Sunday, 20 October 2013

Philadelphia

3rd January
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Not in the US, but Toronto public transport. I just thought it was so cute.

Philadelphia! This is the opportune moment to comment on the lovely people at Immigration. I always have this irrational fear that I will get stopped at Immigration for some mysterious reason. It is the same problem when I am near anyone of authority; I instantly feel guilty. Back at Atlanta, I was puffy-eyed and blotchy at immigration and I had a lovely conversation with the guy who had a daughter living in Narrabeen, which is relatively close to where I live! Coincidence. Also, at the immigration when leaving Canada, the guy was from Atlanta and we shared some stories about lovely MARTA and the uselessness of the public transport there. Funnily enough, flying from the US to Canada was so breezy (it felt like a domestic flight) although flying from Canada to the US was slightly more bothersome.

Philadelphia was one of my must visit cities in the US. Originally I had planned on visiting during fall break, but I just didn't have the time. Why did I want to visit Philly? Cold Case. Yep. That show was based in Philly and, for some reason, I just wanted to visit.

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The plane was so empty and I had the entire row to my self, and the row across the aisle. I decided to fly to NYC and then catch the Megabus down to Philly since it saved me around $150. When I arrived at LGA, I realised that I didn't have enough quarters for a single ride into Manhattan and the machine that converted notes to quarters was broken. I asked a bus driver who was so rude and didn't answer my question. Actually, no one answered my question and finally, I had to ask someone to exchange for quarters. I hopped onto a bus thinking that it would lead me to Manhattan. Nope. It went somewhere and terminated in the Bronx. Whoops. I ended up catching the subway into Manhattan, so it was all ended up okay in the end. I had 4 hours or so to kill so I ended up spending it at Maccas since it was the place that I knew I could a) have wifi and b) spend quite a substantial period of my time at. So there I was, sitting at my table and a gentleman approached my table asking if he could sit down and I said, yes since Maccas was crowded. After a while he asked me "are you travelling" which was so idiotic since I had all my bags underneath the table. He struck up a conversation how he was a blogger and wanted to create a website that would show how NYC was back in the 1950s and the modern NYC and how he visited the achives at the library for photos and whatnot. I honestly didn't give a shit but I pretended that I did and he asked me if I wanted to join him at the library for his research, which I declined, and then he started talking about how he was also a tour guide. Lo behold, he is actually legit!

I walked 20 blocks down to the Megabus station and by this stage it was getting quite chilly. The bus was 50 minutes late. Yes. 50 minutes and not only that, when a bus for Philly finally arrived, it was intended to pick up the next group of individuals that were headed to Philly (so the bus was on time for that group). A lot of people protested and finally, they allowed us to board and off we went.

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I stayed at Apple Hostels Philadelphia, even though I didn't really want to but I didn't have a choice. There were only 2 hostels in the city and the other was further out. It was expensive considering I had to share the room with 23 other people (24 bed dorm). I believe it was $35/ night which is crazily expensive. The bathroom was a locker room style. Perhaps I was spoilt by other places (although some weren't that great), but I at least expect a door for my shower rather than a simply shower curtain. Seriously. I did not write a glowing review on the third party website, nor was it scathing, it was simply my point of view and honest. The owner or someone from the hostel replied to my review stating that, it was 'amazing' lalala. Didn't read it all, just got too irritated. Seriously. My review was not irrational, yes you did not have a shower door. That is a fact. Your prices are expensive. Yes, that is a fact. But seriously, did you need to reply to me as though I was an imbecile? I think not.

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City Hall

Moving along. Philadelphia was really pretty but truth be told, at this stage I was getting a tad sick of US cities. They just ended up looking very similar and it just felt like another city. US cities that I believe are quite distinctive are: LA, Chicago, Atlanta and NYC. Philly felt like the offspring of Chicago and NYC. I went to see Liberty Bell which was pretty much the main attraction and it was the most anti-climatic experience of my entire existence. Seriously. This tiny bell. So what did I do? I wandered! I actually got lost and ended up standing outside Starbucks for free wifi. Fun fact: stupidly, it took me a very long time to realise that I didnt actually need to buy something to use wifi and that if I stood close enough to the glass, I could use it for free and save $4 in the process. I have to say, City Hall was the prettiest building I saw in the States. It was just incredible.



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I kept on wandering and realised that I was on 30th street and near University of Pennsylvania (fun fact: the UNSW exchange office pretty much said that I was too dumb to pick that school as an exchange partner. No really, the woman said, "I think you should list another school considering your WAM". Gee thanks). University is a university and nothing to really say. Ended up heading to Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Originally I had planned on visiting the Magic Garden, but after realising that entry cost $7 (okay in hindsight, I sound so incredibly frugal. But hey, each dollar counts) I just decided to skip it and also, I stumbled upon a street that had the same intention as the Magic Garden so that was awesome. Awesome indeed.

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I also had my first proper food truck experience! Truth be told, food trucks freak me out a little. I honestly don't think they are that hygienic. I got the Philly Cheesesteak and it was so amazing. Or perhaps it was because I was hungry too (I wouldn't put it past me, but that probably was the first meal of the day ... at around 1pm).

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$4 including tax! That amazing moment when the product you buy includes tax. Or maybe there just wasn't tax .....

That night, I headed out to the Delaware River and onto the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. It was a little scary since it was dark and all that jazz, but at the same time quite refreshing. Of course, then I headed back to the lovely, lovely hostel.

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My Overall Thoughts
Philly was as lovely as I expected and I think I enjoyed the city purely because of my obsession with Cold Case (although then I wonder why since all tv shows are filmed in studios in LA). On the other hand, the city was also a little underwhelming. Though that may also have been my increasing apathy towards the US.

Would I re-visit?
Nope.

In other news, I met a gentleman today at work with his two young children. He had either a Canadian or American accent. I can't distinguish between the two so I actively avoid making any assumptions in case I offend anyone. He asked me, "where are you from?" That irked me so I answered my usual, "I was born here but my parents were from Hong Kong". And he said, "oh do you like Hong Kong?". Sorry what? Urgh ah well. I told him my honest opinion (which was no) and he said that he was from the States and I asked where and he said Texas. I told him that I hadn't been to Texas but I was studying in Georgia for a semester and he said that he worked in Atlanta for a few years! That was pretty cool.On the topic of where I am "from", I had a woman ask me that earlier in the week. According to her, I look as though I am either from Indonesia or Vietnam. I am too fair for a Thai and look a little Korean (???). I do think it is interesting. The two most common guesses are: Eurasian (actually that isn't really narrowing anything down) or Thai. Actually Prince Charming from work thought I was half Thai. After that, common guesses are: Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea and Japan. I definitely don't see the latter two. The most absurd guesses are: Maori (?!?!) and Hawaii. I actually have 1 for Maori and 2 for Hawaii. I don't even know.

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