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San Francisco Day 1

USA | Tuesday, 18 December 2012 | Views [412]

I regret not having written a full travelogue of Nepal and San Francisco while the memories were still fresh. The Flickr photojournals I made for both trips do help to relive the moments but a full journal like the one I did for Tokyo would've been much better. 

So here's a recap of San Fran:

Day 1. 

We were pretty exhausted after the long flight, so we didn't manage to do much that day although we landed in the morning. 

I remember that we had to wait quite long at the airport for our shuttle bus to the hostel to arrive, and I also remember that as we approached the hostel I was surprised that San Francisco was so grimy and not at all pretty as I had expected. It was only later that we learnt that we were living in an area overlapping Tenderloin, and that the pretty parts of San Francisco that are on all the postcards are elsewhere. 

When we reached Adelaide Hostel we were too early to check in so we left our bags and wandered around Union Square in a daze. We stumbled into a small cafe and I had a croissant sandwich, which was oddly satisfying. I was exhausted. I saw a girl pour sugar into her orange juice, a glimpse into why America has an obesity problem. 

We came across the Tourist Information Centre and bought a transport pass, which turned out to be one of the best investments of the trip. And luckily too that even in our half-asleep state we did not make the mistake of scratching out the first day's date on the spot, and waited til the next day until we took our first ride on the cable car. We got some information from the counter about how to get around San Francisco and get to its top touristy spots, including the outlet mall. But that turned out to be quite far away and required pretty much a whole day, so we decided not to go after all. 

We wandered around a couple of the malls and then when it was finally time to check in, we returned to the hostel and did so. We were shown our room, which was small and kind of stuffy. "Bau penguk," in Suryani's words. The whole hostel had an air of marijuana about it. 

From what I recall, we pretty much fell asleep right away. We planned to wake up at about 7 pm for maghrib and dinner but neither of us heard the alarm and by the time we woke up it was more like 9 p.m. 

We decided to just head out and look for a pizza place we had spotted earlier in the day, which the Internet had said served halal pizzas. In the daytime, this pizza joint had been very near our hostel but that night it must've packed up and moved somewhere else! As we were walking about in circles, a homeless black guy came up to us and asked us what we were looking for. We only had the name of the pizza joint and the street it was on, but not the cross-street, so he had no idea what we were talking about. 

With great concern he told us that if we were to walk any farther north, we'd step into very dangerous and shady territory. He told us he'd guide us back to safer ground, like Union Square. Along the way he told us that he used to work in construction but that he'd lost his job during the downturn and eventually lost his home too. He asked us whether we had McDonald's, Wendy's and Starbucks in Singapore. 

By the time we reached Union Square, I'd already prepared a $5 note to give him as thanks. He said, "I'd appreciate it if you could give me a little something," and I said yes of course and when I gave him the note he gave me a big bear hug. It was really sweet. 

Tags: san francisco, union square

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