How it happened
Hey, do you want to go to the US?
In July 2014, my product manager, Joanne Soo called and asked if I’m interested to join Groupon tech conference—right in Chicago HQ. It was an opportunity I couldn’t miss, and the plan was quickly sealed. I would go to Chicago for the weekday and take the flight back through New York, extending my trip for the weekend.
Right around 10am, I went straight out and took the bus to the city, and and took another taxi to my interim shelter, Hostelling International at Amsterdam Avenue. It was quite uptown, according to a New-Yorker standard.
So where do people go when they first arrived to New York? If you ask 100 years ago, the answer would be Ellis Island. You have to go through this tiny gateway for your visa stamp. Nowadays people go to another Island next to it—the Liberty Island. Two hours packed long-lines just to get to the ferry is what you will need to endure. Despite being a proud symbol of American values, guess where most of the tourists came from? Middle-eastern.
I never thought two of the famous streets would intersect in New York. Apparently they did. After gotten my tourist certification in Liberty Island, I walked all the way from Battery Park, to the 9/11 Memorial, passing by NYSE building and the charging bull, which was swarmed with people. Enjoyed a little sunset but no “Manhattanhenge.”
This is where all the good stuff is. Almost everything you’ve heard or seen on the movies and TV happens here. From Little Italy, I took a subway to Rockefeller Center, but didn’t realize that Times Square was 4 blocks away. The Times Square was so packed with people, they built giant bench exclusively for crowd-watching. Took a selfie with creepy big baby once he spotted me taking a picture of him. Capped the night by going up the Broadway till I stumbled upon McGee’s Pub, where the writers of HIMYM got inspiration from.
Took a subway to The Strand bookstore on 12th street, and bought some book for someone but I never gave. My biggest regret was I didn’t manage to go inside Union Square station because I was distracted by a nude street show at the park outside. Passed by the iconic Flatiron and from the picture, it looked more like, um, never mind.
Oh I forgot to tell, when I bought the ticket to Statue of Liberty, I opt for the City Pass instead that cost me $100, where you can go to 6 attractions around NY. This was not the wisest decision I took for a short weekend trip. Good thing about it is, I can skip few lines to go to the top of Empire State building. Although, you can’t really view the Central Park clearly from there anymore. Those grills foiled my plan to take daredevil selfie like those Russian kids. Next, I headed north to MoMA but they already closed.
Capped off my day 2 by visiting Apple Store on 5th Avenue at sunset. Was planning to go back through Central Park but clearly I overestimated my stamina. My flight was at 2am later so decided to go back and pack.
This article is a 2-years worth of procrastination.