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Thread: Some US advice needed.

  1. #1

    Default Some US advice needed.

    Hi guys.

    My father is going to US soon, and me here have never ever been to US before in my life. Naturally, I should be happy when he ask me if I want to come along. But here's the problem: He is there to do business. So what's going to happen is that he is going to NY, and then transit to Texas, leaving me behind. I have a friend in NYC who has a home there which I will be staying in if I do go there, but she is currently studying, so I am basically on my own, with only accomodation nicely planned for me.

    I never ever travelled on my own before, so it worries me about the uncertainties I might face. Worse still, I am not those extremely indepedent teens, so the thought of going to somewhere foreign alone frightens me slightly. However, before I start my NS, I do really want to try something new, rather than rotting uselessly at home waiting for enlistment. Knowing that there are CSers who are familiar with US (esp New York), I decided to make a thread here as I definitely want (and beg) for advice about NY.

    My father just wants me to plan everything myself, and he just throws me a map to look at. I have some really big questions to ask and I really hope any CSers here who are familiar with NY to help me. I am really grateful for any infomation. I bolded the questions to make it clearer.

    1. What can my travel plans be in NY? The time I can spend in NY is up to me(sort of like freestyle) as when I am done, I will just buy a ticket to go Houston and meet up with my father. So what would be the recommended time I stay in NY be?btw, I don't mind going slightly out of NY if there are anything in the nearby states worth viewing. But again, I dun know how far one state is from another, so is it even feasible for me to go alone from NYC to some other states like New Jersey or Pennsylvania? cos I have a senior studying in Princeton Uni whom I hope to meet up with.

    2. What precautions do I need to take while in NYC? So far, one lesson my father painfully learnt was the high price fares of the taxis there. He paid USD100 just to go from the aiport to my friend's house!!! He was just simply stunned. So I was wondering also - What should my main mode of transport be while travelling around? Buses? Trains? Or perhaps, are taxis still fine for short distances?

    3. What should I bring? So far, I am planning to buy a Lowepro bagpack so that I can carry my equipment more comfortably(Shoulder bags hurts for long usage) and that I can save bringing another bag for my laptop(free starhub gift). But are there anything out of oridnary items that i should bring? (out of ordinary means things that aren't passsports, jacket, underwear, etc).

    4. What is the culture there? Are there certain actions I should avoid doing? Do I need to give tips to every single person who serve me? And if so, how much to give? basically, things like that.

    I am pretty nervous now, can't really think of all the questions I need to be answered right now. Of course, I can always chicken out and just stay in Singapore, but I really do want to do something different, and also, to give my parents a sense that I can be independent.

    If anyone can just give me personal experiences and advice, I would really appreciate it greatly. thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member dominator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Q1, Q2 and Q4 thought you said your friend have a home there? Don't she knows anything?
    Cleanse your thoughts, not by the foods you eat.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    get yourself a guidebook, that's a good place to start. as for where to go etc, it depends on what your interests are. i love nyc, neverending stuff to do...

    getting around new york is really easy. the city is built on a grid system, so once you know the address, you can find almost anything easily. my fave mode of transport is the subway. it's slightly more complicated than the mrt, but you shouldn't have problems figuring it out. get yourself a subway map.

    actually the city has become reasonably safe. don't flash a lot of cash and don't keep your money in the same place. everything is pretty convenient cos you can just speak english. i'm not aware of any cultural things things you have to watch out for.

    tipping.. yeah, you have to tip almost everyone, including taxi drivers and at restaurants. 15% is good. the sales tax is 8.5% if i remember correctly, so what some people do is just double the sales tax to get the amount the want to tip. but ur maths is good so no problem right. erm small stuff like hot dog stands etc where you aren't "served", no need to tip lah.

    there's all the usual touristy stuff to see - statue of liberty, empire state building, rockefeller centre, the former world trade centre site. times square at night haha.

    walk around central park, but NOT at night yah. not safe.

    check out the museums if you like. lots of them. some have student prices or days when entry is free. catch a musical (but don't buy the full price tix, try to get discount ones)

    visit B&H! haha, try to resist spending any money, but you should just go visit this giant camera shrine, just to say you've been there. it's huge...

    food... there's lots of interesting things you can try. go online and google for stuff... er... frozen hot chocolate at serendipity 3? juice at gray's papaya? tonnes of other stuff that i can't recall right now

    hm ok type a lot already. am sure everyone else can offer lots more info. have a fun trip
    Black lens, white Lens, can take picture is a Good lens

  4. #4

    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Don't skim your time in New York City. It's a wonderful place to visit.

    Where is your friend staying? In the City? That is important. If she is in the City, getting around in public transportation (buses and subways) is eas. It may not be as clean as Singapore, as modern as HK or as efficient as Tokyo, the New York subway and buses will get you to whereever you are going. If she lives in Manhattan, you got it made!

