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Sunday, February 25, 2018

A MAGICAL DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO


This was a magical day in San Francisco.  The city had the usual chill, with more wind than normal.  However, fortuitous good fortune is how I would characterize my second Chinese New Year celebration, which in China extends until March 2.

Westfield SFO Center in the next block is home to a high class Chinese restaurant, M.Y. China, highly recommended by the MM concierge.  I sat left of those two ladies under the red circle with yellow characters by the entrance:


There were speaking Chinese, and while that added to the atmosphere, they didn't find time to breath.  I ordered my usual Shanghai Soup Dumplings and added a Hot Sour Soup.  The beer and Dewars White label scotch cost $16:


Of course, I need to compare M.Y. China to Fook Lam in Honolulu.  This SFO meal cost me $40.  At Fook Lam I can get the beer for $1 and bring my own scotch or cognac.  Thus, with tax and tip, the Hawaii version sets me back around $15.  But the M.Y. China Xialongbao (Chinese for this dish) was better.  Two point six seven times better.  Nope.

I then went to Walgreens to purchase a Clipper Card, which can be used for all sorts of transport in the city.  The lady almost did not want to sell me one because she said they don't do the Senior card, which is a lot more economical, and I should go to the proper office.  Buying from her would be a waste of my money.  However, convenience overrides cost here, as I could just beep it at entrance to a bus or trolley.  The thought of finding and dropping $1.35 into a hopper seemed too much for me to bear.  Next time, however, I will get a seniors card.  As for example, my BART $24 card cost me $10.

In all my years in the Bay area I had never caught a bus.  Today, the #7 took me from Market Street to Golden Gate Park, where the largest orchid show in the USA was being held.


I saw the smallest orchids ever:


Orchids in glass:


In one large room you could just about buy anything, for a reasonable price.  In a side room were the award winning orchids.  I'll just show you some interesting ones:


Many of them looked awfully close to the supposed $20,000 Akatsuka Volcano Queen.  More:


I only took around 200 photos.  I would say the show was okay for $10, but not as humongous as I was expecting.  That yellow flower, a tulip, I think, was growing next to my bus stop on the way back to town.

The bus passed through the Haight-Ashbury District, origination point for the hippies of half a century ago.  Still weird, but now more boutiquish:


Those outdoor wall murals in Kakaako are also fashionable here.  Actually, they're all over San Francisco.

My next decision was whether I wanted to brave the cold to view the Chinese New Year Parade, which was supposed to begin at 5:30PM.  If I had brought a warm jacket, that would not have been a problem.  But just a sport coat was suicidal.  So I went early and took a few photos of the preparation.

It is said that this SFO tradition has been ongoing for 150 years, and is the largest New Year parade outside of China.  Why this is happening more than a week after the actual new year day is a mystery, but, no matter, for there was  excitement and cacophony awaiting the start.  A cast of thousands, and more than a hundred dragons.

Here are some scenes, the first because in the background is Daiso, a Japanese store where I've bought my last four $3 walking canes (I've lost three):


Yes, this is the year of the Dog.


The parade had not begun yet, and I noticed that Hakkason, an upscale Chinese restaurant I long wanted to try, had a second floor.  The chain of now eleven restaurants started in London and one of the owners, Alan Yau, not too long ago opened Yauatcha at the Waikiki International Marketplace.  Notice the combination of Yau and matcha tea.

So up I went and the crush of the crowd definitely did not meet OSHA requirements.  However, I somehow managed to sneak into a seat at the bar and was able to order a nice combination of crispy duck roll with a salt and pepper vegetable dish of lotus root (hasu), asparagus and onions.  I asked what would be ideal with this meal, and was brought a Chinese Mule.


All the above cost about $50 with tax and tip.  Two Chinese meals in one day.  Excellent match for dinner.  The vegetables were crunchy and perfectly al dente.  I should steer the 15 Craigside chef here to learn how this can be done.

I also then was able to take a few photos from this restaurant, beginning with that same Tsingtao float now rolling along:


The Marriott Marquis was just a block away, where I took from my TV screen photos of the 2017 Miss Chinatown, Karen Yang, and the  finale of the parade:


That dragon is almost as long as a football field.  It was much warmer and safer in my room.

Well, so much for Chinese New Year 2018.  Next year this day falls on February 5, and begins the Year of the Pig, considered by seers as most unlucky.  Good luck to all.

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