Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Medan | Sumatra | Indonesia

In recent celebration of Muhammed's birthday, we enjoyed a four day weekend! To start off, Lauren and I hopped on a plane to the next island to the west of us, Sumatra. We spent a day touring a city called Medan. Typically known for being a transit town, Medan is rarely treated as a final destination. However, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a cleaner, more organized side of Indonesia. It was a lovely city with some relatively well preserved monuments. In order of appearance below, we saw Istana Maimun (an antiquated palace), Tjong A Fie Mansion, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, and Vihara Gunung Timur Temple.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New York | U.S.A.

In comparison to our 14 hour frostbitten adventure in Times Square, the rest of our time in the Big Apple seemed pretty tame. Haley took me around to all of the tourist sights for what was probably her thousandth time. This was our first trip sans parents and I think we rocked it!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year's Eve | New York | USA

Times Square on New Year's Eve. Looks like a grand ole time, right? Haley and I sure thought so and we decided to cross it off of our bucket lists this year. We arrived in Times Square around 10:30 am on December 31 to claim our spots. You have to get there pretty early to get inside the barricades, otherwise you end up way back at 55th, where you can't see anything! One of the screens posted temperature at 38 degrees. It LIED.

During our first hour, we lost all feeling in our lower extremities. As we were standing on a street corner contemplating how we were going to make it through the next 14 hours, a camera crew rushed passed and tossed up some extra barricades. Inside, was Angela Kinsey (from the office). Being the good Baylor bear that I am, I knew not only that she had attended Baylor but that she had also had one of my crazy sociology professors. So, when she glanced our way, I threw out a Sic 'Em. This put a smile on her face and she motioned us over where we had a brief conversation and Haley asked for a picture, which she happily obliged. Unfortunately, the girl I handed my camera to had absolutely no idea how to use it.

The next hour passed. We were herded into a new set of barriers and searched by some less than friendly NYPD officers. We were manhandled multiple times and told to f*** off. They clearly missed out on their holiday cheer this year. We also made some new friends. At this point, the screen informed us that there were 10 hours left.

When the countdown clock moved down into the single digits, there was great rejoicing in the streets. Of course, that still meant that there were 9 hours left but hey, at least it looked better! We tried to come up with some interesting ways to entertain ourselves, like avoiding what will henceforth be known as street juice, but I mostly resigned to crouching on the ground in an attempt to stay warm. You can see that the temperature is now 36 degrees. We still found that hard to believe because the wind chill without a doubt took it down into the teens. Also during this time, Dominoe's got smart and brought pizzas to the masses in the human zoo. For $25, you could get a somewhat warm pizza. We finally caved a few hours later and got one for a bargain at $20, mostly just to hold the warm box!

6 hours to go was a milestone and things finally started to happen. The ball was raised into position. Sidenote, the ball looked about the size of a pea from where we were. I had a similar reaction when I saw the Mona Lisa for the first time. It looks much larger on TV! This also marked the beginning of the sound checks. Some of the performers were live and others (like Taylor Swift) had a stand-in. They also started passing out the Nivea New Year's hats and balloons that you see on TV.

A few hours later, the TV programs began which meant that filler music began to play and we got entertainment from the TV anchors about every 30 minutes. Snookie's party also began overlooking Times Square. They made it a point to regularly look down and wave from their warm surroundings. Even from across the street, she looked so tiny compared to everyone else in the room!

With about four hours to go, the concerts began! Neon Trees, Carly Rae Jepson, Psy, and Train made appearances. By the end, we knew all the moves to Gangnam Style and were hoping that Carly would just get her phone call already!

The one hour mark was quite exciting as well! It was a relief to see mere minutes left on the clock. Taylor Swift finally made her appearance as well. In what might have been the most awkward moment of the night (and with people peeing in the nearby phone booth, let me tell you, there were plenty), T Swift awkwardly stood on stage after her performance, without saying a single word (even Happy New Year) or even blowing a kiss to the audience. Perhaps she was feeling as chilled as we, who had been standing on the street corner for 14 hours, were.

And finally, after 14 hours, we got to count down the seconds to the new year! The ball began to drop and confetti poured out of the windows high above. It was a great sight to behold!

All in all, it was an incredible once in a lifetime experience that I would never, ever, ever (haha) consider repeating but am so glad I got to be a part of!