Two Minutes Too Late.

I had a stupendous weekend in New York City. If you only have 48 hours to spend in any city, this will always be my recommendation. But this isn’t a post about New York. It is an honest account of what it can look like to travel alone.

Shall I regale you with the story of trying to get home? Prepare yourself, because it teeters on the dramatic side. 

The f train (accurately named), which is the only train to take out of east side without a 1.5 mile walk, was running slow. And by slow I mean 20 minutes late. That’s okay. It eventually came and I jumped on, squeezing between the packaged commuters. I was able to jump off at the correct station and got turned around looking for Penn Station. Luckily I have a great sense of direction and only got lost twice.

It got crazy on the train from the beautiful city of New York to the now known clingy city of New Jersey.

I hopped on another full train to cross the water into the unknown that would bring me to the holy land (or the airport). After buying another bus pass to get to the airport I shoved into yet another train. My love for trains had not been diminished, but was wearing thin..

It was only when I got to the security line when I felt the pressure for time. Half an hour and three times through the medal detector later, I was informed that I was at the wrong gate!! (It was not mentioned before but I was told which gate to go to by a horrific liar!)

In order to get to my gate I must traverse by bus to the correct part of the airport. Like most bus drivers I have come in contact with, this man was not pressed for time. He had no problem taking his time and driving possibly slower than a broken car without a wheel.

I could feel myself start to lose it.

I was breaking down just a bit as I watched the minutes tick by. It was 3:14. One minute before the doors closed. He pulled up and threaten a broken door by waiting to let me out. I jumped out and booked it to my gate. I was so close!! I ran the handicap ramp with shocking grace, only running into the wall once. And then, I saw it! It was beautiful, but there was no time to gaze in wonderment. I ran, full force toward gate B41. I showed my ticket to the lady at the gate fully believing I had made it.

“The doors just closed, mam. We have given away your seat.” 

I missed it. I had failed.

I would never get home and I would be stuck in Jersey for the rest of my life.

I collapsed on the ground tears flowing full force.

There are moments in your life that are beautiful, and there are moments when you are hysterically crying in an airport in Newerk.

This was that day.

After, I kid you not, a full 4 minutes of crying on the floor, I was told that it’s possible to get on the next flight. Still sobbing, I tried to regain any pride I had left and got into a unmoving line for option b. I was unable to control my emotions. It was as if I hadn’t cried in years and this was the moment that I broke.

A young (attractive) man came up to me. He must have been concerned about my mental health because he calmly said “you should probably breath so you don’t pass out”.

It was then I realized I was hyperventilating. Luckily, like most extroverts, talking to someone calmed me. It was possibly to process rational thought again. Of course I wouldn’t be trapped in New Jersey. There would be tons of flights and it was absolutely possible to get on one of them. He said he was a medic and that’s when I knew (though anyone could have guess before) that I was being dramatic.

So, after a few more sobs and a conversation with the ticket booth ladies, I was put on standby for the next flight 3 hours from then.

Most of the time I love airports. They are a place where everyone can be from different worlds but its equal playing ground. Everyone is traveling. Everyone is the same.

Layovers can be fun, but unexpected layovers in a clingy city that wants you to stay there forever, those are best handled with an exorbitant amount of French fries.

So, moral of the story is, never take the F train, and if all else fails, Irish Nachos. (Google Irish Nachos and enjoy your life being changed)

Becoming Korean

 

One of my favorite people introduced me to Korean Dramas.

IMG_5910.jpgShockingly she is from Malaysia not Korea, but none the less we bonded over Korean Dramas. In fact, we watched so many of them that we were able to speak some Korean to each other. It was never good, but we tried.

So on a recent trip to New York I stumbled across the promise land. I had been dreaming of going to Sheol since watching Boys Over Flowers. And coming out of the subway station we were landed right in the middle of KoreaTown. ChinaTown I had heard of, but KoreaTown? I didn’t know such a place existed! I was elated and we ran to the first Korean Barbecue restaurant we could find.

It was not my first time having the delicious Asian cuisine, but it was magical even so.

I had watched countless groupings of my now favorite Korean Actors eating their weight in the barbecue that seemed to be in every restaurant in Korea. I watched them drink soju (which is the most famous alcohol in Korean and an absolute must if you’re having Korean barbecue) and wondered what it would taste like.

We didn’t order any because it was a bit out of our price range, but I have been told that there are certain rules that go along with drinking soju. When I finally have some, I will share the rules and history behind it.

I thought I would have to buy a ticket to Sheol to try any of this, which I was more than willing to do.

But here, on a random subway stop on 6th and Broadway my dreams came true.

We walked into the restaurant out of the freezing cold and got seated at a table with a golden pole above it. My friend and I were the only two white people in the whole place 15283935_10154580690735470_5376157459553142837_nand it was perfect.

We sat down and looked at the menu. In all of my studying (by that I obviously mean watching Korean television) I only recognized 3 dishes.

Being the bold adventurous types that we are, we just smiled and pointed. We had full faith that any Asian food we eat would be perfect and delicious.

After about two minutes of the fantastic wait-staff telling us what their favorites were, our table was full of kimchi and beans and soy beans and what we thought was salsa. The only other Korean Barbecue I had been to was in Chiang Mai in Thailand and it was buffet style. This was much more classy.

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If you have never had Korean Barbecue, the most important thing you need to know is that you will cook the food on the table you’re sitting at. If you don’t do cook it on your table its not real Korean Barbecue.

If you are wondering what a safe thing to order because sometimes the menu can be overwhelming with foods you don't know; order the duck. Always 
order the duck. I don't know how or why, but I have never gone to an asian restaurant and had bad duck. Its impossible I believe.

Before you think that you use the chopsticks to eat such incredible food, lets talk about this. There is a particular way to eat Korean Barbecue or Korean ssam style. This means you’re eating with your hands, so make sure you wash up. At a fancy Korean restaurant they will provide hot towels for you.  Then there will be a bed of lettuce on your table and this is what you’re piling up the deliciousness on.

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On the table there will be numerous things like bean sprouts,  kimchi, a green onion salad mung bean jelly, braised beans (which I ate in their entirety.. sorry Marissa..) grilled zucchini and squash. There are also sauces and vegetables and seeds and garlic and all types of things to add to your lettuce wrap. Once you have put everything you want on it, you eat it in one bite. That might change the amount of ingredients that you put in.

It is probably one of my favorite dishes to eat AND you get to prepare it yourself which is really cool. If you have never had any food from Korea, let me be the first to tell you to try the braised duck. And if you’re in New York, go to Miss Korea Barbecue. They impressed me and I’ve been dreaming about Korean food for two years now.

But don’t let me be the one to tell you. Find a Korean Barbecue restaurant near you and try it for yourself.

Here are some Korean words to practice before you go in.
  • Hello: annyeonghaseyo [sounds like an-young-ha-say-oh]
  • Thank you: kamsahamnida [sounds like calm-sa-ham-ne-da]

Luckily most places in the states will speak English and are very helpful.

I whole heartedly believe in eating the food of other cultures because even if you can’t speak the language, the food is universal.