If you're remotely interested:
- I flew Qantas Airlines to LAX Airport for a ridiculously low $850 return with my sister.
- Spent 2 full days in Disneyland and stayed at the Sheraton Hotel.
- Stayed in AirBnBs at Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica.
- Stuffed my trap at: In-N-Out Burger, Chipotle, Sweetfin Poke, Starbucks, Five Guys and NY Bagel & Deli.
- Found internal peace at Wholefoods Market, Trader Joe's , Barnes & Noble and through Chipotle's Cultivating Thought paper take-out bags.
- SO FAR! So check back for more updates on the rest of my 10 day trip with my Chi.
Greetings from Southern California!
To those of you who waited patiently for this post to go live 4 days ago, I sincerely apologise.
I’ve been hard pressed thinking of something worthy to write about, caught in the balance of trying to be both interesting and helpful.
The best I could muster was one of possible entertainment value; one that intrigued your comparison juices and stroked your Aussie patriotism.
Like one of your many choices at CVS Pharmacy, here's what any Americans reading this can do with my article: take it or leave it!
So herein, my fellow Aussies, Asian-Aussies and special anomalous readers!
Noteworthy Observations on SoCal from an Asian-Australian Tourist:
1. Americans thought of everything before Australians did.
From how-to-do-capitalism through franchise chains, regulating big businesses, down to super-sizing your fries.
Whatever we do now, rest assured Americans did it first.
Trial and error, a fond learning practice I've adopted, is what North Americans could repeatedly engage in as they declared their independence in 1776. This is 200 years worth of start-up stuff-ups more than the Commonwealth of Australia, whom was established in 1901 as part of the dominion of the British Empire.
I say this to qualify why the US can appear like Australia-on-steroids to cater for their behemoth population.
They just had a head-start.
My main examples of this are:
FAST FOOD CHAINS
While health is at risk with the circa 20th Century explosion of fast food chains, following Morgan Spurlock's 2004 documentary of "Supersize Me", it's not just McDonald's that's worthy of blame for causing a growingly obese population.
In-N-Out Burger, Chick Fil-A, Five Guys, Jack-In-The-Box should also be held responsible.
Downtown at Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica and Anaheim (Disneylandville) - huge-burger-restaurant will neighbour another huge-burger-restaurant. There is an eatery to cater to a variety of tastes, work schedules, budgets and unoccupied waistline room.
HEALTH FOOD SUPERMARKETS
In Surry Hills, Sydney, I call About Life supermarket my little piece of Heaven on Earth. However, Wholefoods Market is Mecca, Nirvana and Heaven, should they all materialise simultaneously from my imagination and pummel me with 20kg of spaghetti squash.
It's a 2-time Woolworths sized supermarket full of organic fruits, vegetables, soft drink cans, deli treats, coyo, almond mylk ice creams, cacao nib chocolate and the healthier version of just about every other supermarket item you can think of. The buffet challenges the one at Sizzler, and it's also got an in-house cafe.
(I think I dribbled when I saw smoky bacon flavoured Kale chips!!!!)
2. Shopping is a Wonderland in its own right.
I'm not a huge shopper, but my jaw dropped to the floor when I laid my eyes on this puppy at The Americana at Brand, CA.
You could get lost in all the capitalism!
This three-storey elephant-sized book haven even had a reading nook. There was a spot to leave unpurchased merchandise before you popped into the bathroom for a quick whiz.
My sister and I grabbed 2 Americanos to sip from the B&N built-in Starbucks while we browsed the Autobiography section.
I also want to make a sneaky subnote -
We spent the last 2 days in Disneyland. I say this without passing judgment, and I will probably get into trouble for saying this, but never have I seen such a high concentration of people struggling to maintain a healthy weight in one vicinity.
I think if I was surrounded by such deliciousness for $2 a set (quarter pound hot dog and a Big Gulp from 7-Eleven) I'd be lured into the fatty-food comfort trap as well.
(More choice = heavier onslaught of self-control bottom-kicking?) Australians are not that far behind though...
3. Tipping is sort of a genius system.
Service staff are super polite 90% of the time. Their extra mile service is the norm. And then they hover, awaiting that paper green note to be handed to them.
So on the one hand, service is wonderful. On the other hand, motives are not pure. Work ethic is purely incentivised. So does that mean if there were no tips, workers are left to their internal value systems on what they perceive hard work to mean to them personally?
No wonder Americans complain about lack of great service in Australia.
I totally get it now.
4. Conversation is leading and direct.
I am going to draw parallels between Sydney's easygoing, heavily relying-on-hints dialogue to Southern California's pointed, clear, no-fluff communication:
Example A) 1.) Mother of 10 year old daughter, in the check out line at Woollies, Campsie NSW:
"Would you like to go ahead of me?" then [points to overflowing shopping cart, hoping I'll catch what she's referring to].
Example A) 2.) Mother of 10 year old daughter, in the check out line at Trader Joe's, Santa Monica, CA:
"Go on ahead of me, you have less things to buy than I do."
Example B) 1.) Service staff at Christopher's Cakes, Randwick, NSW:
"Hi there, can I help you?"
Example B) 2.) Service staff at The Cheesecake Factory, Anaheim, CA:
"Are there any questions you'd like to ask about our cake display?"
5. Sydney might have a lot of Asians and Arabs, but So Cal has a lot of Latinos.
California, Texas and Arizona are the 3 North American states sharing a chunk of the border with Mexico.
This is why LA is populated with Latin Americans.
The benefit of sharing border-chunks with a foreign country is definitely food culture. Never mind illegal trade cocaine, flu outbreaks, and people-smuggling coyotes, you can't get past Chipotle restaurant.
With every burrito they roll or bowl they fill, they do it to cultivate a better world. They also have thought-leadership articles printed on their recyclable paper take-away bags.
I ate my burrito bowl with such happiness in my heart.
I think I'm in love.
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