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Thursday, August 31, 2006

TRIPPIN': A FILIPINO IN NEW YORK 2006

As I write, it's 11:02 pm and the night just started to roll around. I'm in a posh inn in New Jersey (I really don't know why anyone would wanna bash a state with Hampton Inn) and they have free internet...how cool is that?

Anyway I digress. Before I put my award winning piece about New York, a disclaimer: to any native New Yorker who gets to read this, rest assured that I have nothing against your fair city. In fact, it's become one of my most favorite cities in the world. I saw New York through a foreigner's eyes, and any comment I say should be taken with a...how do they say it...a grain of salt?

Disclaimer over. Let's rumble!

* * * *

New York. The city that absolutely never sleeps. And the fact that it's 7am and there were a gazillion people on the streets only hinted at what was in store for me and my family as we stopped and gawked in slack-jawed wonder at the city that was New York.

After a brief but embarrasing altercation with one of New York's/New Jersey's bus drivers (in fairness to us, we didn't know the rules...in fairness to him, ignorance is no excuse), we got off at the very busy bus station and didn't know where to look.

Our first stop was Empire State Building...the (apparently) seventh tallest building in the world and the unofficial city landmark. Fortunately for us I printed out a map of the vicinity the night before (thank you Yahoo! Thank you Hampton!) Unfortunately for us the weather was less than cooperative and a trip to the observation deck (outdoor yun...sweaty palms need not apply...tatangayin ka daw sa lakas ng hangin) was out of the question. So after taking cheesy pics inside the lobby, we made the most important and probably the most excruciating decision we've made our entire lives: to rough it and visit each and every landmark in New York on foot.

Now, granted, New York is a pretty big place, but thankfully, some of the stuff we wanted to see was pretty much accessible on foot (wanted to take the cabs, but Mom was scared of the drivers...again, not my fault). I gotta hand it to ya, New York. You really know how to impress the foreigners. The blunt-force realization that I'm actually in New York dawned to me the moment I saw every slice of New York life I only thought I could see on TV. Every busy street, every tall building, every architectural wonder, every quirk and tick was there as my imagination saw it.

Rockefeller center was more glorious than I could have ever seen it (TV really cuts a few pounds). I bought some T-shirts in the NBC Experience store (FRIENDS shirts, SCRUBS uniforms, CONAN O'BRIEN mugs...). After that, I told everyone with me that I can't leave this blessed hell-hole without visiting the infamous Times Square.

The billboards, the trinitron TV's, the stock tickers, the street vendors, the big name brands, the crowd...Times Square was absolutely teeming with life. After seeing the giant screens on the sides of the buildings telling me to buy a VW Rabbit and the billboards for Beauty and the Beast, the Color Purple and Avenue Q, I now know that I have absolutely arrived. This is New York, and I'm not dreaming.

But the real icing on the cake was my first hand experience of New York at night. That skyline with the glittering lights will forever be burned in my memory as the most beautiful skyline I have ever seen. Not to mention the nightlife, which shows a very different side of New York that's impossible to be seen in daylight.

They were right. New York really does change you.

After all the side-quests and last-minute shopping, we went back to the hotel with heavy shopping bags and a blown-out brain...not to mention a smile on my face. I told myself, this was the kind of city I could get lost in. I know in my heart after the airplane takes off for home that I will miss this jewel of a city. The city that never sleeps. And I will make sure I get back there as soon as I can and experience her all over again, because I know I have barely touched the surface, and this city still has lots of stories to tell...stories I want to hear.

--next: the Liberty Island Experience

Monday, August 21, 2006

Day 3: The Barnes and Noble Adventure!

I think my manga-esque title is a cute icing on an otherwise drab title-cake.

This trip just made me realize the value of a dollar. Just when you thought you had 50 dollars, Barnes and Noble tricked you into thinking you had more...and you end up with 20 dollars less than what you recently had.

And to think this is just the first 4 days of my vacation here in the States.

Barnes and Noble is a very queer looking place. It looks like a normal bookstore, but it's actually a bookstore/library, meaning you can pick out a book you like, and read it right there and then, without the guilty feeling and the suspicious looks from passersby.

My purpose for visiting this quaint receptacle of knowledge is to see if they're packing the latest episodes of the Naruto manga. I just felt so psyched to see Naruto all tall and lean looking *spoiler?* and Hinata all puffed up in all the right places *spoiler!* that I thought I should have a copy of that. Unfortunately, all they're packing are the Chuunin exams. Imagine my disappointment! Imagine me almost buying FHM starring Torrie Wilson (T-T-Torrie!)! Imagine me buying the manga "I's" instead!

The manga I'm talking about, of course, will be featured in a future issue of my blog.

Oh well, nothing much to report, besides the fact that I'm missing a lot of people right now. It's hard to be a milk chocolate bar in a white bread world. But in all respect, these people know how to price their stuff. What may be 400 pesos in the Phillies is worth 4 dollars here...which is what, 200 bucks sa pera natin?! It's a freaking steal! Este...laki ng patong!!!

Anyway, off till the next shopping spree!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

AMERICA PART TWO

As I type, it's 10:05 on a Saturday evening. I'm writing my blog on a computer, and I still can't sleep. All of this is normal if not for the fact that I'm in America.

America. The land of opportunity. The land of Pop Tarts and Girls Gone Wild. The land of white chicks and black guys. It was a pretty bumpy ride on the way here, but I assure everyone who ever dreams of coming here...it is SOO worth it.

I promised a lot of people I'd be blogging about my adventures here, ergo, this blog entry. The first 3 meals I had since I got here consisted of burgers, thickburgers, and sausages. My heart is screaming at me to stop, but I can't hear him. My jaws are too busy chewing on 100% USDA prime ground beef. I wonder when my stomach will have its fill of 'normal' food like, say, vegetables and fruits?

Went to this place called the Grand Casino, in Hinkley. Went in with more than 80 dollars in our pockets...came out with 30 left. It was not a good day to gamble.

I don't know what our itinerary will be tomorrow, but I hope it's somewhere amusing and interesting, just to get you to read. Until then, I'm afraid I have to bore you with my musings on why God is such a kidder, putting my tita's place in front of an all-girls elementary school (just kidding).

Shout outs to Jonas, Luis, Joshua, the HERO staff and my sweetie. We'll be buying a digicam next week. THank God! I'll have physical proof that I was here!

Now, just 2 hours more and that commercial for Girls Next Door will be on.
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