“What do you want to do today?” Kristina asked me.
I had absolutely no idea. I had flashbacks to my dreary Saturday in San Francisco, as I realised that without anything in mind to do, a day in Los Angeles could turn out to be equally miserable.
Fortunately, Kristina was prepared for this eventuality. As I asked for my options, she laid out a day plan, that would show me the various cultures of L.A county.
We started off in China Town. Los Angeles China Town is very different to its San Franciscan sister. For a start, the friendship gate is far more impressive in L.A.
Unfortunately, from there onwards, it turns into an area that looks about the same as the rest of the city, the only difference being the people and the signs in other languages. Further in, there is a small part of town with actual Chinese architecture, but the only parts of it worth seeing are the Bruce Lee statue, and the lucky fountain, with pots to collect peoples change. This is all a shame, because the China Town seems to slowly be dying, and until a lot of effort is put into reinvigorating it, I can only see that trend continuing. This was especially disappointing for me, because China Town is usually a part of the city I will visit wherever I am (even though, as I said, they are all much of a muchness). It also meant that I wasn’t able to get many pictures for my Instagram (instagram.com/semoungabio; gon’ keep flogging it until my followers go up).
There are a couple of hidden gems though. Throughout my time in Long Beach, my host would give me miniature history lessons, often infused with her families own experiences. In China Town, she told me, there was a bakery that draws people from miles around due to the sublime nature of their cakes. Further down is a Chinese restaurant, that she claims that her family had been coming to for generations. When I return to L.A. I aim to try out both of these places.
Next, we took a little detour from China to Mexico, as I was taken to Olivera street, somewhere that was clearly much closer to Kristina’s heart. Although many of the vendors sold the same sort of thing, the smells and atmosphere of the lane were something I am very glad I experienced, and something I imagine many tourists would miss out on if they weren’t ordered to go there. The people were friendly, and the prices were good, and so I was able to leave the area having purchased three souvenirs (one was from China Town) for my mother, one of my friends, and something similar for myself. Truth be told, I’m not actually sure if they read this, so I’ll have to leave out the details for now.
But trouble was brewing. Having booked all my Greyhound rides and hostels for Arizona onwards, I found the place I intended to stay in Hollywood was booked out just before I went to secure my space.
Fortunately, Rod, the Canadian I met on the bus, had showed me an app for finding cheap BnB’s anywhere. A good companion for a traveller. I found the perfect place, and attempted to apply, but when forced to verify my ID, there were problems. Taking a quick detour home to sort things out, we then ventured out to try an In-N-Out burger. Recommended to me by pretty much everyone. And rightly so. It was a tasty burger. Although Byron’s Burgers, from the U.K. will probably always remain my favourite.
We then went on to the beach. Now, as the title says, I’m not much of a beach person. I get there and I never know what to do. Even worse, Kristina offered to watch my stuff whilst I went in the water, which highlighted to me that I liked the beach even less when forced to enjoy it alone. So I declined, and instead we sat and watched the surfers.
I’m glad we went; you can’t really go to California and not go to the beach. Its just jeans are not the perfect attire for the beach, and actually having nothing to do on the beach just strengthened my usual feelings about not wanting to be there.
Usually, I’ll just sunbathe. I’m all about getting my tan on. Some of my friends find it a little boring. But then I think they’re also jealous that one of the only black ones of them manages to tan better than everyone else.
But this wasn’t a particularly big issue here. I realised I had never actually seen surfers apart from TV before, and you may have noticed, but the girls on the beach in the O.C. are pretty hot. Plus I found a new favourite clothing store.
So this trip to the beach remained a partial exception to the rule.
After a quick detour to the comic store, which may have been a bit of a mistake. I watched a few episodes of Wilfred, before being introduced to Kristina’s sons. We had a few beers, and talked about various things. They were both nice guys, and it was a nice end to my time in Long Beach.
In which I also just realised I forgot to give Carter a call. Shit.