Sunday, October 25, 2015

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Day 1 - San Francisco

Tze Shan Monastery

I was so excited to see the Statue from the flight (SIN-SFO, transiting in HKG).

The previous night, a good friend sent me a photo of Goddess of Mercy (on the left) at Tsz Shan Monastery (the construction cost of almost S$400m funded solely by the Richest Man in Asia - Li Kashing). And the following day, I managed to see the Statue (in the photo on the right) when the plane was descending into Hong Kong airport.

It was very coincidental. Otherwise, I won't have recognized the Statue.
What a pleasant surprise!! :))

Watch Godzilla on the flight to SFO.
And yes, that's Golden Gate Bridge at the verge of been destroyed. Somehow, Gold Gate Bridge is so iconic that it needs to be destroyed in many films that has the "end-of-the-world" story-line.

View of SF from the Hilton Hotel. =)

Hilton Hotel & the iconic Transamerica Pyramid

Street of San Francisco

It has been 11 years since I left San Francisco Bay Area. Once a while, I would think about the best year of my life in SF Bay Area, and at times, it kinda felt like a dream (a really good one). =)

Just coming back to SF, I am already very happy. 
So many fond memories of this place. =)

There is no lack of interesting people in SF. 
Love it!!

Chinatown and the iconic Tram.
Shit! I still have not taken the Tram before, a good reason to go back to SF!

Land's End San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge.
It's a foggy day in Summer, so typical of SF. =)

It is a wonderful experience to be traveling with the most important people in my life.
Thanks to our cousin Tricia for being such a great host.
Grateful that we are so fortunate that we could travel together. =)

Mama, Felice & Keena.

Uber is our best friend!!!
We did not rent a car in SF, and so the best way to get around is using Uber. 

I gave the wrong location to the Uber Driver (as shown above). I was still learning how to use it back then. 

1.5 years old Gwendolyn.
Looking happy and this is her first trip overseas.

2009: Perth, Western Australia 
2015: San Francisco, California

6 years apart, look how much you have grown up. smile emoti\

Always love you!!! Hope I have been a good uncle.

The background is uncannily similar.

Day 2 - San Francisco

A very nice surprise.
Breakfast delivered by my cousin Tricia. 

Good morning SF!!!

"The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline. The building no longer houses theheadquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, who moved their U.S. headquarters to BaltimoreMaryland, but it is still associated with the company and is depicted in the company's logo. Designed by architect William Pereira and built by Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company, at 853 ft (260 m), on completion in 1972 it was the eighth tallest building in the world."

Love the metallic staircase...

(Created in San Francisco)

"The rainbow flag, commonly the gay pride flag and LGBT pride flag, is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, andtransgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements. (Other uses of rainbow flags include a symbol of peace.) The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community, and the flag is often used as a symbol of gay pride in LGBT rights marches. It originated in Northern California, but is now used worldwide.
Designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978, the design has undergone several revisions to first remove then re-add colors due to widely available fabrics.[1][2] As of 2008, the most common variant consists of six stripes, with the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The flag is commonly flown horizontally, with the red stripe on top, as it would be in a natural rainbow."

Always love the liberal and diversity of San Francisco.

"The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the U.S. city of San Francisco, on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, to Marin County, bridging both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco,California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.[7]
The Frommers travel guide considers the Golden Gate Bridge "possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world".[8] It opened in 1937 and was, until 1964, the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at 4,200 feet (1,300 m)."

Feeling quite emotional when the bus was driving on the bridge. 
I remembered the first time crossing the bridge - my friends and I were so excited that we were shouting and cheering in the car. Those were the days when I could get excited easily. It's good to be young. =)

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

I walk.... AIDS Walk....

I have been volunteering with a HIV/AIDS volunteer group for the past 5 years.
Hopefully, the stigma against people with HIV/AIDS will subside slowly.
Hopefully, the general public will view people with HIV/AIDS like any other patients with chronic illnesses like Hypertension and Diabetes.




Artist at work.

Buddhist Art



This is my favourite art piece
Reminds me of Nepal....

I ended my day by having In-N-Out burgers with 2 friends (who are based in SF). =)

It is good to catch up with friends, and understand the current situation in SF. I did not know that SF have overtaken NY as the most expensive city in US.

I had a very good chat with one of my batch mates. We lived in SF for 1 year around 11 years ago, and he decided to relocate back to SF. The night was a bit cold and it really reminded me of the days living in SF. Overall, it was an awesome year, but at times, it could be cold and lonely. Well, that's life, you can't have paradise all the time.

