Guest Post | James Chan

Now for the third guest blogger of this series! There are more guest bloggers coming up – don’t be shy! If you’re interested in writing something, anything, click here and fill out the form!

James is my flatmate. We’ve shared countless late-night In N Out runs, crazy case competitions/projects, and epic road trips. Can’t believe I’ve only known this guy for three years! He’s friendly, outgoing, and just plain-awesome!

Make sure to head over to his blog, Snippets, at

Since James wrote a little intro, I’ll let his post do the rest of the talking.

Hi! I’m Glen’s college flatmate, James. If he ever tried his best to hide a particular room from you when you visited our apartment, that’s the result of my messy habits. Sorry.

Glen’s blog posts are always highly informative and really give you a good insight into his life and thoughts at any particular time. It’s also written in a easy-to-read style that I, um, read a lot. For all you foodies, also check out his Food Spotlight blog [shameless hyperlink plug-in], which IMO provides the best food reviews I read.

My style is the exact opposite of his; rather than provide a complete summary, I tend to focus more on little snippets of observations on the weird little things that stick out in everyday life. If Glen’s style was the play-by-play announcer in a sports game, I’m the guy on SportsCenter that’s responsible for putting together the blooper reels.

Rather than waste pixels talking about it, here’s a blog post I did on a recent New York-to-Boston trip (I’m currently doing an internship in NYC). [At ESPN, no less! -Glen]

“18 Hours To and From Boston”

I went and visited Anna in Boston last Sunday. I purchased my Amtrak tickets in advance, set my alarm clock for 5:45am, 6am, and 6:15am for a 7am train out to Boston, and was ready for 8 hours of some much-needed social life as I hadn’t bothered to actively make friends in NY (social self-experiment: what is it like for an extrovert to go introvert in the Big Apple?). Nothing was going to go wrong!

Alas, I forgot about the Golden Rule of Traveling (hint: it shares a definition with Murphy’s Law). More after the jump.

Since summer has robbed me of any ability to write in coherent prose, I present: chronological snippets!

5:45am: Sonar is the best alarm clock ringtone ever- the aural pain from a high-pitched beep is highly effective and recommended to my fellow sadomasochists.

6:45am: I walk to the kiosk and finally bother to whip out my phone and read the fine print in the e-mail receipt of my ticket:

“Have your receipt’s bar code printed out.” (Nope.)

“Please arrive at least 30 minutes prior to train departure.” (7:00 – 6:45 = 15 minutes.)

The ticket booth line was at least 20 minutes long. F**k. And then I figured out that inserting my debit card worked just as well. Crisis averted.

Man, I really gotta read the fine print.

7:00am: First-time Amtrak passengers like me need to figure a few things out, such as: where does one board the f***** train? How do I figure out which gate to go on? Why do I feel so stupid asking the attendants such basic questions? But I finally got everything figured out and checked the departure gate so I can be whisked to Boston, 11am, like clockwork. But it read:

7:00 am to Boston- Delayed 3 hours and 30 seconds.

Public transportation is SO reliable. Reliably crappy.

7am-7:03am: People watched. Discovered that Amtrak passengers at 7am weren’t the most interesting bunch. Got bored.

7:03am-7:30am: Why have differentiation when you can cram an Amtrak station with 20 fast food restaurants? Wandered aimlessly in search of quality food on the cheap.

7:30am: Settled for a biscuit sandwich at a McDonald’s rip-off.

7:30-8:30am: More aimless wandering (yes, for an entire hour). Ended up buying a copy of Crucial Conversations out of sheer boredom.

8:30-9:30am: Made it through a quarter of Crucial Conversations. Decided to never take the Amtrak again.

9am: The 9am Boston train leaves before the 7am one. Couldn’t switch trains because it was full. Contemplated a murderous spree.

(btw, turns out the cause of the delay was a storm in Washington D.C. that backed up all the Amtrak trains. Still.)

9:30-10:30am: Switched between reading and yet more aimless wandering. Beginning to get absorbed into the advice book. Somebody save me.

11am: Should have happened: 7am train arrives at Boston. Did happen: 7am train leaves New York.

At least the Amtrak has free Wi-fi, airplane business class comfort, and no peanuts. 3,000 client-site consultants just got very jealous.

3pm: Train finally arrives in Boston. First impressions; it’s a town that mixes in state-of-the-art buildings and malls befitting a top-5-in-education state with the charming, classic Ye Olde Colonies buildings made of red brick. It’s either blended seamlessly or the product of a 200-year-old bipolar architect. I couldn’t decide which.

10 minutes later, I meet up with Anna and some of her friends. For those of you who don’t know her, she’s a very bubbly character that is very easy to talk to, mainly because you spend 90% of the time listening to her talk and the other 10% of the time either agreeing (most people) or sarcastically insulting her (me). It’s a great friendship 🙂

3:30pm: We arrive at- where else?- Harvard Square. Since it’s a Sunday afternoon during summer, actual Harvard students are few and far between mostly at the local Starbucks, leaving the Square itself to the hordes of fobby Asian tour groups (preliminary estimates at 50% of the people there). All the parents act like they just saw the pope, and all the kids are like “oh s**t, here come 3 months of you-gotta-get-into-Harvard speeches.” Ahh, good memories 🙂

4:30pm: We stand outside the esteemed Harvard Business School and take pictures. The following observations result:

Anna: “Ah, where dreams go to die.”

Me: *noticing the monastery bell and abundant vegetation* “Hey look, a trading bell and lots of green in front of a business school. Fitting.”

Too bad the admissions dept wasn’t in, so we couldn’t get a tour. I stuffed the bribe money back into my backpack, and we moved on. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a chance of being here again someday. And I fully hope to do so as a 25-to-30 year old, rather than a fobby father of a 15-year-old in an Asian tour group.

5:45ish pm: Went to a Chinese diner in Boston Chinatown (ChinaTinylittlesquare would’ve been more appropriate, if more of a mouthful). Ate some rice cakes (年糕 for you bilinguals) and cried a little on the inside. The beautiful thing about good food is that it can make you forget about silly little trivialities like a 4-hour train delay. The food was that brilliant, especially after a month in NY where their idea of Chinese food is derived from P.F. Chang. Thanks Anna! 🙂

6:45pm: Arrived at the Amtrak on the way back. Remember how the e-mail said to arrive at least half an hour early? My train is scheduled for 6:50pm.

6:50pm: The train is delayed by what turns out to be half an hour. Of course.

I got back at midnight and in my bed at 12:30am with work coming up tomorrow. And honestly? I think even three hours of shenanigans was worth it. Friends do make even the most not-according-to-plan hangouts that much more fun.

Well, so much for my introvert experiment xD

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