Tea Time with Tom Waegook & Why Simple (#Travel) Pleasures Are Often the Best #ttot

NYC Pizza Party

I’ve had the pleasure of cyber-knowing Tom Waegook, a fellow travel blogger, for a while–thanks to Twitter and Facebook. And I was lucky enough to meet him and his partner, Namgi, in person last week in New York City. Although we only spent several hours together, we had a wonderful time!

When we were making our plans, I wasn’t sure what we should do. I’m not a New Yorker and don’t know the city that well, yet I felt I should come up with something interesting/new/fun/exciting. But at the same time, I really just wanted to go somewhere quiet to be able to chat.

Taking Afternoon Tea w/ Tom Waegook

I opted to keep it simple. Meet for tea. Then get some NYC pizza. And at places I was already familiar with and liked. That’s it. They loved the idea and so, that’s what we did.

On the surface, it was nothing earth shattering. Neither fancy nor trendy (well, maybe the tea was a tiny bit). Just basic.

And know what? It was just perfect. Why? Because we experienced the joy of simple (travel) pleasures, like food, beverage and conversation. Tea is easy, mellow, relaxing. Who doesn’t like pizza? Especially when it has a thin crust and tastes so delicious? And how happy does it make you to chat with people you’ve just met, other travelers, who are authentic, interesting and fun?


So here’s a little more about the time we spent together, the simple pleasures we enjoyed and some photos, too.

Tea Time

We met at David’s Tea on Bleecker Street. This Canada-based chain has a few teahouses in the city and this one happened to be close to the PATH stop I got off at. There isn’t a lot of seating, so we grabbed the sofa in the back, and got comfy.

Simple (yet complicated)

It was simple. Just choose a tea and order it. Of course, choosing one can get a bit complicated. David’s Tea has a couple hundred teas, I think. The names are really cool. And the ingredients are interesting–natural and full of chunky things like nuts and flowers.

David's Tea selection

Is it expensive? Not any more than tea would cost in NJ. $3 for a cup. $5 for a pot. And the tea is great. There’s wifi. And no one rushes you out.

Tea Time

(PS: This is not a sponsored post and I did not receive free tea to write this. I just happen to like the tea!)


Namgi had Midsummer Night’s Dream (tastes like someone squeezed oranges and lemons into your cup). Tom had Brazilionaire (has raisins, coconut and Brazil nuts in it) and I tried Coco Chai Rooibos (has coconut, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, etc.). We were all very satisfied and sampled each other’s teas. There was plenty to go around. And the chat was great.

Syrian/Palestinian Desert

I’d bought some goodies–Syrian cookies and Palestinian cake–from some of my students earlier that day (they were raising money for child refugees in Syria) and we enjoyed eating them while drinking tea. Another simple but real pleasure.

Talking Travel, Taking Our Time

We talked travel, of course. These guys are traveling through the U.S. together (and then Tom will continue on in S. America and elsewhere for a while). We also talked about blogging. And yeah, even grammar–ie, my recent obsession with a certain preposition that was making me crazy.

So there we sat, for a few hours, enjoying our tea and getting to know each other. No rushing. Just talking. Being in the moment. And it was great. Not any different then meeting fellow travelers in a hostel or bar or restaurant and clicking.

PS: They’re both awesome guys. Intelligent, interesting and humorous. My kind of people!

Pizza Party

After a while, we got hungry. We paid for our tea (and I bought a little of each of the 3 teas we’d drunk) and headed out. Next on the itinerary: Joe’s on Carmine Street. I explained why I always eat pizza there if in the neighborhood. The just-right tomato sauce, the thin crust and the fresh cheese, the combination of which is just right.

NYC pizza and Coca-Cola

Pizza Protocol

When we arrived, they guys hesitated before going up to the counter. They realized that there’s some sort of protocol to ordering there. What do you call the particular slices? Where exactly do you stand on line so that you’re not overlooked? I helped out with that.

Then each of us ordered the same: a regular slice and one with ‘fresh mozzarella.’ We ate them in that order, and we oohed and ahhed at how good the pie was! At one point, I spilled Root Beer on my jacket. Namgi ran and got napkins for me. Sweet of him.

Quirky Moments on the Street

Puzzling Potatoes

We left Joe’s and took our time heading back to the PATH stop. We passed a potato salesman whose potatoes were…nothing short of trippy.

Trippy Potatoes

Were they sweet potatoes? Were they mutants? Were they creatures from some underground civilization? I really don’t know. What I do know is that I had to photograph them. They were that strange.

Sexy Bunny Mannequins

There were also some sexy bunny mannequins left over from Easter, still on display. They, of course, caught my eye because of my ongoing mannequin obsession. To see more quirky mannequins, check out these posts: The Surreal World of Middle Eastern Mannequins and Manic Mannequins of Ecuador.

Sexy Bunny Mannequins

Saying Goodbye

We made our way to the train and got ready to say goodbye. I didn’t really want to. In fact, I very easily could have stayed with them all night. They were great company and I enjoyed hearing their observations re: the City, the people and the goings on.

And had they had more time, I would have invited them to couch surf at my apartment in NJ. I would have loved to have shown them some ethnic neighborhoods, as well as they countryside.

Simple Travel Pleasures

But that’s OK. We connected in a short time and I was reminded of travel’s simple pleasures. A hot drink, a cheap (but delicious) meal and great conversation with authentic people. What could be better?

Staying Connected Through Tea

There was a tea we learned about just before leaving David’s–Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait. The guys went back the next day and tried it and reported back to me that it was great. This put a smile on my face.

