homemade violins & new york pizza | day 22 | 5250 miles

july 22nd, 2015 | 3 hours ahead

Okay, so the pizza wasn’t homemade. But this is Henry, and this is a violin that he made by hand. He reads this blog, so I have to be truthful here (uh oh). As the story goes, he was frustrated by the quality and price of the kids’ violins — they have a shorter neck and smaller body but more importantly, violin makers don’t care as much about the quality of these instraments — so he decided to build one. He was an electrical engineer by training, and well, that means absolutely nothing in respect to this project, except that he’s an intelligent man.

He read a few books and began building violins. He has gone to some violin master in like Delaware (or something like that) who gave him some wood blanks and spoke with him about the art of making violins. Apparently, the sound that a violin makes cannot be replicated by any digital solution, and scientists believe that it has something to do with the shiny varnish that goes on the outside of the violin.

He said that the whole thing from start to finish takes about 6 months, most of which is because of the time you have to leave the violin out in the sun to set the varnish.

For lunch: classic New York Pizza (take 2). Yet again, the astonishing contrast between layman’s food and high class human expression becomes evident — I’m starting to think that this is characteristic of New York at this point.

Those 3 slices of pizza definitely contend with the best I’ve ever had. Furthermore so does the family. Very friendly hosts. Thanks guys.


After we left New York for Boston, we decided to make a pretty special trip to Noralk, Connecticut.

This is the hospital that my dad was born in more than 50 years ago — sorry dad for revealing your secret :p. After my grandpa graduated from MIT, he along with my grandma moved here. He worked at a company called Sperry Semi-conductors, and she worked as a teaching nurse at this hospital. That was for two years. According to my grandma(who would know), my dad was the first Asian baby born at this hospital. How insane is that?

It’s really quite unique to stop at places like this where such significant things happened long ago. This was the appartment that my grandparents lived in for the duration of their time in CT. My grandparents remember a story where the fire alarm went off early in the morning, and they had to evacuate the building. It’s not even fathomable for me to imagine my grandpa — not as I know him now — but as he was 60 years ago when he was here. It’s weird.


After Norwalk, we made our way to a suburb of Boston where we would be staying with some family. This is confusing because we didn’t eat with them. Instead, for dinner, we met up with one of George’s old friends and had dinner with them. Guess what that thing on the window is:

The guy on the right is George’s friend’s husband, and he’s a very accomplished researcher. George likes to tell the joke that around the world he’s known as a great scientist, but to my grandpa Jimmy, he’s known as the guy who makes gran mariner ice cream. I won’t divulge the secret recipe, but it was pretty good and so was the time. Oh yea, and that thing on the window is a yeast.

So what I think was the most impressionable part of the day was that people become interesting by the things they do. Humans have a unique ability to create things — especially things that aren’t solely functional. It’s almost our responsibility to go out into the world, try new things, build new skills, and create.


Originally published on from sea to shining sea by Aaron Yih on Medium.com. For more travel blog posts, go to travel section of my blog. Find more up to date info on my Instagram and video-based content on my Youtube.

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