Los Angeles was big. Really big.
My incoming bus ride from Las Vegas to Los Angeles was on Nov 01 2021, and was chartered by a company called FlixBus. It was scheduled for departure from Las Vegas at 7:30 am PDT and slated for arrival in Los Angeles at 12:25 pm PDT.
My outgoing plane ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco was on Nov 06 2021, and was a United Airlines flight. It was scheduled for departure from Los Angeles International Airport at 12:40 pm PDT and slated for arrival at San Francisco International Airport at 2:10 pm PDT.
My main goals in Los Angeles were to meet and have lunch and/or dinner with Eileen, Trin, and Fern!
Table of Contents (Entire Trip)
ට Part 0 – Opening Thoughts
ට Part 1 – Las Vegas (Oct 28 2021 – Nov 01 2021)
ට Part 2 – Los Angeles (Nov 01 2021 – Nov 06 2021) (You are here)
ට Part 3 – San Francisco (Nov 06 2021 – Nov 12 2021)
ට Part 4 – New Orleans (Nov 12 2021 – Nov 16 2021)
ට Part 5 – New York (Nov 16 2021 – Nov 22 2021)
ට Part 6 – Final Thoughts
Table of Contents (Local Page)
ට Day 5 – Monday, Nov 01 2021
ට Day 6 – Tuesday, Nov 02 2021 — Met Eileen
ට Day 7 – Wednesday, Nov 03 2021 — Met Trinstar
ට Day 8 – Thursday, Nov 04 2021 — Met Trinstar, Eralain, and Rhea
ට Day 9 – Friday, Nov 05 2021 + morning of Nov 06 2021 — Met Trinstar
Day 5 – Monday, Nov 01 2021
I got up bright and early in Las Vegas on November the 1st to catch my bus to Los Angeles. The bus terminal was all the way back on the Strip itself, behind the Fashion Show Mall, which was about a 30 minute walk away from Westgate. Flixbus was weird too, they took payment in Euros, of all things, instead of Canadian or American dollars. My ride cost €24.50 EUR.
I checked out and hurried over toward the rendezvous point, and had a very weird experience along the way. Someone stopped me and asked me how far away New Orleans was from where we were. I just.. I told him it was two time zones away, and not really within walking distance, but that was just such a weird encounter!
Soon enough, I found myself at the bus pick up point, and even though I was afraid I was going to be late, I was barely on time. People kept on trickling there after me though, which I now know is a sign of a polychronic culture (as opposed to a monochronic one). Or maybe people were so used to public transporatation and buses being late that they just assumed this one would be too. And it was! It was a whole 12 minutes late, which is ridiculous for a chartered bus early in the morning. I was wondering if the bus had come early and left and everyone was futilely waiting there.
I had no one beside me for the first half of the trip, but more people came on at one of the stops several hours in and requested rather rudely to sit beside me. So I had to move my bag and Tigey to the floor. It was interesting to see desert landscapes on the way though. Not something I see in Alberta or in Singapore.
I also took some pleasant pictures at the stop that we picked up the extra passengers from — Barstow, California — as we had some time to step down from the bus and stretch our legs. Look at these uniquely angry clouds! And a McDonalds.. water tower? What?
Anyway ,five hours later and we were in Los Angeles. The bus dumped us by Union Station, and I took a train over toward West/Central Hollywood where my Airbnb house was. My first ever use of Airbnb to rent a place! And I had picked a nice-looking house with a Superhost for 5 days for it.
I bought a 7-day Metro transit pass and made my way over, although I eventually regretted this purchase because I didn’t really end up using the Metro all that much while there, as the trains in LA were really sketchy, one could often see mentally unstable people muttering to themselves in agitation and such. On the way over though, there was a guy on the train playing the guitar and singing a tune, so that was nice at least — a couple people clapped when he was done.
