My friends and I recently went to Las Vegas. I hated it but my friend, Puleng, loved it. Here are the Pros and Cons of going to Vegas :)
My friends and I recently went to Las Vegas. I hated it but my friend, Puleng, loved it. Here are the Pros and Cons of going to Vegas :)
The pages…they must be turned. My time in the “home of the brave” has come to and end. This 6 month opportunity has been the experience of a lifetime and changed me, for the better, in ways that I could never have imagined. Here is a retrospective in pictures and some short caption blurbs…the journey of Koodzi in the USA:
So exciting! I will be travelling the East this summer! One Man. Seven Countries. I plan to start video blogging, sharing my experiences, the highs, the lows, the learning, the interesting people and all the flavours. Travel, fun and meeting interesting people are part of my passion. The video blog of a trip of a lifetime! Watch my fun trailer above.
1. Don’t say “San Fran” if you don’t want to be eyeballed. It’s just SF…just SF. This will save you many a “oh, look at this cute newbie/tourist person” type of looks. Cool?
2. Don’t put an article before MUNI and BART (public transport systems) – Say “MUNI” and “Bart” not “The MUNI” and “The BART”. Another eyeball-inducing moment.
3. Do not stare at the crazies. They will cuss you out, initiate awkward conversation, or start yelling Bible verses at your neck yo! I’ve been through the fire of all. Not fun.
4. Do not believe the hostess at the great brunch place who tells you the wait for brunch “will be like…let’s say….25 minutes?”. She’s lying. Soooo lying. Brunch is SF’s MAIN meal of the week and people take their sweet ass time. Get yourself a drink at the bar and wait for approx. and hour. TRUTH. The food is delicious though, so haaaaaaay, get your drink-at-bar-and-wait on! (Recommendation for killer brunch session: Zazies)
5. Don’t say, think or feel that you like Southern California (“SoCal”). Seriously, the folks over in Northern California do not believe is SoCal’s antics. The inhabitants of the upper region of the state of California definitely believe that they have better food, better vibes and all around better more enchanted lives. I must say, my brief trip to LA and San Diego confirmed this. Go NoCal (I don’t think that’s a thing, but whatever)!
“Did you know, you can quit your job, you can leave university? You aren’t legally required to have a degree, it’s a social pressure and expectation, not the law, and no one is holding a gun to your head. You can sell your house, you can give up your apartment, you can even sell your vehicle, and your things that are mostly unnecessary. You can see the world on a minimum wage salary, despite the persisting myth, you do not need a high paying job. You can leave your friends (if they’re true friends they’ll forgive you, and you’ll still be friends) and make new ones on the road. You can leave your family. You can depart from your hometown, your country, your culture, and everything you know. You can sacrifice. You can give up your $5.00 a cup morning coffee, you can give up air conditioning, frequent consumption of new products. You can give up eating out at restaurants and prepare affordable meals at home, and eat the leftovers too, instead of throwing them away. You can give up cable TV, Internet even. This list is endless. You can sacrifice climbing up in the hierarchy of careers. You can buck tradition and others’ expectations of you. You can triumph over your fears, by conquering your mind. You can take risks. And most of all, you can travel. You just don’t want it enough. You want a degree or a well-paying job or to stay in your comfort zone more. This is fine, if it’s what your heart desires most, but please don’t envy me and tell me you can’t travel. You’re not in a famine, in a desert, in a third world country, with five malnourished children to feed. You probably live in a first world country. You have a roof over your head, and food on your plate. You probably own luxuries like a cellphone and a computer. You can afford the $3.00 a night guest houses of India, the $0.10 fresh baked breakfasts of Morocco, because if you can afford to live in a first world country, you can certainly afford to travel in third world countries, you can probably even afford to travel in a first world country. So please say to me, “I want to travel, but other things are more important to me and I’m putting them first”, not, “I’m dying to travel, but I can’t”, because I have yet to have someone say they can’t, who truly can’t. You can, however, only live once, and for me, the enrichment of the soul that comes from seeing the world is worth more than a degree that could bring me in a bigger paycheck, or material wealth, or pleasing society. Of course, you must choose for yourself, follow your heart’s truest desires, but know that you can travel, you’re only making excuses for why you can’t. And if it makes any difference, I have never met anyone who has quit their job, left school, given up their life at home, to see the world, and regretted it. None. Only people who have grown old and regretted never traveling, who have regretted focusing too much on money and superficial success, who have realized too late that there is so much more to living than this.”
