If there's one regret I have in life is hitting the delete button on my old blog. I've been blogging since 2000, but by 2008ish, the fun had gone out of it. I was involved in a few annoying blogger spats which moved on to real-life space, and it all seemed stupid. So I erased it all.
Nearly a decade's worth of content. Gone!
But fortunately, I've saved them all. Instead of letting them die a slow digital death, I thought it'll be a good idea to resurrect them through a series of #FlashbackFriday posts.
My favourite posts in my old blog would be the ones where chronicling my travels during my glamorous days as a high-flying newspaper journalist in the golden age of Malaysian print journalism.
Here's one. I was flown to New York city to talk to the cast of Troy. Yup, Eric Bana, Brad Pitt and more.
April 28, 2004
In New York
The 22-hour plane ride + 2 hours of bus and taxi ride was not fun, but I'm in New York!
It's a little bizzare because everything seems familliar somehow. Seeing New York policemen in their oh-so-familliar uniforms was just weird. Hearing American accent around me is also weird! I've watched so much American TV that it feels as if I'm in TV world or something.
Explored Upper East Side Manhattan. My friend showed me around the neighbourhood - walked from 86th street to 96th, bought Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward and a book on Greek mythology - to aid my research into Troy, and also to remember why I came to New York in the first place.
Will not be blogging as much - Internet access can be iffy, not to mention my lack of time! But will try.
April 29, 2004
Walking yourself silly in New York
Thanks to the great weather yesterday, walking around New York was a breeze. Of course my poor feet said otherwise. And not to mention my wallet! I busted half my pay buying Levi's jeans, DVDs, NY memorabilia and gifts.
I took the subway to downtown and started walking from City Hall. It was amazing to see the buildings, and being a fan of architecture and design, I took lots of photos of buildings. Met a couple of strange people - I wanted to buy a hot dog off a vendor, but the Egyptian vendor proposed marriage to me.
Yes, he said that he has everything, and if I want a green card, he's the one to call. I thanked him, and said that I am pretty much happy single right now and got the heck out of there. Then I nearly jumped out of my skin when a man approached me suddenly at St Paul's cathedral nearby and asked me: "Ask me any question! I have the answers!"
I edged around the man for a while as he explained to me the history of St Paul's church and ran off across the street to the World Trade Centre site.
It made me a little quesy looking at people snapping photos of themselves, grinning all the way, as they leaned on the wire mesh surrounding the site.
I felt it was somehow wrong to make it such a touristy place and wondered what New Yorkers think. I saw the memorial - Wall of Heroes - where they list the names of those killed there.
My friend later asked me whether I saw the name of the Malaysian who died there on the list. Too many - I couldn't see it, which was a tragedy in itself. The blasted building of an ornate-looking building nearby reminded me that the scars of 9-11 are still there. I took pictures of the Wall of Heroes, and the building. No picture of me posing with a victory sign before the wire mesh fense for me.
Later I stopped at Trinity church nearby, stared morbidly at gravestones more than a century old and sat in the beautiful cathedral, staring at the towering floor-to-ceiling stained glass window. What luck, when I was there, someone was playing the pipe organs, and the church filled with Bach-like music. It was a great experience, to say the least.
From there, I walked to Staten Island ferry stop - passing Wall Street (took the touristy pix of the bull) - and took a ferry to Staten Island - what a great freebie, by the way - and saw a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The New York skyline was beautiful, but I was sad too, wondering where exactly was the WTC.
I spent the rest of the day shopping. Got conned into buying T-shirts for too high a price (My friend: "You must really look like a tourist!") and had people asking me whether I was Korean, Malaysian or Japenese. (I'm Chinese).
"Malaysia?" asked the Levi's store assistant curiously. "Wow, what language do you speak?"
"Which one? I speak three, four if you count the dialects," I smiled. Okay, when it comes to being a Malaysian, I'm pretty proud that we're mostly bilingual or trilingual, and I shamelessly advertise that.
All in all, it took me 8 aching hours exploring downtown New York. And I hadn't even seen the other half!
Spring in New York is filled with the brilliant colours of tulips, and the bright, green grass.
