Not Exactly Riveting

So I’ve moved into my new apartment in Glendale, California; two blocks from the Los Angeles city line.  I got the keys to my new rental apartment last week, and my place is now livable.  There are still plenty of boxes lying around… I’ll get to ’em!  

Los Angeles is only the third biggest town I’ve lived in permanently, not counting summer study.  So far I would say that LA reminds me most of Manila:  hot, built to the scale of cars, and isolating.  Going anywhere is a long drive.  

Isolating?  Yes.  For example, apparently there’s a heat wave going on outside, but I wouldn’t know!  Because my apartment has central a/c; my car stays cool in the garage; when I do drive the car, there is a/c, and any destination is invariably freezing.  

Anyway, it’s a little baffling, but my sister says I’m going to like it here, so I may be doomed to like it here.  I had planned to keep up my vacation pace of blogging all my daily adventures, but now that I have cable TV I feel like my days are better spent sifting through the channels.  I’ll be glad when the new job starts next week.  

Here are my successes and failures over the last week.  

Successes:  

  • Found the Korean and Filipino supermarkets
  • Saw the Hollywood sign in the wild
  • Bought a new couch and bed
  • Made pork adobo in my new kitchen 
  • Found coffee beans with a rosted-on date

Still to do:  

  • Buying a doorstop 
  • Eat Armenian food
  • Meet a neighbor
  • Buy a bus pass

I feel like I have minor adventures every day, but they are not especially riveting:  a pickup vs. cop car collision; some credit card fraud.  

Probably the most blogable saga that I experienced was my quest for proper fresh-roasted coffee beans. That was a story in three acts:  Act One:  No Roasted-On Date?  Act Two: No Sales At The Rosterie.  Act Three:  Seattle To The Rescue.  There’s even a sequel:  The Bad Haircut.  

See?  Not exactly riveting.     

   

   

   
   

The Road Again: Back to LA

There are a couple of more selfies to share from my time in Vegas.  Mama and I went to Downtown Vegas on my last night there; played some video poker at a bar, and then walked along Fremont Street.  Then we drove down Fremont street, which used to be dangerous, but it was several blocks before we saw any police activity!   
  

The next morning I started my drive back to LA.  I stopped in Baker to clean my windshield, and in Barstow for a double-double animal style.    

  
    
Driving in the Mojave desert is a trip.  There are parts of the drive where your windshield is a huge view of a desert planet, and you’re just skimming across a narrow ribbon of engineering.  Sometimes your on a flat, and the mountians ring the horizon, and the road looks like it goes to the edge of the earth.  Other times you’re in the mountain passes and you can see for sixty miles; so far that the distance starts to fade into the vapor mirage.  

The high desert ends with Victorville, and then it’s the San Bernadino Forest.  After that it’s Planet Freeway.  

I have to end this blog post because the picture above is making me hungry.  

Time Flies 

Time flies when I’m hanging out with my mama!  

I wanted to hurry up and find an apartment in Glendale so I could get my move done and be settled when I start my new job.  But when I ffound the apartment on the 13th, they told me my move-in date wasn’t until the 19th…  What was I supposed to do for six days?  

Of course, I bolted for my mama’s house; I called her from the road and told her to get the guest room ready for me!  

So the drive from LA to Vegas… everyone says it’s 5 hours, but you can do it in 4.  There’s always someone who said they did it in 2.5, but they are just desperate for a high five.  I feel like I did it in six hours, and most of that time was spent on an LA freeway.  It was exhausting.  I stopped for coffee in Barstow, and then a pitstop in Baker.  The Mojave Desert is hot, dry… and boring.  

Finally I made it to Vegas.  There were isolated thunderstorms, and a flash flood warning.  I was just glad to be here.  

So adventures with my mama include Korean food, grocery shopping, Northern Chinese food, mousing in the garden, shoe shopping, bingo, video poker, slot machines, Mexican groceries, Salvadoran food, Mexican food, bad seafood buffet.  

Tonight’s my last night in Vegas; tomorrow I’m heading back to Glendale early, so I can sign some lease papers in the morning, and be ready when the move-in madness starts Thursday morning.  

I’ll be back in Vegas again soon enough .

