US trip, second stop: New York

AND I’M BACK! This is the second instalment of my US trip blogs (hopefully, there’ll be four).

After San Francisco, we flew to New York via the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey. From the airport, we rode the Go Airlink Shuttle going to New York. It’s a shared shuttle that costs only $20 USD per person. It will drop you off na to your hotel in Manhattan. It’s very convenient and affordable. The only downside is that you’ll have to wait for the next available schedule. In our case, we had to wait around 30 minutes to ride the van. Once we were inside the van, since we were the first to ride, we had to wait for the other passengers pa from different flights and go to the other terminals. I think before we finally started to head for New York, we were inside the van mga 1.5 hours. For us it was okay because we didn’t have any plans for the rest of the day, but the other passengers who were with us missed the Broadway play they were supposed to watch at 7 PM. The drive to Manhattan was around two hours (take note: it was a Tuesday, rush hour), and once in Manhattan, the shuttle driver will drop off passengers one by one in their hotel. You’re lucky if you’re the first one to be dropped off; but if not, tulog ka nalang muna (like what I did). We arrived at the EWR airport at 4:30 pm, and arrived at the hotel at around 8:30 PM.

Ang haba ng paragraph na ‘yon ah! Nakahinga ba kayo kakabasa? HAHAHA. Anyway, I’ll show you a picture muna. And disclaimer: I don’t have too many kwentos in NY (I think). So baka maiksi at boring lang ito.

That’s Rey. He’s a very good friend of ours who’s based in Singapore. We used to work together when I was still in SG. SOBRANG LAUGHTRIP NIYAN. When we’re together, kinakabag talaga ako kakatawa! We met with him in New York for this vacation. Sobrang kaladkarin niyan ni Rey! Kevin and I book our flights without consulting him, then we just tell him where we’re going, then before we know it, naka-book na yan. HAHA. We were with him also last year sa Europe naman.

Anyway, mabalik sa chronological order ulit. We were booked in Parker New York. It’s part of the Hyatt family (alam niyo na ‘yan, dahil ‘yan sa discount ng Tito ko HAHA). The location is good kasi it’s between Central Park and Times Square. Both are 10 minutes walk lang.

After checking in, Kevin and I went to the nearest Halal Guys to buy dinner. Kevin and I like Middle Eastern food so we were so excited to try the original Halal Guys. And the verdict is: okay naman! HAHAHA. Kevin grew up in Saudi. When my parents-in-law go home to the Philippines, may dala silang food from Saudi at ANG SARAP TALAGA. Mataas ang standard ni Kevin sa garlic sauce hahaha. So when we tried Halal Guys, just like its branch in Manila, it was just okay.

Rey arrived at the hotel that night din. We walked to Times Square na din that night just to check what’s the fuss (what’s the fuss?!?!??!?!?? HAHAHA). Then we went back to the hotel na din.

DAY 2. We woke up 11AM. San ka naman nakakita ng bakasyunistang tulog hanggang 11 AM?! HAHA. Jetlag kasi, sorry na! It was raining that day, and because we woke up late pa, konti lang napuntahan namin! First was Central Park (as in bungad lang!).

We probably only saw 1% of Central Park but it was soooo beautiful! Lalo dahil Autumn. These pictures don’t give justice to what it’s like in real life. Imagine such abundant trees amidst concrete jungle?! Ang ganda talaga even in the gloomy weather!

We then walked from Central Park (59th street) to 15th street where Rey had to get his things. 44 blocks din yon ah!!! It was tiring but it was a good idea din because we were able to see a lot of beautiful buildings that we would have not seen if we took the subway.

Ginagawa pa talaga yung Flatiron nung dumaan kami. May kulambo!

After Rey got his things, we had dinner at Jollibee. HAHAHA. Don’t judge us. Walang Jabi sa Sydney so we were more than happy to eat there! Ang laki din ng peach mango pie nila, guys! Too bad walang ganong size sa Pinas! (Wala nang picture ha?! Alam niyo na istura ng Jabi — same lang din sa NY hahaha). Also, nagtrain na kami hahaha! It was our first New York subway experience and what they say about it is true: medyo madumi nga! Hehe. But it wasn’t unbearable naman. Hindi lang siya malinis.