There’s a November 2021 Los Angeles transit map for posterity. Once I reached Central Hollywood, I was still early for my check-in, so I wandered about looking at the sights and looking for someplace to eat. I ended up at a store called JINYA Ramen Express in the TCL Chinese Theatre building, and I bought some Spicy Vegan Dan Dan Men for $14.78 in honour of World Vegan Day.
I also bought some cream from a Target store for my thighs, which were chafing from all the walking to the point that they were bleeding. The cream really helped though, and I used this for the rest of my trip to sustain my roughly 25k steps a day pace.
I then got to my Airbnb, and settled in there. The house was managed by a group of guys who had over a hundred properties split between them. Interesting business model. Airbnb moguls! I never met any of them. I did meet a housekeeper named Monica who came by though, as well as her adult daughter Makayla. They were in charge of cleaning, and also lived in the house. The front gate was supposed to be locked, but the lock wasn’t working (it was just set to always open), so I reported that and one of the guys fixed it later on in the day. They were really responsive to all my questions!
I found the house to be slightly unnerving though. In particular, the front gate was blocked from sight from the residential road by a pair of large bushes, which meant it was shrouded in darkness during the night as the bushes were blocking the lamp light, and so I always felt a bit nervous stopping there to unlock the door. Also, my bedroom had two doors, one leading into the house and one external door leading out. That external door was the very first door upon entering the gate, and it felt paper thin as well, so I could really hear and feel every car going by and every person walking by late at night. I could hear conversations and radios and basically every sound anyone made outside, and I reasoned that it was probably true the other way around as well.
I also goofed at one point and actually left my keys in the door lock, and once I realized my keys were missing, I had to muddle around in a bit of a panic before I realized where they were. Anyway, I took a couple token pictures of the house on this day, however I didn’t really take pictures of the entire property until the day that I was leaving, Sat Nov 06. I don’t have a Nov 06 entry on this page though, so I will list those pictures here and now:
After I was settled in, I decided to go on a little adventure. I had read talk about a night market that used to be around, Monday Night Market down in the Long Beach area, and I wasn’t sure if what I read about it meant that it was closed due to the pandemic and/or time of year, or if it was open and available. It was clear on the southern side of the city though, and involved taking a 1.5 hour train ride to reach it, and it was already past 7pm when I finally left. Nonetheless, I went on this journey, and found myself on a very pretty, but decidedly empty street on the south side of the city called The Promenade N.
What to do, what to do? The train was sketchily close to empty and even many of the stations along the way seemed to be shrouded in darkness, so it didn’t feel safe and I didn’t really want to go back via train. I decided that I had to take an Uber back to the house I was renting. But once I committed to that, that also meant that I could walk around the area a little bit more before I went home. So I walked the short distance down to the pier, and pulled out the camera!
I ordered dinner from a shop there — Singapore Street Noodles from a restaurant called P.F. Chang’s, for $16.90. While these were “fake” Singapore noodles, as you can’t actually find the western-style Singapore Noodles in Singapore, these ones actually tasted really good! They came with wasabi sauce or something, and that combination of sauce and noodles was a stroke of genius. This was the picture I took later on once I reached home.
While it was being prepared, I went and walked all the way down to and around the pier and promenade, and took a video. While not very long, this became my Moonlight Walk (LA Edition) video. It was a gorgeous night out.
There was one other note of interest that I made during the Uber trip back as well — and I would also see this in San Francisco later, but I had never seen this before coming to Los Angeles. The lamp lights on the highway seemed to be dimmer than I was used to from both Singapore and Edmonton, as though the lights themselves were either actually dimmer, or the lamp posts were simply taller or spaced further apart. I wasn’t sure, but it was noticeably dimmer and darker off to the sides of the roads. However, the roads themselves were fine, and that was because the lane demarcations that devided each lane contained not only the usual lines of paint, but also little embedded bumps of some shiny material that strongly reflected the light of any oncoming cars, which I had never seen anywhere else before. It would never work in somewhere like Edmonton with snowfall blanketing the roads for half the year though. Although snow itself is pretty reflective anyway.
