A Grand Tour of the States (Part 5 – New York)

I had always dreamt of visiting New York. I love the idea of big cities and bright lights and stuff, and though there was a lot of the city that wasn’t the glamourous fantasy that media sometimes makes it out to be, and it felt like there was a lot of decay hidden away in the shadows, there were definitely points in time when it lived up to the promises of my imagination. Particularly when I was in and around Times Square, of course.

My incoming plane ride from New Orleans to New York was on Nov 16 2021, and was a Delta Airlines flight. It was scheduled for departure from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport at 1:41 pm CST, and slated for arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport at 5:33 pm EST.

My outgoing plane ride from New York to Edmonton was on Nov 22 2021, and was an Endeavour Air (first part) and Westjet (second part) flight. It was scheduled for departure from LaGuardia Airport at 1:59 pm EST, featured a layover in Toronto from 3:43 pm to 6:15 pm EST, and slated for arrival at Edmonton International Airport at 8:35 pm MST.

My main goals in New York, besides being able to make it back into Canada safely, were to visit the Anime NYC convention on Nov 18-20 2022, and to meet up with Nak!

Day 20 – Tuesday, Nov 16 2021

Darkness had descended over New York before our plane did, and my first sights of the glittering city were perfect. What a lovely view! A splendid collection of indeterminate, vague lights.

The airport was quite nice too at first, and I liked this exhibit in particular:

And this random vending machine that wanted to hear about my hopes and dreams:

Two negatives soon cropped up about the airport though. The first was that while I was using the bathroom, my phone fell out of my pocket and onto the ground again, and this time it ended up with a much larger crack on its noggin. The top right corner of the phone screen completely died and stopped working, obscuring the part of the screen that shows the battery power and all the little icons next to it, and sections of the top half of the phone screen became totally unresponsive or unreliable. The phone screen in general (including the bottom half, which was otherwise mostly working) would also seemed to stop responding whatsoever every now and then until I locked and unlocked the phone, which was really annoying and weird. I soon found out that the last bit was only true when I had plugged in the phone to charge its batteries though, and it would act fairly normal when it was not plugged in.

The second negative was that, as part of taking the AirTrain from the JFK airport to a stop where I could then catch another train to my hotel, there was an $8 cost associated with it. However, there was also an additional hidden $1 fee because the cost had to be paid through a physical MetroCard, which you had to pay for when buying the $8, unless you had a card on hand. There were virtual MetroCards too, and the city was encouraging people to use them, but you could not use them from the airport side of the AirTrain, UNTIL you had passed through and paid the $8 and $1 fee. And then at that point, if you like, you could switch to the virtual card and never use that physical card again. That was annoying and stupid, as was the attendant who couldn’t believe that I had a problem with that. There were also two transit fee phone apps that I encountered on my trip that didn’t work for tourists outside the USA because they were stupidly region-locked on the phone app store, and I believe, though it’s hard to be certain by now, that one of them was a New York one, and the other was from one of the Californian cities. Seriously, what’s the point of region-locking transit payment apps? How close-minded can you get?

Anyway, I settled down on the train and eyed their station ticker. It was neat, though it took a couple stations to figure out what was going on with the skipped stations in the display. (The … means that if the list of upcoming stations was too long, it truncated the list after 10 or so and jumped to displaying the last few stations on the line so you knew where the train was ultimately headed.) I really liked the colour scheme and the display of connecting train and bus routes though.

Seeing my perplexed look, a man next to me chatted me up, and mentioned that he was a retired ticket operator or something. I’d read and understand much later on in Craig Storti’s Why Travel Matters book that a great perk of travelling alone is that other people will come up and talk to you sometimes in a way that they wouldn’t if you were obviously travelling with a partner, and this was one of the situations I thought of when I read that. The man, named Frank, was very friendly, perhaps a bit overly so, and even wanted to trade phone numbers with me, so I gave him the number of my local SIM card that would only last me the rest of the month anyway. Basically a throwaway number. He even invited me out to dinner sometime if I wanted, but I just said that I appreciated his advice and would be in touch if I had any questions, and I never reached out to him (or vice versa) again.

When I alighted from the train station near Times Square, I had an odd memory that I couldn’t later reconcile. I was initially really delighted — the train station was directly connected to some sort of narrow underground mall that reminded me strongly of South Korea, although all the shops were closed due to the time of night. No worries, I thought, I’d just find my way out and come back another day. I walked around the maze of passages for a bit, and found an up escalator or staircase that led to a dead-end “room” that was the bus stop waiting area of a certain bus at a bus terminal. It was a narrow interior waiting space and was all closed up except for one door where it seemed the bus would stop. For some reason, I felt like I couldnt escape the labyrinth that way, so I went back down, noting a few other “up” escalators/stairs that led to similar rooms. And yet, when I finally found my way out of the maze, I seem to recall using a down escalator/staircase that led to the main street instead of an up one and being very confused by that, as I thought I was underground all the while (and how could an up escalator lead to a bus terminal waiting booth whereas a down escalator lead to street level? And didn’t I arrive on a subway train?)

Obviously some details are being misremembered there, but I remember very clearly the confusion that I was under at the time. Perhaps I was addled or something. I tried to find this “underground mall” on a couple other occasions during my stay in New York, but I never could find the place again. I’m sure it was south and east of the Yotel New York, so I looked around Penn Station, 42 St/Port Authority Bus Terminal Station, and a couple other stations around Times Square too, but never did manage to find the exact scene and area I had pictured in my mind. It was very weird.

Anyway, in the moment, I went to my Yotel hotel, not wanting to spoil Times Square yet while I was this tired and also acknowledging the need to find some dinner. My room in the Yotel was the slightly pricier “Corner Queen Cabin”, and I took some pictures of the Yotel that I had previously posted, as well as some more normal ones. The view was extremely pretty, however the room was somewhat cold as I don’t think the heater was working properly (it perpetually blew out cold air only, so it was “warmer” if I turned the heater off), and the lights weren’t working as well, those little purple lights on top of the TV were extremely dim and were supposed to be bright and fluorescent.

There was both a purple and a white light strip above the TV too, and the next two days was spent with techs coming back and forth trying to figure out why the lights weren’t working (the socket was loose so they’d wiggle them back and forth and it would light up, then a little bit later they would be out again, and the light bars would also occasionally just flash and blow a fuse), and why the heater wasn’t working (I don’t know that they ever solved this). One of the USB plugs by the table on the far side of the bed was busted, too.

The lack of a heater was really annoying, the light bars only mildly so since I liked the outside night view anyway. The USB I could work around. All of them together brought down my opinion of the hotel though. The adjoining buildings were also so close together that I actually figured it was a good thing that half my lights weren’t working, since I could clearly see into people’s rooms across the street and probably vice versa, if my blinds were open (they were mechanical and opened and closed like four classroom projector screens synced to each other, except they also had mismatched heights and not all of them reached the ground).

