You want more when there is more
And even more as it seems no wrong
Now you got the biggest Big Apple
But how do you know it is the one you want the most
US Itinerary 美国行程 - San Francisco > Las Vegas > Grand Canyon and Yellowstone > Salt Lake City > Chicago > New York
Always I enjoy big city and busy life, therefore I allowed myself two months of time to try tasting the Big Apple and being a New Yorker in my last stop in the States.
The morning just before I left Chicago I saw an absolutely unbelievable ad on 51nyc.com that said a single room in Lower East Side of Manhattan costed only USD400 per month. I quickly contacted the agent and said that I would be ready to check the room immediately after my train ride 20 hours later. The apartment located just one minute of walk next to East Broadway subway station; and the live-in landlord is a very friendly couple from Shanghai; even though my room is super tiny with no closet nor air conditioning, I felt like I had won a jackpot and I quickly handed over my rent. Deep in my heart I thought, even the cheapest hostel costs at least USD50 a night, how could I resist such a tempting price?
After I unloaded my backpack I went supermarket to buy groceries; although the living standard in New York is rocket high, dairy products like milk or egg are indeed very cheap; hence I made myself breakfast and lunch everyday, so to minimize my budget during the stay. Unfortunately I couldn't stop smoking and I couldn't afford the crazy price of USD12 a pack of cigarette, therefore I started my own training of tobacco rolling, but then when my rolling skills got better I found a secret way to buy packs real cheaper, as a result I ended up going to my rooftop smoking zone every night and day to blow my worries away.
I had nothing other than my postal address when I first arrived in New York. I had no job, no friend, and no real role for me to play. Okay, I knew that was the case, so I started searching for my new life in this place.
Before I had my lovely NetBook, I went Seward Library everyday to use their free resources for job hunting; I surfed through all production related recruitment ads on Mandy.com / Indeed.com / Cragslist.org in within the 45 minutes of limited usage on each computer, as well quickly sent out my resume and cover letters. Even though I kept having lots of responds, people tended not to take me on board as I was staying too short or didn't have any equipment for the job. To be honest, I wasn't targeting any job paid but only work experiences since I knew my visa status, all I wished was having a role in the city so that I could say to myself I really lived here, unfortunately I found myself imagining everything too easy but it was far more difficult in reality.
Even if I got no job I got to have some friends, to talk about everything or do stupid things. Hence I made good use of various online platforms like iPhone App (Skout / MoMo / WeiSin) and tourist forum (Backpackers.com.tw / CouchSurfing / Lonely Planet Thorntree) in search for my companions. Almost everyday I met a new face, for coffee or dinner or going to different places. These strangers might be tall or short, black or white, wierd or impolite or very much of my type. Yes I met a lot of people but not all of them I could consider friends or had the chance to them again. The truth is you might not want to see a strange guy a second time, or he might not want to see the stupid you another round. Also I felt seriously tired after having this non-stop friend making activity repeatedly going on for weeks, that I got no more passion to present it again the one hundred millionth time of my nomadic lifestyle and stories. However, I still considered myself very lucky, since I was able to make three real friends in this city; and they are all good people, because they all make music they all sing notes.
The size of Manhattan is indeed very small, it only took me less than an hour to walk from the west to the east, also most of the attractions located at the south of Midtown Centre, that I allowed me to explore the city just on foot because I lived in Lower East Side. My footprints stepped on charming architectures like City Hall, Brooklyn Bridge, New York Public Library; famous district like Broadway, Time Square, Wall Street; exotic cultures like China Town, Japan Town, Little Italy; modern oasis like Central Park, Bryant Park, High Line; and of course my all time favorites like 5 Pointz graffiti wall, Chelsea Gallery District and all the inspiring museums; the list could go on forever because there are so many places that worth a visit, and everywhere I had my footsteps printed.
Although the living standard of New York is extremely high, there are lots of ways to play it cheap, or even without costing a penny. Not only all the attractions mentioned above are free for entry, also it could be totally free to see the Statue of Liberty. If you didn't want to act like a tourist to pay at least USD17 for the cruise ride to Liberty Island to closely examine the torch of the Goddess, you could take a ferry from Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan to Staten Island, and feel the spirit of the Goddess from a distance on the return ferry ride. The Staten Island Ferry is totally free and convenient, it operates 24 hours a day, with a ride every other 15-20 minutes; the ferry is real big because it is used to bridge the citizens between Manhattan and Staten Island, it has 3-4 levels and is built with lifts to carry the few thousands of commuters on each ride.
I love all kinds of arts and creative works, every week I visited a different art museum to appreciate the classic masterpieces or new exhibitions in order to have my mind and vision stimulated. Although most of the well known museums costs at least USD10 per entry, there is a day in each week that costs you nothing, or you can contribute as you wish. My most memorable visit was seeing the work of my idol Keith Harring at the Museum of Modern Art, I couldn't believe the contribution of just a dollar could bring me to such an invaluable exhibition. If you also would like to contribute your one dollar donation please visit Museum Free Days for details.
Other than museum art piece, there are lots of graffiti street art painted on each corner of the street to make New York a vibrant city. You will love to visit 5 Pointz located at Long Island, Queens, if you felt like your nearby street art not powerful enough. The abandoned buildings at 5 Pointz are all painted with impactful graffiti in bold colors and shocking images, that you will for sure found it unforgettable.
You must pay a visit to Chelsea Gallery District if none of the street art nor classic art piece could satisfy you. Chelsea Gallery District is located at the west bound of Manhattan, between 10th and 11th Avenue, from the 19th to 28th Street; the district is stuffed with galleries, studios and workshops, exhibiting numerous collections of contemporary art in different medium, expressing countless messages in different topics, that are totaling inspiring and visually exciting. Plus, all the entrance are free and you can come whenever you are ready.
