Malaysian traveller recalls fond memories of New York trip


The view of the city from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. — Photos: H. KAUR

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In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothin’ you can’t do, now you’re in New York... The tune to the song Empire State Of Mind by Jay-Z reverberated in my head as I got off the Amtrak train at Penn Station in New York, the United States. It felt great to be on the platform after spending almost an entire day on board the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago, Illinois. I quickly made my way out of the bustling station.

Stepping onto the streets of New York City with the ubiquitous yellow cabs and skyscrapers all around made the tune play even louder in my head.

I could not help but beam with joy that I would be spending the next few days in this city.

My first day in the Big Apple was spent strolling through the streets of Manhattan while soaking in the city’s vibes. That evening, I headed to the ornately designed Studio 54 near Times Square to watch a Broadway show entitled She Loves Me. Fortunately, I had pre-booked the ticket as it was a popular show and tickets were often sold out. The musical was about secret pen pals and it was enjoyable.

The next day, I went to the Liberty Island which is home to the iconic Statue of Liberty. Boarding the ferry at Battery Park, I could already see Lady Liberty from a distance. The 15-minute ferry ride gave a beautiful view of the city’s skyline.

At the Statue Of Liberty museum, I learnt that its official name is “Liberty Enlightening The World” and it symbolises enlightenment.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum or, The Guggenheim, is an amazing art museum.The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum or, The Guggenheim, is an amazing art museum.

It was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and unveiled in 1876 to commemorate the friendship between France and the US. The statue stands on a star-shaped concrete-and-granite-based structure.

The statue itself is made out of copper and has a greenish colour caused by natural oxidisation, which actually protects it from wearing away. After exploring Liberty Island, I boarded the ferry to Ellis Island, currently the home of the National Museum of Immigration. It previously was the arrival point for millions of immigrants to the US in the 1800s.

On the third day, I visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, or the 911 Museum. Two large reflecting pools have been built where the North and South towers of the World Trade Centre once stood. Names of those perished in the incident are engraved around the edges of the pools. It was deeply poignant being there.

After the memorial, I decided to lighten the mood by visiting the renowned Empire State Building. It was built in 1931, and remains one of the national landmarks of the US. There are two observation decks located on the 86th and 102nd floors.

The one on the 86th floor is open air and made famous by an iconic scene in the Tom Hanks movie, Sleepless In Seattle. It gave me a stunning 360° view of the city.

On the fourth day, I went to the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum; amazingly, the building itself looks like a piece of art. It is home to many pieces of contemporary art.

Across the street from the museum was the sprawling Central Park. It could take more than a day to explore the entire place, so I just strolled along for as far as I could.

I came across a “castle”, a lake, some fountains and picturesque bridges, monuments and statues, and even a zoo that was surrounded by lush greenery.

Besides these places, I also visited many other sites around the city such as the United Nations Plaza, Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Terminal, High Line Park (which was built on a former rail line), Fifth Avenue (a shopping area featuring many high-end brands), the Charging Bull on Wall Street and the Radio City Music Hall, which has hosted events such as the Grammy Awards.

Another vivid memory I have of New York is its variety of street food. I especially remember a unique and filling dish called “chicken over rice”.

You may think that it sounds just like chicken rice but it’s actually a fusion dish with Indian, Chinese and Mediterranean flavours that complemented each other so well.

Although this lovely trip happened about five years ago, it is still fresh in my mind as my recent longing to travel has made me revisit all my previous trips through journals and pictures. It refreshed my travel memories and I now look forward to the day when I can enjoy travelling again without the fear of contracting the virus.

Till then, I shall bask in the fond memories of the good times spent travelling around.

The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.

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