Thursday, July 30, 2009

The trip to San Francisco

I promised a post about San Francisco - but now having passed already almost two weeks, I feel lazy to write about it. It was certainly a great experience, and it helped knocking down my absurd prejudices towards the American culture. I fell in love with San Francisco, with its rhythms, colours and tastes, even though the group that I was travelling with (14 Chinese + 1 Chinese guide) didn't try anything other than Chinese food during the whole week there. I had not much time to discover the city, apart from two group tours arranged for my Chinese colleagues that took us through the streets of SF, Fisherman's Wharf, a boat tour by the Bay (incl. Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge), and a funny safari-style bus tour through the streets with homeless people and the popular Gay quarter, Castro. You should've seen all my fellow Chinese in the bus, taking pictures of homeless, and of couples of friends walking by @ Castro...).

I wouldn't mind at all to be sent to open business there in CA. The weather is much milder than in this (Chinese) East Coast, and the availability of Western stuff is amazing -duh! it's America!- But seriously, coming from China and almost being used to this place, where you get used to not having bookstores with a wide choice of reading material in English, not having Facebook, Youtube or even this Blog! (I am updating it via email, but I cannot access it), where everybody smokes everywhere, even elevators... then San Francisco looks like heaven - can you believe that at the airport you can only smoke outside, at least 20 feet away from the doors? Any public place, restaurant or bar explicitly bans smoking, and then you have this explosion of art and creativity, with music on the street (Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf), Art Galleries with political criticism, 4 story bookstores filled with books that I can understand, and that haven't been filtered by any Bureau of People's Information... Prices for most stuff are ridiculous, even compared to Chinese prices (I am talking about the real stuff now, not the fake of course...). Then' there's a sales tax of 9.5% that brings down the compulsive shopping enthusiasm a bit, but still there are great deals almost everywhere.

The only flaw that I saw compared to China, is the security. As far as I was told, the city has a high crime rate and I was even warned to keep on the main streets and not dare into side streets - I am a pretty big guy with no explicit signs on my vestment that uncovers my "touristness", so this shocked me, moreover when taking into account that the governor of the state is Terminator...

The hotel was near the airport, but I found my way there so that I could be freed from the Chinese guide and minibus - my colleagues didn't dare even once to go for a walk after the trade show (the Moscone center is just a couple of minutes walking from Union Square and the show ended at 17h). So after the show and a city walk, I arrived at the hotel, where I enjoyed a jacuzzi and swimming pool before going to sleep with the TV on (in China I only switch on the TV to watch F1, if ever).

I uploaded some pictures of the trip to Facebook. You can check 'm out here:

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