Sunday, 29 January 2012

San Diego Day 4 29/01/2012

I bid farewell to Little Italy, my comfort zone for the past three days. As wonderful as the accommodation is, I figure that if I continue staying there, my efforts and motivation to meet people and do shit will be stifled. So I also bid farewell my receptionist friend, Jay, and went off to Lucky D's hostel.

By the way, waking up late in San Diego (which is after 10am) is a really bad idea because your day is drastically shortened - sundown happens around 6pm and aside from the bars, nothing else stays open. Jolene, Sharon and Laysee got on a boat to see the whales and dolphins early in the morning, but I guess I'm mentioning the negative aspects of waking up late because I got my lazy ass up only at 11am. No more!

These are the stairs leading up to the reception area at Lucky D's.

Yes throw away that TV! And the computer too! And your gaming consoles and smartphones! Make love. :)

These computer terminals provide good internet access. Intermittent internet is usually a problem when traveling.

Hmm I can't find some photos I snapped of the room I was accidentally given. Anyway, nothing drastic, just that the receptionist handed me the keys to 308 - the wrong room - and when I got in the whole room was a mess. My immediate assumption was that I was the last guy in a room of three people, so I was gonna have to deal with that. But I'd noticed that none of the beds were untouched, so when I clarified things, the receptionist was quite apologetic about her mistake and got me to room 408 instead.

I entered 408 to a white dude sitting reclusively at the bottom corner of his double decker bed, working on his laptop, his things still packed inside his bags beside him. We introduced ourselves. He's Greg, a Canadian political psychologist who attended the SPSP conference too. Unsurprisingly then, I later discover that he was buried deep in PASW/SPSS Statistical analysis on his laptop. I would've liked to chat more about his research interests since I'm also quite interested in the psychology of politics and power myself, but after some brief small talk I had to head off to meet Jolene, Sharon and Laysee at the Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The girls had returned from their whale and dolphin spotting trip and we were planning to meet Oliver at the famous San Diego zoo, but after some dire miscommunication we reached Balboa Park where Oliver supposedly was for the most part of the day, only to learn that he had returned to his own room at the Marriott Marquis.

No matter - we set off on our own little tour of Balboa Park.

Sneaky sneaky. That's what I is.

Jolene spots a huge dog and can't help but go over to lovingly disturb it. I've no idea about dog breeds and stuff, but it is quite an affectionate big dog nonetheless.

A lot of San Diego features nicely preserved and reworked old architecture. Same goes for the museums, botanical buildings, art galleries and other structures at Balboa Park.

LOL I am very tempted to caption the following two pictures.

"I just moved from accents? lol. joking. kind of.
So I'm all about the fun times and adventure. If you fancy meeting a stranger give
me a shout, you can show me around and/or we'll grab a drink or 3.


Haha WTF I am using a public computer and accidentally hit shift+insert, which is another way to paste copied items, and that text appeared. The user before me was either writing up an online traveling profile or flirting with somebody on this computer before my turn to use it.

This building looks like it has been inspired by architecture from the Mughal empire. It has a brick red and dome-shaped roof, the windows look dome-shaped at the top too, and it has that waterway in front of it, just like the Taj Mahal.

I'm not particularly fanatical about plants, so I don't have much to shout about the botanical place. But I did smell some natural spearmint plants, which felt kind of strange since I always associate that smell/taste with toothpaste. And I have no idea what the flowers in this photo are, but they remind me of Richard's attempts to get the girls to tell him what they think it looks like during Jacq's birthday a few years ago at Wild Rocket.

There were lots of live performances at Balboa Park. Look what we've got here... It's Capoeira! Okay, I don't think it's very visible from the picture, but there was some Capoeira going on. And no, I did not have the balls to compra their game.

As the day wore on, we got hungry and decided to get a bite at a recommended cafe in some museum. This is one of the most mouth-watering things I've ever eaten. It's called the Ultimate Grilled Cheese (for ultimate vagueness) served generously with fries. Just an awesomely toasted sandwich with melted, peppered cheese and perfectly fried?/grilled?/cooked? ham. And other things. Sorry for my very un-connoisseur-ish attempt to remake the Ultimate Grilled Cheese in words.

I think this picture is about Jolene asking why Laysee isn't eating her salad. That's a ton of salad, by the way. I would've forgiven them for eating the grass too by accident!

