Saturday, June 30, 2007 ;
12:24 AM
(21st Jan 2008) haha, i know this is ridiculously long ago, but since today and tmr are hols (MArtin Luther King Jr Day), i am packing things and also organising my blog. realised i hvnt updated my NYC tour on the blog at all.


read the kids the story of Martin Luther King Jr, admire this man's courage. now they have enough of me, and want to play "hockey" together, so i am free... :-)


June 28
Thurs
NYC tour

Morning: set off from our motel. Took the skytrain from airport to link to NJ transit. It is very clean, and has a lot of privacy in the small cabins. So our family had this cabin to ourself. It's free too. Only thing it is very hot, and has no ventilation. In winter it would be just nice though.



As mentioned in a previous post long ago, Law went on this shuttle tour with us.



That's the outside of the shuttle bus. With a/c. Impt cos it was a hot summer day.

That's law sitting on the left side. Dh, me and kids on right side. So we can take pics on both sides. :-) But until now, law also hasn't sorted thru his pics to send me. And neither have I. haha.





Chinatown in NYC. Some of the biggest celebrations take place here. For example, CNY is celebrated as a huge spectacular here each year.

Above right: the McDonalds is also so Chinese in Chinatown.






Above left: that's our tour guide. in front of Rockefeller Center.

Above right: The famous mosaic "imagine" to commemorate the death of John Lennon at Strawberry Fields in Central Park. We also saw his residence with Yoko Ono at the Dakota. Imagine was the title of one of his more popular songs.



Above left: The Charging Bull or Wall Street Bull, supposedly symbolising aggressive financial optimism.

Above right: Chapel near Ground Zero (World Trade Center site)


Then we reached South Street Seaport. This old Chinese junk named Peking, is a nice contrast with the skyline of modern buldings behind.


Above left: network of highways

Above right: shoes of an NBA player i think, can't recall. ds1 got a kick out of fitting his feet in them.



Above: law playing with the rickshaw. he must be mumbling about ds1 spoiling the pic.










Above left: one of the longer bridges in NYC. dh took this pic of law with me and ds2. that seems to be the only pic we took together, besides the hotel one. so funny. we spent the whole day together and another day too, but totally forgot to take pics together. even though we each flew so many miles to meet up in NYC!


Above right: law playing with kids in a fotocab (spelt like in Malaysia hor? almost seems like we are in KL's shopping mall)



They had an area where projectors beamed arcade games onto the ground and the kids can step on the ground to play. Very fun, and above right, you can even see adults playing. :-) both ds spent quite some time here, while law and dh got lunch. (we drank our first bubble tea in USA here!)




After the Seaport, we took the Staten Island ferry to Staten Island. The views of the skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty were awesome. So was the cooling sea breeze. I enjoyed the ride across and back a lot. Although halfway through, ds2 insisted on nursing and then he napped, so I had to keep carrying him.

Being able to see the Statue of Liberty in person is really great. Have read so much about it when I was young. Now I am reading the whole story of it to the kids too (Feb is Black history month and a lot of books about American history are on sale as well) and them having seen it before is so much more meaningful.


NYC skyline from the ferry.

After the tour ended at about 5.30pm, we walked around downtown. Took a pic of Macy's, the largest store in the world.

Didn't go in to shop though. We had to make our way back to New Jersey where our motel was.



rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Friday, June 29, 2007 ;
2:00 PM
June 28
Thurs
NYC tour

hihi! today's been a long and tiring but very fun day.

we set off in the morn, usual route: hotel shuttle to Newark airport, airtrain to Newark rail, train to New York Penn station, then Metro train to 50th St station. about 1+hr.

so it was abt 11am when we reached and we walked down 50th st, just taking in the sights. then Law (remedios, not Ng, and hereby for the rest of NYC trip, law will be thre remedios one, haha) msg me, asking us where we are. turns out he was also at 50th street too, but at the 7th Ave junction already, so we walked on to meet up with him. At Macs. haha

don't laugh. the macs here are different ok. got local flavor. the Wall Street Macs for example, has marble tables and even a grand piano where a pianist will play tunes. Ok, I didn't visit that Mac but I passed by it and saw the piano, and our tour guide said so. Amazingly the prices are still Macs prices, so that shd be a good deal. :-)

We signed up for a city tour together. Law suggested it and we thought since getting ard the city ourselves would be troublesome (traffic and all), it would save us a lot of time if we took a tour. This tour is by New York Party Shuttle, and they had this air con van painted with balloons and everything to pick us up. Very festive atm indeed.

