Bus No. 11

10 Things I Like About You Pt 4: Bus No. 11

“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R.Tolkien

I’ve been looking forward to this one. Between being from Singapore and living in NYC for 2 years, walking everywhere is no more odd than breathing. My general rule of a good meander is lights and sound. If something catches my eye, off I potter. Guess the rest of the world caught on too and walking tours are now the new Cronut.

My first stroll was during a tour of Paris and London with my parents. It was my first time abroad and we were part of THE stereotypical tour. Ladies with umbrellas, hell bent on finding the most expensive perfumes on the Champs-Elysees, hijacking unsuspecting Frenchmen and forcing them into photos, and the children, so many children… Thank goodness my parents had better sense and we legged it off to the Lourve on our “free” day, while the rest of our group proceeded to empty the shelves of Galleries Lafayette. As we walked along the Seine, passing by the street vendors and the famous Shakespeare and Co., I fell in love with traveling.

So I’ve done the same in the places that I’ve lived in and got some pretty good stories out of it.

Upstate NY

Located in downtown Syracuse, Freedom of Expresso is a local roaster right across the street from a Starbucks. Came across it when I had class nearby. Got the milk steamers there: hot milk with Italian syrup. (ps: fruit syrups means split milk except raspberry. we tried them all)

Located in downtown Syracuse, Freedom of Expresso is a local roaster right across the street from a Starbucks. Came across it when I had class nearby. Got the milk steamers there: hot milk with Italian syrup. (P.S: Fruit syrups means split milk except raspberry. We tried them all.)

The Boys of Syracuse. The Orange is one of the best US College Basketball teams. The whole city is in love with the sport. Basketball here is like football in Spain. Downtown Syracuse is also home to the 24 sec "shot clock" monument, a turning point in NBA history.

The Boys of Syracuse. The Orange is one of the best US College Basketball teams. The whole city is in love with the sport. Basketball here is like football in Spain. Downtown Syracuse is also home to the 24 sec “shot clock” monument, a turning point in NBA history.

Prop 8 protest in downtown Syracuse in 2008. It expressed the discontent for California making same sex marriage illegal. Prop 8 was overturned in 2013 :)

Prop 8 protest in downtown Syracuse in 2008. It expressed the discontent for California supporting the proposition to make same sex marriage illegal. Prop 8 was overturned in 2013 🙂

On a whim, my roommate in college drove the 45 mins from Syracuse to Skaneateles. The whole place looks like something out of an Enid Blyton book, complete with little candy store. We also went hiking to the nearby Carpenter Falls. Dang, I miss Upstate.

On a whim, my then roommate and I drove the 45 mins from Syracuse to Skaneateles. The whole place looks like something out of an Enid Blyton book, complete with little candy store. We also went hiking to the nearby Carpenter Falls. Dang, I miss Upstate! The apple is even from Beak and Skiff. 

Since it worked out so well in Syracuse, where buses run every 45 mins and trains are non-existent, I figured that it would be a perfect method in Singapore.

Singapore

We'll start with my second love, food! In search of the illusive ah balling (dessert riceballs with filling), my friend F introduced us to the wonders of Mei Hong Yuan Dessert. It serves all kinds of traditional Chinese desserts. So much deliciousness! They're so good that they don't even open on Mondays!

We’ll start with my second love, food! In search of the illusive ah balling (dessert riceballs with filling), my friend F introduced us to the wonders of Mei Hong Yuan Dessert. It serves all kinds of traditional Chinese desserts. So much deliciousness! They’re so good that they don’t even open on Mondays!

The Local People is a Singapore collective for budding designers and artists. Every month they do a market of some sort and their most recent was at the Singapore Art Museum. A friend and I wandered past and was very well fed. They also have great jewelry and crafts. Think if Etsy had a fair :)

The Local People is a Singapore collective for budding designers and artists. Every month they do a market of some sort and their most recent was at the Singapore Art Museum. A friend and I wandered past and was very well fed. They also have great jewelry and crafts. Think if Etsy had a fair 🙂

And there was live music

And there was live music

This was perhaps less of a wander... but I use to ride horses. Yes, I was one of those girls that wanted a pony for her birthday. Except I still want one and it's not to braid his tail. This is at the Singapore Turf Club Riding Centre. Gorgeous facilities and they're hosting the SEA Games. So wander there now!