    I am assuming you will have a bit of time on your hand. I will try to spend at least a few weekends in NYC, well, if you want to spend some time with your friend. Meanwhile, during the week, head up to Boston, 4 hour bus ride, Princeton is just 2 hours +/- from the city, don't miss Washington DC. That should covers 2 weeks and 3 weekends?

    I will not fly down to Houston, but instead, get a Greyhound pass and spend a week or 2 travelling thru the back country.

    I will head south towards Charlston, South Carolina - Atlanta, Gerogia, go thru the deep south, I love Mississippi, the then head west to Texas. Before you get to Houston, drop by Austin Texas. (this route I thought off is photography driven)

    What you need to be careful of, well, just be careful, do not leave your valuables unattended. Do not walk into dark back alleys. Travel light. Be aware of your enviroment. I lived in the US for nearly all my life, and it's fine.

    PM me if you want more info and help.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Do drop by the B&H Mega Store in Midtown Manhattan. 349 West 34 St between 8 & 9 Ave.

    Lots of museums in NYC

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Lots of street performers too! however, if you don't know the palce well do stay off the streets at night. Most places are relatively "safe" but some places are still very "colour sensitive"
    “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” - Adolf Hitler

  7. #7

    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Hi. thanks for the responses.

    haha, and i think my geography fail. i did not know that NYC was so big that different parts of NYC has different security. i checked the map again, and the place i am staying at is mahanttan. so, how is it like over there?

    and i just got an email from a senior in princeton university. looks like i will be going there to meet him too. so how do i go from mathantan to there? bus? train? taxi?

    though my friend is there, but she is a full time student, so i dun really want to bug her too much. just staying there is already a slight burden to her.

    oh, and one last thing: as i currently only own a lowepro shoulder bag, it is inconvinent to use it since it hurts when i carry it for long hours, and it doesn't have any space to put my laptop in too. any recommendations for photographic bagpacks? i wun be bringing too much lenses along. just a 7D, flash, 18-50, 70-200. would be bringing a laptop along too and my tripod. and i was wondering if there are any models that comes with space to put clothes in too, cos i noticed that the photog bagpacks i saw is purely dedicated to bringing camera equipments but nothing else. having space to put tolietries and clothings allows me to have an easier travel to new jersey since i might be staying there for 1 or 2 nights.

    thanks once again.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    how old are you?
    I lup SG, but SG don't love me...

  9. #9
    Senior Member Galdor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    An alternative for you is to bring me along lor.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galdor View Post
    An alternative for you is to bring me along lor.
    U go there see how they grill satay issit?
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    best to get advice from your friend, since she is staying there and will know the place better

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Del_CtrlnoAlt View Post
    U go there see how they grill satay issit?
    Quote Originally Posted by ortega View Post
    best to get advice from your friend, since she is staying there and will know the place better
    I also want to go there stay with her friend and bbq satay leh...
    “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” - Adolf Hitler

  13. #13

    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    manhattan is the richest part of nyc. it's also the part that people think of most of the time when they talk about new york as a tourist destination.

    as for your friend... she's in uni/college or high school? cos if it's uni, sure got time one lah.

    camera backpacks... i have an old crumpler model, bottom part is for camera, top compartment has a laptop sleeve and has space for some non-photog items. there was a clone made by urban equipment, very cheap. funny thing is i don't see either kind being sold nowadays. can check out the lowepro rover series, they're designed like that too, though i'm not sure about the laptop sleeve. one thing though - bags like this, it's a bit of a squeeze for the 70-200. and you may want to leave your vertical grip at home.

    don't waste money buying a backpack just for your trip lah. if you just want to use for a few weeks, i can loan you my crumpler. but warn you first, it's quite a bright green colour

    you won't be able to squeeze a whole lot of stuff into a backpack unless it's huge. should also consider just bringing one extra small bag of clothes and toiletries, then leave it in ur friend's dorm while out and about.
    Black lens, white Lens, can take picture is a Good lens

  14. #14

    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Hi Satay16,

    Sounds like u just finished college. Good to know you get to go US, esp NYC and Texas. I had lived in the midwest before and can maybe share some knowledge.

    I won't answer directly to your queries but will highlight certain points about staying in those two states.

    NY is a big state - compare to Singapore. Point to point, you are better off by cab or by your friend's car or by sub if you dare to venture. (If by sub or public transport, be prepared of pickpockets). If you can drive, i do not recomend you to operate a vehicle in NY, esp NYC. You may not be quick enough to react to an emergency (ie driving onto the wrong side of highway). Yes, you can laugh, but it happens to most international students who come from a country with RHD (right hand drive) vehicles.

    Don't bring too much cam gear. Just enjoy walking in the busy streets and get as small a camera as you can for street shoot. NYC is fast paced and people don't like to be disturbed. They can be pretty rude at times and so be prepared when they tell you off. Just soak yourself into the culture and enjoy the lifestyle there.

    Seriously, NYC is not as lovely a place as what we watch on TV. Its a busy city with lotsa activities on the street and plenty of people walking. the streets and freeways are not clean either and so enjoy what you see.

