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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Feeling Chilly in Philly

We decided to make a short visit to Philadelphia simply because it was the first capital of the United States, and we thought that there might be something to see there. Of course, how could we not visit the home of the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich?

Philadelphia is also home to the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell holds a special place in the heart of Americans, because it was first an icon for the American War of Independence, then a symbol for equality of all people, leading to the abolition of slavery and also equal rights for women.

The Liberty Bell and its signature crack

The curious thing about the Bell is that despite the honor associated with the it, the workmanship was so intrinsically flawed. Cracks have appeared in the Bell several times over the years, and numerous repair jobs have been undertaken to bring it back to working condition. However, the Bell was retired from active duty when the cracks became too widespread - which is how we got to see it at the Liberty Bell Centre!

The big crack is the repair work. The small ones leading from the big crack are the "fatal" ones

Philly was also the home of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the USA. There was an interesting exhibit on Mr Franklin in the Independence Visitor Centre. Didn't know he was the inventor of the lightning rod! We also found the reason for the seemingly larger proportion of African Americans in Philly - Benjamin Franklin founded the nation's first anti-slavery coalition here. Yup, he was a busy, busy man!

Unfortunately, we were not too impressed by the people in Philly. We only had 2 interactions with the locals during our 3-hour visit around the city, and both came off quite negative!

1st instance: Jim's Steaks
We visited Jim's Steaks (as recommended by the wife's USA guidebook) to check out the city's Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. After deciding on what to eat, I approached the cashier's counter to place the order. This African American behind the counter just looked at me and rolled his eyes, so I asked if I could please place my order. Without saying a word, he rolled his eyes from me to a sign beyond a short metal railing that said "Queue here". Seriously, wtf, man. There was nobody else in the queue! Or, if there was some anal reason to want people to only come through that side, is it too difficult to just tell me that? What's with all the eye-rolling?

I thought that was really just plain rude, so my delicious meal was slightly spoiled by the service.

Cannot smile already

But I later realised that this guy was not just rude in general, though. I noticed him chatting and joking with another group of Canadians on a road trip. So, I guess that pissed me off even more.

2nd instance: Independence Hall
The wife and I had already visited Liberty Bell Centre and the Philadelphia Visitor Centre. Next on the same street was Independence Hall. So, we walked right in to take a look. A lady, also African American, approached us and advised us that the Independence Hall was already closed for the day.

Oh. Okay, fine. No problem.

As we made ready to leave the Hall, she said that it was possible to visit the next day, but to take note that we had to pay to enter. Then the entire service thing was soured by her next words:

"Yes, you have to pay money to enter here. This is not free. You have to go across the road (meaning the Liberty Bell Centre and Visitor Centre) if you want free. Otherwise, you have to bring money to get in here."

Huh. That was downright condescending! Yes, we would not go in if we had to pay, but seriously, that's only because we didn't think it would be interesting enough to be worth the money!

Well, I suppose these two incidences got us thinking: Now that slavery is abolished, and the African Americans feel that they are on equal footing with the white men, does that mean that the yellow-skinned people are the next to have to fight for equal and fair treatment?

Or maybe they just need to visit the Liberty Bell house again, to read the inscription on the Bell:

Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof - Lev. XXV X

Read it and remember it. If not, go in and read it again. After all, entrance is free.


aud said...

or maybe they really didn't like ur hairstyle? :D

Dannie said...

What you talking about? Everyone LURRRVES my hairstyle! :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, been following your blog so that I can travel vicariously through you. I had similar experiences with African Americans when I was in the States back in 2006. So it's not just you/your hairstyle.

Dannie said...


Thanks, Anonymous reader! (seriously, it's okay to just put your name!)


Lint said...

eh damn funny la.... the photo caption "cannot smile already". haha!

Ivan said...

it's what happens when the entire city is a slum. never liked philly.

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