Tag Archives: train

In the Suitcase: Much Ado about (driving into) Manhattan

I do this every time I go into Manhattan, even when I lived there. I think, you know what, I’m going to drive there. I’m going to deal with the snarled traffic on the FDR and try this new trick by taking the Willis Avenue bridge, or if I’m coming from New Jersey, I’ll be lucky and there won’t be any traffic going through the tunnels. And then, I’ll find parking within reasonable walking distance to my destination. Of course I’m always, ALWAYS fooling myself.

Tip: don’t try to bring a car into Manhattan. Take public transportation.

When I lived in Manhattan, I compared it to Hotel California – you can check out anytime but you can never leave. And no wonder. If you’ve ever tried to leave Manhattan through the tunnels or the George Washington bridge, it can be so awful that you consider giving up and staying stuck on this island forever.

Getting into Manhattan costs money. How much money? Well, if you’re from New Jersey or south, you get to pay $8 to cross the Hudson. $8!! And about 30 minutes of your life sitting in traffic waiting to go through. And, as my friend Grace recently pointed out, you risk your life each time you go through those tunnels, eeking through those tunnels like toothpaste in a tube. Who knows what could happen down there, under the Hudson River, with nowhere to swim or run? I tried not to think about it as I edged my way into the city this past Memorial Day.

Then there’s the issue of parking. You can circle for hours, literally, especially since you can’t turn on red anywhere in the city and pedestrians take up all your green light time. If you do score a spot, you have to make sure it’s not a street-sweeping day, or a meter that will expire within an hour and there will be a meter maid standing there waiting for your meter to tick to 0. She’ll probably have your ticket written out in advance. Then you are always worrying whether someone has broken into your car and/ or driven it away. Or, you can park your car for $35 for the first few hours in some lot.

Heed my advice. Take the subway/ PATH/ Metro North/ Long Island Railroad/ New Jersey Transit/ Amtrak/ the bus into Manhattan. You can even park & ride. Here are some links to those forms of public transit.

PATH (to/from New Jersey)

Metro North Railroad (to/ from Westchester or as my cousin Sean says, the “Bestchester”, Connecticut and upstate)

Long Island Railroad (to/from Queens and Long Island, or as my friend Steve calls it, “Strong Island”)

New Jersey Transit (to/from NJ, duh)

Boltbus (to/from NY, Boston, Philly, Baltimore and DC)

Amtrak (Eastern Corridor and nationwide)

Photo credit: www.tysto.com.

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On My Itinerary: Historic Thai

Jon and I spent the past couple days biking through the historic capitals of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, both filled with non-functioning ruined wats  so I didn’t have to cover up my sinful legs. Both are like visiting an AsianPompeii, except without the plaster body casts and volcano eruptions. In Ayutthaya, nearly all the Buddha heads have been removed by the Burmese in the 1700’s attack on the ancient capital and exported as antiques, except for one that was intertwined in some tree roots.
It was rather glorious to transport myself around town on bike rather than get ripped off, again, by another tuk-tuk driver for being associated with “big-eyed” people (i.e. Jon) even though I fall into the same category as soon as I open my mouth and they realize I am completely not Thai. The guidebooks tell you what the rides should cost, but they are written by people who lived in Thailand or speak Thai, so they were not ripped off, but it has been fairly difficult not to be charged extra for everything. Except this morning, when we paid the equivalent of $5 each to ride the train five hours from Phitsanulok (near Sukhothai) to Ayutthaya on a third class train, no AC, with our backpacks on our laps and the seats made of hard, hard plastic. 2nd and 1st class were sold out. We got lots of stares, but thankfully the windows opened, so we enjoyed a breeze and wonderful views of green fields and a random wat every few towns.

In any case, the historic cities are rather sumptuous, if you can use your imagination back to the 1300’s. Here are some photos below.Buddha with long fingers, SukhothaiSukhothai2Buddha with long fingers, Sukhothai

Remaining wat, Sukhothai

Which one is the not the Buddha? SukhothaiSukhothai, Jon the Buddha

Phitsanulok Waiting for our delayed, 3rd-class non-AC train in Phitsanulok. Traveling light is key.

Ayutthaya, buddha head in tree roots

Buddha head in tree roots, Ayutthaya

ayutthaya

Remaining Buddha, Ayutthaya

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Filed under Asia, Getting Lost In..., On My Itinerary