I suggest you to pig out at Chelsea Market after having a tiring tour in Chelsea Gallery District. Chelsea Market is my all time favorite because the seafood and bread and dairy products it sells are all my beloved favors. Not only the price are very cheap the products are very fresh, a lobster costs only USD15 and half a dozen of oyster costs only USD12, definitely it is food paradise for a budget traveler like me!
In addition, New York has a lot of music concert, film festival, performances and parades that are free for everyone, for sure you can find your wanted entertainment if you kept an eye on Time Out / NYC The Official Guide / Club Free Time or any other entertainment news website. During my stay I went to Bryant Park all the time to watch film festivals with everyone else on the relaxing lawn; however my all time favorite was Mafricka Music Festival that was held in Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem, all because the power of African music is absolutely irresistible!
If you were also in love with art and creative and need to stay in New York for a period of time, I really love to recommend you to visit 3rd Ward located at Brooklyn. 3rd Ward is a networking space that artists and creative worker could hang out, hire for usage and learn new techs; regularly it organizes courses, events, and talks in various areas; and with a monthly member fee of only USD149, you could freely use the Mac computers, photography studios, carpenter workshops, jewelry workshops or conference rooms anytime during its opening hours. Seriously it is a perfect place for a light traveler like me who doesn't have any equipment at all on my road!
A single ride of the subway costs USD2.25, while a 30 days unlimited ride costs USD104. The monthly MetroCard is indeed a very good price, not only the subways are very frequent, with a wide coverage of all boroughs, also it operates 24 hours a day, which is totally convenient for everyone. Unfortunately the subway system here are like museum displays that everywhere inside the stations or the platforms or the carriages are bloody old like antiques, and the important announcements are never clear enough that no one could easily got noticed, not to mention the platforms are like ovens and carriages are like fridges, yet the worst is seeing no customer service at some of the deserted stations when you are desperately in need... Well, in conclusion, I have to say that the subway in New York is definitely the worst among all other metropolitan like Paris or London, Shanghai or Hong Kong!
The worst of New York not only going underground but also overground. No matter it was a red or a green on the pedestrian sign, always there was a car running right in front of me on the zebra crossing, that made me totally scared each time when I crossed the road, you better watch out! Other than the chaotic traffic, there are chaotic sideways. The pedestrian here are always in a hurry, they only see what is in their front, only care what is on their walk, but rarely pay attention to what's happening right next to them. During my short stay, not only I were asked to spare out cigarettes and coins couples of time each day, my petite size got bumped million times each day but never met a nice person who willingly make me a way!
New York is city in transportation at all time, not only it is carrying people and stuff, also it is delivering dreams and wishes. All because it is a place with super efficiency, it is able to bring you to wherever you want in a super short time, that everyone tries so hard to reach to the front, keep reaching to the front, just reaching to the front, until many other important factors of life are naturally neglected. A lot of New Yorker kept telling me that New York is the best place to be, because nothing here is impossible to happen. Funny thing is that some of them had never visited any other continents other than North America, still they deeply believe their multicultural is the real international of the true global. Honestly, if you had never tried the many tasty fruits in this big big world, how do you know your tightly bitten big apple is the the fruit you want the most?
I still couldn't find a job after I spent a month in New York. When I was in total desperation somehow I realized my first identity is in fact a full time traveler, in that case my first mission is to live in the moment, and not to let myself down in any situation. As a result, I changed my tactics, restarted my logic, and started finding my own creative projects, so to leave it here my markings. I began posting my bio and recruitment notice on Craigslist classification to look for creative likeminds to work on collaborations, hoping to hook up with a rock band or a fashion designer who might be in need of a music video or promo viral. During that period, I kept meeting independent artists of the many different fields everyday, including graphic designer, jewelry artisans, band members and more. Although they all work as independent, they all very professional and talented with a truly unique style. All these striving artists are coming from diverse backgrounds, but they are holding a same strong belief, that is, to keep walking and working, until forever. The thing is they believe if they worked real hard enough, they will eventually get a lucky ticket to their wonderlands one day.
My three New York friends are also very talented people, respectively they play in different bands as a drummer or vocal or keyboardist. Even though they all have two or three jobs to keep themselves surviving or entertaining, they all give the most of their other time to their dreams, their music, and their lives. Always I felt excited when I visited their midnight rehearsal, album recording, or bar performance, because their live music are their truest voices, that made my heart touched.
Retifist - Rock / Metal Band
Damien Anthony - Jazz Band
Late Cambrian - Pop Rock
The very lucky me finally got a job by the end of my stay in New York, that is to work as a Publicity Videographer for an independent feature film called $uperCapitalist. This movie is a financial thriller that was shot in New York, Hong Kong and Macau; and it was screened in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Singapore and Hong Kong; but people from other places could rent or buy its digital copy from iTunes. During the time I worked for this movie I spent a lot of time with the producers, I found out from them they actually spent six years to realize this movie from scratch, that there were lots of busy and messy days, or happy and upset moments, but they never ever give up, just because they believe in what they choose and what they love. Sometimes something may sound crazy to some people, however to the person who does that, it is just something very normal, because without that very normal part of his life he could never live a perfect life.
Anyways, I really love to thank my friends again and again for their referral and referral, so that I had my wish came true, had the chance to work in New York, and proved myself as a Traveling Artist who doesn't just walk her way but also leave her markings on the way.