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19 May 2011 @ 10:14 pm
Footnotes: North America 2011 - Toronto & New York, May 14-19.  
Our next few days in Toronto were generally quiet, filled with family dinners and chilling out. Attended Sunday Mass at the parish in my bro's old neighborhood - mixed race community, with this really interesting mural that represented pretty much all the colors that they had in their particular location. We also went to the Ontario Science Center with my bro's family, which was a treat in itself because of the interactive displays. One of the exhibits amused me, though. It's called The Truth, and it's supposed to be enlightening in the sense that it exposes biases - racial, gender, social and whatever else - to common folk. I suppose people like me - pseudo-expat from Canada, native born Filipina, university student of the Humanities - were not the target audience at all. That aside, though, it was fun; I even got to catch one of the IMAX feature films before we rolled out.

The stop after that was this Japanese-Korean restaurant (apparently all Japanese and Koren restaurants in Toronto, to Phil's knowledge, are Japanese-Korean fusion cuisine places); we witnessed an accident en-route - high speed collision between a car and a van on the interchange. No one was hurt, luckily, but the cars were totalled. Oh, and the restaurant had good food.

Strange tangent right there, but there you have it.

Our next stop the following day was the CN Tower, although we didn't get to see much since the weather was lousy. The fog, though, is an attraction in itself to me - made a bit of a game out of sitting by the windows, trying to peer at snippets of the city skyline through holes in the clouds. Oh, and mom was really cute in the glass floor section: she's scared of stepping on it.

Our last full day was spent relaxing at the house since my folks needed to do random errands and they wanted to scout around for a doctor for Peter, who had somehow developed a boil on his neck (we didn't bother with it: 320 dollars?!). Peter and I also got to go with Philip to the grocery store, which was short but fun. Our dinner was a bit of a special occasion, because we decided to turn it into a mini belated birthday celebration for my niece.

The morning of our departure day was busy, of course, and the ride going down to Buffalo Airport was pretty damned scenic since the weather cleared up and we passed through roads winding between the Great Lakes. The plan ride was delayed getting to the airport, though, and on the runway because of a storm, AND it was nearly called back because of a 'security breach' (something, by the way, that has never happened to me in all of my years of traveling). It was raining when we landed in New York City, and the taxi ride to our hotel was an experience in itself. I can totally see why so many people were inspired by this place.

Quick segue: I've been to New York before as a child, but I don't remember much beyond being wowed by the Statue of Liberty, staring at mounds of snow on the street, and going all goo-goo-eyed at this toy store that my mother brought me to. Coming back as a young adult with so much more life experience and a keener eye for detail is nothing short of awesome.

We're staying at The Hotel @ Times Square. (Yes, that really IS it's name.) It's this quaint place along 46th and 6th, which puts us pretty damned close to the center of everything. On our first night, we dropped off our bags at our hotel room and cooled our heels off a little before walking out into the rain in search of a restaurant.

My first real look at Times Square left me dazzled, and that really shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. The people were everywhere in spite of the late hour, and the lights in the square itself and on Broadway were something else. If you look up, it's like the sky - which is bright as heck if it's cloudy since all the lights of the buildings reflect off of the clouds - is being hugged by the edges of the buildings while they're closing in on you. I don't find it claustrophobic, though; it's closer to awe-inspiring.

The four of us ended up eating a super late dinner at Friday's, then we all crashed pretty late once we got back. Parents woke the bro and I up early-ish for breakfast at the hotel since it's free, then we headed out to the subway station at Times Square for our first official day.

We got really lucky with the weather - it was supposed to be raining during our entire stay in New York, but it awas bright and sunny with a good breeze the entire time. We strolled through the Battery, dropped by the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Museum, took the ferry past the Statue of Liberty then dropped by Ellis Island. Once we were back, we checked the World Trade Center memorial out before deciding to double back to a hospital that a random Filipina on the subway referred us to, since Peter needed to get his boil checked. Some words on the sights:

Jewish Memorial: Impressive, impressive museum with an incredibly fair representation of the historical events that it was commemorating, and a whole lote of wonderful things to preserve the memory and legacy of the Jewish community. It is interesting to see how one really CAN equate the Jewish struggle with a struggle of the 'fringes' in general, if one truly thinks about it. Reading the timeline and walking through the testimonies and checking the special exhibits was a highly emotional experience as well.

The fountains were fun to my bro and I for a very shallow reason: the birds always swooped down to bathe in them.

The Ferry Ride: Awesome skyline of Manhattan. That is all.

Statue of Liberty: Our original plan was to get dropped off on Liberty Island instead of Ellis since we could only choose one (it was already too late in the afternoon for us to do both), but we figured it'd be a waste since going up to the Crown and Torch weren't possible anyway. As it is, my parents and I have already been through that place, and Peter was content with just seeing the statue.

Ellis Island: Interesting walkthrough of the history of immigration to America! There was a lot of trivia and stories that I couldn've have ever known without being in the museum or going through academic texts. On another note, my bro and I had fun feeding the pigeons while we took an afternoon snack outside of the museum.