I was also a bit tired of exploring at this point and sort of wanted to go home, and I was also reminded that American Thanksgiving weekend was coming up on the 25th, which would probably mean inflated ticket prices. I didn’t book my return ticket flight until the next day, but I certainly did some research on this night.

After that, I went out to get dinner, picking a Chinese restaurant across the street and to the west that seemed to have cheap food with decent reviews on Google. This restaurant was called Happy Family, and I bought their Singapore Chow Mei Fun for $15 or so.

On the way to the store, I had noticed a food truck simply called Halal Food Cart perched just outside the Yotel, and it looked really tempting:

So on the way back, even though it was cold and blustery, and even though I already had a meal in my paws, I stopped long enough to pick up a bowl of Chicken Over Rice for $8, planning to have it for a bonus breakfast meal tomorrow. It was so good, however, and the sample size so large, that I ate part of it that night after finishing the noodles anyway! The rest I left for the next morning.

I was really looking forward to other food carts around the city after liking this one a lot, but I would discover over the next few days that they were all copycats of each other, and there were only 4 or 5 different types of food carts in all, which was really disappointing and boring. I never did try another food cart, even though the price was cheap and the value good for these rice packets.

Day 21 – Wednesday, Nov 17 2021

This morning was when I commented to my friends that I had heard more honking overnight than I had heard the entire 4-5 days that I had been in New Orleans. Crazy. I love city ambience though and traffic noises are part of that, so i had no issues sleeping. But the serenading honks definitely woke me up in the morning. I then spent the morning doing work, and left my hotel room in the early afternoon.

Despite that late start, I logged another 19-20 thousand steps today, with my rough path being visible here as long as the link is still up. My route from the Yotel New York initially took me over to the Javits Convention Center, as I wanted to make sure I knew where it was. Anime NYC 2021 was being held there, and I had bought my tickets early on this morning before leaving my room. The 3-day convention tickets were all gone, however, and all I could find were 1-day tickets, specifically for the first day, Friday, so that was what I bought. While I would have considered going all three days, and was even idly wondering about dragging Nak along to it, I figured that this was better anyway as there was a lot of New York to see. I had no idea how fortuitous this was at the time, since this convention became known as a spreading ground for the new COVID-19 Omicron subvariant, and a longer exposure time would certainly have meant a much higher chance of contracting it (as far as I was aware, I didn’t contract it, though there’s always the chance that I did and was just asymptomatic and unresponsive in COVID tests).

That was still a couple days in the future though, and the convention center was quiet when I stopped by this morning, so I circled the building to make sure I knew where it was (and more importantly, where the entrance was). There was also a pre-registration thing going on where you could show your proof of vaccination and get a wristband that would supposedly allow you to skip the queue on the day of the convention itself, and the emails from the event organizers strongly suggested that we should preregister and pick up the wristband to skip the line on the actual days of the event if possible, so I did so. The stupid thing about this though is that the wristband was locked on with a plastic twisty thing that prevented me from reattaching it if I were to take the wristband off, and when I asked if it would be okay to remove it they said that I was expected to keep it on until the event or I would have to go through the line on the day itself anyway.

This was a stupid idea and was extremely uncomfortable and annoying, and I sure wasn’t going to keep the wristband on for two days like it were some sort of handcuff, all the way through showering and sleeping and sweating my way through New York City. Thankfully, I found that even though the wristband was put on fairly snugly, I could still slide it off my wrist slowly without breaking the twisty plastic holding it together, so I slipped the entire wristband off and threw it into my bag once I was out of sight (actually, I did this while waiting for my lunch down below).

Once I left the convention center and continued onwards. I spent the rest of the morning literally wandering the streets, taking whichever turn fancied me whenever I hit a crosswalk, with the aim of eventually ending up at Times Square. I took a couple pictures as I walked, ogling at all the pretty and weird colours and architectures about.

I also had lunch in a shop called Zoob Zib Thai Authentic Noodle Bar along the way, at around 3:00 pm or so, and I ordered the Yen Ta Fo Noodle Soup, a Thai version of the Singaporean dish named Yong Tau Foo. It wasn’t bad, and I liked the extra bowl it came with (as I like my meal in multiple dishes — this gives a meal some Character), but like almost all food in New York City itself, especially around the core, it was pricey and cost $14.95, $20 after tax and mandatory tip.

After the late lunch, I finally wandered over to Times Square, letting my eyes feast on the urban center and the ultimate Symbol of a Big City that I had dreamed of visiting. I allowed myself to indulge in the touristy nature of the place and just strolled around gawking and taking pictures — it was a personal mecca, due to my love of big urban cities, and I promised myself that I would be back here later that night for the evening skyline and bright neon lights. There were big stores and little stalls everywhere and it was crowded, though a good number of people (not all) were still dutifully and responsibly masked at this point in the pandemic. I did wonder how this place must have looked like during the initial lockdown stages of COVID though. A selection of my pictures from this visit follow, timestamped from between 3:59 pm and 4:23 pm:

The big bear above was at the front of the Line Friends store in Times Square, which I found really interesting — Line has a character goods store in Times Square when the Line messaging app that the characters are from have basically zero penetration in the USA market (or anywhere outside of Japan) at all.

A couple blocks before I initially arrived at Times Square, I had noticed a CTS Mobile Testing tent set up on the side of the road, offering free COVID-19 tests to anyone that passed by, even for wandering Canadian catgirl tourists lugging around a plushie that fancied himself emperor of the universe. They even offered rapid PCR tests, which were what I would need (and had been resigned to spending $250 on) to get back into Canada, as at this point in the pandemic, Canada was only accepting negative PCR tests done within 72 hours of the flight as a requirement at airport borders, and “regular” PCR tests allegedly took 2-4 days to arrive. Antigen tests were not valid as far as the Canadian rules were concerned.

There was only one person in the queue waiting for another free rapid test when I passed the booth, so although I wasn’t sure how sketchy they were (or not), as I have been taught that free things never are free, I had queued up and done a test myself, leaving them my contact information (and whatever they could harvest from my throwaway phone number and email address) in return for testing to see if I would get back my results within 3 days. I could choose whichever tests I wanted to have, and they were all free, so I opted for both the Rapid Antigen Test as well as the Rapid PCR test anyway, to see if either of them would come back positive since I had been traipsing all over the USA and it was known that neither was 100% accurate. They signed me up onto some medical website named DragonflyPHD, and I figured that if this worked, I could come back here 3 days before I left for Canada to get the test again.

