Lost in Time

IMG_5592

Time has betrayed me once again, and I never got to round off my internship days in Kuala Lumpur with a blog post. Rather than giving a feeble account of my last weeks (let’s face it, I am getting old), I present to you a small batch of photos, giving you a quick glimpse into my last month of escapades in Malaysia.

Two amazing friends granted me the honor of their company as my days were numbered as an intern. Sharing memories with special people in your life is about as good as it gets:

Visit 1) You may remember my friend Mette, back from my trans-Mongolian-railway-days (take a peek here, if I tickled your curiosity), and it was fun to take her around KL whenever my working-hours permitted it. We also got to take a break from the CO2 of the city, and went to Penang by bus to hunt down some street art and that Penang food which the Malays talk so much about.

Visit 2) With a few vacation days left, Ine – who I met in New York (check out our Green-Wood Cemetery adventure here) – came to Malaysia for a short visit before embarking on a Southeast Asia trip. After some KL-highlights we quickly boarded a flight to Bali to get our yoga vibes on. It was nothing short of an amazing ending to a fantastic internship and no Volcanic ash or flight problems could disturb our zen.

Advertisements

A Bubbly Affair

With a few allowed vacation days during my internship, I planned for an extended weekend in Taipei! This was very much a solo-project and I had butterflies in my tummy from pure excitement as I flew across the waters. I studied my traveling guide meticulously on the plane, giving me wonderful flashbacks to my travels in China and my exchange in Hong Kong – if you are new to wildwonton you can read about those adventures here and here (and a heartily welcome to the rants). And though Taipei is nothing like my past experiences I was overjoyed to be back in Chinese-character-land. Boy, have I missed those perfectly timed transportation systems, those spring onion pancakes for breakfast and to genuinely feel the excitement of a different culture, wash over me as I explored those streets and lanes.

A small warning as we begin: My first impressions of Taipei, as relayed here, are void of any critical distance – I only just returned to KL as I am writing this, and the post is thus naturally filled with a insistent high from traveling and with leftover-excitement-butterflies in my tummy. But Taipei was definitely a city after my taste: it is no wonder foodies hail it as the ultimate food destination. It will therefore not surprise you either that I spent a majority of those 4 days hunting down food! If you don’t have long in Taipei I would definitely suggest that you hover around Yong Kang Street for a few hours as you will find many great samples in this area. I skipped the Din Tai Fung queue (if you have the time, get in that line!) and jumped around the corner for some dumplings at Kao Chi, serving all the Shanghainese classics. As I can’t compare, I will only say that my tummy had no objections. The crispy sides of their signature pan fried pork buns was a new experience to my taste buds and they genuinely enjoyed them (sorry, no documentation they went straight into my tummy). As they are fried in an iron cast pan they get a lovely crisp underside, while the top retain the soft delicacy, if you will, as you know it from your traditional dumplings. I also sampled spring onion pancake from a famous vendor further down from Kao Chi (on a corner) – just look for a long line! I of course also sampled the must above all musts: some beef noodle soup. As I was slurping away, I remember thinking to myself: I can’t believe how lucky I am to sit here in Taipei! Also, lets not forget about the bubble tea… I had at least 2 a day and particularly liked 50 Lan! After having perused Yong Kang to the fullest, I also ventured further out to Gongguan to try the infamous gua bao, a slow-braised pork hamburger, filled to the brim with crunchy coriander and some peanut butter-like goodness. My hunt also took me to a full-blown Hello Kitty experience and all the way out to Maokong (and up the mountain with the gondola) to sample some of that fine Taiwanese tea. If you want a more modern take on tea (and not in a traditional teahouse setting, though why would you not want to try that also?), I gave Smith&Hu a visit. Probably the best scones I ever had, and let’s not overlook that amazing tea selection. My visits to numerous night markets (I went to one every night, however I would never have found Raohe Market without Javis, a kind local who took me under his wing for the evening – Hi Javis, if you are reading this!) stuffed me up to the fullest. In general, rest assured – you are bound to have a great food experience in Taipei.

