Sunday, June 27, 2010

On the Streets of Boston

This morning, I met my ILC Brown cohorts outside to prepare for our trip to Boston. Once we all were together and ready, we headed down to Thayer Street to grab a quick bite for breakfast before we boarded the bus to today’s adventure, Boston. We headed towards Au Bon Pain, but the lines were too painfully long so we headed off instead towards Starbucks, where we all bought breakfast. I quickly wolfed down my blueberry oat bar, which was dry but satisfying.

We then headed off towards the buses that would take us to Boston. As we approached them from afar, we saw a strange sight. No, it couldn’t be, we said to ourselves, but it was! It was a giant red double-decker bus, glistening in the morning sun and ready for us to ride to Boston. Unfortunately, we soon realized that there was only one gorgeous double-decker, and the rest of us would be seated in normal, smaller buses, which were far less glamorous. To our dismay, Andrew, Will, and I were assigned to bus 5, which was not the coveted double-decker. But we were all happy enough to be seated on the same bus together. As we rode to Boston, William and I played games on my Motorola Backflip phone and listened to music.

Upon arrival and as soon as we got off the bus, we were greeted by a giant blast of humid and balmy weather. The sun was shining, but so were our foreheads from the sweat. Regardless of the weather, we were all determined to make the best of our free day in Boston. Most of the other students were interested in shopping, but I wasn’t. William Chong and I instead headed off to explore Boston and to seek adventure, in whatever form or shape it may be in.

The first thing to do was to find out where exactly we were in Boston. We headed over to the Millenium Bostonian Hotel to pick up a map. Even though we had a map, we still were lost. Luckily enough for us, some Bostonians helped us figure out where we were. We decided that we wanted to sightsee Boston and its many attractions. We first headed over to Faneuil Hall, where there was an enormous farmers market and three buildings filled with dozens upon dozens of small restaurants and shops to cater to our every whim and request.

From Faneuil Hall, we walked towards the wharf, where we saw many tourists lining up for cruises around the bay and many, many tourist traps, much like our own Fisherman's Wharf. The similarities between the both were shocking, as both seemed very similar in content of what they offered tourists and in the breathtaking views of the ocean. We talked to a tour guide who explained to us that although there were many jellyfish inside the bay, but they rarely survive because they are frequently chopped apart by the heavy boat traffic.

After the wharf, we walked back towards Faneuil Hall, where we bought lunch. I bought a clam chowder in a bread bowl because to me, the occasion of being in Boston demanded it, and Will bought a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Since it was very crowded inside Faneuil Hall, we went outside to eat, and sat under a shady tree. I had already finished my meal, and was waiting for Will, when suddenly out of nowhere, I hear a small “plop” sound. I look down, and I saw the thing that I dreaded most, bird excretion, right on my left chest. I tried to wipe it off, but I couldn’t stand the thought that I had to walk around the whole day with bird excretion on my shirt. So I went to the closest t-shirt vendor, and ended up buying a new, dark blue “Boston” shirt to change into. It was a tough decision, because I was trying really hard to save up my money and not to squander it on unnecessary things like T-shirts or souvenirs. But in the end I decided that I had to buy the shirt, even if it meant wasting the limited money that I had, because it was simply too disgusting to wear the soiled shirt for the rest of the day. From this experience, I could see that being frugal with my money was a necessity, especially in college where I will have a limited supply of money and I want to make sure that in the future I don't waste my money on non-necessities. But after I bought the shirt, I decided that I really liked it, so perhaps it was a good thing that the bird had such accurate aim.

After lunch, we headed over towards the Boston Common to explore the park. It was a long walk, and by the time we got there we were pretty tired. We ventured into the Central Burying Grounds, where many great revolutionaries are buried, from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Revere. It was an interesting experience, to be there, in the presence of some of the greatest American Heroes. In the graveyard, I read about the life of John Hancock, and his accomplishments in life. Aside from signing the Declaration of Independence, he also was a prominent statesman and governor of Massachusetts. I also learned that the Central Burying Grounds was home to the victims of the Boston Massacre and fallen soldiers from the Revolutionary War. I was slightly angered, however, by the fact that many of the tourists were carelessly stepping on top of the graves of those who passed before us. In my Chinese culture and in many other cultures, it is a sign of extreme disrespect and contempt to step on the grave of another, and the sight of so many violating that symbol of respect was disheartening. They gave their lives, the ultimate sacrifice, for us, and for that they deserve the respect and adoration of us all.

We then moved into the main Boston Common, which is complete with a playground, a pool, and lots of street vendors selling everything from sausages to balloons. It was a nice park, but slightly boring. From the Common, we decided to move to Chinatown to check it out.

However, on the way there, William suffered a large nosebleed. It lasted quite a while, and I became very worried for him, because the nosebleed wouldn’t stop. Eventually, I called the RA’s to ask for instruction, but by then he had partially recovered. Not wanting to risk the chance of a even greater problem developing, we decided to take a taxi back to Faneuil Hall to wait for the others to go back to Brown. I tried to wave down a taxi, but it sped past us without a second glance. Luckily for us, right after the taxi was a PediCab, which was a taxi but on a bicycle. The PediCab gave us a ride back to Faneuil Hall, and the cyclist was actually a college student who studies engineering. He told us that he took this job as a summer job for him, since cycling has been the only constant in his life. He had gone through many musical instruments, many different interests and many kinds of sports, but through out it all, he had always loved cycling. He also was taking the job as an opportunity to train for upcoming races, and he saw the opportunity as a way to give back. The discussion with him really made me look inside myself to see what constants I had, and what activities I would want to pursue in college. I had the realization that in order to succeed and be happy in college, I would need to balance both my course load and my hobbies.

After the ride, Will and I stayed at Faneuil Hall, and I watched street performers until it was time to go back.

After arriving at the dorms, we checked in with Ms. Bulls, and we visited Dave and Busters for dinner. After dinner, we went to the WaterFire show. It consisted of many pillars of fire over the river, and it was a beautiful sight. The glowing red fire contrasted with the shimmering water, and the tiny embers soared away along with the smoke. The experience of WaterFire was a once in a lifetime event, I was every excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the WaterFire event. The evening was a beautiful one, with all of Providence united by this one event, and to be a part of the community that night only reinforced my developing feelings of attachment to the city. I can now better envision attending a college in a urban environment, after having experienced the freedom and exhilaration of having a city to belong to, a city in which there are no limits for the student.

1 comment:

  1. By following your blog for over a week, I learned a great deal more about you( and your fellow Brownies), Austin. Your writing is getting more insightful, your photo have good composition and unusual view point, and most important, you are more matured. Keep up the good works and be sure to enjoy your weekends, too.