Take Me Back To Philly

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When you’ve lived in the same place for your entire life, it gets pretty boring. Many would say that I live in a pretty nice place as DC is a quick walk or drive away and there are a lot of attractions in MD. This is true but as I’ve seen almost all of them, I needed to see something new.

One night of wishful thinking ended up with Ri and I booking an airbnb in Philly for a weekend. Pennsylvania seemed like a long drive but it was only about 3 hours away so I got my car ready and we got on the road.

We were blown away by our airbnb. To save cash, we only booked a room so our host and his family were there as well. When you walk in, you’re greeted with paintings and statues of Buddhas, Hindu gods/goddesses and the strong smell of incense. This was totally Ri and I’s vibe so we fell in love. The room we stayed in was minimal but very comfy with even a little balcony to the backyard. The bathroom was to die for with a tiled, standing shower and huge rainfall shower head. We got there pretty late so we waited for the next day to explore and passed out.

We were in a part of the city called Fishtown which had a lot of small mom and pop stores and cafes around. Only a block from our room we came across a cafe called Milkcrate. They had old records all over the walls and placed under the glass of our tables. It felt really homey and their breakfast sandwiches were sooo good. I had a usual egg, cheese and sausage on an english muffin. It was so good that it was already decided that the next day we’d come back for breakfast.

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Ri wanted to explore Chinatown so we hopped in an uber. It was only about 15 minutes away, thankfully. We were surprised to see that Philly’s Chinatown was an actual Chinatown. I mean that I saw many Asian markets, stores, and places to eat. In DC, our Chinatown is a bust. The only thing we have is the arch. Barely any Asian establishments. While we were walking we stopped into one market that was similar to Baltimore’s Lexington Market. It smelled of so many different kinds of food like baked goods, fresh seafood, you name it. We had to get out of there for the risk of buying more food despite the fact that we already ate.

We did get swindled by this tiny, old Asian lady for a $5 bracelet. It definitely wasn’t worth the money but I am still wearing it right now, weeks after we left. She claimed it was good luck and I find myself reaching for it every morning. I bought myself two small Buddha statues for home and work while Riley got an authentic jade ring for a pretty penny. Real jade is expensive so I think it was worth it. It’s gorgeous too. The lady showed us that there is also purple jade which was stunning but since it’s rare it’s really expensive. We had to pass on it but in the future I’d love to have my own ring or bangle.

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We explored outside of Chinatown and came across an event full of vendors along the streets. Apparently it was their Fall Festival where a lot of the restaurants and other businesses come out. Philly has so many nice stores where they sell soaps, body washes and bath bombs (kinda like Lush). Lots of handmade goods and plant shops. Ri and I were so tempted to bring a new plant baby home. I said no because I didn’t want to kill it on our way back to MD but seeing as my home plant died while I was gone… we should have gotten some.

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Not too far away was also the African American Museum so we decided to stop in ($10 for students). Ri and I are used to huge Smithsonian museums but this one was only 3 floors and pretty tiny. Still really nice though. They had an exhibit where actors portrayed historic African Americans and told their stories. Some were sad, some were inspiring. Artist John Dowell was showing a haunting series of work that showed landscapes with overlays of cotton fields to remind us that our ancestors suffered greatly before everything was built. The images were stunning but very sad nonetheless.

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While in Chinatown we spotted a ramen place called Yamitsuki and I knew I wanted to go there for lunch. It did not disappoint guys… This was the best ramen I’ve ever had. I got the spicy pork ramen. The pork was so tender that you could cut it with your chopsticks. I’ve never had sweet corn added to mine before and it was to die for. I asked our waiter if it was American spicy or Asian spicy because I like real spice. He said it was similar to Shin ramen which is pretty hot but unfortunately it wasn’t. It had a teenie bit for flavor but nowhere near enough to be called spicy. I was so good though that I didn’t complain. A super cute touch was they deliver your check inside of a manga book. It was a volume of Death Note which I’ve never read or watched before but I might check it out now.

The next day we checked out of our room, got breakfast at Milkcrate, stopped by a crystal shop we popped into the day before and headed back to the DMV. We were so sad to leave but since it’s such a short and easy trip I know we’ll be back. When we woke up in our homes on Monday, we texted about how sad we were to not wake up to our host gently drumming in the backyard or the smell of incense. If Philly wasn’t so cold in the winter I’d consider moving there but my body doesn’t handle cold well.

If you’re looking for a vacay spot where you can hop in a quick uber or just explore on foot, Philly is perfect. It’s not as busy and tense as NYC so you can stop and breathe it all in. I do warn you that it does smell a bit bad. It could be the sewers or maybe trash so I say breathe it all in metaphorically. Otherwise, it’s perfect.