Thursday, 27 February 2014

You Got to Hear the Blues in Chicago

Overnight bus from Buffalo to Chicago …. I am going to have to get used to these as much as possible for it would be the only way of travel in the USA …. Unless of cause you have your own car or bike or fly. If you have non- of the above … you’ll probably take the bus Greyhound discovery pass for unlimited bus ride a month …. Which also means a lot of overnight sleeping in the bus since you can save up on accommodation. How good are the busses … really depends on your luck I would say … some busses are like an airline cabin with comfy leather chair, wide leg room, free WIFI connection and even a power point socket next to your seat to boot. Others …. Its just a bus ….

The bus stop in Chicago was not really in the central area nor was my hostel that I looked up earlier. I was starting to be more prepared by reading the how to get to your hostel before even leaving nowadays … kills the adventure but gives you a little peace of mind since I still get lost anyway. Getaway Hostel … was a hostel like non other … they had bunk beds like any other hostel but it was the communal area that was amazing. Frekishly large with TV lounge ( the proper kind … not just a TV in a room ), huge ass dining area which still somehow turn out a mess since there was way too many people cooking … still kinda fun if you get into the clique and mingle but the most bad ass of all I would say would be the grand piano.

Monday BLUE’s

Thou I reach early in the morning I was only focus on a good shower , meal and sleep so I only woke up at 6 pm hungry and went out to see what I could do.

Anyone wannar Join us and go Listen to Blues Music ?? , Siera asked over the common area …

Apparently the hostel organized events every day and tonight was blues night. I was imagining Bill Cosby playing the saxophone so naturally joined in. That group of strangers that night from the hostel became my Chicago travel buddies for the next 5 days. There was no better way to break the ice of a group of strangers to each other by going to the bar, ordering drinks ( dutch of course ) and just listen to the blues … by the end of the night we were all on the dance floor grooving and some idiotically (me)

I had no idea how to describe the blues I heard …. On one had you have the star singer in his black shades get up and Mr. Brown type of accent voice singing with wateevr crazy idea pops into his head … on the other an Asian Girl …. Freaking cramming that keyboard like it was a lead guitarist … the bassist and guitarist were very quiet and shy but they sure had the groove ……

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Niagara Falls and Buffalo Wings

Buffalo it feels like a zombie town. Roads are like four lane and barely any cars around not many people walking about or almost none. No activities despite looking like a central business district with so much sky scraper. People if you know where to look are normally indoors hence my term of a zombie town. Its like a typical American abandon City due to lack of trade or work. One small consolidation is that they still attract tourist local and abroad due to Niagara Falls and of course Canadians. 

The waterfalls were spectacular as expected and worth visiting no matter what …. Even if you could only stand on the American Side. Apparently the view was much better from the Canadian side as you get a whole view in front instead of the sides….. So close to Canada yet I could not cross that bridge. it’s a shame but I still enjoyed every bit of the Niagara Falls. The thought did cross my mind to attempt crossing without a Visa ….

The funny thing that I notice was the amount of casino lined up on both sides of the river. It was like luring people over the boarder for their money literary. I stuck to the American side obviously . In short net earnings in buffalo was USD 80 not too bad for a start in the states I would say.

The Original Buffalo Wings

The Chicken Wings …. If you were wondering was delicious … why now I understand the menus calls them Buffalo Wings when it was actually Chicken Wings … Because the style was created in Buffalo. Deep Fried Chicken Wings with special Buffalo spicy sauce and a whole long thick celery by the side to ease that burning sensation was no joke.

I went into this brightly painted red restaurant Anchor Bar which says “Home of the Original Buffalo Chicken Wings”  and sat at the bar although most seats were empty. Some diners was around but then again it was nearly 2pm in the afternoon. The place was filled with vintage motorbikes everywhere hung up high and boy this restaurant could put Hard Rock to shame …..

The menu had lots of choice but one separate menu was there just for the Wings .. So I ordered the smallest portion 10 wings … and then came the selection of the sauce which (If I remember Correctly) 8 different levels of spiciness plus one Non-Spicy for Kids only. Each level had a special name for it which I could not remember so well … but I do remember the highest level was called SUCIDAL - If you Dare … I went for the Original Taste … definitely worth visiting …. Naturally I could not finish 10 Wings for lunch and packed 5 wings back to the hostel for my dinner that night.

Burning Time for a Midnight Bus

So last day in Buffalo and I am burning time waiting for midnight for the bus to Chicago. 10 more hours . Desperately resisting temptation to take a bus back to the falls just to visit the casino.

Well I did not manage to resist temptation and thou was now on the bus taking a forty minute ride just to reach the casino at Niagara. Never had I done that in this whole fucking trip. Always it has been it was jus there within walking distance well an not on a purposely travel just to go gambling. Reasons for my crazy detour was partly because Buffalo on a Sunday was way too boring . It really is a ghost town. As one local that asked me for a cig said. No one ever come to this shithole.

