My Silicon Valley Adventure

We arrived in California two days before the Mozilla Summit 2013. The first one was reserved to cope with the jetlag and flight delays (which btw didn’t happen, thanks to ANA’s strict observance of the time) and the other, to either more jetlag or going around the Bay Area. The team met at around 6AM at the NAIA Terminal 3. Arrived there quarter to 5, lol.

We boarded at 9AM for our MNL-NRT flight.

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Watched a Japanese children’s documentary about red pandas, hoho

First lunch at ANA. I dunno if I’m just a Japanese foodie but THE FOOD WAS SO GREAT!

Maybe it’s just my Japanese foodie self but I really enjoyed the ANA meals. I love their Japanese snacks, I love Suntory juice (hoard all dem apple juice), I love the cold soba, I love the grilled fish, I love the rice, I love the shrimp, I love the miso soup! They also serve Japanese beer, wine and sodas. They have a choice of either Japanese or international meal. Perhaps I can do all my ANA in-flight meal food spam in this part of the story, HAHA: (These were from our NRT-SJC flight on a B787 Dreamliner. Yes, it is necessary for me to say that it is from a B787 Dreamliner. What was the plane again? A B787 Dreamliner, dude.)

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My favorite meal ever! I AM A HUGE GYUDON FAN.

Poached egg on cheese, sausages, broccoli and beans, fruits, wheat bread and yogurt.

I wanted my meals while aboard an ANA plane to be all Japanese, but they ran out of Japanese breakfast on our way to SJC 🙁 I was given an international meal set and some ANA goodies for my cooperation. I LOVE ANA!

After four hours of a rough flight (I heard there was a storm east of Japan), we arrived at the Narita International Airport.

Gloomy weather in Narita.

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From Kevin Ventura

We had a three-hour stopover at Narita and I’ve been very much itching to get off because I am a sucker of anything Japanese like that, yes. (Apparently I bought more stuff at NRT compared to my whole stay in the US.)

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I impulsively bought A LOT of Lotte Fit’s, thanks to this commercial. Oh great now I remembered that I forgot to do something: take a pic of the airport mall that is NRT!

Anyway, time to board our most awaited plane, THE DREAMLINER! I forgot to take pics of the wonderful plane but here’s what boarding it basically looks like:

WE LOVE ANA FOOD!

They have a touch screen LCD screen, the usual remote and I think the best feature: A USB CHARGER. A.USB.CHARGER.ON.A.PLANE.

I have to admit the rumors about the Dreamliner is true. They really did some tweaks to lessen the fatigue of their passengers. Another reason why I loved my ANA B787 flight was that it is a Japanese plane, meaning… JAPANESE LAVATORY WOOOHOOOOO! If you grew up in a culture not fond of using tissue paper, you will understand why I am so crazy for Japanese toilets. So after 10 hours of activities alternating from playing Go, watching Monsters U, eating, sleeping and like, standing for only twice and after passing the International Date Line (read:  welcome to the your-body-clock-is-now-officially-screwed wonderland) TOUCHDOWN SJC!

Ah, this beautiful bird.

It was a sunny day in San Jose and the girls just can’t help singing California Gurls while on our van to Stratford Hotel.

Yes, it is sunny but NO IT WAS COLD.

Indonesian and Filipino Mozillians

Despite the sunny weather and a very clear sky, THE WEATHER WAS COLD, at least for us used to tropical weather. It’s like the weather in Baguio City! This was the only time I felt so great about being under the sun. As we arrived at our hotel, I was greeted by this sweet thing:

HELL YEAH FREE SUPER SAVER SHIPPING.

I LOVE Amazon’s customer service. The package arrived two days after I ordered so it stayed quite a long time at Hotel Stratford. So the awesome package contains…

Marware EcoVue Kindle Case. The price? A WHOOPING $13.99!

I didn’t expect such a good quality! Again, FOR A WHOOPING $13.99!

FOR A WHOOPING $13.99 OR PHP 600+

Definitely a must-have for short US visits. Be sure to check where they have coverage though. In the Silicon Valley, the network was awesome.

I also got my local SIM card. Well, we know how US telcos work. Unlike in the Philippines where it is so easy to get a local number and reload credits to it, phones in the US are usually locked and they have postpaid plans. They are just starting to provide prepaid plans but they are still not cheap for a tourist. Thank goodness I discovered Ready SIM. It is just PERFECT for me. For $24.99 I get unlimited US text and calls, unlimited international SMS and 500MB data with tethering, valid for a week! I was quite nervous about the signal though as I’ve been reading a lot of complaints on Amazon. But hell, it worked perfectly fine, maybe at least in the Silicon Valley area. I’m really satisfied with this purchase. The SIM card is also optimized to fit the regular SIM slots or microSIM. My friends bought a T-Mobile SIM while already in the US for $80 with unlimited local calls and SMS and unlimited Internet (but the tethering part is not clear, I believe they won’t allow tethering with the unlimited plan, heck in the Philippines tethering using any plan is automatic) valid for a month, which is not worth it as we are just staying for at most two weeks and for almost a week we have an awesome Internet connection in the hotel.