Dumaan na rin kami sa kapit-bahay naming Times Square on the way back to the hotel.

DAY 3. It was still raining kaya we weren’t able to visit a lot of places. Or even if we were, hindi ko ganon na-enjoy!

First stop was Raging Bull, then we walked to Ground Zero (we weren’t able to go inside anymore), Chelsea Market, then The High Line, and finally The Vessel. We went back to the hotel muna (as you would notice, ang hilig hilig namin ni Kebs bumalik sa hotel talaga kasi gusto namin yung nagpapahinga at nap! HAHAHA).

That night, we watched the Broadway Musical The Book of Mormon. I enjoyed that show so much! I wasn’t expecting it to be that good (probably one of the most entertaining Musical I’ve watched). Also probably the only musical show that didn’t make Kevin sleepy hahaha. It wasn’t the most visually appealing, but the storyline was great! I highly recommend it. I’m glad it was the first-ever play that Rey watched.

After the play, we went to the The Empire State Building Observation Deck. AAAAHHHHH. To see New York at night 86 floors high was so dreamy.

DAY 4. FINALLY, THE SUN WAS OUT!!! It was time to see The Statue of Liberty (fun fact: Mami’s name is Liberty, that’s where the “Li” part of my name came from).

We had lots of nice pictures in there. Lahat ata ng anggulo ni Liberty, in-aura-han namin. Usually it would be one of us taking pictures of the other two. But we were lucky enough to meet three Pinays who took photos of us (alam niyo yan mga turista: pag nakakita ng Pinoy, magpapa-picture sa kanila). Pero si Ate was so extra naman. Pinagppose niya kami ng mga tulad neto!!!!

Ate: “Itaas ang kamay, ang elbows, tuwid!”

Liisa: TOTOO BA?! *checks Rey and Kevin out*

Liisa: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA BAKIT KAYO SUMUSUNOD!!!!

Anyway, in the end, sumunod nalang din ako kasi nakataas na kamay nila.

Kevin and Rey: “Gawin mo nalang, para matapos na”

HAHAHAHA. Mej pushy kasi si ate!

May photo din naman kami na di pinilit ang posing.

After that, we went to Brooklyn Bridge. Nagpa-picture lang talaga kami don ni Kevin.

We watched Aladdin that night. There were parts na nakaka-antok for us (maybe because we had heavy dinner in Shake Shack right before the show, and nagbeer pa nga si Kevin), but when Aladdin and Princess Jasmine were in the carpet and sang A Whole New World na, major goosebumps!!! Literal ata nakanganga ako during that whole song! The whole show was a feast for the eyes talaga!

After the play, we met with Rey and had drinks in Hard Rock. I thoroughly enjoyed that also. Kevin and I don’t really go out for drinks here in Sydney kasi mahal — we usually just drink cheap wine at home. That’s why siguro I like having this kind of moments when we travel, hehehe.

Day 5 was Day 1 of Las Vegas na. Hehe. We flew out of New York na this day.

I LOVED NEW YORK. I sometimes feel like the only thing I really saw in NY was Times Square, but writing this made me realise madami din naman pala kaming napuntahan hahaha. But unlike SF, Kevin and I didn’t prepare for our NY trip. We didn’t know what were the must-sees and must-dos (I still don’t know)! Umasa lang kami kay Rey.

That’s why we’ll definitely go back! Next time probably longer (maybe at least a week long?). And hopefully, hindi na maulan! We’d really like to explore more.

Mahaba na din pala tong blog entry ko noh? Hahaha. Until next naman! I have two more entries for this series!

US trip, first stop: San Francisco

Last Sunday, we arrived from our two-week trip from the US.

Maka-the US ako, akala mo ang light noh. Parang taon-taon pumupunta don. But it’s actually both Kevin and my’s first time in the U.S.A. And it’s kind of a big deal for us.

As a kid, I think the only country I knew growing up was the USA. I’m not like my nephew Luis and niece Isa whose favourite countries as kids were either Portugal or Italy. Highschool na ata ako nung namulat ako sa mga bansang yan hahaha.