-from Wunderkammer: Did You Know
Just a little something I worked on after work today. Was feeling a weird so had to release. Still in demo form but I like it. Thoughts?
This is how you do it! From the studio to the stage. Super talent. Hyorin is amazing! Really, she it. The moves, the vocals…I predict that she will be around for a long long time. Start video at 2:11 for Gone Not Around Any Longer.
I love me some SISTAR19. Hoyrin’s vocals are as amazing and as smooth as usual. To me, she is the dark horse diva of K-Pop. Bora and Hyorin look so sexy! Those legs. Great comeback! The performances are sure set to slay!
I’m still enjoying my time here. Between work, day trips, Napa, Lake Tahoe, shopping, Treasure Island etc I have crossed the bridges of the Bay Area a number of times. I love it every time because it makes all the pictures one sees of SF (and surrounds) so real. These are some of the pics I’ve taken:
“When I was just a girl I wore a thousand lives,
Heading on a search for the thing that makes me feel alright…”
It’s rare that I find a song that fills me with emotion that I can’t explain. Ms Knowles’ “Locked In Closets” is a gem from he solid EP called “True”. The 80′s inspired sparse instrumentation, her gorgeous voice and the sense that you can feel the air in the room where this song was recorded makes this song hit me in spots I don’t quite know how to articulate. For me, the song is filled with loss, hope, melancholy, nostalgia, peace and maturity all in one situation. Nicely done.
You know time is flying by when plans you made a couple of months ago actually materialize. My dearest friend, Maria, moved from South Africa to the States (Boston to be exact) in August and we had made plans in July to meet up in San Francisco (and hit up the beloved & world-famous California wine country) after I had arrived in the land of the free and the home of the brave. It happened. It was everything! Nothing quite as good as having those familia relationships to keep you comforted when you’re so far from home.
Maria arrived on Friday evening around 11pm. I wasn’t quite used to driving here at night so the ride was less the perfect – there might have been a few instances of me driving the wrong way in one-way streets and hitting some curbs along the way, lol. After picking Maria up, we were both too tired to go out so we grabbed a bottle of wine from the neighbourhood Safeway and chatted the night away over some sips of the magic juice. It was a prelude of the wine-filled weekend to come.
We woke up early on Saturday morning for our trip to Napa. Being the sometimes-mess that I am, there were a few hiccups on the way. Hiccup No. 1: The aim was to stop over at the Golden Gate Bridge to get some pictures but I seemed to miss the off-ramp/turn-off (or “exit” as they say here) and we just had to keep on going, lol. I must say, the bridge is spectacular…well actually, it’s just a bridge and it’s red…that’s about it but it i still cool to see a monument that you only ever see in pictures. In my next post, I will post some pics of SF’s lovely bridges. The drive itself was lovely and very scenic, it was super nice to get some fresh air away from the city of SF.
There were more blips along the way. Hiccup No. 2: Word to the wise, the same rules about filling up your car with fuel (or as “gas” in the American way) at home, also apply here. Obvious I know, but I a bit of a mess. I forgot to fill up my car so we almost ran out of gas on the highway. We had 1km of fuel left so I took the first exit I could find and found what looked like an old school gas station – I was like “oh heeey, this has a nice vintage look, let’s do it”. Well, it was vintage because it was literally V.I.N.T.A.G.E…the damn pumps hadn’t worked in years, lol. So, in true Koodzi fashion, I made it a fashion moment and got a couple of pics hahaha.
We managed to find an actual gas station in Novato…something from the current century. Pumping gas for the first time was a bit on experience in itself. I had to ask a stranger how to work the machinery. He thought it was the biggest joke because he didn’t understand why I couldn’t do it. In his mind, “you have a car….so….this should be basic…”. Another photo session ensued and the car was filled up and ready to go forth to Napa.
Napa was really beautiful. We stopped off at Don Giovanni for some lunch and wine to get the day started. I had an amazing pasta with some super tender & tasty lamb. Maria had a rissotto that was highly recommended on Yelp. It was all super tasty. We of course snapped more pics.
Next up was the main event. We decided to keep it to 2 wine estates (being the DD an all, I had to be responsible and stuff). The first one was called Trefethen Vineyards. They have an amazing merlot. It’s generally not my preferred varietal (my dear friend Puleng, on the other hand, swears by merlot) but this one was particularly bold yet with a smooth finish that left you wanting more. The estate itself is really beautiful.
