New York: Going to New York

Hey all … I had a great time in New York last month. I spent a full week in the Big Apple by myself … that’s right … I traveled by myself. As some of you have know, I had been travelling alone and as odd as some of you may think, I greatly enjoy it … especially the opportunity to take as long as I like making pictures.

BTW, I had never knew why New York is called the Big Apple. I asked friends and no one seems to really know the answer. NN told me that it’s called the Big Apple because New York is big enough to offer everyone a bite of. I think NN is just BS’ing.

I love that shot of the Empire State Building below and thought it should grace the first picture of this blog series. It’s taken from the old vibrating Brooklyn Bridge and with a extra long zoom (200mm with 1.4x extender!!). It came up tack sharp.


A month prior to this trip, I raided the Richmond Public Library for all the travel books related to New York. I ended up with using this book for the entire trip. It is a series called the Eyewitness Travel Guides. What I like about this book is that this book “shows” me what other books only “tells” me.

There are a lot of colorful pictures on every page with 3D maps. The size is just perfect for me … I hate lugging around 2″ thick books or a book so small that I can hardly read the prints. Next time you need a travel book, you should check this series out. I had used the same book for my solo trip around Europe earlier this year. After a week, the book does get worn out. Oh, I must have been taking the book in and out of my bag like 50 times a day!


You can buy the book off Amazon here:

I had been asked many times before … does Ben work … where does he find so much time to travel. I remember someone commenting on this blog that all I ever do is eat and travel. Well, some of you knows that I work for the aviation industry. Basically, I manage aviation systems development projects which gives me a lot of opportunity to travel. The company I work for has offices in every country where there is an airport or airline. My business unit, which deals with everything to do with “airfares”, has major offices in Vancouver, Atlanta and London. So, I do most of my travel between these cities.

The biggest perk of the company which I love so much is the number of leave I get each year (4 weeks) and the fact my family and I can travel on staff prices in most airlines. For example, the flight tickets for this trip to New York from Vancouver, BC just costs me $50 bucks … that’s right, there is no typo … it’s just fifty bucks. Well, tack in the taxes of $60 and all I paid is just $110. It is so ridiculously cheap that often I pay more for the cab ride from the airport to the city.


So, with 2.5 weeks of vacation days left to clear before the end of the year, I decided to make use of my once a year travel opportunity on Continental Airlines. I read that the best time to travel to New York is in fall. NY could be a very humid and hot city in summer. Another impetus to travel now is that the Canadian Dollar is so strong against the USD.

The bad side of staff travel passes is that it is on standby only. It is not just any standby … it is what the airlines call a “SA5” standby … meaning, I am at the lowest of lowest rank on the pecking order when it comes to boarding. So, I have to make “Plan B” in case I don’t get boarded. Generally, it is OK if I take flights mid-week (Tue-Thu) as it is when flights do not normally fly full. Also, I would plan to take the earliest flight of the day to the destination in case I don’t get on the first flight, I could get rebooked on the next one.


With that preamble above, here is the chronicle of my trip to New York. It starts very early … a 6AM flight and that means that I need to be at the airport no later than 5AM. Suanne dropped me off at the airport and we went for an early breakfast. We went to the place we hate most … #9 restaurant … since this is the only place we know is opened 24×7.


Suanne had french toast. This seems like it had been deep fried (not pan fried). Suanne recalled seeing this on TV … that in HK, their french toast is deep fried.


And I had … what else … beef tendon and pork hock tossed noodles. Whew … the meat was really fat … and delicious!

I must admit. The service that morning was really good.


I guess I need to explain why Suanne and the boys were not on this trip. I know some of you will wonder because I had the same questions asked by my friends too!! Well, flying on standby is difficult during heavy travel season … and especially with four people trying to get boarded together. So, Christmas period travel is definitely out of the question. Moreover, I need to use the travel pass before the end of the year and also clear some of my vacation balances. We did not want to yank the boys out of school anymore especially for Arkensen who had just started his (busier) secondary school this year. [he he he … I actually felt guilty about this … that’s why the incessant explanation!]. As much as I want Suanne to come along but she understand. I’ll make it up to her next year.

Anyway … anyhow … hope you’ll enjoy the series for the next four weeks or so.

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. M

    Sniff sniff, you’re so gonna make me miss NY, esp the Fall. I lived in NY for 2 years, I loved it. You work for one of the American airlines? Are you M’sia? Singapore? I like that there is an entry almost daily, it’s my daily dose of yum yum goodness.

  2. Ben

    Hi M: Nope, I don’t for any particular airlines. To put it simply, I work for ALL airlines. My “company” is basically owned by over 600 airlines and aviation related companies in the world and develops systems that benefits the aviation industry as a whole. We deliver on Systems and services that can only be effectively developed in a cooperative manner … for instance, airfare distribution, baggage handling, checkins, airport management, border management, etc.
    I am Canadian and lives in Vancouver … but I grew up in Malaysia.

  3. Chrystal from Holland

    Ooh Ben.. You spoiled it for me.. I was hoping on a life of just eating and traveling.. “One day, I’ll be like Ben & Suanne..” BUT NOW.. you tell you have to work for it.. I’m so dissapointed.. ;-)..

    Ooh good job with the google adds.. Was time to get some money for all the work on the blog 😀

  4. Windy

    I know what you mean by those cheap tickets and standby. I worked for CX some years ago and always needed to watch out the loading before I made the final decisions whether or not to go to the airport. I remember that at one point, I had to go to airport for three nights before I could get onboard! Even so, still miss the cheap tickets…

  5. Ben

    Hi Windy:
    oh, oh, oh … three nights? Sounds like an international flight to me (only daily flights). I have never tried using travel passes on international flights because they are almost always full. So, you work for CX huh? It’s one of the best airlines in the world. What do you do there, if you don’t mind sharing?

  6. Jennifer

    I don’t blame you for going alone during the holidays. We once had to fly to California when my grandpa was dying the day before Christmas Eve, all three of us…it was impossible and very tough to manage. I will never fly during the holidays again.

  7. Karina

    Wow, it seems that your job has alot of perks and traveling, which is appealing to me. What company do you work for?

  8. Norris Cheung

    Although I grew up in Vancouver, I have always felt more comfortable and more at home in NYC. I lived there for awhile and now have family there, so I love going back there every time. Glad to hear that you went to NYC.

  9. Ben

    Hi Karina: I was debating with myself if I should let chowtimes reader know more about me. I guess it’s OK letting you know the name of the company I work for … it’s called “Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques” … or better known as SITA.

  10. Ben

    Hi Norris: Glad you enjoyed the blog. I still have 2 more weeks of entries to go. Hope you’ll hang around this blog for a little while more.

  11. Norris Cheung


    I’ve been a reader (by rss) for quite awhile now. We always love your postings as we love taking food pictures ourselves. 🙂

    I used to live a block from the WTC before they came down. The sad thing is I never had a chance to go up the towers for the view as I always thought I would have a chance… then it was too late. I left NY several months after that.

  12. Chubbypanda

    I was wondering about how you’re able to travel so much as well. You only explained part of it when we had dinner together, you lucky man.

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