But first, a little adventure before the trip... I was trying to check in for our outbound flights on Friday but I kept getting an invalid confirmation code response from the system. So I logged into Expedia and to my shock and horror, both our outbound and inbound flights were changed!
The change to the outbound flights was negligible - a different United flight number some seven minutes earlier. The shock was the inbound flight - 7 pm departure became 7 am departure!!
We refused to be screwed over by US Airways again! Read how they lost our baggage during our Bahamas trip here.
I skimmed through Sito's 1,000s of emails to find this email from Expedia six weeks ago asking us to call them immediately as an airline had made changes that affected us. I almost gagged; we haven't checked that email account for months!
Anyway, I called Expedia. And guess what, Expedia was sooo nice about it! A customer service rep helped us source for a better flight time, informed me that there were extra charges imposed by the (stupid - my word) airline but because it wasn't our fault, she sought approval from corporate side to waive the charges for us. I was on the phone for just over an hour, with a lot of waiting but she would constantly come back to the line, apologise for the wait and explain what we were waiting for. And when my old cordless phone died, I barely plugged in our corded phone and had time for a pee break when she called back!
I was very grateful.
And so, our trip started :)
Friday, 13 Apr 2012
Hello, New York! :)
Took us a while to get to the hotel from LaGuardia - traffic was one but we thought our driver took us for a little ride for $45...
So we rested a little in Windsor Hotel in Chinatown. It was the cheapest hotel I could find for last weekend, and the room looked so much better than in the website, phew! Although the amenities were very basic - think shampoo in a sachet. But there was free wifi! And there were plenty of food options around us!
Anyway, we had some time before our 8.45 pm dinner reservation so we headed to Century 21. Sito spent a lot of time there when he was last in NYC. I remember buying PJs there the day we arrived in NYC for Singapore Day 2007 because our hotel did not provide robes and I did not bring any PJs! But we're not the shopping type.. So we didn't stay too long.. Too excited over dinner at Peter Luger!
The restaurant is pretty near, just across the bridge over at Brooklyn. We were some 30 min early but were seated quite quickly in a little corner. The whole place was packed!
They brought us water, bread and butter, and I promptly bruised the inside of my left cheek with the crust of the bread *.*
The highlight was of course the steak! We ordered steak for two and it came on a heated plate, pink in the middle, all cut up and ready to eat! So tender and yummy! We were in heaven...
We hit the steak quite immediately so I neglected to take photos of the onions rings and creamed spinach :p The onion rings were like the Tony Roma's onion loaf but scattered, and the creamed spinach wasn't too creamy, which was good.
And we shared their big-ass dessert - Holy Cow! Fudge, nuts, ice cream, whipped cream - yup, sinful! They threw in two chocolate medallions for good measure - they're sitting in our kitchen now.
We were wondering how we could finish everything when we couldn't do so at Morton's... Then it dawned on us - we finished the whole loaf of warm onion bread at Morton's but only shared two of the eight rolls at Peter Luger! But we were still quite formidable considering that we had third-pounder burgers for lunch at Macs followed by a slice of pizza just before Century 21!
But we had had enough after dinner. Went back to rest with just a bottle of water.. Watched "Wanted" on the TV until quite late. Overall, satisfied :)
Saturday, 14 Apr 2012
Our Saturday began with super cheap dumplings at Vanessa's Dumpling House - $1 for four gyozas and $2.50 for eight boiled dumplings! Kind of satisfying even though they weren't the yummiest dumplings we'd had.
And that was to line our stomachs in case we had to queue a long time for food at...Singapore Day!
This marks the second time I was in NYC for Singapore Day! But this time, I was a participant, not an organiser, woohoo! And man, it felt good to be on the other side! :p
And a pleasant surprise - as we walked near the entrance, a lady in a crew sweater (which was interestingly blue and white this year) directed us to the express lane when she spotted my belly! Nice right? Although it didn't make a difference then as there was no queue when we arrived.
