Apologies for the absence. I had no intention of taking a hiatus from blogging but my New York and Hong Kong trips left me quite on the verge of exhaustion. So much that my first few days in Malaysia were a complete write-off, it felt like I was still somewhat jet lagged in that I would wake up at 3 or 4 am in the morning despite not being able to fall asleep till way past midnight. I was a bit disappointed with this because by the time I started feeling better, it was almost time to head back to Sydney. Anyway, more on Hong Kong and Malaysia in my later posts, this post is about my trip to New York!
As you may be able to tell from my initial feelings on New York, the city left quite an impression on me. I got there via Sydney towards Kuala Lumpur and stopping in Hong Kong before finally reaching the Big Apple, a commute that’s almost as long as this sentence. I took a night flight from Sydney as I was just coming off my last day of work. My colleagues got me flowers!
Was quite pleased with being seated in the front row because that means plenty of leg room until a man sat next to me with his two year old child. Thankfully she turned out to be quite well behaved! And I was quite tired from, well, everything. A childhood friend of mine once remarked that I seemed to be in a perpetual state of tiredness and hunger. After that slammer of a first semester, I’d probably have to agree. The late flight I took meant that I arrived at KLIA at some inane hour like 4 am. The plan was that I would meet mom at the airport for us to catch our flight to transit in Hong Kong together. However that flight was only around 8 am Malaysia time which meant she would only get to KLIA at around 6? I ended up buying a bottle of water at Secret Recipe and writing the Fash Hack piece while waiting.
Finally she arrived and we got checked-in. I wasn’t feeling too bad at this stage but I had a shower at the lounge because apparently there weren’t any showers at the Cathay Lounge. This turned out to be an error on our part resulting in my having to have a cold shower at KLIA (of all days for their hot water to not be working?) and another shower at Cathay which had bathrooms nicer than what I have at home.
The truly best part about coming to Hong Kong even if only for a stop-over is Tsui Wah. Tsui Wah and whatever the name of the congee store is next to Tsui Wah at the airport food court. After taking two flights and eating at weird times you end up writing off all concept of breakfast, lunch, dinner and just eat whenever you feel like it/good food is placed in front of you. I absolutely love their fish broth, I suspect there’s some pork in the mix.. please no one confirm it for me. I also have a weakness for tofu puffs and all manner of fish bally fish cake type things.
Another must have is the Hainan chicken! Tsui Wah has some pretty good chicken too but we got this one from the congee store.
Egg custard tart/dan tart which is one of mom’s many guilty pleasures. I’m o-kay with dan tart, even the famous ones in Hong Kong (which we had on the way back from New York) are nice but I guess I’ve always been more of a savoury person! I know I’m hyping airport food court food a lot and I’m well aware that Tsui Wah is probably the equivalent of Asian McDonald’s in Hong Kong in that it’s fast food and it is everywhere. But it’s so good you just have to trust me.
I haven’t flown Cathay in awhile and our trip to New York was I believe, on the Airbus A330-300s. Seats were amazing, if you looked down the aisle it was like a honeycomb arrangement. The seats were super spacious and a lot better than MAS I’ll admit which the recline creates a really weird angle which makes you slide to the bottom. The things I did and the food I ate on both flights (to Hong Kong, to New York) are starting to blur in my mind now and I think the time stamps on the photos are incorrect because of all the flying so here they are in no particular order.
We arrived to a pretty gloomy New York. Rain pattered on my suitcase while cars came dangerously close to drenching my airplane outfit of a black cotton singlet and dark jeans. We were in a queue at the taxi stand outside the airport but I desperately wanted to scream ‘Taxi!’ and have a guy with a Brooklyn accent and his arm resting out the window come pick me up. I grew up in Asia and have since been lucky enough to travel to many other cities and countries but New York has always been a dream and the dream. My prior conceptions of New York were that you can’t find it on a world map because it’s in yours and my living room on the TV. It was endless possibilities and hot dogs, dreamers with spirited hearts yearning for fame, fortune and The Rockafeller centre. In spite of the classic American joke about eagles and freedom, on that night fresh off the plane, I did feel like I could achieve anything. I did feel free . New York is not a place, it’s a state of mind.
Jet lag sometimes helps in that it forces you to wake up whether you’re well rested or not. My first proper day in New York I knew was going to be really hard to beat because I was going to the Sorted Food meet up! I nearly missed out on this because I hadn’t watched their announcement video but Nat was quick to inform me so I could live the dream for the both of us. I guess for the uninformed, Sorted Food is one of the biggest food and recipe channels on YouTube. Their recipes look fab although I’ve only tried one or two but what sets them apart from other food channels is their personalities because the boys are so gosh darn funny sometimes.
We meandered from our hotel to the Alice in Wonderland Statue at Central Park which was the meeting spot. This was about km but the weather was great for a walk. Approaching the crowd of people from a distance felt really surreal as the Sorted boys got more and more recognisable. If you’ve ever had a celebrity encounter you’d know how this feel. It’s like there’s something in your brain that’s going “No you can’t be life-sized, you belong on my TV screen!”.
Kudos to my mom for playing paparazzi! She doesn’t really know who Sorted is but I suppose my incessant whoops of excitement prior to arrive gave her the indication that they were a pretty big deal, at least to me.
Another thing I’m sure people hear a lot are “Celebrity XYZ is so humble and kind” but speaking to Ben, Jamie, Mike and Barry definitely gave off the impression t hat you were just chatting to a bunch of your old friends. I really think that this is a byproduct of both their easy-going attitudes and the connections we make on social media and over the Internet. I’m obviously not famous nor a celebrity but if you’re reading this and we don’t know each other in real life, do you feel that you have a connection with me because you’ve read this far in what will probably be a 2000+ word blog post?
