Woke up at 9am, seemed like there wasn’t much of a jet lag issue. Had breakfast from stuff that we bought from supermarket and while I had the cheese leftovers from the day ago. After much deliberation, I decided to call up Papillon Grand Canyon to book a helicopter trip to Grand Canyon. I had to think quite long as I was afraid that we would not reach Vegas in time to catch this trip but taking the latest flight should be safe enough.
After getting ready, our first stop of our LA tour was to visit the Walt Disney concert hall some 30mins away. The streets of downtown LA was pretty quiet as it was the weekend and there weren’t many cars around. The challenge was to find an affordable carpark. We went into the parking lot there but it would cost us 9dollars per entry basis. As my intention was to just get out of the car, take some photos of this architectural beauty and move on to the next location and I wasn’t prepared to spend that amount of money for that short a time. Got out without having to pay, thankfully, and I tried to find some roadside parking. The amazing thing was even with not many cars moving on the road, all roadside parking were taken. A few turns here and there still didn’t yield a slot and we left eventually, with nothing but a memory of the glimpse of the building.
Chinatown was just 10 mins away and we parked at an open air public parking, at an affordable $5 for whole day. Paid the attendant and we started to walk around. Immediately we felt like we were not in America, as we saw the place full of Chinese. We went into a place called Saigon plaza that felt like the Bugis village where shops selling all sort of stuff, from clothes to toys and terrapin line the small walkways. We got ourselves an adaptor (cos we forgot to bring one) for $10 and food peeler for $2.
Further down the street was a place called Central Plaza, where the buildings there looked like traditional Chinese designed buildings, not sure if they were original or made to look like that. Right at the center of was a statue of martial arts icon, Bruce Lee. We took a picture with him before going back to car. K liked to see the pairs of terrapins on sale and wanted to see them every time we pass by. We left at about 12noon.
Our next destination planned was the Original Farmers Market, coinciding with lunch time. It was only a 30mins drive but K managed to fall asleep. There was a huge parking lot but the place was full. Fortunately, the turnover rate for the carpark was quick and almost immediately upon arrival, I slotted into one. Had to leave mommy and sleeping K in the car while I went to explore the area on my own. Didn’t know where the market was and I unknowingly walked to the shopping area called the Grove. There were plenty of pretty Xmas deco with a small eating area in the middle and a moving trolley on rails for people to get on and off. I wanted to go to the market instead and backtracked until I see small entrance and went into an enclosed but huge areas with many seats for dining and eatery stalls selling the many varieties of food. It wasn’t easy to find something that I could takeaway into the car for consumption and finally decided on getting 2 empanadas (veggie samosa and mushroom) for 8ish dollars from Nonna’s Empanadas and then went to get kraut hotdog bun from Magee’s for 6ish dollars. I returned to car shortly to have our lunch, the food tasted pretty delicious.
After finishing our lunch in the tight spaces of the car, we woke K up and went back to market, this time for K’s lunch. We settled for Chinese food as it would be the simplest of the highly choosy boy, a safe bet of fried rice with broccoli and sweet sauce chicken for 10ish dollars but in a heap on a big plate. K ate without much interest and it could be because it didn’t really tasted good. I got myself a caffeine fix and bought an coffee ice blended for 5ish dollars. The stall offered ticket validation which would reduce the car park charges, which was also why I bought the coffee from there.
We proceeded to the Grove as mommy did some shopping while K and I was outside the store taking photos using our own cameras. Before leaving for the next location, we went to use the toilets in Nordstrom, a big enough shopping mall (as we thought it wasn’t easy to get free toilets here) before leaving.
Though the tickets were already validated, I couldn’t find a ticket payment machine. I thought I saw a counter at the exit and drove out but I was wrong, there wasn’t a counter. Thankfully, I was still able to pay at barrier, as there was credit card payment available and 7dollars was debited from my credit card without any issues.
Our last stop for the day was to visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was mentioned in the forums that the best parking place was Dolby theatre. The route to Hollywood was quite jammed while we were there as there was a road closure near Hollywood. But once we drove into the basement carpark, we found many available spaces.
