Post-Kyrgyzstan New York City Nightmare
Last week, Sean and I traded our comfortable, small town—where we can acquire a $1 can of Rainier at our local watering hole—for high speed life in New York City, where a drink runs easily $12 or more, and doesn’t feel quite worth it. Needless to say, the trip was a shock to our mountain-lifestyle, but yet, our five-day adventure was insanely better than the last time we visited the city… allow me to explain.
It was January (2013), and we had just reached the end of a 2-week ski/ride expedition in Kyrgyzstan—a democratic country located south of Russia and Kazakstan in central Asia. We had spent our last night feasting on bread, brie cheese from a can, and cold marinara sauce in our tiny room in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan’s capitol) while trying to watch episodes of New Girl on shitty internet. (LAY OFF… it’s a funny show.)
A view in the Bishkek city center on our last day:
We awoke at 3am the next morning to take a shuttle to the airport for our 5:30am flight. We had 1.5 hours of sitting in a tiny airport drinking artificially sweetened coffee, going through security and having them call Sean (in broken English) “Too sick to travel” because of all the diabetes medical supplies (e.g. the things that keep Sean alive) we were carrying. This ordeal involved only a few tears on my part, which transitioned into a four hour plane-ride on a Russian airline with horrible food. That was followed by four more mindless hours in the Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport without internet, where smoking is only allowed in “designated areas,” which are really just duct tape “boundaries” on the floor—which don’t keep smokers but a few steps away from nonsmokers. WHAT’S THE POINT? Here is a photo of Sean in Moscow from my iPhone, getting ready to munch on his favorite “authentic” Kyrgyzstan food:
That twilight zone was followed by eight hours on a flight to JFK (New York City) where it is IMPOSSIBLE to get a taxi cab to pick you up with two ski bags, let alone one. I literally had to walk away from Sean with my small backpack, flag down a taxi, ask him nicely to pop the trunk and BAM! Load up the ski bags before he could protest. Gotcha, taxi driver.
In my pre-expedition brilliance, I thought it would be GENIUS to book Sean and I at a hotel in Times Square. Cool, right? Yeah. Not at all. As you might have guessed, the math didn’t quite add up: Central Asia culture shock + New York City culture shock = MIND-NUMBING ANGER. We spent all of 20 minutes running circles in Times Square trying to find affordable food to eat, failing miserably, succumbing to the cheap allure of Sbarro pizza and returning to our hotel room to go to sleep immediately.
Although I will say, we had a slightly better Day 2 in NYC, which involved seeing the World Trade Center Memorial, viewing the city from the Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center, and a cruise through Wall Street. Oh, and an accidental (and infuriating) pair of $32 mimosas. When is $16 worth it for bubbly and orange juice??! We should have taken the bottle.
Graveyard near Wall Street:
The Survivor Tree at Ground Zero, a tree that survived the collapse of the World Trade Centers.
Waterfall memorial at the WTC:
View from the Top of the Rock looking toward lower Manhattan: