GLP – New York (28062013)

11 Jul

I stepped out of the nicely air-conditioned South Station Bus Terminal into humid, warm, summer air. The bus ride from Boston was about 5 hours, and 5 hours too long. It was my first time in New York and even though I was in full anticipation mode, I really didn’t know what to feel. Our generation has heard so much about this big city, seen so much of it in the movies and read what we thought was all about it in the books that I was just waiting to see what would come up to surprise us.

Then, as we emerged onto the streets, I saw the light. No, literally. It was so bright, it felt like daytime. There were so many people on the street so close to midnight and there seemed to be a commotion everywhere. Theatre signs and building-high advertising screamed for your attention, half-naked men selling calendars called out for your purchase, countless cars and yellow taxis filled the roads with their hornings, policemen rode on horses and Iron Man allowed you to take a photo with him for a small fee.





 Not something I’d advocate, but still an interesting sight.


Happy faces at Times Square!

One of our first priorities was to find out how long we could stay out so that we could ensure there was a way for us to take affordable transport to the apartment we rented. After asking a local, we found out that trains ran 24 hours a day (yes, we did not know that). I was definitely in the city that never sleeps.

Our apartment in Chinatown was a tiny, tiny one. There were 3 beds, a small futon and 1 toilet for the 8 of us. It was very well-stocked with various appliances and even tea & coffee, so I felt like it was well worth the money spent. Xin Hui, Anissa & I shared a bed and slept on it lengthwise with our legs hanging off the side of the bed. Budget trip, budget lifestyle 🙂 Our first night was spent lazing about, waiting for our turn to shower and planning our itinerary for the next day.

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Chinatown looks, feels and smells so much like Hong Kong

I started off my first day in the beautiful Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art. Apparently, I now own an entrance badge that has been an iconic tradition with the museum for 42 years but will be discontinued and replaced with stickers from that weekend on. That’s one souvenier I’ll be looking to keep for a long time. My two favourite installations that day were the Greek & Roman Art section and a special installation called Punk : Chaos to Couture.


Greek & Roman Art

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Punk : Chaos to Couture (pictures were not allowed to be taken, so these were taken off the Metropolitan website)

An exploration of punk culture, featuring elements like D.I.Y aesthetics, agitprop, the notion of destruction and of anti-establishment. An intriguing look into the interplay between the grungy origins of punk and its current expression in high fashion.

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Metropolitan badges of all colours on! Read about the end of the dispensing of these badges here.


Amazing view from the Met’s rooftop.

Another souvenier to keep for a long time is my TKTS (add link: booth ticket to watch The Phantom of the Opera at 40% off, because I queued for over an hour to get it for everyone, and because The Phantom of the Opera was amazing. It was also pretty memorable because after the musical, we found out that Tom Hanks was about to exit a nearby theatre after acting in Lucky Guy. We decided to join in the fun.


 The Majestic Theatre where we watched the Phantom of the Opera

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 It was just fun feeling like you were in one of those entertainment news shows haha.

The New York Water Taxi ride we had had all of us squinting and trying to take photos of the skyline without having our phones fly off into the water in the wind. The view was nice, but we were not aware that we were on the last boat of the day, which did not go very near the Statue of Liberty. The staff on the water taxi were also pretty unfriendly when we asked questions about where the taxi was going. If I had the chance to choose again, I would probably go for the Staten Island or Ellis Island Ferry instead. It did, however, include a pass to the 9/11 Memorial, which was an interesting and thought-provoking experience.


“Reflecting Absence” ( designed by Peter Walker and Israeli-American architect Michael Arad. There were 2 of these fountains, both set within the footprints of the original twin towers.


View from the water taxi

My second day in New York was also started off at a museum – The Museum of Modern Art. I had about only over an hour to try to soak up the Picassos, Monets, Warhols and Matisses. They also had an interesting design exhibition where they showcased the works of young designers, like Massoud Hassani, who invented a low-cost, wind powered landmine detonator.


Massoud Hassani’s toy-inspired life-saving invention.

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Monets, Mattises, Mondrians and Warhols.

34th Street Station


We realised how quiet Singapore’s MRTs really are.

After the museum was a walk through the famous Central Park. Xin Hui & I got an ice-cream and a hotdog each and sat on one of their pretty benches.


Every bench had a nice plague like this addressed to the memory of someone or thing. Yes, pets were included in the love


 Strawberry Fields, dedicated to the memory of John Lennon from the Beatles


And then it was off to the 100 year old Grand Central Station! This century old beauty has been featured in countless TV shows and movies, never failing to charm us with its beautiful emerald ceiling depicting the Mediterranean Sky. It has been a meeting place, departure place and place of celebration for many generations of New Yorkers.


For our last dinner in New York, we decided to pay a visit to one of their best pizza places – John’s Pizzeria. It was a half an hour wait in the queue to enter, and yet another wait for the really yummy pizza. My wonderful trip mates decided to treat me to dinner as their way of saying thank you for queueing for the Broadway tickets. Awww


It was then a mad rush back to South Station to catch the bus back to Boston.

 “I love short trips to New York; to me it is the finest three-day town on earth.” James Cameron

New York was amazing, but I wouldn’t want to call it home someday. It’s extremely loud and excitingly controversial – perhaps that’s just not the kind of daily life for everyone. However, if I had the chance, I would have liked to spend one more day in New York. Not just because James Cameron said so, but because there was that little bit more I wanted to do – visit the Natural History Museum, go to the top of the Empire State Building and perhaps take a stroll around West Village.

Here’s to hoping I’ll be blessed with the chance to go back there again someday. Till then, it’s back to Cambridge, where our currently unbuilt electric vehicles wait for their eventual fulfillment.

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