Wednesday, 1 February 2012

San Diego Day 6 31/01/2012

Updating this from the front porch of the Ocean Beach International Hostel. Yup, I'm at Ocean Beach now! Jolene, a middle-aged theatre part-actress-part-crew, is here with me lamenting how crappy the wireless connection is inside the hostel and how we're so much better off leeching Starbucks' wireless connection from across the street. It's really cold out here at night, probably 8°C. I'm looking forward to daytime tomorrow, when the awesome Californian sun wraps this laidback beach town in its heat and all the surfers head out to sea!

I began today with a visit to Urban Outfitters, and then The Horton, an upscale shopping centre that houses big outlets like Macy's and Sam Goody, to do some souvenir shopping. Bought a lot of retarded shit for my brother: a Call of Duty t-shirt, and A Dog Named Boo and Sh*t My Dad Says; both are pointless books featuring viral stupid internet stuff.

Here's just a video of Boo for the uninitiated:

And here are some shots I took while at The Horton:

A pretty awesome graffiti at the back area of The Horton, I'd say?

This one's for Ben haha.

If I had a douchebag friend I'll get shirt that for him!

A parting meal at Downtown before I leave for Ocean Beach - standard New York dog and a Budweiser.

Burgers as unique as you. Riiiiiiight...

A last look at Lucky D's before I go. I always locate it by looking out for the BOOTLEGGER sign next to it, which flashes like the brightest star in the sky at night.

While chilling out in the Lucky D's lounge area before leaving, I got to know Elyssa from New York. It's interesting how you meet people in the bigger scheme of things for a very fleeting, transient time like this, because you end up profiling them in a certain quirky kind of way. Haha or at least I do. So, from what little I know about her from our brief conversation, she's the energetic hispanic who took part in the Occupy Wall Street movement and is looking as hard as she can for an elusive Spanish-themed nightclub.

After doing some research on Ocean Beach accommodation, I found that there were at least two cheap dorm hostels there; fantastic! So I was off to Ocean Beach.

Along the way I meet this dude, Kris, which made my search for OBI Hostel so much easier because he studies in City College (near Lucky D's) but lives at Ocean Beach itself. So we travel down together in the bus. He told me that he comes from Ohio, but everyone back home is unhappy while at the same time there are many people doing nothing, and that's bad. As such, many people in San Diego are, like him, trying to leave some other place and these people are colloquially called 'transplants'. Elyssa's like that too I suppose, because she's trying to escape the craziness of New York City. San Diego appears to be a peaceful haven to seek refuge in.

I figure soon enough that every dorm hostel has a kitchen that serves free coffee and tea.

Checked in to OBI Hostel without any problems. The curtains are a nice touch for people who are trying to sleep while other dorm mates still need the lights on.

My check-in paper candidly instructs:

"2. Daily housekeeping from 11am to 3pm: We clean. We clean. We clean. Kindly vacate the room and put your black tray, backpack and all your possessions up on your bunk. Don't forget your products, soap, shampoo, toothbrush, surfboard, skis, girlfriends, etc."

I can't see the text at the bottom clearly now, but if I recall correctly it informs about quiet hours. Something like no noise from 11pm to 8am; making love is ok, but no noise.

Although nobody was in the room when I checked in, I notice that another of the beds is occupied by someone named Alejandro.

Without further ado, I start exploring Ocean Beach.

Newport Avenue, the main street of Ocean Beach and where my hostel stands.

A boxer training his punches on the soft sand.

A pretty cool kite - it's like a hollow hexagon with spikes.

Lepak - the life!

This sunset happened at 5.15pm.

Mixed meat enchiladas and chips with cheese. Filling as hell!

I head back to the hostel and finally get acquainted with my dorm mate, Alejandro. What can I say? My immediate impression was that he looked like a cross between Orlando Bloom and Enrique Iglesias - objectively speaking, very very very good genes.

We chat, and he turns out to be a very friendly and perceptive 23 year-old lad from Mexico City, who's in San Diego to be a research assistant at the University of California, San Diego. He's actually, like me, newly graduated and looking to enrol in a postgraduate programme, except that he's looking to do so in business engineering. But what strikes me as quite mature and far-sighted is that he's taking up this research assistantship because he will be able to present and work on a project to get Mexicans to adopt electric vehicles. It's an issue he feels strongly about because he feels that Mexico is polluted with too many motor vehicles. While electric vehicles will solve the problem of excessive gas emissions, there are a lot of social and economic resistances to electric vehicles. And he thinks he's got a plan on how this can be done. Sounds like a pretty decent plan to me although I do not know anything about getting Mexicans to adopt electric vehicles, and I'm always excited to meet motivated people with ideas. Also, quite importantly for his study plans, he will be able to meet prospective mentors and even Mexican ministers if his project takes off, which will increase his chances of getting into a good programme, kicking off a trend that will pay huge dividends if it works out, and it's one heck of a networking opportunity.

When I mentioned that I was here for the psychology conference, he got quite fascinated too (yes this is sounding rather gay I acknowledge that) because he loves reading psychology, particularly Freud (!), and at one point in his life he had to make a decision between pursuing psychology or engineering, and eventually he chose the latter.

So, this long conversation pretty much summed it up for me for the night. He brought up a few interesting things too, one of which I think will make for a good mention here. He feels that Americans make him think of "cartoon characters". When I probed him further on this cryptic observation, it turns out that he thinks many Americans are trying to create a unique image of themselves and uphold that impression. As such, he ends up feeling that they are more caricatured than they probably really are.

I don't disagree, and I guess this is one of the things I might elaborate later on once I'm done with the trip and might have further thoughts on my observations on things like American culture.

We have dinner out on the porch, and as we head back inside we pass two girls. They were initially in conversation but as they notice Alejandro approaching they just stop talking to each other, stare at him and start muttering incoherently and one of them just blurts out, "oh hey there... (and referring to herself) geez that's just shameful!" LOL really good genes.

Alejandro had to have an early night as he had to head to the university very early the next day, so I head out on my own to see what's going on at night. Ocean Beach isn't as bustling at night compared to Downtown San Diego, and from what I'm told it's the most laidback beach among the four beaches (namely Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla). I spot two very happening bars, but as I was by myself and those bars looked quite dodgy I decided to pass and have an early night.

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