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I’m happily and finally in New York after a harrowing many hour flight, which was uneventful save for the fact that I watched Letters from Iwo Jima, and that the food was really not bad. JFK is massive – 8 terminals! Two unfriendly points: There seem to be washrooms only in the far ends of the building, and they CHARGE for the baggage trolleys, 3USD specifically. We touched down at 10 in the morning, and got out latest 11.15. nice and early.

It seems very essential for travellers to get the right transport – we kept hearing announcements about how we were on no account to accept offers of transport from peoploe not in uniform uinless earlier agreed upon and such. Well upon exiting from the airport we were greeted by a massivly portly uniformed man whos beer belly would put any of you to shame (snort. yes YOU and YOU). That’s his license plate up there! Anyway, he had a mini van type vehicle of sorts and hence carted us off to Brooklyn without much difficulty.

Not much difficulty until we realized how we had, in our ignorance of New York transport planning and map directions, made a fatal error in giving him directions to our hostel. Lesson 1: Use of the word “on”. Saying 4th, 65th Avenue is completely and totally different from saying 4th ON 65th Avenue. What we told the cabbie was apparently the latter, which translates approximately to something like “the intersection between 4th street and 65th avenue”. Upon arriving there it was somewhat disconcerting to learn that we were actually about 500 blocks away from where we were supposed to be. In the attempt to reach block number 65 4th avenue, we had ended up at something like 6151, to quote mr taxi man, “that’s 60 traffic lights away!”.$

65, 4th Avenue

There’s the entrance to home! Brooklyn Backpackers is upstairs of this pub place called “The Cherry Tree”. It’s got a pizza sandwich food section out in the back too. To get to the rooms we had to trawl up a flight of pretty steep stairs (Did I carry my baggage up myself? You think?). The room itself isn’t brilliant. It’s small, is slightly ratty (think slight bashed up hole in the door) and we spent ages trying to locate the ight switch, which as it turns out wasn’t even inside the room. BUT it has big big windows that open out onto a rail balcony of sorts, and feels like the srot of place one could climb out onto and sneak away by climbing down the firehose. There’s lots of bright lovely light that shines in in the day, and it also overlooks the bar/pizza place so I get views of peoploe eating lovely, giant pizzas the size of the circle made by Suresh’s arms (suresh has long arms). The bathroom is shared between 4 rooms on our floor, although to date I’ve only seen 2 other people living on the same floor as us. One is some travelling guy named Brad who just got here from Queens and who is in the midst of jobhunting. The other is a Russian girl called Olga who’s here on work and travel. She’s terribly funny and friendly and has no knack for non-English names; she calles WeiLong WIlliam and Suresh RESH. The bathroom spews icy cold water. It makes us all shower faster.

After dumping our stuff and clearing ourselves of 24 hours worth of dirt grime cigarette smoke and such we headed out for a walk through Brooklyn.The roads all run at right angles parallel to one another so its pretty hard to get lost.
We walked through Atlantic and Pacific and wandered through some large suburban looking mall area. I think it seemed pretty hard to orientate ourselves because we had no idea where the city centre was (and as a matter of fact there isn’t one, there are just areas which are more hublike than others) Where we wandered into seemed pretty depressing because 1) there were hardly any friendly faces 2) it didn’t seem like a really nice neighbourhood; there were brownstone walk ups and all but there generally was a dingy, rundown dilapidated feel to it. We didn;t realize it at that time, but I think we had managed to get ourselves into some kind of black area. Not that there’s anything significantly wrong with black people. I think I shall rephrase myself with Weilong’s words – who described the place as having a “migrant feel”. Namely: A sense of transience and slight unease forms the general atmosphere of the place because as much as we’re not at home here, neither are the migrant communities living in th is area. And it did really feel like a black neighbourhood, what with cars blasting hiphoppy tunes with the windows down, and the shop windows displaying teeshirts inscribed with “I love black girls”. The notable lack of welcomingness really did depress us, and though we tried to explain it away by rationalizing that Brooklyn wasn’t really a tourist spot, that it was the wrong time of day, that we were in a suburban neighbourhood so what do you expect, it was pretty clear that we were kind of expecting a little more on our first trip out.

That was until we had the brilliant idea of walking to Prospect Park, near the Brooklyn Library, the museum of Modern Art and the Botanic Gardens. I think we were in a much better neighbourhood, we walked through 4th, 5th and 6th Avenues along Union Street where the walk ups were oh so pretty There was this old school 40s Truman Capote like feel to the houses, which was very happifying.

union street

MMph the pics don’t do the place justice, but really, there was this sense of such relative peacefulness and serenity just walking through the tree lines streets. Even the weather, which is erratic at its best, seemed more sedate.
Prospect Park itself was lovely, huge expanses of green green and more green. Now I’m going to sound as usual silly and excitable but they were actually doing things like lying on a picnic blanket reading books and playing frisbee with their pet dogs. You know all these things you read about people doing but never actually do because anyone attempting to read a book on the grass in any given park in singapore would risk a severe and sweaty meltdown in the space of 5 minutes? Yes. That’s why, I think, all of us found the place so utterly charming.

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Meadowport Arch, one of the several arches in the park. Very LOTR

reading in the park

He’s reading in the park! There was also a very indie looking chick sitting on the grod playing the guitar,as well as some people doing yoga. The park here uber funky la. I is jealous why ecp dunch have this kind of thing

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More of the park. Such a nice friendly place. Ok anyway I’m really tired now. To cut a long story short, we walked back to the hostel after walking through the park and planned to go down for dinner, but we ended up all feeling so tired that we concussed immediately. That was at about 8 in the evening. I was the first to wake at around 3am, and so I decided to come on and blog. Its now about 5, and i HAVE blogged. Christina woke up too and between us we finished the remainder of the Famous Amos cookies thank heavens for them. And now I is going to shower and start my day 😀

bye!

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