Day 6 – Tuesday, Nov 02 2021
The highlight of the day was my plan to meet Eileen, a dear classmate from my Secondary 1-2 days at Dunman High School in Singapore, for lunch! I had gotten in touch with her back in May 2021 through email, at which point I had discovered that she lived in LA now, and we had chatted back and forth for several months since then. I mentioned the trip at the time, then reached out a few days before the trip again to see if she was interested in meeting for lunch while I was there. She was! And therefore, we did!
It was still a work day though so I spent the morning working on my laptop in my Airbnb room. She then came by in her car to pick me up for lunch. At that point, we were slightly worried about what places we could go for lunch as she hadn’t had her vaccine shots yet and we weren’t sure about requirements, LA’s requirements were somewhere between no requirements yet and proof of first shot. This had changed by the time I reached New York City, where everywhere pretty much required 1 or 2 shots as proof.
Anyway, we decided to look around and try! All the friends I met up with in LA said they hated driving downtown, so she had suggested a place called Singapore’s Banana Leaf in The Original Farmers Market, not too far south of where I was staying and well west of Downtown, so that we could potentially become nostalgic at old Singaporean cuisine. And that’s where she ended up driving me to. The Farmers Market was partially outdoors, with little shops everywhere, and the food area was sheltered from direct sunlight by roofs or tents.
We first walked around and flagged a passerby to take a couple pictures of us:
She pointed out some train tracks that led into the middle of the area and abruptly stopped, and I talked about a couple stores that we had in Edmonton and a couple that we didn’t. She wondered why I still had some of my accent after all these years, and we caught up on some juicy high school gossip. Then we sat down and had a good meal! Eileen insisted on paying for my meal, which was Chicken Mee Goreng, and was pretty darned good. She had something vegetarian, and we took pictures of each other at the table where we sat, in front of the stall we ordered from:
I also took a copy of the menu:
And we had a great conversation and meal! Once we were done, we wandered around the stores a little more before Eileen had to leave. We went into a sticker store, where she bought some stickers for her kid. She also suggested I visit some nearby places — LACMA for one, the LA County Museum of Art, whereas my Discord friends also recommended LACMA and the LA Brea Tar Pits, both of which were in the area. Unfortunately, the Tar Pits were closed that day, and LACMA required online tickets — they didn’t offer day-of tickets in person, and their online ticketing purchase system wasn’t working. Therefore I ended up going to neither one, as I had plenty of things to see anyway and wouldn’t be in the area. I visited the Academy Museum Store in the area, where I picked up a small My Neighbour Totoro lunch bag as a family gift. I then visited the LACMA gift shop, which was open to the public, and then kept on walking without actually visiting any of the museums in the area in the end.
Instead, I caught the train going east, and ended up at Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, which was pretty great — I found several city blocks worth of shops selling Japanese paraphernalia and food, and would come back here several times while I was in LA. I snapped several pictures while in transit between the museum district and Little Tokyo.
Singapore basically has no visible homeless population, and while Edmonton has homeless people, we don’t have a ton, and certainly not to the point where they take over streets with tents. Our climate isn’t really conducive to living in tents anyway. I had seen a few in Las Vegas too, but I didn’t really leave the Strip all that much while I was there, so LA was my first real experience with seeing tons and tons of homeless people on the streets, in tents, and such. I would see more of this in New Orleans too, and to a slightly lesser extent San Francisco and New York, although it’s likely that I just didn’t go to the parts of town in those cities where most of the homeless tended to congregate. They were extremely visible in Los Angeles, however.
Anyway, I was scheduled to meet Trinstar for dinner this evening, so I told her that I would be spending some time in that area, and she said she’d pick me up once she was done babysitting her family’s kids. I wandered into several stores, but mainly spent time in a Japanese bookstore chain called Kinokuniya, that was part of a cool-looking two- or three-storey outdoor mall court area called Weller Court.