So off to lala land and almost lost everything at one point. Did not even had dinner which is why now I am sitting waiting for a midnight bus to Chicago 12 hours journey with only a snack at 1030 pm. The good part was I won another USD 250 from my scary excursion to the casino

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Washington D.C was the USA Version of Rome in Italy.

Washington D.C is like a wonderland for museum goers and a good spot for the tourist since its filled with

Frankly speaking too much museums … they are of high quality no doubt … but too much of anything regardless of “masterpeices” or “spectacular” will just leave your soul a teeny bit dull. So hence my excuse of not visiting every single one of them …..
monuments and history. Plus even if you are not a history or museum buff there is always the movie addicts …. Too much American movie will do that to you I guess …. Who haven’t seen the capitol been blown up to pieces in ermmm …. So many different shows … favorite is still “Independence Day” and how many movie scene was shot at the white house … or replica … and shows like “National Treasure” just makes the place a little more mysterious …
National Archive

National Archive

By chance the first museum I went into was the national archive. Saw the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Constitution of America. It was awesome how they document everything thou sensitive item are top secret and only release to public once everyone forgot about them like 80 years later. Hence you have freedom of information just not now but when you die and your legacy can understand why. Still it was a young country with deep history. The three treasures were written beautifully like a poet …. You don’t see that anymore these days …
U.S Capitol

The Capitol

Truly an icon to the world and doubtlessly hated by so many for the politician resides inside for their daily duties. Why else would it be bombed, destroyed, held hostage in so many fictional novels , movies , and some cartoons too ….

The Capitol reminds me a lot of home such as Putrajaya. Yet they did it with masterful planning. Government building apart blending of the museum which are world class with memorials and gardens mask the time that is spend here. I tried to get in … legally …. Apparently its opened to visitors but with my new Metalhead friend there was no way we could have gotten pass the metal detector. Plus there was so many regulations and requirement such as no water bottle …. Not no water … but no water bottle …. I decided to keep my precious water bottle and just admire the sight from outside ….

The Air and Space Museum

If you asked why I choose to go to the Air and Space museum out of all the other museums and museums that I did not even step foot into …. Well the reason was simple … The Americans was the only ones who placed a man on the moon … where else would you go to see a space museum ….
Touch The Moon Rock

( you can say NASA but I did that too later when I was in Houston )

The museum was awesome especially if you like airplanes … I would say perfect for kids ages 8 to 88 J One small step for man ….. I always wondered if the quote from Niel Armstrong came at the spur of the moment he step on the moon or had he contemplated for days on earth and during the flight what to say if he actually manage to set foot on it. It sounded too profound to be spontaneous …

The White House

“I bet you 10 bucks if you jump over the fence and make it to that bush” says Metalhead
I’ll double your bet if you do it for half the distance I told him …. We just smiled while looking at the white house from outside the garden fence nearly 200 meters away.

The White House was disappointingly small … I always imagine it bigger … but still the security guards were just steps away from us next to the fence regardless. We were told that the place was open to a guided public tour which we need to register online and only after answering tonnes of question and background check would they give you tickets for the white house…. Remembering back to my USA visa application days I decided to pass …. Metalhead looked down at his choice of cloths and decided to pass too ….

National Gallery of Art

I am a sucker for art …. Thou I do not obsess for it … still imagine my surprise when I found Rodin’s work and the famous piece “The Thinker” in the museum. I was way way way smaller than I thought it would be. Always the replica was so big but the original was made like it was meant to be put in a home instead of outside. Like the British Museum , the gallery is like where they looted / transferred / pass down when the people migrated from Europe to USA … a wealth of masterpieces for I do not know who the painter / sculpter was but the works speaks for itself …. Or maybe it was because its in a museum 

Monuments & Memorials …. 
WWII Memorial

Who could not love walking along the pond / park visiting memorials of great halls. Lincolns Memorial was definitely a fav one although the bad timing during my visit meant that the reflecting pool was deprived of water …. Why the hell do they have an Egyptian spire in Washington D.C named the monument …. Puzzling ….

One thing I did notice was that the World War II memorial was grand big and proud but the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial was a quiet affair for the families who lost their love ones. ….

Things to come back for

And some of the museums I left out listed below…. For traveling is not a one time thing …. Always leave something to come back for .. or in this case ... it was too much i got sick of it and had to leave ....

1. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
2. National Museum of American History
3. International Spy Museum
4. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
5. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
6. National Museum of Crime and Punishment
7. The Pentagon

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Why I Was Rushing When Traveling …. PHEW

I am tired. New York has kept me moving non stop since I came partly because there was so much things to see and partly because its so damn expensive in New York that I felt I had to quickly get it done and move on before my budget burst. Nights were always chasing some Broadway Musical and daytime was exploring the city just walking around. In short my Broadway expedition covered

1.Chicago the Musical
2. Anything Goes
3. Rent
4. Godspell

Thinking back I should have stayed on and watched more shows since I now realized the same show when they come to Asia … its super expensive …. Plus half price tickets and camping outside for last last last minute ticket sometime could be really really cheap ….

