Onwards to LA for my transit to Hong Kong [YQrtw Day 124 Aug 12]

Location: San Salvador, El Salvador to Los Angeles, USA

After two months in Spanish-speaking countries, I’m finally leaving for Asia. But first, I need to head to LA for a transit.

In the morning, I was surfing Facebook and I realized that Cathay Pacific had a typhoon warning for the 13th and 14th on its Facebook page. The airline added that we’re allowed to change our flights for free.

I thought that it would be a great chance to extend my visit in the US and BUY ALL THE THINGS WITH MY CREDIT CARD.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get anyone from Cathay Pacific on the phone. In the end, I decided that I would wing it at the check in counter,

After checking out my hostel at 10am, I headed out to the post office and for breakfast. The weather was hot and I was sweating like nobody’s business as I walked around.

When I got back to the hostel, I waited patiently for my taxi at 12 noon. No car came during that time so I had to remind the hostel owner about the cab. She hurriedly made a call and a cab came after 5 minutes.

The ride from the hostel to the airport was US$30. It’s kind of expensive for El Salvador but the airport was 37km away from the city and about 45 minutes drive away.

When the cab sped to the airport, I admired the landscape. El Salvador’s hills and random jungles by the road reminded me a lot of home. I was glad to come and visit since it was a good buffer from the harsh Peruvian landscapes.

San Salvadorian sky
San Salvadorian sky

Felt up by airport agents TWICE!

I reached the airport around 1pm and checkin was smooth. What wasn’t smooth was when I got to my gate.

Turns out, passengers to the US require strict inspection. There were rows of table to inspect the contents of our carry ons. My purse, laptop case and electronic cases were zipped open and closed.

Next up was the body check where the officers felt everyone once in the front and once in the back.

The last inspection was the most ridiculous. There were several chairs and everyone had to take off their shoes. The shoes were then felt up. Luckily, I was wearing my most horrible pair of flip flops. The airport agent wasn’t too happy when she bended my flip flops around.

The flight from San Salvador to Los Angeles was alright. I watched Iron Man 3 and a couple of sitcoms during the 5-hour flight.

Thank Hermes for USB chargers on planes.
Thank Hermes for USB chargers on planes.

At LAX, I had to grab my luggage from the carousel and check in at the other terminal. The custom officers were lenient since I was only doing a transit.

However, at the luggage check for flights, I was singled out again when the metal detector flashed. Seriously, the only metal objects on me were my glasses screws and my teeth filling.

The TSA officer asked me to put out one foot. She felt up my leg and asked me to put out the other foot to feel. Do they think I was Resident Evil’s Ada Wong with some metal strapped to my thigh? I was wearing a maxi dress and look positively pregnant with my flabby stomach.

Anyway, I think it’s funny that I had to go through the legs check ups. I can now tick [] Felt up by TSA officers off my list of “Things I Do Not Want to Happen to Me”.

No shopping in LAX?

LAX waiting area
LAX waiting area

Now I’m in my LAX terminal. I’m a bit disappointed by the duty free shopping here (almost non-existent). Where are the Coach and LeSportSac shops? I have a shopping list for my family and myself. Tsk.

OK, I have about three hours to go before my flight. I’ll look for things to amuse myself before my flight.

Here’s something interesting about my flight. I will be flying around midnight of August 13 but arrive in the early morning of August 14 because I’m crossing the international date line. This means my flight is about two-day long and my August 13 only lasts about 7 hours. That’ll be fun!

I’m very excited about Hong Kong

While on the plane. I read Wikitravel entries on Hong Kong and I realized that I really really really want to be there for the food.

If this was a regular straight-to-Hong-Kong trip, I might not have been as excited. But I’ve been away from good Asian food for so long that I think I might cry when I eat the first siewmai that I meet.

Recap of 2012 travels

2012 travel yqtravelling

Hello everyone,

It’s the last day of 2012. For today, I am recapping the journeys I made in 2012, along with a few related entries.

(Some of the cities do not have related blog posts because I am working on a really limited internet connection back home in Sabah. I’ll follow up with the posts once I reach the land of high speed internet–Singapore.)

In case you find this entry a little TL;DR, I want to wish you a happy 2013. May the new year be filled with (productive) travels.