I of course also covered some of those non-food musts while visiting the island. I took a half-day trip up to Tamsui – a historic town, best known for Fort San Domingo which was established by the Spanish. Walking around the narrow lanes was thrilling and the beautiful riverside and numerous bike paths makes it an ideal setting for outdoor activities too. In Taipei, I managed to cover a fair amount of ground. Chiang Kai-shek and the 2-28 Peace Memorial Park served as a window into the darker history of Taiwan. Other musts on my path included, Bao’an Temple, Dihua Street (known for its Chinese medicine shops) and the National Palace Museum (home to the world’s largest collection of Chinese art). Two locations stood out to me, however. One was Huashan 1914 Creative Park, a location I almost decided to skip (but boy, am I glad I didn’t!) The Creative Park is a 20th-century wine factory which has been restored into the ultimate retro venue, where like-minded creative people gather, whether it be for sketching, playing music, dancing or any other art form you can possible think of. The venue hosts numerous cute cafes and boutiques, and I quickly lost all track of time. The day I was there the park was filled to the brim and made for an excellent people-watching spot. Also, a cool exhibition on Miffy was clearly drawing in Taiwanese families as their event of choice for the weekend and I could definitely see myself coming here often if I ever got to live here. Another outing which stood out to me was my short trek up Elephant Mountain to catch that classic shot of Taipei 101. I don’t regret a single drop of sweat that was spilled to reach that vantage point in the summer heat.

As I am nearing the end of this post can we just take a minute to appreciate the brilliance of the Taiwanese? Any country that invents bubble tea and instant noodle is a favorite in my book.

My adventure in Taipei has definitely left me wanting more. I unfortunately did not get to visit Yangmingshan National Park – despite such beautiful nature being right at the doorstep of Taipei – and therefore feel like I need to come back! The island offers so many lovely spots, and could easily provide an excellent opportunity to take a tour around the entire island by train. I hope Gid is up for some mountain hiking and some train riding someday!?

/Krissy

Khmer Fascination

Exceeding Expectations

Having already traversed a big chunk of the Asian corner of the world – and having spent more than a month in Malaysia on my first backpacking trip – I came to Kuala Lumpur with absolutely no expectations of discovering new places (and let’s be honest, New York City made my bank account implode). Not that I am done exploring, or feel like I have saturated this side of the map for new adventures; no, I simply did not factor new exciting places into the equation that was my KL internship. Least of all, I did not think I would set foot in Cambodia. Having been to Thailand on numerous occasions (at one point in time, I almost moved here with my family), this country is definitely close to my heart. I find it distasteful what kind of reputation Thailand has gotten in recent years, with the massive influx of (often obnoxious) tourists with sad intentions. For that reason I have often defended and placed this location on a pedestal, not only because I find it so simple to be at ease here, but also because people have almost forced me to be apologetic about liking it. However, apologetic is the last thing I want to be – whether it be in my life or in this post. No, what I am getting to is how this defensiveness has somehow managed to blind me, or overshadow destinations like Laos and Cambodia, making me disregard these destinations as being lower down that list of must-visits (listomania, that is me). But as Gid and I agreed, it was time to experience a new setting, and when that choice came down to Cambodia, that was probably one of the best lessons of my stay here so far. It is so easy to be consumed by presumptive ideas or to fall under the trap of generalizations. Going to Cambodia was not only a wonderful vacation for Gideon and I to spend some time together away from KL, but it was also a reawakening for me; a newfound love for Asia and the uniqueness and variety that exists in all shapes and forms here. Just to give one example: had I known what Khmer cuisine tastes like, I probably would not have wasted all this flying OVER Cambodia…

Not having set foot on any East Asian countries apart from Philippines, I was pleasantly surprised that 2015 would bring me to both KL and Cambodia. For a long time, it had been a dream of mine to visit ruins and temples, and it so happened that I could do it with the best travel partner one could ever ask for: Krissy. I really did not know what to expect, though. I was mostly excited to melt in the sun while visiting the temples of Angkor heritag park. As we walked out of the arrival hall of SRIA, we were greeted by our hotel staff with a bouquet of flowers and the most humble of bows. We flew early morning and were quite tired, but after such a warming greeting, we knew then and there—and as Krissy and I looked at each other in excitement—that our stay would be nothing short of amazing. 

