Arrived at Miami International Airport from New York. I checked in to our hostel first, while waiting for Yeh Yang, Angela, Xinpei, Tanny and Laura to arrive from Orlando later that evening. It was extremely humid in Miami and I could feel the immediate difference the moment I stepped out of the airport – the heat felt like I was in an oven, or near a volcano. The sky was overcast with gray clouds, and it started drizzling soon after.
It was a really boring day because there wasn’t much I could do at the beach. The rest weren’t due to arrive till about 11 pm so I decided to take a walk and explore the area. Turns out South Beach was quite deserted because the hurricane season was starting – most of the beach crowd arrive in March. It was not what I expected because I thought most beach towns were populated all year round as long as the sun shines.
I was so bored after dinner that I returned to the hostel for a nap while waiting for them to arrive. They finally did and it took some time for them to check in and settle into the room. I was meeting Tanny and Laura for the first time but it wasn’t too tough warming up to them because they were easy to get along with. Everyone was too tired from the day’s travel, and also the initial disappointment from the tiny room and terrible toilets.
We were ready to be beach bums for the day. Laura and Yeh Yang were the most excited to be heading to the beach to tan. We had about an hour in the sun, maybe less, before the skies turned gray and light drizzle quickly turned into a heavy downpour (think: Singapore’s kind of afternoon storms). It was disappointing! To be honest, I much prefer snow to rain, like how I prefer cold to hot, though I don’t mind hot when it’s not humid.
Stuck in the miserable rain.
From left: Me, Yang, Angela, Xinpei, Laura and Tanny.
Went to Bayside Market for dinner.
The 5 of them went off to Miami Beach, a little further north of South Beach, which is affectionately known as SoBe. I stayed behind to settle some stuff then went to join them in the afternoon.
I went to meet them later in the afternoon and we rented a car. Having a car makes everything SO convenient. We drove to the downtown area and Little Havana because that’s what Lonely Planet recommends as sights to look at. I conclude that Lonely Planet is not entirely trustworthy because there was nothing to do there at all! We had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen I think.
We drove south to Key Biscayne. Along the way we stopped for lunch at a Japanese place, which was not half bad. Our plan for the day was to get to the lighthouse, which sits on Key Biscayne in a state park I think. There was a beach by the lighthouse, covered by dried seaweed, but still popular among families. There was a section marked out as the area where turtles leave their eggs for incubation also.
Clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean
After Key Biscayne, we went to a district in Miami called Coconut Grove, which had a main shopping area with eateries and we settled down at Cheesecake Factory for a cheesecake each. The servings are huge and none of us could finish our cheesecakes that came with a big dollop of whipped cream. It was so rich and sinful, but one of the best cakes I’ve had. I vaguely remember talking to Rowie on the phone because she was in LA and we were just complaining about how expensive living in the US can be, and also the American accent, our favorite topic. 😉
We took a slow drive back through South Beach’s art deco district, with its famous neon lights signaling dusk and the start of Miami’s nightlife. There were many nice restaurants serving gourmet meals but we settled on TGIFriday’s for dinner.
Miami did not have many Asians when we first arrived and many local Hispanic children stared at us with curiosity, probably having no prior experience with black-haired, yellow-skinned Chinese tourists before. I mentioned this to Naomi though and she was surprised because Miami was a popular destination for Japanese tourists. Maybe I was just being over-sensitive. Funnily enough, the day we mentioned that there weren’t many Asians around in Miami, we started to spot more over the next few days.
Laura left the next day for Boston towards Spain. It was fun having her around because she had picked up some Singlish from Yang and Tanny, of course it was a weird variation but still pretty close enough. Miami was nice, and definitely a welcome change of weather for me after being in Ithaca for four months, so the sun and sea was something that I’ve missed these months. It is not a place that I would return to though, now that I’ve seen California beaches, I do think one could give Miami Beach a miss. I’ve always had higher regard for the Pacific Ocean than the Atlantic anyway. However, I would return to Key West anytime, and that would involve Miami somehow, but that is a story for another day.