The next wine estate was called Regusci. This place had such an amazing energy. The staff were very friendly, they hooked us up with a free glass of one of their estate wines. There was no wine that I particularly loved but they product range is very solid. I didn’t end up buying any wines anywhere and my main gripe is that this place is too expensive. A wine-tasting costing $20 is the same as a WHOLE really good bottle back home so I’m still trying to reconcile that in my mind. Smh.
We headed home, drove on the side of the Bay Bridge this time (Pictures coming in my next post). We decided to have an authentic American experience afterwards. We spotted a Walmart on the way back home. It was a gigantic Walmart Superstore. As Maria mentioned, given that Walmart acquired Massmart (a retail group) back home in South Africa, we should turn the wine trip into a learning trip to have a real-life understanding of this retail giant. Geek alert!? This Walmart was massive! It even had a McDonalds inside – I’m guessing it’s just in case you get hungry while walking across the massive store during your shopping or something hahaha – such a joke! After our all-American Walmart experience, we made it back home safe and sound. Tired as hell.
In our tired state, we met up with my other SF counterparts and headed off to a Keg party that I was invited to by a work team mate. It was so cool. Straight from the movies I tell you. Straight. From. The Movies! There were keg stands, lots of beer, red cups, urban music, drunken “oh my gaaad”s – everything. I loved it.
Sunday was spent at brunch and Golden Gate Park. Post of the lovely bridges to come next.
Aaaah, yes! So I’ve been in San Francisco (SF from here on out, that’s what us locals call it, lol) for two weeks and I’ve loved it so far. It has not been without it challenges, as is any time of drastic change, but I am now somewhat settled, enjoying the groove of the city and soaking up the joy of each moment in this dynamic city. I live in a great up-and-coming yuppie area (SOMA – South of Market Street), work with a fantastic team at work and have enough time do explore the city at night or on weekends. Moving from South Africa, I expected a lot of differences and new experiences but even with all the pre-research, below are some of the things that have been absolute new discoveries for me – some good, some bad, some inspiring and some disturbing. SF is everything…and more!
1. Beautiful but also Scary
This city is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever been to but SF has a darker side that people don’t really talk about. Areas such as the Tenderloin (that name is so apt…who calls a neighbourhood that anyway? Seriously?) can feel quite unsafe. These areas are next to the safer/nicer/cleaner areas…sometimes the dodginess is just one block away so one needs to be careful not to make a wrong turn. In these scary areas, liquor stores are abound, random sketchy people stand on the street cursb, the number of crazy people increase…but I guess it’s an experience nonetheless. In retrospect, this shouldn’t have been such a surprise, every city has less desirable places so SF shouldn’t be an exception.
2. The Crazies
They say SF is the city with the highest percentage of mentally ill people. This is not a lie. Walking on Market Street (a main street in downtown San Francisco) will lead you to your fair share of looney people. They’re quite harmless but still shocking. Some of them yell at you…I had one preach a sermon my way and my friend got “bushed” while taking a job across the promenade (Explanation: To Bush – verb. When a homeless person crouches and hides behind a bush and jumps out when someone come past in order to scare them – and everyone else around laughs at the passerby hysterically). This is a crazy city indeed, but I love it.
3. Food Food Food – All Kinds of Food!
When they say you can find any food in SF, that is no joke ladies & gentlemen. If you want to try 3 different cuisines every day for a month, this is the city for you (probably a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the vibe, lol). South Africa is known for its diversity regarding ethnicities but SF is one of the leaders when it comes to diversity in terms of food options. In my first week at work, I had lunch with cuisines that spanned from Korean, Thai, Italian, Greek, Mexican – PLENTY of Taquerias in every corner of the city, Chinese, Vietnamese, French. There is plenty more out there that I can’t wait to try. As an aside, apparently “American” cuisine is a thing…besides fast foods, what else is American? I had an interesting debate with my work teammates which ended in a stalemate.
4. Work Work Work
This may not be just SF but America as a whole, buy dayum, the people in this nation work hard! I had thought since SF-ers like health/lifestyle they would balance their lives between work and lifestyle – no such thing unfortunately. Stores open till super super late, corporate people (such as myself) are given side-eyes if they leave anytime before 6 or 6:30pm. It’s not a bad thing either – I guess this is why the USA is an economic machine, they work so hard. This gets a little in the way of the time I have to explore the city on some nights buy hey, I’m glad that I get to experience what it is like to really live here like a local. Also, I have a great view from my client’s office – the view of the bay is beautiful.
