Adventures in San Francisco, 29th February – 17th March 2012
In Singapore, I always swear by public transport. I avoid cabs if I can and often opt for bus rides (and occasionally, the train … although they have been less than reliable in recent months). Few things make me happier than being able to park myself on a seat, plug in my earphones and people-watch, or just watch the world go by.
So, it was natural that I’d do the same in San Francisco.
I always believe one hasn’t truly lived the life in a new city without experiencing its public transportation first hand, because you get to soak up loads of sights while commuting. And yeah, people watch. You don’t get quite the same experience being fetched from point A to point B in a car.
I relied on good ol’ Google Maps on my iPhone and my naturally keen sense of direction to get us safely around.
Muni Metro buses in San Francisco.
See that cord attached across the window? Well, you pull that if you wanted to alight. I didn’t know that at first and was looking around like an idiot for that familiar yellow and red button to press (as we did in Singapore, and Hong Kong as well). When I couldn’t find the button, I thought I was supposed to yell … until my travel buddy witnessed someone else pulling the cord and we had the eureka moment.
And so I pulled the cord and … nothing happened. I pulled it harder. Still nothing. This happened every time and until today I still have no idea what I did wrong.
In the above picture, the bus was completely empty.
And no, it’s not normal. I’ve learned from that fateful day when the bus is empty, something is terribly wrong. Apparently, the bus had already reached the very last stop and I still had no friggin’ clue. So there I remained, taking pictures of the delightfully empty bus until the bus driver suddenly looked behind and yelled “HEY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? THIS IS THE LAST STOP!”
Every day was a new adventure. If it wasn’t the bus, it was the light rail (a.k.a. Muni Metro ‘F’ line). If it wasn’t the light rail, it was the underground Muni Metro. Otherwise, it was the BART. Or the Caltrain.
Oh yeah, the BART. The travel buddy and I had many a running joke about the BART, because the name sounds so much like ‘fart’. So there was the occasional statement of “I go fart in the BART” before we burst into girly giggles. Juvenile, I know. But hey, travelling is all about letting yourself go. (;
Millbrae Caltrain Station on a rainy day.
The Caltrain – looks harmless when stationary, but menacing when in motion. It especially scares the shit out of me when I’m standing at an outdoor platform at some suburb town and the express Caltrain just whooshes past bringing along with it an eardrum-vibrating roaring noise and a strong draft. If I could avoid the Caltrain, I would.
Now that I’m back to the usual (almost clinical) transport system here in Singapore, I really miss the variety of commuting options there and their various eccentricities. And people watching there is so much more fun too.
Also worth a mention is how people in San Francisco are generally so considerate – speaking at low volumes when on board the trains or buses. Whereas back here, I’ll never fail to have my eardrums shattered by some ah pek or ah soh speaking at the top of his/her lungs.
But well, I still love public transport. Especially bus rides.