Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Going Public

I will be in San Francisco for a three day weekend and believe it or not, one of the things I am most excited about is exploring the City with complete reliance on public transportation. I never think of it anymore but now that I am, I find myself missing that element of urban living. Living in suburbia leaves very little room for error and creativity in the sense that you are in control of your transportation schedule for the most part.

Reliance on public transportation, however, leaves so much to the unknown yet to be imagined, much less, created. While public transportation in America is supposedly very predictable and efficient as they run on a set schedule (as opposed to how they do it in a lot of countries in Asia), you still never know what you are going to see and observe, what your human interactions (if any) would be like on a tram, a bus or the subway. The day is already a blank canvas, but moreso when you dwell on the possibilities of the possibilities in a foreign city.

With the rising cost of fuel, unforgiving parking rates in the City, and not-so-invisible pressure to reduce carbon emissions, not only is public transportation the exhilarating choice, but the economic and conscious one as well. Besides, my parallel parking sucks. My parallel parking on steep San Francisco hills will be a colossal nightmare.

It may be a bit too much for some people to comprehend why the prospect of exploration aboard a City bus gives me the butterflies. Seriously, the idea of doing the following “ordinary” commuting things make me excited:

· I am thrilled to be, for at least a full weekend, free of GPS navigation systems and be reliant on paper maps and bus schedules instead. This means I get to interact and ask others for help and directions. This means I get to think on my feet. Although, I must admit that this Public Transit Trip Planner is pretty handy.
· I look forward to getting lost. Or just jumping off a muni at a stop because something caught my eye – a restaurant, a boutique, a pastry shop, an art gallery. There is so much room to be spontaneous when you’re not restricted by the unavailability of parking spots or the unwillingness to pay ludicrous amounts of money to park your wheels.
· This might be ambitious but I would like to explore Golden Gate Park on a bike. I think I will get more mileage (pun intended) on two wheels as opposed to two feet when you’re exploring City park that is a little over 1,000 acres. Maybe I can take the bus to Golden Gate Park instead of trying to climb up the 45 degree hills all the way from Union Square. I am not trained for that! A quick Google search, et voila, I just might be able to pull this one off!
· I haven’t wandered around on foot since the Asia trip in December, so I am really stoked about this weekend. Already on the itinerary aside from Golden Gate Park is the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown, and while in Japantown, shop for some brown rice tea (if I can find Yamamotoyama, I'd be one happy camper), dim sum in Chinatown, and a whole lot of checking out at the Cannery and Ferry Market Building, and maybe salsa dancing at Cocomo's.

I promise to write from the magnificent City by the Bay!


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