  
    
    
    
   

Roadtrip to LA 2015: Quality Time

My sister spoke at the now-famous social security rally where Bernie Sanders got pre-empted by #blacklivesmatter activists.  As soon as that was over, my sister and I bolted; I said “goodbye, Seattle” and we hit the road.  

We stopped for coffee in Olympia, which is our hometown, but I barely remember the place.  My sister had to give me directions to a coffee shop.  

Our next stop was Salem, Oregon.  We found a Korean restaurant and ordered too much food.  Soondubu, grilled mackeral, mool naeng myun.  They were super nice there, and they gave us a sweet orange, peeled and shaded with cocktail umbrella.  

Later, we got to our hotel in Eugene and crashed. The next morning I got up early, but my sister slept in, so I gassed up the car and did some laundry and some light exploring, got coffee, etc.  There was a little bit of culture clash when I got out of my car and reached for my wallet to pump my own gas… and the attendant called from the other side of the lot, “I’ll be right with you!”  and I remembered that regular people don’t pump their own gas in Oregon, it’s a thing. “Forgot I was in Oregon,” I said to the attendant.  He wasn’t that impressed.  

We had a long drive ahead of us, so we got a big American breakfast at an Elmer’s Diner.  Doesn’t look like much!    

We hit a rest stop somewhere along the way, and took this selfie at a pitstop.  By the way, my sister’s guns are straight fire and not at all being pushed up by the car door.    

We stopped for lunch in Ashland, Oregon, and had lunch on the Calle Guanajuato, which is a fancyish pedestrian lane.  I had a burger at some restaurant where the servers were attractive and not very sharp.  I think by this time I was starting to feel a tickle in my throat.    

Before leaving Ashland, we took a drink at the Lithia Spring, which is naturally fizzy and high in sulfur.  I’ve had it before, and I warned my sister that at first it is gross, but then you keep trying it to remember how gross it is, which is enjoyable.  

My sister said that it tasted like pennies in a pickle jar, like blood, like a bloody nose… Eventually the little bottle that we took lost its fizz and turned green, so I threw it out at a rest stop in Dunnigan, California.  

Anyway, eight hours of driving later, we were in Daly City, hanging out with Auntie R and Uncle R, Cowsins F&D and J, and our nephew little E.    
    

We had dinner there, and breakfast the next morning, and then we hit the road.  By then, I had a full-blown cold.  We stopped in Atascadero, CA for an hour or so too see my sister’s friend and her new baby.  They had a beautiful house and a beautiful mellow new son, and I felt bad for being sick.  We did take pictures but I didn’t take any with my phone, so nothing for the blog.  

Not long after that, we stopped in Los Olivos and bought some wine and olives for pasalubong.  As we got to Pismo Beach I asked my sister, “how long until we get to the coast?”  She answered that we were about to see the money shot, and then bam, the mountains parted and the Pacific Ocean view filled the windshield, as we came down the mountain.  

We drove along the coast, and got off the highway in Santa Barbara, and had a burger in Summerland at a burger shack.  
    
    

We made it to J’s house in Pacific Palisades that night, and I was too sick to be coherent, so I crashed while my sister stayed up and chatted with J and her sister L and the three dogs and the two boys.  It was so so so nice of J to let us crash there!  How do I not have any photos on my phone of our stay there?   

   

  

   

   
The next morning I got gas (big mistake in Pacific Palisades) and then took my sister with me to go apartment hunting.  We saw some gross places in Glendale.  It was discouraging.  After we saw the last apartment, I asked my sister to take me to Griffith Park Observatory. 

Below is a photo with the Hollywood sign (top left corner, white smudge in the hillside), plus a selfie on the rooftop and one from inside the Planetarium.  We saw a show about Viking astronomy which was narrated by a live actor and over-animated.     
   

Later we met up with my sister’s friends for dinner, and took these selfies.      

  

  

The next day was the day my sister flew out of Burbank, so rather than resume the apartment hunt, I declared a goof-off day.  So my sister took me to her favorite seafood market on Redondo Pier and we ate uni.

 

We also had camarones en aguachile and tako poke, both of which were served with tostadas.    
    

Here’s the police sniper we saw. 
  

We put our toes in the Pacific and then walked on the Pier.      
  

