US Trip December 2016- San Francisco, Los Angeles & San Diego

This is our most expensive travel trip to date.

Last December, my husband and I took our 5 year old son & mother-in-law to the US for two weeks. It came about cos K’s brother was deployed to the US for two years, and his mom wanted to visit him. Since my aunt is in another state, we decided to add that to our itinerary.

Unfortunately, after we bought the air tickets, my aunt was compelled to shift from San Francisco to San Diego at late notice. We couldn’t change the destinations, so instead of visiting two states, we added another one, regrettably only able to spend one day at San Diego.

We took SIA’s evening flight from Singapore to San Francisco, with a layover of approximately 2 hours in Hongkong and landing in SFO at 10pm local time. It was thankfully, a pleasant flight. Oliver handled the 16 hours trip surprisingly well, occupying most of his time with the in-flight entertainment (ie, cartoons).

We might look all bright and bushy in the picture above, but in reality we were super dazed. After buying our SIM cards at SG$69 each for 3GB data at the airport, we took a taxi to our hotel at Courtyard Mariott.

Culture shock No. 1: Most of the hotels in US apparently don’t have a kettle, instead, they have this…

A coffee dispenser.

As a person who needs and drinks a lot of warm water, I was stumped. This tiny thing dispenses one cup of hot water at a time. It makes weird spluttering noises and ironically, none of us drink coffee.

It was too late and we were too tired to go anywhere so we bought instant noodles from the reception and ate that as supper.

After retiring at 12am from a long ass flight, we slept… And I woke up two hours later, unable to get back to sleep.

Dangit, jet lag.

I laid there hearing the snoring noises around me until 5am, before the others woke up and we bought some Starbucks croissant as breakfast downstairs.

We got dressed and headed to the Visitor’s center to buy a city pass. It was SUPER COLD.

K obviously overlooked the fact that we have a 5 year old in tow and a supposedly 15 mins walk (according to him) took about half an hour.

The iconic feature of San Francisco: Cable Cars & Trams. 

The City Pass covers main San Francisco attractions, cable car and bus transport fees. In order to get to Church Street for our first destination, we had to take BRAT (it’s like their MRT), which the City Pass doesn’t include. Here’s the single trip tickets:

It’s about $2+ for the zone we’re getting to.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at Church St.

Mission Park.

Don’t let the sunshine fool you, it’s actually pretty cold. We had to take a long steep walk up the hill to our destination.

It’s Christmas season when we visited, so there’s season decorations everywhere~

Though there’s pretty buildings all around us to admire, I was especially concerned for my mother-in-law cos she’s like 63? And climbing the slopes with us. She didn’t complain though, even insisting that she enjoys it. Once again, K over-estimated the speed and strength of an elderly and a kid. There’s no taxis to hail down.

Our brunch place: Chloe’s cafe.

We had to wait a bit outside in the cold as the cafe is super small and crowded.

Culture shock No. 2: Every meal is Super Sized in the US. 

We weren’t really thinking (I mean come on, we were jetlagged and just scaled 30 mins uphill) when we ordered so when the food came, we were surprised to find that each plate is enough to feed two Asian adults. So what you are seeing below, is 6 adult portions for 3 of us, and a pint sized kid. Yeap. Brilliant.

The bacon dish was nice. The bread was hard.

I remember feeling very very full, but the food didn’t wow me.

After our meal, we took the tram to San Francisco’s most famous “postcard row”, the Painted Ladies. It’s a row of colorful Victorian houses located at Steiner Street built in 19th century.

I was too disoriented to fully appreciate the beauty to be honest. We snapped some photos and took a bus to Haight-Ashbury.

I was attracted to the pictures during internet research but honestly, this place has too many gypsy and smoke shops to warrant a re-visit. I was so groggy I almost left my bag in the Vegan Burg shop lol~ O was goofing around~

We went back to the hotel, slept, and headed to Union Square during the night.

There’s a skating rink but we didn’t join in…

The MIL needed her hot noodles fix so we stopped at a random Japanese restaurant that served bland tonkotsu (seriously it doesn’t even deserve to be called tonkotsu, it’s just pork and noodles in plain soup) and some teriyaki chicken that tasted like satay.

On the way back, we visited Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrum, where I finally spent my moolah at Sur La Table:

Bought an ice cream tub at S$21.30 & big white spatula for S$17.

That ended our second night in San Francisco. If I were to be totally honest, I don’t feel safe in the streets. There’s so many homeless roaming around and we encountered a slightly aggressive one the following day, which I’ll mention in the next post.


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