san francisco

Why I take the bus


I had a conversation with a friend not too long ago, one that has come up numerous times with multiple people, about taking the bus. I guess taking the bus isn't as common as I once thought? Well, it's no surprise after a quick glance out onto the busy streets of San Francisco and every other passing car is either an Uber or Lyft. But it occurred to me that I had become my very own hypocrite...I had locked myself in a car for hours a day for 9 years in LA. 

Sure, you could save time by Ubering, but taking the bus isn't about time saved. For me, it was a tradition that started when I was 6 years old. When my sister and I used to take the #1 California from Chinatown down to the Embarcadero for $0.25 to pick up my mom from work every Sunday at 5pm. And from that point on, the city of San Francisco was painted onto my mind's canvas by foot and by bus.

You see everything by taking the bus. And everything becomes nothing. Crazy people. Drunkards. Fights. When you grow up taking the bus, the 135th fight that breaks out on the bus just becomes the norm (the City is no longer like this though).

If you want to get a world-class education, take the bus. If you want to understand a city, take the bus. And if you want to see the soul of a city, take the bus.

Growing up in Chinatown...

Chinatown.jpg told by a young, naive, but pretty happy kid.

7AM: Little rays of sunlight creep through the shanty curtains that tickles my eyelids to announce that Morning has arrived. However, I already know that the day has begun not from the reflective beams of the morning rays but by the sounds of emphatic debate from Chinese passersby, mostly elders, on their way to morning tea or Tai chi. This is waking up in Chinatown...

8AM:I lazily untangle myself from my covers in an attempt to wake up while every little movement produces a loud screech from my metal bunk bed (knowing fully well my sister below me and parents beside me are still trying to sleep). It's Saturday, and Pokemon is on the WB channel at 9 am!

9AM: We don't have a bathroom, so I brush my teeth in the kitchen sink and proceed to use the communal toilet in the hallway that is shared by 20 other families. The grandma in apartment #4 always has her door slightly bolted next to the communal toilet to make sure people are respecting "her" toilet. She's scary. 

10AM: The Chinatown Library is opening! I race up the hill and down Powell street to claim my computer spot in line before the library opens. The doors open, and it's a race to grab the first 1-hour limit of computer time to play MUD (Multi-user Dungeon). Besides sports, playing games like MUD would ultimately become my passion for a good chunk of my youth.

5PM: Holy crap, I forgot to eat lunch. Probably because the boss hunt was so intense. The library is closed for the day, and it was a good day because I "leveled up." Success never felt so good. I follow Stanley and his older brother down to "Chinatown Playground" on Sacramento to hang out with the "cool kids." All these big kids with their oversized North Face puffy jackets and slick haircuts are just lounging around...they seem so cool. Yeah the cool kids, I thought.

7PM: Dinner time. Oh my god. Frog again? Whyyyy? "It cures cancer." However, I've already come to disbelieve anything my parents say about food since they say eating certain foods will cure cancer or give you better eyesight. Why we gotta be so Chinese... 

8PM: Crap I still have Chinese homework to do! I'm dreading having to recite this Chinese poem about the moonlight on Monday. Why do I gotta go to English school AND Chinese? Life is so unfair...

9PM: "Stop playing your Gameboy, you're going to go blind!" Pokemon and Gameboy pretty much made me the first one in my family to become nearsighted. You should always listen to your mother...

10PM: My bedtime routine usually consists of going to bed and fooling around until 10:30 pm before my mom comes in and yells at me and my sister to go to bed.

...what a great day. Looking forward to going to the library again tomorrow to play MUD.