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With no high expectations or no sheer excitement, I found myself not enjoying New York.
It was mostly because I spent the past several months in Central and South America where things were less hectic and people were more relaxed than in New York.
I'm not saying which is better or worse than the other, but New York was definitely different from all the other cities that I'd been to before and my brain was too slow to swallow such a big transition.


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The weather in New York was cold and rainy. It was December and I should not complain about it.
Perhaps, the worst thing while I was in New York was a guesthouse called "K's Guestroom" which I stayed in. My room was a 6-bed dorm for USD25.00 per night with no breakfast, no clean sheet for my bed, no towel to hire and no receptionist.... I actually had to call her cellphone when I arrived in the guesthouse and she turned up 2 hours later! I do NOT recommend this place for anybody.

New York was oppressing rather than impressive to me. It was just a huge American metropolis with busy people and no surf! I might come back here one day on a business trip, but not on a holiday for sure.


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Still there was one thing in New York that I really enjoyed.
It was Sushi that I had at a restaurant called "Sushi of Gari". I'm not sure if the restaurant was run by Japanese, but I could taste it right and good, though it cost me USD45.00!

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" Ohh, I'm an alien. I'm a legal alien. I'm a Japanese man in New York! "




スポンサーサイト

After spending a few rainy days in New York, I headed to Washington D.C. from which I was supposed to fly to Dakar, Senegal. However, things didn't go well as I wanted them to.
It was only five days ago when my flight operated by Cubana was canceled all of a sudden, and this time I was stuck in Washington Dulles Airport for two days due to some trouble with South African Airways.

Here are the details of what happened to me:



@2011/12/07 08:00am

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I took an AMTRAK train from NYC to Washington D.C. The ticket cost me USD80.00 on the Internet for the coach class. It wasn't cheap, but the train was surprisingly good and comfortable with free WiFi available for all passengers: this AMTRAK was actually much better than those trains that I took in Europe last year and it made me wonder why the USA hadn't implemented this AMTRAK network all around the country.



@2011/12/07 12:30pm

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It was a downpour in Washington D.C. and shortly after my train arrived in the main station, I hopped into a shuttle called SuperShuttle and headed to Washington Dulles Airport: USD27.10 one way.



@2011/12/07 13:30pm

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My flight (hereafter SA208) operated by South African Airways (hereafter SAA) was a daily-route between Washington D.C. and Johannesburg via Dakar.
I checked in without any problems and no extra luggage fee for my surfboards. However, the SAA check-in counter staff informed me that SA208 was being delayed for about five hours due to "a mechanical problem", and she gave me a voucher for dinner.
At this time I didn't think that the delay would be a big concern. I decided to spend this waiting time on cruising around the airport.



@2011/12/07 22:00pm

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When I turned up to the gate just before the scheduled boarding time, there was no plane docking at the gate and I didn't even see one single airport staff member there.
In fact, SA208 wasn't delayed. It was canceled a couple of hours after I had checked in, but I was neither informed about it nor did I see it on the departure schedule board. Somehow, it kept showing "on time" on the board. Why?!



@2011/12/08 00:00am

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A funny thing was that I wasn't the only uninformed passenger then. There were at least four other passengers in the same situation as mine: two South Africans, one Senegalese and one American. We were just abandoned inside the terminal and were only to discover later that SA208 was canceled when we checked the SAA website.
Not knowing when SA208 would be ready to fly and no accommodation inside the airport, we were just sitting in front of the gate and trying to get some sleep....



@2011/12/08 09:00am

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I only slept for three hours on the floor in front of the gate and then I woke up without my alarm clock as it was getting busier and noisier with more and more people coming into the terminal to catch their morning flights.
The SAA staff came to the gate-counter around 9am and all the people who missed yesterday's flight flocked to them and asked them for an explanation, apology, compensation, etc. I wasn't angry about yesterday's cancellation. I was just hoping to fly out of here as soon as possible.
The SAA staff gave me a new boarding pass when I re-checked in at the gate-counter. She also gave me a voucher for lunch, which inevitably meant that our flight was being delayed again: no wonder the departure schedule board was still saying "on hold" for SA208.



@2011/12/08 19:00pm

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It was already dark outside when SA208 was finally ready to let passengers in, and the SAA staff made a boarding call for only those who were going to Johannesburg but not for those to Dakar; SA208 was a daily flight between Washington D.C. and Johannesburg with a stop-over in Dakar, and because of the cancellation of yesterday's flight, there were way too many passengers for today's flight. Thus, SAA decided to fly all passengers for Johannesburg today and leave us tomorrow for Dakar.
Needless to say, all the passengers for Dakar became furious, but somehow I was not: I was just tired of staying inside this monotonous airport. I was also sick and tired of SAA's measurement on this whole incident at a snail's pace.



@2011/12/08 21:00pm

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No chance for me to fly at any cost today and I was expecting to spend another night inside the airport. However, SAA provided us a hotel to stay in; I wish that they had done the same to us last night.
The hotel turned out to be good with dinner and breakfast included: it was such a while ago when I last stayed in this kind of a 3 ~ 4 star hotel. It just reminded me of my time as a freelancing system engineer on a business trip: a good old time to remember....



@2011/12/09 07:30am

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The third day at Washington Dulles Airport.
No matter what it would take today, I wanted to fly out of here for my next destination - Dakar. So did everyone else.
The SAA check-in counters were chaotic this morning as so many people were queuing up for today's flight. It was no surprise that some people ran out of their patience, shouting at SAA staff and demanding for apology; one lady in particular was so angry, she was calling CNN and asking them to broadcast this incident as news.... Such was American! Chill out,
Meanwhile, I was given a boarding pass for the third time and then I walked through the security gate and sat near the boarding gate.



@2011/12/09 09:00am

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Finally, a boarding call for those to Dakar was made and I stepped into SA208 for the first time after being stuck in Washington D.C. for nearly two days.
By this time what was really wrong with SA208 was not clear. SAA staff only told us that there had been a "mechanical problem" and no further details were disclosed to us. Well, it didn't really matter to me in the end. I was just relived to be able to fly out of here.
Not such a great start for my first trip to Africa, though.


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!!!!! Note !!!!!
A few weeks after this ordeal in Washington D.C., I actually met an SAA pilot in Senegal and I asked him if he knew anything about what was wrong with this SA208. He explained to me that the plane's No. 3 engine wasn't working at all and the engineers in Washington D.C. were unable to fix the problem. So it was flown back from Washington D.C. to Johannesburg without any passengers on board and also without the No. 3 engine functioning.... Scary!
All in all, it took me two days to get out of Washington D.C., but I think it was worth a wait then.


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