When our relatives came from “abroad” when I was young, in my mind it was automatically “USA”. I made a big deal out of US in my mind. Never in my wildest dreams as a kid that I will be able to go to the US. For me, mayayaman lang yung nakakapunta sa US.

Buti nalang times have changed. Mayaman na ako. HAHAHAHA CHAROT. Pero seriously, travelling has been more accessible to and affordable for the working and middle-class.

Ganon pala yung feeling pag lumapag na ang eroplano sa US noh? Parang wala lang. Hahahaha. I mean I was definitely excited, pero wala palang feeling na “OH MY GOSH THIS IS IT, NASA AMERIKA NA AKO!”. My thoughts when the plane landed was something like, “FINALLY, makakastretch at ligo na ako!”.

Dami ko nang sinabi, pero intro palang yon HAHAHA.

So anyway, our first stop was San Francisco. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Union Square. Maka-Grand Hyatt na naman eh noh? Casual na casual. Parang hindi nakaka-apak sa mumurs na hotel. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Pero first time din namin talaga sa any Hyatt hotels! And the only reason why we were booked there because my aunt’s (Dadi’s first cousin) husband (so basically my uncle), works for the Hyatt, so he has family discount. AT ANG LAKI NG DISCOUNT. Staying in Hyatt was less expensive than it would have been if we stayed at the original mumurs hotel we booked.

Btw, kwento ko lang din our flight. We flew 18 hours via Auckland. 3 hours from Sydney to Auckland, 2 hours layover in Auckland, and 13 hours from Auckland to San Francisco. It’s the longest flight I’ve ever experienced so far. Before this, my longest single-leg flight was 8 hours, and longest flight was 14 hours. We left Sydney at 11:55 AM on Oct 25, and arrived at San Francisco at 12:00 NN on Oct 25, too! Pretty cool huh? Ako cool na cool ako bilang Promdi. HAHAHAHA.

So mabalik na sa chronological order. We arrived at our hotel at around 3 PM. We took the BART train from SFO airport to Powell Street Station in Union Square, then walked 4 blocks with our luggage hahaha. We checked in, freshened up lang, then labas agad like real touristas na ayaw masayang ang oras.

AY, MAY KWENTO PALA AKO!!! (Kwento inside of a kwento. Kwento-ception.) ANYWAY, going down the elevator, we met a middle-aged guy who worked for the hotel. Alam niyo na how Americans are, very ma-chika. He asked us how we are and where we were from. Apparently, he was half Filipino pala (didn’t look like it at all). We said our goodbyes na after that. Later on (when we met our family the next day), we found out that the guy was my uncle’s (you remember? Discounted Hyatt stay…) brother, and that they guy was Dadi’s friend!!! He visited Tacloban twice na pala, and both times, he would hang out with Dadi. ANG GALING DIBA?! Nagagalingan ba kayo? As in goosebump moment siya for me!

Anyway, mabalik ulit sa kwento: We didn’t have any itinerary for that day, actually, but Kevin wanted to visit the Chase Centre (the new arena where the GSW play) agad agad. Wala namang laro. Pero bet niya lang, so we went. I’ll show you a pic kasi ang dami ko nang sinasabi, wala pang picture. BORING BA? HAHAHA.

AYAN. That’s Kevin kilig na kilig just being outside the Chase Centre.

The next day (DAY 2), another aunt (still Dadi’s cousin), Tita Ophie, showed us around San Francisco. We covered all the touristy spots na: Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and Fisherman’s Wharf. We then went to tita Tess’ (the other aunt who’s husband is working at the Hyatt — madami bang characters? Hindi naman masyado diba? Kwento ko nga din who we met there as another side kwento) house to visit them and Grandpa Maning and Grandma Del. I’ll introduce them later, but let me entertain you with another set of pictures first.

Wala pala kaming picture sa Fisherman’s Wharf that day!!! ANO BA YAN. Oh well. Another reason to go back.

