Tuesday, June 5, 2012

SF 1 & 2

And now, we go to San Francisco (SF). Those of you who have been following this blog will know that I flew to SF first, and spent 17 wonderful days there before flying to New York where I spent another 10 wonderful days. I blogged about NY first because it was still fresh on my mind and I wanted to tell you about it before I came down to earth.

My daughter arrived from Shanghai 12 hours ahead of me and was at the SF airport to meet me. We squealed and jumped, something we always do which I know is not very dignified but it had been 15 years since we were last in SF, and it was like a dream to be there again.

In my friend CY's car, Yi and I screamed and squealed as we sped down the highway, CY pointing out the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the lights over the city, the lights in Oakland where she lives. I saw familiar stores, smelt the aroma of french fries as we parked the car and walked to a Chinese restaurant in Oakland's Chinatown. It was about 8 pm and we wanted a light meal before we got back to her home in the Oakland hills. Dinner was scrumptious, lobster on noodles, a fabulous long-brewed soup and one or two other dishes (can't remember). I didn't bother to bring my camera so no photos but the meal reminded me of the freshness and abundance of ingredients, especially when plates after plates of yummy dishes landed on the table behind us where a large family was gathered. I thought with irony how it used to be the other way around when I was a student in Canada and longed for the Chinese food back home. Now, if you've been to both countries, you'll know what I mean when I think the tables have turned on us. Good Chinese food can be had in the US and Canada while the Chinese food here just gets worse and worse, price, quality and quantity-wise. I really think that the restaurants in KK are worse than 20 years ago. Yes, there are more restaurants but the standards have dropped. And why not, when we have gone from being the richest state to the poorest in 30 years. The only really good food we have are the morning and lunch time fare, such as ngau chap, sang yuk meen, fish noodles, bun meen and all the meen.

The next day, CY had some friends over for a bbq. It was a treat to chomp on juicy steaks and sausages, tender spring veggies such as asparagus, and thick fresh bell peppers and zucchini, washed down by cold beer and the best home-made lemonade made from CY's lemons. The weather was in the 40s at first but warmed up to the high 50s by the early afternoon, still a little bit cold for someone used to temperatures of 80+. Since we are talking about the US, we'll keep to Fahrenheit. It truly exasperates me why the US can't move forward and use the metric system. Even stuffy old England has changed to the metric system, a long time ago. Anyway, well and good for the Americans to keep their gallons and yards and continue to think they are always going to be the world's great superpower.

It was 50 F, and the temperatures in the hills were lower than in the city. 

I love CY's house in the hills although there were some nights when I was freaked out as I crept down the stairs into the bedrooms and had to pass a wall of windows, which looked out into pitch darkness and silence. Yet I know if I live in the States, I would chose to live in the suburbs too. The city is good for times when I need some excitement.

We woke up from our jet lag to a bbq party, ate and went back to bed again. Bliss.

The pineapple sausages from Cosco were delicious, springy to the bite and juicy.

Tender, juicy, flavorful and sweet.

CY makes the best lemonade, with lemons from her trees and Chinese dried plums.

It was my first day in SF and as I sat around and chatted with CY's friends, this guy said to me "Oh, you are racist. You just said 'White people...'. We are colorblind here." Sure enough, as white guy spoke, a Chinese woman walked in holding hands with a black guy. The truth is, we Asians think that we are not racists but we are. We are racists not in a racist-supremacy way, but in a very race-conscious way because of our culture and environment. If that brings howls, then explain why political parties here are race-oriented and politicians get away with warning their own race not to be complacent or risk loosing to other races. That's openly racist if you ask me.

When I was a student visiting the States decades ago, most Asians kept to themselves and spoke English with their home accent but the Asians in America now are second, third, fourth generation and they speak American English and people of different races hang out together naturally. I didn't feel the same integration among the races that I felt in the US in other western countries, such as Australia and England but that's likely because Asians in Australia are mostly FOB or second generation. I can't explain England since I've only been there once. America made me feel at home more than Europe, more than Australia, more than even China. Maybe it's because the whole world has been Americanized. There's no denying that America's melting pot works.


The next evening when Hub arrived, I made sure he had some good old American bbq too, because I knew he'd love some juicy American steaks.



Chicken noodle soup in cold weather reminds me of Toronto and Aunt and Uncle Rees, good folks that I stayed with in my matriculation year. 

Chunky Monkey, I was told, is one of the most popular Ben & Jerry ice cream flavors. I think I've been spoilt by gelato.

I missed English muffins and these ones were Safeway's and they were disappointing. I tried Thomas' too, the most popular brand, and they were good when hot and spread with butter and jam but eaten plain, they tasted horrible, both salty and sweet.

One of the best feelings is sleeping under two layers of comforters in a cosy bed and drifting off to sleep anticipating a new day in a new city. I love travelling, and looking back, I have no regrets about spending our savings on family trips around the world. That is one thing Hub and I did right, I think, foregoing the fancy houses and cars for new places and experiences with our kids.


Michelle Chin said...

there's this racist bit in every one of us. it's just how bad it is and whether you admit it. i am sometimes racist and it has gotten worse when i am in melbourne because i feel that people clearly treat me more differently (like an alien?) than when i was in malaysia. sucks to be the minority (or the only asian) in history and psych classes. :(

i actually felt really comfortable when i was in america. although not everyone i met spoke with an accent (i.e. this security guard from ghana or this janitor from mexico), i felt really at home. like, people don't seem to mind the difference. in australia, it's a different story. they claim to not mind your difference but trust me, you'll feel different all the time!

anyway, cy's house is really nice. with a view summore. sigh.

it must be hard for you when you were studying in canada.

Michelle Chin said...

and my mom bought tonnes of stuff when she was at woodbury. she also had to buy another luggage. an excuse to get samsonite bags, she said.

Sharon said...

Hi terry! Just coming back from paris, barcelona, kusadassi and paris myself, i totally agree with you that savings spent on running around the world are so worthwhile and precious. I seldom made comments but i read all your posts. Keep it up and happy travelling. Cheers!

Sharon said...

Michelle, was in LA 2 years back with my sis and we walked in Ruth Chris's Steakhouse and this evil
white man screamed at us asking if we were Filipinos! We were so shocked! But the steaks were so good we went there continuously for 3 nights

henryii said...

great play by play discription of your travels in SF BAy Area.
love it there and you have done well to point out the sights and even city lights book store.
so many great places in the SF.
Lived in Berkeley in early 70's.
you could spend many a month in the bay area and never tire of it.
each area has it's plus's.
i will be back as i just discovered iseered.
have fun enjoy life and smile often.

henryii said...

42google: electric daisy carnival here in las vegas this weekend.
has some nice art going on.
guess you say its a 3 night rave party for 115,000 people,each night.
this is second year it has been held here and i haven't gotten to see pictures from last night yet.
www.lvrj.com may have some or just google the carnival.
thought of red when i see all this artsy festival.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

I love your observations - spot on.

That picture of steak on the grill is calling to me...

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