Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Redondo Beach- before my phone dies

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Today’s Cali challenge: charge up my phone, and see if it’ll last me. My iPhone 3g-saurus is built for only about 8 hours standby time and less than that when it’s being used. Atleast, that’s how it is now since the crash~ I was hoping it would atleast get me far enough for some photos of downtown. From the Metro blue line up to 7th street Metro center in LA, hopped onto the Red line, then the Gold line up one stop to Little Tokyo.

From the platform, across the street is the Japanese American museum, the MOCA (museum of Contemporary Art), and an outdoor market. There’s a plethora of Japanese restaurants featuring the tastiest in takoyaki (octopus meatballs on a stick), udon houses, and of course, sushi. From the traditional sit-down restaurants that look like old-world tea houses to the modern revolving sushi restaurants, there’s something raw for everyone. Kula is where I decided to stop and relax while I munch on their $2 plates of sushi. It’s a revolving restaurant, meaning every plate is fresh and comes on a conveyor belt for the taking. I managed 4 plates before deciding to explore some Hello Kitty shops. What heaven- me and HK are besties in another universe. A place in my heart where everything is pink and shiny and Im perpetually 9 years old. I love that cat, her twin sister Mimi, and her bf, Dear Daniel.

Back on the metro Gold line, I hovered over the afternoon 101 traffic over to Chinatown. Here, a good majority of the population is, of course, Chinese or Chinese-American. Everywhere you look, signs are either in Chinese/English combo or JUST Chinese. This has made it easy for some to live without ever having to learn or use English. Perfect example: today’s snack was a moon cake in celebration of the new year. I ventured into a humble-looking bakery where the elderly came to play mahjong and gossip. In the glass, ornately stamped moon cakes were displayed over a sign: “$1 small $3 large” [sic].  With my last cash dollar (most shops in Little Tokyo & Chinatown only take cash- carry at least $40 if you can in order to avoid using expensive atms), I asked for a small moon cake. Stares. Oh no, the bakery lady either was deaf or she didn’t understand English. I calmly tried pointing to what I wanted while I thought, “is pointing considered offensive?!” Her: “Chinese words Chinese words, Chinese words and more Chinese words?” Me: “Um, sure, yes”, as she lifts up a cake. She hands it to me, “Chinese words, one dollar, Chinese words”, before I carefully hand her the money. “Xie xie,” I muster with wide-eyed humility. Maybe I should’ve studied Chinese rather than Korean.

Afterward, I contemplated buying a roast duck. They hung from the windows like greasy delicious drapes. Then I realized I was out  of cash and there was no Wells Fargo in sight. Oh well, next time. As I walked to the platform, a building caught my eye- it was the headquarters of Homeboy Industries. A beautiful new, but out of place, building on the corner of Chinatown and ghetto, it’s a non-profit mecca for those seeking a way out of gang life. Unfortunately it was too late in the day and the Homegirl Cafe had closed for the day. It’s only open 7am-1:30pm Mondays, 7am-2:30pm Tuesdays-Fridays and 9-2:30pm on Saturdays for brunch. I definitely would come back as I’ve tried their products (chips, salsas, etc.) before and appreciate the cause.

Before I got home, I took the Blue to the green line to try and get to Redondo Beach. My phone’s battery was currently at 20% and at the 4th to the last stop before Redondo, nature called me up. If you’re ever caught in that position, let it be known that almost none of the metro stops have public restrooms >_< . There’s a Hilton hotel off the Mariposa stop where, if you walk in like you own the joint, you can use their lobby restroom.

I never made it to Redondo as my phone ended up at 3% before shutting off just as I got to Long Beach. But all in all, I had revolving sushi, unlearned Chinese, found Gang rehab, bought a couple of prickly pears, and reduced my carbon footprint. Can’t wait to do it again!

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