Forever Foodies

After the many belt-loosening meals we had in KL, it was a pleasant surprise for Krissy and I to sample Khmer cuisine. From street food vendors to gourmet eateries, this city provides the perfect setting for culinary adventures. With so much to try, where do you begin? Well, our research revealed that Fish Amok was an absolute must-try. This was great, since Krissy and I always welcome seafood in our bellies. Fish amok is a mixture of kroeung (a delectable curry paste made from a base of lemongrass, turmeric root and galangal) and sliced white fish, normally steamed in a banana leaf bowl to form a mousse. Upscale restaurants serves it as a mousse, while more local places offer it as a kind of stew. We definitely recommend trying this dish at The Sugar Palm, nown for serving one of the best fish amoks in town.

My stepdad is a chef, and I would like to think I grew up with a palate refined to diverse flavors; however, Khmer cuisine excited my palate like nothing I have tasted before.  Two other places that impressed our socks off are Chanrey Tree and Chamkar (vegetarian). Chanrey Tree has a very stylish atmosphere, great for evening dates. The meals we ordered were delicately plated, and careful attention was given to choosing ingredients that really bring together the dish as a whole. Our main course here was Prahok Ktish, a Cambodian delicacy of fermented fish, pork, thinly sliced river fish braised with coconut cream, baby eggplant, served with blanched vegetables crudites. It is difficult to find words to justly describe this dish; its flavors were a perfect blend of spicy, sweet and tangy. As for Chamkar, you are doing yourself a great disservice if you do not try their curries. When the world offers such mouth-watering cuisine, it is impossible to be anything other than forever foodies. 

Temple Day 1: Rubble Raiders

I felt like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider as we entered the Angkorian heritage site. We bought a 3-day pass, as our main purpose whilst being in Siem Reap was to explore all the temples. We definitely need to come back another time and travel through the rest of the country, North to South. But this time around, the main objective was to focus all of our attention on the magic of Siem Reap. I think it is no exaggeration when I say that both of our jaws dropped as we entered the first temple site, Preah Khan. It is very humbling to walk a historical site. Every brick used in the construction of these temples have over the years acquired different hues of colors, and put together it becomes a Monet masterpiece. The carvings are so miniscule and precise, that it is difficult to believe how they managed to construct such sites, and just how the carvings have lasted all this time. Preah Khan is one of largest complexes within Angkor, and has some of the finest carvings (+ fewer visitors here). It was our very first ruinous temple, and I will never forget that feeling of walking among the most beautiful stone rubbles in the middle of the jungle.  On our first day we also visited a lot of smaller temples like, Preah Neak Poan and Ta Som. Though everything looked like it was by chance – fallen stones and bricks scattered here and there, a temple placed randomly in the middle of the jungle – it somehow all made sense.  As we came to Siem Reap at the end of May – the threshold between dry season and wet season – the nature surrounding us was undeniably barren as most of the waterholes were dried up. However, you could still sense a tingling feeling lingering in the nature around us, an impatient yet hopeful anticipation of what kind of weather was to come. We ended our first afternoon early, due to the sweltering heat and the dry air, which slowly but surely took its toll on us as the sun crossed the sky. It is a scary thought how such a blistering sun can suck out all life of you. What pieced us together was our sweet Tuk-Tuk driver who happily reminded our tired bodies of what kind of magical place that we were exploring, as he was taking us back to the bustling civilization of Siem Reap.

Temple Day 2: Will you go to Ta Prohm with me?

I have always been a big fan of adventure. From Indy’s archaelogical escapades on film to Nathan Drake’s daring pursuit for treasure in video games. It was therefore only fitting for Day 2 to bring us to the temple of Ta Prohm. Neglected and embraced by the jungle, Ta Prohm transported Krissy and I to another world and another time. The atmosphere was raw, mysterious, eerie and picturesque all at the same time. Perhaps the temple’s most distinctive feature, and the reason for it being featured in the Tomb Raider movie, are the trees growing into the ruins. The massive trunks rise up to the skies, branching out into canopy of green leaves that provide shade in the sweltering sun. The trunks trail the stone walls and its roots form serpentine claws, coiling, slowly reclaiming the stone temple. Blurring the line between fiction and reality, this temple seduces you into feeling a part of a greater narrative, an old tale of adventure and exploration. 

