When I visited Kuala Lumpur in 2004, I hung out with an English tourist named Alistair for a couple of days. At the end of a great night watching the Malaysia National Team play against Norwich City Football Club at Bukit Jalil Stadium, we exchanged email addresses on some napkins in an ex-pat pub called The Green Man. When I emailed him a few weeks ago to let him know that we were coming to Bristol for a day trip, I thought it would be nice to meet up – but he actually went much further and kindly offered to put us up for the night, so our day trip became an overnighter.
My first impression upon arriving in Bristol – a couple of hours west of London – was that it was a city under construction; there was scaffolding everywhere, and lots of new buildings. Bristol is essentially a port town that is a “success story of urban renewal”, as my guidebook puts it; and though it has quite industrial roots, these days it feels like a pretty cosmopolitan place with some nice villagey areas as well as some really cool ‘alternative’ shops.
We ended up having a really nice time in Bristol, in no small part due to the amazing hospitality of Alistair and his girlfriend Nicola who lived in a laidback student house not too far from the centre of town. And given some bad experiences I’ve had lately with bullying housemates, it was a really nice change of pace to temporarily live in a house which was more sharehouse than regiment, and where a bit of disorder is not the end of the world!