Early every morning, my friend receives a pile of New York newspapers - New York Post, Daily News, New York Times, The Sun etc and I have to wonder at the headlines at times. New York seemed very safe, but reading the story about a woman who had her flashed slashed in the subway by a deranged man did not reassure me much.
Right now, the news is dominated by the tale of a four-year-old who fell off his apartment building, the President being questioned by the comission (no cameras, no reporters! MSNBC trumpeted indignantly) and the recent battle of Fallujah where the US says was defensive.
April 30, 2004
Living at Essex House
(Now typing at the Essex Hotel's business centre, where it costs US$18 per 15 minutes just to have acess to the 'net.) When I first saw my room in Essex House, my eyes went as big as saucers and I wanted to squeal. Unfortunately, my paper's New York correspondent was with me, so I had to behave.
I'll let the hotel's official website describe the place for you:
Westin Essex House is a refined haven on Manhattan's Central Park South, overlooking lush greenery and set against breathtaking New York City skyscrapers. As a historic Manhattan New York hotel, Westin Essex House surrounds guests with distinctive luxury and gilded elegance. Recently named to Travel & Leisure�s Top 500 Hotels in the World for 2004, Westin Essex House continues to be recognized as one of the finest hotels in the world. This New York City Central Park hotel offers the ideal destination for business and leisure travel, with a distinguished landmark setting.
One colour that seem to repeat itself in the place - gold, which kinda tells you how it feels like to stay there. My room had this insanely comfortable Queen-sized bed, a marble-tiled bathroom and best of all - complimentary chocolates!
Hah, I probably sound like a country girl in a big city hotel for the first time, but I've always had a love for hotel rooms (and the inability to sleep in them because I remember my mom's experiences with ghosts in the hotel rooms she stayed. Never mind.)
When I was in London for an assignment, I stayed in another swanky hotel - St Martin Lane's hotel, which was opposite the theatres in the West End. It was so swanky that the workers there had a distinctive taste for Matrix-like wear. My hotel room was outrageous - it had its own courtyard, complete with creeping plants and iron-wrought tables and chairs, a marble-tiled bathroom in the middle of the room and lots of switches which switched on lights in weird areas around the room (including the floors!).
Visiting Times Square
It was just a short subway ride from the hotel, and I was quite overwhelmed by the big huge posters, the crowds, the activity and the megastores. A cool hotel is the Paramount, which really looked old. (Nice hotel, Adrian!) CORRECTIOM: It wasn't the hotel! That was some office building. duh.
Didn't spend much time there. I think all that capitalistic fevour just scared me off. (Not to mention the fact that I've spent nearly 3/4 of my pay already!)
Went back, visited Central Park a little. The part where I'm at had lots of horse carriages, all lined up in a row by the side of the road. The first thing that hits you is the smell. Wow. Strong horse urine smell. Very memorable. Then there was the Ritz-Carlton, all gold and gildy and the row of ritzy hotels where my hotel is one of them.
Anyway, gotta go. Time to prepare questions for my interviews today.
May 01, 2004
My first mass in New York
I wandered into this gothic-looking church near the Rockefeller centre - I think it's called St Michael's, but I'm not sure - and experienced my first mass.
For so long, my Pentescostal and Charismatic friends seem to imply that being in a Catholic church or even doing the sign of the cross will send me on a quick bus to Hell, so I felt a little naughty sitting on the pew and kneeling down in prayer and making the sign of the cross.
(Then again, I was not sure if I was in a Catholic church because I didn't see many statues around.)
I sang hymns, something we hardly do in my church and with the soaring sealing and the sound of the pipe organs filling the church, it was amazing. For some reason, this was more 'spiritual' than church services in my fluorescent-lit church.
I felt happy that I could worship together with other Christians even if they don't share the same beliefs I do. And I wondered, how did I ended up here, so different from my circle of friends, thinking thoughts, doing "naughty" things like making the sign of the cross. I was a little fearful (years of indoctrination has that effect, I suppose) that I was doing something wrong just kneeling at the pew, and I just pray that God is leading me to the truth, and that I would not be led by another person's definition of the Christian faith.
Still, so enthralling, being in that dimly lit church with candles burning at the side and the soaring stained-glass windows staring at you.
PS: Here's the article that came out of this trip: