New York, USA

New York, New York…a city so good you name it twice.  It was always my dream to visit New York and I went to the big apple just a couple of days after my trip in Toronto (ya girl is on the move!).  For this trip, my girl, Maggie, tagged along and we planned this trip because everyone was going to EDC in Las Vegas and we took the opportunity to leave Vancouver as well. I have an aunt who lives somewhere in New York and she promised us that she was going to let us stay with her during our travel so we were quite grateful since we wouldn’t have to spend money on accommodation.  However, just about a week before we flew to New York, my aunt disappeared… I messaged her and wanted to confirm our stays with her but she never replied to me.  At this point Maggie and I were super anxious because we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on accommodations; plus, prices for hotels or hostels were raised since it would be considered last minute booking.  However, luck was on our sides.  I found an Airbnb that was super affordable ($50 per night) for a nice little room with a queen sized bed that Maggie and I could share.  So we booked this place and headed to New York for one week.

We flew with West Jet, which didn’t have the most comfortable seats, but had the best service because Maggie and I enjoyed the empty plane ride with unlimited wine until we landed to LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

Now, I didn’t do enough research about New York because when we took our first Uber to our Airbnb, we noticed that our driver was becoming a little more confused and the neighborhood started to look a little shady.  Our Airbnb was in the mother fucking Bronx.  See, I didn’t know that the Bronx was shady and at first I thought it wouldn’t be so bad because I didn’t want to let the stigma ruin the image of this city…and I mean, J-Lo was from the Bronx!  However, our first night in our Airbnb, Maggie and I got there at around 8PM, which was a little late.  We were hungry so we walked out to hunt for food.  This was when things turned a little scary for us.  It was super dark and we were two tiny Asian girls dressed very different from the rest of the people in the neighborhood.  There were a lot of people (mostly men) looking at us.  And then out of nowhere, we were stopped by a lady who asked us where we were going.  She also had a very worried and concerned look on her face, so we told her that we were just looking for food.  She told us to stop walking any further from where we were and to just go inside the Chinese shop right beside us and to head home right after.  Maggie and I were like…WTF just happened?  We were so confused and scared at the same time.  We took her advice, of course, so we bought Chinese takeouts and headed back to our Airbnb.  The first night didn’t just end with us feeling scared, our room was also super warm to the point we both could not sleep.  Apparently it was almost 40 degrees Celsius that night, which explained the unforgivable heat.  That was our first night in New York.

Despite what happened the first night, Maggie and I continued with our journey to explore New York.  We headed out to catch the bus near our Airbnb, which was only about a 5 min walk away.  On our way to the bus, however, we were catcalled every single minute until we got to the bus stop.  It was funny because we were catcalled literally right after we left our Airbnb.  It was definitely uncomfortable, but we couldn’t do anything else besides from just walking away in order to stay away from troubles.

When we landed in the airport (LGA), we purchased the 7-Day MetroCard from the machine inside the airport, which costed $32 USD per person and can be used on the bus and subway (unlimited rides until it expires).  The bus ride took about 20 mins until we reached one of the main subway station where we took it directly to Times Square.  When we first got out of the subway, we were already hustled by the local street artists dressed in Spider Man and Minnie Mouse costumes.  Unfortunately, Maggie and I were quite gullible so we fell into the trap very fast…but, no regrets! We learned from our mistakes fast so we were able to avoid being scammed throughout our trip in New York because they were seriously everywhere!

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We bought the CitySights NY Flex Passes from Groupon, which at the time was on sale for around $99 USD for two people with the option to visit four attractions.  I would definitely recommend buying this pass because it’ll save you a lot of money, effort and time.  Maggie and I were quite impressed that we spent so little for all the attractions we visited and we were also able to skip the line.  For our first attraction, we chose to visit The Empire State Building where we witnessed the most gorgeous view of New York City.  I begged Maggie to stay from the afternoon until night time just to take photos.  Thank you for your patience, baby girl!

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The Empire State Building
350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118, USA

One thing I fell in love with in New York City besides the skyscrapers was Shake Shack.  Call me trash but the Smoke Shack Burger stole my heart.  I swear I had it so many times in New York that Maggie was probably getting sick of eating it with me.

