So the advantage of attending a conference in US is that I got to see my sister, niece and brother-in-law (even if it turns out that the US is huge and my sister and the conference are across the country from each other with a three-hour time difference and a 7 hour flight) and I don’t have to get a visa (because I already have one). The disadvantage is the time difference, and this time I came equipped with a drug called Melatonin, which apparently helps the body regulate.

Maybe due to the fact that my flight landed in the afternoon, and although I slept on the flight it was fitful, or because of the superpowers of Melatonin, I was able to sleep through pretty much after the first night.

Highlights of the trip:

Watching a Golden State Warriors game live. The last time we visited was in 2012 and the team was one hundredth this level of huge. Now there is almost noone in the stadium not wearing a team t-shirt and people queue up during the match for the merch because the stall gets so busy in the interval. The last time I attended, I found the whole hoopla electric, and it was the same this time. Unfortunately, seated in front of us were some kids and one of the boys was obnoxious. Well, the kind of male that needs to stand up and cheer even while the action is one, obscuring the view of the others behind him, and basically refusing to listen to his friends who till him to sit down.

 

Eating Mexican food. With a half Mexican brother-in-law, I can count on his choices. In this case, we had to drive 45 minutes to the place. But it was yum. I ate a lot of Mexican food at home too, since the sis has learnt to cook it.

Hanging out with this one. Well, she hanged, and I hung out. At one point, we showed up at her gymnastics class and when she spotted me her face just lit up with the big grin. Her obvious joy at seeing me made me tear up. It made all those miles in the sky worthwhile.

 

 

To the bemusement of my bro-in-law, I had no interest in ‘doing’ things. I had done the tourist route in San Fransisco on our last trip, and this time I had a very specific agenda – hang with the family, watch one basketball game, eat Mexican food, and shop. I achieved all four so I was a happy camper. The result is that I saw more of the little town of Livermore they live in, and it was so pretty. The suburbs where my sister lives is so Wisteria Lane, where you can hear a pin drop, there are manicured lawns and flowers growing over the hedges like above. I must be growing old, because I can admire its charms.

 

The downtown is pretty sweet, even if it is just a few blocks. I ventured there for haircut, which unfortunately turned out to be one of the worst I’ve had ever. I like getting haircuts in different places, because hell, I figure it’s hair, it will grow. My sister booked me in with her regular, and I figured that I could have a consultation of sorts because I feel like that’s something I don’t get in Hong Kong due to the language barrier. Her hairdresser turns out to be a character and a chatter, but unfortunately not a great haircutter. I ended up going back and forth about getting my hair coloured, and finally decided not to when I looked more closely at my poorly shorn locks. I’m now going to have to go get it cleaned up in Hong Kong.

I did make one three-hour journey (each way!) to Palo Alto to see friend from college. I’m glad I did. We had a lot of laughs.

Finally, I shopped. The US really is a shopper paradise. In whatever category, you get beautiful things at whatever price point. I am a fan of Target. But I also went to the local outlet Mall and got a lovely Kate Spade wallet, and lots of tops from Old Navy, which hide my paunch. In addition to so many nice things for the kids. I also went a little mad with the shoes, but in the end, decided I was way over budget and returned them all. When I got home and looked into my shoe cabinet, I realised that was not a bad call.

The most amazing part of this trip, however, was hanging with my sister. The friend I met at Palo Alto commented that I was one of the few people she knows who has an uncomplicated relationship with her sister. Barring a bad patch right before she left for the US, my sister and I have always been close. This I attribute to her generous and protective nature. I realise on this trip that my sister is now my primary source of unconditional love, and I am so grateful for it. Being able to hang out with her in person twice in one year is a bonus we don’t always get, and I’m so glad it worked out.

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