My highlight of day two was definitely visiting the temple of Bayon. As you explore this site, beware of lurking eyes and staring glances – in fact, you should be prepared for 216 faces, to be exact – all glaring down upon you as you visit their humble abode. Bayon is the central temple of the ancient city of Angkor Thom, representing the intersection of heaven and earth, and certainly had a jaw-dropping effect on both of us (again). There is just something about those beaming faces, looking out in every direction of the world, which cannot fail to mesmerize you. It is no wonder that the smiles have captivated so many, and that Bayon is often referred to as the Mona Lisa of Asia. The serene smiles surely lured us into staying a bit longer at this site. As midday came and went and the sun was at its highest, I want to reiterate a recurring theme of this post: the scorching heat. I think for all those global-warming-skeptics out there, I want to place each and everyone of you on the long path leading across the moat and into the temple site of Angkor Wat, and make you all walk back and forth from midday until around 2pm. Then look me in the eyes, and tell me that Mother Earth isn’t overheating!

After Bayon temple, we worked our way towards the three-tiered temple Baphuon. Conquering our fear of heights, we traversed the many steps up a steep staircase to get to the topmost tower and get an expansive view of the surroundings. Just as we thought it could not possibly get any hotter, an interesting shift in weather suddenly occurred. The skies grew dark, and we felt the wind getting stronger. We knew right away that it would rain, but we were not prepared for the heavy downpour that it turned out to be. It was a fantastic experience: we were soaked head to toe, our bags and their contents were soaked (Sorry again Mads and Sidsel for crumpling your book!) but we were mostly laughing because it was actually fun being there at that time. As the clouds retreated and the rain stopped pouring, our eyes were met with a different Angkor. The sharp sunlight was gone, and the overcast sky left the leaves and the ruins saturated with color. It felt as if everything suddenly bloomed into existence. It felt like Angkor had come to life, working its magic on the people lucky enough to witness it at that very moment.

Temple Day 3: A Setting Serenity

As we got up, at what felt like the middle of the night, and slid in on the plastic seating of our Tuk-Tuk, I could feel the excitement rush all over me. It was an hour before dawn and darkness embraced us like a cloak, as we drove through the jungle, only the sounds from the motor serving as a reminder to my imagination that it shouldn’t run off with me completely. Gideon of course joked about tigers and other lurking beasts, but we made it safely to the holy site of the temple to rule them all, Angkor Wat. Yes, we did the obligatory sun rise scene at this magnificent site. And yes, we shared the view with a horde of tourists as thick as pea soup. But there is a reason why this iconic Khmer complex is loved by so many during those golden and colourful minutes. As you stand there, staring out into the darkness, watching the silhouette of the temple become clearer and clearer as light is slowly but surely embracing the pinnacle structures, the speed of the changing colours against the backdrop of Angkor Wat makes no sense. Oh the tranquility! I remember wondering what it must have felt like as the first archaeological team stumbled upon the largest religious monument in the world. They must have had that same goofy smile that was on my lips at that moment, as the sun was done doing its rising-business. You might read all of this and think that the temples will at some point in time become boring to explore. And yes, temple fatigue is a common exhaustion which many of the online reviews mention out there in cyberspace. While this is true for most, and while I cannot reject the fact that we mostly decided to call it a day early in the afternoon, I can genuinely and honestly say that 3 days were perfect for us. Even though you might feel like you hit a temple-plateau after x amount of time, there always comes a corner, a temple-embracing tree, a detailed bas-relief, a colourful contrast or a view over the jungle which makes you astounded that you are actually lucky enough to visit this famed heritage park. As we drove through Angkor one last time in our Tuk-Tuk, with the course back towards Siem Reap city centre, Gid and I agreed that we would not have been without a single rubble on our trip.

 

Thank you Cambodia,

Spending 3 days on rubble raiding was just the right amount of time for Krissy and I. In addition, some planning allows you to see what else Siem Reap has to offer. For us, it was an educational experience to visit the National Museum where we learned more about the temples and for whom they were built. The Old Market and various side streets are definitely worth exploring. If you have time, we urge you to experience Phare, the Cambodia Circus. We bought tickets to a show, where we experienced the chilling narrative of Sokha, a child haunted by the visions of the atrocities and destruction by the Khmer Rouge. The performers executed a brilliant and raw performance, showcasing the best of contemporary Khmer acrobatics, music, choreography and drama,  and providing great insight into Cambodian lives and society. 

