New York City 2013 – The city that never sleeps

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FOREWORD \\  Last month was a whirlwind of adventures. This month, I’m trying to welcome the new year with a bad jetlag and pick out photos from the past month. This might be the longest photo journal yet. Friends would know I’m a die-hard fan of everything American. The dreamer in me has always lust for a trip to the east coast, so when it was confirmed 2-3 months prior to the date, I’ve been jumping around (and doing a whole lot of research) ever since. It’s time to party in the USA.

As our tour bus first drove into NYC I was spellbound. I had seen too many pictures of NYC from my smartphone in the past few months that when I finally see the city with my own eyes it feels surreal. Our maiden day touring the city was led by a tour guide and it started off with breakfast in Chinatown. We had the traditional fried dough fritters and porridge at Big Wong King (a dim sum restaurant) and they were really good. Turns out that in dim sum restaurants here you take plates of whatever dishes you want as they are taken around by servers (so you don’t have to order them individually). Pardon the grainy shot of Mott Street below, was testing out the camera for the first few shots!

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Well then we traveled to a pier and took the Circle Line Cruise round the island of Manhattan featuring the iconic Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. Lady Liberty was glinting in the sunlight. (Motion sickness ached up – no good pictures)

Wall Street was nearby so we walked over to the towering skyscrapers – the official financial district of New York. And probably that of the USA. Here are some scenes taken en route and along Wall Street.

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The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum was next on the list – a display of warships, fighter jets and planes. This shot taken from the USS Intrepid (ship) overlooks a snowy rooftop. Amazing weather we had that day, by the way. The gorgeous deep blue hues of the sky, though not being captured here as depicted, are extinct here in Singapore.
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Moving on to another museum – Ripley’s Believe It or Not. or aka a museum which I’m really interested in because I’ve watched Ripley’s Believe it or not shows on tv since young. It was situated in the dazzling 42nd Street of Times Square.
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By then, the sun was starting to set and the last light of the day was casting long shadows over the city – the perfect time to get high up on a skyscraper and get a magnificent view of NYC. That skyscraper is none other than the 103 storey high Empire State Building. It was peak hour for tourism on the observation deck so we queued for a pretty long moment… but all would be worth it when you stand amidst the cold gusts of winter at dusk, viewing the panoramic sea of lights that lies before you. Can’t help but proclaim that I love this shot so much. I mean, just look at that blazing trail of light.
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Later that night we headed back to the state of New Jersey where we would embark on a East Coast tour for the next 5 days or so featuring Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston and more. I’ll leave the details and pictures out of this post for next time, so let’s just fast forward to when it ended and we were dropped off at Chinatown to end our 6-day East Coast Tour. For the first time ever, I pulled out a map on foreign land. And then navigated the rest of them from Chinatown to our hotel in Times Square via subway – the 4 of us were lugging 5 luggages.

It took us a while to get to Crowne Plaza Times Square, our residence for the oncoming 6 nights. Times Square is full of human activity. The crowd is no joke. Think about Orchard Road on a Sunday afternoon and double or triple that amount of people. No wonder it is dubbed Crossroads of the World. A rather polluted one indeed, especially with the smell of smoke from cigarettes and barbecued meats and the occasional nasty pong wafting up from the underground sewer.

That night we had dinner at a Thai restaurant (can’t remember it’s name) nearby and boy portions are huge. The lethargic me could barely finish half of my pad thai!

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The whole of the next day was dedicated to shopping and nothing else but that. We got on a bus which drove out of NYC to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets… shopped… and then went back. Funny how I didn’t take a single shot of the place though.

After another sleep.. Christmas Day! The streets of Times Square were eerily empty in the morning and we were fighting against cold winds in the -7°C weather while heading to the Rockefeller Center. My hands were so numb I couldn’t bear to retrieve my camera from its bag to get the Rockefeller Tree in a solo shot. It was only when I stumbled upon the masses of skaters and tourists on the other side of the tree facing the ice skating rink did I decide to just do it. But seriously, this place had an air of Christmas spirit.

