sarahblack: (Glance)
I can't believe the first half of my trip around the world is coming to an end. Tomorrow I'm flying to Iceland for a four day break, and then I'm heading to Paris!

But before I go to Europe I want to finish telling you about New York.

Yesterday was spent shopping in SoHo (where I randomly overheard an Icelandic couple speaking to each other in Icelandic while waiting to cross the street), visiting China Town and Little Italy, and trying (but failing) to win the Book of Mormon lottery.

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Little Italy


I didn't buy a lot. Mostly just a bit of gym stuff that I needed to replace and some Secret things from a girl called Victoria. I tried to find a perfume that my mother asked for, but apparently they aren't selling it anymore. (Except for old supplies that are being sold online.) I could have used my sister's help with the shopping. She would have managed to get all the Christmas presents for everyone, and also presents for upcoming birthdays.

After Juan and I failed to win the Book of Mormon lottery he took me to visit his parents. They live in the Bronx! I was a bit scared to go there, but it was actually a really nice part of the Bronx. I dropped some postcards in a postbox there, hopefully they will be postmark will reflect the location.

Today I went on the Gossip Girl tour that I received as a gift from a few awesome girls. (You know who you are!) The tour was so much fun! My favourite part was getting to sit on the MET steps, go inside the Empire Hotel, and window shop at Henri Bendel and Harry Winston. I almost bought a Blair inspired headband at Henri Bendel, but I couldn't justify spending 48 dollars on a headband. It was very sleek and chic, though.

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I bummed around Time Square for the rest of the afternoon. Plenty to see and do! Mainly I got lost inside the Disney store and lamented the fact that I could not fit in all the princess dresses that they had for sale there. Seriously, this is a gross injustice.

Before it was time to go see the Lion King, I went to Joe's Pizzeria for a real New York pizza. It was super busy in there. Understandably, as the pizza was delicious! I had one with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes and black olives. Beautiful!

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The Lion King show was a lot of fun. I had bought pretty cheap seats, so I was nearly at the very back! However, I was almost in the centre of the row and had a very good view of the stage. The costumes blew me away! I wish I could have seen them up close to appreciate the detail, but being far away helped me see the 'animals' instead of actors in costume. I thought the giraffes and the hyenas were particularly convincing.

Once the show was finished I got to see evening version of Times Square. It's nearly as bright as day time!

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Anyway, I'm off to sleep now. I have an Icelandair flight to catch tomorrow!
sarahblack: (Glance)
Last night I tried Chinese karaoke! I think it is similar to Japanese karaoke from what people have told me. It's very different from Icelandic karaoke in any case.

First you go to a 'KTV' place. (That's what the Chinese call karaoke places.) Inside you are greeted by an army of employees who help you get to a karaoke room of the appropriate size for your group. The help mainly consists of them following you around, showing you which elevators to go to, and bowing a lot. Every time you walk past an employee they bow! (I thought that was more of a Japanese thing? Oh, well.)

The karaoke room is a private room with a comfortable couch, a table, a big flatscreen TV, and a karaoke machine which has pretty much any song you can think of. (Unless you are a hipster, in which case you would be disappointed if your songs did somehow wind up in a karaoke machine.) The karaoke machine allows you to set up a playlist of songs. Once that is done it's just a matter of passing the microphones around and singing all your troubles away!

If you want to eat or drink while you sing, you can go to the miniature supermarket situated right outside your door and choose from the wide selection. You can even order a fruit platter to be sent to your room! When I went and picked up a couple of Breezers, I had barely touched the bottles before an employee showed up with a basket for me to place them in. He then followed me around the store until I was ready to pay - holding the basket for me the entire time! So weird.

I had a really excellent time. It was nice to be able to dress up a little. I miss putting on make-up every now and then!

Today was a bit more sombre. Halla went with me to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall where I was able to familiarise myself with this particularly harrowing part of Nanjing history. I find it to be so strange that I know so much about the holocaust in Europe during WWII, but I'd only been peripherally aware that any atrocoties at all had been committed by the Japanese in China.

Apparently, there are still those who mean to say that the Nanjing Massacre has been grossly exaggerated and that the Japanese soldiers were honourable in their behaviour.

This makes me sad. The amount of evidence and witness statements that give credence to what actually happened is staggering. In one very tall room of the museum there were shelves that reached from the floor to the ceiling - full of binders with witness statements. Every shelf contained three rows of binders. It was a really sad and overwhelming sight. I won't even talk about the skeletal remains of people buried in mass graves. Mass graves are just about the most depressing things I can think of.

Anyway, I encourage you to read about this. It's just as important to remember these crimes as the ones committed by the Nazis in their concentration camps. (Interestingly, a Nazi was instrumental to providing aid to the victims of the Nanjing massacre.)

Tomorrow will be more cheerful. A bunch of us are going to a nearby lake to enjoy the cool water in the sun. It really does get quite hot during the day. I think it must have been over 30 degrees Celsius today! I tend to go around with a parasol to make sure I don't burn to a crisp - and I'm enjoying it thoroughly! If I could get away with using a parasol at home I would be endlessly happy.

It's interesting to see what the people here do to guard against the sun. The Chinese value fair skin and do not like to tan. Most make do with parasols, but today I saw women wearing oven mitts while driving their scooters! And one girl was wearing a welding mask to keep her face safe from the sunlight!

I think the best part about the weather here is the evening warmth. I barely have to put on a light sweater when I'm walking outside in the evenings. If it weren't for that, I could almost imagine that I'm back in Iceland when I'm walking along the quiet, deserted streets. (Chinese people seem to go home really early on weeknights.) No cars, no people... Just the trees, the streetlights and the stillness.

It's very peaceful.

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Sarah Black

March 2015

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