The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Monday, 6 August 2007

On the other side of the world

(This was written under a jet-lagged condition, late (or early) at night (or day?) so please excuse any spelling or grammar errors)

Hellooo from New York! It is currently 2:08am on Saturday here (14:08pm Perth time and 15:08pm Tokyo time). I haven't been able to sleep for the past 30 or so minutes since being woken up by the thunder and the noisy trucks on the streets - I'm guessing the trucks are picking up garbage, but at this time of the night? We flew business class (paid by Rob's company) but despite that, I had only about 2 hours sleep on a 13-hour flight travelling across the timezone - departed Tokyo at 16:35pm on Thursday 2 Aug, arrived New York around 16:30pm on Thursday 2 Aug - the least sleep I've ever had on a flight that long. Upon arrival at the apartment on Wall Street, I didn't go to sleep until 22:30pm that 'night' (caffeine-free) so I could adjust better to the time change - I was in a bit of a zombie-like state during that 6hour period, no surprise since I was trying to pull a 1.5-day-on-only-2-hours-sleep, but I managed to still have a lil wander around and take photos. Despite the fact that I was exhausted, I only could get about 6 hours sleep later that 'night' - for some reason I could not sleep! I felt a bit tired yesterday, but yet now I'm awake after only a few hours sleep. Sigh, I guess my body is still living in the timezone on the other side of the world.

No matter, I thought that since I'm awake I'd give you a taste of travelling in the Business Class - it's my first experience, and the extra comfort certainly helps on a long flight travelling across timezones. And then I'll tell a 'lil bit about the apartment we are staying in for the next 2 mths, and a couple of shots I took while wandering on the streets on that first evening.

Business Class travellers

The benefits of travelling business class starts before take-off: priority treatment during check-in and boarding, extra luggage allowances (as it is, the luggage restrictions on an American airline is already very generous even on economy seating: 2 checked-in baggages, each with a limit of 32lbs (16kg?); with business class we can check in 3 baggages! Compare this with the 25kg allowance on economy of other airlines!), and access to the swanky airport Lounge. After a little problem at the customs/passport clearance at Narita Airport, we managed to enjoy only about 10minutes of the Lounge - free snacks and drinks, and nice surroundings. On the plane, we had big seats with lots of leg room - very comfortable. Dining was a multi-course experience:

Part of the menu:

Entree and Salad:

My choice of main course (bouillabaise of lobster, scallop and shrimp); fruits and cheese selection:

My choice of dessert (ice cream with chocolate and almond flakes topping); breakfast - Japanese option:

Despite the nice presentation, and the gorgeous ingredients, we felt that it still came down to being plane food - seafood was shockingly overcooked and rubbery, dessert was too sweet and a little OTT. On the whole, do we think it's worth paying more than twice the price of economy class tickets (which can be quite significant for long-distance international flights)? We agreed that no, we would not pay for it, but it was certainly a nice change from the economy treatment.

Apartment & New York

We're staying for at least a couple of months in New York while Rob receives his training at the NY office, and the company is paying for our accommodation - a pretty nice apartment in the middle of 'downtown' NYC on Wall Street. At US$200/night, it definitely ensures a very comfortable stay. Fully equipped kitchen with a big fridge and freezer and nice utensils (yay!), cleaning service every two weeks and basic cable tv with over 200 channels! (I kept saying to Rob - "This is basic cable? Over 200 channels?") Oh, and there's an adequately equipped fitness room in this complex so I can finally get back into my fitness routine! Rob's office has a very nice gym, so we will be training separately during this period. With such a nice apartment, it's a shame that most out-of-country employees can only enjoy it for a few hours during the day and on weekends. Being Rob's spouse, and not having to work for the first time in 3 years, it's certainly a very nice lifestyle and I can get used to it! Hehe :)

The view of the kitchen, and the living room from the kitchen:

View of part of Wall Street and the Trinity Church at the beginning of the street

Other first impressions

Yesterday on Friday, Rob went to work for part of the day, during which time I did a little bit of exploration on foot. In truth, I was in search of a grocery store or market, but I was kinda already losing hope that there was one since we encountered only one semi-decent one the night before, and I was told that such markets are quite rare in downtown NYC, and that many people living downtown get their groceries delivered. So after about 1 hour wandering around I decided to return via one of the smaller streets, and who would have thought that I would encounter a gorgeous (indoor) market full of fruits&vegs and lots of organic produce! I spent yet another hour in that shop. When I asked for the opening hours, I was told they never shut. Beauty! Although I seriously doubt I'd come in at midnight to do my groceries, the convenience is really nice. It's only a 5minute walk from the apartment complex, so that's double convenience!

Two main things that stood out to me during the walk on my own:
1) I was getting a lot of stares - mostly from guys. I'm not used to this type of attention after a year in Japan where most, if not all, guys are quite shy and don't perve - at least not so obviously (except for the chikan (perverted) middle-aged men).
2) Colour! I didn't realise how much I'd missed seeing so many people of different races and ethnicities until arriving in New York. The multiculturalism in NYC certainly ensures that I will have loads of gastronomic fun :)

Actually to tell you the truth, I was pretty apprehensive about this NY trip. I'd heard from American JETs that NY is not a nice place - people can be rude, streets are dirty and it's a huge city. Coming from the polite culture of Japan, I was bracing myself for some culture shock. Plus 2mths with no job to occupy my time? But I talked to some NY-ers on the egullet forum on the last week prior to arrival, and the foodie stuff I was finding out were things to look forward to. And people were constantly reassuring me that with the theatre and shopping districts of NYC, there'll be plenty to do. Now that I'm here, I'm bubbling with excitement as I'm looking forward to wonderful foodie experiences for the next 2 months. Sure, the streets are dirty, there are a lot of people, and the culture is not as polite/curteous as the Japanese culture, but I like it so far :)


  1. wow... class is the best! - comfort wise...yea food's not tooo great, but better than economy. we got upgraded to business as well cos we asked! hehe we were on our honeymoon then. was a reclining seat with massage too!
    man...the aparmt u're staying in looks soo good!
    looking 4ward to hearing more abt ur stay in NY!

  2. wahh....
    I'm so excited *bounces off the walls in excitement*
    The apartment looks so nice!!!

  3. Re: wahh....
    Haha, I'm sure you'll like NYC. Haven't yet been to the shopping district, but I'm sure that'll be your favourite place ;)

  4. Re: wow...
    atm, I've got a case of jetlag - I'd be happy if I got 6hrs sleep. Usually not continuous restful sleep, so needless to say, I'm tired during the day. Hopefully tonight I will be able to sleep better. Then I'll be able to explore NYC with more energy :)