Tag Archives: subway

A Hate Letter To New York City

Dear New York City,

We’ve had our good moments. In my youth, I spent a good six years roaming your streets, soaking up the thrill that only you seem to offer.

Maybe I am just getting old, and that’s not your fault. But, with age comes crankiness, impatience, and a need for a modicum of personal space. As I sit on a non-air conditioned subway car, clinging to a pole for dear life with five other passengers, listening to the conductor blare for the fourth time: “Ladies and gentleman, we are delayed because of train traffic ahead of us,” I can’t help but think: Thank God I don’t have to do this every day.

When I was young and sprightly, your quirks were charming. Newsflash: It is no longer charming when maneuvering up 6th Ave. feels like an episode in the Hunger Games. I am not certain about much in life, but this I know: That is not a normal way to live.

Subway - tie

When I was young, you were exciting and accessible. Who wants to get something to eat at 11:30 p.m.? Who wants to take a 3 a.m. bus to Washington D.C. from Port Authority? Why? Because we can. This is New York City for goodness sakes.

You are never boring, and there is something to be said for that. I’ve enjoyed your museums, your restaurants, your soaring buildings, your constant indulgence for more, and the shopping – we can’t forget the shopping. I’m still very much a city girl. I like the options, the hum, the productivity – and did I mention the shopping? – that comes with city life.

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New World Trade Center Oculus transportation hub

But you are the edgy, sullen friend that appeared oh so very cool when I was in high school. Now, you are just a colossal pain in my ass.

Or maybe – in the spirit of “its not me, its you” – you are the one getting old. Your arthritic infrastructure heaves and sighs beneath the weight of eight million people competing for meager crumbs of space. Maybe your subway tracks need a new jolt of life (or a complete overhaul). Maybe you need a custodian (read: mayor) more concerned with livability than ideology.

Either way, we will be forced to grow old together. You are home to my favorite people in the world, and so this relationship will carry on. I’m sure we will have good moments ahead of us and many more f-bomb laced bad ones.

Sincerely,

Nam

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Part #2: Getting Around Kyoto

Part #1: How I Quietly Fell in Love with Japan

Kyoto’s public transportation is easy enough to use – as long as you’re not embarrassed to ask some stupid questions. Luckily, shame has never been my strong suit.

The confusing part is that the map is made up of three separate train systems. Kyoto has two subway lines – the Tozai and Karasuma lines – represented by the brown and turquoise lines in the map below. There are 16 private railway lines that connect at a couple of junction points. Finally there are two JR lines, one local and one long distance (which I used to get to and from the airport).

When I arrived at the Osaka airport, I purchased the ICOCA and Haruka package deal for 4,000 yen (around 40 U.S. dollars at the time). The package includes two rides on the express JR Tokaido Shinkasen train which took me from the airport to Kyoto Station and back to the airport on my way home (the blue and white line below). It also includes the ICOCA card loaded with 1,500 yen which works like the Metro card in New York City. It is a rechargeable card to be used on the local public train system so you don’t have to buy a ticket every time (it does not work on buses though). Important note: The package must be purchased with cash – no credit cards accepted.

Kyoto Train map

Click here for a larger version of Kyoto’s local train system.

The Shinkasen train from Osaka airport to Kyoto Station takes about 77 minutes. It is a comfortable ride, much like long-distance train travel in the United States.

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The local trains were well-signed and delightfully colorful.

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Using a combination of subway, bus, and walking, I got everywhere I wanted to go in Kyoto. I only used a taxi once – to get to my hotel late at night when I first arrived in Kyoto. In contrast to China’s mega-cities, Kyoto is very accessible, and that is part of its charm.

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