My sister saved room for a corndog at Craig’s Hot Dog.  As he was hand-dipping it, he told us that the whole Pier was going to get fancied up and redone, and that he probably wouldn’t be there by next year.  He said that people wanted to upscale it, like Pike Place Market in Seattle.  Obviously, these people don’t know shit about Pike Place Market in Seattle, which is textbook case for NOT upscaling.  
  

After Redondo we had time to kill, so we played a game called “Drive Through Neignborhoods We’ve Heard of.”  We drove through Manhattan Beach (didn’t find parking), Compton, South Central, Watts, and wound our way up to Koreatown, and by then it was time for lunch, so we stopped at a ramen place and got rice and takoyaki… everything but ramen!  

After that we went to Burbank and took this selfie at the airport drive.  I was sad that my sister was leaving!    
  

I went back to J’s place to crash, and had a lovely dinner al fresco near the pool with J and the charming dogs.  

The next morning I dragged myself out of bed and drove another hour back to Glendale to resume the apartment hunt.  I parked at a cafe and started calling places on Zillow.  

The first place to call me back was my first choice; 30 minutes walk to work, all luxury amenities, a little far from the trendy bars so no dorm-like shennanigans.  I went to see the place, and it was awesome in every way!  Except for electric stove, which I will adapt to, ugh.  Anyway, I applied for the place and got accepted, so mission accomplished; I have an apartment in Glendale now.  

I drove the hour back to J’s house and packed my things, said goodbye and headed to Vegas.  Here’s a selfie I took at the bluff over the Pacific at Pacific Palisades before heading off.    
  
Next:  Quality Time in Vegas.  

Bernie Sanders Survived Westlake Plaza.  I was there! 

 
I haven’t been able to see the news coverage of Senator Bernie Sanders’ speech getting disrupted by #blacklivesmatter activists.  

I was standing in the back near See’s Candy to watch the senator’s speech, and when the activists stormed the podium I went down to the gate where people were being let in and out of the organizers’ tent; I wanted to be able to grab my sister out of there if things got ugly.  

I don’t have much time to post, so I will say this about the whole deal.  The event was not a Bernie Sanders campaign stop, it was a social security rally that had been planned beforehand; the senator was a later addition to the agenda.  But from the beginning of the event, people saw it as a campaign event, and people in the crowd were demanding to see the senator from the beginning of the event.  Get off the stage!  Put Bernie on!  

From where I stood, it was hard to hear the speakers and understand what was going on. It was clear to me that most of the people shouting at the activists were bitterly disappointed that they didn’t get to hear the senator speak, that it ruined their whole day.  Also, it was clear to me that people didn’t know what was going on.  They couldn’t see that most of the organizers in the tent were on board with the #blacklivesmatter activists.  They didn’t see senator Sanders listening to and occasionally applauding the activists, as he went into “wait and see” mode.  I saw people yelling the bike cops to come in and handle the situation, and I saw the cops look back at the crowd as if they were insane.  

So to review:  The crowd was surly from the beginning.  They were disappointed not to see what they were expecting to see.  They couldn’t hear clearly and didn’t really understand the situation.  

What they did understand was that this was a huge disruption and was a slap in the face to the national face of liberalism.  

My personal thoughts:  it is a crisis of morality and our consititution that people are getting killed in the street in the name of law enforcement, or while in custody.  The fact that it’s usually African Americans is a national emergency.  This is not a back burner issue, we can’t ask African Americans to keep dying while we prioritize… what… legislative battles?  

Bernie Sanders survived yesterday as did all of his supporters.  They lived.  They are ok.  Maybe they are not becoming #blacklivesmatter allies anytime soon; but black folks continue to die in the country and that is a higher priority to me than courtesy and decorum.  

Last Day in Manila; Back Home for a Minute

I’m only back in the 206 for a minute.  

  
On they day of my niece’s 18th birthday party, her “debut,” I got caught in the rain.  I ducked into a 7-11 to wait out the rain and NOT buy a 5th umbrella.  I ate some 7-11 chicharrones to help pass the time.  

 After a change of clothes, I got into an über.  The driver snaked through Makati, rather than EDSA/Ortigas, so I spotted a Wang Mart.  I figured it should be on the internet.

