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Friday, July 11, 2008


Well, just make a wild guess about the title and you’ll have my extra Hairspray playbill. Yeah, the prize is too cheap to even make an effort.

I had my first glimpse of New York upclose from the United 688’s window. The date is July 3, 2008. It was close to eight in the evening and the sunset wasn’t grand. It was cloudy and gray and rainy. The plane was circling Manhattan and Queens like a dog waiting for a nice pee spot. View on top was not honestly overwhelming. What’s with the tall buildings? There’s no goosebumps whatsoever. Maybe I had too much films on the Big Apple (Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”, with Topeng’s help).

Arriving in La Guardia didn’t help my anticipation of the whole trip. The airport is, err, too simple and not chic enough. Nothing much to do in the area aside from picking up some flyers on Broadway shows and what-have-you’s. For an hour, I was trying to figure out where to meet Vistan only to realize that we’re hitting New York in two different terminals. Since I arrived early, I took a certain Bus B that brings passengers from terminal to terminal. It’s free, by the way. Few minutes after, Vistan arrived. He mentioned that he already saw Ground Zero and Central Park from his American Airlines.

From La Guardia’s transportation front desk, we availed the “shared van” which is pretty much a version of our very own FX. It has to be filled with passengers first before hitting the city center, depending on your destination. We paid $16 each for that, cheaper by some bucks if we took a cab.

We didn’t reach Comfort Inn – Convention Center smoothly. There was a mistake in the registration part (the reason could be Comfort Inns are everywhere). After passing at Bronx (yes, the Bronx where neighborhood was busy with “tambays” doing their business), we were pulled off at the “Manhattan” branch. Afraid of being charged for another dollar and for the sake of hailing the signature yellow cab and a chance to get a cash cab, we took a taxi that cost us $4.50 (plus $2 tip). The real Comfort Inn is just streets away from the decoy but we didn’t mind. We must reserve the energy for three fun-filled days of invading the city that never sleeps.

True to the form, we didn’t sleep just yet. At close to midnight, Vistan and I were hunting for food and we landed at Sbarro after walking two or three blocks (near Madison Square Garden).

At 1am, Vianney and Waw arrived at the hotel, trying to sneak in past a dozen of security cameras. A minute later, the phone rang asking how many were we in the room. Sorry, I can’t lie so I told the front desk officer in duty that we’re four (the room is relatively small but manageable). That time I had to deal the situation by going down to the lobby. It so happened that “manong”, an African-American, bought my “kawawa” aura and allowed us to sleep on the floor (inside the room, of course). He said that we can just transfer to a bigger room the next day (which we didn’t do not because we’re at home with the carpeted floor).

Welcome to New York, New York.

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