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Published: April 26th 2006
Times Square, New York City
The world famous site in Manhattan.
I'm sitting in front of my desktop computer at home in Thousand Oaks, California, gearing up to write an entry covering my recent trip out east (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland).
It's been over a month since I returned from SE Asia. I loved my experiences on the other side of the globe and have every intention of returning.
One of the biggest developments from my travels in SE Asia was meeting Saai, my Thai girlfriend. My trip out east was a result of my desire to see Saai again.
Saai is working in Carneys Point, New Jersey, along with 13 other Thai university students during their summer break. They are working at a travel stop (Burger King, Starbucks, TCBY, gas station, etc.) off the New Jersey Turnpike. It's not the ideal summer job (or at least it's not my
idea of the ideal summer job), but it does give them the opportunity to see America and improve their English language skills.
On Thursday, April 6, I flew into Philadelphia, rented a car and drove to Carneys Point, N.J. Now, Carneys Point is not a tourist destination. There's really hardly anything there. It is
The AVP Pro Beach Volleyball tour coming to New York!
a small town near the N.J./Delaware border. Thankfully, though, there are some big cities relatively close.
I checked into a hotel room close to where Saai was (and is) staying. We spent a few hours catching up. It had been over 3 weeks since our departure from Bangkok, Thailand. Quite a contrast between Bangkok and Carneys Point, New Jersey. But, it was great to see Saai again.
The wake up telephone call the following morning from Saai would come as quite a shock though. 7:45 a.m. translated to 4:45 a.m. Pacific time, the time my body recognized. For those that don't know, I'm not an early riser, and getting up that early is painful
. But up I got in order to meet Saai for breakfast.
We wanted to get an early start for our drive up to New York City. We left around 9:00 and reached New York @ around 12:00 via Port Imperial in Weehawken, N.J. (about a 2 1/2 hour drive to get to Port Imperial). The ferry brought us directly to mid-town Manhattan. This was Saai's first visit to New York, and only my second. New York is an impressive city. Our focus was
Saai standing on the Grayline bus at a stop on Broadway.
on Manhattan due to our time crunch, and our first stop was Times Square. Wow! It's the kind of place where you just stand there and soak it in for a while. Lots of high-rise buildings, lights, signs, people, cars, activity, smells, and general chaos. Loved it!
We walked up to the new Time Warner Center (at Columbus Circle), grabbed a small lunch at Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery (recommend the Tuna Nicoise Tartine priced @ $13.25), and then wandered around Central Park. This day would involve a lot of walking. But the city could not be seen in its entirety by walking so we purchased two tickets for the downtown loop of the Grayline
double-decker bus tour ($39 per person). This is really a handy way to see the city since it passes most of the popular sites with commentary provided by a tour guide. In addition, it provides unlimited on/off privileges along the tour loop in order to get closer looks of any area. New buses pass by every 15-20 minutes.
The only disadvantage of the bus is that it shuts down in the early evening. We chose to leave it behind for good near Wall Street.
Ice cream? Nope, gelato!
Saai eating some gelato at Ferrara's in Little Italy.
On a tip from the Grayline bus tour guide, we headed to the Staten Island Ferry (huge ferry!) in order to get a closer glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The Staten Island Ferry passes close to the Statue, and as a bonus, costs absolutely nothing. We took our pictures, got off the ferry, and got right back on for the return trip to Manhattan. It was one of those things that totally worked out great even though we had no idea what we were doing. Is that normal? 😊
After returning to Manhattan, we walked to Chinatown for dinner (you can still get cheap meals in New York - just go to Chinatown!). Afterwards we walked to Little Italy for some gelato (similar to ice cream, but more healthy) at Ferrara's (opened in 1892). From there, it was time to begin the process to get back to Carneys Point (taxi, ferry, and drive). I think we ended up getting back to Carneys Point around 11 or 12. I can't remember exactly.
The following day...hmmm, what did we do? Oh yes. Saai had to work from 7-3. Afterwards, we drove to Philadelphia. We explored the city (mostly by
view of Baltimore
from Federal Hill Park
car since it was so cold!), and walked a bit on South Street, stopping for dinner at Tamarind Thai Restaurant. I'd done a little research to find this restaurant in advance, knowing that Saai was craving some good Thai food, and hey, me too! I love the stuff. Anyway, I'd recommend the restaurant. It's definitely on the small side, but we got the best table (the only one by the window). It's run by Thais and provides reasonably priced, well prepared Thai food.
On Sunday, we went to Bethel Bible Baptist Church. Ahhh, church in a small town. It is
different. I personally liked it. The message was Scripturally based but the praise singing was very old
school (hymns and readings from the King James Version of the Bible). It was a bigger adjustment for Saai due to her shorter background in the faith and smaller exposure to churches. We chatted with a bunch of people after the service and actually were some of the last to leave. Afterwards, we were off for Baltimore, Maryland with a lunch stop along the way at Woody's Crab House in North East, Maryland. North East is a quaint little town off the
On Federal Hill Park
Chesapeake Bay (close to I-95). Woody's is famous for their crab (I liked the crab imperial and crab cakes). It's a large, fun, family-friendly place with reasonable prices. Afterwards we continued on to Baltimore. We fortunately stumbled upon Federal Hill Park, which has a great view of the city, but otherwise drove around aimlessly. I had been to Baltimore at least once before (last time was in '98 for a concert by Cosmicity - I know, none of you know who they are). But honestly, there wasn't really anything we wanted to see specifically. Saai just wanted to explore. Who does that sound like? 😊
On the following day (Monday, April 10) we were pressed for time since Saai was working in the afternoon and I had a flight to LAX.
So, we went to the closest big city to Carneys Point...which is????? Anyone? Anyone? I'll tell you. It's Wilmington. It's across the river (give another $3 to the toll booth) and in another state (Delaware), but only 15 minutes away. It's kind of ghetto, but has an interesting park (Brandywine Park) and a beautiful suburb (Rockford). We ate at Food Townhall on Market Street which surprisingly had
In my rental car
good food for rock-bottom prices. It's basically a deli with limited seating.
At that point, it was Monday afternoon and time to get Saai to work. I dropped off Saai (goodbyes aren't any fun!) and drove to the Philadelphia airport with a stop at the famous Tony Luke's (old Philly style sandwiches) for their roast pork sandwich with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. Good stuff, but not quite right. Ummm, not sure how to say it. I liked it, but there was something about it that just didn't quite work. Maybe I'll axe the broccoli rabe next time. Ummm, next time? You just never know...
So, there you have it. My trip out east...
Meanwhile, there is more news to report. I'm in the process of interviewing in an attempt to start a job by the end of June. In the immediate future I have a trip to Europe with my friend Jim. We leave on Saturday (God willing). I will be gone for almost 2 weeks.
In late May, I have a 5 day trip to Colorado to see my Mom's final dance recital (she is retiring and ending a significant
chapter of her life
as a dance teacher).
My relationship with Saai is going well. We expect to see each other next on June 11 when she arrives in Los Angeles for a visit prior to her return to Bangkok, Thailand.
That's all for now...
Look! There goes Dave!
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