Friday, October 18, 2013

Preparing To Travel To NYC (Part One)

I have been to a few places in my lifetime and I always considered Sydney to be the most attractive city to visit and live in. That was till I got the chance to visit NYC many years back. Well, for the next 10 days or so, this blog will morph into a travel log / travel blog. This will be my third time visiting NYC. I am sure I would have been there many more times if the place wasn't so damn far from Asia.

This time I have been invited by Qatar Airways to take the route to NYC via Doha. Sometimes the airlines will hand out complimentary flights as a PR or marketing exercise to the media and/or certain type of bloggers (lol). Hence in exchange for the RM24,000 odd business class ticket, I will be writing a bit on my experience of travelling in Qatar Airways' business class. I probably could have secured flights from other airlines but this route is worthwhile and brilliant for Malaysians as it will be one of the shortest to NYC. Plus QA is right up there as having the best business class / first class ... can't wait to try out their Doha lounge.

Many Malaysians find it hard to even consider NYC as a travel destination for holidays as they think the arduous travelling alone is not worthwhile. Plus many many do not like tour packages, which is fair enough. Next, they feel intimidated by the big bad city that is NYC.

Next, they feel intimidated by the strict immigration and customs personnel in the US (which is quite a reality depending on your passport, travel chops on your passport and race).

Lastly, it probably is damn costly ....

Taking The Fear Out Of NYC / The Prep

a) Accommodation - Its damn expensive staying in NYC. Hotels ranging from just 3 to 4 stars can set you back RM800-RM2,000 a night alone. You can find cheaper ones but they are usually a bit more out of city center, not recommended if its your first time.

Do not fret. If you are going in a group, its better to stay at apartments. Have a look at this site OneFineStay which does private rentals. Make sure you know where you wish to stay. OneFine Stay is a bot more expensive, a better alternative is AirBNB. Very nice two or three room apartments near Times Square may only cost RM400-600 a night. When shared out, not that expensive.

b) Food - You can read up on the restaurants you want to go and book them beforehand. NYC is a mecca for all kinds of food. Just walking around the city and stopping for a slice of pizza or sandwich from a deli usually will be one of the better experiences in life - seriously, pizza and deli sandwiches in NYC must be the best in the world. Do not go to gawdy places such as Olive Garden or anything around Times Square.

Just go to OpenTable and search for restaurants you want to dine in. There are time slots and navigating in NYC is very easy as its all East West and Avenues around Manhattan. I would advise to dine at good restaurants for LUNCHES and not dinners as there are plenty to do at night. Plus dinners are usually a lot more expensive.

The one restaurant that I still did not get a table for is Per Se, which is fully booked for the next 3 months. What to do, one of the top places in the world to eat. Anyway, you can still find tons of great places, even one two star Michelin places. The menus are all there including prices. I have booked for lunches at Aquavit, Tocqueville and Caviar Russe this time around. OpenTable does not have any handling fees for bookings.

During other times, just grab a bite to eat whenever you are hungry ... must try Nathan's Hotdogs, go to a nice looking deli for great sandwiches, try out any pizzas that is not part of a chain ... you are already eating very well in NYC. Plus their breakfast places are ginormous and a lot of fun.

 NYCs 5 Best Breakfast Restaurants
(credit: Alexandra Penfold/

Doughnut Plant

379 Grand Street
Doughnuts are the ultimate breakfast treat, and Doughnut Plant takes the scrumptious items to new pillowy levels. They have something for everyone, but people rave about their dulce de leche and chocolate blackout flavors. Consider yourself lucky if you get your hands on the elusive pistachio.

Clinton Street Baking Co.

