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Tim Boxer

Nina Boxer

[ San Mateo County, Calif. ] [ Malaysia tourism ]
[ Guidebooks: Moon Handbook Fiji, Moon Handbook Tahiti, Living Abroad in Costa Rica ]

Lighthouse attracts visitors
Photos by Tim Boxer

Fishing is big in the county

Welcome to Cameron's Inn

Lots to to see at Cameron's

The Camerons on duty

Unexpected Pleasures
Of San Mateo County

HEN next you land at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) don’t rush off for sightseeing in San Francisco or business meetings in Silicon Valley. You’re already in San Mateo County (www.VisitSanMateoCounty.com) so take advantage of the many surprising attractions and undiscovered treasures (undiscovered by us easterners and other nonresidents).

Hollywood has long discovered San Mateo County. They’ve been shooting scenes and background here for more than 50 years. That includes, among many others, such movies as Rent, The Joy Luck Club, Mrs. Doubtfire, Nine Months, Harold and Maude, Bullitt and the TV series Dynasty.

Dating to 1840, Half Moon Bay is the oldest of San Mateo County towns. Situated on the Pacific coast, it boasts miles of pleasurable beaches where you’ll find hikers, kite flyers, surfers, picnickers and overnight campers. To explore the area for a day or two, check checked into the charming Beach House, 4100 N. Cabrillo Hwy, 650-712-0220, 800-315-9366, www.beach-house.com.

Accommodations are superb: 54 ocean lofts with private patio, fireplace, separate living and bedroom area, king-size bed, spa services, plus complimentary continental breakfast, fitness center, parking, and outdoor pool and Jacuzzi.

Rent a bike and enjoy the dramatic ocean bluffs. Hike the Montara Mountain Trail. Take a whale watching tour and gaze in awe as the whales make their journey to the Baja Peninsula from December to April. Visit boutiques, cafes, and bakeries on Main Street.

Stop at Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park, on Coastal Highway 1 in Pescadero, 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay. It used to be a smuggler’s haven during Prohibition. The white brick Pigeon Point Lighthouse, one of the tallest in the country, was built in 1872 following a string of shipwrecks. It’s still in operation, although automated. The long building next to it is a youth hostel.

No matter where you go to eat, you must drop into Cameron’s restaurant, pub and inn 1410 S. Cabrillo Hwy in Half Moon Bay (415-726-5705, www.cameronsinn.com). You’ll find an old style English pub with a collection of 2,000 cans of beer on the wall.

At various times in its 100-year history the colorful pub has been a house of ill repute or a house of fun. I marveled at the kitsch-filled walls and the enormous number of bizarre collectibles on display.

The menu features fish and chips, a killer burger, bangers and mash, pasties and beef pie, and homemade clam chowder. Stay overnight. What’s the rush? There are three B&B rooms upstairs, two with a shared bathroom and one private. Don’t let B&B fool you – it stands for bed and beverage. "We ain’t cooking no breakfast!" the sign says.


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Datuk Seri Tengku
Photo by Tim Boxer

Malaysia Tourism
Seeks Americans

ATUK Seri Tengku Adnan B Tengku Mansor (left), Minister of Tourism Malaysia, and Dato’Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, director general of Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, outlined a vigorous effort to attract North American visitors to their Southeast Asian destination for business and vacation.

Speaking at a Malaysia reception at the New York Hilton, they described the enticing leisure attractions on the many tropical islands, especially deep sea diving. The minister revealed how he used to enjoy being a diver. "But not anymore – sinuses."

Golf is a big attraction on the peninsula. There are some 200 golf courses, with 35 open at any time. For the others, you need to make reservations.

"Malaysia is a year-round destination," he said. He emphasized that the nation, currently celebrating its 50th year of independence, is at peace. "We enjoy racial harmony" among Muslims, Chinese and Indians, he said.


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Travel Tools

AVID STANLEY, a veteran travel writer who pays his own way and accepts freebies from no one in order to bring independent travelers the unvarnished authenticity of destinations he visits, has two guidebooks published by Avalon Travel Publishing. Moon Handbook Fiji is a handsome introduction to the 322 islands that constitute the Fiji group, just east of Australia. (About 100 are actually inhabited.) The updated sixth edition of this helpful handbook is packed with trip ideas for any budget and profusely illustrated with alluring B&W photographs that will surely entice you on a plane heading to what was formerly known as the Cannibal Isles. Now that should whet your appetite for adventure. Avalon, paper, 393 pages, $19.95 Amazon.com Price: $13.57 )

Moon Handbook Tahiti by David Stanley will guide through French Polynesia, the 118 islands and atolls which include the enticing paradise of Tahiti. Stanley says you should give yourself two weeks to explore the main attractions of the Society Islands. He offers a 14-day schedule of things to see and do on your trip. Avalon, paper, 333 pages, $19.95 Amazon.com Price: $13.57 ).

If you’re ready for a new life, consider Living Abroad in Costa Rica. This Moon book delivers indispensable advice for anyone contemplating planting roots in foreign soil or just purchasing a second home in an idyllic location. The author has homes in California and Costa Rica, so she can tell you what to expect when you wish to join the thousands of North Americans who have found new life in retirement here. Avalon, paper, 445 pages, $19.95 Amazon.com Price: $13.57 )

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