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

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