Some advice from my day today.
DON�T GO TO THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING OBSERVATORY!
It�s not that the view is awful (actually, it�s quite nice) or that the building is ugly (Art Deco is cool), but since the loss of the WTC and the deck on the 110th floor, the ESB is the only game in town. And they�ve taken advantage of it appropriately (as we do with “capitalism”).
They make you queue outside of the building. That�s understandable. After a 30 minute wait, you make it into the lobby. You think, �we�re there!� and go in.
Then you go downstairs to buy your �ticket�. While waiting in the 50 minute queue to buy a ticket from two out of four windows, you are constantly hit with some movie/virtual ride thing that they are selling that promises no waiting. Some people jump out of line and pay double just so they don�t� have to wait. Then, you have to queue AGAIN to go up the lift to the 80th floor. Another 30 minute wait. Then, a short (ha ha ha) 10 minute queue to the top.
Queues suck. But the most suckiest part is that there�s a sign inside the ticket queue that says �2 hour wait�. Wouldn�t it make more sense to post that OUTSIDE instead of inside where you are a virtual prisoner? They suck.
NYC is something special, but I liked the view from my room at the Grand Hyatt Jin Mao. From the 76th Floor, with a view of the Huangpu @ the Bund at your feet.
Went to the MoMA in Queens. They are open for business here in the old Swingline Stapler factory until their old place on 54th Street is rebuilt. Gotta admit it was a bit of a letdown since my favorite parts, Photography and Industrial Design didn�t make the move. However, their coffee bar served Illy (mmmm Illy…) AND they DID have a 50% off sale on their line of Xmas cards (which are always fun) so it wasn�t a total wash. Then we endured the hell of the Helmsleys (see opening rant).
Had dinner @ the Carnegie Deli on 5th Avenue. Filling but no refills on Diet Coke. Now I know where Jerry�s Famous Deli ripped off the menu and d�cor from. Jerry�s gives refills tho. This was after a street vendor hot dog/sausage brunch. It was cool! The street vendor food, that is.
The Hudson is a destination place. Go hang out @ the bar, the library, the hallways, it�s all cool. Can�t say much about the �gym� or the knocking of the steam pipes all night in the room tho.
Totally cool place, but next time, I�ll choose the Westin @ Times Square or the Hyatt at Grand Central Station. Campbell�s Apartment is there. I like proper beds (not trendy platform beds) with box springs and firmness
I seem to be a glutton for punishment.
I woke up @ 0730 yesterday. Worked. Flew all night (slept fitfully for 3.5 hours) and went on all day until after midnight. So with my really bad SF public school math, I figure that�s about 39 hours up going non stop. My eyes were really red. OTOH, I slept like a log.
Now the weirdness of all this is that this is almost exactly the same thing that happened when I returned from NRT. Except that was a 8 hour flight over the date line. Can ANYBODY explain how that works??
It was an incredibly full day yesterday. Landed @ 0645 @ EWR. Wound up taking an Olympia Trails basi to Penn Station. Should have looked at the train schedule going into town (the schedule posted on the net is all old) before getting basi tickets, but was hungry and cold. Went straight to the Parker Meridian to Norma�s for breakfast. Although breakfast for two costs as much as a good dinner (it�s breakfast, for heaven�s sake), it�s REALLY GOOOD BREAKFAST! Fresh squeezed OJ & little individual French Presses for yummy coffee. Do it and then eat cheaply for the rest of the day. Have a slice of pizza for dinner. Just eat there. If you come during the late morning, you�ll have a bit of a wait, but I�m told that the scenery is supposed to be excellent!
Wandered down to Battery Park where we found out the Statue of Liberty �has been closed since 9-11″.
(begin political rant)
Fricking terrorists. Kill them all. Deal out to them what they have dealt out to thousands all over the world & at the WTC. Treat them how they treat their victims. That�s the only language they are intelligent enough to understand. Send Arafat�s daughter on a suicide mission. No wait, they won�t. They�ll get those who feel they have no hope to do their crap. Geez.
So to check out how the harbor still looks like, we decide to take the Staten Island Ferry for the tour of the harbor. It was hella cold but it looked nice. I fell asleep on the ride back to Manhattan. How embarrassing.
Puttered up the South Street district, saw the NYC Police Museum, went to Chinatown and ate at the only Ajisen in the US. Ate and checked into the Hudson. Hung out there and met up with my friend Annie and her husband Jesse. Had Thai food and then three hours of the Sopranos. Great, Another show to follow.
NYC Tip #1: Get a NYC Subway Fun Pass. It�s $4/day. Unlimited use of the MTA until midnight that day. Consider that you drop $1.50 each time you go through a turnstile, you recoup your cost after 4 trips. And Manhattan is so big and so full of stuff, you will go through many turnstiles.
Gotta leave soon; there�s a note stapled to my boarding pass to remind me to catch the AeX before 1830 in order to clear customs. But it�s really relaxing here in the Red Chamber. I�ve been here for about an hour, the Hoyo de Monterrey I�ve been working on has been aged for 4 years and still packs a wallop; the buzz will last for about an hour�
It�s just as smooth as I remember having my first Hoyo, in the dining car of the HKG-Shanghai overnight express train.
