Last Sunday, I was roaming around New York with the last of my four-day trip. This Sunday, I’m finally writing about it. To be honest, this week hasn’t been all that busy. Next week is somewhat okay too, aside from the two midterms. The point is, I don’t feel as stressed as I did back in November. Maybe it’s because I was juggling a job too back then – I don’t know. I’m in fourth year now, and nothing is ever easy, but it definitely felt more difficult a few months back.
So anyway, you know how I don’t really plan too much ahead with my trips? Well, this time, I had a place in mind for Sunday. I told my friend well in advance that I wanted to go check out Hillsong NYC, and she even ditched her own church for me. Hillsong has a bunch of services throughout the day, and we went to the earliest 10 AM service to avoid the crowd. I heard that for the more popular times, like the 2 PM service, there is often a wait list – just to get into church!
This was my first ever Hillsong church experience, so it was cool. I never realized how much Lifehouse copied off Hillsong’s service. Obviously, the difference being Lifehouse is a lot smaller… but the format, everything is the same.
I sat through a very powerful message. It was about the bleeding woman that went up to touch Jesus, and even as I was reading the scripture, I felt very touched. I can’t even articulate exactly what it was, but the point I do remember picking up is that “no matter where you are in your life, when you turn to God, He is always looking at you with a face of grace”.
We got a ride into Manhattan that morning, and I snapped this shot before getting onto the Brooklyn Bridge. New York from a distance.
This isn’t a very interesting picture, because I didn’t get a chance to actually see it for myself. But you can probably see that overpass in the middle – that used to be a train railway, and it got revamped into a park. You might also know it as the ‘Floating Garden of New York’? Anyway, I didn’t even hear about this until my friend told me. I didn’t have enough time to see it, but it’s another thing to add to my list for next time.
For lunch, we went over to Koreatown and had kind of a standard Korea meal. I love tofu soup – it’s especially nice in the cold!
We wandered a bit after that. First, we stopped by the New York Public Library, which had a nice frozen fountain where everyone was taking pictures. The skating rink wasn’t all that nice, but the cafe beside it was really nice! I would probably have enjoyed an afternoon of writing there.
Both of those were located behind the library. Here’s the main entrance, with two lions (although you can only see one here) that my friend says looks like the HSBC lions.
I also requested a stop by Grand Central Station, so that’s where we went next. I don’t really know what to say… it looks like just any other large train/bus terminal, not unlike Union Station of Toronto. But it’s Grand Central Station, so of course you have to stop by if you’re in New York… right? (It’s also where Serena came back on the first episode of Gossip Girl).
If you go down to the underground floor, you might encounter this area. My friend told me to stand at one of the corners of those supporting columns, and she went to the diagonally opposite corner. And then we played a bit of telephone. You don’t even have to talk loud; the conversation will be very audible. It’s amazing how well the sound travels along the structure! You should try it out next time if you’re there with a friend.
We went to the United Nations Plaza next, except it was a pretty sad visit because none of their flags were out. I remember a few years ago, the finale of the Amazing Race took place here. The Amazing Race does give me a lot of motivation to actually visit these places, or at least it sparks my interest.
We didn’t do much more after that. I decided to get to the airport super early, despite booking a 9 PM flight. Four days of nonstop walking really hit me by the end of the trip, and both of us were too exhausted to continue on. (Although we did walk into the Build-A-Bear workshop. It was too cute to pass by!)
I sat at Newark Airport for a few hours, listening to the Canucks v.s Islanders game while doing a bit of writing and reflection. All the while, I watched the sun slowly go down in awe.
I want to say “Goodbye New York”, but I know I was actually overlooking New Jersey….
A few people have asked me how I feel about taking the plane versus taking the bus. First of all, I’m not good at sleeping on the plane, but I’m really good at sleeping in the car. So there’s that bias about me. This time around, I got onto the plane and passed out until I arrived, because I was just so sleep-deprived. But on a regular day, I’m sure I would get zero rest because of the loud engines on the airplane.
I still can’t say I would prefer the bus completely though. The one problem I had was that we stopped every two hours or so and naturally I also woke up every time we stopped and they made an announcement. It’s funny how I can sleep so well when the car is moving, but once it stops, it’s no longer the same ‘comfy car ride’ anymore. It might work a bit better if they don’t make those announcements and let me sleep right through it; but once I’m up, I’m up.
Of course, the bus ride also gives you an idea of how the country really looks. I think some people don’t realize how empty North America really is… they know that we have these major cities, but nobody thinks about what’s between these major cities. Or at least that’s what I get, from some of my Hong Kong friends. It’s different though; the whole Asian versus American city structure – you really have to see it to understand.
All in all, the bus ride wasn’t as bad as a lot of my friends said it was. I guess you also have to consider that my bus was 60% full at best… we all had a lot of room to put our things and spread out. Maybe I wouldn’t feel quite as comfortable if it were completely full.
To sum up how I feel about New York: well, I walked into Hallmark and I saw these really beautiful postcards. They all highlight the ‘bright lights, busy city’ aspect of New York:
But the thing is… I didn’t feel any of that in New York. I’m sure its a very ‘happening’ city, and there definitely are special events that take place. Times Square probably looks great at night. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take anything away from what this city deserves, I still think it’s an amazing place.
My point is, the reason why I think this city is amazing is not quite the same as what those postcards highlight. This postcard; this seemingly normal postcard compared to those above; this is the one that gives NY its definition of splendor in my dictionary. New York is so multifaceted, and there are so many neighbourhoods to explore. I walked for four days straight, and I wish I had more time to just get through Manhattan.
I make myself sound like such a small-town girl when I say that, so just to let you know, I have seen other big cities before. But nothing compares. Hong Kong, Toronto, Osaka… nothing gives me the same feeling as New York City. Part of that is topography… for example, Hong Kong is a mountain on an island, so it’s hard to feel like you’re completely obstructed by buildings. Wherever you’re standing, there’s usually something that’s a step lower than you so that you can see over it and eventually catch a glimpse of Victoria Harbour. But the other part of that is just the fact that simply nothing compares. Nothing covers the same amount of area in such a dense fashion, with buildings that prevents you from seeing in every direction. Nothing is as main stream, indicated by all the flagship stores in close proximity of each other.
This is the New York that I saw.