New York City in July

I was in New York last July to see my best friend, Jaime. I go to NYC almost every other year but this is the second post about it (hehe). You can read about the YOLO 24-hour trip I took with my friends to see an art opening back in 2013 here. Aside from that 2013 trip in the summer, I’ve always gone to NYC in the winter. Even though it’s not as a cold  Toronto, it’s still not the best weather to walk around and explore the city. I did have a really great time walking across town on my Christmas trip in 2014, but that was probably an abnormally warm year. Anyway, so I went in the summer because I’ve never been to NYC in the summer… and it’s hot. It was so hot and humid the way that Toronto wasn’t, and in a specific way that reminded me of summers in Hong Kong with the subway, the high-rises, and the crowds. I went back to Toronto thinking it was a good thing because I was about to take a month-long trip to a few Asian cities (Taipei was one of them!) and this was a chance to mentally prepare myself.

I took the midnight bus and got to the city in the morning and dropped by the legendary B&H Superstore on my way to Jaime’s office to pick up her keys. I got the Tenba BYOB 13 Camera Insert for my not camera-friendly backpack. I can’t believe it was my first time at B&H even though I’ve been to NYC a bunch of times. I definitely geeked out at the ordering and pick up system, also very comforted by the fact that you could check your luggages there. It’s always good to know that you’re not the only weird one who visits a camera store before dropping off your suitcases first.

Jaime’s work had tickets to this show on a cruise but we mixed up the location of the dock and missed it, so we grabbed a drink at the patio on a boat… I’m not sure.

The next day I wandered around Brooklyn and took the ferry to Manhattan to meet up with Jaime after work.

We went to the High Line and the Whitney Museum. There’s the melting wax figure of a man.

We went to Noisey’s Festival of Independence at South Street Seaport, the highlight for me was getting one of those super overrated Hong Kong-style egg waffles with ice cream at Smorgasburg even though I was going to Hong Kong in a month (I didn’t even eat that in Hong Kong anyway).

This is Colette.

I stayed for a bit and then went uptown to the Lincoln Center to catch a movie at the New York Asian Film Festival. I left the screening to a breathtaking sunset and New York architecture.

We spent July 4th watching more movies at NYAFF and then had hot pot with friends at Columbia Residence Hall, where you get a nice view of the Hudson River.

These were taken in the summer but for some reason looked like it could be winter, I don’t think I toned it that much. It’s most likely white paint not snow on the ground!

The next day, right before noon, Jaime announced she wanted to go to Fire Island. The first time I came across Fire Island, I read it in SNP‘s entry in Women In Clothes. I bought the book for a friend’s birthday and had only read that piece. I often think about it and I wish it’s still online somewhere.

I’d already shot down Jaime’s idea to go to Nantucket Island after she realized she had one extra day off work and she really really didn’t want to stay in the city. Meanwhile, I really am okay staying in, but I’m always more adventurous around Jaime. It’s really why I’m friends with her. From Brooklyn, you take the train to Jamaica Centre and catch the Long Island Railroad, and then take a cab to a ferry dock and take the ferry to Fire Island. It was a three-hour one way by public transit.

It was July 5th so the Island was empty as everyone had gone back to the city after the long weekend. I’d never understood the need to “get out of the city” (then again 85% of the time I’m content being home) until I saw the sand and I got it. It sounds stupid and I take living in the suburbs of Toronto for granted, but after the fresh air on the Island, I felt how the city could be suffocating by contrast. Maybe that was the point I stopped experiencing New York City like a tourist.

With my feet in the sand, I realized I had not been on a real beach by the ocean since I moved to Toronto from Hong Kong. I don’t even remember the last time I was on a real beach (lake beaches don’t count), it was definitely more than 10 years ago.

It was so peaceful. I never thought of myself as a beach person but that moment I was ready to be one. I want the sun and I want to go to California and I want to learn how to surf. I didn’t realize I had missed the crashing waters, too. It was all so intoxicating.

Those were probably by far the most “lifestyle blogger” photos I’d ever taken.

I won’t lie, it was really not fun walking in the sand not sure where we were going, there was literally nothing but sand in stretches, and big houses but we would be trespassing. We had a seafood dinner at a restaurant by the shore, where the sunset was the perfect Before Midnight sunset.

The next day, I checked out the new International Centre of Photography and then went to see Les Misérables, got out of the theatre to Hamilton fans, they were shooting the doc then.

Went to see Larissa read at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.

After the reading, had dinner at Pocha32 in Koreatown with Jaime, Larissa, Clare and Adalena.


Pocha32’s decor really did an awesome job and making you feel like you’re sitting outside on a patio in Asia instead of the second floor of a building in midtown Manhattan.

My last night in town was spent celebrating the 15th birthday of the NYAFF. They screened a 35mm print of Johnnie To’s A Hero Never Dies (真心英雄), it was a freaking blast.

Thanks for reading! I also wrote about this trip in the context of the nostalgia I felt towards Hong Kong and the complicated feelings about home and Toronto right before I was leaving for my trip to Asia, it’s here.

By Jessie Lau

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