Day 2: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Must be me that's rushing by
Time just lingers on the wind
Bristlin' through my open fears
I wonder what it's going to bring
Above the clouds, what's to be found
I have to wonder, will I be around

Above The Clouds Lyrics - Paul Weller

Day 2 was spent taking a day tour to Philadelphia. I chose this because it promised visiting an Amish country and for me that is super interesting. The trip departed at 7 am and the bus has 3 guides, for the spanish speaking group, italian speaking group, and the english / german speaking group. To get out of New York, we have to go through Lincoln tunnel which connects Manhattan to New Jersey. The guide was pointing out the heavy morning traffic. I found it insane that you have to pay $14 to get through the tunnel to get from New Jersey to New York. One would ask, why drive then, which is perhaps what's on everyone's mind as well. The guide pointed out the bus only lane. These buses bring commuters from New Jersey to work. They all formed a line and that reminded me of the busway lane in Jakarta. That morning traffic was pretty heavy but I think people living in Jakarta will think of it as nothing special.

When we arrived at Philadelphia, first stop was to see Liberty Bell. If you ask me if I knew what Liberty Bell is before this trip, I would say no, even though I kinda have a recollection that it appeared in Nicholas Cage's movie, National Treasure. Well Liberty Bell is a bell with a crack on it, so it's not actually a very well made bell. It's made in England. It's called the Liberty Bell because, well I kinda forgot why, so read that wiki link. I think it's because it was rung during one important event relating to the independence of America and that's why it got its name Liberty Bell. Because of its crack, right now it's not on the tower anymore and it's being put on display. There's a picture of the Dalai Lama taking a picture with it. It's not a very big bell and the crack is very pronounced. You had to go through a security check to enter the place, with security officers checking your bag and asked to lift your coat and such. They should have just gotten the machines to do all this. Then there's the ranger who will just talk about the bell to all the people visiting. All the rangers in this historical places we visited are so passionate about this that it's so great to see them being so proud about their country history. Anyway the ranger was giving detailed explanation especially because there's a young american girl there. I think it is really important that new generations know the history of their country and it is hard considering it's getting so far away from when historical events took place. I wonder if kids in Indonesia learn the history of Indonesian heroes and wars the way I did when I was a child. If not, it's a real shame.

Next was to visit Independence Hall accross the street. I learnt some American history that day on the trip and it was very interesting, for example: in the early day Philadelphia was the capital city of America. I also now know that the second president of America is John Adams. Much has been said about how it was a peaceful transfer of power from George Washington to John Adams. It may feel normal these days, but in those days there's normally blood shed and struggle of power to get a new leader. So anyway, in the independence hall, again there's security check. First, we saw some artifacts, like the inkstand used by the founding fathers to sign the declaration of independence. Then we went for a tour of the Congress Hall. I think this is only accessible by a timed tour where the park ranger would give explanation of the each of the rooms. The first floor was the house chamber and in the second floor there's the senate chamber. My American politic knowledge is too little to explain what the differences between these. What to be noted are this building and the chambers are not very big because America in its early day wasn't as big as it is now.

Then went to Elfreth's Alley which is this alley with old houses which has been restored to what it was during revolutionary days. The houses were very cute and colourful. There are people actually living there. I guess they're used to people walking up and down their alley. The english guide wasn't very hardworking here, she just waited at the end of the alley. When I saw the Italian guide brought her group to an alley between 2 houses which leads to a small courtyard, I followed them and others followed too. I listened to the guide explanation for a while, like how there's a wall enclosing the courtyard, its purpose is for protection. She also mentioned it's the same thing in Wall Street New York, how it got its name was because there used to be walls there too. That's one benefit of being able to understand other languages when I travel, I can always listen in to guides of a different language :P

Then we made a stop to Betsy Ross' house which is now a museum which I didn't enter. Betsy Ross was the person who made the American flag, first version, because obviously America has gained more states since its independence. There's a fountain in the house with many cats sculpture on it. Maybe she liked cats a lot. Then it's a drive to the Rocky Steps, which is these steps to reach Philadelphia Museum of Art which appeared in the movie Rocky, which I haven't seen. In my defense because I wasn't born yet when the movie was out. A lot of people ran up the steps, but I just walked. There's a fountain in front of the museum and from the top, the view of the square and the city beyond it was pretty nice.