My objective for the day was to simply get them to sign on a black and white photo of Natalie that I printed out at the office before I left Sydney on Friday, everything else would just be a bonus. I ended up managing to get Ben to pose with Nat-in-the-photo!
The messages they wrote after.
The meet up was comprised of two parts, the first would be the scavenger hunt for food around the city and the second was the picnic that would happen afterwards with spoils from the hunt. I think one of the funniest parts of the day was when they had to film the guys officially announcing things for the purposes of the video that they would put up later. It’s a pretty solid job after editing but being there was basically being a live audience so you’re privy to all the awkward silences and retakes that they have to do.
I ended up on Team Mike (or as he decided to name it after, Smells Like Team Spirit) which was in charge of the dessert runs. After speaking to a few people on our team I found out that most of us were savoury over sweets type people, and it was our dedication to being with Mike which brought us here. So Mike if you’re reading this, I hope you still have team spirit! I initially assumed that the scavenger hunt was going to be Sorted led and we would hit some of the most notable establishments.
It turns out that we would be led wholly by people in our group, mainly the ones who were from New York. It was really interesting discovering lesser known places. After all, everyone knows Dominique Ansel so much that it’s basically a tourist destination in itself. So the types of places we were going to felt more like the kind that locals would actually frequent.
All in all we went to a macaron place, Two Little Red Hens, Maison Kayser, a Mexican place because it was getting past lunch time and no savouries had been had yet, and I believe one more place but I wasn’t too engrossed in where we were going after awhile. We walked everywhere so the real highlight was in getting to know the rest of the people I was with. Somewhere in the middle of it I think the universe decided that I was having too much fun so a bird actually crapped on me! I felt something hit my cardigan and I thought it was water then I touched it and, well yeah. Thankfully none of it got in my hair (much) or on my t-shirt so I just folded the cardigan up in my bag while mom went crazy with her baby wipes. This happened a bit of distance from the group so I’m not sure if anyone noticed but if they did they were too polite to point it out.
The Pride parade was also on that day and even though that wasn’t relevant to the hunt we had to go. Mike ended up paying for my ticket, mom’s and one other person who had come from interstate and also didn’t have a train ticket. Mike also basically paid for little bits of all the food we got to sample along the way. Earlier we bonded over movies and talked about how terribad Chappie was and the fact that Die Antwoord was in it playing themselves. Not sure what other scenarios I can allude to, to truly demonstrate the extra mile that the whole Sorted team went to make sure everyone who came had a good time, even though they were already that exhausted from the America tour. The final wrap-up video was published two days ago on their channel, you can view it below! A couple of shots of me just because I’m a subtle camhogger like that.
Another person I need to thank is my mom who willing went along this tour with me. We were both starting to get blisters on our feet from walking, hers more so because she wore platform sandals. The lack of sleep was starting to catch up to us as well so when the rest of the group decided to head back to Central Park for the picnic, mom and I split ways with them. I think we got to experience the better half of the Sorted day anyway. Plus we were both starving and ended up power walking super fast after realising that Hakkasan was an hour from closing and we had to walk the whole way since the roads were closed from the parade.
Hakkasan is one of my favourite Chinese restaurants in London. It’s like a better (and more expensive) version of Canton-i back in Malaysia. It’s a lot of elegant dumplings, soups and carb-type dishes like fried rice. I suppose think yum cha but with a less is more approach.
By the time we get back to the hotel, we have less than an hour to rest before we have to hit Broadway for The Book of Mormon. The rest of our travel companions, Kye Li, Li Shyen and their parents had just arrived from London as well.
I’ve never been a musical person and watching it on Broadway basically just confirmed that I will never be a musical person because I didn’t really enjoy it. I feel asleep about three times and it would have been four if I didn’t need to pee so badly at the end and made myself stay awake for fear of peeing in my pants. Nevertheless, everyone else really liked it and the experience still made it worthwhile although I wouldn’t go again. Besides, I think I have enough hobbies that it would be in my wallet’s best interest that I not be into musicals! I think I’d be better with tragedies or plays as opposed to two hours or so of fanfare-esque singing.
That concludes day one in New York. Practically every day in New York was as jammed packed as the first day so you can see why mom and I both got super tired. I’ll try my best to clear up the backlog of drafts but who am I kidding, I’m still posting about my Japan trip last December..
And just as an aside question, how many people care about the quality of photos on my blog? Obviously non-blurry, non-pixelated photos are good. But as much as I wanted to spend time trying to take a good shot, a lot of the time I just took a quick snap with my phone and gave up because I just wanted to enjoy myself and not think about the rest. I’m not a “photographer” in the sense that I have a real vested interest in getting good at it. I did get the Lumix GM1 that I am currently using so I could take better photos but it’s always just been to supplement my writing and because I guess with the rise of Instagram and Snapchat, people are getting more and more visual with a shorter attention span to boot. In particular with Snapchat, I do use it and I like that it’s probably the most genuine of social media platforms because you can be forgiven for taking a bad photo, you don’t have the opportunity to Photoshop or put lots of filters (beyond the one or two they have) or write some stupid irrelevant quote that a lot of people on Instagram seem to love to put below their selfies. But I also hate how it literally commands your attention as whatever that is Snapchat worthy is happening? You’re practically being that guy who attends a live music concert but films the whole damn thing so you basically end up watching the whole show on a screen.. I love technology and I love my social media so I never thought I’d say this but I really do just want to live in the moment. If anyone made it to the end of this post, please let me know. In this era where we’re constantly being bombarded by information and entertainment from everywhere, I’m stoked that you chose to pay attention to me.