There were lots of keychain blind boxes on sale, and I picked up one for an anime series that i really liked, Uma Musume (whose 2nd season theme song and video was actually playing on the mounted TV in that photograph). This was the keychain in the box:
How cute. Anyway, after the purchase, I really needed to use the washroom, so I wandered out to find… the mall’s washroom locked. And every store basically had signs out front proclaiming that there were No Public Restrooms. I found during my time here that this was a problem in most of the big cities in the USA — Las Vegas Strip did not have this problem as plenty of hotels had public washrooms, but LA, SF, New Orleans and New York all had plenty of “Not In My Backyard!” attitudes when it came to offering public places for people to relieve or freshen themselves at, which I felt tied in to what I noticed about houses and buildings being constructed in a very closed-community sort of way compared to what I was used to back home.
Anyway, I even tried asking store owners, passing cops, etc whether there were any public washrooms nearby, and no one could point me to one. Eventually, someone suggested a nearby Starbucks, and they indeed had a public washroom available, pretty much the only one in the entire district, and there were a couple people waiting to get in and use it. Its usage was free, but I was appreciative of their community support, so I counterintuitively bought a small kiwi starfruit drink from them afterwards as thanks. I then went back to Weller Court to wait for Trinstar to pick me up in her car.
I was overjoyed to see her when she arrived, and even more so when she brought me to a place that she had wanted to try out but had never done so before. This shop was called Dollar Hits – Temple, a Filipino street food store where you could enter the shop and buy a plateful of mildly-cooked meats for $1 per skewer, then step outside to a barbeque grill where you could place your skewers onto, and had to figure out how long to cook each one so they tasted great without being overcooked or undercooked. Or even if they are, well, that’s part of the experience!
This was amazing and by far and away the most unique food experience of my trip. There were four wood-fired grills clined up outside the shop, as well as maybe six tables or so, and we basically had to share grills with other people as not all the grills were lit at any one given time. We exchanged tips with other patrons on how long to cook some of the skewers, as some ingredients or meats needed to be cooked longer than others, and used our hands to fan the flames and swat smoke away from our eyes as we chatted with each other and listened to 80s music blaring away from a nearby radio. I wonder how the surrounding houses felt about this noisy little shop! It was a very unique atmosphere and experience though and I was very happy with this. I spent $14 on assorted skewers, which was basically about 10-14 sticks that cost $1 to $1.50 each. Yummy! After that, I got a ride home from Trin, but not before we promised to meet again another evening before I left.
Day 7 – Wednesday, Nov 03 2021
For some reason, the rest of the pictures in this LA section have no GPS data on it. No idea why.
Anyway, I had to leave Little Tokyo early the day before, not because I was scheduled to go to dinner with Trinstar but instead because all the shops closed rather early in that part of Los Angeles. I believe Kinokuniya itself closed at 8pm, but other shops in the area were closing at 6 or 7 pm, so I had seen a lot of shops that caught my eye that I didn’t have a chance to visit the day before. Today, I resolved to come earlier in the afternoon. But first, I had an adventure planned for the morning!
This fine Wednesday morning saw me on a bus headed west toward Santa Monica pier. The ride was about an hour down Santa Monica Boulevard. I didn’t immediately stop at the pier though. I alighted a few stops early and stopped by a Farmers Market around Arizona Avenue and 2nd St, which was apparently open every Wednesday and Saturday. It was small and somewhat uninteresting though, at least for a tourist passing by, so I didn’t spend too long there.
I then took a slight detour while walking over toward the famous Santa Monica pier itself. I saw this booth with a “Community Altar” display on El Dia de Muertos, by a local school called University High School. I know nothing about this, but it was fascinating so I snapped a picture of it to research later. It’s apparently a Mexican Day of the Dead festival that usually runs Nov 01-02, so I was close enough to that date that I got to see this. I also saw this really nice-looking ice cream and salad/soup shop:
I didn’t actually dine here as I was not in the mood for ice cream, but I liked how the shop was set up on an island like that. I was looking for some lunch though, and I ended up at another shop a bit further down called Somisomi Soft Serve & Taiyaki.