What surprised me though was not just the presence of this tent, but that once I started walking out and about the area, I also saw several other COVID testing tents, belonging to either this company or other ones, basically scattered around the outside of/general area of Times Square without actually being in the thick of things, several blocks away from Times Square itself in pretty much every direction. The first one I used was just opposite Port Authority Bus Terminal, for example, on 8th Avenue and between W 41/42 Street.

In a way, I was really lucky that I had picked New York City as my last destination before heading back into Canada, because I never saw tents like this (or perhaps never paid attention to them) in any of the other cities that I visited on my trip. But the presence of these free rapid COVID testing tents in the middle of the pandemic saved me a big headache in regards to getting the test that I needed to get back into Canada, and I ended up taking a couple of them from different providers on the 19th, three days before my flight, just so that I could have some overlap and security that one of them would process my snot and give me (hopefully negative) results before my actual flight.

The rapid antigen test I took here took about 10 minutes to process, but even the rapid PCR test only took about 12 hours to process, so I was delighted with that. Both tests came back negative.

I spent the late afternoon and early evening wandering east of Times Square. In particular, I stopped at a bookstore named Bookoff USA Inc, a consignment store which focused on hobby-related items, with a large, but not exclusive, focus on Japanese anime/manga stuff. They had keychains, CDs/DVDs, books, magazines, figures, electronics, games, and more. I spent a couple hours in there, but ultimately came out with just two items, a phone strap of the titular main character from the Ika Musume anime, and an Animedia magazine I saw that happened to figure my favourite anime+real life idol group on the front cover — Wake Up, Girls! This cost all of $12.64 in total. I had been tempted by some other various things — a Japanese music CD, a “Magical Girl in Training” badge, a “The World of Critical Role” book, and a couple posters, but I ultimately passed on all that and escaped with my wallet mostly intact.

I then wandered back out, pulling out the video camera to record me walking around Times Square and some of the surrounding blocks to the south and east of it, as the skies turned dark. Times Square was full of video billboards and digital tickers and such that really didn’t come across well on my camera, but nonetheless the video is attached.

I then went for dinner at a restaurant called China River, and had a dish called Duck Blood Noodle Soup. It cost $15.95 ($20 after tax/tip) and wasn’t particularly good, to the point that I apparently didn’t even snap a picture of it either. Oops. I was exhausted at this point, so I traipsed back on to the hotel, had a nice shower, and collapsed onto my bed.

Before I fell asleep though, I had to do some work for my workplace, and then also had to book some things for my trip. My Yotel New York reservation was only for the 17th and 18th, and while the view and ambience was nice, I was really annoyed by the lack of maintenance and number of broken things in the room, and the seeming inability of the staff to fix it (one technician came up three times to try to fix the light above the TV, but it kept blowing its fuse again the moment he left, and the room was freezing cold because the heater wasn’t working), so I wasn’t going to extend my stay here because the weekend prices were much more expensive than the last-minute weekday prices that I had secured.

Faced with the predicament of needing to find a place to settle down the next day, and for all my remaining days here, I turned my eyes back to Airbnb, and ended up booking a cheap and interesting looking home in the Queens neighbourhood. I had qualms about this at first because it was some distance away from the city center, but it was cheap, so I booked it for my four remaining days here in New York (Nov 18-22), and this eventually turned out to be my best Airbnb experience by a country mile, so that was nice.

I had also made plans to visit an online friend, Seren, in Ottawa, and had even bought a gift (a random keychain “blind box” pack from an anime that we both loved, from Kinokuniya in Los Angeles on Nov 03) for her, because she had indicated early on that she might be willing to meet up. She flaked on this though, because her reason was that she was busy during most of the four day window that I had set aside for her, and this busy-ness included one day where she had a prior obligation to watch a show with a friend. For this trip, I hadn’t yet purchased any tickets to Ottawa, so I instead purchased tickets back home to Edmonton on the 22nd. And eventually opened the keychain box that I had kept aside for her, for myself.

With all that done, I finally settled down to sleep, only to be pinged by the arrival of my negative rapid PCR test at 1:36 am. Phew. Cuddling up with happy thoughts that I had probably not infected any of my previous friends on this trip yet, I fell asleep.

Day 22 – Thursday, Nov 18 2021

Thursday was weird, because I didn’t have the day off from work, so I had a daily team checkin meeting in the late morning, and then had my weekky one on one meeting scheduled with my boss smack in the middle of the day (due to timezones). Yet, this was also the day I had to check out from Yotel New York in the morning, and then find a way to cross the city toward my Airbnb rental in Queens, which meant that I’d be out and about in New York City with all my luggage (one backpack and one sling bag) during the timeslots for these two meetings. What to do?

The answer to this was that I checked out in the morning before the meetings, and decided to wander north toward Central Park, in search of a nice, quiet spot to have my meetings on my laptop or phone. I had not seen any pictures of the park before gazing upon it with my own two eyes, and was surprised that there was such a large greenery space located in the middle of one of the busiest neighbourhoods in one of the busiest cities of the world. There were a couple food carts along the southern edge as I went in, but they were all carbon copies of the previous three or four food cart versions that I had seen, so I studiously ignored them and went to look for a nice place to settle down.

I had taken some morning pictures as I went, and have stuffed a few of said pictures in the following gallery:

I eventually settled down atop a large flat rock to the west of, and overlooking, some softball and kickball fields. There was another large rock to the left of my rock, with the two rocks bisected by a path and a short set of stairs cutting between them. Someone else eventually wandered by and sat down on the other rock with his dog, chilling out under the shade together for a little while as I attended my team’s morning meeting from my temporary Central Park office.

I could see little kids in brightly coloured coats running around and taking part in some sort of organized school event, chaperoned by a number of adults, from where I was seated. I would also walk by them later on once my morning meeting was done. They were doing some sort of running thing, I believe, with volunteers and parents spread out along strategic locations on whatever path they had carved out for the children to take. I wished I was tiny again. For now, I watched them from afar as we had our team meeting.

After the team meeting, I had about a half an hour or so before the meeting with my boss, so I packed up my stuff and set off north and east to find another spot.

I ended up having the meeting while sitting in the middle of that large, open field above, which was called Sheep Meadow. There were no sheep there, and not that many people at that time of the day either. I took a panoramic picture of the area I was in just after my meeting ended, and just as the rising sun coincided with the tip of one of the tall buildings to create a nice lighthouse sort of effect:

There were a lot of interesting landmarks in Central Park, and so I spent a couple hours after the meeting walking around as I slowly made my way north and east through the entire length of the park, backpack in tow. Among other things, I came across a wedding:

And took some “Tigey was here!” pictures for the Tigey album:

I like how the little kid clambering over the Alice in Wonderland statues in the second picture was obviously gunning for Tigey, but the sly tiger made his escape just in time. Other pictures that don’t involve Tigey follow in this gallery:

I was walking to a bus stop to the east of the northern side of Central Park,so I eventually skirted the east edge of the park and then left it entirely, forging eastwards and seeing some underground cellar-type house/shop external entrances which I had never seen before. It was weird and interesting.