Tour guide was very knowledgeable and nice so of course we tipped him generously. These were the places we stopped and got out to see:
1. Times Square - Broadway, biggest Toys R Us in the world, Disney and M&M's world, so on. There's the biggest Build a Bear workshop in the world too.
2. World Trade Center Site - one of the last stops. Ground Zero. Construction site now.
3. New York Stock Exchange - busy busy. New Yorkers are forever in a rush. If we get in the way of any of the crowd, expect their impatience to show.
4. Wall Street - the financial centers and banks did awe me, but the MacDonalds left a lasting impression. :-)
5. St. Paul’s Chapel - memorial church of sept 11 incident. also called "miracle chapel" because everything nearby was flattened and destroyed when the twin towers collapsed but the church was left standing. Windows of many of the surrounding buildings were shattered as well, but none of the church's was. Also, the chandeliers in the church were not damaged at all.
6. Trinity Church - nice archi.
7. World Financial Center
8. Federal Hall
9. Madison Square Park - had a good view of the Empire State Building in her entirety here.
10. Flatiron Building
11. South Street Seaport - nice sea views, ships, Manhattan city skyline and bridges. Also had a nice food court that is very diverse. A lot of Japanese and chinese food found here. And we had chicken tempura for lunch, plus Mango Bubble tea!!! yay, our first bubble tea in ages. Both ds slurped it up too. Since I also like it very much, I was also grabbing it from them to drink, causing ds1 to ask me (to my indignance), "mummy, why you drink so much! must leave more for us ok!" 4 of us shared one cup cos it cost US$3.99!
US Customs Building
12. 5th Avenue - Most interesting to me. Mixture of many different shops and buildings. Took many pictures, will post later.
13. Rockefeller Center - can go right up to top and have panoramic view. We won't be going up but maybe law will, see how.
14. NBC’s Today Show Set - saw the action and filming going on from outside.
15. St. Patrick’s Cathedral - nice archi
16. Central Park - what can we say? it is so huge you can't even walk through the whole length (ok at least for me). There are how many? 4-5? metro stops spanning the entire length. By the way, yesterday was (according to weather reports) the hottest day NYC experienced in a long long time. And we had to visit central Park ytd, no wonder we felt so hot and sticky! until almost faint. Then I said we almost suffocated in the non-ventilated train car right? seemed that NYC had power outage ytd too. So today, even some places (like the Macs we went to) did not have air con on either, only fans.
17. Strawberry Fields - memorial (the famous "Imagine")
18. Dakota Building - where John Lennon was killed
19. Canyon of Heroes
20. Statue of Liberty - seen from the Staten Island Ferry. it is magnificent, and somehow you just had to be quiet and admire it silently. there were 4000-6000 seats on the ferry and somehow, all the people fell silent when we passed by. everyone was awestruck. it just leaves you reflecting on what it means and symbolises. Which was why, when ds1 saw her and exclaimed to me, "Statue of Liberty!", it seemed so loud, i had to shush him up. He recognised it because of the Little Einsteins DVD he watched, where the group of kids had to go to the Statue of Liberty to look for something (on a mission).
21. Empire State Building - we got off there, it was the last stop. it was so high, i couldn't see its top from right below it. so weird. We saw it's full height earlier from Madison Sq Gdn.

