The Exploratorium, San Francisco


WE’RE almost at the end of our San Francisco trip! One of our last stops in the city was the Exploratorium, a massive science and discovery centre located at Piers 15 and 17, Embacadero. A modern, blockish-looking building, the centre was first opened in the 1960s and was relocated to its new place in 2013.

We actually got here late and had to rush through a lot of the exhibits. I recommend spending half a day or more here because there are so many things to try and interact with. Great place for families, geeks, and those who like to experiment with stuff.


The centre is divided into many sections, each dedicated to a certain science, such as Light and Sound, Human Behaviour, Living Systems and Tinkering (electricity and magnetism). Almost every exhibit can be interacted with, so it was a lot of fun!

SAM_9529-tile SAM_9530-tile

The inside is massive. Here we enter the Human Behaviour section. There were things like card games, experiments related to emotion and psychology, etc.


E and I sat on opposite sides of a counter where you had to ‘match’ genders with specific keywords/items, such as ‘occupation’ and ‘roles’ which tend to be viewed as either masculine or feminine. For example, the word ‘family’ is often associated with females, and ‘career’ tends to be associated with males.


Apparently watching yourself in the mirror crying will create feelings of sadness..



Chairs of differing sizes


I like how spacious the place is, despite housing thousands of exhibits. The ventilation is good and there’s lots of sunlight.

I couldn’t help but compare it with Malaysia’s old Petrosains… which has not seen an upgrade since 1999.

SAM_9538-tile SAM_9539-tile SAM_9540-tile

The machinery section was closed off to the public, but we could view it from behind a barrier.


The Exploratorium definitely needed more… exploring, but we ran out of time. Would like to come back for a proper walk through the next time I’m in SF. Great place for the kids and the curious. 🙂


Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111, United States

Open 10am – 5pm

Admission: 29$ (pricey, but I think its worth it provided u spend a longer time trying out all the experiments and stuff.)


For dinner, all you can eat hotpot! Nothing better than that in cold weather.

SAM_9552-tile SAM_9553-tile

Left San Fran with a heavy heart. It was my second last day in America.

Time to pack for the long flight home. The US has been an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to go back and explore the rest of it’s 50 states.

Cruising Down The Bay: San Francisco’s Cable Cars


SAN Francisco’s cable cars are as iconic as the Golden Gate Bridge itself, so no way was I gonna miss the experience of riding on one!

The city’s steep slopes and hilly terrain meant that going about was a dangerous business for people (and horses) in the 1800s – and deaths occured frequently from horse carriages or streetcars sliding backwards on wet cobblestone paths.

Enter Andrew Hallidie, an industrious British-born engineer  who, together with several partners, came up with a cable car system using wire-rope tech. Thus, these famous cable cars that have been part of San Francisco’s transport system and tourism attractions for decades – was born.


After our visit to Chinatown, E and I walked through the very busy Downtown area to get to Powell station, the first and last stop for trams on the Powell/Hyde line. Downtown San Francisco is full of tall, corporate-looking buildings, glitzy high-end brands and luxury designer good stores.





On the way to the station we stopped at Union Square, a public plaza bordered by various shopping malls, posh hotels and restaurants. The place was once used for rallies and showing support for the Union Army during the American Civil War (hence the name). In the middle of the square is a statue of Nike, the goddess of Victory, on a tall pillar. The entire structure is called Dewey Monument.

The big building is The Westin St Francis Hotel, a luxury and historic hotel built in 1904.


Whenever anyone mentions Saks Fifth Avenue, people often think about their flagship store in New York. Turns out San Fran has a big one as well, just next to Tiffany & Co.


Walking to Powell Street Station. It was pretty damn cold as evening approached.


Cable cars!

Price for a one-way ticket to the Fisherman’s Wharf (where we were headed) was 6$ per person, and this is collected by a ticket conductor just like old-school buses. We got good outdoor seats for a better view instead of inside the enclosed carriage. It was quite scary because there were no railings. If the tram gets crowded, you  can even stand on the side and grab on the handles.

I wondered if anyone ever had an accident falling off the vehicle.


Because Powell St is the last stop, the trams are rotated on a large wooden platform. It was interesting to watch how the train staff pushed the heavy tram car around so that it faced the other way again.


And onto the tram we go.


Riding on the tram was a breeze, with the wind whipping our faces as we looked at the beautiful sights and sounds the city had to offer. When passengers wanted to get down they rang a pulley thing, just like in old buses.



Passing by the famous Lombard Street.


Some of the hills were very steep and going down was scary! I can’t imagine driving stick around here with my shitty manual skills lol.

