Michigan

Michigan for the Weekend

07/07-07/09 Michigan, why did you want to be on the same time zone as New York?

Michigan, you're basically midwest. Take on the central time zone.

When I finally got off the bus at Ann Arbor station, I didn't understand why my Greyhound ticket said my ETA would be 11:30PM. It was clearly 10:30PM. That was before Nate pointed out the time zone shift.

This weekend, I took a trip up to Michigan to visit Anna. I met her when we were studying abroad in Singapore, and we haven't lost touch since. She was definitely one of my closer friends in Singapore, and we lived in the same hall (Hall 8!).

On Saturday, Nate, Anna and I started our day with a trip to the county fair. At this point, this was the most American activity I've done to date. It's everything you'd expect from a stereotypical fair- the greasy, fried foods, the amusement park getup, the farm animals, the pop up tents selling everything and anything you don't need, and the tractor competitions. I had 50 cent bottomless chocolate milk and watched a video of a cow giving birth. I also contemplated on getting an airbrush tattoo with the message "FROG- Fully Rely On God" beneath a cartoon frog. Trust me, I was amused.

We drove into Detroit afterwards, passing the exit for 8 Mile Road. My inner Eminem fangirl got really excited. Anna and Nate replied with a simple "you can get out of the car to take pictures, but we'll stay in the car."

Downtown Detroit was nothing like I expected. The way stereotypes made it out to be, I expected this industrial wasteland of nothing. But they've really cleaned up since, at least in the downtown core. It wasn't bustling like Chicago even on the weekend, but I didn't feel sketched out to be walking there in broad daylight. We ate lunch at American Coney Island, where I had my first Coney Island Chili Dog. I could've had two. Stuff was heavy but still, I could've done two.

Campus Martius.

Campus Martius.

Campus Martius is really beautiful during the summer. The emphasis on open space, public parks and a safe area for kids and families to enjoy really played out well. They even had an area in the middle of the plaza with sand to mimic a beach. Lanterns were hanging on wires, and colourful chairs were scattered around.

The Guardian building was another treasure. It's an art deco building, and the interiors reminded me of Spain- the way they decorated with colourful tiles and an almost symmetrical Gaudi style.

General Motors

General Motors

Passing the General Motors offices, I got Hunger Games flashbacks. The GM buildings looked like its own futuristic city. But it was located in a very beautiful spot by the river. It was my first time seeing Windsor across the river. Detroit and Windsor are SO close to each other. We could even hear the sounds of a concert that was happening over on Windsor's side.

Shinola District

Shinola District

Anna and Nate

Anna and Nate

Portions in America are insane.

Portions in America are insane.

Afterwards, we had an afternoon snack at the Punch Bowl Social. It was such a swanky restaurant, and it had a section for arcade games and bowling, too. I ordered an almond milkshake and struggled to finish it because it was so heavy. But that didn't stop us from eating dinner shortly after.

I have 3 exploration highlights from today:

  1. We discovered THE BELT, an alleyway full of bikes, murals, graffiti, cute hanging lights, galleries and back-building bars. Turns out they have a marijuana delivery service (like Uber Eats but for weed) called 'Leafly'.

  2. Nate had his first classic black milk tea bubble tea today. It blows my mind how he's never had bubble tea before, even after Anna got back from exchange. I thought she'd force feed him a huge selection of Asian cuisine.

  3. On Canfield Road, there's a couple of really hip and expensive (but super, super adorable) shops that sold plants, designer clothes, bikes, music, gifts, kitchen utensils and more. Jack White's record store was located there. I'm such a sucker for stores that carry one, two or all of the things I listed above.

For dinner, we ate at Pho Lucky and bumped into our waiter from Punch Bowl Social. It was also Nate's first pho (thankfully he enjoyed it) and today was also his first time on the QLine, Detroit's new streetcar. Nate was so excited about improved public transit coming to Detroit. I never gave public transit a second thought, since the TTC was always around and I used it daily. It shocked me to come to terms with how excited people must've been about this addition to their repairing city.

On Sunday, we visited Kensington State Park. Anna, Nate, Eddie, Anna's dad and I ate a breakfast pizza before heading out onto Anna's dad's boat. He drove us around the river and tried to catch some fish, but was not lucky today. Probably because of the amount of human activity around there. We also tried feeding the birds, but no birds came and we ended up feeding chipmunks instead. On the same hiking trail, Anna's grandparents from her dad's side had their ashes scattered in a specific area. It was their favourite trail and Anna's dad said they'd used to watch the sunset from a nearby bench. Kensington State Park was a breath of fresh air. I don't think I'll miss the piss stench that floats on by in the Chicago subway platforms.

After the park, we ate at an Indian buffet for lunch and went to look for Fairy doors around Ann Arbor. At first, I thought they were talking about 'ferry doors'- I expected gigantic, majestic gates by the harbour. But then I realized Ann Arbor wasn't exactly bordering any major lakes or rivers, unlike Detroit. And Nate kept saying we had to look for them. Why do we have to look for gigantic gates? What's so hard about that? Nate also said that these doors were on the side of buildings, and artists contacted these businesses about building doors on the side of their walls. At this point, I was wondering if Ann Arbor had some sort of underground drug operation, where all these doors were anonymous pick up points. I was wrong on both occasions. Turns out 'fairy doors' were basically miniatures (think back to the Art Institute of Chicago - miniature rooms) that were spread out across the city. The fairy door in the library was my favourite. The interior was decorated like a cozy living room, with a fireplace and books.

Thank you so much for having me, guys. It was a short visit, but I really like Michigan and I'll be back.