Our wonderful VOA intern Jihye Choi, who comes from Korea, shares her second photo essay of pictures from America. Last time, the photos were of Washington, D.C., where she lives and works. This time, she had a chance to visit New York City and shares some great photos and stories from her trip. I'm from New York, and I haven't even seen all the places she visited!
Hello again! How have you been doing? Did you miss me? :D
Since Monday (22nd of February) was a public holiday (Presidents' Day) in the States, I decided to go for a short trip for 3 days. As you can see above, I went to New York, which is the biggest city in the U.S.A.
Because I didn?t have enough time to see all of New York, I only looked around Manhattan at this time. This place was far beyond of my imagination. I found a lot of interesting spots that I want to introduce to you.
So, I?m going to take you on a short tour around NY! You will see not only classic tour spots, but also unknown attractions of Manhattan.
Times Square, New York
#1 Times Square
Above is Times Square. I assume that you already know about this place, this is why I chose this photo to start with. I couldn?t see any street lights around Times Square, because it was way too bright due to all the advertisements. I think it is the best place to see a facet of capitalism. There were a lot of shops at the Times Square, and I went to two of them - M&M world and Toys R Us.
If you want to see those sites, please keep following me! :D
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Power Rangers at Toys R Us in New York
#2. Toys R Us _ 'Power Rangers Samurai'
My second tour spot is 'Toys R Us' in Times Square. It's heaven for children. I have a younger brother who is in elementary school now, and I am sure he could spend a whole day in this store. So I strongly recommend to go here if you visit NY with children.
Anyway, right after I entered this store I found very interesting heroes standing at the door...Power Rangers Samurai!
If you know Chinese letters, you can easily figure out what those masks mean. The yellow one means soil (ground), blue one means water, red one means fire, green one means a tree, and pink one means sky. These Power Rangers also have swords that look Japanese.
It was so impressive to me because this character shows how Americans accept Asian features. For me (of course, this doesn't mean every Korean feels the same way as I do!), Chinese characters symbolize something that's traditional and old, something I should not play with. I have never thought that it could be on Power Rangers? masks.
I really wonder how Chinese or Japanese people would feel about this. It will be so interesting for them to see it, I think. This picture shows how differently people accept other cultures based on their own cultures.
In my case, it feels a bit unnatural to see traditional features merged into commercial product. I would really like to hear your opinion about this photo! I guess we all have different thoughts. What do you feel after seeing this photo?
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#3. M&M's world
Welcome to heaven! :D
If you?ve read my first photo story of Washington, you would recognize that I really like sweet foods. I love ice cream and chocolate! Can you imagine how excited I was when I heard that there is an M&M World in New York? Not a store, but a world!! This was one of the most important reasons why I went to New York.
After arriving in Times Square, I could see a lot of people who were carrying M&M?s bags. I looked around Times Square to find where this M&M's world is? and then, there it was!! There was a gigantic electronic display which was showing M&M's characters? video. It was sudden and magical, just like a sign from the sweets gods. I was attracted by inexplicable power? and there was my dream come true!
I fell into a trance right after I opened the door of M&M?s World. I can?t remember what happened in there but after a while, I found myself holding a lot of souvenirs about M&M's. Chocolates of course, a pack of cards, a mug, and postcards? I should have warned myself before entering this magical place!
Above is the photo of the M&M's vending machine. You can find walls full of these awesome vending machines in M&M's World. Because I love sky-blue and white color, I got a bag of white and sky-blue M&Ms!! :D
(I have more photos of M&M's world on Facebook)
#3. M&M's world
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Batman in Gotham City
#4. Gotham city
Because we visited heaven before, I guess it?s time to show you the dark face of NY? Let me tell you a short story about this photo first.
Because it was my first time to visit N.Y., I actually didn?t know where the Empire State Building is and what it looks like. I just knew that it would be tall, big, and I might be able to see the building from a lot of areas in Manhattan. So, when I found the building in the photo, I thought that is the Empire State Building, since I saw that building a lot in the movies and dramas, and because it?s quite high.
Me and my friends totally thought it was the building we wanted to go to. We were so excited and kept running toward the building, before I found that it is actually NOT the Empire State Building. We couldn?t find any tourists around the building, the entrance was even closed? and I saw the sign saying ?Chrysler building.? I was devastated?
It was really cold and windy at that time. Because I was frustrated and exhausted, when I looked around everything seemed a bit different. That was not a fabulous and lively New York? it just looked like Gotham City. Did you know that Batman?s Gotham city was based on Manhattan, New York?
Batman writer and editor Dennis O'Neil has said that, figuratively, "Batman's Gotham City is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November." So here we are! In a real Gotham City.
Above is the photo I took near the Chrysler building. It was dark, I could see the smoke sneaking out of manholes. I photoshoped this photo a little bit to make the atmosphere of this scene more clear. How does it look like to you? Does it look like Gotham city to you? Can you feel that Batman is watching you? I think I can?. Look!! There?s the Batman!! And there, too!!!! Can you see the Batmans in this photo? ;) How many?
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#5 Joe?s Pizza ? Where Spiderman had a part time job.
Speaking of Batman, do you like superheroes? It you do, which one is your favorite? I really like superhero movies. I like Batman (definitely Christopher Nolan?s series!), Spiderman (it?s sad that Toby won?t do this anymore, right?), Hulk, Ironman etc. I can?t pick my favorite one because I love all of them.
This is why I chose to go to Joe?s Pizza rather than going to Magnolia bakery (from 'Sex And The City') or Serendipity 3 (which was in the movie Serendipity). As you can guess, it was hard decision because I had to give up cupcakes and frozen hot chocolate? I would like to show you those places if I visit them later!
