It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time passes while you’re thinking it feels like forever. Just like that, it’s been almost a weeks since I came back from the US — my first time back there in five and a half years — and I haven’t felt this lost in a very very long time.
I have to say, I never expected to be able to go back to the US when I did; indeed, my plan had always been to go back for a visit before I turn 30, so I had been anticipating a trip next year – until Tasha asked me to go with them on this trip, which was meant to be Alia and Kerina’s bachelorette vacation. I haven’t gone on a group vacation in years, and even though I wasn’t sure what it would be like traveling with them, I think this trip couldn’t have come at a better time. I was tired of being in KL, itching for a vacation (and I had been toying with the idea of going away somewhere on my own or with Becca for a few days), and completely strung out from my job and my relationship, so I needed to run away from my life for a while.
Ironically, even though New York is, was and always will be my favorite city, I had the best time in Los Angeles. I think it was because we were only in New York for four days and Las Vegas for three days, so we spent a good amount of time rushing around. It didn’t help that I fell sick in New York due to dehydration and the cold weather either. LA felt the most relaxed, and we stayed in Kerina’s apartment in Westwood, so it felt like being in boarding school. The best part is that I got to catch up with Maddi, Jeremy and Shannyn in New York, and Shaina in LA. They were some of the people I missed the most when I moved back here, and it felt as though we picked up right where we left off.
I was also afraid that, now that I’ve been living in Malaysia for nearly six years and I was going back to the US a much older, wiser and more obsessive-compulsive person, I would see the country with different eyes and not feel the way I did about it six years ago. But that first blast of cold air that hit me when I stepped off the plane at John F Kennedy Airport made it feel exactly like coming home again, and I left LA feeling more than ever that at some point in my life, I would like to be able to live there again. But for now — or at least the next 10 years (while my visa is still valid) — I will make it a point to go back there once a year, especially now that I’ve caught up with my friends from school and they are exactly where I want to be.
And, as is the custom with my travel posts, these are some of the things I’ve deduced from my trip:
It is not impossible, but not at all advisable, to put four girls in one room, especially four girls who tend to overpack because they never know what to wear and think they need options, and who love to shop. Our room in New York’s Dream Downtown Hotel was extremely comfortable, but extremely cramped, and we had to keep stepping over one another’s luggage and shopping bags to get anywhere. I tried to take up as little room as possible, but after a while the shopping got the best of me.
When on a city vacation, it is best to wake up early. Throughout the entire trip, I don’t remember a single day that we were out and about before noon. I made it out at 9:45 AM the day before I left LA, only because it was my last day to get everything I needed and I had to meet Shaina for brunch, so I wanted an early start. But it took such a long time to get everyone out of bed and fully functioning that by the time we were out the door it was time for lunch, after which we only had a good four or five hours to do anything productive before it was time for dinner, after which everyone was too tired to do anything except go home and lie down.
When in New York, avoid anything with wheels. Tasha insisted on hiring a car to take us around the city, but after spending one day in the car I decided I would go back to taking the subway. Traffic is so bad all over town that it takes much longer to get anywhere by car than it does by train and on foot. I was perfectly happy to switch trains as many times as was necessary and then walk 10 blocks to meet the girls if it meant not having to sit in traffic. And the proof is in the pudding: it took all of 15 minutes on the train to get from Times Square to Harlem, and 45 minutes in the car.
EIGHTH ROW FROM THE FRONT. Nothing else is worth it.
When traveling in a group, be impartial. I knew it wouldn’t be smooth sailing all the way traveling with a group of girls; some are more opinionated, while others are not at all, and everyone is either too afraid to argue or too indecisive to counter a decision. I spent the entire trip saying, “I’m OK with anything.”