5. Healthy and Organic is Everything!
This is Granola City – for real man! It’s more than I could have ever imagined. On my first day, I went to buy groceries at Trader Joe’s..let me just say, I have never seen so much organic produce in my life and there was one whole aisle basically dedicated to granola (akin to muesli at home). I’ve had more tofu in 2 weeks than in my whole life…imagine that! SF folk take their health seriously. With 24-hour gyms all over the city, plenty a jogger revving up their heartbeat on the promenade, a Groupon site that seems basically dedicated to gym/yoga specials, I think I made the right choice coming here…I need to shed some of the pounds I picked up in the SA winter. Also, people here walk everywhere so the there’s quite a bit of hotness on the streets *wink wink*. The only unhealthy situation is the love or coffee that SFers have – from Peets, Starbucks, mom & pop style coffee shops and the massive coffee machines at my client’s offices – coffee obsession!
6. Unassuming & Nice People
Having never been to the States before, I had heard that Americans are quite obnoxious and rude. My experience has been quite the contrary. The checkout clerks at Safeway, Trader Joes, Walgreens etc have all been so nice – nothing like being asked how you are doing by a stranger…they probably don’t really care but it’s still nice. In addition, there are many high-flying tech-starter uppers in this city but you may not even know that you are standing next to them – they’re well off but unassuming. Very refreshing. The other day, I was walking down the street and I overhead a guy talking to his friend talking about how his shares might be diluted with the new investors coming in….only in SF…that could be the next Facebook (probably not, but it’s still cool to me, lol). I always imagined that successful IT people, the beloved 1%, would not mix with us mere mortals. Baz Luhrman says one needs to make sure they leave SF before it makes you “soft”…I can see why, lol.
7. Baseball and The Giants are Life!
Living 2 minutes from AT & T Park and have The Giants, the SF baseball team, win the World Series will leave you feeling like the city has turned orange (main colour of The Giants) and obsessed with baseball. I must say though, it was so cool to experience that happening in my first week here – noisy buy still super cool. The whole city went crazy! I still don’t know the rules of the game though, lol. Also, why is it called the World Series when it’s only 2 teams that play it, and they’re both from America…i.e. where’s the “world” part? *raised eyebrow*
8. Halloween is Serious Here!
SF is known as being a little alternative/hippy-esque so Halloween builds on that premise and makes sure not to disappoint. My friends and I went out to The Castro for a Halloween party and let me say, I have never seen that many people dressed up in costumes my whole life! Loved it! And these outfits were intricate pieces of work…I spoke to some people who worked on constructing their outfits for a full month. A. FULL. MONTH. Craziness I tell you. Fun to see, but crazy nonetheless.
9. Transportation here is NOT for the Weak!
Moving to a 1st world city, I expected SF to have super efficient and easy to understand public transport systems. Not the case. The bus system (Muni) is not the easiest to understand, taxi’s are quite hard to hail, some highways have 5-6 lanes (which is too much for me) and driving in the city is a mess. I made the mistake of driving to dinner to a great Thai restaurant in town, Chebbas, I couldn’t find parking, drove in the direction of incoming traffic, hit a couple of curbs – it was a hot mess I tell you, hot mess! My advice: do not drive in the city at all costs, lol. Or maybe my sister is right, my driving just sucks. (Aside: the trams look cool though).
10. Blessings are in abundance
Living here has really made me aware of what blessings I have. Most of the people on my team live away from their family (in different States) – I am lucky to have my family close to me when I’m in South Africa. Real estate is super expensive here – it is not uncommon to have a roommate at 40 years old – back in South Africa, I have the ability to purchase property. SF is beyond expensive (it’s the second most expensive city in the US after NY apparently) – wine tasting here costs $20 whereas at home is either from or around $3 (and Lord knows I love my wine) – I’ll blog about my trip to Napa soon. It’s all the small things. Sometimes one needs to be taken out of their familiar space to appreciate everything they have. This city is diverse (Asians, White, Hispanic people are abound) but I see very few black people in the heart of the city or even at work where I am the only black person at my client’s premises out of about 200 people…the diversity of Johannesburg really is a blessing, a tremendous blessing. I still love SF but I love home even more.
That’s my intro to SF. Looking forward to digging deeper into this place and sharing some great finds.
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