Audrey, Shawn and I (Team SG. hehehe) got to explore NYC on our own on day 4. Shawn purposely booked a later flight so that we could have a whole day of shopping to ourselves! How thoughtful! This time, I'd made sure to visit the famous Times Square, I've always seen it on TV but I've been told countless amount of times that it's totally different (and somewhat amazing) in real life.
As usual, I was dressed as though it was chilly there while the locals were decked in flip flops and hot shorts. But hey! It doesn't kill to look a little different as long as I'm happy, and my ootd shots came out looking so nice anyway! hehehe. Thank you Audrey for helping me out again :)
As we walked to the nearest subway station from our hotel, Audrey and I noticed tons of walls and gates along that way that would look PERFECT for any ootd shot. It's the littlest things that the locals would ignore on a normal day, but they're things that Singaporeans like Audrey and I would go crazy for. HAHA. I was telling her how any outfit shot in the states would look amazing thanks to their infrastructure. We just don't have such things in Singapore- we're mostly surrounded by white HBD columns or trees that look way too tropical and it's just too crowded here, it's almost impossible to get a nice shot without someone in the background spoiling the picture.
So that's one of the things I loved a lot about my trip to NYC. I didn't have to put in much effort into making my ootd shots look good, any candid moments captured were good enough. Almost better than any shots I've ever taken here in Singapore. Oops! So my word of advice is, bring along an extremely good camera if you're planning to visit NYC any time soon. I know you'd usually pack light and expect to buy your clothes there but.... I think it's better if you pack your BEST outfits along with you. Trust me, you don't wanna feel underdressed there ;)
If I could, I would extend my stay a day longer just to go around the city and take pictures of it. There's bound to be a really nice spot with very turn and corner you make. And I'll definitely seize the opportunity to take all my outfit shots there too! Here are some captured candidly :)
I can't end my NYC posts without mentioning the hotel we stayed at. It's a beautiful hotel situated at The High Line- apparently where a gorgeous old railway park's at. I didn't get the chance to visit the park but I heard from all the other girls that it's breathtaking because it overlooks the icy-cold waters of the Hudson river. The view from our room also overlooked the river. My picture doesn't do it justice and it might not look like the best view in the day, but when the sun goes down, and the lights come out from New Jersey across the river, that's when it looks stunning.
Anyway, we stayed at The Standard hotel (http://standardhotels.com/high-line) You'd probably know about it thanks to the infamous Jay-Z and Solange Knowles fight. hehehe. Yeap, it's a place that even A-listers visit over the weekends. I mentioned before in an earlier post that our hotel lobby's always crowded with people dressed to the nines. In "Singaporean" terms, it's basically a very "happening" spot in NYC apparently. So I guess, if you're coming to NYC to party and you need a place to stay, The Standard hotel might be a awesome spot. That's provided you're willing to pay at least USD$295 per night for just the standard room.
After our 15 to 20 minutes walk, we arrived at the nearest subway station. I love taking their subway when it's cold outside like how things were last year. However, we were there in summer this year and the underground tunnels exudes extra warmth so you can imagine how hot it was when we took the subway this time around. There's was basically no ventilation at all? Or being a Singaporean, I'm just spoiled since everywhere's air conditioned here. hahaha.
Thank God I wasn't alone this year, I didn't have to go through all the trouble of figuring out how to find my way to Times Square using their complicated Subway lines. Shawn's been to NYC about 5 times now so he was a pro at it. We just followed wherever he went. haha.
I can't remember how much the tickets were, but damn, they were expensive! And taking a taxi isn't gonna make things any cheaper anyway. So make sure that you plan your expenses wisely if you're planning to visit NYC yeah? Most of your money would probably go to food and transport. And don't forget, it's New York, so tipping is a must. More on that later.
Ta-Da!!! We finally arrived at Times Square. It didn't look like anything I've seen on TV. hahaha. I'm sorry, I have to be honest, it was pretty disappointing? Okay, I'm gonna be fair. Maybe it would have looked better at night when all the lights come on. But it really looked pretty "normal" in broad daylight. Once again, I guess it's because I'm Singaporean and I've lived in the city all my life. So put me in another concrete jungle and it would look the same to me.
The only thing that's surprised me was the amount of people. It was packed, almost like a club. I'm not exaggerating on this, it was so hard to walk around without bumping into strangers. I can't even remember the amount of times I said sorry to someone for stepping on his/her toes. Word of advice, do not bring your kids there unless they're strapped to you. I'm certain that he/she would get kidnapped. haha. Times Square isn't a place that locals would visit on a regular day, the people there are mostly foreigners and it's really dangerous to leave your kids walking around unattended. Be careful with your belongings as well. The last thing you want on your trip is to lose your valuables. That would totally suck.
Alright, time for some visuals.
Now, I'm gonna talk about tipping. I wasn't aware of this until the very last day where I thought I got cheated but it was just the nature and way of life in NYC. Every service provided for you in New York should be tipped regardless of whether the service sucked or not. Okay, don't take my word for it, I don't REALLY know how it works but it seems to be a natural thing for Americans to do.
There were two instances where we were put in a position to tipped or we wouldn't be allowed to leave. The first one was on a cab back to our hotel. We arrived at our destination, paid the bill and thanked the driver. In return, he asked for tips so confidently, without even a smile on his face. Thank God Shawn was with us so we felt a little safer. That's when Shawn explained that tipping is somewhat necessary in NYC.