But walking clear across town (or at least south to north through Central Park) with my backpack had been long and tiring, and I eventually just wanted to sit down. I had also skipped breakfast, and dinner was always uncertain since I was moving to a new location, so I needed to forage for some food. I eventually stopped for food at an interesting-looking and newly-opened restaurant called FLAMES INDIAN AROMA (emphasis theirs) on E 106 St — this was over 60 streets away from the Yotel on 41 St where I had started the day, so I was happy to sit down and rest. I ordered a Curries Flames Lunch Meal Box (with Soup and Lamb Curry) for $17 after tax and tip (the base meal was only $12.95). They offered a 10% discount on top of that if I made a Google or Yelp review, but I didn’t want to get paid for my reviews (integrity issues) and I didn’t think it was THAT good, so I politely declined. Still, it was pretty good.

After this very belated 3pm lunch, I took a bus across the Robert F. Kennedy bridge and made my way to my Airbnb apartment. This apartment was being rented out by a single woman and she had left the apartment building and unit key inside a fake stone with a hidden compartment, mixed in with a number of other stones that looked more or less the same, out by the pathway leading up to the building. So that was unique and how I knew this was going to be a fun stay! I did eventually take pictures near the end of the stay and will link them down below in the appropriate section, but I could see right away from the decorations that the house was full of character and this was actually indeed a spare room in somebody’s actual home, rather than a home that belonged to a renter who owned half a dozen properties.

I took a bath and settled into my room, and then went out into the living room to chat with my hostess for a bit. I wasn’t planning on going out again that night, so I asked her for permission to use her address and order some delivery instead, as that was something I hadn’t yet done on my trip. She said that was fine, so I ordered some (using Fantuan, the Asian food app that I had used back in Edmonton but that I noticed also existed down here), and soon someone cycled over with my food, something which would never happen in Edmonton even during the summer months. I knew from experience that that app always had some stores on discount, and ordering multiple meals was always better due to saving on delivery costs, so (again with permission) I ordered two meals — Fried Pearl Noodle and Hokkien Mee, from a store named Pho Hoang (Flushing branch), ate the latter, and stored the former in the fridge for another day. Specifically, I was going to reserve it for the morning of the 22nd before I flew home, as I wasn’t sure that I would have time to grab food from anywhere else in the morning. Those two meals together plus delivery and tip cost a mere $23.63.

I then retired to my room for the night, doing some work and getting ready for the next morning’s adventure. I also had an MLP meeting this evening, so even though I had just arrived in the room, I had to excuse myself and explain to my hostess that I had a school thing to attend to.

Day 23 – Friday, Nov 19 2021

The 19th was important for two reasons. One, it was three days before my flight out of New York City, which was scheduled for 2pm local time. This meant that any COVID-19 test I did after 2pm on the day would satisfy the COVID test requirement for reentering Canada, and in fact I had a vested interest in doing this as early as possible, not only because I wanted to give them maximum time to process the (longer) rapid PCR test and give me my results, but also because it means there was less chance of an infection and a positive result, since I knew that I was most likely negative from the tests I did on the 17th. And secondly, one of the crowning events of the trip that I had vaguely planned my New York City trip duration to cover was starting today — the Anime NYC convention at Javits Center!

After a morning puttering away at work, I took the bus west from Queens just after noon, and stopped at the Queensboro Plaza station. I caught a train back west toward Manhatten from there, joining other early afternoon passengers who had no better means of transportation.

I really liked this poem that I saw in the train:

Today was also Black Friday, and I stopped at a Best Buy store that I passed by to see if they had a 14 TB drive that was listed as one of the best sales of the day in stock or not. But they were out, so I passed on their other offers and walked on. Lunch was a dish called Bak Chor Mee at a restaurant called Laut Singapura (Singapura being a fancy name with Malay origin for Singapore):

This was pricey, at 28:74 after tip and taxes, but it was actually pretty good, although the portion size didn’t really justify the cost. It was still filling and would last me the entire day though, which was a good thing since, as I walked all the way from the restaurant to the convention center (which took nearly an hour by foot), I found a neat canteen place called the International Food Court that I would have been sorely tempted by if I weren’t full. One of my minor trip regrets was that I never went back there to try the food.

Anyway, I cut across blustery cold streets toward the convention center by the river. I saw people dressed up for the occasion,

And I saw a literal Big Apple, mirroring the nickname of New York City, so of course I had to place Tigey on it and take a picture of him. The bench wasn’t the cleanest, so I had to sit him down on his carry bag to keep him clean. But the wind was really strong as well and nearly blew Tigey and his bag over at some point, so in the end I put my shoulder sling bag down as well to weigh everything down. I then took the picture as a woman watched on, laughing softly and waiting for her turn for a selfie.

The convention hall I was targetting was open from about 1pm to 7pm or so, and it was about 3pm by the time I reached the convention centre. The queues outside were insane, it reached outside and stretched all the way around the block and back again and no one seemed to know where the queue started or ended. These pictures don’t even do it justice:

Not even close, there were easily over 2000 people or so outside, mingling and confused and trying to find out what line was for what, as some lines were for the vaccination check, some lines were to actually get in, and around the door there was another one for a bag check as well. People with their preregistration band, like me, were supposed to be able to skip the longest queue and get in quicker, but even the security guards trying to man the doors had no idea what queue was for what and kind of frustratedly shooed everyone away toward the longest line. Finding the “end” of any of the lines was an impossibility as well, and although many people were masked, this was fairly dangerous as many people were also unmasked and everyone was so tightly packed together.

In the end, I kind of joined a blob going through one of the doors on the northern side, and managed to get in that way once I showed my vaccination wristband which was now magically around my wrist again. I totally didn’t take it off my wrist for the last two days, officer, nope.

Once inside, I tour the exhibitor’s hall and picked up a lot of souvenirs and some pictures. From timestamps, it looks like I got in to the hall at around 3:12 pm, with this starting picture:

And I also took a picture of the floorplan and exhibits, here:

One of the main draws was the miHoYo booth, the company that owns Genshin Impact and Honkai Impact 3rd:

There were a LOT of people gathered around this booth, partially because they were giving away free bags and posters themed around their most popular game, Genshin Impact.

