So with a direct flight out from Beijing I hit the city of Los Angeles. From the start of this flight, nothing was going right. Getting early enough to the airport with plenty of time to relax, I enjoyed some over-priced Airport food and then spent the rest of my Chinese money on a few drinks for the plane. Whilst boarding the plane, literally before hitting the aero-bridge, there were security guards going through people’s carry-on baggage and confiscating drinks! I tried to explain to the security guards that the drinks I had were sealed and I had literally just bought them 2 minutes ago, from the vending machine 10 meters away, but they still decided to take them. Then of course, as soon as I got on the plane, I saw a passenger drinking a bottle of juice, almost identical to one of the bottles I had just bought. Needless to say, I was quite annoyed!
Landing in Los Angeles I decided to take a shuttle to where I was staying, I was then put on the wrong shuttle which was going out to Santa Monica instead of Highland Park! In the end though, I got to my destination, staying with my Cousin Ben in a cool area of Los Angeles. Highland Park has plenty of great things to check out, being right near a college, the Occidental, there were a number of cool cafes, bars and a kick-ass ridiculously cheap and authentic Mexican restaurant.
Finally in America, I proceeded to start sorting out various mundane matters such as procuring a working mobile phone, getting a social security number and opening a new bank account. In the first week, none of these activities were successful for various complicated reasons, mostly involving unhelpful Government employees, restrictive American phone companies and inconsistent advice from American financial institutions as to what I actually needed to open a U.S. bank account. As it turns out, I needed a social security number, even though of course giving a bank my brand-new social security would in no way provide any useful information about my credit history!
In the middle of my Los Angeles visit I went to Coachella, a 3-day music festival in the middle of the desert near Palm Springs, a festival with a great line-up but run by ridiculously disorganised individuals. Getting to a music festival and seeing an unmanned first-aid tent on the 1st day was of deep concern to me, naturally I assumed first-aid tents would be dispensing sun-screen (as they do in Australia), but alas, this was not the case! Luckily they did assist me with removing sunscreen from my eye once I did acquire some, a painful and incredibly time-wasting experience that I am in no way keen to ever repeat! Words of advice kids . . . . DO NOT GET SUNSCREEN IN YOUR EYES!
The line-up for Coachella was excellent and I returned to Los Angeles relatively unscathed, but missing a far amount of valuable gear, including my IPad (lots of other stuff happened at Coachella, but for various reasons I won’t put them here on this blog). Upon returning to Los Angeles, I managed to shadow my Cousin Ben, a Piano Tuner, into the Playboy Mansion. As would any hetrosexual male in my age bracket, setting foot inside an iconic building such as the Playboy Mansion was something I was extremely excited about. Ben had tuned Hugh Hefner’s piano several times before and he informed me that the only rule was I had to stick with him and not take any pictures.
Ben had also told me about his previous tunings of Hugh’s piano and he advised usually something cool happened, once he met Hugh and once there were a few Playboy Bunny quality women hanging around the lobby. Going in with no expectations something unexpected did happen, namely I met Andrew G (of Australian Idol fame) who was setting up to interview Hugh for the 7PM project. I also scored a couple free magazines and some playboy branded water, all in all it was a good experience, next time I go there will hopefully be for a party!
The rest of Los Angeles was spent catching up with various cousins I had scattered around. My cousin Sam took me fishing around Santa Barbra and despite catching no fish it was great to see a bit of the country side and smoke a couple of cigars out by the ocean. A whale and school of dolphins were also spotted, but I decided to avoid a swim in the water as it was still fairly cold. The lack of fish wasn’t a big deal for dinner either that night as we procured some salmon from the local supermarket and enjoyed it thanks to Sam’s excellent cooking skills.
All in all, my time in Los Angeles didn’t quite involve the partying I was hoping it would, but I did manage to see all my relatives and a bit more of the city than last time. Hiking up from the Observatory with Ben gave me some great views of the city and a car ride with my cousin Rachel on the way to find a cafe ended up taking us through some areas of L.A. I hadn’t seen before (what most of them were though, I have no idea, apart from the suburb of Bel-Air). To continue my travels a bit lighter, I left my biggest suit-case with my Cousin Ben before hoping on a train up to Oakland, therefore will likely be heading back to L.A. before I head to South America. More partying will definitely be in order next time!