-Yun Qing

January 2012

Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

yqtravelling january seremban negeri sembilan

In a nutshell: The Seremban which D and I visited was sleepy. There wasn’t much going around as it seems like most of the people prefer to look for a living in Kuala Lumpur.

Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

Port Dickson
Port Dickson

In a nutshell: The reason I dragged D along to PD was to wash my feet in the ocean. My family has a ritual of stepping into the ocean when the new year comes to “wash away the bad luck”. PD wasn’t as fantastic as what my primary school sample compositions tell me. I much prefer the beaches in Sabah.

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu for the Chinese New Year
Kota Kinabalu for the Chinese New Year

In a nutshell: Back home for Chinese New Year which is the most important festival for my family. I didn’t visit any new places while in Sabah.

February 2012

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur

In a nutshell: Impromptu trip to meet up with Nguyen in KL. It was great fun meeting her again after my trip to Saigon after graduation.

March + April 2012

Yogyakarta + Solo, Indonesia


In a nutshell: Back in Indonesia after D and my first trip back in 2009. It was great seeing the ancient monuments in Borobudur and Prambanan.

Solo, Indonesia
Solo, Indonesia

In a nutshell: The side trip to Solo was fun too since we visited Candi Sukuh and watched Orang Wayang.

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


In a nutshell: Finally back to crossing Malaysian states off my list. Ipoh will forever be remembered as the town with great food (almost as good as Penang) and a “castle” that is not really a castle.

May 2012

San Jose, California, USA

San Jose
San Jose

In a nutshell: On a business trip to cover an event in San Jose. I had the chance to visit Cupertino and see the Winchester Mystery House. I didn’t get to see much of the city because I was stuck in the convention centers getting my bills paid.

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco
San Francisco

In a nutshell: Side trip from San Jose after the business trip. I had planned to visit Napa Valley for a night but decided to stay in SF for the whole week. I saw two great shows, visited many fine museums and cycled a little.

June 2012

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu

In a nutshell: Back home for a classmate’s wedding. didn’t get to visit other areas since I was back for only the weekend.

July 2012

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam

In a nutshell: A 5-day trip to central Vietnam. I had planned to visit another historical town, Hue, but decided to spend all the time in Hoi An. I ate a lot, drank a lot of coffee and cycled a lot.

August 2012

Jakarta, Indonesia


In a nutshell: A short weekend trip to the capital of Indonesia. We weren’t caught in traffic jams as we took the TransJakarta public bus. I didn’t do a lot of research so we ended up walking aimlessly.

September 2012

Tokyo + Kamakura Japan

Kamakura, Japan
Kamakura, Japan

In a nutshell: A day trip to historical Kamakura on the day I reached Tokyo. I love the little town with its little big Buddha and quaint streets.


In a nutshell: A 4-day business trip but I pre-extended the weekend before work. I had the chance to overnight in Ooedo Onsen Monogatari and catch Gintama Land before it was over.

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia


In a nutshell: Returned to Kuching. Trip wasn’t as great but I got to meet J the night before.

October 2012

Bangkok, Thailand


In a nutshell: My first visit to Thailand. I narrowed down my to-do list to a few sites and spent a productive weekend.

Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia

Alor Setar
Alor Setar

In a nutshell: State 9 of my Visit Malaysia project. A small town where our fourth prime minister, Dr Tun Mahathir, was born. Visited the Alor Setar tower, the second tallest TV tower in Malaysia, and saw a bird’s eye view of the town.

Padang Besar, Perlis, Malaysia

Padang Besar
Padang Besar

In a nutshell: State 10 of my Visit Malaysia project. Went to the market bordering Thailand. I was a little disappointed that the market didn’t straddle the border with stall owners on one side accepting ringgit while the other baht.

November 2012

No major travelling for the month. It wasn’t as bad as I expected because I had other things to busy myself with during the weekend. For example, reading Web comics, watching Youtube, eating, reading things online etc.

December 2012

Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia
In a nutshell: Back home for the Christmas holiday because of forced leave implemented by the company. Went on a roadtrip with Mom to the north of Sabah. We read a lot, ate a lot of fruits while at the hotel. Also visited the “Tip of Borneo”.

How has your year of travelling been?

Hidden treasures on the road: Second hand bookstores

I know books don’t make the best souvenirs:

Little Prince, Beauvoir
Little Prince, Beauvoir

Despite that, I always feel a sense of euphoria when I stumble upon second hand bookshops overseas.

The musty smell of the shop, the yellowing pages and the cheap price of books give me more thrill than shopping for clothes unless the garments are second hand and cheap.

Here are a few of the hidden treasures I’ve found during my travels:



BOOK OFF is one of Japan’s second hand book store chain. I was introduced to it by my host family in Fukuoka. At the end of my summer school, I sent home a heavy box of Japanese manga.

Popular manga usually go for 200 yen for a book while older manga are 100 yen. Foreign language books are not cheap though.

When I visit Japan (which is not often), I always have my eyes peeled for a branch of BOOK OFF on the streets. (There’s even some BOOK OFFs in Paris, if you are ever there.) When I see a BOOK OFF, I can’t help popping in to see their collection.

During my last trip to Japan, I had a free day waiting for the evening to come so I could go to Gintama Land. I found a BOOK OFF on the second floor of a building and spent hours in the shop, thumbing through comics.

Books in BOOK OFF are always in pristine condition. They look even better than most of the books on my shelf back home.

The Japanese usually read books stores while standing (it even has its own phrase “tachiyomi“). On weekends, it’s quite a sight to see everyone standing, reading while facing the bookshelves.

Bouquinerie du Centre, Nantes

Bouquinerie du Centre, Nantes
Bouquinerie du Centre, Nantes

I was looking for a place to have lunch in the center of Nantes when I came across a second hand bookstore “Bouquinerie du Centre”.

The selection wasn’t a lot but it had titles which weren’t easily available in Singapore.

Trying to look smart, I picked up a few Simone de Beauvoir’s books which looked easy enough to be read. Le deuxième sexe wasn’t available, unfortunately.

But I must confess that the books are still in the suitcase since my move to my new rented room in August 2011.

Adobe Bookshop, San Francisco

Adobe Bookshop, San Francisco
Adobe Bookshop, San Francisco

While in the Mission District looking for lunch (again!), I found Adobe Bookshop. The shop was in a state of orderly mess with stacks of books arranged alphabetically according to author and genre.

I browsed the rows and rows of books, squeezing through bookshelves and found a man snoozing in one of the armchairs.

While I was looking for something to buy back home, a man came into the shop. He said he accidentally bought the same book and asked if he could exchange it for another. The shopowner agreed.

The old gentleman came to my aisle and was looking up and down for the author’s row. When he asked me if I knew where the author’s book was, I helped him in his search. We found it.

He then asked if I had my lunch as he was going to grab a bite. Although he didn’t feel threatening, I pretended that I just ate because I don’t think I should go around having lunch with strangers I’ve just met, even if it was in a book store.

Bridget Jones
Bridget Jones

While browsing, I overheard the shopowner telling a customer that the shop will be closing down as the landlord wanted to increase the price of the rent. I looked at the price of the books and wondered how the shop manage to stay open in the first place.

When I paid for my books, the shopowner asked if I was from overseas. I answered, “Singapore”. He then said that he was collecting foreign currency and if I had any money from Singapore to exchange with one of the foreign money in the plate.

I did have a S$2 note and I chose a pre-Euro coin from France. I said my thanks and left with my books.

I think the shop would have closed down by now. I feel sad.

This post was inspired by this week’s #Travel Talk on Twitter (#TTOT): Hidden treasures.

Have you stumbled upon hidden treasures when travelling? What was it?

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Stayed San Jose Marriott Hotel, review

As you might know from my blog, I’m a budget traveler. Or maybe I should say, a miserly traveler.

So why am I reviewing the San Jose Marriott? Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those phantom posts about places the writer has never been to.

I had the chance to stay at this hotel chain during my business trip in May to San Jose. I clocked five luxurious nights among the soft bed and fluffy pillows, then I went back to earth in San Francisco.

Anyway, let’s head to the review:

Two beds for one person and her luggage

I’m not sure why they always give two beds on business trips for a single traveler. Even if I do invite someone to stay over, the other bed wouldn’t be too useful, would it? ;)

The bed was very comfortable and I spent a ridiculous amount of non-work hours propped up my pillows watching TV (The kids show in the morning were really fun but the shows at night were scandalous!).

Bathroom with a tub!

I do not have a bathtub at home so whenever I see a bathtub, my heart swells with joy. But when taking a bath, I would feel guilty about wasting so much water. Dilemma!

Bath and Beyond’s great smelling set

The thing I liked best about the room was the bath set. The orange-ginger combination smells really heavenly. I kind of regret not buying a whole bottle from Bath and Beyong.

Every morning, I would hide the tiny bottles in my suitcase and hope the room service tips I left were enough to pacify the chambermaids.

My non-view

I had a relatively low floor so my view wasn’t great. I’m not the type to open my curtains anyway so it suited me well.

My room also had a coffee machine that only accepts its own coffee bags. The coffee was really good stuff though, not like the limp coffee found in Southeast Asia. (Heck, even the conference coffee was awesome!)

Now that I’ve finished all my praises, the bad news comes.

I had to pay a lot of money for Internet (well, the host paid for the Internet but the fact that the guest needs to pay for Web access makes me really angry).

Not only was the Wi-Fi expensive, it drops off very often. I would need to relogin Marriott’s page again and again because it cuts me off too often.

A good thing that came out of this was that I had a story idea to work on when I was back at work.


Stayed: San Jose Marriott
Pro: All the stuff a four-star hotel has, lovely bath toiletries collection
Cons: Not for the budget traveler, the Internet fee is too damn high!

Other accommodation reviews (for the budget travelers)

Stayed: Pacific Tradewinds Backpacker Hostel, San Francisco review

Pacific Tradewinds Hostel was my second hostel in San Francisco but I booked it a lot earlier than I did San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel.

I spent seven nights there and loved the location. It’s between Chinatown and the Financial District. Plus, Union Square and Market Street is within walking distance. For the facilities and location, the less-than-US$30 rate is darn cheap.

The area’s also safe for a solo woman traveller since I didn’t see many shady characters hanging around at night.

The rooms

I was given the Haigh Ashbury bed in one of the two rooms on the fourth floor. There are six beds in each room. I believe the third floor has extra rooms (and showers) as well.

The room is not tiny as there’s still space for everyone of us in the room to open our luggage. There’s also storage underneath the bed. Remember to bring your lock.

My bed was comfortable. The room is nice and toasty at night if we keep the windows shut. Sheets were clean. Two mirrors in the room, in case you are a mirror person.

There were two power outlets which were shared among six girls who probably each have 2 devices. Other power source is available in the hangout area.

Hostel folks


If you are a people person who LOVEa making new friends, this is the perfect place for you. You’ll make lots of friends with the guests and staff in the kitchen/hangout area.

Unfortunately for me, I’m not that much of a people person so I kept to myself most of the time. (The hostel actually inspired my ealier post on ISFPs and hostels.)


The fourth floor is the hangout area. Unfortunately, the hangout area is the thing between me and the bathroom. So most of the time, I have to not-so-discreetly walk to the bathroom while everyone’s chatting about. (Psst, the shower next to the toilet has hotter water than the other one.)

If you are a light sleeper, the hostel has lights out at 12 midnight (hurray!) and most people leave the hangout area for some place else. Just in case, bring earplugs for snory roomies. I got mine from Daiso which has a branch right on Market Street.

Overall, the Pacific Tradewinds Hostel is a great place to stay. Do remember to make advanced bookings because they had to turn down a lot of people while I was there.

Pacific Tradewinds Hostel

Pro: Great location, cheap (<US$30), safe area, near good food
Cons: More power points please.

Heading to San Francisco? Here are some money saving tips for SF.

Stayed: San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel review

During my San Francisco trip, I had the chance to stay at two different hostel. Well, “chance” doesn’t really describe my situation. I had to book separate places because I misinterpreted my work schedule.

Since I had already booked Pacific Tradewinds Hostel for seven nights so I thought that I should give San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel a try for my first night in San Francisco.

This is the Fort Mason branch of Hostelling International’s three hostels in the city. I didn’t pick the other two because they seem to be in shady locations. For a solo woman traveler, safety is always a priority.

I got off one bus stop too early and had to drag my luggage up an extra slope. (I should have stopped at Van Ness instead of Polk.)