The time Krissy and I shared in the charming city of Siem Reap will long remain in our hearts. It is a city full of life, wonder and amazing adventures. Cambodia, we’ll see you again! We’ll be back to explore the capital, Phnom Penh. 

// Krissy & Gideon

Picture Postcard

No photoshop Try to picture one of those tacky postcards: white, sandy beaches, palm trees marking up the shore line and the turquoise sea water battling it out with the sky to see which blue nuance is the brightest. At Perhentian Islands, postcards don’t do reality justice. I stayed a whole weekend in this paradise where my fellow travel-companions and I quickly got spellbound by the island-vibe, where time seems to slow down and errands and to-do lists get tucked away somewhere in the back of the mind. Little was on the agenda other than slurping mango smoothies and soaking up some sun with the occasional dip in the sea. We also took a 3 hour snorkeling trip to other, smaller islands lying around the Perhentian Islands, offering colourful fish and untouched corals. It is safe to say that it was an unforgettable snorkeling experience, with a blue marlin jumping near our boat, turtles coming up for air as we were lying in the water and of course, not to forget, the finding of many a cute Nemos. Picture Postcard To make sure that we didn’t miss our flight back to the city we decided to take the jetty back early on Sunday and go explore Kota Bharu and its famous central market, Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah. This colourful wonder offers a wet market with the usual produce like fish and veggies, and it was also here that I got to try the famous Nasi Kerabu, a beautiful blue-coloured rice dish that is really popular here in Malaysia. As you ascend the stairs in this building you get to the dry market – a myriad of small pathways that will lead you around dried snacks, cooking utensils and beautiful batik clothing. It is easy to get lost in here and lose all sense of time. <3 Getting over my dengue fever also gave me back my appetite, and food suddenly became appealing to me once again. That opened up for countless food adventures around the city – everything from local Malay to fine Japanese food. One such local adventure was a trip to the nearby Imbi market, which hid itself from us for some time but proved worth the chase once we found a spot at one of the glitzy plastic chairs and tables, barely shaded by the sun. The heat was heavy, but with a plate of Sisters Crispy Popiah in front of me, I forgot all about the sweaty circumstances. Other edible delights included an amazing experience at Gangnam 88 in Mont Kiara where kimchi stew and bulgogi blew my mind and made me want to fly away to Kpop-land right away. Dim sum also crept its way back into my life, and I realized how much I have missed this usual Sunday ritual from when I was living in Hong Kong. This weekend we simply had to try the afternoon high tea session at The Majestic Hotel, with fine bone china of teapots and teacups and a circular tower of goodies. Of course, the only correct way to eat your cucumber sandwich is with a pointy pinky. Yes, the colonial feel is a bit much, and yes it is a bit pricey, but once you dig into that scone you have already convinced yourself that you have to come back. High Tea session The 2015 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix also came to Kuala Lumpur, attracting thousands of enthusiasts from around the world. Not being a car or adrenalin junkie, I did not plan to go to this big event, but was lucky enough to be invited along on some free tickets. And though I must admit I never understood the fascination e.g. why my dad would want to spend a whole Sunday watching cars driving around and around and around on a pit (and still don’t), I am happy that I was fortunate enough to try it and “tick it off” the list of musts. One weekend was also spent traversing all of the acres of the ‘Lake Gardens’, also called Perdana Botanical Garden. I was very surprised by all the colours and how bright the greenery was. Due to the intense heat that follows you everywhere you go, I often have a difficult time accepting how green Kuala Lumpur actually is. Of course the almost daily afternoon showers give plants and trees the necessary sustenance, however, these rain showers always seem to escape my memory (which might also explain why I always forget an umbrella). The garden area is absolutely stunning and offers an orchid section, a hibiscus section, a small deer park and everything in between. Walking around the big lake in the center of the park made me reminisce about my time in NYC the past few months, wondering if this heritage park is KL’s equivalent to my beloved Central Park. Botanical gardens KL is still treating me real good and apart from the usual cab driver trying to press me for an extra ringgit or two, the past month has offered me some amazing memories, like a funky jazz night at No Black Tie, a mojito at Marini’s rooftop bar, not to forget the many snacks and deserts that find their way to my tummy. If you are a resident in KL, please share with me your favourite food spot, and any local must eats– always up for a new food adventure. Follow me on instagram if you are a foodie yourself. Until next time! /Krissy

Getting My Batik On!