Now you probably wonder how Joe?s Pizza relates to superheroes. Does anybody remember Spiderman had a part-time job in a small pizza shop? He once delivered pizza in the Spiderman outfit, too! Yeah you are right, this is the pizza shop where Spiderman worked! :)
At first I just wanted to take pictures of the shop. Because I had an appointment that night, I really didn?t want to eat anything. The place was quite small and it was crowded. There were two people who worked (and one of them was in the Spiderman 2 movie!!). And right after I saw the pizzas and smelled them?. Umm?.. They seduced me. :D
I eventually bought a slice of pizza, which was one of the best slices of pizzas I?ve ever eaten. While I was enjoying the pizza, I looked the photos of many famous people who visited this place. And!!! I found a photo of Barney Stinson too! For those of you who don?t know about this name, it?s the name of one character in an American sitcom, How I Met Your Mother (the character is played by actor Neil Patrick Harris). I have lots more photos of the inside of the pizza place, I have them on Facebook.
I finished eating the slice of pizza. It was a little bit crispy, but in the meantime the cheese and sauce was so soft and juicy. When I took the first bite, ahhhh ? now I should stop it. I am starving now. I feel like I was in the movie, and I could enjoy the best pizza at the same time!
Do you want to visit here someday? If you will go there again, please try pepperoni pizza for me! :D I chose fresh mozzarella pizza, so I couldn?t try that one. You have to try pepperoni and tell me what it?s like! :)
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#6. Central Park
It?s quite warm in Washington, D.C. nowadays. Spring is coming! Even though it?s was only in February that I visited NY, it feels like such an old story because the weather is changing a lot. So, I decided to show you this photo before it gets warmer and warmer.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you the most beautiful scene I?ve seen in N.Y.: Central Park in snow!
It was amazing, amazing, and amazing. It was even more beautiful than the night view of N.Y. that I saw from the top of the Empire State Building (for those who wonder, I will introduce this photo later too!). It feels like I suddenly fell into Wonderland covered in snow in the middle of a crowded city. There was snow everywhere except for the skyline of Manhattan. One guy was playing the violin and I could only hear my footsteps and violin sound. Everything was white and silent.
I know nothing about the Central Park in spring or summer. But I can be sure of one thing? I will never, ever forget the moment I walked around this place by myself.
P.S. I actually had hard time to pick one photo because I took so many good pictures in this place. I have a lot more on Facebook.
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Empire State Building
#7. The Empire State Building
You should follow me carefully, it?s quite high. Can you see all the buildings out there? There is the Chrysler building (which we saw in the Gotham city:) ), too!
See this beautiful Hudson River reflecting lights of Manhattan. Did you find Brooklyn Bridge, too? We are on the top of N.Y. now!
I remember the moment I got off the lift, and screamed in my mind, ?I AM the king of the world!? I have been to other tall towers before, but I think the fact that New York is the tallest city in the world (considering its buildings? average heights) makes the Empire State building?s night view more special.
Now you probably remember that I told you that Central Park was even more beautiful than this. Since you are looking at this photo above, now you can tell me: which one is more beautiful Central Park, or the Empire State building? :)
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Korea Way in New York
#8. Korea way
Did you enjoy the Empire State Building? Now, it?s time for coming back to the earth! To Manhattan, again Surprise!!! Welcome to Korea!! XD
Some of you might not believe this is in N.Y. For me, it was unreal to see Korea in the middle of Manhattan. It just looked like one random street in Seoul. It was crowded and there were Korean signs, Korean restaurants, Korean karaoke, (FYI, it?s different from karaokes in America. It?s more personal. If you want to check, Google ?Noraebang,? which means ?room for singing?) Korean banks, etc.
Isn?t it amazing that you can actually feel an entirely different culture and atmosphere in the middle of N.Y.? It wasn?t only for Korean people. Many different kinds of people enjoyed shopping in Korean grocery stores and having dinner in Korean restaurants.
After spending two months in the U.S.A., I finally could eat Korean food (for cheap, even!). I also got a lot of food from the grocery store. I almost cried when I found a stack of Korean food in the grocery store.
I missed Kimchi SO MUCH. :( I am usually good at eating American food, but sometimes I really need to eat Korean food. I guess one of the hardest things to deal with in another country could be food for me. It?s hard to cook what I cooked in my house because I can?t get ingredients I need. Even when I can get it, it is usually expensive.
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Think Coffee in New York
#9. Think Coffee
Above is 'Think Coffee', which is in front of Washington Square in NY. I know that it's not a popular place for other people except for South Koreans. But if you knew the Korean reality show 'Infinite Challenge' (), you might have see this place through the show.
This place is quite well known for Koreans (especially for the reality show's fans) since the show is popular in Korea. When the six main characters in this show visited N.Y., they got one of their missions to do in this cafe. The director of the show chose this cafe to let people know about fair trade coffee, since this cafe uses fair trade coffee beans.
I thought it's interesting that Koreans have a specific popular tour spot in the middle of N.Y., while other American living there actually don't recognize it.
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Chinatown, New York City
#10. China Town
In addition to small Korea in NY, I'd like to show you small China in NY.
It was amazing for me to see Chinatown everywhere around the world. I've seen Chinatown in Incheon, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Washington D.C., and New York! I feel like I've already been to China, even though I've never been there.
Above is part of Chinatown in NY, which is the biggest Chinatown I've ever seen. The funny thing was that all the Chinatowns I've visited so far are different from each other depending on the countries and cities. While D.C's Chinatown is a lot more Americanized with American restaurants and stores, N.Y.'s Chinatown was so unique because it had its own atmosphere.
I remembered Incheon's Chinatown that I visited when I was young. I could still find a lot of Korean food in the menu even in Chinese restaurants. I think Chinatowns all over the world are where we can find the best aspects of the Chinese & other cultures.
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