The East Coast disaster


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December 29th 2014
Published: January 7th 2015
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State Capitol
All I wanted for Xmas was to spend some time with my long year partner in crime THH. Luckily my whish came true this year as we decided to meet up for christmas and new year's eve in the rainy and cold east coast of the USA, where we ultimately spent our holidays for a couple of weeks.

Now, I realize that this is a travel blog and about travel it should be. However, travel also has negative sides and whoever got in a mess abroad knows that all too well. Unfortunately in this blog I need to talk about what I call the east coast disaster, or all the misfortunes that happened to me on this trip. Shortly before Xmas me and THH met up in New York, a city which I need to dedicate a full blog entry to and will do so in my next post. After that we took a Greyhound ride to Boston, the "walking city" of the USA and this is where my bad luck was about to start.

As a city of 700.000 souls, Boston is one of the east coast's most prominent, although it would hardly make a suburb in most
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Close-up to the Boston native
of China. Founded in 1603 it is also one of the country's oldest cities and was a hub for American independence from the United Kingdom when the Yankees decided to bring some tea to the party. Although Boston itself is a milestone for American independence from Europe, it is probably the most European city that I have seen in the States.

The brown brickstone buildings along the surprisingly walkable streets remind of a British suburb, while the decadence of Chinatown consuming most of the city center is also far too familiar for my taste. And China it was that started my bad luck. When my credit card started bouncing (THH also sent her budget for the trip to my card), I figured I had to call my Hong Kong bank.

After an endless process of all too familiar burocracy I was told that my CC card had been blocked due to "suspicious activities", i.e. me spending money in the USA. Tired but relieved I managed to convince the Honkies to unlock my card and was happy for a while. Indeed, we could go back to NY for new year's evening (in an unheated hostel in Chinatown) and later
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Sign and State House
move to the nation's capital of Washington DC.

DC is nothing like one would imagine a capital to look like, especially after seeing NY. Purpose built for accommodating a neutral government for both, north and south states, the city gives a very small town impression. Most of the city center is made up by the "mall", a famous green strip hosting the white house, Washington monument and capitol among others. Out of the very sterile downtown, small houses line the narrow streets and all in all, the city does look a little run down. It was here that my bad luck continued.

After a 2 week trip I needed to do laundry, as simple as that. The machines in our hotel required 6 quarters, which I did not have and neither did the receptionist. So they sent me off to a 5 minute walk to Walgreens in order to change money. Easy. As soon as I reached the place i realized: my wallet was gone! Total panic and running up and down the street I eventually figured that it was lost.

Back to the hotel I filed a police report and called Hong Kong to block my
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Streets near State House
credit card and ATM. Only if you have been to the US you know what life without a CC means here: no public transport, no booking airplanes, no booking hotels. Then a light at the end of the tunnel: I got an email that a guy found my wallet!! Bless you man! Picked it up and all seemed fine, went to bed although still, I had no quarters for the laundry 😊

Next day I called my bank in Hong Kong to reacivate my account. I had a bad feeling knowing HK attitudes and I was right. "Sorry sir, you need to pass the bank with your ID". "Sorry, I am in the US and out of money, how can I do that?". "Sorry sir, you need to pass the bank with your ID". "Can I talk to your supervisor please?". " Ok sir... Sorry sir, you need to pass the bank with your ID". "But.... It's my money!!". "Sorry sir, you need to pass the bank with your ID". Hong Kong - how much I miss you/ NOT.

Now we are heading back to the airport and THH left me with 100 USD to hopefully make it
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Skyline
back to College Station where I have an Italian ATM card but no CC. Oh by the way, yesterday I got the quarters for the laundry but then figured the dryer was broken after waiting for 3 hours! After all, I still managed to spend my holidays with THH and that is what I wanted the most, in good and in bad times 😊 will talk about NY next and keep you posted on how my life in the States will change for the last month without a credit card. Happy new year 2015 to all of you!


Additional photos below
Photos: 66, Displayed: 25


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Streets of South Side
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European style church
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Public Garden
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Typical East Coast city streets
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Some greenery
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A squirrel doing what squirrels do
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Near the State House
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Downtown
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The Walking City
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Harvard architecture
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Harvard campus
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A THH style shot
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Boston

Harvard again
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Harvard lecture halls
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Surroundings of Chelsea area
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Yes! 'Merica OK!


8th January 2015

Survival without credit
Wow, that is an ugly story. In this day and age you'd think we could electronically prove who we are to these banks. There intent is to protect but... Glad you enjoyed NYC and D.C. Both great cities but very different.

Tot: 1.459s; Tpl: 0.063s; cc: 27; qc: 106; dbt: 0.0523s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.6mb