It was dark by the time we got off at Fisherman’s Wharf. Had dinner at Chipotle and then shopped for some souvenirs to take home.


Saw this in a candy shop. I thought they were just worm-shaped candy.. turns out they were real worms. .___.

It was late by the time we got back to Chinatown, and we kind of forgot where our car was parked so we were walking around like a couple of lost souls. As we walked through Chinatown, there were gangs of young Asians smoking cigarette and pot. It was kinda scary lol. You won’t believe how relieved I was when we were finally in the car! I guess safety is a concern these days, even in the US.

More of San Fran to come!

What to Do in Chinatown, San Francisco – The Oldest & Largest Chinatown in the United States


I find it hard to imagine ever being bored of San Francisco. I fell in love with it from Day 1, when I looked out the window of the rented car and stared up at the Golden Gate Bridge, its tops lost in the bay’s infamous fog. I fell in love with the city’s steep, hilly streets, the small apartments and the hipster hole-in-the-wall cafes, its tourist scene, and its chilly weather which feels so much like the UK.


With little space, the houses in SF are tall, very close together and narrow. They are more reminiscent of Victorian era buildings, with wooden panels and narrow windows – Very different from Los Angeles’ strong Hispanic influences.



Real estate in SF is among the highest in the world due to limited space and high demand. I heard rents go upwards of $4000!


When you look at how it is today, it’s hard to imagine that all of this was once almost 80% destroyed by a quake and a fire at the turn of the century.


Our stop for the day was San Francisco Chinatown – the largest outside of Asia and the oldest in North America, having started in 1848. Sprawled across a whopping 24 blocks, it houses many restaurants, businesses, schools, hospitals, houses of worship and residential buildings. We parked at Portsmouth Square and emerged at a park, with the Transamerica Pyramid (the tallest, most iconic building in SF) looming in the distance.


Narrow three to four-storey buildings with dual language signage abound at every corner. Lots of things to see, do and shop for the consummate tourist. In fact, San Francisco’s Chinatown draws more tourists than the Golden Gate Bridge.


An old man carrying grocery bags standing near a mural of Chinatown depicting old Chinatown, while a tourist snaps a picture.

San Francisco Chinatown’s residents came from Guangdong province to work as coolies and business owners, or to strike rich in the gold rush. Much later on, many Hong Kong immigrants came here as well, so the people here speak mostly Cantonese.


One of the main streets, which had many souvenir and clothing shops. Some of the T-shirts/sweaters were expensive so we didn’t get any. The magnets were cheap though.


Everything has a Chinese flavour to it, even the street lamps and the bank building. The Bank of America in Chinatown is painted in red, an auspicious colour for the Chinese, with curved, tiled roofing. We also saw a large church.


Like many immigrant communities, it has not been an easy journey for the American-Chinese people of SF’s Chinatown. In its early days, there were triad activities, prostitution, gambling, opium dens and all manner of vice lurking underneath honest citizens trying to make a living. There were race riots and gang wars. But all of that has contributed to a rich history, culture and a legacy for the Asian American people in the US today.

Getting There 

  • Buses: 1 California, 12 folsom, 30 Stockton, 45 Union-Stockton
  • Cable car : Powell-Mason line

Learn About the California Gold Rush@Sacramento History Museum, California

Welcome to the next part of my post on Sacramento, where we explore the old part of town! After a heavy lunch, E & I walked off the calories at the Sacramento History Museum, a museum dedicated to the California Gold Rush and the city’s history. It was nearly closing time and we only had an hour, so we breezed through many of the exhibits.


The Sacramento Bee was founded in 1857 and is still running today as one of the city’s major newspapers. Inside the museum, visitors will get a glimpse of the old printing presses and machinery. Before the advent of ink and modern printers, newspapers were printed with a heavy metal mold.


The museum houses a variety of collections, including everyday items used by gold miners during the gold rush…


….to actual gold nuggets and jewelry. The displays are equipped with alarms and cameras to prevent theft.


Fur pelts from animals, which were used to keep warm in the region’s harsh weather.


Other everyday items used in the 19th century, such as makeup, mirrors and clothing.


Horse-drawn carriage replicas.


Black and white photos and children’s toys.


Remedies used during that era, sold at apothecaries (the equivalent of our modern pharmacies).

SAM_9385-tile SAM_9387-tile

Food processing is a major industry in Sacramento, so there was a section dedicated to explaining its history.

SAM_9388-tile SAM_9391-tile

It was an educational visit, even though the exhibits were mostly static. There is also an underground tour, which we were unfortunately not able to join.


01 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814, United States
Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Ticket price: 6$


Time to go home! We drove past the California State Capitol building, which looks just like the one in Washington but much smaller.