I *still* was not in the mood for ice cream, but taiyaki seemed good, and I ordered a taro and red bean taiyaki for $4.33 to chew on while I strolled on down the streets, occasionally peeking into stores in my search for a nice plushie to bring home from LA. I wandered into a game and hobby shop and overheard the manager mentioning to one of the new hires that he had put up a hiring sign and she was the only one with a proper resume that had applied or something like that.
I then cut through an open mall to use the public washroom there, and took a couple pictures of the area while I was there too.
A strange event then happened, a somewhat unkempt Black guy, maybe in his late teens or early 20s, in an oversized T-shirt and baseball cap, came up to me and asked for some money for food. Specifically, he asked me if I could go to a nearby McDonalds and buy him something to eat. I said sure, and we traipsed along a couple streets over, where I ended up buying him a Filet O’ Fish meal from the order machine, and then saying my goodbyes and leaving him be while he waited for his meal. The strange thing about this was not just the request itself, but his cognitive dissonance — all the way over to the McDonalds, he was talking about how he looked down on other people of his ilk (his “brothers”) who only knew to take advantage of others or something like that, while dropping homophobic terms like fag in every other sentence, and he made it clear that he was better than them as he didn’t abuse charity and had pride to not ask people for help or something, all while basically dragging me over to that McD so he could get some free food from me. It was pretty incoherent and contradictory, and reminded me of a story I had heard about Americans in line for food stamp handouts while complaining about paying taxes into the welfare system to support others who were using government handouts.
Still, whatever, it was an interesting interaction with a local, and it didn’t cost me much as I didn’t actually have a separate lunch that day anyway, since everything else in the area was too expensive. After breaking off with him, I went back to the shopping mall and then crossed the road to Santa Monica pier itself. It was extremely misty out in the water that day, with a vague apocalyptic feel to it, as though a giant otherworldly octopus was going to invade the shore and drag away screaming tourists. But despite that threat, and the slightly lesser threat of COVID-19, the shore and beach were still quite crowded. I took a video as I walked along a large stretch of the beach, from Santa Monica pier all the way to Venice Boulevard near the Venice Canals. I had a major sense of deja vu walking down this path, as though I had been here before. It was probably computer game related, as I’ve probably been here in a GTA game or something, but it still felt eerily familiar in a way that I couldn’t quite place, even the rows of shops down in the Venice Boardwalk area long after the actual pier area that’s usually depicted in media.
There were definitely lots of funky shops and interesting people walking around though, and the video below even captures things like an attempted CD-for-donations scammer at 1:23:15, a random toddler who ran up to me to hug me at 1:26:15, and so on. As mentioned, there were at least three occasions in LA where someone tried the CD for donation thing on me, though I’m not sure if either of the other two times were in this video too. It’s too long to fully rewatch, I have a blog to complete! Anyway, they’d ask for my name and write it down on the CD before I even agreed to give them anything, saying that it was free but that they’d appreciate a donation, and when I refused then they’d take away the CD anyway (even though they had already written my name on it). This shows that the CD was blank and disposable as far as they cared anyway. If they hadn’t pressed me for money and were willing to let me walk with it then I probably would have tipped them a little as that probably did mean that there were actual songs on it and they did actually want to just spread the music around.
