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Three Days in California

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I couldn’t believe it was true when I recieved Dave’s email that told me I was a winner of the Udacity CS101 Contest and awarded an expenses-paid to Palo Alto, California. But it was true. Thanks to Udacity.

On Saturday 07 July, I arrived at San Francisco International Airport transiting via Vancouver BC, Canada. That was my first time to take a flight. It was fabulous.

A driver and Indian cool guy caught me at the airport. His name is Gurvinder. He drivers for RJ Travels. He knows a lot because his customers are from Google, Mozilla, Udacity and many other start ups. He took me to the Hotel Aria, located in Mountain View, which I would like to recommend to everyone who come to California. It’s a nice and warm place.

The next day, we — the 4 winners, Jag, Sascha, Connor and I — took a bus to the Udacity office. Udacity is a start up company. There are so many start ups in Silicon Valley. Udacity is one of them.

Melissa drove. Passengers are Peter, Sean and winners.

Peter lost his camera. All the way of the tourist, we were making fun of him on the grounds of this.

We visited Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and many other tourist sites in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Alcatraz Island

Golden Gate Bridge

We also visited a planetarium show.

The third day, we visited Google, and saw the Google Self-Driving Car, Android Building, the Google Earth device. I bought some gifts for my friends at Google onsite store, but I left them in a bicycle basket which I drove to the Android Building.(The day after this day, I went to Google the second time preparing to buy my gifts again at the onsite store, but a Google staff picked up my bag and sent it to the onsite store. After I told my story to a security, then he told to another security, and they helped me to find my lost bag! The shopping receipt was in my bag, and the number in it mached my credit card number! I gave my phone number to the security, but I forgot to ask for his number! If you know him, please tell me, because I want to thank him again, and he told me he would come to China one day and I want to ask him when.)

Google Self-Driving Car

On the bicycle. Note the bag.

Android Building

We visited Stanford University.

Then we visited the rooms where Udacity movies are made and devices to recored movies. Each of us was given an opportunity to record a segment of movie!

We had dinner with almost all Udacity staff that night, and I even talked with Sebastian Thrun!

The fourth day moring, I reluctantly got to the airport. Security and Customs. I was preparing to board. But when they checked my passport, they said I could not go to Canada because I didn’t have a visa for Canada, even though I just transited via YUV and my destination is PEK. I told her I didn’t need a visa beacause there was a program called Non Visa Program, and when I came to SFO from PEK via YUV, I didn’t need a visa eighter, but she told me I got wrong information, and she insisted that I couldn’t board. But she is so kind that she changed my airline to one from SFO to PEK directly so that I didn’t need to transit, and that was for free. Of course in that way, I didn’t need a Canda transit visa. Then she operated her devices for some time, and finally gave me the ticket. She also helped me do the Check-in so that I didn’t need to go Security and Customs again. What I needed was go the another part of the airport(from domestic area to international area) and find my board port. But I didn’t. Since there were still serveral hours before the boarding time, I called Gurvinder and we went to Google headquarter for that crazy thing I mentioned above. Even though I knew that I might not catch up with the flight, I did that. Gurvinder told me if he was me, he would never do that. But I was crazy, as I alawys am.