    Dress simple and blend into the mass. Don't stick out like a sore thumb as robbers are ready to pick you out from the crowd. I dress like a viet when in NYC with dull leather jacket, boots and jeans during winter. I was trouble free even when i walk on the streets past midnight with my gf then.

    In Texas, oh, its a big big place again. I used to travel there a few times a month and esp like Houston after dark. I go to jazz pubs and enjoy the music. Not to snap, but to soak into the jazz culture and just listen to the music. You will be surprised how disciplined people are compared to singaporeans when it comes to appreciating jazz music in jazz pubs. No loud conversation on hp, no shouting of encore, no crackers, no peanuts, no aunty talking beside you, and no one snooring beside! just listen and enjoy the pieces....

    If you can get an international license, Texas may be a better place to drive compared to NY. But it depends on where you choose go, really. But just plan and enjoy your visit to Texas.

    Well the saying is true: When in Rome, do like the Romans would.

    Oh, and one last thing, for places you shouldnt be in, dont bother going. Eg sleezy pubs, the poor man's streets where guns prevail, etc. Google to find out more...

    Just my humble points.

    Cheers and enjoy America!

  15. #15
    Senior Member Big Kahuna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    I recommend you get a copy of this...it has all the info you needed...all major bookstore has it and cost around 40buck

    http://us.dk.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay...615338,00.html

  16. #16

    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by contaxable View Post
    Hi Satay16,

    Sounds like u just finished college. Good to know you get to go US, esp NYC and Texas. I had lived in the midwest before and can maybe share some knowledge.

    I won't answer directly to your queries but will highlight certain points about staying in those two states.

    NY is a big state - compare to Singapore. Point to point, you are better off by cab or by your friend's car or by sub if you dare to venture. (If by sub or public transport, be prepared of pickpockets). If you can drive, i do not recomend you to operate a vehicle in NY, esp NYC. You may not be quick enough to react to an emergency (ie driving onto the wrong side of highway). Yes, you can laugh, but it happens to most international students who come from a country with RHD (right hand drive) vehicles.

    Don't bring too much cam gear. Just enjoy walking in the busy streets and get as small a camera as you can for street shoot. NYC is fast paced and people don't like to be disturbed. They can be pretty rude at times and so be prepared when they tell you off. Just soak yourself into the culture and enjoy the lifestyle there.

    Seriously, NYC is not as lovely a place as what we watch on TV. Its a busy city with lotsa activities on the street and plenty of people walking. the streets and freeways are not clean either and so enjoy what you see.

    Dress simple and blend into the mass. Don't stick out like a sore thumb as robbers are ready to pick you out from the crowd. I dress like a viet when in NYC with dull leather jacket, boots and jeans during winter. I was trouble free even when i walk on the streets past midnight with my gf then.

    In Texas, oh, its a big big place again. I used to travel there a few times a month and esp like Houston after dark. I go to jazz pubs and enjoy the music. Not to snap, but to soak into the jazz culture and just listen to the music. You will be surprised how disciplined people are compared to singaporeans when it comes to appreciating jazz music in jazz pubs. No loud conversation on hp, no shouting of encore, no crackers, no peanuts, no aunty talking beside you, and no one snooring beside! just listen and enjoy the pieces....

    If you can get an international license, Texas may be a better place to drive compared to NY. But it depends on where you choose go, really. But just plan and enjoy your visit to Texas.

    Well the saying is true: When in Rome, do like the Romans would.

    Oh, and one last thing, for places you shouldnt be in, dont bother going. Eg sleezy pubs, the poor man's streets where guns prevail, etc. Google to find out more...

    Just my humble points.

    Cheers and enjoy America!
    You don't need an international driving license to drive in the US.
    Singapore driving license would suffice. Unless you are staying in that particular state for long, then you would require to take the tests to get a driving license for that state.

    If speaking english is a barrier, then you may want to consider getting a Intl. driving permit from AAS. About 20+ bucks.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    i doubt TS even have a basic theory...
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Del_CtrlnoAlt View Post
    i doubt TS even have a basic theory...
    haha. you are right

    ok. thanks for everybody's help. my plane ticket as just been confirmed. would be leaving this thursday.


    just a short question to ask contaxable: so far from what i heard, many say that the cab fare in NYC is horrendously high as compared to singapore. how high is high? cos my father once had a taxi trip costing USD100 and he was shocked. but i did not really know how long his taxi trip was.

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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Don't forget to vistit B&H.

    You'll drool all you want inside there.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Some US advice needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by satay16 View Post
    just a short question to ask contaxable: so far from what i heard, many say that the cab fare in NYC is horrendously high as compared to singapore. how high is high? cos my father once had a taxi trip costing USD100 and he was shocked. but i did not really know how long his taxi trip was.
    About the distance between Changi Airport to Jurong. At least 45 mins to 1 hour. And do remember, the currency is in USD.

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