After the Santa Monica and Venice Beach video, which I only shot in 1080p instead of 4k video for some reason due to camera shenanigans, I found myself on Venice Boulevard, and took a picture of a weird piece of flora.
i’m still not quite sure what that is or if it’s sentient. I then took a bus back over to Little Tokyo, again. I had earmarked a specific shop I was going to try, a store called Shabu Shabu House that opened at 5:30 pm and, as its name suggested, served Shabu Shabu and nothing else. In fact, it was so popular that they had a signup sheet posted on a stool outside their door a couple hours before the shop actually opened, and you had to write down how many people were in your party and whether you wanted a small or large plate of beef. I did so, signing up for a large, and then wandered a couple blocks to another store called Entertainment Hobby Shop Jungle. I took a few pictures:
They were a second hand store (actually several related stores more or less side by side), it seemed, and had figurines, keychains, manga, Bluray discs, badges, collectible cards, plushies, CDs, game cartridges, and more just lining the shelves. I wanted to pick up a few items, but it was nearly Shabu Shabu time, and I was going to be in LA for five days all in all, so I told myself I could just swing by a third time to pick out some things for myself on another day.
For the moment, I swung back around to the Shabu Shabu House. They demanded punctuality and attention — you supposedly weren’t allowed to use your phone during eating, although they didn’t seem to mind (or catch..) me using the phone for pictures.
The food was pretty great, I was taught how to add some of the sauces and such into the big steamer, and vaguely how long to dip each piece of item in the hot water for before pulling it to my bowl. I ran out of rice pretty quickly but they even refilled that for me, complimentary service! Yummy. This was excellent, although I wish I could have made the soup a bit more flavourful. It cost $31.79.
I then detoured back to Kinokuniya, where I picked up another Uma Musume blind keychain box, because I was satisfied with the quality of the keychain from yesterday, and I wanted to get a gift for Seren, who I had planned to visit at the end leg of my trip. That part of the trip fell through though, so I eventually opened the blind box for myself several cities later too, and got a keychain of one of the best characters in the game. It’s mine now because you refused to see me, Seren!
By that time, darkness had fallen and the vampires were prowling, so I headed back to my Airbnb house again, snapping a few more pictures on the way.
Day 8 – Thursday, Nov 04 2021
I spent some time doing some work on and off through the night and the ensuing morning, and also tried to find a reasonable intermediate city that I could visit between San Francisco, my next stop, and New Orleans, where I wanted to be on the 12th or the 19th. Seattle? Denver? Minneapolis? Chicago? In the end, I didn’t settle on any additional city between San Francisco and New Orleans. I was also planning to leave New Orleans on a train headed northeast toward Washington D.C, or fly to Chicago and train from there to New Jersey or something. Or even a quizzical, exploratory trip down to the Florida region. But I didn’t find any suitable intermediary stops on that end of the Nola visit either, so I eventually finalized being in Los Angeles until the 6th, San Francisco until the 12th, and then to New Orleans.
Besides that, this day was actually spent mostly in the Airbnb, doing laundry, planning my trips, and doing work — this was supposed to be a work vacation, after all! I also had an MLP class that evening that I had to prepare for. So for the first day of my vacation, I actually took the day to rest and recuperate. I could hear the audible sigh from my feet and thighs.
And my readers.
So this section will be awfully short. For lunch, I went to a nearby shop called the Vegan House Thai Bistro.
Lunch was the Tofu Yellow Curry Lunch Special, and some Thai Almond Milk Ice Tea, cause why not. Even with the drink, it was cheap enough — just $13.80 after taxes. I waited just inside the door while the proprietress zipped into the back room and passed on my order. The place was takeout only, and I was busy anyway, so I took the meal back to my Airbnb:
It was decent, but it had the bad fortune of being sandwiched between two very interesting and unique meals, yesterday’s dinner and today’s dinner (since I never ate breakfast), so it just existed and that was about it. The curry was really nice, with a soft, creamy sort of texture. I puttered around and got most of that night’s work done early, and then had my evening MLP class. And after that..