Do I look pregnant? :)
Do I look pregnant? :)
I bet I look more pregnant here! With Singa, the Courtesy Lion!
Chatted with a few ex-colleagues on the way to our first snack: black pepper crab! There was hardly any queue! And it was so good :) We downed it with 100 Plus..
Took the chance to dig through the goodie bag - here's the most important thing for black pepper crab: wet tissue! Quite funny right? Sorry, Raffles, the Prince won - it's in the history books!
And since I'm on the goodie bag, might as well go through all the items we collected that day:
The goodie bag itself - I really like it! It's like a Harrods bag :p Big enough for a laptop - reminds me of those years when I carried a Harrods bag for my laptop in addition to my purse! We're giving one to HY who didn't manage to go for the event and taking the other one back to Singapore :)
This is the picnic mat, folded...
.. and unfolded.. Big enough for two butts and our bags. The grass-facing side is mostly plain.
Limited edition EZ Link cards - we wonder if there's any money inside.. Anyway, just nice to replace my bent card and Sito's scratched one.
The other small stuff - writing materials, magnets, ponchos, a cap and even a mug from a career booth!
Oh, and we brought back laksa paste and pulut hitam - they got through security in our hand carry!
So, back to the event...
We queued some 25 min for Hill Street char kway teow and went into our third queue for rojak immediately! Quite a nice portion actually...
In any case, better not eat too much char kway teow cos just check out the lard! Sito ate a couple of pieces and I had one - all accidentally of course!
Got our rojak quite quickly - Sito had to comment that my rojak was very good, comparable to the real deal... But "my" rojak was from Prima Taste!! Grrr...
We decided to lay out our picnic mat again in front of the stage to eat and watch Barbarella - she's hilarious! My most memorable part:
Barbarella: Do you like SPGs?
Male contestant: .. Ok la...
Barberella: I also think Singaporean men so so only! Hmph!
We had Sarsi with our food. Sarsi leh! When was the last time we had that?! But kind of disappointed that there was no plain water... I even gulped down a whole can of soy bean milk by myself cos I was so thirsty!
But I couldn't get any more soy bean milk so I got ice cream soda for Sito instead - again, when was the last time we had that?! Anyway, he was alone in the queue for satay - I left for the toilet, which was surprisingly clean, smell-less, with toilet paper, wash basin and hand towels. But he managed to ask the uncle for a second plate for his pregnant wife standing over there who had to use the toilet - awww...
We went to find Fei who was queuing for cheng tng. Ajit was just a few minutes behind. So we took a photo - the troop from Kellogg! (Thanks, Sito, for covering my fat arm with your hand!)
Then we walked around the exhibits with Fei. Baby wasn't too excited at the Mindef booth, ha! But we met Sito's classmate there and had a chat. And we saw a young chap doing chin-ups in front of some female friends - high stakes haha!
Also went to the MOE booth and watched some videos for a while - it felt so good to be out of the sun and sitting on a bench! Tried to go to the career booths but that area was a green house! We were there for barely 15 seconds *.*
Then we found an old phone booth :)
And a bus stop! Made Sito pose for me :p This is the only bus stop pose, ever - not doing it in Singapore heh!
And then we saw Water Wally! So cute! Some people were holding little Wally toys but they must have run out by then...
We were wishing there was some Newater.. Really thirsty.. So we went to queue for cheng tng but it ran out - they also ran out of ice! - so we had teh tarik instead. Sito strayed into the rojak non-queue to get more rojak. Had a nice chat with TO next to the stalls..
We continued to look at the exhibits for a while before I left Sito at the HDB void deck (really!) and went to find FK near the stage - it's been such a long time!
And then, we left, just before the mambo began. It's been a great day out in the park! Warm and sunny - we both got a tan! In fact, my exposed chest is all red and hurting now! - and we met so many people. I managed to catch up, if only a little, with some
The train did not bring us back to where we started due to rail works or something so we walked along Canal St near Soho back to our hotel, with a drink and pee stop at Macs - some non-sugary drink at last! Also wandered into a Chinese bakery - Sito got a cake and I got an egg tart. Had wanted a Portuguese egg tart but I neglected to say "Portuguese"!!!
