Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Graduation Trip
Los Angeles -SaMo, Long Beach, Universal Studios Hollywood-
7 March - 12 March 2007, Part Four

The pier, Santa Monica with the park on the left.

Three-storey apartments line up along Santa Monica beach.

Okay, it`s easy to see why Santa Monica is highly recommended by friends. This seaside city blends the charm and appeal of a coastal getaway with an unforgettable beach and the sophistication of an urban downtown, what a magnetic combination. The beach setting is quite unique which the pier contains Pacific Park, a family amusement park with a large ferris wheel next to the beach.

Vibrant colours emerge during sunset, Santa Monica Beach.

Blue sky, wispy clouds, and a dash of smog is the perfect recipe for a brilliant sunset that blends the charm and appeal of a coastal getaway with an unforgettable beach setting.

Santa Monica Pier entrance.

Pacific Park. The beach.

Third Street Promenade.

Santa Monica is also the home of the Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian street and considered one of the premier shopping districts that stretches three blocks and has been closed to allow people to congregate, shop and enjoy the street performances. Besides, demonstrations also are frequent and common sight on the street. Group of protesters also camping in the middle of Promenade during my two days in Santa Monica. Let`s put the issue aside and celebrate the coming Beijing Olympics happily. One Dream. One World. Olympics is for everyone.

Free Tibet. Human Rights for Tibet.

Ships docked at Long Beach Harbour and the background of the downtown.

In Long Beach, the great outdoors is right at your doorstep. With its seaside walkways and waterfronts marinas, Long Beach has set the standard for walkability and ideal spot for strollers and bikers alike. Within conveniently proximity, you will find numerous entertainment options such as the Pike Amusement Park, green parks, theaters and restaurants within walking distance. It is a nice place to relax specially sitting at park facing the pacific ocean. There, i pen down and updated my adventures in the states while waiting for the sunset, my most favourite moment of the day, always.

The Pike Amusement Park.

Lions Lighthouse for Sight.

RMS Queen Mary berthed at Long Beach Harbour.

Gate to Universal Studios Hollywood.

So the next morning, Theresa drove me to Universal Studios Hollywood, the original Universal Studios theme park. The attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood are split into two areas on different levels, connected by a series of escalators called the Starway. Anyway, i found that the theme park i used to go in Osaka, Japan is relatively a bit bigger. And i was not used to the language at first. This was because everything was in Japanese in Universal Studios Japan although the attractions are all the same. Despite, i had a great time with my buddy, Theresa. Those nice memories (shows, rides, tour, etc) we had in the park are still vividly remained. How about you Theresa? Okay, i will let those pictures tell everything.

Two celeraties in front of the Palace.

Yeah the fake Hollywood sign. Shut up, who cares?

Caricatures of FuFu and Theresa. So cute.

Downtown of LA from the freeway on the way back.

Well, I was heading up to San Francisco on 12 March 2007 in the morning. Again thanks a lot Theresa for hosting me and taking me here and there. Wish i would have another chance to meet her boyfriend, Mr. Honda Accord in the near future.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Graduation Trip
Los Angeles ~Downtown Los Angeles~
7 March - 12 March 2007, Part Three

Steak and dessert at Applebee`s Neighbourhood Grilled and Bar.

My online buddy, Theresa picked me up at the airport. We had a good dinner at Applebee`s Neighbourhood Grilled and Bar. Had my first American steak there. I personally loved Applebee`s chocolate cake. Theresa and AhFu were just simply clicked. I couldnt imagine we talked from the moment i got in her car until we willing to shut our mouths up and went to bed. I had been sleeping with my Statistics reference book for the whole final year, so of course our topic would not less of F-value, T-test, Chi-square, cumulative probabilities, significance level, null hypothesis, etc.

Cute Hina Matsuri (Girl`s Festival) souvenirs i bought for Theresa.

Ok, Theresa is a well-mannered and independent young lady, majoring in Statistics, approachable and friendly. When she knew that i wanted go to LA, she offered to pick me up and show me around LA. She was cool enough. I would like to say many thanks to Theresa for purposely picking me up from Riverside. Come here Theresa, i owe you a big hug!

LAX to Riverside. Riverside to Downtown LA.

If New York City is `buildings, buildings and buildings`, then Los Angeles would be, undoubtedly `cars, cars and cars`. I mean everyone drives on the road. The `Park and Ride` campaign or car-sharing or car-pooling must be failed to carry out. Luckily Theresa could use the lane on the left because the lane on the right is for the cars with only driver. It is however hard to implement those ideas in California as i later found that life would be damn inconvenient if one doesnt possess own transport. Hence, i would say the freeway in Los Angeles could be considered as the epicentre of American car culture.