I also saw that I could get a free gift for posing for a picture with some of the cosplayers manning the Honkai Impact 3rd booth and posting it on Twitter, so I whipped out Tigey and did so:

See how the girls fawn over Tigey? There were a lot of people dressed up in general around the convention, but especially around that booth, so that was a nice place to hang around (especially once the Genshin booth ran out of bags and the crowds thinned). But soon enough it was time to move on. I did take another picture with Tigey at a booth promoting an anime that I had already watched, Odd Taxi:

A notable event that happened soon after this was that a Hispanic (I think) couple came up to me and inquired as to where I had gotten my Genshin Impact bag. I told them that it was from the Genshin booth and that they had run out of bags. They looked disappointed at that, and I noticed that, like me, they only had Friday badges and wouldn’t be here for the restock on Saturday or Sunday. So I told them to hang on, and removed all my acquired goodies from the Genshin bag, dumping it into my own recyclable bag that I was carrying around. I then gave them the Genshin bag, telling them that it was difficult for me to carry it home anyway as it wouldn’t exactly fit in one of my existing bags so I wasn’t sure how I was going to take it onto the plane. They were overjoyed at this! The one concession I asked in return was that they allowed me to take a picture of the bag before I gave it to them, so they held it up as I took my picture:

Goodbye bag! You were pretty but a little too big to bring home to Canada. And I hope you are still making someone else very happy.

I also found a karuta booth (a la Chihayafuru), of all things, although they weren’t doing any sort of exhibition until Saturday. They were doing some sort of setup practice though and even set up some cards, so I took some pictures of that.

Too bad I wasn’t here to catch the full game.

In terms of merchandise, I bought a small Terraria plushie (though what Terraria has to do with anime I have no idea) called a Terraria Baby Eater Hanger Plush from a booth named Sanshee for $14.14, a RAISE A SUILEN Mugyutto Rubber Strap blind box from a booth called Collectors Anime for $13.00, and three keychains from a stall called Retro Saikou Japanese Imports for $30.00. I’ve never seen so many (official, second-hand) keychains in one place! They had boxes and boxes of them. I took pictures of the first and third stall in the general gallery below. I didn’t take one of the second stall, however the cashier complimented me on my choice of box, saying that he liked the band too. I agreed, and said that while I had seen a fair number of BanG Dream merchandise around, it was never from RAISE A SUILEN (local) since they were not prominent until the 3rd season of the show, which was why I had wanted that box. I took a picture of my merchandise at the end of the day once I had reached back to my Airbnb room:

Back to the convention though, it was crowded but the majority of the visitors were actually masked, so I didn’t feel any particular big risk, especially since I skirted away from the larger attractions like the food area and the arcade gaming (I think) area, as well as the autograph lines as I didn’t care for any of the English dub voice actors that they had brought in. Some of the larger stalls were really busy and browsing through their wares meant angling my in to stand side by side, shoulders touching, with many other people though.

Even with me avoiding some of the larger attractions, the four hours rolled by in a flash, and soon it was 7pm, the hall lights started to dim and/or turn off, the vendors started to pack up, and the attendees were told to start leaving the hall. There were afterparty events taking place that night but I had no interest in them, so I left the Javits Convention Center at this point to continue my roaming around the city.

Miscellaneous AnimeNYC pictures that I didn’t feature above are in the gallery down below. I also came away with a lot of brochures, booklets, and stuff like that from a Tourism Japan stall that I might scan and upload at some point, as well as some other random free paraphernalia like a Hololive card and a Honkai Impact hairpin and some postcards.

Javits Center was basically right next to Times Square anyway, at least on a grand cosmic scale, so I wandered over in that direction since (being a big fan of urban areas and night city skylines) I wanted to see the area brightly lit up at night yet again. But in addition, I was hoping that the COVID booths had not closed for the night yet, and I wanted to look for one.

My logic for the day had been that Anime NYC was going to be a crowded place, with a potentially higher risk of infection than anything else I had done on this trip. (“I’m definitely going to get covid from this anime convention”, I told my friends at one point.) So although it opened at 1pm as of today, my flight home was at 1:59 pm on the 22nd, three days from today, so around 2:00 pm today was the earliest time I could do my rapid PCR test for it to qualify for the trip home. Due to trying to game the system, I had thus decided to delay my arrival at the convention centre to around 3pm, and had done a COVID test at 2:22 pm from a LabQ tent on 6th Ave and W 32nd St, on my way to the venue, during my 1 hour or so walk from Laut Singapura to Javits Center after my lunch earlier in the day.

Now that I had left the convention center, though, I had this nagging worry that if my plane got delayed, that test might end up being outside the 72 hour window that I needed a test for to board the plane, and I was not sure if they would have counted the 72 hours based on the original flight departure date (which I later learnt was most likely the case) or the modified flight departure date. The COVID tests were free though, and I was in the area with many COVID testing booths, so I stopped by a CTS Mobile Testing booth again and did another round of tests here at 7:55 pm, opting for both the rapid PCR and rapid antigen again.

I don’t think that was the most effective way of finding out if I had contracted COVID from the convention, as I didn’t think that symptoms would set in that fast even if I had, but I didn’t know for sure and figured it couldn’t hurt. All three tests I did today came back negative in the end, and from here on, since I was sure that I now had my supporting documentation to board my flight home in three days, I never took another COVID test. I eventually reflected that this was an actual flaw of the system, whereby if I wasn’t restricted by the threat of not being able to fly home, I would actually have taken a couple more tests in my last two days here to find out if I were infected or not, but because I already had my golden ticket and would gain nothing and lose everything if I came out with a positive test (unless I chose to conceal it), I ended up deciding that I would rather not know whether I contracted COVID on my last two days or not, so that I could get home on time.

This was also really interesting because the event was initially pinpointed as a possible superspreader event (local) for the Omicron variant of COVID, although that was eventually disproved (local). It was interesting because that news came out just after I had arrived home early in the following week, and I received a direct phone call from Health Canada informing me of it, as well as messy outreach emails from New York City herself:

I never did get tested for that, as I decided to just stay home and isolate myself for two weeks instead. I had no symptoms whatsoever, so I hope that meant that I wasn’t infected and wasn’t a spreader on the plane back, though I took all possible security precautions anyway.

Oh, but that’s jumping the gun. What about the rest of my Nov 19 evening? I walked around Times Square a bit, collecting a few more pictures for my album:

I had noticed quite a few stores purpotedly selling Singaporean food in New York City, and had sampled several stores by this point, so I stopped by another one on the way home, which was called Native Noodles. They closed at 9pm, and I reached there at 8:35 pm or so, so I couldn’t actually stay there to eat, but they let me order some food home so I ordered a bowl of Laksa Noodles with Shrimp for $15.50, and added a cup of Rose Milk (Bandung) for $3.50. I had the rose milk before I left, and it was passable, though expensive for the amount I got, like everything else in the city. I brought the noodles back to my Airbnb to eat them there, and the bowl looked like this:

Hardly worth $14, never mind $15.50 with the shrimp, and lake is supposed to be a mostly soup dish, not this dry pasty thing. The entire meal cost $21.36 after tax and a small tip.