 NYCs 5 Best Breakfast Restaurants
The savory Biscuit Sandwich at Clinton Street Bakery. (credit:
4 Clinton Street
Known for their exquisite – and creative – approach to pancakes, Clinton St. has been one of New York’s favorite breakfast spots for years. Yet to disappoint, you can expect long lines of people eager to enjoy their fluffy, perfect flapjacks and moist, flavorful scones.
 NYCs 5 Best Breakfast Restaurants
(credit: Siobhan Wallace/

Five Leaves

18 Bedford Avenue
Greenpoint’s nautical-themed restaurant with quirky Australian touches is home to some of the best ricotta pancakes around. The light pancakes are layered with bananas and covered with fresh berries year-round. The wide range of their full breakfast menu will win over any appetite, or for those in a rush, they can stop by the pick-up window for a quick coffee and some pastries from renowned Ceci Cela.
 NYCs 5 Best Breakfast Restaurants
(credit: Alexandra Penfold/


120 Essex Street
No Phone
Two locations after the original, and Shopsin’s still has the crowd, perhaps because they make some of the best food in the city. Don’t come here looking for a simple breakfast, expect something more along the lines of the Mo’Betta, maple bacon and scrambled eggs sandwiched together by their famous mac n’ cheese pancakes. Beware: they don’t accept parties of more than 4.
 NYCs 5 Best Breakfast Restaurants
(credit: Siobhan Wallace/

Wally’s Square Root Cafe

584 Myrtle Avenue
Wally’s is a neighborhood corner joint that serves up their fantastic breakfast menu all day long. You can pick up their “Not French Toast” which is made with sweet brioche, or their “Green Eggs & Ham,” eggs scrambled with pesto and spinach placed over ham and grilled challah. They also serve Brooklyn’s own, Kitten Coffee.


farulg said...

To add a bit about the costs, hotels are expensive, but if you're going at non peak season you can still get $130-180 hotel rooms that are smack in the middle of the tourist areas. US hotels have the option for two queen/double beds so space for up to 4 people is sufficient. Don't forget the 13.xx% taxes though.

For apartments One Fine Stay is expensive, VRBO tends to be cheaper.

Again, enjoy the stay and the food!

Russ said...

I always considered Sydney to be the most attractive city to visit and live in – Dali.

Agreed, its finest ocean beaches, 39 in all - Coogee, Bondi – hahaha take it easy, hardly see any hot gals on normal days, the latter is all hyped up, all the beaches are within a short distance; its wide selection of great food accented with the finest spices, authentic tastiness and flavor, its coffee,barristers;

Sydney’s New Year Eve world’s most spectacular worldfamous firework displays and light shows. However, some Sydneynites are just too “ cool ” that it restrains them from erupting with spontaneous celebration mood unlike the Brits ( they just know how to enjoy good singing and dancing ), Malaysians and other nationalities there. Malaysian university students there can’t help not cheering - yaay, oi oi !!

Ones could also enjoy watching movies crazed by the Seniors in the past – Grease, Footloose, and never heard before – Casablanca. And having great food in the open air in the Centennial Park and walk home safely with good friends in the wee hours.

Still, at times, when walking alone, there is these feelings of missing home country – and its warm multiracial Malaysians – they (definitely minus the ahem ahem –the ULTRAmen ) are just sincere in wanting to ask how you are, apa khabar, they smile warmly, they just want to help a fellow Malaysian or tourists , really…

You will feel the warm vibrancy of Malaysians the moment you touch down in KLIA, how do you describe it aptly ? You will need to slow down your pace and catch it next time…

How not to barricade oneself not to be sucked in by intellectualism, exclusive individualism, materialism, the nauseous entitlement to this that and the long list of ism and conscientiously reflect to preserve this genuine friendliness in our DNA as progressive Malaysians especially when studying, living and working abroad.

Or investing to create wealth in fresh diversified tangents of the equation and increasing jobs and opportunities for the host country, inclusive of fellow countrymen in Malaysia.

Sometimes, when ones become too successful, they hate revisiting their humble background; ones’ countrymen / women or SOME wealthy Asians and their brats – Filipinos, mainland Chinese, Hongkong Chinese, Koreans, Singaporeans, Malaysian illite brats and SOME successful Asian PRs will not hesitate to lord over fellow Asians ( it sure is a throbbing toothache ) in particular to Malaysian university students / part - time wokers and / professionals in Australia, London or elsewhere.

Whereas Aussie friends treat Malaysian friends far far better. Hence it is the timeless thing called CLASS !! Wealth does not create class.

Sorry Dali for this out of tune. Thanks !

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