Friday, 10 April 2009

Subway, Brooklyn Bridge, Little Italy, Temple Emmanual, Manchester

Day Six (17/09/2006)
The subway in New York looks pretty much like the one in London though I thought the system in London is more friendlier as we could get to the other platform within the station instead of having to walk out in the street to cross to the other side where the platform for the train heading the opposite direction stops. Sometimes, the platform may be in a different street or direction which can be confusing.

On our sixth day in NYC, we headed down to the Brookyln Bridge which is the first steel bridge ever made in the world. I am amazed by the size of the bridge across the very wide East River. It is pretty interesting how wires, ropes, pipes and planks of steel hold this long bridge altogether. Though it may looked like an ordinary modern bridge, you cannot help but feel fasinated by the geometrical patterns the steel ropes form as you watch the bridge from a distance. It actually looked a little pretty.

I didn't realise the monstrosity of the concrete tower that held the steel bits together. Its size and its high arches give it a kind of grandeur.

Overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge is the Manhattan Bridge.

And on the other side of the bridge, we see a cluster of skycrapers. The South Sea Port is supposedly somewhere there but I am not sure which is it. It is here where the famous exhibition, Bodies, is being held. We had been interested in this exhibition eversince we saw advertisement of it on the buses. But, we had almost gone broke by the end of the fifth day from all the shopping we did. In the remaining days in NY, we used the last of our money on food and last minute souveniers.

On the bridge, the roads are below and on both the sides of the pedestrian walkway.

After touring the bridge, we wandered around and stumbled upon Little Italy. This time, the place was packed. This street of Little Italy has stalls instead of the tents we saw earlier. Mostly food is sold in these stalls. There were sausage sandwiches I had wanted to try but didn't. And they sell cocktails in really tall, plastic glasses for US$10 which we had wanted to try but decided to give it a miss due to budget constraint.

After wandering around several places which I cannot now remember, we headed back to the hostel for a rest before going out again for dinner. Since it was our last night, I decided to give our group a treat at a Thai restaurant. To celebrate our trip, we all wore the popularly sold T-shirt among tourists, the 'I ♥ NY' T-shirt', out for dinner. The food in 'Yum Yum' was extremely delicious. We ordered the steamed mussels for starters. When it came and the lid of the pot was taken away, we were surprised to find how colourful the dish was. I had expected it to be simply plain steamed mussels. But, there were onions, lemon grass, chilli and bell peppers garnished with herbs in it. And the taste blew the three of us away. We couldn't stop scoping tablespoonful of the gravy and slurping it way while saying praises of how absolutely tasty it was for the next 10 minutes. For the rest of the night, the topic of those hot, spicy and so, so yummy steamed mussels were on our lips.

The most delicious dish I have tasted since a long time, the steamed mussels. It's spicy and the flavour of this dish is so life-fulfilling. Seriously, it's really THAT tasty and I am not exaggerating.

This is a seafood dish which I cannot now remember what it's called. It tasted good as well but compared to the mussels, it's really quite an ordinary dish.

The fish with tamarind sauce was delicious as well. It tasted like mango fish except sweeter and the fish is well fried which made it crunchier and tastier.

It was a splendid dinner and we ate happily. I enjoyed it very much.

Day Seven (18/09/2006)
On our last day, we carried out the routine of getting our sushi breakfast at Food Emporium. For several days now, we had planned to take pictures with the sushi master and some of his work colleagues who have been very friendly and helpful to us. On our second day in NY, AW and I had asked for directions about Woodbury Commons after having purchased our food. The guys at this food counter started discussing together on the best ways for us to get there. It became quite a merry affair which amused me. One started shouting across the fresh food section to the other section at his colleague to ask if he knew anything about it. It was just really funny watching them joke with each other while they discussed.

This is the sushi master fixing up AW's order.

This is the sushi master with his compadre, another funny guy who kept asking me about baseball which I know nothing about. When I told him that I don't know much about baseball, he went on enthusiastically to ask me if I knew this baseball player and that, completely oblivious to what I have just told him earlier. They are both very friendly people and they certainly have made our trip to NY more memorable and enjoyable.

This is how we had our breakfast everyday on AW's bed. HL doesn't really like sushi very much but on the last day of our stay, he too joined us in our usual.

HL had Californian and salmon with cheese sushi (left tray). AW had tempura prawn sushi (right tray) while I had Californian sushi(bottom tray).

Since AW hadn't showered after our breakfast, I made plans with him about my last attempt to visit Temple Emmanuel before we leave NY. He was nice to wait for me to come back before heading to Times Square.

The trip to the temple was a rather disappointing one. This was not because the rooms were still closed. As I entered the temple, I saw two men standing by the door. Thinking that they may be temple worshippers, I walked past them and headed towards the security guard whom I have been acquainted during my earlier visits. Before I could reached him, I realised the two men had been rying to get my attention by repetitively calling out, "Hey Lady!" When I finally turned around, they sounded as though they were reprimanding me. One guy said, "What are you doing here?" and I explained that I wanted to visit the temple. He then authoritatively said, "If you want to visit the temple, you have to see us first." As if to mock me, he somewhat snapped at me with a "Do you understand?" Anyway, my mind was all about visiting about the temple and it didn't bother me much until later on. I felt offended and wanted to brush all that unpleasantness off and get away from the situation. I managed to muster, "I'm sorry?" He then told me to see the other guy which was the security guard I was just about to talk to. Sigh. The encounter with the two guys completely spoiled my mood. I wish I could have said something in my defence but really, that wasn't what was on my mind. I have never known how to tackle rude people. I just remember them as rude, ugly people and would avoid such people in the future.