I then unwound with a nice shower, or so I thought — there was a huge, centipede-like bug in the shower, however, and I called the owner in a panic. She took one look at it and called it a silverfish, a bug that I had never seen before (and never even heard of before outside of the Minecraft game), unrolled some toilet paper from the roll, picked up the bug, and flushed it down the toilet bowl. She gained lots of respect points from me for that. She also said she had seen a water bug earlier in the day, which I gathered were a form of cockroach, but that she had no idea where it had run off to. I did not end up seeing any water bug or any other silverfish during my stay there, thankfully.

I was also invited out into the main room with my hostess and we spent an hour or so chatting, she told me about her family growing up and how her dad used to own a factory (there was a picture of it on the wall) and of some trips she had taken. Her fridge was covered in magnets, and she said that she had taken many trips to various (mostly North/Central American) locations and liked collecting fridge magnets from the places she had been to. I told her I’d send her one for her collection when I got home, and although I was delayed on this promise, I did eventually send her a magnet and postcard in late February 2022 and got a nice message back from her.

Although the Airbnb listing didn’t come with laundry as a perk, and I was ready to spend some time the next day searching for a nearby laundromat to wash my clothes in, she did offer me the user of her laundry machine and dryer anyway after our pleasant chat, and said to consider it complimentary, which I gladly accepted and thanked her for. This meant that at no point during the trip did I actually have to wash my clothes in a public laundromat (although I did enter one or two to check out the prices and procedures). I did my laundry, relaxing on my bed and chatting with my friends while the clothes churned in agony, and then went to bed after it was all done.

Day 24 – Saturday, Nov 20 2021

The highlight of my Saturday, my second last full day in New York City, was a cat café booking that I had reserved! But first, my damaged phone had been annoying me all these last few days, so because it was now the weekend and I was off work, I looked for a 1 hour phone repair kiosk to see if they could repair my phone and how much it would cost. The booth I found, downtown in the Port Authority Bus Terminal building, gave me a quoted price of $199 USD and a waiting time of three days or so for the needed part to come in, as he said that Google Pixel 5 phone screens were hard and pricey to repair — the entire front screen had to be replaced due to how Google designed it, and due to THAT and the relative unpopularity of the phone, they would have to custom order the LCD screen part needed to replace it. No thank you, I said, I needed the phone back right away and would just have to survive with it to the end of my trip and repair it once I got home.

Then, it was time for the cat café. This was a 1 hour booking at 12 noon in a café called Meow Parlour that cost $16, and was a shared session with about 8 other people or so. There were also about 8 to 10 cats, some were eager bouncing kitties and others were languid. One bit me at first when I tried to pet him while he was lying in bed, but he eventually chilled out and wandered around to examine the human invaders as well.

There were one or two particular kittens that came by to disinterestedly play with the Tigey that I brought out, though this one in particular seemed to like him.

Meow Parlour was also linked to a business next door called Macaron Parlour, which I assume was owned by the same people. There was a menu for macarons and other sweets available at the front counter of the cat café, so I ordered a chocolate croissant, a smores macaron, an a 16 oz cup of tea from Harney & Sons. It took a while to deliver, so by the time that my food and drink came, the 1 hour session was actually nearly over. Still, one or two of the cats really loved either the crinkly bag the macarons and croissant came in, or the smell of the food itself, and an adventurous black kitten who had already climbed all over me earlier came and clambered up Mount Jessica again and again for pretty much the last 5 minutes that we were there.

There was one other notable event here too, which was that I was only half done my tea by the time we were going to leave, so I placed it on a table up at the front while I was putting on my shoes again on the way out of the shop (we had to vacate at 12:50 pm so that they had time to disinfect and prepare for the next set of guests at 1pm). Unfortunately, due to the lingering effects of catnip, I knocked over the cup when I tried to pick it up again, and the remaining tea sloshed all over the table. Thankfully there wasn’t a ton left, there were no cats nearby, and the table was pressed up against the front glass window of the shop as well so the damage was somewhat contained. I started to clean it up but a kind café attendant came by and said not to worry and that he would do it instead, and he took over for me from there. Still, I felt bad about that.

Here are some miscellaneous pictures from the cat café that didn’t make it into the section above.

After my misadventures at the cat café, I went out to look for lunch. I was near Chinatown by this point, so I walked over, admiring the various graffiti, architecture, decorations, and even gawking at some nice outdoor tables along the way:

I settled on a store named The Original Buddha Bodai Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant for lunch, and it was quite crowded, I joined a queue with one other person just inside the door (it was a little chilly outside) as we waited for a spot to open up.

Eventually, I was led to a seat and given a sheet of paper to fill in with what dishes I wanted to have. I was allowed to keep a copy of the order sheet, so I scanned and uploaded it for this part of the blog.

The prices weren’t the best, but they were a vegetarian dimsum restaurant and I appreciated that, despite not being vegetarian myself, and I figured it was okay to try something a bit different. I also like meals that come in different bowls/pieces, as I said, so I was looking forward to this.

As you can see from the order sheet above, I had flip flopped a little on the Steamed Vegetarian Fish Ball (M26) item, picking it and then deciding not to and then eventually deciding to go for it anyway instead of the Southeast Curry Ones. The other items with a black pen scribble over them were done by the staff as they made and delivered each dish, but the circle around M26 was due to a mixup where they simply “forgot” to make the dish… the poor server had to request the order not once, not even twice, but three separate times before the kitchen finally got the hint and made the item.

As for me, I decided to not start eating until the entire meal had arrived, because I thought it would only take a few minutes, and because part of the point of the meal was to mix everything in with the congee and other dishes and to hop back and forth to mix the different tastes, and not just eat one random overpriced plate of fishballs on its own long after everything else was done, so I sat and stared awkwardly at the food for a bit as “a few minutes” stretched into 15-20 minutes or so:

The tea was complimentary, they said, so I had a few cups for that and they even refilled the pot for me. Eventually the fishballs, the dish on the far left below, arrived, and I tore into the meal, finishing it all in around 10 minutes.

The server told me not to worry about the tip for the meal due to the mixup, so that was nice, although I noted (and chalked up to Buddhist humour) a $1 surcharge for the “complimentary” tea in return. Whatever. I ended up paying $25.85 for the meal after tax and tea, and took my leave.

I spent a bit more time walking around Chinatown, and bought a small game box of Army Chess (Luzhanqi) (local), a game that I had played with my Dunman friends when I was still in Singapore but had not actually owned a copy for. They had it on sale for $3.81 and the box was tiny, so it was easy to transport back. I bought it from a store generically named Good Field Trading Co., Inc, one of many, many imported goods stores (that I had also seen in San Francisco and Los Angeles) crammed to the brim with vaguely Asian/Chinese imported items, next to many other stores also selling the same things — I have no idea how stores like this survive, but they seemed to do fine.

