Free Tuesdays, Balboa Park
Every Tuesday in San Diego, many places in Balboa Park offer free admission. Though the Zoo is not one of them, Balboa Park has pretty much every museum of interest in San Diego county.
There are some non museum free admissions as well, like the Japanese Friendship Garden (that one only for San Diego residents and military, though). The place will have potential if it follows through with expansion plans, but for now it is small and doesn’t follow some important Japanese design principles.
For example, in most places in the garden, it is possible to see any other point. Real Japanese gardens strategically place plants and rocks so that the entirety cannot be seen from any one vantage point. It was only made worse by the fact I could see more non Japanese foliage than not in any direction I looked. This is the only place that had anything in my way to split up the view:
Pictures within the main building of Japan were all of standard Japanese tourist sites, though the average tourist would be able to do a better job framing the pictures. I believe Mac OS 10.5 even comes with a desktop picture of the Golden Pavilion that far surpasses the picture of the same in the exhibit.
The "Tea Pavilion" was also a disappointment. Only two of the teas even sounded Japanese. The staff there during my visit could not pronounce simple words correctly, like Wulong tea.
After that, I went to the San Diego Art Institute. Paintings there can be purchased. Some are quite cheap, including one I mulled purchasing, while others go up to $100,000. I decided against buying the painting since it would only add to all the things I will be lugging back to Taipei.
There are some nice pictures to be taken of architecture in the area. Even the barriers blocking off construction areas had some thought put into them.
I suppose with the good art, there had to be something that would make my visit a zero gain situation. I found that in the Museum of Man. Nice looking blocks of heiroglyphs, but it turned out that they were all fake. Knocking on the side, it was obvious they were just shells built of fiberglass. The Museum of Man partially redeemed itself through an exhibition showing China’s struggle to overcome foreign imperialism, but that was a very small section of the museum.
The visits were all made a bit confusing by lack of clear intentions relating to visitors taking pictures. Some places had signs to not photograph, but museum staffs did nothing to stop it. Other places had no signs, but let me know after the fact that photography was not allowed in that particular place. Some places had a no photography sign at the entrance, then more no photography signs next to certain paintings (implying that it might be OK to take pictures of the other paintings). It almost seems like a sociology experiement in action to see which people do what with regards to photography.