Why you should go to Britain, not Beijing, for summer vacation

July 18, 2015 08:00
Attractions related to screen hero James Bond, including his famous Aston Martin car (L), and football star David Beckham (R) are a big draw in Britain. Photos: Ben Kwok, metro.co.uk

As Beijing swelters in Asia under temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius, London has a relatively cooler summer in Europe with average readings of around 25 degrees.

Now, if you are a Hongkonger mulling one of the two destinations for summer travel, the choice should be a no-brainer. 

Apart from better weather, a London getaway could help you forget China's volatile A-share market.

As for the situation back home, you can put aside the worries over tainted water pipes.  

But that is not all.

Here, I offer some more reasons why you should consider making the 12-hour journey to Britain. And all those begin with the letter B.

Bond: Still feeling nostalgic after Skyfall, the 50th anniversary James Bond movie that was released in 2012? Go to Bond in Motion, a large James Bond exhibition in Covent Garden where you can lay your eyes on many things related to the famous fictional British secret service agent, including his favorite car -- Aston Martin -- and the original scripts of many movies. Filming is underway on the latest installment in the hit franchise, with Daniel Craig in the lead role. As "Spectre" is expected to hit the screens in November, you can whet your appetite by visiting the London exhibition. 

Beatles: if Bond is 53, Beatles would have been 55. But good things do not last long – Beatles were together only for 10 years from 1960 as a band. I haven't had the good fortune of attending a Beatles concert, but the British lads were on my mind when I spent a Saturday night once at the Cavern Club, just next to the Hard Days’ Night hotel in Liverpool. The four teenagers from the city conquered the world with their songs, and a visit to the band's birthplace would be definitely worth it. You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one.

Beckham: Having recently turned 40, the football star may no longer be bending it like he used to, but he is still a big figure on the international celebrity circuit. Gracing his presence at various events -- from Wimbledon tournaments to promotional activities at Sands Macao -- Beckham remains a crowd favorite. Although the Chinese are buying up football teams and global players, they are yet to have a star as dominant as Beckham. The footballer is a better brand than his former Manchester United team, and he is still writing his own story.

Borough Market: Forget the stock market; seek out this attractive gourmet marketplace for fish, meat, vegetables, cheese, breads, coffee, cakes and patisseries in Central London. Besides the fresh food, there is nothing more relaxing than to follow the Queen’s walk overlooking the Thames River and stop by Tate Modern for a visit. 

Biscuits: It is one of the basic snack foods in Britain where you do not need to check the label. There are many British biscuits that you must try in your lifetime. They go wonderfully well with coffee or English tea. As with dim sum, you can aim to have a dozen but can settle well with a few.

BBC: In case you miss all of the above, BBC is the instant thing that can put you in touch with fine British tradition and heritage. Unlike the expensive getaway, Beebs can be enjoyed for free.

Book of Mormon: Mercilessly lampooning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the two-year-old West End production has become a sensation despite some critics dubbing it as the most over-hyped show on earth.

Bicester Village: An hour away from London on the way to Oxford, the outlet retail center attracts six million visitors a year. It was the No.1 one-stop shopping place until I found that some items they sold were a bit more expensive than the popular brands in high street London. What an amazing summer clearance season!

Big Ben: Can any list be complete without this landmark?

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Trips to the Borough Market (left) in London and the Cavern Club in Liverpool, the birthplace of The Beatles, are highly recommended for visitors to the UK. Photos: Ben Kwok

EJ Insight writer