Red Chamber has a guest roller flown in from Habanos. He�s been rolling cigars here for the past few days. All Cuban leaves. The HKSAR has some rules about the samples he creates (it sounds similar to why Wine shops have to charge a nominal fee for wine tastings back in CA)�I guess they see it as manufacturing so unless the shop wants to pay some horrid tax, they can�t sell them. So they�re going to take these cigars and smoke them at their staff meetings. Those meetings sound like fun�
Speaking of fun, the cigar roller guy heads out to Seoul on Monday to continue his tour then 2 weeks later, he�s in Taipei and 2 more weeks, he�s back in HKG. Then another week and then he goes back to Habana. I asked him how he likes the food in HKG. He thinks it is too spicy. Wait until he hits Seoul�
Well, errands are done for the moment; at least as many as I can do reasonably. Picked up cell phone stuff for one friend and mailed them back to the US. Don�t have the room in the baggage. Probably going to do that to the rest of my travel guides once I return from Beijing if there�s a space problem too.
Caught the A2 back to HK AeX Station. Went to the General Post Office. Mailed out stuff. What to do? Got time to kill & need a broadband connection to get 4 days of email�guess it�s off to the Red Chamber!
Woke up late this morning (0900) and took my time packing, unpacking, repacking and so forth. Also got some breakfast and got some expresso before leaving the Noble Hostel and walking over to the Park Lane Hotel where the free AeX shuttle stops. Beats paying for the MTR and having to walk 4 blocks with baggage.
You can check in for your flight & check baggage at the Airport Express stations in Central and Kowloon; a real time and stress saver. Makes sense and is customer friendly. Won�t see it in San Francisco anytime soon�
Sooo errands today are as such:
Go to Mong Kok. Pick up more phone stuffs. Exchange my case for something bigger.
Go to the Ericsson Service Point in Yau Mau Tei and get a friend�s phone fixed. HK$350.
Go back to Causeway Bay and retrieve my other bag.
Go to Airport. Wah!
Just got out of the Ericsson place on my way back to the MTR. I realize that I�m hungry. One of the many food stalls on the pedestrian routes to the MTR has siu mai on a stick, like shishkabobs. 6 on a stick for HK$3.00! Wah! Whattabargain!
You can spend a long time eating your way through this place�
Dropped April off at Central MTR around 0000. We had to call the evening early because she lives in Sheung Wan (refer to handy MTR map here) and the MTR stops running around 0030. But the weather is actually pleasant. I�m in long sleeves and long pants, dressed like a grownup and I�m not dripping with sweat like I usually am here.
Wound up taking the Tram back to Tung Lo Wan. Always sit on the top deck and try to catch one of the old cars. The new cars, there aren�t a lot out there, but they are out there, the front window is sealed. No fun, those. The Tram is a good deal for HK$1.80 using my Octopus card. It was a nice leisurely ride, scooting in between all the iconic buildings that make up Central, the neon of Wan Chai and then into Tung Lo Wan and the big Sogo.
I spent an hour listening to Putonghua and the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Co.) News while packing. Tired�
On Ana�s recommendation, I decided to expose myself to some local culture.
Expose myself, heh heh.
I went to visit the Hong Kong Museum of History. As the name says, it�s about HKG. The basement is all about geology and flora and fauna and animals and all that nature stuff that used to be where HKG is now. The meat of the museum is on the upper floors where the history of the city is chronicled.
The origin of the Crown Colony is well known, being the most successful booty resulting from state sponsored drug dealing. But there were interesting accounts of HKG under the Japanese occupation and the various crises from 1949 on. These include: fire, flooding, typhoons, drought, riots and transportation issues.
Also some small regime change back in 1997.
Well, it was pretty big. You don�t generally get to read about this stuff outside of HKG.
Sounds like Los Angeles. But like LA, HKG has dealt with these issues in one way or another. Even the regime change.
Finally got hold of April. We�re going to meet in Kowloon Tong, near her workplace and going to grab some local food. Maybe drinks after if there�s time.
Yup, it was about 2 hours. Eyes redder than a pothead�s and itchy too. Yuk. And the kitties were hella cute, too! Figures. Mark�s allergic as well; his tolerance is a bit longer than mine tho.
Schu�s shopping for luggage in Mong Kok. I�m going out there to help him shop and to hang out. It�s interesting how HKG makes everyone a night owl!
Went to the Golden Center in Sham Shi Po to get software. Nice place, full of computer parts and video game stuff.
I’m heading to the mid-levels to have a dumpling dinner with Ana and Mark. They�re still the epitome of a cute couple and they have some cute kittens. I�ll give myself 2 hours tops before the allergies kick in.
I went to the Wong Tai Sin temple in Kowloon. It�s a big temple for three religions. Taoism, Buddhism and Confucinism. It�s also a place where you can get your fortune told. It’s one of those Hong Kong things that people do.
You go to one of the fortune tellers nearby and borrow a can with a bunch of sticks with numbers on them. Go to the temple and pay respects to Wong Tai Sin. Shake the can until one of the sticks hits the floor. Remember the number. Go back to the stall with your number, sticks and birthyear. Tell her your question and she�ll tell you what she sees as your answer.
I hear that they’re strangely accurate.