I've been back from my personally funded trip to West Point for a couple of weeks now. So if I'm going to write anything about it, I should probably write it now before I forget too much.
Instead of a direct flight from Incheon to New York, I had to catch a connecting flight at Narita. There was a really nice surprise for the flight from Incheon to Narita, however: my seat got upgraded to business class. And boy, it gave me a thorough appreciation of why people fly business class even with the much higher airfare. There were what seemed to be infinite legroom, seats which can lie horizontally for a comfortable sleep, and even real silverware and dishes for the meal! Too bad it was just for the two and a half hour flight from Incheon to Narita and not the twelve hour flight from Narita to New York.
With what was effectively a four-hour stopover at Narita, I could have either lounged about the airport, or I could take a short jaunt outside. I chose to go outside, especially since me and my bride-to-be will be stopping over at Narita for several hours on the way to our honeymoon, so it also served as reconnaissance. I took the Retro Bus to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, which was much more impressive than I thought. However, the bus runs only seven times each day, and in the hurry to store my luggage before getting on the soon-to-arrive bus, I forgot to take out my camera, so I had to use my iPhone to take pictures. The photograph below shows the front yard to the rather large temple grounds:
Walking up the stairs, I also got to see the most turtles I have ever seen in one place:
Although I only managed a quick stroll before I had to head back to get on the Retro Bus to the airport, I think Naritasan Shinshoji Temple would easily be worth an hour or two worth of quality time. Not only is the temple itself surprisingly large, but the woods within the temple grounds would be great for a leisurely walk. (Funnily enough, I seem to have missed the Retro Bus back to the airport despite being a minute early at the bus stop, and considering the next bus would be rather late for my flight, I ended up walking twenty minutes to Narita subway station for a ride to the airport.)
Once at New York, I needed a way to get to West Point. A rental car may have afforded me freedom of movement, but weekday rates are just too outrageous for someone like me, so I decided to take the bus. However, due to a mistake in reading the maps to the bus terminal, I ended up getting off the subway station at the former World Trade Center site. At least I got to see the new construction activity on the site.
Fortunately, I did manage to find my way to the Port Authority Bus Terminal properly on my next try on the subway. Despite being much closer to the World Trade Center station than the former was from the airport, the subway fare was exactly the same, since the New York subway system used a flat fee.
After a couple of hours on the bus, I ended up at the West Point Visitors Center.
From there, it was a short walk to the Thayer Hotel, where the Network Science Workshop was held. The hotel is located inside the West Point Military Academy, and I knew one had to show identification to get in, but "disappointingly", it wasn't military police that guarded the entrance but private security. Or at least I think so.
Finally, during the workshop I got to present my research and participate in a panel. However, due to the almost complete upheaval of timezones, I found myself threatening to collapse into a slumber, so I had to take brief naps during some of the breaks lest I drop unconscious. The panel was also a lot less argumentative than I expected, since us panelists took too much time giving our position statements and not leaving enough time for discussion. Other than these quibbles, I was pretty happy with the workshop.
With the workshop over, we got our promised boat trip on the Hudson around West Point, which made for a nice couple of hours.
After that, I got to visit my cousins in New York, and then a flight to Los Angeles, where I got to meet a lot of relatives I haven't seen for quite some time, which was a side benefit to the other business I had in Los Angeles. After all that was finally the long flight from Los Angeles to Narita, and there to Incheon.