The girls, being girls, wanted to sit on the grass and eat picnic-style, so that's what we did.

Another look at my meal of awesomeness.

A very sociable and attention-seeking dog comes by, which sparks a long conversation about pets, dogs, dog names, etc.

This is a very funny looking sculpture. If you can't see it, just ask any dude what he thinks it looks like, and brace yourself for the answer.

So our funny story for the sculpture goes like this. We were looking for a good spot to picnic out, so we gravitated towards the shade this sculpture provided. Me being me, I instantly saw the doggie-style in this thing, which is actually officially called Reclining Figure/Arch Leg by the artist (I... guess I could try and see that). But as I was with three ladies without sex every 7 seconds on their fluffy cotton candy minds I didn't verbalize what I thought and, as we settled into the grass to eat under the shade from Doggy-Style/Reclining Figure/Arch Leg, the thought very quickly vanished from my mind and we just chatted about other things.

Until this white couple comes along near to us, scrutinizing the sculpture, and the girl simply exclaims, "is it just me or is there something really wrong with this sculpture?" And I was like "YES!"

Once you see it, you can't unsee it.

After Balboa Park, we head to Fashion Valley Road. We took a cab and while on this journey along the highway it really hit me that I need to get out of the Downtown area of San Diego if I want to see more novel things.

So anyway we hit Fashion Valley Road, which is like the biggest mall in San Diego I think. Which is still puny by Singapore's Suntec City and Vivocity's kind of standards. But malls in the US (at least from what I've seen in San Diego and Washington DC) and in Singapore appear to be very different.

The Cheesecake Factory. Not my kinda thing, but the girls were exclaiming to no end about it. They didn't go in though.

On the way back to Downtown San Diego, I had a fascinating conversation with the taxi driver. He's a very zen and knowledgeable-sounding 31 year-old Ethiopian who has lived here since 1991 (his family was seeking refuge from the civil war) and can't wait to leave the US, especially after a new act (I can't remember what the acronyms are exactly but it sounded like NDDA) was passed recently that apparently makes him more susceptible to getting charged without recourse for offences (which can be quite arbitrarily defined). In his own words, "I don't like it here." We had a pretty deep chat about politics and religion in the twenty minutes it took for us to get back, and he's just looking for a place he can migrate to where he can practice Islam without it being tainted by politics. Malaysia's on his mind right now, but he still needs to earn enough money. In his spare time, he reads very widely and he says that it's hard not to think about these political issues and things like poverty and oppression once you're aware of them.

One amusing thing I learnt from him though: the burgers and fries Americans eat everyday is SAD - Standard American Diet. He thinks Mexican food is the best thing that happened to the US.

We finally get back to Downtown. Personally, this is not the kind of day I envisioned myself spending in post-conference San Diego with too many touristy things done (three hours of shopping and three cab rides, but it was the girls' last day here before heading back to Singapore (and it made economic sense to share the cab between four of us), so the company was worth it over my selfish interests haha. I still have three more days at least to do what I want.

The girls wanted to take-away dinner and eat back at the hotel, so I headed off on my own and revisited Berkeley Pizza (above photo). I love their pizzas - it's so huge and thick (that's what she said)! This time I just got one $3.50 slice, no frills. Nice.

Back at the hostel, Greg was nowhere in sight, so I decided to pay the kitchen a visit, since they were providing free hotdogs and ice cream. It was nice because the other hostel-dwellers were there and I got to know a few people. There were three girls - Kim from Canada, Lisa from Germany and Natalie from Scotland - who got to know each other because they just happened to share a dorm. There was this dude, Julio, from Brazil who's here in San Diego on a clothing design assignment. And there are all these other guys who work for the hostel part-time so they get free lodging while in San Diego for all sorts of reasons.

I ended off the night on my first pub crawl overseas; these two very random pictures are all I have to show for it haha. It was supposed to be a whole hostel thing but because it was a Sunday night I guess bars close a little earlier and some people might have early morning plans, so in the end it was just Natalie, Lisa, Kim and me heading out.

I return to my dorm to find Greg back at the very same position I saw him earlier in the day, buried again in his PASW/SPSS work. Sleeping early tonight, just past midnight, so that I can have an early, full day tomorrow. I have Tijuana at the US-Mexico border lined up!

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