As a Californian frequently visiting family in Wichita, Kan., I’m always fascinated by how laid back the lifestyle is there. You can park at a green light for several minutes and no one will honk. Everyone takes their time in going about their day. No one’s in a rush to do anything.
As a Californian, it would drive me crazy. I needed to get things done quickly because I was always in a rush to get somewhere. So you can imagine I had to learn patience every time I visited.
I used to think California was fast-paced, but how wrong I was. New York blows the Golden State out of the water. Everyone is always in a rush, honking is frequent and it’s very overwhelming, especially for us tourists. My travel buddy says it best, “It’s fast-paced and the most complicated place I’ve ever been.”
We arrived JFK Airport yesterday with very detailed directions from my New York friend as to how to get to her apartment in Brooklyn. It was through this adventure that my travel buddy and I realized how complex the New York’s subway system was compared to Boston.
Of course, when we met up with my friend in the afternoon, the first task was to find food. My friend took us to Hanco’s, where we had tasty Vietnamese sandwiches and bubble tea.
For the rest of the day, our local friend parted ways with my buddy and I. The two of us walked off our meals by crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on foot. Then, we made an unplanned stop at City Hall and then to Starbucks to rest our weary feet. We decided to go home after sitting at the coffee shop because we didn’t know how to get anywhere else and we were already too tired.
Due to subway construction and my New York friend’s definition of “not a very far walk” amounting to a few miles trek to each destination, we didn’t do much our first day.
Today, however, we managed to fit a lot more sight seeing. My travel buddy and I decided to walk through the pangs of our sore calves and feet.
We started the morning with breakfast in Brooklyn, then a walk through Chinatown. If you’ve been to downtown Los Angeles’ Chinatown, New York’s version is much larger and you can still bargain. But in California, I’ve never experienced a little Asian woman whispering, “DVDs. New Movies.” or “Tiffany. Chanel. Prada,” as I passed by in attempt to lure me into buying knock off products that arrive when she gets on her walkie to tell another to bring the goods. I didn’t buy anything, but I was really amused by it.
While there we ate at Precious Dumpling, a small shop that offers plump and savory dumplings for cheap ($2 for 10 dumplings to be exact).
Then, we walked a little further down and arrived in quaint Little Italy and later SoHo, a shopping neighborhood that refers to South of Houston Street. I fell in love with an accessory story there called, So Good. The moment my travel buddy saw how many earrings, necklaces and shiny things there were, he turned to me and said, “This is overwhelming. I’m going to stand right here.” I’ve noticed that whenever he feels overwhelmed by a shopping place, he stands in the middle of the store and refuses to move until we leave.
We finished our day with a stop at Union Square, where we sat and enjoyed our Starbucks drinks before being frightened off by the craziness that we encountered there. At first, we sat at a bench where a homeless man was getting upset that he couldn’t find a heavy set girl he saw earlier. We moved to another spot, but a man nearby was talking to himself in an angry tone. Although humorous, we decided Union Square was our least favorite spot of the day.
On day two, my travel buddy and I have become comfortable with the subway system. We are rather proud of ourselves for being able to navigate from the number and letter trains without getting lost. I like using the subway and the entertainment I find down there — from an amazing singer who starts his song in the train when no one can get away to the keyboardists to the live statue.
Also, every time we enter a subway station, I look for rats — hoping to find a fat one running along the tracks. To my disappointment, I’ve only found one. It was small. Hopefully, tomorrow or the day after, I’ll find the chubby rat I’ve been looking for.
Two more days in New York. And lots more to see.
(Photos: A “Don’t Honk” sign in Chinatown; overlooking the Manhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge; a street in Chinatown)