After I reached the Fort Mason entrance, there was another slope to conquer. The slope’s not too bad and there’s a beautiful community garden along the way to distract me.

The hostel front desk is on top of the hill. There’s plenty of parking space around.

I lived in this building. The stairs leads to the breakfast room.

The front desk person is curt but I don’t expect hostel staff to fawn over me so it was the right amount of civility. She used a marker to write that day’s date on my receipt for use as an entrance pass and my breakfast slip.


I was lucky enough to get one of the smaller dorm rooms. There was only six beds instead of some other’s 10 to 12. There’s a radiator in the room for those cold San Franciscan nights.

I had the lower bunk which is good because there’s no ladder to climb up the upper bunk. You’ll have to step on the rungs (which were quite high). Under the bed is a luggage space which I locked with my padlock. I couldn’t find a power point in the room.

Room access is with an electronic card. My Room 13 was right outside the bathroom so it was convenient for showers. The bathroom was bright with three showers with three toilets.

There’s a theater and a large kitchen. I did a bit of blogging in the kitchen since there was Internet connection there.

Hostel with a view

The view from the hostel itself is not too fantastic as it’s covered up by trees. But if you stand at the edge of the hill, you’ll get a great faraway look of the Golden Gate Bridge (if the weather is gracious with low fog).

In the mornings, cyclists will ride past the hostel since it’s along the way to the bridge.

Breakfast was great. I had a bagel with peanut butter, a fruit (which I forgot to take away), unlimited coffee and juice. The breakfast lasted me from 11am to 3pm.

One thing cool about Fort Mason on Friday is Off the Grid. At least there was one the Friday I was there.

The event brings the street cards and food trucks around the city in a central location. Head banging music and crowd expected. I had the chance to try out the Creme Brulee Cart there.

Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel

Pro: Good view, great breakfast, space, cheap (US$29.99), safe area
Cons: Far from most sights, a bit of a trek from nearest bus stop, slopes, no power point in room

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Glutton in San Francisco

Hiya turtle brings you good food

During my week vacation in San Francisco, I relied a lot on Yelp and its local reviewers for advice on what to eat. The app was also very useful to narrow down eateries that were still open at the time I want to visit. A lot of the stores seem to operate at a very specific time range.

Yelp, with its HQ in San Francisco, is also promoted a lot by the restaurant themselves. A lot of the shops proudly display Yelp stickers or have Yelp-related promotions, such as the half price-coffee I got at M Cafe. I am not sure how both parties benefit but it sure benefits me as a consumer.

I want to be married to Yelp, in a polygamous marriage with TripIt too.

Thanks to Yelp and one or two IRL (in real life) local recommendations, I had some very amazing meals while in SF.

Bon appetit!

Sammich, panini, torta, burger

Torta from La Grande Torta in Mission district
I made one friend at the hostel! (Good job YQ!) K brought me to thirft stores and to eat real Mexican food.

My torta was stuffed with all sorts of meat. I washed it down with hot chocolate spiced with cinnamon. Mmmm…

The Godfather Panini from M Cafe
Found the shop through Yelp. The sandwich was dripping sauce when I ate it. Good but not absolutely fantastic. I love the warm toasted bread. (Psst, Wi-Fi password there is godfather.)

Sandwich from Freddie’s Sandwich at Pine Street
Daily special at the highly rated Freddie’s Sandwich. It was so big I packed half of it in a container for dinner. Yummy!

Philly Cheese Steak from Buster’s
I was looking for real steak but ended up with a sandwich. (Stupid non-local me.) Surprisingly nice with melted cheese and bits of beef.

In-N-Out Burger

Hamburger from In-N-Out Burger
Do burgers count as sandwiches? In my book, bread with meat in between equals a sandwich, so here it is. Jesse from Discovery Walks recommended the place as the best burger place.

Instead of cheeseburger, I went with hamburger because I am clueless about which burger to choose. It was alright. The fries felt a bit flat.

Hotdog from Zog’s Dog
Accidentally stumbled upon the stand while waiting for a walking tour to start. My first American hotdog! The meat was hot from the pan and my mustard flavored the plain bun very well.