Day 3 - Stanford & Big Sur (SF to LA)

Driving south along Highway 101 towards Stanford.
This is so familiar. =)


Wiki: "Stanford University (officially Leland Stanford Junior University) is a private research university in Stanford,California, and one of the world's most prestigious institutions,[10][11][12][13] with the top position in numerous rankings and measures in the United States.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20]
Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland Stanford, former Governor of and U.S. Senator from California and leading railroad tycoon, and his wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford, in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford, Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford was opened on October 1, 1891[2][3] as a coeducational and non-denominational institution. Tuition was free until 1920.[21][22] The university struggled financially after Leland Stanford's 1893 death and after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.[23] Following World War II, Provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates' entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley. By 1970, Stanford was home to a linear accelerator, and was one of the original four ARPANET nodes (precursor to the Internet).[24]
Stanford is located in northern Silicon Valley near Palo Alto, California. The university's academic departments are organized into seven schools, with several other holdings, such as laboratories and nature reserves, located outside the main campus.[7][25] Its 8,180-acre (3,310 ha)[25] campus is one of the largest in the United States.[8] The university is also one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.[26]
Stanford faculty and alumni have founded many companies including GoogleHewlett-PackardNikeSun MicrosystemsInstagram and Yahoo!, and companies founded by Stanford alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.[29] Fifty-nine Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the University,[30] and it is the alma mater of 30 living billionaires and 17 astronauts. Stanford has produced a total of 18 Turing Award laureates.[note 2] It is also one of the leading producers of members of the United States Congress.[49][50]"

Stanford Campus

Always enjoy walking in Stanford

Cathedral and the Quad
I will always the full-moon on the Quad in Stanford.

Lovely Campus

My nieces having fun. =)

Below was my thoughts (posted on FB) after visiting Stanford again:

"Stanford University

I remember waking up early at 6am, traveling on carpool lane on highway 101 to attend morning classes. I also remember staying in the lab doing experiment until 2-3am - feeling cold, hungry and miserable. 

Even though I was not matriculated as a student, I'm thankful for the opportunity to study in Stanford. It kinda fulfilled my dream of studying overseas. 

In my early years, I had a shaky start in my education. At one point, my mum's expectation of me is to complete my Primary School education (ie. Grade 6), so that i could work as a production worker in a factory. smile emoticon

I hope my nieces, who are smarter and having a better starting point in life, will do much better than me. 
May be one of them (or all of them) might graduate from Stanford University in the future! :))

There was a period in my early life, that going to University was far-fetched dream. I remembered my primary teacher was forecasting who would go to University in the future, and not surprisingly, she did not predict that I would study in University. I am really a late bloomer. =)

Road Trip with Family.
We needed 2 cars for 9 of us.


Wiki: "Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast of California where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. Although it has no specific boundaries, many definitions of the area include the 90 miles (140 km) of coastline from the Carmel River in Monterey County south to the San Carpoforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County,[1][2] and extend about 20 miles (30 km) inland to the eastern foothills of the Santa Lucias. Other sources limit the eastern border to the coastal flanks of these mountains, only 3 to 12 miles (5 to 19 km) inland. Another practical definition of the region is the segment of California State Route 1 from Carmel south to San Simeon. The northern end of Big Sur is about 120 miles (190 km) south of San Francisco, and the southern end is approximately 245 miles (394 km) northwest of Los Angeles.
The name "Big Sur" is derived from the original Spanish-language "el sur grande", meaning "the big south", or from "el paĆ­s grande del sur", "the big country of the south". This name refers to its location south of the city ofMonterey.[3] The terrain offers stunning views, making Big Sur a popular tourist destination. Big Sur's Cone Peak is the highest coastal mountain in the contiguous 48 states, ascending nearly a mile (5,155 feet/1571 m) above sea level, only 3 miles (5 km) from the ocean.[4]"

Beautiful Scenery


Sea lions....

I did not even bothered to go closer as my mood wasn't really good.
The journey along Big Sur was too winding and the 2 youngest kids were vomitting due to motion sickness. I was so concerned about them that my mood was affected.

It was a wrong decision to drive through highway 1 towards Los Angeles.
We ended up very very tired, reaching our destination past midnight and feeling really hungry. 
I felt bad as my parents and the young kids suffered.