AWESOME Kindle screen protector. For only $5.85!

Time to explore Santa Clara! We walked around the place and it seems like we are the only ones doing it (read: Silicon Valley suburbs). I think the walking and soaking under the sun helped us manage jetlag. It was cold even though it was noon and that’s the nirvana of anyone living in the tropics.

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Hotel Stratford room

That night we craved for burger and headed to the nearest In-N-Out. Santa Clara is a suburb and bus arrives every 30minutes. We got tired of waiting so we walked. And I mean WALK. All photos related to In-N-Out by Michelle Santos.

WALKED.6.KILOMETERS.FOR.BURGER.

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IT WAS ALL WORTH IT.

  1379518_10151675733615840_1431131699_nThe next day we were set for our Silicon Valley tour! We transferred first to our hotel for the Summit, the Santa Clara Marriott!

Wide roads of the suburb

View from a Marriott hotel room

We were toured by the most awesome Lionel Vandellon! He used to teach in De La Salle- College of St. Benilde and he creates music, mostly electronica. COOL IKR. First off, we went to the Apple Inc. office in Cupertino.

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From Bob Reyes

Inside the Apple Company Store. The only one in the world! From Bob Reyes

From Bob Reyes

From Bob Reyes

Thanks Sir Bob for the Apple mug!!!!! #NinongBob

From Bob Reyes

Next stop was the Googleplex!

This was the only reason I wanna visit here actually. The Android statues at the Google Building 44!

Photo by Bob Reyes

Photo by Kevin Ventura

Photo by Bob Reyes

Google bike!

Employees are given their Google bikes to go around the Google Campus, so cute. It seems that every Google product has its own building. We passed by the Google Maps building and they have huge map markers on the ground and we also saw a Google Car parked outside!

Googleplex

Random: Valero gas hahaha. Photo by Bob Reyes

Next stop was supposedly Facebook but I fell asleep and we got lost. I woke up and we were already lost in Stanford! #NaStanford kami!

Photo by Kevin Ventura

Photo by Kevin Ventura

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We then headed to San Francisco! Too bad I was not able to take pictures of the city as I sit at the back of the car. 🙁 Here are some shots of Sir Bob Reyes.

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Lawton street! Hahaha!

It was 14 degrees in San Francisco! We don’t even need to turn on the aircon of the car and hell, we have to close the windows of the car because it was really cold. Finally we arrived at the majestic Golden Gate bridge!

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Photo by Kevin Ventura

Thanks Sir Lionel for the pic!

That was our awesome day touring Silicon Valley! I realized that the Silicon Valley is similar to Laguna in the Philippines, with San Francisco as its nearest city. Similar to Laguna, everything is far here in the Silicon Valley and it would be such a hassle to use public transportation with all the freeways. Economic class varies per area as well, just like in Laguna where the rich live on the spacious lands near the city and the middle classes deeper in the suburbs. Just like Laguna, the Silicon Valley contains the offices of tech companies, the only difference is that in Laguna, it is more of an industrial haven focused on manufacturing and production. Random snapshots of the Santa Clara county:

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Jollibee in Milpitas, haha

Huge serving! In the Philippines, this type is already considered a large meal.

  We had our last breakfast in the US before leaving…

The American breakfast. From Kevin Ventura.

I can connect to the Summit2013 WiFi even though Marriott is that far! AND HELL, the Marriott-Guest WiFi has a solid signal! MADNESS! Photo by Kevin Ventura.

Marcus and I were the first ones to go home as the rest of the team will be staying a little longer in the US. Well, I need to go home because other than the fact that this is a leave without pay, my skin is already dying on this cold, dry weather! I don’t know if this is caused by allergies (and well, allergy on what?) but my lips have been getting wounded and the skin around my mouth starts peeling off. I also got disturbing rashes on some parts of my body 🙁 My skin has started getting symptoms of dryness too. Either it’s the cold weather, allergies or the fact that I don’t drink much other than apple juice, haha. This made me appreciate the Philippine weather 🙁

Unlike my last international trip where I claimed I don’t wish to return to Singapore (mainly because I hated the food), I know that I’ll be very much willing to visit the US again! Well, I still have so much to see anyway and my visa is valid until 2023 :p. Other than the food (which is not so different from what I am used to in the Philippines) what I loved about the US was the systematic traffic regulations particularly on how they treat pedestrians. In the Philippines, even though you are crossing on the pedestrian lane, you will get honked at when you are slow or you suddenly crossed the road. In the US, I have experienced a car backed off because he crossed the pedestrian lane and I was about to cross. I can’t help saying thank you and I think they thought that was weird. I loved this trip so much! Not to mention I managed to spend just a half of my pocket money, but I already ate and bought a lot of stuff! I am just so happy in this week! See you again someday, USA! I hope I can visit NY and DC next time.