We saw these from the van, and did not stop to get out:
1. Ellis Island - where the first immigrants had to go, seen from the Staten Island Ferry.
2. Central Park Zoo - made famous by Madagascar? At least my kids were excited abt it cos of that movie.
3. Tiffany’s - well, I don't have a tiffany's ring, so hmm... not interesting to me lah. :-)
4. Brooklyn Bridge
5. Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
6. Hudson River - seen from Staten Island Ferry
7. East River
8. FAO Schwarz
9. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts - where the beloved New York Philharmonic (we heard them perform in spore before, think at the Esplanade if i rem correctly) resides, and where the famous Julliard School of Music is. We may visit again, cos me and dh are both interested.
10. Chrysler Building - one of the tallest bldgs, was actually tallest, until Empire State Bldg was completed. supposed to be beautiful at night with all the triangular lights lit up.
11. Woolworth Building
12. Met Life Building
13. Trump Tower
14. Plaza Hotel
15. City Hall
16. Washington Square Park
17. New York Public Library - impressive archi
18. Greenwich Village
19. SOHO/Tribeca - these places are not really beautiful but have character and personality. Short forms are abundant in NYC, e.g. Nolita also. SOHO stands for "south Houston". Heard that many Hollywood stars stay here, although it doesn't look posh like what we saw at LA. The Beverly Hills and Bel Air areas were very well-landscaped, and well, wealthy looking. But this was more like the rest of New York, rather dusty, grey and old...?
20. Macy’s - largest store in the world. really! we took a look ltr by ourselves. bigger than Harrods in London.
21. Herald Square

Gotta go now, ds2 stirring in his sleep.


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Thursday, June 28, 2007 ;
6:51 AM
Posting from a motel in Newark!

Ok, the next series of posts will be text only, cos posting photos are more troublesome during the trip. At least for blogger is it...

26 June
Dh didn't go for school and we spent the morning packing our luggage. I also tried to use up everything in the fridge. Fried rice was the best, so I fried some and it ended up too much for even our family's lunch and dinner combined. So when ds1 went for his 3rd Sports session with dh, I got dh to send a container of rice to the Crills as well. They like fried rice with olive veg too. :-)

Ds2 was sleeping so I didn't follow. but ds1 came home very happy, saying that he learnt batting baseballs this session. it would be his last cos he'll miss the next one.

Then we had dinner and it was very rushed after that, cos we had to finish packing, tidy up the house, wash a last load of clothes and do the necessary things to keep hse in order before a trip.

Finally reached airport's economy parking area, where it'll cost only $6 a day to park (we'll be away for 8-9 days). We checked out taxis to airport, but the quotes were $80 to $100 one way trip to the airport, so forget it! So expensive. Cos our flight timings were very terrible, we didn't want to inconvenience others by asking them to give us a ride. Having our car at the airport also means we get a quick ride back home at the end of the trip. Cos that flight will have us arrive at SLC airport at 2am. :-(

This flight of ours is supposed to leave at 11.30pm. But we were "selected" for extra security checks. Out of the whole long line of white Americans checking in.... Sigh. We didn't complain, cos we know all these are due to terrorism. But it just wasn't a nice feeling being pulled out of the whole line to go corner and have ourselves stripped of shoes and every item checked.

The check was so thorough. Such that the kids got fidgety. And when ds2 wanted to drink water and I asked the officer, she didn't allow, so ds2 cried a fair bit. They checked shoes, made us pass through an enclosed chamber where forceful jets of air were sprayed at us, scaring both ds, and took out all my belongings, even my sanitary pads. And my wallet was emptied for the check too, even going through my cards and photos, and coins!

We reached the airport fairly early, but with this check, I was getting nervous. My parents missed their connecting flight due to security checks and I didn't want that to happen, not with tired sleepy kids.

So right after the 30min check delay, we rushed to our boarding gate, phew, we didn't miss it, Our flight was delayed till 12.10am.

The area was packed and there weren't enough seats so I let kids run around. They wanted snacks though, and I was forced to give them some from the bag I packed for the flight.

BEcause of the delay, the kids ate up more than half of the snacks I packed. I was worried for the flight.

Good thing, ds1 slept right after takeoff. I nursed ds2 during the take off, but he didn't sleep and wanted more snacks, so he finished up the rest of whatever I packed! dh and ds1 sat in front of ds2 and I. Cos there were only 3 seats in a row.

My seat couldn't recline! So I was forced to doze intermittently in an awfully uncomfortable upright position. And ds2 kept wanting to nurse because the flight was very bumpy. So I had to hold him, and lengthened his seat belt to do so. The seat belt sign was kept on throughout the flight, cos it was really bumpy. So bumpy, we were sometimes jerked out of the seats.