Plain vanilla creme brulee

From the crème brûlée cart. Stalk them at @cremebruleecart
The cart and its goodies were something I’ve heard about even before the work trip was known. It’s quite fun to know that a food cart would announce its location on twitter for its fan to look for it.

I had the dessert when Off the Grid was happening at Fort Mason. Off the Grid gathers about 10 food carts/trucks in one location with head banging music and not much moving space.

I also picked up a nutella and strawberry creme brulee when I saw the card downtown. Sweet!

Chocolate croissant with coffee from Ghirardelli.

Not my best meal in SF .I just arrived in San Francisco from San Jose and I was really hungry for food so I picked the cheap set.

Supermarket strawberries
Straberries were humongous. I ate all, except four, in one sitting. It washed away the bad sushi taste.

Main meals

Pizza from The Golden Boy
Another Discovery Walks guide recommendatiom: a Sicilian pizza joint.

I picked the one with clam garlic topping. It tastes of salty seafood but the crunchy crust tempers the saltiness. I got one to go and sat on the grass at Washington Square while the locals lounge about soaking up the sun. (I was in the shade.) It was a very satisfying meal.

Clam chowder in sourdough bowl from Bordin at Pier 39

I had a coupon for a free drink at Pier 39’s Bordin so I got myself a clam chowder in sourdough bowl.

After a taste of the bread, I am now in love with sourdough. But the soup was already cold by the time I got it so it wasn’t fantastic.

Pho from Golden Star Vietnamese Restaurant
My very first Yelp-referenced meal, also my first sit-down meals in SF.

I was hungry for something soupy and checked for good and cheap food places around the hostel. Turns out the restaurant is around some corners so I grabbed my jacket and went in search of the place.

I was served a medium pot of tea. It wasn’t really good tea but I drank probably the three-quarters of the pot because I am that thirsty.

The dish itself wasn’t salted enough. But it was satisfying because of the hot soup and the large chunks of meat. Mmmm….

Breakfast at M’oz Cafe near Union Square
I was heading to the SF MOMA on Bay to Breakers day so I looked up breakfast places around the area.

The hash brown is flaky and tastes 10 times better than the piece of potato McDonald’s gives me when I order its breakfast set.

Sushi burrito

Royal prince burrito at Sushi Taka on Kearny-Sacramento Street
A sushi place just around the corner of my hostel. I found it funny that its opening hours was from 8am to 2.30pm on weekdays. It feels like they don’t need to earn money.

The sushi was so much better than the crap I bought from the supermarket. The rice flavored and the salmon sweet.

My picnic was at the square which I don’t remember while I wait for the Chinatown tour to start. I felt like I was intruding on the local old Chinese granpas’ place.

Lunch set at Scoma, Sausolito
My most expensive meal in San Francisco area. It was a posh seaside restaurant at Sausolitio which is opposite San Francisco.

I had cycled there and was hungry. I got the clam chowder lunch set as well as three raw oyster.



Caramel macchiato
I like the stamped logo. The coffee is good too but I probably should have ordered something more plain.

Can’t get enough of San Francisco? Me neither!

What do you think is the best meal in San Francisco?

Falling in love…with San Francisco

I was planning to go with “I left my heart in San Francisco” as my blog title so it would mirror my San Jose entry’s song title as blog title. In the end, I decided to skip the cheesiness since it’s too predictable to use that.

Anyway, I’ve fallen in love with San Francisco. Although it’s blasphemous to say this, but, yes, I’ve fallen in love with the City more than I did Paris.

Before the trip, all I ever heard from people was how much they loved San Francisco. Not a bad word was said.

It was annoying and also scary. How is it possible for everyone to like a place so much?

So I decided I would buck the trend and not like SF. I came to the place expecting to dislike the weather, the buildings, the smell of the subway (Paris’s Metro smells like piss), the touristy Golden Gate Bridge. Basically, I was being a psycho.

But in the end, I didn’t. I fell in love instead.

Beautiful things

Church of Scientology

At first glance, the City feels like any other city. The buildings are not as nice as Europe where the old buildings are amazingly gorgeous.

But San Francisco grew on me.

At every other corner, there’s something beautiful. Mostly the sea, sometimes bushes of flowers (lavender grow aplenty here), murals, the sky, metrosexual men and cute babies.

