I had managed to secure myself a spot on the same departure and return flight as a friend (whom I regularly refer to as my “favourite fangirl”), thus we were able to travel together and keep each other company during the brief periods before our flight.
I successfully made it through the gates with about twenty minutes to spare. In the end, our flight was delayed by a half hour anyway. The body of the plane was relatively new and spacious; no obstacles were experienced en route to LAX. (For the first time ever in all my travels to the West Coast, the passenger in front did not recline his/her chair to the height of my nose during flight.)
Despite the delayed takeoff, time was caught up during the flight and we landed at LAX only ten minutes behind schedule. Disembarking the aircraft, I set off to locate the baggage claim area. Signage was plentiful and the area was, in fact, fairly close to the arrival gate.
The next step of action was to locate the Super Shuttle stop. From the information of two traffic regulators, I retraced my steps to find the Super Shuttle pickup area. Then, I relayed my desired destination to the man at the stop. He inquired if I had a reservation, to which I responded in the negative. My name was added to the list of passengers in need of a ride to downtown Los Angeles. More waiting was involved.
I almost collapsed in relief when the sight of a packed shuttle bus came into view. Stained, cramped seats were no longer of my concern – I merely wanted to drop off my belongings and begin the West Coast adventure.
After obtaining room keys and laying out my belongings in an orderly fashion, I changed into attire more fitting of LA conditions and set out to obtain a Tap card at 7th Street/Metro Centre.
I descended the stairs while still gazing around in hopes of finding someone of greater knowledge to speak with. When my prayers were not answered, I strode onwards to the fare machines, only to recoil in shock upon laying eyes on a homeless man curled up behind one of the pillars. He had been entirely camouflaged from view until I had reached the underground level, rendering his appearance even more startling.
Somehow, I was able to reach Wilshire/Vermont station (the splitting point for the Purple and Red Lines) without having to backtrack. It was also a miracle to successfully join the remainder of the group at Palga Grand Hotel with zero knowledge of downtown Los Angeles and its neighbouring areas.
Close to fainting, both from heat and hunger, I didn’t feel as if my desperate cry for sustenance justified such a crude response. Hurriedly scanning the two pages of items, I pointed towards one of the scarce few that did not feature a red chili pepper icon adjacent to it: Soybean Soup. The lady, in turn, wrinkled her nose at me.
I asked – almost pleaded – for a dish that would arrive quickly, yet instead the lady took her leisurely time in processing the order and spinning on her heel five minutes later to tell me that the spicy crab-based dishes would be faster picks.
Contrary to its supposed omission of spice, the broth was lined with a fiery film of vivid orange. Those with decent spice tolerances found the soup extremely mild, though the successive hits of spice gradually became too hot for me to handle. Within a couple of minutes, I had succeeded in shovelling down half the bowl of rice, all while speedily plucking banchan from the table spread.
Washroom stalls were not present within the restaurant either: two stalls were located in the lobby of Palga Grand with number locks. Oddly enough, the bathrooms were the cleanest spaces in the entire structure.