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Even though we were in Manhattan, which was miles away from the Bronx and in the main area of New York, Maggie and I continued to be catcalled.  The thing was, we weren’t even dressed provocatively… most days it was jeans and t-shirts.  We were catcalled in the subway, in Time Square, just walking in the city…you name it.  No one tried to touch us or start a conversation so it was harmless.  Eventually we were approached by a man who was working at the Baccarat Hotel and asked us if we needed help with directions because I guess we looked like two complete confused and lost girls in a big city.  He ended up telling us to check out a bar called, Viceroy Rooftop Bar, which we knew was going to be an expensive place.  But we went anyway just for the experience and we were glad we did because we got to enjoy sipping on our $20 USD glass of wine with a gorgeous view of the city.  Entering the rooftop was also quite a fun experience because we got to go through this shady elevator where it took us to such a luxurious place.

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The Roof
29, Viceroy, 124 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, United States

Next to where the man who approached us worked was MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) which had free entrances on Fridays, yay!  There were a lot of people in there so it was quite annoying for me to walk around the galleries.  Nevertheless, it was a beautiful place and I got to see some cool stuffs.

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MoMA
11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, USA
Close by to MoMA was also the famous streetfood, The Halal Guys, which took us ages to find.  There were a lot of hot dog stands in New York that claimed to sell Halal Foods, so they had giant posters that wrote “Halal Food” with similar color theme to the original Halal Guys, so Maggie and I ended getting lost and confused and hence why we took forever to find the real one.  When we saw the true Halal Guys, we knew it had to be the one because of the huge line up. The Halal Guys serves halal platters and sandwiches, prepared using ingredients such as chicken, gyro meat, falafel and rice.

The Halal Guys
W 53rd Street & 6th Ave New York, NY 10019 USA

On our second night in New York City, we decided to stay out all night (almost) and spent it in Time Square.  We witnessed the true city that never sleeps; there were tons of people out taking photos, shopping, dancing, singing…you name it.  I met a saxophone player named Sweet Lew, who I knew through a friend, so I ended up finding him performing in Time Square and went up to say hello.  He was so sweet and charming and he made us laugh the whole time; I just love meeting humble people like him.  Near the end of our night, we headed to an Irish Pub called O’Brien’s where we bought pizzas and a pint of Guinness.

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O’Brien’s
134 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036, USA

It was around 3AM when we were ready to head back home, so we knew we needed to get an Uber back.  We actually ended up taking Uber every night in NYC because we were out to 2-3AM almost every day.  One tip I learned from the local was that when you are taking a cab or an Uber, instead of giving your driver the address of your destination, you need to tell them the street number and the cross street in order for them to know where to take you.  Of course, you can still tell them the address, however, it would be easier for them to know the street number and the cross street number because these drivers know NYC street by heart.  So for example, if you were trying to go to the Empire State Building, which is located on 5th Ave, the cross street is either W 34th St or W 33rd St.

So after getting back to our Airbnb, we managed to have a chat with our two Airbnb hosts, who were business entrepreneurs from Aruba and have been asked by the original landlord to host Airbnb on her behalf since she was always in Seattle.  They were super friendly and easy to get along with.  They even told us that they would walk us from the bus stop if we needed someone to walk with during the night time (we told them about the catcalling situation).  Our Airbnb was actually pretty dope.  It consisted of three levels: a basement (where the two hosts sleep), a lounge area and gym on the first floor, and second and third floors were for guests to sleep in.  Both second and third floors had at least three medium-sized bedrooms each, a fully equipped kitchen, and a bathroom.  It was crazy because this Airbnb was like a typical hostel.  The lounge was neat because they had a huge map of the world on the wall where guests wrote their names on the countries or cities where they were from and there were a lot of names on that map–it was so dope.  They also have a backyard where they normally host BBQ parties on Sunday’s and what I loved about it the most was the campfire that was lit on rocks.  Maggie and I spent a lot of our time drinking wine at the campfire with the two hosts and talked about our travels and personal stories.  It was definitely one of my favourite moments in New York.

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Look at our Airbnb listing here
https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/15346892

The next item on our travel list in New York was Central Park, which was ridiculously massive.  I didn’t even know what section we were in the park but we knew that it would be impossible for us to walk the whole place.  Near Central Park was also the Columbus Circle.

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We then headed to one of the popular neighborhood of New York City, Chelsea, which is a composite of town houses, low-rise apartment buildings, luxury high-rises and trendy attractions like The High Line, a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail. It was created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan in New York City.  The High Line was also right next to Chelsea Market which only took us less than 10 mins to walk to right after we saw the High Line.  Chelsea Market was super cute, it reminded me of Kensington Market in Toronto because of how rich it was in bohemian culture and just a super hipster environment in general.