Getting My Batik On

The first month in Kuala Lumpur flew by, confirming once again that time is my worst enemy!

I arrived mid-February, ready for a life as an intern in one of the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the country. My fellow interns – who also happen to be my roomies – took good care of me and showed me around through all the alleys and crooked streets that make up KL. Also, one of the interns managed to persuade his girlfriend to come along for 6 months, making up a great male-female ratio in our apartment, and I predict late night beer talks, and fun, weekend shenanigans the next 6 months.

One such memorable shenanigan already unfolded in the cooler regions of Cameron Highlands, a 4hrs bus ride outside of KL. While getting there was quite the challenge (as the gear lever proved uncooperative), the gentle hills served as an open farmland, with rows-upon-rows of tea shrubs. The perfect and cooler weather conditions provide the perfect home for hundreds of floral species, and traversing around the mountains makes for a breathtaking excursion. We stayed at a cute cottage-like bed and breakfast in Tanah Rata, which served as our base for exploration. We spent most of the weekend hiking through the forests with mud up to our ankles – the best way to spend a weekend! The views were stunning and it felt great to walk the distances on foot, rather than hiring a touristy-bus tour. Leisure time was spent at a strawberry farm – after all that hiking the red, shinny berries never tasted better.

The view
And now, lets turn to the tea… The second day we walked to Boh Tea Plantation, to get a colonial-inspired scone and sandwich. Now I don’t want to waste any more space on the food, but instead turn to the best peach ice tea I ever had in my life – the Boh peach tea! If you are ever able to get your hands on this stuff (it is available also in most supermarkets in KL to our great delight upon return), please fill up your suitcase – every single drop of ice tea is worth it!

IMG_4241

The first few weeks of the internship also coincided with this years Chinese New Year, the year of the goat. This naturally served as a window of opportunity to visit Thean Hou Temple as it was decorated with the most beautiful, Chinese red lanterns during the festivities. Thean Hou is probably THE Chinese temple to visit while in KL as it offers some great views over the city. With all the big malls and streets being decked out in Chinese decorations, the sea of red proved a beautiful, welcoming gesture.

IMG_4140

Other, first month highlights include eating my own body weight in food within all the different Asian cuisines: Malay, Chinese, Vietnamese and the list goes on. Goreng and fresh, whole fish are a must, and with Jalan Alor and other street-food options right around the corner from our apartment it is most likely that I will put on some weight – no regrets though!

Another must - nasi lemak <3
Another must – nasi lemak <3

Apart from all that goodness, Malaysia has also tested and tried me this past month. The greatest test was undoubtedly no bigger than 0.3 to 2 cm – a bloodsucking, stupid little mosquito carrying the infamous tropical disease also known as dengue fever. I wish this upon no one, and after spending three days in the hospital, with a water drop in my wrist and under constant observation; I left the hospital scarred for life with a collection of blue marks from the many blood tests. Let the mosquito-spray frenzy begin!

Saying My Goodbyes

IMG_3886

My last post about New York and my second exchange experience is written in the comforts of my apartment in Copenhagen, with a warm cup of tea looking out at the gloomy, Northern weather. This delay was certainly unintentional as Christmas somehow got torn out of my calendar and time truly betrayed me. With the last December days creeping up on me, I barely had time to notice that I was sitting in JFK on the 24th of December waiting to go home. Somehow, however, this unintentional delay does provide me with a retrospective advantage, allowing me to give a better account of my last city-life escapades. However, as a disadvantage, dear reader, this means that you are subject to what they refer to as an unreliable narrator in literary courses, or as a hindsight bias in psychology, and I therefore leave it up to you to see through the thick fog of romanticism and partiality that naturally will dilute my last recollections of my life in the greatest city, that is New York.