The museums and exhibits are great too. I never thought I would like the Aquarium but the beautiful jellyfish made me stop and stare.

Beautiful jellyfish at Aquarium at the Bay

Yelp is heavily promoted by businesses and that’s what I used to help me find good food. I had lots of great food–not the stuff I see on American shows but good stuff.

The place is also walking friendly (if you don’t think about the hills). I got lost about once everyday but with each turn, I would get closer to my destination so it was alright.

Checking the To-Do list

I went back to my pre-US blog post and found the list of To-Do’s. Here’s a check to see how many I’ve conquered.

eat burgers at McDonald’s
+I ate In N’ Out burgers, also had breakfast at McD’s. That counts, right?

eat hotdogs from hot dog stands
+I had a Zog’s Dog.

–run for cover while super aliens destroy the city
+Hmm… Planet of Apes didn’t happen.

drink soda (what flavor is it?)
+Had a watermelon-flavored soda.

–buy Old Spice
+As I tweeted: bought @OldSpice shower gel to bring back to Singapore. Need to find a man to make him smell like “the man your man could smell like”

–watch Mad Men on TV
+My hotel didn’t have AMC. :(

watch Game of Thrones on TV
+I only caught bits of it at the hotel. The hostel is TV-less.

–drink lemonade
+I didn’t!!! OH NO

Toured: Fisherman’s Wharf Tour with Discovery Walks SF

I picked up a pamphlet for Discovery Walks SF when I was at the airport. Since I had no plans for the day I checked in, I decided to join the Fisherman’s Wharf tour since my hostel was just nearby.

I don’t think I’ve ever joined a walking tour before. Hmmm… I did try to join one in Paris but I was too stingy to pay the tips so I didn’t.

I’m glad I did for this tour. I didn’t have breakfast so I grabbed a small bite (croissant and coffee at Ghirardelli, a combo offer) before heading to the meeting point.

Chocolate croissant

I looked around to find someone wearing orange. I saw a girl in an orange T-shirt and a dark jacket taking pictures. She then walked away so I had to look some more.

Then I saw a guy with a lump of orange next to him. The lump of bright orange turned out to be a vest and he zipped it on.

Putting on my not-shy, cheerful face, I went to ask if he was from the tour and he was. Jesse, the bearded tour guide.

No one else went up to him so we started the tour with only one participant (me!). It was great because I didn’t have to share tour guides with other people.

The tour was great. The sun bright and warm while the wind chilly.

Jesse was a very engaging guide too, always accommodating even when I ask questions like: “What do they call Irish coffee in Ireland?” “What is the size of San Francisco when compared to London?”

The greatest tip I got from him was that Bay to Breakers was happening this Sunday. (I had the impression that it was a weekly event but turns out it’s only an annual thing.)

He said the event is one of the two in SFO where “everybody” would have the same amount of fun. Other events, take Gay Pride parade for example, makes people happy but the most happy would be the GLBT folks. The other everybody happy event is Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

While I’ve read a lot of guidebooks about San Francisco. Jesse shared other tips that I haven’t come across. These include

  • Don’t stir your Irish coffee.
  • The company which made glasses for Irish coffee went bankrupt and one of the coffeeshops bought ALL the leftover stock and is not letting them go.
  • Don’t drink the Irish coffee if it’s in a mug. Tastes not as good.
  • In N Out serves the best burger in the US and its special menu doesn’t sound too appealing to me.
  • Berkely will make a really nice day trip (though I’m still more into Sonoma.)
  • Tram is better than cable car as it passes cooler neighborhood.
  • Locals don’t visit Fisherman’s Wharf’s Pier 39 as much as tourists do.

Interestingly, I’m liking the US more than I thought I would. Blame it on the TV and the dark side of the Internet for making me think that the country’s weird.

#FoodFri Chinese food in America

Reporting from the US of A. I had two Chinese meals on the first two days.

Honestly, they were good. A 9.1 out of 10 good. Maybe it’s because they weren’t very cheap meals.

The crabs were huge! One crab could feed 6 persons, seriously! The lobsters weren’t as fantastic but still good.

Funny thing is, the vegetables here aren’t really chopped up nicely. I feel like I’m eating a bonsai sometimes.

Hungry for more? Check out my other #FoodFri.