Sometimes the place although so attractive, you just have to move on …

Washington D.C

Trying to figure out how to travel around USA is a pain in the arse since bus and train sometimes takes many hours maybe days and its also not clear where they stop in the city. Train line does not go everywhere and busses are very expensive unless you are traveling a major route like New York - Washington D.C …. short trip yet expensive … I realized America is huge … and the norm was to either do a roadtrip with your own car / caravan / bike or take a plane since budget flight was cheaper. Then again where the fun would that be ….

For now … I bought the cheapest ticket I could find … to Washington D.C
Greyhound Bus - USD 21

Random Stranger / Later Friends Will Safe Your Day

After whacky Europe where everything is built haphazardly one on top another America was really easy to navigate. Found the Hostel pretty easily passing by Chinatown in Washington D.C which was quite close to the central area.

My roommate when I first saw him, I was concern for a moment for he looked like a death metal fanatic with eyeliner, long hairs, piecing and chain chains chains everywhere … till of course he started to talk in awkwardly like a brilliant British gentlemen … accent and all. I ended up enjoying his company for the whole time I was in D.C.

Chainboy did save me one big headache when I was rambling on the expensive bus rides from New York to D.C ….. The almighty Greyhound Discovery Bus Pass. One Pass to rule them all … where for a fee of USD 456 one could hop onto any Greyhound cross country busses as long as there was an un-reserved seat for one whole month. I would come to regret some of the choices later on but it was the best worth of money can buy …. Plus side if I were to keep taking midnight busses or night busses and time it correctly for the distance to the next destination, I would technically save one night in the hostel.

The wheel on the bus go round and round ............................

Sunday, 16 February 2014

City of Dreams … New York - Manhattan

Supprise Photo Shot Capturing the Bird with Manhattan Background
New supprise when I found out my flight was bound for Newerk International airport since I thought it was suppose to be New York JFK. A bit outskirt small airport but most critically I had no idea how to get to the hostel from there. There was no information center hence no help, no map so I just hop onto a bus that said New York Times Square. The bus conductor gave me some pointers and drop us off rite at the heart of the city. Slow wondering about following the many neon advert I found the subway and took about half and hour to understand the system. Pretty simple thou they work all in numbers and alphabets so it was hard to remember where you are going. That was my first shock for I had never seen a more grid gridded city.

It was like when you play computer games and you can only build a house or building on a plot of land … and the green square mark shows its ok to build while the red shows not good cant build there because the land is curve  so it has to remain green forest …. America was just like that … superbly STRIAGHT AND BOXES. Plus the boxes are always the same size … like building a city on a chess board.

Liberty Island 

New York despite its ruggedness and dirty metropolitan city cramp never stopping heart pounding city it has a unique charm to it that I feel the understanding of the attraction it has on the world. Statue of liberty seems to have an deep effect on the Americans peoples history. The idea and concept of the French creator have change with time but only for the good. The uber unbelievable understanding that people gives their own interpretation is remarkable. Some say the French saw it as a friendship mark or reminded to the US that they played a part in obtaining their independence, some says it’s the symbol of liberty, freedom, and for many immigrant back in those days I guess it was hope. Hope for a New Life where everyone is equal … for the land is uncorrupted …. Not Yet ….

Ellis Island 

Ellis island was part of the liberty tour and I only knew that place from the movie Hitch. Nearly all Americans today can trace their ancestry to the immigrant ship manifest which pass though Ellis Island. For more than 200 years of independent its people has a remarkably young history compared to the world yet it’s a history full of feelings. It is impressive what they record in the USA. I feel proud that south east asia a much younger nations has progress faster than the US in terms of mind view. If only shows the next generations will always head the way. Let bygones be bygones

9/11 Memorial 

Too much things to write and no time to do it. The 9/11 memorial was a twin waterfall square on the actual site where the building once was. This is my view and feeling when I first saw it without anyone explaining the concept to me …  First fall gave me the impression of souls as the droplets was illuminated with lights, falling souls going away as were a tragedy. The first falls then swerve in a pool of water droopy like the life of a souls struggled to survive the brutal implosion of the building. As the choppy waters flows towards the middle second fall into pure darkness … thousands of souls were wash away on 9/11 . From the sky the memorial looks like two building just not up into the sky but downwards into another world and beyond. I thought whom design it gave one of the most meaningful and beautiful resting place for the people who died on that day. Next door the new world trade enter still under construction. Tall big proud but lacking depth. The word which is needed to explain its meaning often forgotten easily. It is when the objects require no explanation to move a heart that it is a masterpiece