Before sharing my last memories, I must dedicate a section to the great American tradition of giving thanks for the harvest and the year that went by, otherwise known as Thanksgiving. I got to be a part of the ‘giving thanks’ traditions together with my family residing in the lovely Sunshine State. I only had a vague idea of Thanksgiving being all about turkey and American football, as seen in all the movies – but it felt like an even bigger deal being part of it. And seeing as I can embrace any tradition that revolves around food, I found myself quickly taking it to heart. Pie-making and pie-eating definitely makes the top of my list, but watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade from the front row on the couch was somehow nostalgic, though it was my first time witnessing the biggest spectacle of the holiday season. Thanks go out to my Florida-family, making it such a great experience.

Giving Thanks

But to rewind a bit, I had some lovely late November days in the city with my mom, dad and my not-so-little brother before getting some vitamin D in Florida. It was quite nice to be “forced” to see all the touristy things once more, as the season naturally brought about a change in appearance of all the famous sights, streets and eateries. Particularly the change of colour and light of the city as seen from The Highline, was spectacular, as pigments of red, yellow and orange were magically fading away in favour of brown and barren hues. To be able to experience such visual changes is exactly what makes this city so great to live in. Not to visit, but to live in. Of course seasonal change is an undeniable fact all over the world. But to witness the change of nature in one of the largest urban settlements created by mankind makes for some thought-provoking moments. Just like the visuals of the city constantly change throughout the year, so does the people who make up its population and the events and spaces that make up the backbone of the daily routines. There is always something new going on in the city – a critical requirement for a young lady out of a restless generation, always looking for a new place to call home.
IMG_3883

December month was brisk, making it necessary to tuck in that scarf. Yet with deep blue skies and sunny rays finding its way around the glistening skyscrapers to brighten the pavement that I walked, I forgave the icy winds. The weather proved to be quite sporadic during the last month, ranging from arctic cold to shorts-weather – Perhaps Mother Nature was going through menopause? All poor-jokes aside, I find it necessary to give tribute to the rainy days that also made quite the impression on me whilst living in the city. Having always had a weird fascination with rain ever since childhood, the city is undoubtedly at its prettiest in the pouring rain. While rain might be a nuisance in my adulthood, it really did transform New York to a prettier version of itself, by somehow softening the urban landscape – taking off some of the New York edge. The reflections of buildings and lights gave the city an additional dimension and made for some great exploring. Of course, getting soaked by passing cars on corners or loosing the battle of umbrellas on the sidewalk naturally does not make the list of top experiences, yet remains vivid in my memory. In particular, the umbrella war is nostalgic to me, reminding me of my exchange in Hong Kong, only the war would be fared during sunshine hours.

One of the December highlights was visiting Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Despite being quite the landmark, I feel that visitors often overlook it. Yet, going for a quick stroll amongst the tombstones and beautiful lakes is absolutely stunning, and it is hard to believe that this peaceful cemetery is also part of the make-up of New York. You won’t forget too long however, as numerous hills offer you a beautiful view of the city. A fellow explorer and myself came at the perfect time, with dusk luring any moment, adding a spooky feel to an otherwise beautiful setting.

IMG_3999

 

IMG_4023

December is of course also a month of tinsel and caroling, and unless you do not like to watch movies, you are most likely aware that New York is the perfect setting to get in the right Christmas spirit. It shall be no secret that Christmas is my favourite holiday, and the roomies and I upheld the Danish Christmas traditions of ‘jule-hygge’ – a cozy day of decorating the apartment, eating Christmas cookies and singing ‘Last Christmas’ one more time. If you are a faithful wild-wonton’er, you will know I also carried on the Danish traditions in Hong Kong during Christmas time, and always makes for great memories.

Christmas<3

The rest of my days ended up being a battle against time, with a long list of things yet to see and eat, but hindered by an infinite amount of long essays and exams. The list is of course saved for next time, but I did manage to squeeze in a terrible amount of doughnut places (YUM), hours of perusing MoMa, several peeks of ice skating New Yorkers, numerous ‘battle’ days of Christmas shopping, and too many tearful goodbyes to all the new friendships I made this half year. Luckily the goodbyes were made over food, alcohol or rooftops to make the end a cheery one. I am excited to one day return to what I got to call home for a few months and to meet familiar faces again that are currenlty scattered across the world.