They are the family we met with in San Francisco (from left to right, standing): tita Ophie (Dadi’s cousin) and tito Tony (the husband), me and Kevin, tita Tess (Dadi’s cousin) and tito Tom (thanks to him we got discount), and Grandma Del and Grandpa Maning (Tita Tess’ parents, both seating).

I didn’t know I had family in San Francisco until a week before our flight. I mean I know my tita’s and grandparents, pero I just didn’t think about where in the US they live. I just assumed that they live far from where we’ll be visiting. But when tita Ophie learned we were visiting the US, she wanted to meet us daw; because, apparently, they lived an hour away from SF lang. I also learned from her that tita Tess and the grandparents live in SF! WHAT A PLEASANT SURPRISE FOR ME. I have met all of them na when I was young. Remember in the intro when I said that when family comes home from abroad (naaalala niyo pa ba sa dami ng sinabi ko na?! HAHA)? Sila-sila yung families ko na umuuwi from abroad (that time nasa Guam pa sila). Kaya I’m super excited to see them again after 20 years! The last time I saw Grandpa pa was when my Lolo (his brother) died in 1999. And I remember him vividly from my childhood. He was (and still is) funny, and all the Spam and imported chocolates I ate when I was a kid were all from him. Pati yung mga imported na lotion para kay Mami, sa kanya din galing. Sa kanya ko rin unang naamoy ang amoy-States! HAHAHA. Seeing and spending time with him made me really happy.

DAY 3. We arranged a Yosemite Day Tour for this day. The tour bus picked us up from the hotel at 6:20 AM (promise, saktong saktong 6:20 siya dumating!) (Ang dami kong side comments kaya ang haba na netooo. I can’t staahhppp!), and dropped us off at around 9PM na. Nakakapagod pero SUPER WORTH IT!

Ang daming puno, at ang lalaki!!!

Bet na bet ko yang talikod, random pictures. Buti alam ni Kebs. Kuha naman siya nang kuha.

DAY 4. Alcatraz Island Tour first thing in the morning. We finished around lunch time na, so we tried In-n-Out for the first time! Big deal din yan kasi ang hilig ni Kevin sa burger and fries! Spoiler alert: it tasted okay lang. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. Hindi ko siya i-ccrave ever. We then tried the famous cable car of SF. Then we visited tita Tess, tito Tom, Grandpa and Grandma again. Before we visited the grandparents, tito Tom met us near our hotel and bought us drinks. I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Bakit kami nakangiti sa harap ng prison cell? HAHAHA
Our only picture in (and of) Fisherman’s Wharf!
Told you mahilig siya sa burger and fries! Ang saya niya pa kasi di ma niya natitikman HAHAHAHA

DAY 5. Flight to NYC na. We weren’t really able to explore San Francisco because half of our time there was spent with family. And that’s what we enjoyed most with our SF trip! San Francisco and its tourist spots will always be there — we can go back 10 years from now, and we’ll see it. But our loved ones won’t always be there waiting for us to visit them. Time spent with family is far more precious. 🙂

The other cities we visited were: New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. I promise you and myself that the other entries won’t be this long! HAHAHA.

Packing for Migration: What NOT to do

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Totally unrelated picture of Kevin and I in Porto, Portugal.

Kevin and I are moving to Sydney tomorrow, September 3rd.

I have many ideas of what to blog about migrating — applying for a visa (which includes preparing for PTE exam), steps on how to apply for AU immigrant visa, what I felt about applying, why we decided to move (we’re currently situated in Singapore, which is not a bad place at all), etc. But this blog is solely about what not to do when packing for migration based on our experience.

So without further ado:

  1. Do not go on a 2-month vacation before migrating (without starting packing)
  2. Do not pack your things only a week before your flight
  3. Do not try to buy extra prepaid luggage only less than 48 hours before your flight
  4. Do not skimp on boxes — you can never have enough

HAHAHA. We did all of these, and look where we are now — we’re on our last night in Singapore, and we haven’t fully packed! Haha.

Osha, I have to sleep now. We’d have to repack and restrategize our luggage tomorrow morning for our evening flight, before we handover this house.

The next time I blog, I’d probably be in Sydney already!