The Fung-Wah Fun

The Fung-Wah bus company runs hourly buses between Boston and New York’s Chinatown, for a ridiculously low fare of $10. As proud students of economics 11, we deduced that in this instance the marginal benefit clearly exceeded the marginal cost.

Just trying to get on the bus was an adventure. We had tickets for the 12:30 p.m. bus; yet, at 12:35, we were standing with roughly 200 people, nearly half of whom were fluently speaking Chinese, waiting at a random corner in New York’s Chinatown. To our right was a cement park, to our left the Manhattan Bridge and all around us gleaming signs in Chinese. A New-Englander myself, I tried to teach Annalise to develop an aggressive side; after all when in New York, one must act like a New Yorker. Because Annalise is more prone to the laissez-faire lifestyle of the west coast, she didn’t appreciate the idea; therefore, I went up to a little Chinese lady, busy screaming into her walkie-talkie, and explained to her that we absolutely needed to be on the bus in order to get to Boston for a wedding. She didn’t care; she blinked repeatedly and made us get back into line. The brilliant plan was foiled.

At a quarter to one, a bus pulled up. The tension rose, and people were not sure when to start hurling themselves. Finally, the bus stopped; our hearts raced; what to do? We headed towards the bus, but the bus simply left, not taking any passengers. The Chinese lady explained, mostly in Chinese, that this was not our bus.

Nearly 10 minutes later, another bus pulled up across the street. Again, the same dilemma: what to do? An ambitious young blond woman walked across the street, her eyes screaming, “This is my bus.” I grabbed Annalise’s hand, and we ran across the wide New York street. Not checking any bags, we threw ourselves bags in hand on the bus. By luck or by our Chinese zodiac, we were the second and third people to get on the bus; our bus quickly filled to the brim, leaving many behind (sadly not the Princeton students) as we settled in for our long haul.

While the bus runs remarkably like a Peter Pan bus, several experiences surprised us. We had the initial joy of watching Billy Madison; however, seconds after Billy concluded right outside New Haven, a three-hour melodrama (half in Spanish) began. Wondering when it would end and what was going on, we were quite shocked by the nudity in the movie. A 15-minute sex scene, entirely in Spanish, with topless nudity was hardly what we expected to see on a bus.

Six hours later we got off in the heart of Boston’s Chinatown. Under the Chinatown arch, having just met a friend and my dad, we watched, in sorrow and in joy, as the Fung-Wah retreated. For all the cracks of which the Fung-Wah might be the butt, the company is a professional service that gets people from New York to Boston at unbeatable fares. And while the voices of the Princeton students could serve for advertisements for Excedrin, we cannot despise them for, as students at a top school, they, like us, traveled with economic sense.