Fun tidbit: Sacramento is California’s capital city! I always thought somewhere bigger like LA or San Fran would be its administrative capital.


It was a really fun day trip to Sacramento. I rather like the city – it’s not as hectic or fast paced as LA or SF, but still modern enough for a city girl like me. Maybe I’ll move there someday?

Food Review: Joe’s Crab Shack, Old Sacramento California

We allocated a day to explore Sacramento Old Town  good call, seeing that there are plenty of things to see and do here. Apart from museums and buildings with interesting architecture and history, there are also loads of shops selling everything from traditional Native American crafts aand costumes to souvenirs and even joke items.


Sacramento Bridge.

It was a hot, sunny afternoon and it was high time for lunch, so we popped into Joe’s Crab Shack for some food. It’s a popular seafood chain with a waterfront concept and they have branches all over the States.


Cosy and colourful, with wooden decor made to resemble a fishing shack and fish floating from the ceiling. Neon signs adorn the walls, like the type you usually find at beach bars. The place was quite empty because it was a weekday.


You know how you tend to order way too much food when you’re starving? In Chinese, we have a proverb for that : “Big eyes, small stomach” – meaning that when you’re hungry, your brain tends to tell you that the food isn’t enough when you can only fit so much into your stomach. 😀

For starters, we had a Classic Sampler: nachos, creamy crab dip, hush puppies and fried calamari.

You know, I’ve been in the States for a couple of weeks and I still can’t get over how big the meal portions are. This was massive and would have been enough for two as a main meal.

The food was tasty enough. The crab dip was creamy and a tad too salty, but the nachos evened it out. The calamari was well flavoured, fresh and springy. It was my first time seeing a ‘hush puppy’. The ones here are made from seafood, stuffed with jalapenos and cream cheese before they were coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. Sounds like an artery clogging nightmare, but it was goodddd.


Garlicky Mussels – served in garlic butter sauce and a side of garlic bread. This was a hit and miss – too salty and too oily, even though the mussels were sizable.


Fish and chips. I prefer ranch > mayo, so fattening. The fish was okay, soft and juicy on the inside, crunchy on the outside.

Extremely stuffed and with a lot left over, we got a doggie bag to go for dinner.


210 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95814, United States
Sat – Sun : 10:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Mon – Fri: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM

Candy Heaven, Old Sacramento – The Sweetest Place on Earth


A place where you can eat candy and chocolate to your heart’s content – sounds like every child’s (and even some adults!) dream. And Candy Heaven in Old Sacramento, California is exactly that.


Sweets and candy of every shade and flavor imaginable line the colorful walls, which are painted over with rainbows and flying wizards…..


….Along with some not-so-friendly deco that might give children nightmares. An evil looking clown sits on the second floor, overseeing patrons. The set looks like it might have been thought up by someone on LSD, with the giant tie-dye tapestries. 


The best part about American candy stores?  You get to try stuff before buying them. As much as you want. (PS: You can’t do this in Malaysian candy stores.) You can even eat inside the store and then leave after you’ve had your fill, but why would you do that when you’re faced with an armada of lovely, sweet treats to bring home?


Americans love their taffy. Which is not very big in Malaysia. Some flavors are fine, but others taste quite odd. It was an interesting experience walking around the candy store and just fishing sweets out and eating them on the spot. I thought E was pulling my leg at first when he said I could unwrap them lol.

Ended up buying some chocolates to munch on, and some more to take home.


1201 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95814, United States

Attractions in Old Sacramento, California

Growing up as a child in Malaysia, I often watched westerns on TV, with rugged, gun-toting cowboys, rowdy salon bars, and horse-drawn carriages. After two weeks in the US, I got my first taste of the American West on a one-day trip to the city of Sacramento.


Okay, so there were no gunfights in the middle of a dusty street, nor were there bar brawls. Instead, we learnt about the Californian Gold Rush and the rich legacy it left behind.

Old Sacramento, or Old Sac as the locals call it, is a historic part of town that looks like it came straight out of a movie set. Founded in the 19th century, it sits next to the River Sacramento. It was a bustling town during its heyday, with a railroad service running through it, courier service, post office, hotels, printing press, theatre, school and various businesses.


The architecture reflects Sacramento’s diverse roots; from its early Spanish and Mexican settlers and which brought about building characteristics similar to those found in Puerto Rico, Cuba and Spain. Expect uniform, close-fitted windows, wide arched doors and short balconies.