Good thing ds1 slept throughout. Ds2 slept some, and at least he didn't cry. But both dh and I couldn't sleep much. For dh, his back felt painful. For me, I was holding ds2 and didn't want to fall asleep and drop him. :-) Though he had his own seat, when I put him down, despite the seat belt, the jerks kind of made him slip down the seat past the belt.

And the flight attendants didn't hand me headsets so I couldn't enjoy the movie. I was too lazy to call them and ask for one either.

We reached Newark Airport at 6am. Getting out was easy and smooth. Kids were awakened and cranky but still not crying, so far so good.

We took the airtrain to catch our hotel shuttle. That's when the heat struck us. This point drove home the fact that I think we are accimatised to Utah's weather already. Cold and dry.

The humidity of NY/ NJ was unbearable for us. It was so hot inside the airtrain's enclosed non-ventilated box car, that we thought we might faint from heat stroke.

Then while waiting for the shuttle, we were burning like ovens underneath our long sleeve clothing (airport and plane were cold).

Shuttle was not air conditioned and we sweat like mad inside too. Finally reached the hotel's cool lobby. It was only 7am and too early to check in so we asked to place our bags in a locked storage area. Then we took the shuttle back to airport, took same airtrain again, to link up with the New Jersey rail to New York City (downtown Manhattan).

It was nearing peak hour by then, crowded, and we had our backpacks and stroller. A lot of the working crowd rushed and dashed and we were sometimes in the way, cos we didn't move as quickly as them and were hesitant at some points. There were many lines in the rail and subway station and we had to take the correct train, so we looked at signs and so on. The people were very impatient with us.

But there were very helpful and friendly people too. Like the black guy who helped us carry our stroller up so many flights of stairs from a very deep subway station up to the ground floor exit, cos both our kids were sleeping and each of us carried one. No more free hands to handle the stroller. And no working elevators in sight. Only stairs. He was so kind.

Our fare was $15 per adult to NYC's Penn Station. Not cheap hor, considering it was a 35min journey. Kids under 5 go free, fortunately.

We walked up 7th Avenue a bit, had brunch at Burger King, then took the metro to Central Park (59th Street). Cost $2 per adult (2 station journey, but 25 blocks to walk). We bought a metrocard for that ($10). Just like we bought a 10-ticket ride for the NJ transit ($140!). Some discount if we bought the pass. Transport is expensive here.

But it was infinitely better than renting a car cos we read on the internet that finding parking is a horror in NYC and for non-locals, we shouldn't try. Parking at hotels also cost $50 a day, that kind of thing.
I recalled baulking at Raffles Plaza (Spore) when we stayed there and the parking cost us $9 (one day). What a joke now, in comparison.

We walked Central Park a bit. This part is quite nice. Central Park is huge and beautiful. We stopped at Heckscher's Playground (the biggest playground in Central Park) for kids to play. We also wanted to explore the Central Park Zoo cos of the movie Madagascar. Kids had watched it and can relate to it.

But the weather had become simply too hot. Kids were tired and sticky. Dh and I had clothes that stuck to us already, and the heat was killing us too. Ds1 started to cry, then ds2, so we decided to call it a day, despite it being 12.30pm only. :-) But we're alright with that, cos with kids, nothing can be planned to the T. Must be flexible.

We decided to take a cab, cos we saw the yellow cabs had a flag down fare of $2.50. So couldn't be too bad for a 40min drive back to our hotel right? Since the Met would cost us $4, then the NJ transit would cost $30, and there was still the air train and hotel shuttle to contend with.

The convenience was the benefit, having a ride right to the hotel. No more pushing with the crowds. But, the fare? $63. That is almost S$100. I would never imagine myself taking a $100 taxi ride in Spore. Could've gone to KL with that fare. :-)

No, we weren't being cheated. It was standard, the metered fare ($23), plus $15 if travelling into New Jersey from New York, plus round trip tolls. There were tolls for Lincoln Tunnel, for other tunnels, and highways. Very expensive. We will not take the cab anymore from NYC to NJ for sure. :-)

The hotel is nice... They let us check in though it wasn't 2pm yet. Good thing, cos ds1 had an accident (peed on his pants while crying). Just a bit, cos he quickly stopped it when he realised. But still....

