“It only takes a room of Americans for the English and Australians to realise how much we have in common.” – Stephen Fry
It’s finally happened. It might’ve been a hellish journey to get here, but it has finally happened. We have begun the third and final leg of our journey and now reside in New York City. We were walking around Broadway yesterday and it didn’t come as a surprise that we were here. What does seem surreal, however, is that this is now home for the next 12 months.
I’ve been out of the loop for a while, so lets backtrack a little to the week leading up to us getting here. As I mentioned in my last post, I had quite a bad seizure on our flight from Germany to Singapore and that left me out of action for a couple of days. Add to that some pretty bad jet-lag and it became difficult for me to really be of any use to anyone. I was so lethargic, all I wanted to do during the day was sleep, but I was wide awake at 4:00am, having bizarre conversations with Anna, because she had the exact same problem. I was absolutely flattered that my workplace in Singapore, Geos Language Centre, wanted me to teach some classes while I was back in town, but these factors combined just made it a physical impossibility, plus I had several other important matters to take care of while I was in town. It was unusual being back in Singapore, because, in typical Singapore fashion, so much had changed. Just in our own neighbourhoood, Tiong Bahru, so many businesses had closed down and new ones had opened, so much new construction, demolitions and renovations. You notice the little facelifts every now and then when you’re there all the time, but they are glaringly obvious when you’ve been away for a few months. It’s kind of how Kim Kardashian would appear to Kanye, as opposed to someone who can’t stand her, ie. me, that just happened to catch a glimpse of her while channel-surfing; Yeezy probably doesn’t even notice the nips and tucks anymore, but when I see her I just mutter to myself, “Oh, the humanity!”.
Anna’s birthday was on Saturday, June 27, so a group of her close friends, Pat Lee, Roshini Prakash and Elaine Ang, took her for a girl’s weekend away in Phuket, Thailand, from Thursday to Sunday. That meant that from Thursday to Saturday I went to the Pub. Beer definitely makes it easier to sleep! Anna arrived back on Sunday, we spent most of Monday packing and then it was time to head to the Airport. Our flight was at midnight, so Anna’s family took us out for one last dinner in Singapore before we left. It’s nice to know that they’re going to miss us and the feeling is mutual. Pat came and met us at the airport, too, to see us off. Not only did we need to come back to Singapore after our three months in Bonn, but we both wanted to, mainly to see the friends and family we’re not going to see in quite some time, as well as eat what we’re not going to be able to get while we’re away. However, this trip would have been infinitely easier if we hadn’t returned from Germany. “Why?”, I hear you ask. Well, for one, we had to fly 12 hours before we had a one hour stopover in Frankfurt, Germany, then another eight hours to New York. So, we turned what could’ve essentially been an eight-hour flight, roughly the same flight duration from Melbourne, Australia to Singapore, into an epic 24-hour journey that felt like we had torn a hole in the space-time continuum (think ‘Back to the Future’). We boarded our flight at midnight and were in the air about 15 minutes later, however, due to jet-lag and a malfunctioning air-conditioning system, we didn’t get any sleep for the first three hours of the flight, but I managed to snooze periodically for the rest flight and got a grand total of about six hours of sleep. We were served breakfast before arriving in Germany after 12 hours, but Germany is six hours behind Singapore, so it was only about 6:30am when we arrived. There was a one hour gap between flights during which we had a security check, then it was back on the plane for another eight hours to the USA. The air-con was not working again properly when we boarded the plane, so it was hot and stuffy again. Sleeping was difficult, so I watched a couple of movies while we were served breakfast again. Eventually, I managed to nod off for a bit and we arrived at JFK International Airport at about 10:00am. Yup, about 22 hours of traveling to be just 10 hours away, dinner with Anna’s family had finished a full 24 hours ago, but the clock said it was just last night. Now is that Back to the Future reference making any sense? I’m just glad we didn’t make this trip from Melbourne, because then you could tack on an extra eight hours of flight time! Surprisingly, going through immigration, customs and getting out of the airport was completely hassle-free.
We exited the airport and caught a taxi to our apartment driven by a guy who was so fat he had his arm on the passenger seat armrest. The traffic was bad, but we eventually made it to our temporary home in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, just a few blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood. Our apartment is amazing, Anna’s aunty is letting us stay here until the lease expires at the end of the month and the first thing I did when we walked in was dump my suitcase and take a panoramic shot of the view from our living room:
We were tired, but didn’t want to sleep, because we knew we’d be up all night. We were also hungry, because the last three meals we had had were all breakfast, so we decided to shower and then hit the town. All in all we were out for about 10 hours, just walking around. There were things that surprised me, stereotypes that are true and things I don’t understand. Some of these are:
- The people here aren’t as aggressive as I expected.
- They aren’t as fat, either, but maybe that’s just in the city.
- A lot of people here will just make small talk with strangers. I bought a Seattle Supersonics cap and had three or four people come up to me and compliment it or start talking about Shawn Kemp.
- Steam constantly comes out of the manhole covers at night, just like in the movies
- It definitely seems a lot safer here than I expected.
- I went to a pharmacy to buy listerine. There were aisles and aisles of chocolate, ice-cream, even beer, but I had to ask where they keep dental hygiene products.
- Why isn’t sales tax included in the advertised price of anything?
A few other sights from yesterday:
Anyway, it’s a nice day, I need to check out some apartments this afternoon and everyone keeps telling me to go to Katz’s Deli and get a Reuben sandwich. For friends and family trying to contact us, we are currently 12 hours behind Singapore and 14 hours behind Melbourne. Add another hour when you are in daylight savings time.