New York City: Uptown & Midtown

Uptown Girls (but they're living in a Midtown World) - NYC Photo Diaries Part 1: Uptown & Midtown Manhattan

No amount of Sex and the City, 2 Broke Girls, nor Gossip Girl* marathons is enough to prepare this Asian native-turned European expat's first time (in adult memory - my only memory from the last time I visited NYC was 7 year old me in Chelsea, declaring to my parents: "I want to be gay!" "Why is that, sweetie?" "Because rainbow flags are gay and I like rainbows!") for the mythical creature that is New York City. One pieces together bits of anecdotes and literature** and builds a tableau vivant almost guaranteed to disappoint, if previous expectations of, well, everything, are anything to go by: Is this concrete jungle truly where dreams are made of? Or will expectations fall flat like a forgotten cream cheese bagel on the subway tracks? 

Yes and No. Midtown was both the hot mess I expected (yet Times Square was not nearly as chaotic as fiction would have you believe - try navigating Piccadilly Circus during rush hour carrying a family-sized box of Cinnabon with your Oyster Card nestled between your chin and neck, then come back and tell me what hectic is), our "luxury" hotel appeared to have spent all their budget on first impressions (edgy, design-led lobby) but couldn't be bothered with the rooms (chipped bathroom mirror, dented furniture, minuscule quarters - and this was a Junior Suite), and the food I tried in Upper and Midtown Manhattan wasn't especially superlative (save for the monstrous ice-creams at Emack & Bolio's). But everything else about New York is a hyperbole and a half: the taxi drivers all think they're Robert de Niro (but the cars have card machines so it's all good), the architecture is so astonishing that the Art Deco landmarks are almost superfluous, and the skyscrapers really are a hall of mirrors that reflect and trap both the sun and the human soul. 

Highlights include: catching many a Bulbasaur in Central Park, watching Good Morning America interview LeBron James in Times Square, hopping from one Sephora to another, singing 'Colours Of The Wind' to tableaus of New World settlers at the American Museum of Natural History,  climbing six floors in heels to the Empire State Building observatory on the 86th floor (the sprawling vista of the island as it glowed in the sunset was worth it - I would climb 500 steps, and I would climb 500 more), and doing my best impression of Kirsten Bell by writing my own Gossip Girl blast - Spotted: Jasiminne Yip lingering on the steps of The Met. I wonder what would Queen B make of this foreign upstart moving in on her territory? Careful, J, you might just start another Anglo-American war. East London and Upper East Side belligerents: now that'd be a battle we haven't seen since 1812. XOXO, Gossip Girl. 

Behold, the Uptown & Midtown Manhattan photo diaries of a bewildered and bemused Anglo-Asian second-timer.

*and now you know my Netflix guilty pleasures. Fire the canons of judgement. **to say nothing of the coy song & dance to obtain a US visa. Shipoopi, shipoopi, shipoopi, the girl who's hard to get.



Manhattan, NY 10036
Luxy and I weren't thrilled with our hotel - our suite desperately needed a facelift, the rooms are tiny, and we were bang smack in the middle of all the tourist traps (which could be either a good or bad thing). Perhaps we'd have been better suited at nearby Le Parker Meridien (even though its rumoured to be the much-maligned Hotel Bellevue in hotelier memoir Heads in Beds) - it's one of the few Manhattan hotels with a swimming pool and Burger Joint. Beauty lovers, navigate the neon playground of Times Square and seek out Sephora (there are two in the immediate vicinity) for more makeup you can shake a Tarteist lipstick at.

389 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
Hippie ice-cream store with soft serve, frozen yogurt, and ice-cream served in a dizzying array of cones dipped in Rice Krispies, Reese's puffs, Oreos...the choices are endless.

89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
This architectural masterpiece is one of the world's busiest terminals, which makes you wonder, how is a group tour a good idea? I say, don't linger - get in, get your selfie, get out.

45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111
This historic landmark needs no introduction. Take in the view from the Top Of The Rock then put up your feet at The Sea Grill.

Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024
Resist the urge to hide from the staff at closing time and wait for its inhabitants to come to life. Crowds of tourists and schoolchildren inevitable, knowledge gleaned - immeasurable. Seek refuge from the crushing summer heat in the dark, air-conditioned Earth and Planetary Sciences halls for serious existential crises.

1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028
You could enjoy a crowd-free EmptyMet (tour not guided by Blair Waldorf, sadly), live out your Constance fantasies on the steps of The Met, or just take advantage of the weather to enjoy the Roof Garden Bar. Admission is suggested, so pay as much as you wish.

A fantastic place for enthusiastic Pokemon trainers - the park is chock full of Lure-filled Pokestops and overrun with virtual critters. Oh, and something about it being the green lung of Manhattan.

350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118
The queue for the lift up to the 80th and 86th floor observatory is the thing of nightmares, but the wait is made bearable by the incredibly Art Deco interiors and wealth of facts on display at every turn. The view of Manhattan is nothing short of epic, and best seen when the setting sun lights the island on fire.

Tip: Save 40% off ($78) on admission to 6 attractions with a CityPass.



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