During my stay in San Francisco with my CODE4HK comrades, I was staying in an hostel located near the crossroad of Larkin Street and Ellis Street. The neighborhood is called Tenderloin, known as one of the most dangerous place in San Francisco. In the first night of my stay, after a couple glasses of strangely crafted beer, I was very interested in exploring the neighborhood, at night. Failing to convince my health conscious friends to go with me, I decided to go alone. I decided to take a 5-minute walk around the neighborhood.
Before venturing out, I gave my purse and phone to Vincent. “In case I don’t come back in 10 minutes, call police, my family and my girlfriend, of course you can sell my iPhone.”
Once I stepped out of the hostel, oh boy I was not disappointed. A bearded and stinky guy stared to nowhere with eyes wide open like they saw something horrible. A man fighting and swearing to air. An apparently normal woman passed by me, shouted at my back like a wolf. A couple both covered with tattoo arguing what position should they do later. People even discharging around corners of the street.
I managed to keep my adrenaline level high, trying hard to make a straight face. I have completed my 5 minute walk around the neighborhood. I got into the hostel, without a bullet in my body or human fetus under my shoes. I could barely sleep that night.
The next night, I heard gunshot and siren.
During my stay, I also took jog in the neighborhood in the mornings, one morning, I saw a long line of mostly men lining up in front of a church. In a closer look there, they are waiting for food. But once I jogged two blocks away, I am once again in the Promised Land. The land of opportunity.
The contrast is too visible. I figure what is the tradeoff in this society that lead to this.