I had left the condo at 5pm, with explicit instructions from my niece to show up at 6pm American Time, NOT Filipino time.  So I was annoyed at 6pm when I was still in the car, waiting in traffic and watching the sun set over the Pasig.  
Here’s the scene I found when I got there at 6:40:  

  

Mostly empty venue!  I put my gift at the table and sat down and picked at the trail mix, avoiding the m&m’s.  
 
There were plenty of photographers there, so I just took some selfies with family.  

   
    
    
    
    
 As is my custom I took a picture of my plate.  All the food was RICH.  The blue lights made the food look bad but I am too busy to put a filter on, are you kiding me?  

   
    

 I got a ride home from Kuya J at midnight and packed my bags, including my various electronic cables.  

The next morning Kuya J picked me up at the condo and I took this last photo.     
Meanwhile, my relatives started posting some of their own photos of the party, including photos of some photos from the photo booth.  

Here’s an airport selfie from Manila, where it was desperately, desperately cold.      
It was four hours to Seoul; I watched Avengers 2 and some other movie.  When I got to Seoul it was a tight connection and it was a good thing I learned how to read “Seattle” in Korean script.  

 

The flight attendant behind me is a baby whisperer; they send her to flirt with fussy babies.  That was a 9 hour flight, and I watched Tomorrowland.  I like Korean Air, lots of legroom and food is decent.  It’s kind of funny how they launched into an explanation of bibimbap with every passenger, and the flight attendant was shocked, SHOCKED! when I asked for gochuchan, which came in a little toothpaste tube.  
  

I got home and slept as if my life depended on it.  When I got up, it was so early that the grocery story checker had to leave their station unattended.  So I had to squeeze the squeezy toy.   
 

Here’s the breakfast I made for my sister; sausage-silog.  
   

 The next day Cowsin I showed up to look at some vinyl records.  We found some gems.     
 

Below is a road trip that I’m planning.  Plus my new whip.  
   
 

I keep coming back to Manila….

On the jetway, for the flight back to Manila.

Another balikbayan selfie.

Uber is easily the best way to get around in Metro Manila.  It’s cheap, it’s fast, and it’s CASHLESS.  The 1 hour aiport ride to go 10 miles in heavy traffic was about USD $15.  

I went for an ilocano combo plate last night before going to bed.

This morning I got in a cab to go to Market Market!  which is kind of like a mall + market + Singaporean-style hawker center in the Bonifacio Global City, which is Manila’s attempt at creating a clean, modern, orderly city.  However, that lofty aspiration does not stop somebody from selling me a longsilog breakfast without any sinagnag.  They should call it the long-hmph-log breakfast.  Hmph. 

There is a store in the mall called “Maldita.”  Rough translation:  the damn girl.  Damn her!


I bought some liempo just so I could get a side order of lato, this seaweed with bulbs, that tastes like salmon roe.


  

Later:  my niece’s big birthday party!

Final Days in Singapore

I woke up yesterday in Singapore. I had an errand for Cousin Ate D that I was grumpy about doing but it seemed easy enough; she wanted some vitamins from a specific store, which was at a mall near my hotel. When I got to the mall, I asked around for the store, and finally I found out that the store had moved to a different mall.  Forget it, I said!  This mission for vitamins is over! But then I realized the store’s new location was on my way back to the hotel, so I begrudgingly decided to continue.  The information lady told me to take a bus, which was silly because it was so close.  But I took the bus anyway, just as part of the advenutre.  Of course taking the bus in Singapore is clean, beautiful, easy, and rule-driven. I took some mall photos along the way.  Here’s dtf, which is bs. And here’s a 肉骨茶 place. For some reason the word “bakuteh” does not stay in my head, so I’m always asking people what they’re talking about.  Then they try to explain it, and I say oh, you mean 肉骨茶, why didn’t you just say so!  It’s kind of a difficult concept to explain succinctly.  Well, “pork rib broth” would do it. My first lunch was a boneless chicken rice, and it was delicious. My second lunch was an oyster fry, which put me over the edge.  It was oily and I had to take a nap afterward.        fruit stand! Apparently the hotel has a 4th floor terrace as well.     After my nap, I decided to subway to Little India for 3rd lunch, but at the last moment I took the train to Harbourfront Centre instead. There in a food court I found some crazy brown rice set meal which was too big, but still cheap.  The best part was the stuffed tofu in broth.  Later when I passed the stall, the owner asked me very sincerely if I had enjoyed it.     After that I saw signs that said “cable car” so I followed them and rode it.  If there are cable cars to ride, I ride them. It’s a rule.          Later that night I met up with JJ again, also MS, 明 , and French J.  We went to the opening of Red Banks, then to a  62nd floor rooftop bar with a spectacular view but they couldn’t make me a martini.  Finally we went to a hawker centre downtown, the Telok Ayer Market, known as Lau Pa Sat.  We got satays from stall #6.  It was amazing and my hands were too dirty for photos. Also, I want you all to know, there’s a point when the weather is so hot and humid that it’s gross to touch the screen of your phone.  The phone itself feels hot and sticky and it just goes back into my pocket, and forget looking things up or communicating.