Our subway adventure was something else because we got totally, utterly fucking lost. First we hopped on an express train, so we had to double back. After that, bro got stuck because of a faulty entry machine thing, so we missed two of the trains that we could've jumped on. When we finally got on the right platform, the train we were supposed to take was so delayed that it switched to express on is, so we ended up taking ANOTHER express by accident. Oh, and when we finally got to the hospital, they wanted to charge us 900 dollars for a basic consultation.

Yes, that's right.

900 fucking dollars.

Suffice to say, our "Filipino instincts" (as my dad put it) kicked in at that point, and we just wandered back to the hotel. Got a bit lost on the way, but that turned out for the better since we spotted a Pharmacy, and mom got to consult the medical staff on call there about what to do with Peter's boil.

We're currently back at the hotel room, resting our feet and contacting relatives and friends - mom, in fact, is talking to my cousin Eric on Skype while I type this out. We'll be taking a late dinner, from the looks of it.
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Mom talking to my cousin on Skype.
Ang: CHIKAHITO ✜ repeat that again?nemesis on May 20th, 2011 08:23 am (UTC)
That 'the truth' exhibit sounds kind of interesting. Mind if I ask what exactly it's about?
do not feed the animals: dork.izkariote on May 20th, 2011 02:11 pm (UTC)
Its specific goal is to show how personal biases affect scientific research. It had exhibits about gender, race, exposing the negative or misguided opinions of famous scientists and random trivia on who really discovered what (i.e. Arabic science being responsible for the beginnings of heart research).

Some of the displays were really cool. The entrance of the exhibit itself has these three doors which appear to 'sort' people without actually giving a criterion for the basis on why it lets certain people in and denies other people access. Some of the ones I laughed a lot at were the display showing the different stupid comments of many famous philosophers or scientists, and this other test that shows 'female' and 'male' responses. One display that I found really cool was something devoted to showing how race - skin color and such - has very little to do with genes and whatever else.
Ang: HANA ✜ Hello.nemesis on May 20th, 2011 02:16 pm (UTC)
...that is actually quite a small wall
Thaaaaat actually sounds pretty interesting! Even from an outsider's perspective, to see what a community- or the people setting up that exhibition consider to be biases that they hold would be fun, I think. Hahaha oh god but cannot get started on whether or not 'who found out X first' actually matters to history at all as much as 'whose discovery of X had the greatest impact'. That issue I could probably textwall about too...

That seems kind of self evident, though? Most of humanity shares like a fuckton of genes with the rest of humanity and the actual percentage of your genes that affect how you appear does not necessarily is only a very small part of your actual genome. And then ethnicity and culture don't have much to do with genes at all, but you can't discount how important they are to some people. About all an exhibit like that would show is that people are more than their DNA, which... I'd... kind of hope most people already get...

How do those three doors work, though? Do they explain the sorting process later or something?
do not feed the animals: hmm.izkariote on May 20th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
Hum. It looked bigger in the comment box. o3o
Yeah, that was most of the fun for my bro and I since we're from the demographics that these people are harping on about. I don't really know how to put it concretely, but the entire exhibit really felt like it was targeted at your average white man/woman/girl/boy who just doesn't think about this shit and goes on with their lives and their opinions, thinking that they don't harm anyone with their actions.

(Lol, that's some bias of mine coming out right there.)

They never explain the sorting process. You should've seen how much it irritated my little brother. XD
Ang: HANA ✜ ^___^nemesis on May 20th, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC)
Because your journal font is small!
I CAN IMAGINE it being all all 'you have to realise that people who are not 'average white dude' are also the same as you!!!' but coming from Asia or at least living in Asia, I would say that we might see the average white dude as the odd one out. I know I do when I'm on a university campus, at least, which implies that I come with a whole different set of biases. Most of which I think I am moderately aware of, if nothing else.

...Wow that would also be really annoying. Was there no curator or guide around to grab and bother?
do not feed the animals: pif.izkariote on May 20th, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
That is true!
Yep. It is interesting, though, to see how white people behave when they're in the Philippines. We get a lot of sleaze balls who think that all of our women are ripe for the picking. Can't entirely blame them, either: a good number of women really do throw themselves at them.

If there was, we weren't looking too hard. XD
liquid poetry ♥: [hanakimi] nakatsumlina on May 20th, 2011 09:51 am (UTC)
I second the statement in the first comment.

Also. What. 900 Dollars. WHAT. :| But glad you guys found a pharmacy.

Eeeee! Times Square! My cousin went there the year before last and showed me these pictures she took. :D

If you look up, it's like the sky - which is bright as heck if it's cloudy since all the lights of the buildings reflect off of the clouds - is being hugged by the edges of the buildings while they're closing in on you. I don't find it claustrophobic, though; it's closer to awe-inspiring. <-- I would like to see this. The way you describe it is just... guh.

Edited at 2011-05-20 09:52 am (UTC)
do not feed the animals: facepalm.izkariote on May 20th, 2011 02:12 pm (UTC)

Seriously, these people are out to kill you if you get sick and you don't have insurance. orz

Maybe someday we can go to New York together, Noey. owo
liquid poetry ♥: [ouran] that smile means troublemlina on May 20th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC)

Lol. So I noticed. But seriously, that is insane. ><;