Monday, September 24, 2007

Adventures in Travel

This past weekend I made a trip up to New York for a girl's weekend. I-banker, Soul-friend and I haven't been together in the same city since Christmas, so this was long overdue. I wish I had some wild and crazy story to tell you about the weekend but in all honesty it was just great hanging out, catching up and relaxing. We did experience some NY Cab Hospitality when the cab that we were driving in almost hit another car. Here's the polite conversation our cabbie had with the driver of that car:

Driver: "You f***ing hit my car, I'll f***ing f**k you up!"
Cabbie: "You'll f**k me up?"
Driver: "Yeah. I'll f***ing f***k you up you f****er!"
Cabbie: "Come on then, f***k me up. I like that!"

Not exactly what I would have done in this situation but I guess this is New York. Luckily we didn't have to witness anyone f***ing anyone up and we made it safely to dinner with our friends in the meatpacking district.

To get between New York and DC I decided to take the Chinatown bus. When I left from DC it wasn't any different then leaving on a normal bus. I went to the "pick-up" address and found an office (okay an empty room with a desk, a wall lined with chairs for customers to wait for the bus, and a TV playing CCTV channel 4). When the bus arrived we walked out to the boarding area (the back alley) and we were on our way to New York. My experience in New York was, how do you say it?, a little bit more raw.

I arrived at the "pick-up" location to find a corner of the street with lots of Chinese women wearing fanny packs and visors running around. They ask you where you are going and when you tell them they act upset and ignore you. That or they point you down the street and shoo you away as if your mere presence in front of them is unacceptable. Then, out of nowhere, they suddenly decide it's time for you to get on your bus. And they mean now! So they start yelling out your destination and pointing and ushering (read: pushing) you in the direction of another corner. Once me and my fellow travelers got to that corner we waited a few minutes, confused, and then saw the bus pull up. The bus driver got out exchanged a few words with the lady and then drove off. Apparently, he couldn't stop because we were in a no-stopping area and there was a police officer standing on the corner. After a few more minutes of confusion (read: waiting to see if the police officer was going to move) we were ushered, down the block, across the street and around the corner. Luckily at this location the driver was able to pull over and we were able to board the bus. The bus then circled Chinatown three times to pick up more passengers before we were finally on our way back to DC. On one of the circles the driver parked so he could get out and take a smoke break.

The take home message from riding the Chinatown bus:
  • Arriving early is not necessary.
  • The bus does not leave unless it is completely full.
  • To avoid sitting next to the toilet either board first or pick an empty seat next to someone who looks friendly. Preferably said person will be wearing earphones or will already be asleep.
  • Although it's cheap (round trip is $35) the quality is equivalent to riding a greyhound.


Paige said...

Sounds like you had a great time! I have been waiting all day to hear about your adventures. =)

Anonymous said...

Soon you will learn the pleasure and luxury of the Vamoose bus: Lafayette Square, DC to Penn Station, NYC. for an extra 7 bucks, double your comfort!! :)