Getting away from the Big A

by Evans Yonson

(Note: I wrote this piece when I left New York for the Philippines, sometime in June 2002. I am publishing it on the birthday of my favorite cousin, Arlene, who lives in New York City.)

catching a flight from manila to hongkong is like flying the manila-davao route. but this one’s different. you’re flying international this time. you fly over mt. pinatubo where sometimes the volcano spews ashes that only cathay pacific passengers are privileged to view once in a while. i have not taken any airline going to hongkong other than cathay pacific. i don’t know about northwest and philippine airlines.

arriving at the hongkong international airport is fun especially when you’re catching a connecting flight to the United States. you only have less than an hour to catch the next haul to the big apple. the next flight will be a few hours later – ergo, another day earlier in the US. time difference is all that matters. i really wonder how stella is able to catch up with all those long international flights. well, that’s an interesting topic to discuss next month.

flight CX 888 leaves HKG 1500 H and with an hour stop over in Vancouver and arrives JFK 1900 H on the same day. if you are in luck, you will get the feel of international flavor once step into the aircraft. middle eastern people. chinks. indians. pakistanis. indonesians. sri lankans. talk about united colors of benetton. you have to savor the aroma while it lasts. if you remember SEARSOLIN, then that’s it.

vancouver is an interesting city. no need not go down the aircraft to get the feel of home. airplane cleaners are filipinos. they greet you with ready smiles and a few chats of kumustahan in between exchange of sheets.

new york is just 4 hours flight away from vancouver. don’t count the time difference otherwise you’ll die counting and thinking how many hours you have flown. the only thing to remember is from fall to end of winter – philippines is 13 hours ahead of the big apple. spring till end of summer – 12 hours.

the best time to arrive in the John F Kennedy International Airport (it used to be the busiest airport in the world until they started renovating it and everybody just settled for newark, new jersey) is night time and towards the end of winter. it’s cold and a little warmer inside. well, if you are a tropical being, the cold will kill you no end. the smokes…


once at the airport, it is best that you take the metro bus going to manhattan. 1.50 US. it’s a lot cheaper than the usual airport taxis. they charge you 25U$ for nearby cities and you have haggle for a cheaper ride. and you thought the filipinos at the NAIA were shrewd, think again.

if there’s one thing that you should not miss in new york that is the SUBWAY. if london has its underground. the big apple has its subway. the city under the city. you have everything down there. remember the quiapo underpass? well, less the denim jeans stores. the music under manhattan is great.

if you’re going to nathalie’s (chrisbals’ sister) place in long island or louella’s (jude tan’s sister) place up north just before poughkeepsie or rollo sicoco’s southern part of long island, which are very far from manhattan – you should a train from the city. the trains always arrive on time and never late.

if you intend to stay longer in the city – let’s say 6 months, the best thing to do is to buy a month’s ticket for the subway. it’s limitless rides for 1 month. anywhere you go – the bus or the subway trains.

once in manhattan, it is best that you wear rubber shoes. long walks are very much the in-thing. leave your cars at home. there is not enough parking space for your vehicle here.

first place to visit – times square. try visiting from 4 pm onwards. there is not much lights during the daytime. it is best that you arrive later in the day. the lights are simply mesmerizing. if you arrive earlier try getting broadway tickets for a 50% discount. shows usually start at 8 pm. and ends at around 11 pm. then new york is just waking up. it is suggested that you orient yourself with the subway map first before plunging yourself into new york’s lights.

new york is also famous for its parades. st patrick’s day. gay pride. philippine independence. july 4. christmas. new year. united nations.

if you are into culture, arts and all – the museum mile is the best strip to go to… guggenheim and all…. the broadway area has lots of shows the whole year.

if you are hip and into drinking, try soho and uptown east area.

if it’s your first time and you decided to see the city during the day, try 5th avenue. the cathedral. lincoln center. the philippine consulate office. the jewelry streets. NBC studios and stores.

if youre the adventurous type, try chinatown – a few blocks away from NY city hall and the world trade center area.

if you want to see the hudson river – try the southport area. there you can take rides going to ellis island for a small fee.

i still have lots of stories to tell. are you interested with my florida escapade? how about the bangkok sexcapade? or maybe the vietnam boatrides? how about the bali “bombing” experience? or the china syndrome?