Wow, the room was so welcome, so cool, and the beds were the best thing we saw today. :-) Kids at once bounced onto the beds. Bathed them and then dh conked out first. Kids were a little excited and explored the room, playing. While I checked out the free internet, movies on TV... Then we also took a nap.

Right now, dh is out buying dinner back. ds1 still napping, ds2 just woke and talking to himself, playing with his toy figurine now.

Lawrence (Remedios) also missed his flight due to security checks, and was delayed into NYC, else we would have met up. He just called our hotel to say he's reached safely as well. He's also very tired.

Yay, now we're looking forward to our tour together tmr after a good rest.

Till then, see you!


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Friday, June 22, 2007 ;
1:42 PM
20 June
Wed

After Bible class, kids had such a good time playing with just a magnifying glass. They shrieked and laughed and ran about, peering at each other through the glass. Amusing:





19 June

Tues

ds1 Sports summer fun classes.

For 3-5 year olds: a start to organised team games. 4x 1h sessions, $20. Held at the community park.

This is the 2nd session. We went a little earlier so they could run around freely first. There's a playground there as well.


Then the class started. The coach is a young and pretty mom. Her daughter is also in the class, as an assistant. :-) You can see her standing around and helping to pick up balls.
Left: warm up. Right: this week they learn kicking and dribbling ball with their feet. (last week was catching and throwing).



Below left: shows ds1 kicking the ball with all his might. You should see the proud look on his face after he kicked the ball and everyone cheered for him.


Poor ds2: always at the sidelines (see swimming in prev post also). Too bad a lot of programs are not for his age group yet. He kept wanting to run into the flagged field area where 哥哥 was. :-)


June 16

Sat

After my parents left at the airport, we immediately launched into a series of activities to take the kids' mind away from parting from their grandparents.

First, we had a meal at McGrath's Fish house, a big big treat reserved for special occasions. It is something like Fish and Co in Spore. Specialises in fish and seafood dishes. Around that kind of price too.

Second, something we have been waiting for a long time. To try the Cold Stone Creamery's ice cream. It is where you can custom order your own ice cream, using whatever ice cream, and whatever mix-ins you want. You know, like even Ben and Jerry's, I would like certain combis, but then I would wish there's a blend between chocolate fudge, heath bar chunks and choc ice cream, for example. And maybe some peanut butter brittle in it too? But then there's no such combi. So go to Cold Stone! They mix everything up for you on a frozen granite slab. Very interesting. It is very popular here, someone should franchise it in Spore, will be a hit for sure!

So on the pretext of celebrating fathers' day, we went there to get an ice cream cake.


And oh yes, another photo of our whole family that was left out in the prev post (cos this one was taken by dh's camera). The Olive Garden dinner fathers' day celeb.

After the ice cream, we went to Walmart to let kids choose their gifts using the money my parents gave them.

My mom instructed that a pair of sunglasses be bought for both of them, because the sunlight is really glaring here (higher altitude and very dry). She is worried for their eyes. So we duly bought them. They look very funny. But in order to encourage them to wear it, I have to whistle and act like they are very handsome rock stars whenever I put it on for them. Then they feel happy wearing it. :-)

ds1 chose a music instrument set that cost $27. It consists of a drum, with a belt that can attach to the drum and then be carried and march along at the same time. Something like a snare drummer's drum carrying position. A pair of drumsticks. A pair of maracas. A harmonica and a tambourine.

Once home, he began playing with it together with the chinese drum.

Shopping is quite fun for kids here. I remember posting before about various types of shopping carts: those with a contraption for babies to sleep in, those that can hold up to 4 kids, and so on right?

It is at all common supermarket chains. So this is one of them.




Took pics this time, cos both ds seemed in high spirits, and even looked like they were going to kiss each other (see left). haha. And then they pretended to be racing car drivers, vrooming at the top of their voices, making engine revving noises too (right).

Also let them do more craft.
Thanks Lawrence (Ng) for the sand kit.




After he did the given template, there was still a lot of sand left. So I gave ds1 some glue to draw his own pics and then pour the sand on the glue.

Below are the others (his own):


Got some pipe cleaners too, and let both ds make their own things. Sigh, boys will be boys. They made all kinds of monsters, robots and dinosaurs. I am still learning to try and appreciate these.


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


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