I saved my egg tart for the next morning cos I was so hungry this morning while waiting for Sito to go out! Sito had half the cake before we went out for dinner - it was a little take-out shop called Wah Fung No. 1 Fast Food. We waited for quite a while but it was worth the wait! We had 三拼 on rice for $4.50!! They ran out of char siew so we had leftover char siew bits, which were very very nice!
But it was all very oily so we went out for dinner #2 to wash it down - wanton noodle soup for him and shrimp dumpling noodle soup for me. I also had 双皮奶, although it didn't have that 双皮...
On the way back, we went to Quickly for a bubble tea, and I saw this - 烧仙草! Last I had this was in Taiwan in 2005! Love it!
Sunday, 15 Apr 2012
We checked out of the hotel and went for dim sum at Hop Shing Restaurant. It's super old school! And I don't just refer to the roaming carts. We shared a round table with two other groups. We were also the youngest patrons there at 10.30 am. The rest averaged some 50 years old, and sipping tea and nibbling on some food while reading newspapers or magazines! They looked like they were all regulars, which made me feel shy about taking pictures... So, bear with my lengthy description..
The aunties pushing the carts just went straight from kitchen to the take-out counter, entertaining anyone along the way who shouted out for them. Yes, shouted, especially those on the opposite side of the counter.
So for the first time, we had dim sum without siew mai or har how, cos we missed shouting out for the har gow; didn't hear any "announcements" for siew mai though. After missing out on porridge twice the previous nights - once at the take-out and again at the noodle place - I finally had my century egg porridge! It had thin pork slices in it, and lots of century egg :)
Also had meaty steamed bean curd rolls, this yummy fried rice flour puff, and my first minced beef cheong fun. And of course the usual prawn cheong fun and carrot cake and super yummy char siew buns! Except that those buns were anything but usual - really, that was some seriously good char siew in the buns... But by then, Sito was so full - and still feeling sleepy and oily from last night's dinner - that I finished the last quarter of his bun :p
There was no non-Asian faces until past 11 am, when the queues began. And that was when we decided to go. The bill came up to - surprise! - just under $15 including $2 tips!
Took a walk around Chinatown to walk off some calories. Came across a number of hair salons but Sito decided he didn't want a haircut then. (And yesterday, he regretted it, bah!) Stumbled upon the shady Columbus Park where lots of old folks were playing chess or gambling - it was a scene of such peace... But the lady at the foot of the statue later waved her walking stick at me to tell me to stop taking pictures of them gambling! :p
We rested in front of the running track of a local school on our way back to the hotel. It was such a hot day, hotter than Saturday. And kids were running about. Quite nice, I thought. It's like how we used to play in the neighbourhood basketball court or playground :)
Grabbed our stuff from the hotel and hailed a cab off a busy road nearby. The cab ride was only $25 and took only 10 minutes! We were further convinced that our first cabbie took us for a ride - tmd.
So we spent some time having Baskin-Robbins at the airport :p It was a full flight and the machine asked us if we would accept money to go on a later flight. Of course not!! And thankfully, we have premier access so we could board the plane earlier and ensure a place for our suitcase in the overhead compartment - recall Bahamas again, yes. This trip was the first time we used our Star Alliance Silver benefits.
And just as well, cos on our way to our seats at the last row, I saw a woman put her two small purses up there AND close the barely-half-full compartment! And a guy on our row put in his suitcase and laptop bag which took half the space and shut the damn thing too! And all this while, there were constant announcements asking passengers to keep small items under the seat and reminding people that closed compartments were full! Such inconsiderate idiots..
Lucky for us, this should probably be the last time we took a US domestic flight. Or hopefully the last time in a long long time! We much prefer an Asian budget airline!