Monday, May 04, 2009

Hampton Inn, Daly City

April 29-30, 2009

Kris wanted me to be closer to SF City as Rocklin is nearly 3 hours away from this big city. She asked her provincemate from Laguna, Ronnie de Luna, to find me a good and cheap hotel. Ronnie works at Hilton SF, he reserved me a room at Hampton Inn, Daly City. It’s a sister company of Hilton.

The hotel is about 15 minutes walk from Daly City BART station. It’s not big but nice and clean. Ronnie got a big discount, an employee discount. But it was Kris who paid for my hotel for 2 days, such a very kind friend!

It has 4 storeys, the lobby is on the 3rd floor. My room was on the 2nd floor. Big and spacious bed, wide table, wide toilet, wide screen (but not yet flat) tv, I like that place. I don’t know if internet was really free, but Ronnie secured a complimentary internet connection for me. It was a blessing because on my 2nd day at the hotel, I was supposed to roam around SF city, but my tummy wasn’t fine, so have to stay the whole day in my room, composed and posted the various travel notes, read newspapers, watched tv and rested.

There is a complimentary breakfast – bread, fruits, fruit juices, coffee, etc.
For someone looking for a comfortable place to stay, cheap and near the airport (it’s between SF city and the SF international airport), this hotel is good.

Oyster Point fishing Pier, SF Bay

May 1, 2009

On my last day in SF, my new friend Ronnie de Luna, brought me along to their fishing-bonding event with his fellow Filipino staff at Hilton SF. We went to Oyster Point Fishing Pier, near Daly City. This place is made from reclaimed land. It’s not far from the SF airport, so from the pier, you can see the planes landing and taking off.

There are hundreds of boat docked nearby. Ronnie explained that when you go fishing on a boat, you need a license from the government. If you go fishing at the pier, no need to secure a license.

There’s another group of fishermen-hobbyists on the outermost part of the pier. Some of the guys there nearly caught really huge fishes, their fishing rod would be bending hard, it took them minutes to pull the struggling fish in the water. After several minutes of “struggle”, the fish would escape as the fishing line would break or be cut.

One guy caught a stingray. The same long “fight” to bring up the fish. When the stingray was finally hauled up, it was still flapping its wings and wanted to get away, it was making a noise that seemed like it was crying. I pitied the fish. The guys removed the hookline on the fish’ tongue or inner throat, pulled it and dragged it into the edge of the pier and threw it back into the water! The fish immediately swam away.

Ronnie lent me a small fishing rod, I was able to catch one medium-sized fish, nice thrill. By early afternoon, strong winds accompanied the rain showers, we packed up and went home. I was very thankful to Ronnie and his pals – “Kapitan” for the ride, Rey and his wife.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Amtrak trains

(this picture from

When I moved from Rocklin-Roseville to SF yesterday, I took the Amtrak (Roseville to Sacramento by bus, Sacramento to Emeryville by train, then Emeryville to SF by bus). The Amtrak buses look more modern than the Greyhound buses. It was also good that the bus driver from Roseville to Sacramento was a Filipino. Had a brief chat with him before I went to the train.

This is the first time that I will take the Amtrak. I thought that Amtrak trains are ugly compared to the trains in Europe, because Americans are generally car drivers, not train riders. So when I boarded the train, I was surprised that it was nice and spacious inside. I rode on the upper deck. The seats are clean. I sat on chairs with a table.

Though these seats with a table are spacious, the legroom is not as wide as those in the InterCity Express (ICE) trains in Germany. In terms of speed, Amtrak trains are slow, may 100 or 100+ kph, partly because they are heavy, have double decks, while the ICE can run up to 300 kph.

Riding on the upper deck is nice, wider view of the scenery outside. I won’t see or appreciate those sceneries if I ride a car because there are plenty of trees that can block the view.

When you board the train without a ticket, the conductor will charge a 50 percent surcharge. Well I got my ticket one day before.

Greyhound Bus

In April 2004, I took this bus from Washington DC to Blacksburg, Virginia. The trip was about 8 hours long. It was a good sightseeing activity. Nice to see Virginia’s other cities and rural landscape. I was also surprised to see some drivers in the cars overtaking us, they were holding the steering wheel but their feet were curled up or somewhere else except the accelerator pedal! I was informed later by a friend that cars in the US have sort of a “speed lock”, so drivers don’t worry about speeding or slowing, they just hold the steering wheel.

Last April 29, I took the Greyhound bus again, my 2nd time, from LA to Roseville in northern California, 1:30am trip. Fare was $58, purchased a day before. The same purpose – sight seeing, plus the fare is cheaper.

Greyhound buses in general look old. There’s another bus line I saw in the terminal, Glucero, they look more modern. Well, at least it looks comfortable inside the Greyhound, and there’s a toilet at the back of the bus.

The bus made several stops, 5 minutes on average on smaller cities or towns. Then we stopped for 30 minutes at Fresno. It seems to be a big city. Then the long stop is at Sacramento, about 1:45 minutes, where we got off and waited for another bus that will take me to Roseville. My bus was going to Reno, Nevada. From Sacramento to Roseville, it was only about 35 minutes. At Roseville station, my friend Kris came shortly after. I will stay in their house in Rocklin for 2 days.

The buses run slow, but they always leave on time, they also arrive on time. They are also often not fully occupied.

Hyatt Regency, LA

April 24-25, 2009

The Atlas Liberty Forum 2009 was held in this hotel. It’s on a fancy street name called “Avenue of the Stars”. There are just a few high rise buildings in this area where the hotel is located. On its back though, there is a big mall and shopping center.

Being a travel grantee, I shared a room with Dan O'Connor, he's an American working at the Lion Rock Institute in Hong Kong. Our room was on the 16th floor. Each room in the hotel, those facing the Avenue of the Stars, have a veranda, nice view outside.

The lobby is wide, a bar greets visitors at the entrance, the concierge is on the left side. The swimming pool is at the back of the building in an open space, the conference rooms and sort of "tent" are on the next floor below.

The "foyer" looks cool. Beside it is the grand ballroom, a huge area. The opening dinner speaker was Mr. Vicente Fox, former President of Mexico.

The hotel is of course expensive. I didn't ask for the rate, my room was paid for. Since I didn't have a credit card, I made a cash deposit in case of incidentals (phone calls, food or drinks consumption in the room, internet use in the room, etc.). Their rate is $100/day. I didn't use any, so I got back my $200 deposit.

One of the bell boys is a Filipino. He suggested I can have free internet access at the lobby, great! I composed my articles in my room, go down the lobby and send it out, also check my emails.

It's nice to find Filipinos in foreign places, they can give you some tips on many things.