I adore Flushing, Queens NY. The moment you come up from the train station you get the sensation that you might as well have just come off a flight. Most every sign advertising a restaurant, coffee shop or magazine store is written in Chinese characters. It’s a true place of discovery and of getting lost. Each store requires a peak and a poke-a-round: this one sells loose herbal teas, this one seared and steamed dumplings, and this one has a man grinding his elbow into someone’s foot…ah yes, a foot reflexology shop.
I get a huge rush from traveling, and it starts the moment I get off a plane and am unfamiliar with my surroundings. It’s like solving a puzzle, but there are more serious and enjoyable consequences when you eventually find out how the pieces fit together. Finding a place to stay and then getting my first food recommendation– there’s a piece. Sitting down to a meal and successfully ordering (most likely by pointing at someone else’s food)–another piece. Converting the price of my meal back into dollars and realizing I only spent $2 on breakfast–a scrumptious piece of the puzzle. Finding my way back to my lodging using public transportation–that’s a big moment, like finding the piece that slipped under the sofa. All of these pieces end up coming together, and after several days, these loose bits form the completed picture of the once scattered puzzle. And the picture is brushed with vivid colors and dramatic images, and you can practically smell and hear what’s going on. Traveling comes with surprise adventures, new ingredients, chance encounters, beautiful scenery and new friendships that all combine to form the best puzzle you’ll ever put together.
Many of those experiences can be had in Flushing (hotel accommodations at the Comfort Inn are available!). I actually have good friends, Maya and Nolan, who occasionally do staycations in Flushing over the weekend so they can get away from the city and really take time to eat and relax. Flushing is like my kiddy puzzle–you know, the ones where you fit the circle in the circle space, and the square in the square space. It’s not a challenge like traveling the continent of Africa from South to North (check!), but it still gives me the same giddy feeling of being in another land.
I was walking around Main St. the other day with my friend Danny when we walked past this gentleman on the street.
He was selling a kind of fruit dessert, not unlike miniature caramel apples. The fruits were tart and a bit soft, almost like guava, and they were coated in a hard candy shell. They were presented skewered on a stick and wrapped with edible rice paper. I had to buy one. We each took a bite, trying to figure out what we were eating. We chewed and nearly cracked our teeth on the big brown pits, but were excited by the unique flavors, textures, and beautiful presentation. It felt naughty eating the rice paper wrapping…like we were two chubby kids who couldn’t wait to tear into our present, so instead chomped through the paper to get at the sweet bits. It felt so greedy, and so good.
We were very happy we stopped to check out what looked like strange Christmas ornaments.
It’s surprises like these that make you want to keep exploring. It can be a train ride to an outer borough or a flight half way around the world. Flushing, NY or mainland China–it’s all part of the puzzle that makes life more interesting.