Nara Bank. Radio Korea.

With a day pass, i hopped on 720 Metro Rapid bus to downtown. Because it was a day pass, i hopped off to Koreatown on Wilshire Boulevard. I was quite surprised that the Koreatown is severely lack of stylized exotic atmosphere except the street scene with Korean signs and banks. I found out the neighbourhoods in Koreatown also heavily crowded by Latino. (I suggest the authority should work out something to establish a symbolic town for the local Korean community. At least reflect more Korean architectural motifs to create the atmosphere.)

Gold Diamond Wholesale Retail, Jewellery District.

Silver and gold jewellery.

I then hopped on the bus and continued exploring. My next target was the Jewellery District, a section of the downtown where a variety of jewelled products (such as watches, precious gems, platinum, gold, silver and designer items and all types of fine jewellery etc) are sold at wholesale prices. My advice is bring enough cash if you go there with your girlfriend or loved one. If not, dont bring her there.

Pershing Square, Downtown LA.

Citigroup center, Us Bank Tower, Financial District.

After that, i continued up to Financial District. The centre point of downtown, the area is dominated by upscale corporate office skyscrapers, hotels and related services as well as banks and real estate companies. I was fascinated by the awe inspiring high rise buildings so much.

City National Bank. CitiBank. Manufacturers Bank.

Bank of America. Union Bank of California. First Business Bank.

Chinatown, LA.

I didnt expect i would walk in a Vietnamese restaurant but after trying the noodle soup in New York and pork rice in Atlantic City, i loved Vietnamese cuisine. I was greeted and immediately seated. For some reason, unless you are non Asian, you are expected to know what you want to eat even before you sit down. The waiter stared at me when i asked for menu and turned for it quickly. We had a short conversation though since i was the only customer. She came from Thailand, very friendly, working parttime and spoke pretty good Teochew. She told me Mandarin is not widely used but Cantonese and especially Teochew has become more widely spoken as LA experienced a rise in Vietnamese, Cambodians and Thais decade ago.

Chinatown Plaza. Saigon Plaza.

Chung King Road.

Now, there are many Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants run small curiosity shops and bazaars in the shopping plazas such as Saigon Plaza and Dynasty Center. Compared with Koreantown, Chinatown has a fascinating blend of old and new buildings, ancient traditions and art, myriad of alleyways, temples and courtyards that truly regarded as a historic chinatown.

City Hall of Los Angeles.

Civic Center houses offices for several state and federal functions and is home to the Criminal Courts building, County Courthouse, Federal Courthouse and Hall of Justice. Located at the heart of Civic Center is the historic treasure City Hall. Built in 1928, it was an icon of modern architecture and the tallest building in Los Angeles.
The architectural masterpiece of Walt Disney Concert Hall is the fourth hall of Los Angeles Music Centre. REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater, is part of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and presents innovative visual, performing and media arts.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Los Angeles Opera.

Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Little Tokyo.

Little Tokyo has a pristine environment and this unique and beautiful area evokes the art and traditions of Japan. The Japanese American National Museum contains artifacts, textiles, art, photographs and history of Japanese Americans. While First Street is the place where you can look down and see Little Tokyo`s history engraved in the pavement. You can find quite a few public sculptures and artwork, including a monument to a Japanese American Astronaut Onizuka.

Japanese Village Plaza. Onizuka`s monument.

I quite like the transportation system in Los Angeles. There are three types of bus services in the city which are distinguished by the colour of the buses, Metro Local (orange), Metro Rapid (red) and Metro Express (blue). The city`s nimble bus system especially the Metro Rapid buses are a bus rapid transit programme with stops and frequency similar those of a light rail.

Train. Bus.

While promoting and increasing the ridership of public transportation in order to reduce traffic congestion and improve the air quality, i suggest the authority to first improve the appearance and cleanliness of the trains and buses. Hence, it would give all the passengers a good, comfortable and pleasant journey on any public transportations. And provide more single-seats for those who has big butt so that he/she would not occupied the two-seat himself/herself.

Panaroma view of the downtown from Little Tokyo.

Night view of Finaicial district from Pershing Square.

The downtown area of Los Angeles, is one of the desolate, sad and cold downtowns in the world. LA is a great city, but if you get caught downtown after sunset, the best thing to do is leave. During the day, LA is a typical busy city; after dark, the markets and financial, jewellery district shut down. Although I have heard that it is about to undergo some serious gentrification. Actually there are already some chic bars and clubs popping up. Anyway, i believe my readers living in LA will know where to go for good food and nightlife. If i had a chance flying to LA again, you guys gotta know what to do then. I mean that is your homework. =)