Friday, November 4: First day in San Francisco
I arrived in San Francisco super early. By noon, I was checked into my hotel at Parc 55, which was outstanding and classy. Located in the heart of downtown at Cyril Magnin St, Parc 55 was like walking into a snazzy royal abode. The luminescent exterior reflected the sunlight. The dim entrance on the ground floor paved way for the grand staircase to the 2nd floor. Beyond that were nice carpeted floors, balconies, and elegant chandeliers. Very nice hotel clerks manned the registration desk. I kept going back to the same woman because I remembered one question after another, but each time, no matter how stupid I felt, she always gave me a beaming grin and answered enthusiastically: How are you charging my credit card since the conference is paying for us? … By the way, where’s the Westin Hotel on Market St? … Just curious, what’s your rate for tomorrow? Oh, and are there any rooms available?!…
My hotel room was unfortunately on the 13th floor, 1325. You wonder, why is there a 13th floor in a hotel? It’s pure superstition that’s been a part of American lore since people started reaching for the skies for inspiration and glory. Many hotels I’ve visited, I believe there were no 13th floors, or so I thought… Just a few days ago, I was shadowing a cute neurology resident. However, I got lost navigating the Stony Brook hospital (as usual). I was told he’d be on the 13th floor, but when I entered the elevators, I could not find the ’13’ button! Instead, it said ‘MR,’ which I assumed to be medical records and not neurology. Later he said to me, “So, you got lost?” I responded, “Well, I got confused with the MR button. I couldn’t find the 13!” Surprised I didn’t know about the superstition, he said most buildings do not have unlucky #13 in elevators for superstitious reasons. Then I struck back, “No way! I was in a hotel this weekend and it had a 13 button. I lived on the 13th floor!” He was still incredulous and made a dollar bet with me to get a picture and prove what I was saying. By then, it was impossible; I couldn’t get back to Parc 55 to get a snapshot of the elevator buttons! Ahh… I so wanted to prove him I was right! The proof was right in my memory, I just had to let the resident into my mind! For a coveted dollar and the resident’s pride, I found this photo on Google. Hehehehe~~
Back to my San Francisco afternoon on Friday… I was by myself in a foreign city. My friends were not in town yet. My cousin had things to do. I haven’t met the conference crowd nor my roommate(s) yet. I was bound to be bored. I was itching to prowl the city again. Put two and two together and I was out the door. Even though Manhattan got old after 5 years, it was the closest source of life and fun away from suburban Long Island. Now that I was free in California, hell yes I was going to roam the city and maximize my stay!
Westfield Mall: Taking over a whole block along Market Street, the Westfield Mall totally beats out dinky Smithaven Mall on Long Island. This was my dream mall right in front of me. With up to 10 floors and winding escalators that take you through shopping heaven, the Westfield Mall was an adventure in itself. In a span of 4 hours, I covered every foot of the mall, up and back down: Sorabol, Beard Papa’s, Hickory Farms, Nordstrom, United Colors of Benetton, Sanrio, Express, etc… I was primarily on the hunt for the right winter scarf and the perfect purse for my mom and the cutest toy for my little sister, none of which I achieved. However, I did achieve a very satisfying lunch and bloated belly =D
Located downstairs was the multicultural, yet Americanized food court: Japanese, Thai, Korean, Mexican, Italian, ramen, seafood, burgers, and desserts. I received tips from my SF native friend Dana, who suggested I eat at the food court. At Sorabol, the Korean restaurant noted for serving yummy BBQ meats, I ordered the Yuk Kae Jang (Spicy Beef Noodle Soup). It was the only item on the menu with a remote connection to something Korean, since everything else was in English =/ I wanted to eat the real deal, so this was the best I got, aside from the kimchi. It was a HUGE serving of noodles topped with beef and raw vegetables. The spice was painful, yet enjoyable, like my relationship with wasabi and sashimi; that’s how I roll I guess, pain and joy are one and the same. The more, the better.
Beard Papa’s famous cream puffs were absolutely and unforgivably tasty, giving my chorda tympani a run for its money. Their fresh pastries can be filled with one of three flavors: vanilla, caramel, or chocolate. I was craving for caramel, so that was my choice that day. And oh my god, never before have I had such an orgasmic cream puff. Soft and laden with sugar on top, it oozed of gushing cream. It fell apart easily (that was how soft it was), but I worked hard to maintain the integrity and infrastructure of the cream puff. That still failed, so I just cracked it apart for my picture. Fireworks went off in my mouth. Sooooo gooooooood ~~~
And look, I found the SANRIO store =) I browsed around this shop for a good 30 minutes, covering every square inch, twice! This is how super-Asian I am, because I get excited over plush toys and adorable merchandise of Hello Kitty, Keroppi, Badtzmaru, Chococat, and Pochacco. There was so much cute stationary, tote bags, stuffed animals, decorations, clothing, charms, chains, and oh so much! As expected, the items were way overpriced because they were likely shipped straight from Japan. For example, a Keroppi plush attached to a hook cost $15, when it could easily be purchased for a mere $5 in Asia. It was still a worthy experience to circle around the bubbly world of Sanrio ^_^
The enormously elegant Westfield Mall =)
By 5pm, my feet was extremely sore. I hate flat feet for this reason; I cannot walk far or for long, no matter how energetic and motivated I am to walk and shop all over. I forged on still and wandered to San Francisco’s Union Square. I lived at Manhattan’s Union Square for 3 years, leaving me a deep attachment to Union Squarism. The sun was setting and the air was getting frigid. I looped around the park, checked out Macy’s, and found the other hotel I’ll be staying at on Saturday. I walked down Powell Street where the famous cable car rolls up and down.
I looped around by 6pm when it started to get dark and I got tired enough to stop walking around so much. Right by Market Street and down the road from Parc 55, there was a busy station called The Bart. It’s like the Penn Station of Manhattan, serving commuter lines from the surrounding suburbs. The homeless also bum around there too. Lots of homeless vagabonds.