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Chelsea Market
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA

For our second attraction via CitySights NY, we chose to visit the Guggenheim Museum, an art museum located in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan. It is the permanent home of a continuously expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year. The museum was established by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1939 as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting.  I had this museum as my wallpaper on my phone for ages without knowing where it was so it was definitely surreal to see it in person.  The museum was gorgeous and I loved the architecture of the building.

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128, USA

Maggie and I did a lot of walking throughout New York City because sometimes, the best way to explore a city is to just get lost and wander until you end up in an unexpected place.  Luckily, we ended up in a lot of places.  First, we were in SoHo, then Yorkville, and then back to Time Square.  I remember when we were in Yorkville, we ended up buying a drink from Papaya King and I was not a fan.  I was pretty excited to try it and I ended up paying for the Papaya juice, which costed me $8 USD and I had to throw it away because it was plain nasty. We also saw Grand Central Terminal, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and The Rockefeller Center along the way.

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Maggie and I made new friends who took us out to see the nightlife in NYC.  At first, I didn’t really wanted to go out because I didn’t want to go clubbing or spend money on drinks, etc.  However, our new friends managed to change my mind and made it one of the best nights of my life.  We went to many bars and clubs and to my surprise, there were no cover fees (even for the guys!).  I didn’t bring my camera out and wanted to save the battery on my phone, so unfortunately I didn’t document much about what I saw when we went out; at the same time it was a nice break for me to not have to worry so much about taking photos and just enjoyed my night out with my friends.  We stayed mostly in the Lower East Side.  The first place we went to was a rooftop bar called Rooftop 93 Bar & Lounge, it had an awesome view and the vibe was very chill.  We then moved to a club called Beauty & Essex, which had a fancy chandelier and spiral staircase, and played mostly Hip Hop and Spanish music.  The third place we went to was my favourite, which was a club called La Caverna; a cavelike basement dance club with hookahs at the bar.  The last one we went to was called, Mr. Purple, which was a posh bar on Hotel Indigo’s 15th floor that also had a beautiful terrace.  We were there around 3AM so we had an hour to chill there until we were kicked out at 4AM.  Right after we left the bar, we finally had some New York Pizza across the street.  Maggie and I ended up getting back to our Airbnb by 6AM.

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Mr. Purple
180 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002, USA

My aunt, who disappeared at the beginning of our trip, finally reached out to me and apologized about her disappearance.  She explained that she had some family problems and was going through some tough times.  She wanted to treat us out for lunch as an apology, so she picked us up from Bronx and drove us to Queens and we stopped somewhere in Elmhurst.  The first thing I noticed when I got out of the car was that there were a lot of Asians here and Maggie and I finally felt like we fit in.  All jokes aside, there were a lot of Asian shops and restaurants nearby and I was pretty amazed because some of the shops had more Asian groceries compared to Vancouver, BC! She took us to a Thai restaurant and we got to walk for a bit in the neighborhood.

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We also went to Brooklyn to see the Brooklyn Bridge (duh!).  We didn’t have enough time to explore Brooklyn aside from the bridge because we had a BBQ party with our Airbnb crew, so it was definitely unfortunate that I did not get to try the pizzas in Brooklyn or to visit the Bushwick Collective Street Art.  I will definitely be back again and go explore more of Brooklyn in the future.

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On our final day in New York, we chose the Statute of Liberty as our third attraction via CitySights NY.  So we got up early in the morning, headed down south of New York and got off at Battery Park where we took a ferry to the Statue of Liberty Island.  Our pass also included a tour to the nearby Ellis Island, which was once the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the U.S. as the United States’ busiest immigrant inspection station for over 60 years from 1892 until 1954.  Unfortunately, there was a storm coming in and it started pouring rain.  Maggie and I were pretty lucky to have gotten to the Statue of Liberty earlier because we actually hopped on the ferry right when it started raining.

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After the rain stopped, we headed to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, but unfortunately it was closed.  So we actually didn’t end up using our fourth attraction and decided to give it to our Airbnb hosts so they can go out to travel together.  We then stumbled upon the The Oculus at the World Trade Center and did a little shopping until our friend messaged us to head to Chinatown for a final dinner and drinks in New York City.  I had my first soup dumpling at Joe’s Shanghai restaurant and it was so delicious.  I think we ordered three sets of the soup dumplings.  Just before the night ended, we went to Apotheke, which had very interesting list of cocktails.

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