Made it to the U.S.
I landed in Portland, Oregon in the early morning of Friday, 6:30AM to be exact. Immigration and Customs was a breeze. My next flight, to Las Vegas, isn’t until 7:15PM this evening. So, I took the light rail downtown - will be meeting with an old college buddy who lives here (although not for long) for lunch. Right now, I’m killing time at a Border’s bookstore cafe on a 24-hour US$10 internet connection. Stupid country with their non-free WIFI…. As I said, it’s Friday morning, and the city is quiet. I was expecting lots of activity: people going to work, getting their starbucks coffee, etc… But, I suppose that as Portland isn’t Chicago or NYC, (it’s much much smaller), there isn’t a whole lot of activity downtown any way… It’s a nice quiet city… This is my second time coming to Portland - the first was last year (2006) in September. I was in the U.S. on a business trip with my former company (specifically Michigan and Texas), and decided to fly through Portland on the way back to China to see Matt (who I’m seeing today), his wife Joanne, and another good friend Loren, who unfortunately for me, no longer lives here. I liked the city last time - Loren took me to a nice microbrew… If you’re interested, have a look at my Portland flickr set. I’ll try to take some more photos today - if something looks interesting, that is. Portland sort of reminds me of Seattle (Melanie and I went for the first time in October of this year), in that there are a lot of scruffy looking people here - I’m going out on a limb here and assume most of them are tree hugger types… I know many of them aren’t homeless bums as they are enjoying their US$4 Starbucks latte while chatting with friends on their Apple MacBooks, but why they choose to dress like bums is beyond me. I’ll ask my friend Matt when he finally gets downtown, maybe he has some insight. I remember last time I visited, he told me Portland, as well as most of the Pacific Northwest, tends to attract environmental-types… Maybe because of the excessive logging in this area… Or maybe environmental types like rain… But hey, whatever floats their boats… Who am I to judge? (Quiet!, those of you who know me…) But, regarding the “bumness”, maybe it’s a way to reduce the risk of getting mugged - if you look scruffy and poor, why would a thief bother you? Kind of like buying a 200 RMB local-brand bicycle in Beijing instead of the fancy 2,000 RMB Giant from Taiwan - everybody and their brother has a crappy bike - no need to steel yours… O.k., maybe this analogy is a bit far fetched… Anyone care to comment? Any way, changing the subject so I won’t dig my hole any deeper… If it weren’t for the strange Oregon State law regarding gas pumps (it is ILLEGAL to pump your own gas in Oregon), I would add Portland to my “short list” of acceptable U.S. cities for living, should I ever decide to return… The list is short… This strange “law” sounds like a socialist strategy to reduce unemployment, you know, methods countries like China “employ” (no pun intended) to “hide” their unemployment. Hmm, I’ll stop this subject right here because I’m not really sure where I’m going with this… Great, Matt just called saying he’s getting on the train to come downtown soon - ETA: around an hour. He lives out in Intel and sushi country - Hilsboro, you could say a suburb of Portland. (I say Intel county because apparently Intel employs some 10,000 people in the area. Who knew that chip designers were environmental types?) Wow, this is actually a pretty long post… Maybe I’ll stop here. You can thank me in the comments for not continuing on blabbering about nothing. I’ll write a post tomorrow or Sunday about Las Vegas.