Dinner date with Trinstar and Eralain! Nothing as exotic as Dollar Hits this time, but we had arranged for a 3 person meet up in Discord for tonight and settled on Guisados, a Mexican tacos place in Echo Park in Sunset Boulevard. There were outdoor tables too so Trin could bring her dog, Rhea, along. We all made our individual ways over, the two of them by car, and me by bus and walking. I arrived first, with Fern arriving shortly after, and the two of us hugged and chatted at one of the outdoor tables out back behind the restaurant until Trin and Rhea arrived. We then took turns ordering, with Fern and Trin picking out some tacos for me to try. I ended up ordering a small sample set of tacos with several different flavours so that I could try a variety of them, and I also went back later for some seconds and some new flavours because they were so nice.
We were more interested in eating and talking than taking pictures though, so the above one was the only one I took of the food. As we were all good friends (and officers) from the same Lord of the Rings Online guild/kinship over 10 years ago, and had kept in touch since then, we had tons to talk and reminisce about in person, and Rhea was the recipient of many a pat as well as we ate. Apparently despite living in the same city, Eralain and Trin had never met up before, until now. I also eventually brought out Tigey, making sure that all of them had a turn patting him (so that he could annex them into being his eternal slaves — they didn’t read the fine print), and then we took an awkward group picture:
Eralain then drove me back to my rented place in her car afterwards, as I was sort of on her way back home.
Day 9 – Friday, Nov 05 2021
Tigey‘s last full day in Los Angeles started off just like any other normal day. He got up when I did, got stuffed into my sling bag when I wandered out of my rental house onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and then received tons of adulation from his adoring fans on his own personal Hollywood Star.
One of the touristy things to do there on the Walk of Fame is to take a photograph of yourself by your own Hollywood Star — there were a couple vendors there with fake, removable pink stars, category emblems, and letter tiles, who will arrange your name as shown in the picture for a small fee, usually about $10, depending on exactly what you wanted. Most tourists who stopped by took photos of themselves, but the woman I ordered a Tigey star from was extremely amused by this unorthodox request and happily set up Tigey‘s star next to Susan Sarandon’s star. I then placed Tigey down next to his genuine Oscar trophy, and snapped the picture. There wasn’t really a good reason why he got the music emblem as opposed to one of the others, I was given the option and selected that because none of them stood out in particular and music was the most central of the five options to my own life, I suppose.
After retrieving my erstwhile companion, I then made my way over to Little Tokyo for the third and final time. While I didn’t usually eat breakfast, I always left it open as an option and kept my eyes open for some interesting hole-in-the-wall place I might want to try, and today I did find one, a small bakery called Yamazaki Bakery that I saw in Little Tokyo itself. I picked up tow piping hot buns from the shop, a nikuman (steamed pork bun) and an anman (red bean paste bun) for $5.50.
They were delicious! I sat down on a bench just outside the bakery and ate the two buns, feeling the wind rush past me and tease my skirt and blouse, trying to sneak a bite of the bun that I was jealously guarding. I watched a Japanese family bring their kids into the bakery and come out with some pastries too, and I was done by then so I ceded the bench to them and wandered off back toward the Entertainment Hobby Shop Jungle shop that I had seen two days ago. This time, I had a list of things I wanted to purchase for myself, including a small anime-related plushie. I put them all in a little shopping tray they gave me, brought it to the counter, and… they rejected my credit card!
They could not explain why, but it was probably because it was a Canadian card somehow and their card reader sucked. That was the only instance on my entire trip, as I recall, that my card was physically rejected (an online rejection happened a couple times too), and they literally had no other way of checking me out. I didn’t bring enough actual cold, hard cash to cover it as well — it cost $43.75 and I only had about $20 or $30 in notes on me, the rest were in my room for safekeeping. The clerk said he’d hold on to my tray, and sent me off to find a cash withdrawal ATM… but the only one in the underground mall area was really sketchy, so I looked for an actual bank instead.
