedded in Hong Kong 40 years ago!

After our time with the Tams, we went back towards the city center of London to check into our Airbnb for our final night in London. Why? Because as luck would have it, we had ONE overlapping night in London with Bridgette’s worldschooling bestie Ruby, so we booked an Airbnb for the girls to spend a very precious 12 hours together.

Since the Kemps weren’t due to arrive London until late into the evening, Bridgette and I had the afternoon and evening to ourselves. From our Airbnb, we saw cable cars from afar, so we decided to check it out. It turned out to be the Emirates Air Line Cable Car that links across the River Thames. We decided to ride it just for fun, and enjoyed the pretty view of the river. Then, we walked around a Christmas market, and ended up with a lovely French dinner in Covent Garden.

Sadly, we had an utterly horrible, racist encounter to conclude our time in London. After dinner, I went on the Uber app to request an Uber Pool vehicle to take us back to the Airbnb. After waiting a short while, a car pulled up in front of us. I checked the license plate to make sure it was the right car, and then attempted to open the back door. It was locked, so I peered into the front passenger window to signal for the driver to unlock the door. He gave me a hand signal back to wait. After waiting for about a minute, Bridgette noticed a woman sitting in the back seat, on her phone. She wondered out loud if the driver was waiting for the woman to finish her call. Feeling slightly annoyed, I waited another minute before knocking on the window and then using hand signals to question the driver on what the hold up was. A couple minutes later, he opened the window to the front passenger side of the car and then much to my surprise, the woman seated in the back of the car suddenly popped her head out and yelled to me that we were NOT to get into HER Uber. Confused, I responded that I double checked my app and this was indeed the Uber pool that we called. She began screaming profanity at me, telling me that the Uber was hers, and accusing me of being “too poor to call my own private Uber.” She then yelled “you need just go back to your own country!”

I felt the rage boiling inside of me, and it took every ounce of effort not to stoop to her level to tell her exactly what I thought of her. Instead, I raised my voice to a warning tone and told her firmly she needed to watch her language and her words, that I was not going to tolerate her racist comment.

What unfolded next was honestly a blur because it happened so quickly. From what I remember, she suddenly emerged from the car on the opposite side to where we were standing. In what felt like a flash, she ran towards me, slapped me on the head, and then ran off like a mad woman.

In that split second, I didn’t even have time to think. I simply reacted. I immediately sprinted after her, leaving Bridgette to stare at my fading shadow by the Uber car that was still parked in front of the restaurant. It took me a few blocks before I was able to catch up to the woman, and I instinctively grabbed her arm to keep her from running off again. She turned to me with fire blazing eyes and continued to scream profanity at me. I told her I was not going to let her attack me and then run off like that. As I contemplated on whether or not to call the police, she suddenly jerked her arm away and then darted off once again. This time, I gave myself a moment to think more clearly, and I decided it was not worthwhile to pursue her further, or to contact the police on our last night in London. So, I ran back to the Uber, where Bridgette was patiently waiting for me, and we made our way back to the Airbnb.

I asked Bridgette if she was scared after I ran off, and she said she wasn’t, but was just a bit shocked at how everything transpired. She said she knew I’d come back eventually, but that she was more worried for my safety from the crazy woman. On the drive back to the Airbnb, the Uber driver said that the woman was very troublesome to began with, from the moment he picked her up. Her boyfriend had called the car for her, so she probably was not aware that he called an Uber Pool instead of a private Uber. I asked the driver why he didn’t speak up, and he said he was afraid because she had threatened to file a complaint on him. While I do have sympathy for the driver and his need to keep a good record for his job, I also feel that we shouldn’t necessarily let fear get in the way of doing what’s right. That woman needed to know she cannot bully her way into such situations every time!

Even though I did not call the police, I did end up filing a report with Uber. After their investigation, they suspended the boyfriend’s Uber account. Too bad the woman didn’t get any direct consequences, but I rest in knowing that karma will teach her the lesson that she needs to learn in due time.

After that emotionally exhausting incident, we still were overjoyed to receive the Kemps when they finally arrived after 10pm. Bridgette and Ruby threw themselves into each others’ arms as they always do whenever they meet, and then retreated into their room to catch up behind closed doors. Suewan and I chatted in the living room for a good few hours, and then finally went to bed for several hours. The next morning, we had breakfast together and then unwillingly parted ways as Bridgette and I began our journey home. It’s always so sad to say goodbye, but we were incredibly grateful to get those few precious hours to catch up face to face!

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