Monday, December 17, 2007

Driving in the U.S.

The United States of America is one of the most car-centric countries that I have been to or I'd say the most car-centric. In the past four years that I have been able to travel internationally into Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the US, it is only here in the land of Uncle Sam where a car is a necessity to travel from one place to another.

In Vietnam, Malaysia, and China, taxi cabs are easy means of transport. In Singapore, the public transport system is too organized that it is easy to hop from a bus and MRT to get from one place to another. But in the US, it would be a pain if one doesn't have a car.

In my past two business travels to Texas, my company had to provide us car rentals for us to drive ourselves from the hotel to office. Buses is not a common thing to see around. On my first vacation visit in California, we depended on car rentals or personal cars to get around.

The good thing about having a car in the US is driving. Driving in the US is very much different to the normal driving that I experience in the Philippines. In the US, traffic rules are strictly implemented and many street crossings are being watched by traffic cameras. Cars maintain their own lane and they follow proper right of way.

The first time I've experienced driving in the US is during my second visit to Austin. We rented a car from Hertz and they lent me a Mazda 6. While on my California visit, we had to rent a car from Avis and they lent us a Chevrolet Impala. Most cars in the US are automatic transmission.

Having automatic cars compared to manual transmission, driving is less challenging as one would not need to think of using the clutch to change gears. Also cars are usually power steering.

US roads are generally neatly paved and wide making driving less straineous. In Texas, roads and highways are very wide that traffic is not usually heavy. In California, traffic is a bit heavier. But anyways, with the US freeway system, one can get from one city to another in a quicker way. US Freeways allow an average of 65 miles per hour speed while streets generally have a 45 miles per hour limit. Compared to the Philipines where traffic is heavier and roads are narrower, driving here is a lot easier.

One would easily feel the need for speed while driving here specially while on freeways. With the smooth roads there are less noise produced by cars. And with all cars speeding on the highways, one would usually not realize that you are driving very fast already at 70mph or more. In the Philippines, driving at 90kph is already fast. And a 20mile destination can be reached in 20 minutes in the US unlike back home that takes about 2 hours.

Boy, I hope the Philippines also build freeways for quicker travel.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Prepping for US Vacation

Tonight, I'll be boarding the Korean Airline flight 624 en route to Seoul-Incheon and then connecting to Los Angeles on board flight 001. It will be the start of a month-long vacation with my family in the US. Unfortunately, I can't bring my wife with me, but there's always a next time.

But preparing for this trip is a bit strenuous and tiring for me. Since it's not often that someone flies over to the US, my parents and relatives sent out their lists of things to bring from home. I had to prepare a box full of stuff plus another big luggage for my clothes plus other stuff.

They requested for seasonings, noodles, canned goods, powder mixes, nuts, medicine, and other items. Cross-Pacific flights from Asia to the US usually permit 2 luggage of 70lbs each. And with all the stuff that I had to bring along, I had worries of having over limits.

Aside from buying a list of items, packaging all these items had also posed a challenge. Trying not to go over limit. My back ached on loading the packages on a weighing scale making sure every luggage is within limits. Next I'm thinking of how I'd be able to carry all those things going to the airport and upon my arrival in LA. heheheh... It will be a challenge.

Before this day, I also had to ensure all my bills are paid. I also had to leave my ATM to my wife so that she can manage my bills while I'm out of the country.

Aside from all this work in preparing for my trip, I also had to start researching of places that we can visit while there. Hoping that we can see Lake Tahoe, Alcatraz, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. I've also sent out a temporary itinerary. I have also purchased my train ticket from LA to San Jose. We also bought plane tickets for the trip back.

Well, after all these preparation, I'm sure that the coming days will be fantastic and memorable. I just hope that I have brought enough dollars for the whole US stay of mine. Also, I hope that I can make the most of what I target to accomplish while in Uncle Sam's land.

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