I eventually found a Chase bank nearby, inquired with the guard there as to whether he knew if I could withdraw money here with my Canadian debit card. He said yes and pointed me over to the bank’s ATM machines, and I made a small withdrawal and headed out of the bank. There was an additional $3.50 fee for the withdrawal though, yucks. Then I realized that I hadn’t taken the receipt and wanted to do so for record-keeping purposes, so I went back in, and the same nice (if slightly bemused) security guard helped me dig the receipt out of the bin where he had tossed my receipt into after retrieving it. I thanked him and headed back to the earlier store to finally make my purchase. I took pictures of my loot later that evening:
In the current moment though, the morning had rolled over into afternoon, and I walked around the district a little more, visiting a few bouqitues and random stores along the way, though I did not make any other purchases. It was around 1:30 pm by the time I decided to move on. I was meeting Trin later that afternoon one last time for a late lunch, and we had scheduled to meet up in the Little Armenia area. I had to walk a bit through downtown to get to a train that would take me there, which took me first through some shop districts that look like they were selling industrial and wholesale products.
There were lots of toy shops and other vaguely named import shops, but their stock was largely only for wholesale purchase, and not individual customer purchase, which I thought was odd and interesting. The neighbourhood then morph into an area where I didn’t end up taking any pictures, but I wish I did — it was packed to the brim with small grocers and toy shops and food vendors and other outlets of that nature, and full of foot traffic as well. The area looked rather destitute and desperate though, and after I was past the area I realized that I had basically skirted the edge of Skid Row while blindly following the route Google Maps was telling me to take, although I don’t believe there were homeless tents in that area (it was too crowded for that). I wish I had taken some photographs of the area, though, as the sheer chaos of the place really popped out at me.
Anyway, I found Trin at our designated meeting spot and we hemmed and hawwed a bit over which eatery to eat at, and ended up after all that at a Thai place, Amphai Northern Thai Food, where we ordered a variety of dishes to try different things and split the cost between us afterwards. It cost us both $23.70 each, I believe.
A couple people had suggested that I go up to the Griffith Observatory by this point, so that was where I had decided to spend my last evening in town. Trin drove me up there in her car before we bid each other farewell, and I walked around the outside of the Observatory, snapping a few pictures of the place, trying out a couple panoramas, and then even pulling out the video camera for a brief camera walk around the outer premises. It’s not a particular good or interesting video though, as it was rather short and monotonous. But I will attach it here anyway.
It was the only time I saw the Hollywood signage, though I felt like it was rather underwhelming, just like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and really all of Hollywood that I saw in general. The observatory itself was okay as well, I eventually went inside to look at the exhibits, and even paid $7 for a show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium called Centered in the Universe. We have a similar dome and show in Edmonton, where we lay back in our seats and the light show is projected on the ceiling dome of the theatre like night stars. I didn’t actually see the full show though — I dozed off at some point and woke up just as it ended. Oops. But what I saw of the show was pretty neat. Everything else was underwhelming though except the view as the sun set.
But the setting sun also meant that I had to start finding my way back to the hotel, and preferably find a victim to suckle on along the way as well. I took a bus back down to the base of the hill, then another bus headed west toward my Airbnb house. Looking up food places along the way, I eventually found a Korean store with good hole-in-the-wall style niche reviews near my Airbnb, and ordered a meal from them through Postmates. The store was actually further west than the house I was staying at though, so I took the bus there, collected my food, and then just decided to hoof it back east toward safety, snapping a picture or two of cool-looking architecture along the way.
Once home, I sat down to enjoy my food, adding Korean to the list of Asian cuisine I had now tried in the USA, as I had already done Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Singaporean, Thai, and Vietnamese up till this point.
While I had taken Monday off for travel purposes, I had not taken any other day off work that week, but my Friday evenings were free anyway since there was no work on Saturday. By that time, I had concluded that Los Angeles was kind of hard to get around in without a car (as everyone had warned) and not particularly safe to boot, so I was a bit tired of the city and it was time to move on. The next day, I was up early and ready to check out and continue to the next leg of my trip in San Francisco! I went back to Union Station and caught a Flyaway Bus to LA International Airport for $9.75.