Stepping in to the States

By Cubie - September 20, 2011

Map courtesy of Lonely Planet.
So... I am still in the stage of keeping myself awake later so I stop waking up at 4ish everyday. As to why 4ish.. I have no idea, considering is 10 hours difference. Anyway, the story started when a friend invited me to join her trip to US. A new continent for me. The route as above - flight to San Francisco - Las Vegas (day trip to Grand Canyon) - flight to Washington (transit in Atlanta) - train to New York - back to Sydney via Los Angeles (transit)

Despite it being an 'easy' destination, considering it is an English speaking country and all.. there are some big differences. Or I learned...

1. Tipping/Gratuity - it is already difficult determining if need to tip...
Do you need to tip when you buy something at the counter because they have a tip box but you dont exactly receive a service... or do you tip the concierge who keep your luggage but they didn't carry it up the room...
There are some receipts that gives some suggestion of tipping depending on excellent, great or good service... but I don't think the service is good, do I still tip then?
Ok.. so once you have decided that you should tip, then there's the question of "How much?"
(I can't advise further on this, haven't quite work out this thingy :)

2. Tax - what you see is not what you pay. Be prepared to pay a certain percentage of tax on top of the price shown, this includes food in restaurant, goods in supermarkets. Not only that, the tax percentage is different from state to state, apparently also on the amount spent. At this time it is above 8% in both California and New York, 5% in Washington DC.

3. Pounds vs Kg, Fahrenheit vs Celcius
Luggage limit 50 lbs equivalent to approximate 23 kg

4. Coins denominations
Unlike the usual - it goes as 1 cents (penny), dime (10 cents), quarters (25 cents)

5. Overall - I find people in SF are more friendly, whereas generally New Yorkers including sales assistants are grumpy. So, they say NY is big, fast paced city, hence the unfriendliness, but I find people in Tokyo are still pretty much friendly and nice.

6. It is said that SF and DC are popular places for gays

7. There are cute guys in DC. Even the waiters at where we once had brunch were good looking :P [reality is a very cruel thing, for all I know all the good looking guys I saw maybe gay]

8. Starbucks must be the national coffee place. It's everywhere, at every block and corner! And Starbucks are good locations for free wi-fi :D

9. SF are much laid back, you'll be people wearing jumpers walking about. So me in hoodie and backpack very much blend in. In NY, everybody dressed up much better, in trench coats, nice overcoats. I stuck out like a sore thumb with my backpack... but I stuck to it for the benefit of my shoulder.

10. I might not say this if I am still working in Malaysia but with better spending power, I would say US is a great shopping destination, even for someone like me who doesn't shop a lot.

11. Overall - US is not a cheap country to travel

12. NY is not fun on rainy days.

13. My friend remarked that there isn't enough rubbish bin in NY, though later on I notice there are heaps of rubbish bins along 5th Avenue.

14. People have been saying that food portion in US is very big, and can be shared by 2 person. Hmm... I seem to think it is alright. Makes me wonder if I have been eating wayyyy too much than I should.

15. There's no security check to enter casino in Las Vegas :P

Side note: Umm.. I'm getting sleepy again....

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