It’s been two weeks since I’ve arrived. I wanted to jot down some of my impressions of the city. This is the perspective of someone who is in the US for the first time.

Some pictures, especially panaromic ones, should be viewed in full res (in new tabs or equivalent).

Impressions and thoughts

  1. The sun

    • Seriously, this place has the best weather, it’s sunny and cool.
  2. City built for cars.

    • Things are so far apart it’s extremely inconvenient without a car.
    • Also, I’m loving the grid system. It makes a lot of sense.
  3. Some weird buildings

  4. Clean energy buses

    • Hybrid buses on the road.
    • I like this philosophy of minimizing harm to the environment.
  5. Beef Burgers

    • The beef here is insanely tender.
  6. Food portions

    • It’s even bigger than those in the UK ;)
  7. Honour system of bus and rail system

    • Each ticket is valid for 90 minutes, including transfers.
    • You can just buy a ticket on your mobile app, and just board the bus without doing anything else.
    • Insanely cool to be able to just pay using the app.
  8. Cashlessness

    • I didn’t have to use my 8 dollar bills reserve I have until after 2 weeks when I wanted to tip the walk tour guide.
  9. Friendliness of people

    • I came out of the bart train, not knowing which exit to take. Looking rather clueless, a stranger offered to give me directions. My first instinct was to reject the offer, thinking that strangers who are nice probably have ulterior motives. After a few seconds, I retracted my reservation, and he managed pointed me to the correct direction.
  10. The art scene here is accessible

    • There are so many art market/galleries to go to.
    • The number of art murals in the city is too damn high.
  11. Freedom of expression

    • People express their thoughts via murals
  12. A billboard targetting coders

    • Seriously this must only happen in the bay area.
    • I wonder how effective this is. People who might use it already knows about it; people that don’t won’t get it.
  13. The urine stench, of both homosapien and canine

    • Some streets should just be called piss street.
  14. The number of homeless people

    • It’s scarily insane. You see people in the middle of a sidewalk, sometimes sleeping over the manhole grill.
    • Some of them can be quite indecent: Showing their public hair as their jeans sit very loosely on their waist.
  15. Elderlies going through trash bins to look for recyclables

    • It pains me to see this. I hope they are not doing to support themselves.
  16. Drug vice 1: People getting stoned on streets

    • Once, I alighted from the bus and saw this guy who looked extremely stoned, with what looks like a needle on his arm.
  17. Drug vice 2a: People who look like drugs dealers on the street

    • This happened when I didn’t know where the tenderloin region was. While walking along market street from Embarcadero to the city hall for a concert hall, I noticed a noticeable transition of the environment. I could tell with 95% confidence that they were drug dealers.
  18. Drug vice 2b: People smoking weed

    • While I respect the culture and people’s freedom to smoke weed here, and agree that weed isn’t all that harmful to the body 1, I really hate the smell of it. I really miss being able to get from A to B by breathing somewhat fresh, weed-free air.
  19. The incredibly confusing tax and tipping system

    • It’s too much maths to calculate the taxes + tip amount.
    • More confusing is when to tip. Do you tip when you order take away? Or when a bartender fetches you a beer from the fridge? How about when your friendly co-worker that opens the door for you?
    • They should really just have better wage law and include taxes in the price tag.
    • No wonder people overspend.
    • It’s like conditioning people to spend without thinking, because it’s too much cognitive load to calculate the actual amount.
  20. The view of the city from parks

    • There are so many parks, and the view from them are amazing.
  21. The number of dogs

    • The only thing more common than homeless people is the number of dogs.
  22. Religious booths

    • For a city that is so tolerant of its vices, I’m surprised to see roadside booths promoting religion at subway stations and road junctions.
  23. Mental illness

    • Some people on the streets sometimes talk to themselves. While I was at a walking tour, this guy just circled our group repeatedly. Several times he would just stand next to the guide, staring at him. The guide, to my surprised, treated him like part of the group (i.e. showing him pictures of what the tenderloin used to look like). He would then go back to circling the group, and at times mutter something under his breath.
  24. The lack of baskers

    • Surprisingly I haven’t seen any baskers on the streets yet.
  25. Network reception in the metro!

    • Yes
  26. Some people did not get the memo low jeans are so yesterday

  27. There are just so many TV ads

    My god it’s like they’re trying to brainwash people or something.