July 17: Locals are the Best Tour Guides

Want to blend in with the locals?

JAYWALK. Don’t even hesitate: Just do it.

If you don’t jaywalk, then… you look like a tourist.

I walked 19 blocks with the family to the Rockefeller Center from our hotel and hung out for a bit.

And then I went off to meet my friend Sean, who I’ve known since high school.

There’s quite a wealth of carbon monoxide in New York. It was hard to find a place in Manhattan where I could sit to clear my head because the sounds of vehicle engines and pigeons flocking were so prominent. I sat at a fountain at the corner of 58th and 5th, and I couldn’t even concentrate on the sound of the water falling. Anyway, there was a nice breeze even through all the chaos.

Got my first NY Metro Pass at 3:37 p.m. and got to commute around the city via public transit. Compared to Los Angeles, public transportation is much easier in Manhattan. I never had to walk more than three blocks to get to a stop from wherever I was.

Then we went to the Natural Museum of History.

A dinosaur

The skeleton of a megafauna, an extinct kangaroo that lived in Australia 100,000 years ago.

A wall full of seagulls!

Sean can be very vocal about his spur-of-the-moment opinions, so when he overheard someone questioning how a dinosaur could have such a big body but such a small head, he compared humans to “fat people” (without hesitation):

“C’mon don’t say that about animals! Look at your cousins!”


(I’m going to italicize all his opinions from this point onward.)

We grabbed lunch at Dallas BBQ at Times Square, which was surprisingly affordable. I had a steak, some cole slaw, and a huuuuge Virgin Blue Hawaii that I didn’t get to finish :/

We then went to a Chinese restaurant on the corner of Hester and Bowery. I realized I hadn’t washed my hands before eating.

“It’s okay, you’re sick anyway,” Sean said. (I did have a mild case of the sniffles at that time.)

And then he said, “Chinese food is like poker places back home. They exist all over the place. Even in Mexican restaurants!”

Here are some snapshots of our dinner:

(I wish I remember the names of all these dishes, but I don’t. It just makes me incredibly hungry looking at them.)

The reason I titled this entry as such, is mostly because of the walk around NY Sean and I made after dinner. In some ways, I feel I learned more from him than I did from Michael. We passed by Pace High School, which Sean described in the following manner:

“It’s the worst high school. It has very little requirements. You just have to be a human being.”

I thought that was a bit harsh and exaggerated, but it rates 3/10 on greatschools.org. But the reviews give it 4/5 stars. Well, anyway… for the rest of the evening we went to:

• E Broadway and Market
o Sean claimed there was a place that always had a Chinese wedding going on. I looked at him and raised my eyebrow in disbelief. He wanted to prove me wrong so we went inside a building in the area, climbed up some stairs, and low and behold, there was a wedding reception happening.

• The intersection of Grand and Hester
o Sean said it was a dangerous place. A friend of his formerly lived in the area and heard gunshots two to three times per week.

• Ground Zero
o The sun had set and Ground Zero was the last stop of the day. Sean and I sat in front of the construction site near the subway entrance for several minutes, soaking up the vehicle emission-saturated air and breeze, listening to all the passersby converse among each other and watching them walk down into the station.

Sean was nice enough to take the subway back with me. It was such a good, activity-filled day with an old friend.

Oh, and I got to see Madison Square Garden that day! 🙂

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