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Right next to the tree was the GE Building which held the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, or our next attraction to stop by at. Unfortunately, snow was a no show on Christmas Day. We were met with a cloudless blue blueee sky which cast the city in a bluish hue. Over here we got a great view of the Empire State Building and Central Park.
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En route the US National Tennis Center in Queens we made a stopover at Grand Central Terminal  we traveled back to Times Square for some Christmas shopping. By that time, Times Square was already full of tourists trying to snap up holiday deals. I would be a little mad at the crowd if not for a stranger who said that this was part of “experiencing New York”.

Boxing Day came right after Christmas and everyone was rushing for Boxing Day sales. So of course we had to join in the fun. On the way there we stopped by a cafe (yay) Culture Espresso (post coming soon!) where I got a cortado. The true cortado.

That night was an awesome one. We caught a WWE show at (possibly) the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. You gotta love the hype from the crowd.

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On Friday we ventured uptown to the must-visit Central Park which divides Manhattan into her upper and lower parts. We didn’t get snow that day which was to my sadness since I suppose Central Park looks a lot more gorgeous in white. Well but it was freezing even without the snow so I can’t imagine how much colder it can get. We wandered and walked the width of the park and spent some time getting engrossed in a street performance.

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Psst these ducks were going round and round in circles.
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“If you move, you’ll never catch High School Musical again.”

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Raving at yet another one of my own shots, haha. Love these leafless branches.

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So we walked across the park to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met). Truly too profound for a noobie like me to fully appreciate. By the time we left and arrived at yet another museum,the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), we were drained from walking the entire day.

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And then on Saturday we went downtown Manhattan to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects the island of Manhattan to Brooklyn (eventually we only walked half the distance). But wait,  before that we had an incredible breakfast at a well known brunch spot, Peels (post coming soon!). Anyway, the amount of pedestrian on the bridge was crazy and it was impossible to get a good shot with no tourists in the distance. The winds we experienced up here were equally crazy, but views were spectacular.
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Nearby was Chinatown and we headed back there again for a dim sum brunch at Jing Fong Restaurant  followed by ice cream at the one and only Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (post coming soon!)

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During our trip, we frequent Fifth Avenue for shopping and things really went bonkers on Saturday when there was massive human traffic. Roads had to be cordoned off and the traffic police were kept busy. Still, I tell myself that that was part of experiencing New York. Experiencing New York wasn’t always joyous, neither was it always magical. But when you piece each and every moment together, you get the complete story of New York City – a story that lives to be told. An experience that is always to be remembered.

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I am never the type who writes long essays, types long whatsapp messages and long instagram captions. Yet this time I broke my own rules. If you’ve managed to keep up with me till here… thanks.

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8 thoughts on “New York City 2013 – The city that never sleeps

  1. Lisa says:

    Amazing pictures!! I am planning to go to the East part of the US next year. May I know which tour did you take?

    • Crystal Wee says:

      Hello, thanks very much! I was on a Paradise Vacation tour that took me through cities including Washington D.C., Boston, Philadelphia and NYC. After the tour I spent a week roaming round NYC. Hope that helps!

  2. hey, I gonna set ma foot in new York soon!! in January probably. like finally! for 18 days. I have been to Tokyo, how is it compare to nyc, I mean the expenses? hopefully u can advise a lil bit. nice blog btw!! thumbs upp!

  3. […] not been to New York City if you’ve not set foot in a cafe there. The coffee culture in New York has been taking off […]

  4. […] ($$$$) where both tourists and locals patron often. It made for a perfect stopover en route to the Brooklyn Bridge (our main attraction of the day), being only a short 5 minute walk away from the nearest subway […]

  5. LOVE the bokeh in the tree lights – fav! great job capturing my city, part of my heart will always be there!! xo

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