Anyway, after Lao Pa Sat JJ and I got some drinks on a rooftop on Club Street.  There should be more rooftop bars in Seattle.  And in my life.

The next morning I saw Cousin D off in a cab and then planned the rest of my morning in Singapore.  I actually found myself buying a duffel bag for the flight home.  It made packing and flying a little easier, but I was annoyed at having to check a bag still.  Jetstar Asia has a ceiling of 7kg for a carry on, which is the weight of one of my shoes.  Guh. I managed the duffel bag situation, and then met JJ for lunch.  We got the “carrot cake” which is a daikon fry/omelette, some of that pansit that everyone talks about, some veggies and some spinach mee.  Afterward, we had some coffee and said goodbye, and JJ was kind enough to pose for a selfie, even choosing the background ! Then I got in a cab to the airport and was out of there.      

Woke up in Singapore (Day 1)

 I just realized my time in Singapore is 4 days, three nights.  Since today is Day 1, it’s almost time to go!  After that it’s a day in Manila and then back to Seattle.  

I woke up at sunrise again, and went to the rooftop.  My mama is worried about the dark circles under my eyes (I had just woke up!).  Also, there is a glass-walled rooftop infinity pool, if you want to watch a dude swim.  

  
    

Cousin D said I was going to hate the food at the breakfast buffet, and I didn’t.  However I will acknowledge that hotel breakfast buffet in SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE is a mistake, and I won’t be repeating this mistake.  I’d rather walk a block and eat 生煎包 or something.  Maybe I’ll just get coffee and dragon fruit at the buffet tomorrow.     

So after breakfast I walked down Mosque Street and Temple Street.  I had a goal to get to the Maxwell Food Centre, but didn’t make it.  English J texted that he wanted to meet me for pho, and I don’t turn down pho.   
   

I decided to walk back to the hotel and freshen up before lunch, and then cabbed over to the pho restaurant on Amoy Street.  I am not used to the right-sidee driving culture.  The right-side cars are blowing my mind.  Every time I cross the street on foot, I catch myself looking left instead of right.  I’m a mess.   
    
    

 After Amoy Street, I had a 30 minute cool out time in the hotel, and then it was back out to Little India.  I took the subway.      
    

  

Clarke Quay.     
 

 Later on I met up with M and N, and Cousin D; the four of us went to Old Airport Road Food Centre and had white pepper crab, among other things.  It was spectacular.    
    

 

Travel day to Singapore

So I woke up this morning, got my breakfast buffet, and then went to pack my clothes.  To my surprise, my clean clothes, which I had had laundered the day brefore, were packaged, complete with plastic, cardboard band, cardboard collar, cardboard stiff back, and those white plastic clippies.  Do not even ask me how much I paid for laundry.  Also, Asian people love packaging, they love it like they love their mamas.    

One last shot of Hong Kong from my 40th floor window.   

Here’s me on the airport express train.  When I walked out of the hotel, the staff all asked if I wanted a cab, and I said, no way, are you nuts?  I gotta take the subway.  

Here’s what I learned:  it is obnoxious to drag around a carry on, neck pillow, and brown bear hoodie sweatshirt on the Hong Kong MRT on a Tuesday during the morning commute.  Next time, I will take a cab to Hong Kong Station, and then train the rest of the way.  

