LA was our first port of call in America, after leaving Sydney at 2pm Monday, and arriving in LA at 8am Monday … head spin! We had slightly different journeys there though as Alice had unlimited food, drinks, and movies with Qantas, whereas I was with United Airlines so I was lucky to be given water.
Our hostel was on Venice Beach, which is a renowned vibrant and eclectic area in California. The first bad decision of our trip was to explore the promenade while extremely tired. I’ll admit that this place was a little scary, especially when nearly everyone either stared at us, or tried to sell us anything they could, whether it be music, food, souvenirs, a henna tattoo, or their children. The con of travelling with a redhead – they’re so rare that everyone wanted a piece of Alice!
Back at the hostel, our dorm buddies were a random array of people, all with one thing in common – they were participants in the American Ninja Challenge. This was a nationwide competition being held on the beach, with a purpose to send a number of people to Japan to compete in the hit TV show Ninja Warrior. The task was to complete the ginormous obstacle course in the shortest time possible. There was Kane, a devout Christian and a lovely guy, who unfortunately fell at the last hurdle. Then, there was Matt who pretty much gave us his life story (something about being an actor in New York, but wanting to open his own yoga studio). Matt didn’t have a place to compete, so the last time we saw him, he was heading out of the hostel in all his layers, ready to line up overnight. We later heard from Kane that he, unfortunately, didn’t get a place.
The following day, we got far away from Venice and visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Beverley Hills, and Rodeo Drive (where we had our first cliche American Diner experience). I enjoyed seeing the Stars, but I couldn’t warm to LA at all, which I think was a combination of the horrible weather, our underestimation of the size of LA, and the high-level of poverty which was a shock. It made me realise that I am far more ignorant about indigence around the world than I thought I was, which made me feel completely ashamed, so this was probably one of the biggest things on this trip that I discovered about myself.
We did A LOT of bus journeys during our time in LA, with too many funny stories to mention, but here are some of my favourites:
1. While waiting in line, the bus driver began to lower the ramp for a man in a wheelchair who wanted to get off. The first man in line shouts “wheelchair!”, as does the second guy “wheelchair!”, followed by the third, fourth and fifth guy. “Wheelchair!’ , “wheelchair!”, “WHEELCHAIR!”.
2. Alice got onto the bus while I was still routing through my purse for change. Suddenly the doors shut, and the bus starts to pull away. As I run after it, a woman on board (who had mothered us beforehand by telling me to zip up my bag properly, and Alice to reapply sunscreen) begins screaming down the bus, “Her friend! Stop! Her friend needs to get on!”.
3. A man randomly stood up during a bus journey, and began shouting, “CRACK, I’m on CRACK! Lord Jesus have mercy on me because I’m on CRACK!”
We were due to go to San Francisco after LA, but as a last-minute decision, we thought … sack it, let’s go to Vegas!