The Dolby theatre most famously known for hosting Oscars. it looked really grand and as we passed the main flight of stairs, I couldn’t help taking some pictures with the theatre steps and the pillars with the big movie names that won Oscars with their dates. Once out the doorway, the “Stars” on the walkway became immediately visible, and I got myself a couple of photos of the names. Just nearby was a big space being blocked out with ongoing preparation works seemed to be for a concert. That made the walkway crowded with people walking around and street performers in their costumes sharing the walkway.
We went to the 2nd floor going up the escalators in between the buildings (near where a the giant elephant statue atop a column) as it was here that we could spot the Hollywood sign. Took some photos of the sign that appeared tiny and barely visible since it was brighter behind us. As we returned to the carpark, we spotted Mr. Incredible which K cleverly commented that he was just a impersonator. Nonetheless we still went to take a closer look but didn’t take any photos for fear of being charged.
Went to the Hard Rock Cafe next to Dolby theatre for our usual overseas purchases and bought 2 tees. I was disappointed when they didn’t ask for my rewards numbers and couldn’t do anything about it at the register, left me thinking what’s the point of a membership then (she asked the customer in front of me though). Just before we got to the carpark, we had a family selfie with a famous “Star” on the wall instead of the floor of Muhammad Ali. Paid our carpark fees of 6dollars and it was 50mins drive back.
520pm arrived back at Marina Del Rey and the whole sky was dark and hazy. While K and mommy were back at the apartment, I walked to Alan’s Market just across the street to get some cooking oil but only managed to find olive oil. It was a small store that sold a variety of other stuff, little choices in fresh produce and a section dedicated to alcohol.
Bathed K after some playtime and got dressed before our last stop of the day – Griffith observatory. 50mins drive back towards town and arrived at 820pm with a slight amount of traffic on the main journey but increases to a lot more of cars while driving up the hill nearer the observatory. We drove all the way to the top and found a carpark after a while, guided by staff amidst the chaotic movement of cars moving in and out of the area. As K sat in the car to have his home cooked dinner I went to cafe located at the basement to buy dinner for us. At that time, there weren’t many choices left, so I ended up with a beef hotdog bun and Wolfgang Puck cold vege wrap for 14ish dollars. We only left the car at 9pm, paid the remaining one hour of parking at 6dollars per hour at the automatic ticket dispenser before heading towards the observatory.
Thankfully the skies up were much clearer up there compared to when we were driving along the highway. Out in the open around the building were 2 telescopes setup by observatory staffs and we lined up to have a look. One showed a cluster of stars and the a pair of stars, and while K was really excited to look through them, we weren’t sure if he knew what he saw.
Next, we climbed the stairs to the roof of the building where the dome observatory housed giant telescopes. One of them was open today and a queue was already formed. As it was a slow queue, Mommy stayed in line while I brought K inside the main building to see astronomy exhibits that included explanations on moon phases and tides before mommy called on the phone. Then we ran back up as fast as I could, carrying K huffed and puffed along the way.
Upon entering the dome, we saw a huge telescope point towards the skies through an opening. The planet of interest today was Mars as we found out from the staff introduction and instructions. After a couple of minutes more of waiting in line as people took turns at the telescope, we finally see a blurry yellowish dot through the scope, a first time experience for all of us!
Trying our luck, we went into the building afterwards even though it was already close to 10pm and explored around. The exhibits were quite nice especially for enthusiasts such as K who had lots of fun looking around at the photos, birth of Universe and solar system. Stayed all the way till 10pm until staff bade us goodbye (almost impressing on us that we should proceed to the exit). The gift shop however was already closed and we couldn’t get anything.
The journey back was 30mins only. We stopped at Burger King drive through and bought chicken tenders for 6ish dollars. It was slow fast food as we waited quite a while and the queue built up behind. After collecting our precious tenders, we drove to Shell station for gas and paid at counter 40dollars first, as I had nothing to base an estimate first but had to pay for gas before pumping. I didn’t even know if there were any restrictions on the octane rating and just went for the standard fuel and received around 10 gallons of it.
Got onto highway 101 for the trip back to our accommodation and arrived back by 11. Spent the rest of the night washing utensils, packing a little, hanging wet clothes,
making a bottle of milk and then finally off to sleep.