After that, it's a drive to the Amish country in Lancaster. I like how the landscape changes to open space with green farms. What do I know about the Amish before coming here? Well I heard they don't pay tax. They live simply and very old fashioned way following Christian teaching and don't partake in the modern world. I know they dress simply too. Basically I know so little of them. Turns out they use electricity, it's just not from the general power grid, so you wouldn't see wires running through their houses. They generate their own electricity. Perhaps the weirdest thing that came to my head is that they use money too. I don't know why I thought they wouldn't. We passed by a school and it's so cute seeing little Amish kids in their Amish clothing. I know they're not tourist attraction and this fascination of mine on seeing them is not something that I like to have too, but truly I was so fascinated on seeing that.

First stop was this buggy ride with an Amish gentleman. The Amish don't drive, so they use carriage and horses, though I did see an Amish farmer and his son on a tractor. So again, they pick and choose which technology to adopt. I guess as long as it's really necessary and not interfering with their lives and relation to God. We passed by a farm which I was told are peaches. Then we stopped by a house where an Amish girl sold us snacks. There were pretzels and cookies. I didn't plan to buy anything, but upon knowing that a bag of 3 cookies cost $2, I bought a bag. Those 3 cookies almost cost the same as the one cookie I bought for breakfast earlier that morning, though I have to admit my morning cookie did taste much better, though the Amish cookies weren't bad either and imagining that they came from the milk that they milked themselves gave a new sense of appreciation. I'm actually very curious about the Amish life, I have so many questions, but the stupid shy me didn't ask those questions to the farmer. So now so many still left unanswered :( stupid me. I did speak a bit of Italian with the Italian group who happened to be in the same buggy as us. They're from Ravenna, the same city the Italian tourists I met in Turkey. What are the odds if they know each other? This also makes me wonder if people from this city just really like to travel.

After that it was a stop in this little place where there were some shops selling interesting stuff. It was around 2 pm, so very late lunch. I had soup and strawberry rhubarb pie which again I couldn't finish. I did something kinda rude, well I don't know if it's rude. One of the Australian lady (I think she's Australian) asked if I wanted to sit at her table with some other people and I said no. I don't know, I just wanted to be alone and didn't mind it. Anyway, after that with nothing much to do, I entered each of the shop. First was this art shop that sells beautiful paintings. Some of it was of winter scene like in classic Christmas cards, the kind that make you go warm and fuzzy about winter and Christmas in America when you see them. I really like all the paintings in here.

There was a store that sells Amish jams and it was just so amazing with so many different variety and they're not so expensive, like less than $3 for a bottle. I didn't get any because I didn't think it was practical because I'm travelling. Then there was also a store that sells Amish butter and cheese and also olive oil. There was also a teddy bear store ran by an Amish girl or perhaps a Mennonite girl. See another curious thing, what's the difference between Amish and Mennonite. I actually only heard this term Mennonite on this trip. Anyway, so I just went into the shop one by one to pass time. Then I decided to see what my Japanese could do and tried to speak Japanese to the 2 Japanese ladies in the group, but they preferred to answer me in English. Might as well since I'm really not confident with my Japanese. One of them is doing American Literature research and has been living in New York for some time and her friend just came for a visit for a week, a gift from her husband. They're pretty nice and friendly as Japanese do. So that's about it. We went back and I was quite glad that we didn't arrive so late. For pictures from the trip, you can go here. I'm not loving the new Flickr layout :(

:) eKa @ 10:43:00 PM •

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