I also wandered around and looked at sparse grocery stores/mini markets with bins of discarded vegetables and other wasted food.. I mean food waste out front. It got me thinking a bit about the global supply chain and what kind of logistics were necessary to keep even little shops like this in the middle of a large city on the east coast of the USA supplied every day.

I also found and took a picture of a very funny capsule toy superhero, Bok Choy Boy. Why is he named after a Chinese cabbage?

I was feeling the effects of the tea at this point, so I winded my way out of Chinatown and started to look for a public washroom. I went into a posh bookshop/café but they didn’t have one available there, and chatted to some people as well who tried pointing me to a couple other buildings, but I was rebuffed there and unable to find any as well, though I wandered by lots of cool things like roadside artist galleries and crafter booths.

One of the people I spoke to, some sort of a cop or security guard, suggested the public library a couple stops away, and I took a look at the map and found that I was near a train station and just a couple stops away from that place. I took the train there, and indeed found a nice public washroom in the main branch of the New York Public Library. Score!

Even better, next to the public library was Bryant Park, and there was a glitzy event going on there called the Bryant Park Winter Village, or the Bank of America Winter Village. It was a lineup of chic little stalls selling everything from foods to accessories to books and toys to clothing, and kind of looked like a farmer’s market, but several social classes up from that. There was a big ice rink in the middle of the park as well, and tons of people walking about. I was enamoured by the ambience and atmosphere of the place and took many pictures here, as well as a video.

Apparently that above video is blocked in Greece and Cyprus due to some overzealous music industry pimps, I mean benevolent recording companies, but I did a tour of basically the entire area and pointed the camera at every store that I could, I believe.

I had a quick “dinner” at a store named Bao by Kaya, I ordered two baos (which are Chinese steamed buns — the two flavours I picked were pork belly and red curry chicken) and some sesame noodles that came on a tiny plate. This cost $14.14, which was (as always) overpriced, but I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to find anything else remotely affordable and filling at this point of the night outside of this Winter Village since I was still in the downtown core, and I didn’t mind trying some food from this “festival”.

I then took the train home and called it a night, though not before snapping this one last picture of the innards of the train carriage I was in.

Day 25 – Sunday, Nov 21 2021

Sunday was the day I had earmarked to meet Nak for dinner. I had a backup plan to see the Phantom of the Opera if he wasn’t able to make it, since he had to train in from New Jersey to meet me, but he was willing and able to do so, so we made plans for the evening.

I ventured out of my rental apartment around 11 am, wanting to heading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art before I met up with Nak. I took the train there, and snapped this little mural along the way. I felt it was sort of post-apocalyptic, or at least lent itself to that kind of interpretation to me, so I liked it. And I also used the opportunity to also capture a picture of the map for that part of the train line, the Lexington Avenue Line. I really liked the complexity and elegance of the map to display as much information as possible while yet still being clear and concise, and it would tie in to a train station ad I saw later that day featuring an interview with a designer who talked about how even things like font sizes were chosen to try to be as visible and portray as much information as possible to people who might only ever be glancing at it for a second or two at a time.

On my way to the Met Museum, which was located on the east edge of Central Park, I scanned the Asian restaurants around the area on my phone, and settled on an eatery named Wok 88 to have lunch at. After alighting from the train and on my way to that eatery, I saw a whole flock of pigeons fighting over some crumbs:

So. Many. Pigeons.

Lunch was Chicken Chow Fun and some Won Ton Soup, and this cost $10.35, $12.50 after tax and tip. The soup itself was complimentary (really, this time!), and the Chow Fun actually wasn’t bad, so this was the best Asian meal I had in New York in terms of affordability and satisfaction together.

I then walked along my merry way toward the Met Museum, stopping to take in some little flower gardens around the bases of trees along the way. I liked this little pretty touch of nature in an urban environment.

There was a long queue outside the Met Museum when I finally reached it, although the queue moved really quickly.

I didn’t actually take any pictures of the Met Museum exhibits, even though photos were allowed, because I actually had my video camera out and was recording for most of the time inside. However, a museum curator told me some ways through my recording that video wasn’t allowed, but she was crabby about it so I largely ignored her since my camera wasn’t particularly prominent, and since I checked to see if there were any video not allowed signs in the front lobby and there were not. My strategy for the rest of the tour was just to not go too close to any of the museum curators walking around, like some sort of modern stealth game. Once I got home, I checked the website and actually did find a blurb saying that the use of hand-held cameras for private videos were allowed, but my video had gotten all weird due to the interruption and I never did process it. (I might still process it eventually and add it in here.)

In addition, even though I spent four hours in the gallery staring at pottery and historical artifacts, I didn’t even get through one third of the museum, it was simply so large and so interesting! The video and my tour ended abruptly deep in the building when I realized that I had to get going in order to make my dinner date with Nak. The building was so cavernous that I had to ask a curator or security guard for directions to even get out of the gallery and head toward the front entrance again.

Once I finally stumbled out of the minotaur’s maze, I went to the nearest subway station and waited for a train that ended up being late. I took pictures of a really long escalator:

A random… foam torpedo?

The font ads that I talked about a few paragraphs earlier:

And a large basket in the middle of the subway train carriage that everyone seemed to be avoiding and had no idea who it belonged to.

Due to all the little distractions, and the fact that the train was late, I was also slightly late for the dinner date with Nak. He had booked a table at a fancy restaurant named Blue Ribbon Sushi which said that all parties had to be present for entry and that if we were late then the reservation would be cancelled. I guess he had a few words with the host and explained the situation to them (that I was a noob from out of town who got lost in a museum and then on the subway), and he allowed Nak to wait a little longer past the designated start time until I arrived. We then went in together.

This was a cramped, but interesting restaurant. It was long and thin, like many other buildings in New York City, with a kind of bar area in front, kitchens and a washroom in the middle, and then a back area with nicer tables where we were led to. This is the view out toward the middle (and front) area from the back of the restaurant:

Two views of the tables around us:

And then a view of the back of the restaurant, which was a little.. rock garden? that our table was next to.

I also took a picture of Nak, of course, as he got annexed by Tigey.

Nak took care of all the ordering, and paid for the food as well — this was an extremely pricey meal in the 3 digit range, so I really appreciated that. He would not let me pay for it. He also said that he had been here with his relatives in the past (and that the place had nostalgic feelings for him) and he had had the meal paid for so he was happy to do the same to right his cosmic karma. It was really quite good, though I’m sure part of that was the price tag talking.

We had a good chat over the dinner and a subsequent walk, about everything from life to LotRO to anime to gossip about our mutual friends, as we headed over to New York Penn Station so he could catch a train home to New Jersey. I made him pose one last time with Tigey for the books:

And then took one last picture of him as the ticker said that his train was arriving and he walked off into the distance.