Hong Kong is really amazing as a city, because every place I saw was all dense, with high rise apartments.  The result is that 75% of the territory is undeveloped.  They actually have a wild boar problem.  Such a delicious problem ! 

There may be sprawl in the places I didn’t see, but the places I saw, even on the train to the airport, were vertical cities, served by services on the ground floor.  Down on the road, the streets are narrow and human scale.  It’s really spectacular.    

I flew Jetstar Asia to Singapore, and my experience at the Hong Kong airport was annoying.  I was annoyed.  Nobody wants to read about how I was annoyed, but listen, if you’re flying Jetstar Asia, preorder your meal online and be prepared to check your carry on if it’s over 7 kilos.  Obnoxious.    

When I got to Singapore, all the Singapore stuff started.  I got cash, I got a SIM card.  I only needed to find the $9 Airport Hotel Shuttle and get something to eat.  I asked the SIM card lady where the $9 Airport Hotel Shuttle, and she laughed broadly, and said, “There is no aiport shuttle for $9.”  Luckily I had my email confirmation on my phone, and she read it and said, “ohh, you want the shuttle BUS, ok, yes, there’s a shuttle BUS.”  Obviously.  She pointed me in the right direction.  

Here’s what happened as I was buying my ticket for the shuttle BUS.  First, I watched a mom and a daughter go behind the transport desk and do their daily prayers toward Mecca.  Doesn’t a big international airport have a place where Muslims can pray?  I know they can pray anywhere, but it seems they would have planned a sacred space.  

Second, I bought the ticket to the Airport Shuttle, and the two ladies behind the desk (one Indian, the other Chinese, both great English speakers) gave very clear instructions:  put this sticker on your shirt.  Sit in this chair and go NOWHERE.  The driver will come for you.  

So I was waiting for the driver, as was a young mother with a 9 year old by who was quietly eating his sandwitch.  It was 3pm and I hadn’t had lunch and I wanted to eat a sandwich quietly like that boy.  

Of course it turns out that the boy, once the sandwich is finished, is a little emperor.  He talked super loud and was crawling all over the place.  Finally the bus driver came, and he said to the kid, you’ll have to finish that and recycle the can.  Of course little emperor ignored him, and while getting onto the bus, the driver said, you can’t drink that on the bus.  Little emperor said “why?” and Singapore driver was amazing, “DON’T ASK WHY, THAT’S THE WAY IT IS, IF YOU WANT TO RIDE THE BUS YOU CAN’T HAVE FOOD OR DRINKS, YOU CAN STAY HERE IF YOU WANT.”  It was breathtaking.  Little emperor was stunned because no one had ever not indulged his spoiled ass before.  

The ride into Singapore was quiet and clean, and the road is lined with fuchsias in bloom.  I may have seen 20 miles of fuchsia-lined road.  It’s a little striking how clean and well organized Singapore is, and it’s not the same vertical plan, but narrow human-scale at street level.  Singapore is built on a grand scale for cars.  

My cousin had warned me about the small hotel room we were sharing, but it turns out it has a sexy bathroom, just like in Hong Kong, PLUS a butt-hose bidet.  It’s a win in my book.    

    

Although, the view is not quite as grand…    
 
   

The lady at the desk suggested Subway when I told her I was dying of hunger, but when I rejected the Subway idea, she said, “Walk 5 minutes until you see Chinatown Point, then you’ll know what to do.”  She was right.  I found a street-side buffet and spent 4 dollars on rice, two veggies, and a scoop of chicken.  I took a picture of the hotel on the walk back, because the light was nice.      
   

   
  

Later, Cousin D showed up and we went to Bak Kut Teh for some 肉骨茶.  We also met his friends, D and T, who were charming.    
    
    

We had a couple of beers at Clarke Quay, and then I went to the roof of the hotel, and it’s quite beautiful.  Makes me wish I could smoke cigarettes up there and hang out, but I don’t smoke cigarettes, and knowing the Singaporeans It’s probably punishable by death.  

  

Finally, I found a Sol with limón at the bar.  Dont’ ask how much it cost, but the bartender answered me in Spanish.  Tomorrow, lunch in Chinatown with JJ, and then black pepper crab, no matter what Cousin D says or does, I’m eating crab tomorrow.  Sige!