Almost everyone in LA was warning me to be wary of the LGBT community in San Francisco, and I was forever wondering why. Do they bite? Apparently, this side of California is considered to be more liberal than its southern cousin. I really thought that it was the other way around. Anyway, San Francisco does feel more like the United States. I see more white people and the downtown area has a different feel in terms of ambiance and architecture, not to mention a bit foggy and damp in the morning.
The first thing I do research on when I go to a foreign city is the subway system, and the Bay Area has its very own. Dubbed as BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), it can bring you all the way south to the airport, and across the bay down to Fremont. The first trip from Embarcadero on a Sunday was at 8:10 in the morning, so I still had some free time to take a stroll and some photos, although I spent most of the time at Subway because my tolerance for cold weather conditions is not that high.
It took me more than an hour to get to Newark because the track between Fruitvale and Coliseum was under repair, and so we had to be herded into a shuttle van, and then we missed the necessary connections because we had to transfer lines at Bay Fair. I got out of Union City station by 9:35 AM. The buses I needed only ran on half hour intervals, which meant having to wait for the next one at 10 AM. Because we were all excited to shop, I decided to just take a cab anyway.
I left it to my cousins to decide on whatever itinerary we had for the Bay Area, and since it wasn’t really their first time, most of the plans involved shopping one way or another. When we arrived at the Livermore Outlets, I found out why. With signature brands lined up in a square compound, it’s easy to get lost in a flurry of 70% off items. Even if you think you don’t need that leather jacket, you are sure to buy it if it was originally priced at $300+ and now just selling for $75. It was Guess, by the way.
It suddenly dawned on me how consumerism is so ingrained in the American psyche. Coming from a country where society is pretty much patterned after the American way of life, it was really easy to adapt and drop some greenbacks, just like that, in the name of capitalism. I suddenly remembered the simplicity of life in Bhutan, where they refuse to be modern but they are happy. This is not to say that the foundation of happiness in America is fake or shallow, but rather grounded on a different belief system which encourages spending.
Come to think of it, you can actually hoard those items on sale, and then sell them back in Manila with the original price tag. Wow, how much profit would you be making, huh? Besides, most Filipinos could not really differentiate between outlet exclusive items and haute couture. As long as they see a signature brand name emblazoned somewhere visible, they are most likely to pay for it anyway. Hey, as long as you can flaunt it, honey. Maybe some other time, but for now I shop for myself first, no?