Since it was developed into an attraction in the 1960s, many restaurants, souvenir shops and  other bric-a-brac outlets have opened to cater to tourists. Most have adopted large wooden signage with old font to suit the American West theme.   SAM_9280-tile SAM_9281-tile

Old Sacramento isn’t very big, but its not small either. Visitors can opt to drive here where there’s ample parking space. The only annoyance is that there is a set limit of two hours, so we had to constantly re-park the vehicle somewhere else. There are carriage rides available for a fee, if you’re into the tourist thing. If you hate walking, bike rentals are also available.

SAM_9283-tile SAM_9287-tile

There is a Wells Fargo museum with a recreated 19th century office. Aside from being an important part of the city’s trade, they also catered to the Pony Express service. Riders would spend days galloping across the route with mail in their saddlebags.

SAM_9289-tile SAM_9290-tile SAM_9291-tile SAM_9292-tile

The main square in town is now a parking lot. The lot is much lower than ground level, but it was actually Old Sacramento’s original height.

The problem with having your city next to a fertile river is the constant flooding, so the residents of Old Sacramento piled earth upon earth, brick by brick, to raise all the buildings to the height we see them today. The power of human resilience and ingenuity never fails to impress me.

SAM_9297-tile  Across the road is the California State Railroad Museum. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to check it out.


Schoolkids going for an excursion.


Imagine a time when ladies in fluffy skirts paraded through the streets under their parasols, while carriages trundled down the roads and men went about their daily errands. It was a very different time; a different universe for someone in the modern world. Would have been interesting to time-travel and see how it was back then.


SAM_9315-tile SAM_9316-tile SAM_9317-tile

Old Sacramento’s first and only theatre, the Eagle Theatre is a simple, whitewashed wooden structure. This is where the populace enjoyed entertainment in their free time.

SAM_9320-tile SAM_9329-tile

A small grotto in the middle of two buildings. There were remnants of columns and random bricks and pieces of wood scattered around. The grotto was much lower than the buildings next to it, as this was the original level of Old Sac.

SAM_9338-tile SAM_9341-tile

Next to the river are a dozen eateries and remnants of the railroad which used to run through town. There is an actual (non-functioning) train car as well as a dock for boats.

More of Sacramento to come!

Getting There /details at

Exploring Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Museum in San Francisco


I grew up on a steady diet of bizarre facts narrated by Dean Cain, so it was nice to pop into the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco.  It is housed in a narrow three-storey building that looks plain on the outside but is quite spacious on the inside. The place looks old though – it has that dusty, musky smell of rotting wood and silverfish infested books that are the signature of old museums.

To those who have never encountered the Ripley’s franchise, Believe it or Not was founded by American entrepreneur Robert Ripley, and deals with bizarre items and events. The concept was so popular it was adapted to radio, TV, books and museums.


Random facts and exhibits sit at the entrance to entice the curious onlooker, even before we paid for our tickets.



The place was empty, even though the streets outside were full of people. That’s for the best though – we took our time looking and reading up on the exhibits. When I was a kid, I used to swallow all the ‘Believe It’ stuff hook, line and sinker…but now that I’m older some of the claims seem quite outrageous. As PT Barnum once said… “A sucker is born every minute.”

SAM_8912-tile SAM_8915-tile

An ‘authentic’ headdress from Tibet, apparently used by their priests. I like how the labels always say that the stuff is “real/authentic” and yet they put them in simple glass cases with no protection whatsoever. lol


The Fiji Mermaid, which had everyone in the early 1800s fooled into believing a monkey torso sewn onto a fish tail was an actual mermaid.


Oh look, my city gets a special mention

Tbh, I don’t even know if KL has annual spinning tournament. I’ve certainly never seen one nor read it in the news. Or maybe they’ve just discontinued it after this info was put up.


A funky tunnel made to look like a periscope.


More exhibits. It was interesting to look at and read up on, but as how odditoriums go, take everything with a pinch of salt.

SAM_8930-tile SAM_8933-tile

Why you should never trust me with a gun.


Fancy a fortune telling?


An earthquake simulation room which moved at intervals.


Our Malaysian university can give the creator of the vampire killing kit a run for their money with our own anti hysteria kit.

SAM_8942-tile SAM_8945-tile

Portrait of Madonna compiled from magazine ads. Creative!


Spinning psychedelic tunnel had us all dizzy in our tracks.


Heat sensing camera.

There’s this funny thing when you first step into the museum. A mirror asks you to stick your tongue out at it as part of an experiment. Naturally, the visitor would do so. Andddd the funny part comes much later, when you’re almost at the exit and realise that it was a one-way mirror!

Ripley’s was fun to visit, but I think it needs an upgrade because the exhibits are old and static. There is a laser tag and mirror maze at the exit but you have to pay separately for that.


75 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, United States

Phone: 415 202-9850

Ticket: 20.99$ (2$ off if you buy online).