It was kind of like the experience of travelling without actually travelling, since I would not have gone into Penn Station to wait for a train’s arrival (and it was structured very much like an airport, with departure/arrival screens and waiting lounges and passenger-only areas), so I appreciated him coming down to meet me and giving me the chance to then see him off at the station.

Once he had left, I found myself again by Times Square. This time though, it was slightly different, as it had been lightly drizzling and the ground was wet, which gave everything a bit more of a neon glow that I loved. The bleacher seats in Times Square were closed due to the rain too, but there was still an army of people out in force, posing and hanging around the area.

I walked north, trying to find a certain subway entrance but failing because the tunnel I was trying to use to get to it was closed shut. Weird. I simply walked north until I reached another station though, and took the train from there across to Queens where I disembarked and waited for my connecting bus. I had not taken this particular bus route before, and it was a bus that came every 30 minutes, but I ended up having to wait 40 minutes for it because the bus prior to the one I took just simply decided not to come, even though I was there 10 minutes early. By this point I was really missing Edmonton transit, since I had experienced 30+ minute bus waits on at least 3 of the 5 cities that I had been in, and had experience significant shenanigans at the other two cities (Los Angeles and New Orleans) as well.

I stood around looking at a fancy looking bus bench while waiting:

And then also eventually watched a black guy pull up in his car and park right in the bus stop, and then pull out a decanter of some sort wrapped in a brown paper bag and begin drinking for it. He had a small boy in the front passenger seat next to him, and eventually, after taking his fill, he offered the decanter to the boy as well, who then took a swig from it. After about 5-10 minutes or so, they finally took off again. I thought that was really strange, but filed that aside and continued to wish for my bus to hurry up and arrive.

Oddly, while the Transit phone app was really popular in California and would always tell you when the next bus was arriving (via crowdsourced app usage), it wasn’t popular in New York. The routes still existed on the phone app here, but basically no one was using the app, so it didn’t have its most important feature, which was the critical mass of users that would then act as a crowdsourced pool of passenger knowledge to let users able to trace buses in real time.

I eventually still got home safely though, and took my last shower of the trip. Afterwards, I spent the night relaxing as I had no work the next day, even though it was Monday, since I had a flight home. My hostess, Briyah, was doing some fashion shoots in the hallway of her apartment, using a bright light and an auto-clicker to take pictures of herself in various clothing that she owned. She said that one of her hobbies was collecting clothing from thrift stores and designer stores around the city, and then trying to sell them out again in sets, as her closet was burgeoning and she liked fashion in general. She allowed me to watch several of her shots, and said that she tried to do them a couple weeks in advance, and then post them one per day on her blog. It seems like she’s not doing this any longer, but she did share her blog (though I didn’t share mine) and she still blogs there weekly as well.

She allowed me to take some pictures of the house as well, and I duly did so.

Isn’t the house just full of character? She was a great host, by far the best Airbnb one I had on my trip.

The next morning, the morning of the 22nd, found me with one last new adventure (misadventure) to round out my trip. I woke up early and had that second meal that I had bought via delivery app on my first evening in this place. Then, as my hostess had passingly suggested was possible (but she had no idea how for sure), I walked to the airport! My outgoing flight was from LaGuardia airport, on the north side of Queens, and which was only about an hour’s stroll from our rental place. I had never walked to an airport before, and I definitely wanted to check that off my random basket list.

There was more than one path to the airport though, and in fact Google Maps led me down to a dead end at first, by a fence around the airport that I couldn’t get in to it from, so I had to retrace my steps across an overhead bridge and over a highway and go in by another road. In the end though, I learnt that one could walk in to LaGuardia Airport via 94th Street for Terminal A/B and DFG Road for Terminal C/D, although you could still walk from one pair of terminals to the other by foot once you were inside. But it was cool to be able to see the planes and airfield as I was walking up to the airport.

I left the house at 9:30 am, so even despite the delay and backtracking, I arrived at the airport at around 11:00 am, about 3 hours in advance of my 2pm flight to Toronto. I left plenty of time since this was technically an international flight and this was *the* New York City, but as it turned out, I passed the international check-in desk and the TSA checkpoint and even had a complimentary pat-down (due to the safety pin in my skirt holding a tear closed), all under 10 minutes in total. I twiddled my thumbs for my remaining time in New York, and then got to step outside again as our plane was one of those where you had to walk out onto the tarmac and board the plane using a metal staircase.

Tiny plane! Part of the reason for us having to walk out here, I think, was that the plane was delayed. We were sharing our departure lobby with another plane, and even up until 10 minutes or so before we were scheduled to take off, they were still boarding the other plane and our plane hadn’t even showed up yet. In the end, we were delayed for about 30 minutes before our plane was fully boarded and able to fly off. Thankfully I had a three hour layover in Toronto, and once I was in the country I no longer needed a negative COVID test to fly home to Edmonton anyway, so I wasn’t fretting too much.

These were pictures of New York City as we flew off:

And then of Toronto as we landed:

And then took off again in the evening after my 2.5 hour (formerly 3h) layover. A pretty view that to me almost seemed like I was looking down at glowing computer chips or the side of a giant spaceship.

It was night, but not too late, by the time I got home to Edmonton, and I ordered some delivery food (I noticed the company’s custom GPS system had changed while I was gone and this made it harder for the delivery people to find my house because the marker was inaccurate! How rude.) before washing and cleaning up to end my trip.

That’s all the storage capacity I brought with me on my 26-day trip. Home sweet home!

Addendum – AnimeNYC Scans

I eventually scanned a few of the brochures and things that I picked up from AnimeNYC when I was there on Fri, Nov 19th, and I thought that I would leave pictures of them here.

Firstly, here is the Friday attendee badge. There was a different badge for 1 day attendees (assumedly 1 for each day) as well as a separate badge for 3-day attendees. The Friday attendee badge featured Sakugan, a seasonal show that I was watching at the time.

Next is a Honkai Impact 3rd hairclip:

As well as postcard:

Those two were given away by the Honkai Impact 3rd booth for taking a picture with the cosplaying staff and then uploading the picture onto Twitter. I struggled to remember my Twitter password.

Next up is a Honkai Star Rail postcard. This game isn’t released yet, but largely features alternate world versions of the same characters as Honkai Impact 3rd (and to a certain extent, Genshin Impact), as I understand it.

I also picked up a Love Live! Superstar!! pamphlet:

And a Macross Plus Movie Edition brochure:

A Mikado badge from a store named Hori Books, apparently a thing from a manga/anime named Sankaku Mado no Sotogawa wa Yoru.

A Tears of Themis postcard, also from miHoYo (Genshin Impact, Honkai Impact 3rd, Honkai Star Rail):

And a hololive English card featuring Tsukumo Sana:

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