The second time it happened made me feel a little disgusted and without a doubt, disappointed. It was in a part of Times Square where random people could make a living out of just dressing up in cartoon character costumes. How? Well, a bunch of Disney characters came up to me waving happily and apparently what seemed to be laughing hysterically as well. I waved back and the next thing I knew, the Mickey pulled me into their arms and instructed Audrey to take a picture. She did. The second the picture was taken, the characters removed their headpiece and asked for tips. My blood was literally boiling inside and I could almost feel my lips forming a curse word.
How did a bunch of really cute cartoon characters go from being all chirpy and friendly one second to extorting money from me the next second? And how could I say no?! I was still in their arms and they were no longer Mickey or Mario or whatever, they were nasty, angry Mexican looking dudes. And they looked like they were gonna take a knife out to stab me if I hadn't given them their tip. What the....
I was pissed but I didn't allow it to ruin my day. It was an experience and at least now I know how things work in NYC. So it true what Alicia Keys sang "...New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there's nothing you can't do..." Oh wells, just be careful with what you do and who you mess with in the big apple, especially in Times Square. Thanks to this incident, I can never look at any costume characters the same ever again. Thank you for ruin my impression of Mickey.
My raw emotion captured, the moment the Mickey pulled me over.
And the characters posing happily knowing that they were gonna earn my money after.
Personally, shopping in NYC is nothing really special except when there's sales. I think that we Singaporeans should be thankful for our malls and shopping districts because I'm telling ya, we have practically everything. Every shop we visited in New York, we have it in Singapore as well (Except for Hollister and UO of course). And honestly, there isn't a huge difference in the price.
I guess the only significant thing about shopping in NYC is that their shops are a lot bigger and the locals really put in effort to make things look good. Like their visual merchandising is awesome, but other than that, I'd choose to shop in Singapore any day. At least our shops are all placed together in a mall so that's a lot more convenient and comfortable don't you think? In NYC, you have to walk a distance just to get from F21 to H&M. It was quite a chore.
My MUST GO shopping place in NYC is Urban Outfitters along 5th Avenue. I was saving all my money to spend it at UO on the last day. We don't have it in Singapore so it's different and I love their stuffs. It's always so unique. Audrey and I went cray cray at the sight of the various hats available. Hats are a craze in Singapore now so I'm sure that you guys will love it there too.
I bought most of my gifts for my family and friends there. They don't just sell apparels, but they offer really quirky gift ideas too! Some visuals.
We ended the day with ice cream from one of those signature ice cream vans. Hehe. I've always wanted to try them but they're pretty expensive to be honest. It costs about USD$4 for the single cone and USD$6 for the double cone. We had some spare cash left, so Audrey and I gave a portion of it to any homeless people we saw on the streets and we spent the remaining on ice cream! Greedy me bought myself a double cone. hehe. What! It's once a lifetime experience and I felt entitled to treat myself to something good after getting cheated at Times Square. hahaha.
The ice cream wasn't the best I've eaten and they melted so quickly. So I wouldn't recommend you guys to try it out. But you have to admit, it looks good for pictures ;)
And that's it for NYC Day 4. We went back to our hotel after that to pick up our luggages which felt like they were gonna explode any minute. Audrey's luggage was filled with new bags and clothes (she bought like 3 new bags there!) and mine was filled with gifts and snacks. We said goodbye to Shawn since he was staying for a few more days and caught our last glimpse of NYC before the sun went down. I remember feeling really sad to leave but it's not goodbye forever, I know I'll be back again. And if it's possible, I'll wanna live there for the rest of my life ;)
We were dead tired so the flight back to Singapore didn't feel so long after all. I slept for almost 15 hours on the plane, stubborn to even wake up for any meals. hahaha. As soon as I arrived in Singapore, I headed back home to freshen up and I went to school for the very last time. I submitted my final report and I was off to filming. Looking back, I can't believe I did all that in just a few hours. Which explains why I've been so exhausted lately. When will I ever have a real vacation???
Because I’ve been craving for another vacation so much, I’ve been checking out some of the travel postings on http://travelmadedifferent.com/ recently and it makes me want to travel to all these places!! What site is that exactly? Travel Made Different is a crowd-sourced site created by youths for youths! Everyone shares all their travel pictures from food, to fashion, to things they have done overseas.
With that, I can now have a better insight of what to look out for during my next trip. You may have noticed but in case you haven’t, quite a lot of people have been hashtagging their travel pictures on Instagram with #TravelMadeDifferent recently! All these pictures get pulled to the site, and that’s the beauty of crowd-sourcing! - You get a one stop shop of shared visuals, information and experiences of must-see places and must-do activities from everyone globally!
Likewise, I will be contributing more NYC photos on IG too and hashtagging them to TravelMadeDifferent. So, do stay tune for that as I will be sharing my very own #Food and #Fashion shots too!
For more information, head over to their site and follow them on Instagram at @TravelMadeDifferent. This month, they have a new promo that could easily win you $50 vouchers from Wild Honey to Starbucks to H&M and even Topshop!
All you have to do is:
1) Follow @TravelMadeDifferent on Instagram
2) Post a photo/video of food/fashion overseas
3) Write a caption and include these hashtags:
#TravelMadeDifferent #Food #<country>
#TravelMadeDifferent #Fashion #<country>
Promo ends on 4th September so start hashtagging now!:) Make sure that your account is set to allow public viewing in order for your entry to be valid!. Terms and conditions apply.
Thank you for reading!:)