I could feel the security guard trying his best to be nice and helpful after witnessing the scene. He brought me (finally!) into the main sanctuary which is the main hall used for holding services. It is indeed a beautiful room, just as he had told me a few days ago. There are mosaic tiles on some of the walls and even the foundation beams that support the building. It's disappointing that the limited light in the room restricted me from taking a clear picture. All the pictures I took in this temple turned out blur.

From the picture below, you can see tiny bits in different colours on the beams. It looks a lot prettier in real life than these photos. Check out the patterns on the walls as well. Sigh. I was not allowed to go any further than the red rope between the seats. So, I couldn't take a closer picture of the stained-glass windows. :(

This is the altar of the sanctuary. They call it the arch. Behind the gate is where the Torah is kept. I found the patterns of mosaic tiles really beautiful and there is also stained-glass on the upper part of the wall, the semi-circle bit . It's really unfortunate that the pictures are coming out so terribly. I tried it with several different exposure and this is the best picture of them all.

The security guard or guide then took me to another room. This room is not allowed for visitors but he thought if I could make it quick, he could show it to me. This is a smaller hall. However, the patterns on both the windows and the arch are different from the first room, but not less spectacular. According to the guide, the stained-glass are from Tiffany & Co. Before it went into the jewelery industry, the company used to make stained-glass.

This is the auditorium we went earlier a few days ago. However, the lights behind the glass was not on and it looked less interesting then. I guess now that the lights were on, it still couldn't beat the beauty of the other two rooms.

I went to the temple's museum after the guide told me about it. There are many items of interest in this little museum. For instance, this torah case below that is heavily encraved with intricate designs. I thought it's interesting that they have a case for their scriptures, one that is so fine and exquisite.

After the temple tour, I headed back to the hostel to regroup with the guys. We then went to Times Square. Seeing that Toy R Us was opened, we walked in and took pictures with the ferris wheel that is inside the big store.

Little did we realised we would all get so caught up with the games that the two hours in there went past so quickly. We were shocked when we checked the time. I played Mario Bros, Pokemon and an intelligence test game on the Game Boy. I competed with AW in the later game. Then, we tried playing ping pong on the XBox. It was hilarious! We were both laughing like little children when one of us got defeated. We both didn't know how to play the game and kind of messed around with the controls for a bit. It was really funny when we sent our players in the wrong direction or doing something silly as they tried to sweep the ping pong ball across the table. Then, we all tried playing this crazy soccer game on the Game Cube and I lost miserably to AW who got the hang of the game pretty quickly.

This is a decorative item in the Hard Rock Cafe Shop, which I thought looks rather interesting.

And some random fountain in front of a building.

These are the houses in Queens that I saw from the air train before reaching the airport.

The JFK airport is huge. You can see separate hangers for several different airlines.

Day Eight (19/09/06)
It was the next day when we touched down in Manchester.

D and AW brought me to the city centre to look around. I saw a nice old building to take a picture of. And there were several other nice ones as well.

I like this view of the new buildings on one side and the old on the other.

That night, we caught a movie, DOA, at the cinema. It's a pretty good movie. There's not much to the plot but it's got some pretty amazing effects.

People in NY
The people on the streets are generally friendly and if you get to see them a little more often, they become friendlier. Like that sushi master guy and his colleagues and the temple security guard. If you ask them for directions, they are ready to help you. There was once when we were looking for the Cloisters and a passer-by came to us and offered to help. When I was outside the hostel doing something, I spoke to an African American and he was pretty cool.

However, you get some pretty unpleasant people. When we were in the airport going past the security check-out, one of the security officers was really rude. She was bossing us about to put what where. With no proper instructions on signboards (as they did in the UK airport) and simply by giving verbal instructions, she can't expect to know exactly how something is to be done. We put all of our belongings into our own individual trays. When I had gotten the tray myself, she said disapprovingly that she's gotten one for me. The attitude was just so nasty. She even took out our shoes from the tray and threw it on the moving belt. Meeting people with such attitudes really spoils the trip.

When I thought over NY again, I'd most likely to go there again because it's a great place to shop but I cannot guarantee that I will not find a better shopping haven. And thinking back about the nasty people I've encountered, it really irritated me. Some authoritative figures can be really bossy and rude with no respect or courtesy for others. The number may be few but the effect can be extremely damaging.

The trip
I had a great time in New York and I have been impressed by a few things about the city, such as the Brookyln Bridge, the beautiful buildings and places of worship. There was great food and being in this big busy city made me feel as alive as it is. And, everything is reasonably priced. We got a weekly transport pass for US$24. Yet, I cannot imagine myself staying here. I supposed you don't have to live in a place to truly like it. It's too busy with people and cars and the buildings are all cluttered together. It is in a way neat as the streets are in grids and the buildings stay within the grids.

Frankly, by the fifth day of our visit, I was somewhat longing to get out of NY as I found it suffocating. Yes, there are many pretty and interesting things to see and if I could get pass the feeling of unwillingness, I was sure I will have a great time and I did. While the buzz of the city made me feel alive and thrilled, it also tired me. I think that's what cities do, it's crazy.

I came back to UK feeling happy and content. I rate my NY trip 6/10.

No comments: