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.
San Francisco, 1st March 2012
Happened to hear about the cement slides at Seward Street and was intrigued by it. Since I was in San Francisco and it was (relatively) easy to get to, I thought why not?
It seems like around the states, or at least in the Bay Area, there are always warning signs at children’s playgrounds that assert that the playground is for kids only. Either that, or no adults allowed unless accompanied by children. I hated that rule, because they have awesome playgrounds.
When I reached the slides, the same sign was there – but I ignored it.
At the top of the world, uh, slide.
The slides looked awesome. It just happened to be incredibly dirty. A huge pile of soil lingered at the base of the slide, and the slide in general seemed to also be covered in a layer of sand/soil/whatever. But damn, it’s a magnificent slide. Unlike those plastic colourful thingamajigs we have these days.
Standing at the top of the slide, I suddenly felt a bit daring. Not wanting to dirty my pants (I only had 4 pairs of pants for an 18 day trip and I did not want to bother with laundry), I decided to make my way down on my feet. After taking a few steps, I decided it was relatively easy and continued on.
The next thing I knew, I was stuck.
The rest of the slide in front of me was horribly steep (think a 60 degree elevation downwards). I couldn’t climb out of the slide either because it was darn difficult to (the pavements next to the slides were steep and slippery) and … it’s much easier to make one’s way down a slide than up a slide, isn’t it?
Dawdled for several minutes, with my buddy Jesslyn helpfully laughing away at the top of the slides. Eventually decided that the best way out was down.
Clinging on to the side of the slides for my dear life, I attempted to descend the 60 degree steep remainder of the slides. I could feel myself slipping, so I gripped on harder … but it wasn’t enough.
Because the next thing I knew, my feet slipped out from under me and I fell hard on my butt, whooshed down the rest of the slide at top speed and landed straight into the pile of soil.
Only injury sustained was a small layer (or two) of skin ripped from my left hand and a bruise to my ego. Oh, and very dirty pants.
NOW I know why those “no adults” signs are there.