This was perhaps less of a wander… but I use to ride horses. Yes, I was one of those girls who wanted a pony for her birthday. Except I still want one and it’s not to braid his tail. This is at the Singapore Turf Club Riding Centre. My friend S (she’s the one without the wings) also started a blog about all things equestrian so check it out. Gorgeous facilities,a tasty cafe on premises and they’re hosting the SEA Games. So wander there now!

A waterpark on top of a shopping centre!?! Where was this when I was a kid.

A waterpark on top of a shopping centre!?! Where was this when I was a kid.

Well, enough from me. Time to lace up those shoes and get out of the house 🙂

O, Astoria!

In the light of Lonely Planet’s recent pick for #1 destination to travel within the US, I shall talk about how much I loved Queens – specifically Astoria, home to the Ranch – when I lived in New York.

photo courtesy of New York Times

photo courtesy of New York Times

Let the hipsters in Brooklyn condescend Queens and let Manhattanites act like the civilization ends with the Queensboro Bridge and you need to commute with donkeys after. I’m a proud former Astorian.

Yes, Brooklyn may have the hippest, coolest places, can it compare to the niceness of Queens people? And the commute… The places you can actually afford now in Brooklyn are so far that it’s really difficult for people who work in the city. Don’t even get me started on the L or the G train… I love the N train! Commute is so convenient to the city if you live on the N line that you start planning your social life based on whether or not where you’re going is close to N,Q line. Both Central Park and Prospect Park are on the N or Q line, I worked in Midtown, and Herald Sq Stop was 20 min. away, Union Sq, East Village, Soho, Chinatown… And it’s on the major transfer hubs, so if you do need to transfer, it’s not difficult.

When I lived at the Ranch, it was at the last stop (Ditmars) of the N/Q trains, so if and when I fall asleep on the train, kind strangers would gently wake me up so I wouldn’t find myself going back and forth and finally at a strange & bad neighborhood (I’m not saying it didn’t happen anyway at 4 AM one night, but it happened much less than any other places).

30th Ave after Greece's win of a game in the FIFA '14

30th Ave after Greece’s win of a game in the FIFA ’14

Astoria has the nicest, friendliest people. There is this shared feeling of ‘I know I live in the coolest neighborhood, but it’s hard for other people to understand’. The local bodegas, laundromat people, coffee shops, waiters and bartenders are always so friendly and give you some slack if you are short on money by dimes or nickles.

And Astoria Park? Just pretty!

Don’t even get me started on the food! Ah, the food. So so delicious. I may be partial to the food because I’m Turkish, and it’s a Greek neighborhood, which is basically the same food (sorry Turks and Greeks, we gotta just admit we eat the same stuff and get on with our lives without caring who came up with what).

Not just the Greek food, almost everything is more delicious there. So here are some of my humble recommendations if you go to Astoria (and you should).

 

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Apartment Hunting Blues

Anyone who has ever lived in New York City at least once suffers the ailment called the apartment hunting – unless you are extremely lucky, or you are the offspring of a president or a king (or you are a president or a king), so maybe I should just change my ailment name to ‘apartment hunting on a budget’ (but of course, anyone who ever lived in New York –or any big city, I suppose– also  knows that ‘on a budget’ is a reaaally relative term. You can live like royals in other places with just your NY rent money. But, I digress). It’s not just the passive-aggresive roommate bullshit or the claustrophobic room sizes, it’s the actual apartment hunting process that’s the pain. After all, there is such a thing called the perfect apartment with the perfect situation (if you lower your expectations, of course) but nobody hands it to you. Actually, more often than not, you can’t even find it. Because there are a handful of perfect apartments and a buttload of apartment hunters. So even if you do find it, the competition is so fierce that the chances are you’re not gonna get it unless you move super fast and have everything ready at hand. So like most New Yorkers, I had my fair share of apartment hunting stories. It actually took me a long and windy road to get to the Ranch. So here’s my tale.

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