Faith and I left San Diego on an early bus for Hollywood. Upon reaching Hollywood, Faith would be meeting up with her cousins while I would be joining the guys again, who were driving in from Grand Canyon. We would be staying at USA Hostels near Hollywood Boulevard.
I checked in first and had lunch while waiting for the guys to arrive. After lunch, I took a stroll along Hollywood Boulevard on the Walk of Fame. Star sightings literally but there were also many names that I had never heard of before. About ten minutes from the hostel is the Kodak Theatre and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the venue of many film premieres and where many famous handprints and footprints are etched in stone.
Shannon and I dropped the guys off at Santa Monica Beach before we drove Faith to LAX for her flight back to Singapore. The airport was crowded and very disorganized, such that the check-in queues were snaking out of the terminal building to the drop-off point. We were actually quite worried that Faith might miss her flight. She made it, thankfully. After Faith left, we drove back to Santa Monica. The guys were almost done with the beach and were ready to leave. A few of us went shopping at Third Street Promenade before heading back to the beach.
At the beach, we came across Arlington West, a memorial of some sort to the war going on in the Middle East, dedicated to those who died fighting – Americans, Iraqis and Afghans alike. It was quite a sombre sight, especially at a beach full of tourists far removed from the violence taking place. It was especially heartening to know that whoever initiated this was against war, and was sympathizing with innocent Iraqis or Afghans who lost their lives.
The next day, Shannon and his friend were returning back to Singapore. It was to be just five of us left for a couple more days. We were kind of bored with Hollywood by then so we were just seeking places to go and basically ambled our way around the whole day. We first headed to Farmer’s Market by bus and had lunch there. All in all we walked for about three to four hours after that, from Farmer’s Market towards Sunset Boulevard.
We got kind of lost and pretty tired of walking, so we approached a random lady for directions. She was on her way to her car and she offered to give us a lift back to Hollywood Boulevard. It turned out she is a singer who had just released an album and was on her way to a party. It was really kind of her to drive us back to our hostel!
The guys were returning to Singapore the next day, and I was moving to a hostel in Santa Monica for the next three days before flying to Washington for my summer class. I was glad to be heading for Santa Monica for a number of reasons. It was by the beach, so even if I ran out of things to do, I could sit myself down on the beach and read a book, for free. It was also near LAX, where I was going to catch my flight.
After three weeks spent with my hall friends in Miami, The Bahamas, Chicago, Toronto, New York and Boston, and another three weeks with schoolmates in San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego and Los Angeles, I was traveling solo once again. Traveling in a group had gotten comfortable and now that I was alone, it took some getting used to, especially in terms of being more aware of your surroundings and more watchful over your personal belongings.
In preparation for my political journalism class, I had to read All The President’s Men, a book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal. Over the next three days, I pretty much spent them at the beach reading and soaking up the sun. And catching up on much needed sleep.