I can be a bit sentimental at times and so, I’m glad I bought the three teas we drank the day we met. I can now drink them and think of Tom and Namgi. It brings back good memories of a simple but wonderful experience.

Reflection on NYC poster glass

Your Thoughts? Reactions?

When you travel, what sort of experiences do you seek? Which simple pleasures do you enjoy most? Do you get sentimental about the people you’ve met and sometimes buy something that you enjoyed together as a way of remembering them? Or do you just snap a photo a recall the memory that way?

Have you ever shown someone around your neighborhood or a nearby city? If so, what did you introduce the person/people to—and why?

Should I take a trip to Virginia? 

At press time, Tom and Namgi were in Washington, DC, and about to go to Virginia–a state I’ve never visited. Hmmm. I’d almost like to hop in my car and drive down there to see them one more time. Should I? :)

15 Responses to Tea Time with Tom Waegook & Why Simple (#Travel) Pleasures Are Often the Best #ttot
  1. Tom @ Waegook Tom
    April 9, 2013 | 1:22 pm

    You should TOTALLY come down to VA! We’re sat in Union Station right now…

    It was lovely meeting you, and hope we can meet up again! You’re right in saying that the simple experiences can often be the best ones :)
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..5 Things To Do In CornwallMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      April 9, 2013 | 1:34 pm

      Hey…hi! Really wish I could. Looks interesting down there. That’s the South–another world (to me). :) You’re doing Williamsburg first, then Richmond? Hmmm. Williamsburg has more of the cool historical stuff, right? Or would that be true for Richmond, too? Will have to check on it. Wish I weren’t so darn busy… Still, it’s tempting. :)

  2. chinamatt
    April 9, 2013 | 2:28 pm

    Are you living along the PATH route? I keep missing out on blogger meetups in the area (mostly with my work schedule), but I’m right by a PATH station here in Jersey City.

    You also should’ve taken them to Crif Dogs.
    chinamatt recently posted..The Importance of Expat CommunitiesMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      April 9, 2013 | 2:37 pm

      Hi, Matt. I live in Bloomfield, but I sometimes drive to PATH or take the Light Rail to get there. We should definitely meet up sometime!

      Crif Dogs? What’s that? Hot dogs? :)

      • chinamatt
        April 9, 2013 | 2:52 pm

        Crif Dogs is only the best hot dog place in the world (I still haven’t been in the speakeasy through the phonebooth though).
        chinamatt recently posted..The Importance of Expat CommunitiesMy Profile

  3. Dyanne@TravelnLass
    April 9, 2013 | 11:09 pm

    Can’t resist a couple of comments:

    Yes indeed, “simple” (meetups, food, heck – just plain simple living!) are what it’s all about for me. That said:

    Argghhhh! pic of NYC pizza – now that’s just plain MEAN! Why dontcha just stab the knife into my Asia-deprived culinary gut and TWIST it!

    And finally…

    Yes, YES! Why not take a little road trip to Virginia?
    Dyanne@TravelnLass recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Remembering China of Old…My Profile

    • CB Driver
      April 10, 2013 | 6:02 pm

      Hi, Dyanne. Cool that you appreciate the simple things, too.

      So my pic of the pizza was a tease?? LOL re: twisting the knife. Funny!

      I’d love to take that road trip to VA. Know what the prob is? Time. I’m in the final two weeks of my book project and will be soon hitting the button. Not sure if I can squeeze in that trip (unless I take a train, which might be too $$$.) :(

      • Dyanne@TravelnLass
        April 10, 2013 | 10:15 pm

        I hear ya, Lis “so many places…so little time”. Would that we could clone ourselves so that we could be in two (three? four?) places at one time, yes?

        Still, I don’t know that I can ever forgive you for that NYC pizza pic. A knife I tell ya – a KNIFE! 😉
        Dyanne@TravelnLass recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Remembering China of Old…My Profile

        • CB Driver
          April 12, 2013 | 7:53 pm

          Yes, can we please clone ourselves? Then we could eat two slices of that NYC pizza at the same time!! LOL ::)

  4. Maria
    April 10, 2013 | 12:23 am

    Ah Lisa has that smile that brightens a dark room and there’s Tom and Namgi, looking just a tad mischievous – great shots!
    Thanks for the walk around town, after virtually eating pizza and drinking 12 pots of tea with you guys… I needed the stroll. *laugh* Good times had by all – in, and out, of the post.
    Maria recently posted..Liebster Blog AwardMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      April 10, 2013 | 6:03 pm

      Thanks, Maria! There’s another picture on Namgi’s camera that’s nicer quality. Hope to get my hands on it soon (since some of the iPhoto pics are grainy). LOL re: the 12 pots of tea! Yeah, we had many cups. And now, I’m drinking it almost every night. Love it! (But I’m also a coffee drink in the a.m. who prefers the French press.)

  5. Gray
    April 12, 2013 | 10:13 pm

    I think you chose exactly the right experience for a first in-person meeting with folks you really wanted to talk with and get to know. I’m sure they were busy enough running around sightseeing in NYC that they enjoyed slowing down the pace a bit.
    Gray recently posted..On the Spanish Mission Trail in San AntonioMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      April 14, 2013 | 12:37 pm

      Thanks, Gray. That totally makes sense. It can’t all be non-stop action, right? :)

  6. Things That Confused Me About The USA - Waegook Tom
    April 6, 2014 | 9:33 pm

    […] Lisa from Chickybus is one of the friendliest people I’ve EVER met Love this lady! […]

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