Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 1 - Venice Beach (LA, California) and Mexico City (Mexico)

A day before departure, I realized that I had to apply the US visa even though I was just transiting in Los Angeles for a few hours. Delta Airline did not allowed me to do a web check-in as I did not have a US visa record in their system. I was in a panic, and thought of the possible delay and alternative flight on a later date etc... 

Fortunately, my Singapore passport is really useful (ie. Singaporean can travel to 167 countries w/o visa or getting visa on arrival). I applied for US visa online and got it instantly! Well, I am grateful to be a Singaporean (it is not so easy for many Asian countries). 

I have transited in many countries, and my first time applying Visa for a transit. USA is really paranoid about homeland security. 


Flying from Singapore to Mexico City is the longest flight I ever taken- around 28 hours. (ie. Singapore to Tokyo to Los Angeles to Mexico City.) My Previous record was flying from Singapore to Doha to Sao Paulo - 26 hours.

First leg - Singapore to Tokyo 

I flew on Northwest and United Airline many years ago, and I did not have a good impression of American carriers. And well, my expectation of Delta airline was quite low too (I booked it as it was the cheapest). Surprisingly, Delta airline exceeded my expectation - Seat space wasn't too bad, good selection of in-flight entertainment, touch-screen, service was better than expected. 

Short transit in Narita Airport (Tokyo, Japan). The food was good even in the food court (so good that I had the same food on the way back) and service was great too. Quite a stark contrast to the food and service provided in Delta Airline.

Second leg - Tokyo to Los Angeles (California, USA) 

Forrest Gump

Watching my favorite movie of all time, and I have lost count of how many times I have watched it. It has been close to 10 years since I last set foot on US soil. It reminded of the best year of my life - where I spent time working in Silicon Valley, studying in Stanford University, understanding this concept of Human Birth Rights in Lincoln Memorial Museum in Washington DC, counting down at Time Square New York, participating in anti-Iraq war protest in San Diego etc...  Admittedly, there was a strong urge to re-locate to America.

To my pleasant surprise, the transit in Los Angeles Airport was not the usual airport transit. I had to go through the US custom, collect my baggage and re-check-in my baggage for my next flight. In another words, I could get out of the airport and explore Los Angeles for a few hours.

I was exhilarated! I was expecting to be stuck in the airport. My travel-mate and I decided to take a cab to explore Venice Beach. Some things don't change, like the cab fare in USA is still very expensive (paid US$40 for a short ride). 

Really happy to see the street of California. =)

Venice Beach

The last time I visited Venice beach (ie. 10 years ago), we were driving along Santa Monica Boulevard, and coincidentally, the radio was playing Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna do is have some fun". And my friends and I were singing to this particular lyrics

"All I wanna do is have some fun
Until the sun comes up
Over Santa Monica Boulevard "

During that trip, to save money, we slept in car instead of motel. This is the extent we would save money as a student! Not much money, but Life was more fun and exciting!!


Lotsa actions and activities in Venice Beach.

Van Gogh inspired street grafitti.

A day ago I was having lunch in the concrete jungle of Singapore CBD, and stressed about work.
The next day, I was having lunch in Venice beach with the view of Pacific Ocean, in a relaxing mood.
What a contrast! How fortunate I am!

Venice Beach - one of my favourite beaches.

Bye California. 
I will be back again! 

Last leg - Los Angeles (California, USA) to Mexico City (Mexico)

Hola Mexico City!

Wiki: "Mexico City is the federal district , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the union.[11] It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole. Mexico City is the country's largest city as well as its most important political, cultural, educational and financial center.

As an "alpha" global city[12] Mexico City is one of the most important financial centers in North America.[13] It is located in the Valley of Mexico (Valle de México), a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 metres (7,350 ft).

According to the most recent definition agreed upon by the federal and state governments, the Greater Mexico City population is 21.2 million people,[8] making it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere, the third largest agglomeration, and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world."

A huge city in a mountain valley!!

Technically, this is my second time visiting my Mexico (as I have done a day trip to Tijuana bordering San Diego). My first impression of Mexico was kinda within expectation as I have visited other Latin American cities before.

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