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balance (2): NY, NY

Monday, October 29, 2007


a continuation of:

i flipped back to my 'wanderlust' journal 5 years ago, when i was setting off on my trip "around the world", and i realized how much things have changed since then. in those days, 'x' and i would go on excited shopping sprees, stocking up on useless and expensive "necessities" for travel. we spent a lot of time planning and building our travel websites. we would spend days in the window seat of barnes and noble, overlooking union square, meticulously researching our trip in various guidebooks. i had a lot more enthusiasm back then, and was both more prepared and less so at the same time for what was to come.

this year, i feel sort of apathetic about the continuation of my trip! i have spent 3 years saving to travel again, and dutifully bought the tickets and made initial arrangements... but haven't put much thought into what i am doing at all, and can barely muster up any feeling whatsoever other than tiredness(!). am i over travelling? has living in a 3rd world country made me so jaded at what the world might have to offer that i don't even want to bother? reading my idealistic, optimistic, "carpe diem" proclamations of that time just makes me shrug in annoyance now.

in any case, after narrowly escaping monsoon floods in koh phangan (a hellish drive out of my village through sodden jungle in a hiccuping jeep with no windshield wipers), & after a short stint in bangkok doing last minute stuff, i finally boarded the plane to new york. regretted immediately the fact that i had purchased the cheapest ticket available on china airlines. unlike previous trips, this one was on a very stripped down plane, not even a personal light in the ceiling above my seat, let alone personal video screens or leg room. good thing i had loaded up on the xanax at the hospital where i got injections before i came. i slept a drugged sleep in a cramped position for the 20-odd hours of the trip, waking only in befuddlement when we landed in alaska to re-fuel. (alaska! man was it cold, but really amazing to see from the air). i had been worried about US immigration hassling me after hearing horror stories about the paranoid regulations post-911, but the man just smiled, asked me if i had more than $10000 US on me (i wish), and waved me through.


later, in NY, i was disappointed to find it was raining torrentially as well, and it was cold too! but the first thing i noticed was that people are so genuinely NICE here! (what the heck is wrong with thais?)... i caught the super shuttle with some friendly taiwanese men, who chattered inexorably all the way into the city. i was euphoric when we crossed the queensboro bridge into manhattan! 3 years away from this place, and i wondered why exactly that was?! i was dropped off at my hotel in union square, which turned out to be quite nice despite the fact that it's a 5th floor walkup. it was 1am and i had at least 7 hours to go before i could eat breakfast, and even longer until shops opened, so i huddled under the quilt shivering and flipped back and forth between the 2 tv channels on offer for hours, wallowing in jet lag.

the next morning i set out in the cold and rain to do a little shopping. what a shock it is to be paying in dollars again! the excitement at setting out on the town quickly turned to depression when i realized i couldn't leave my hotel room without dropping at least $30 at a time. what am i going to do for a week?! i hit all my favorite shops- marvelled at the abundance in the supermarkets like whole foods (which seems like heaven after years of picking through the same spare stalls back on the island). was ecstatic to find they opened a 'chipotle' branch and a 'forever 21' shop in union square, both of which i craved for months in thailand.

look at this selection of real beer! as the girl in whole foods said to me; "we have everything you need and everything you don't!"...

somehow i started the day with the conviction that i was going to leave thailand and move back to NY, and i ended the day wishing i was back at home in thailand with my puppy and my warm thai boy. i suppose it's just overwhelming to be presented with so much choice! NY has everything, which is why i love it- every kind of food, music, films, art, festivals, shopping, even political protests-

(i stumbled unawares right into the middle of a huge anti-war parade on my first trip out)

...but i do feel a lot of pressure here to get out into it- see this, do that, buy this, be that... it makes me want to crawl back under my quilt and sleep. which to be honest, is what i did, after i went to see a movie ('darjeeling limited', pretty good) which cost me $21 including the popcorn. i don't have much motivation to call up old friends (or acquaintances, rather) or go out to bars or shows etc. i feel like i shouldn't waste my time here but at the same time i don't like that pressure!

anyway, today i will set off to the thai embassy to apply for a new visa for thailand. and perhaps i will visit the met, or the zoo, or my old neighborhoods in williamsburg (brooklyn) and the east village. or perhaps i will just curl up with boxes of all the snacks i can't get at home (twinkies! goldfish crackers! twizzlers! hershey milkshakes!) and binge myself into oblivion.



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