Please try Doughnut Plant for me if you ever go to NYC
Please try Doughnut Plant for me if you ever go to NYC

And at last: a minor announcement. While this is my last post about New York (for now), a new adventure is awaiting just around the corner, as the next 6 months will be spend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. So do not fret, a new exciting chapter of wildwonton will soon begin – possibly with more, actual wonton’s on the blog.

/Krissy

 

 

Fall Foliage and Fearsome Zombies

IMG_3597

Autumn in New York has been all about those crisp mornings as I walked to school, with the sight of beautiful, sun-dappled building exteriors to keep me amazed before burying myself in the library. Central Park has evolved into that perfectly filtered picture on Instagram – only this is the real deal. I have put a substantial share of my budget towards PSLs (=pumpkin spice latte – and yes, I know the joke is on me), and I have been cuddling under the duvet, looking out across the street as the rain drums on my windowpane on those lazy Sunday mornings. Rain droplets aside, the weather has been absolutely beautiful, and my summer jacket has served me well, even on the other side of the 1st of November – something I had not dare to hope for.

Essentially the highlights of my autumn in New York boils down to three main events

1. Road trip to Bear Mountain State Park
Somehow, you only truly appreciate what you got, once it is taken away from you. Or, how you always want curly hair after you spend hours straightening it (I guess this is mostly a reference the ladies can relate to). A similar state of mind reached me, after a few hours drive in a rented car with some fellow exchange students, all eager to get back into nature. Not only did we witness beautiful fall foliage as we drove through the country, but we also embarked on a minor hiking adventure whilst inhaling cleaner air, and our feet got to enjoy something else than pavement underneath those soles. It felt good to be out of the city! But just as we reached the top (sadly by car, I guess we really have become sad city folks), you could just make out the Manhattan skyline in the far, foggy distance. And what a sight! It made me miss the city all over again, and appreciate all its magic, just a few, rolling hills away. The road trip was concluded at the infamous Woodbury Outlet, and though only little was purchased, it was nice to spend some quality time with some great people.

IMG_3581

2. A Day at the Botanical Garden + Halloween Dog Parade
More nature was consumed with a day in the Bronx, to experience the famous Botanical Garden, one of the top visited sights of NYC. It truly was very beautiful, but I do acknowledge that my eyes might have tricked me, and that everything just seemed a little greener after having lived for a while now in the ‘concrete jungle’. We got into the right Halloween spirit by walking through the pumpkin themed garden, and took the tram all around the premises. A little tip – the orchid “garden” was a let down, with only one plant on display

IMG_3695

And let’s face it – no NYC experience is complete without attending a Halloween Dog Parade in Tompkin Square Park in the East Village. As we hurried away from the tranquility of the garden grounds to the madness that necessarily follows a DOG costume parade, the day was concluded by scouting for the best dog-halloween-costume. And while this may seem maddening, it made a lot of sense at the time. My favourite was without a doubt the Martini dog – sometimes less really is more. It is undoubtedly events like this that makes this city so great.

IMG_3751

3. All Hallows Evening
I was as excited as a little child for October 31st. Having never been in the US during Halloween, the entire month became all about pumpkins, spooky themed decorations and trying to think of details for the costume. I could lie and say I didn’t know what to dress up as, but all along there really only was one rational choice for me: Pikachu. That’s right. A graduate student and all I wanted to be was Pikachu. Also, “sowing” up a costume from Danish kitchen cloths (aka the famous and much beloved ‘karklud’) was almost as fun as spending a night as a pokemon in NYC.

A friend had come up from DC and as a team of three (Pikachu, creepy scientist aka roomie, and Snoop Dog/Jessie J/British Chav/insert whatever you like) decided to spook the hell out of the NYC streets. The NYC Halloween Parade was absolutely amazing once we actually pushed through the crowds, and were able to witness the shenanigans. Luckily we pushed hard enough just in time to watch a bunch of zombies dance to ‘Thriller’. The evening ended in a dance-off between Pikachu and creepy scientist. A scary night to remember.

IMG_3841

 

/Krissy