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AKL-LAX-LHR-YVR-AKL Part 1 Skin & Sand

AKL-LAX-LHR-YVR-AKL Part 1 Skin & Sand

Old Sep 27, 16, 2:20 am
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: NZ
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AKL-LAX-LHR-YVR-AKL Part 1 Skin & Sand

AKL-LAX-LHR-YVR-AKL Part 1, AKL – LAX (Skin and Sand)

“A mile and a half on a bus takes a long time..” goes Belle and Sebastian’s most famous tune…well 10,498km on a 777-300 takes a while too and one must always be in the right zen-state to do this….only this time I was well on the way to blowing it.

Various aggravating factors (mostly caused by the day job) caused me to still be at the office desk at 17:12 when we were supposed to leave Jafa Towers at 17:00 on the dot to take into account the vagaries of AKL in rush hour.

By “we” one means oneself and The Patient One (TPO)…my Step-Father who is only 5 years older than me (my mother is a dirty ho) and we were on a mission to visit my Dad and his Mum in the post-brexit ruin that used to be the UK, both are 84 years old and we hadn’t seen them for a decade.

I was also going to see my brother, some aunties and uncles, some ex-girlfriends, some ex colleagues and bunch of wonderful young men and women who claim I changed their lives for the better (as if)…and…after 11 years of knowing each other in a digital sense I was finally going to meet ScarletHarlot and MrHarlot from back in the days when Airliners.net was a fun place to hang out… OMG!!!! To meet people you have known for 11 years and never met, what the actual feck??

So with the merest hint of a snatched kiss with Mrs Jafa and a hurried departure, we headed off to an uncertain fate feeling about as far removed from being in the Long Haul Zone as it is possible to get without being face down in a pool of one’s own vomit round the back of a Hell’s Angels pad in a seedy part of town.

We were both a bit wound up and not feeling it but as we ground through the Thursday night traffic I picked the last of the dirt from under my nails, a relic of a morning spent planting native trees with some grubby little non-binary and a group of schoolkids on a wind-blown hilltop in the very centre of nowhere in particular, and settled into the usual cockeyed observations on life that typifies my relationship with TPO.

By the time we made our third circuit of the re-mapped carparks at AKL International Terminal and actually found carpark E (or maybe it was D but diesel is cheap and we were in good time) we were feeling relaxed and almost like hardened long-haul travellers.

TPO has only flown about 6 times in his life compared to my 425 so he let me do the organising and as such is an excellent travelling companion, especially when I told him the beer was free in the Koru Lounge….that made his eyes light up!

We both have the Air NZ App and I am silver Koru so he got to use all the privileges that a guest of someone so incredibly important and humble as me has bestowed upon him. This meant priority check in (with a smile) and priority bag drop (no smile but a slight shrug) and because the premium check in facility with its express passport control lane was still under construction (somebody was in there watching the paint dry) we were given express passes through the lines of tediously ordinary pax to have our toothpaste weighed and measured by a large brown lady.

This is where we felt we were finally in the long-haul zone and really, actually about to spend the next 12 hours of our lives in a cramped limbo of our own making.

But first I had to make a purchase in duty free so I could spend the next 13 days worrying about trying not to forget to pick it up on the way back…you see Mrs Jafa had given me a list and on there was “Issey Miyake for women” (some form of topically applied insect repellent I guess but at $114 a bottle it had better be good) there was also Haida Art but that was three long haul flights and a shedload of handshakes and air kisses away yet… and KD had given me an order for a Battenburg cake, The Boy wanted jars of Bovril and The Hormones wanted something shiny.

The gate side area of AKL is basically a shopping mall with tight security so we fought our way past the temptations of cheap whiskey and hot Asian retail assistants to sink into a pre-flight stupor up in the sanctuary of the Koru Lounge.

The AKL International Koru is a place of contrasts, one enters into a brightly lit space that is nearly as clean as Prince Edward, here one can grab food, a drink and sit with the clattering classes, or, as we did, pile a plate and retire to the less brightly lit and more soothing ante-rooms.

We ate ghoulash, drank ginger ale and caught our breath as starting a 12 hour flight in any sort of hurry is not seemly as nothing one can do will make anything hurry up and happen.

I checked my carry-on to ensure it contained the necessary things that make flying more comfortable (toothpaste, L-Theanine and Chamomile Tea plus 2 litres of water in this instance) and chilled with the patient one until the urge to go to the gate become more than I could resist and we exited down the fabulously long and steep escalator back into the thronging masses of the retail-addicted and along to the gate area.

Please, people, if you must dawdle along the corridors of any airport could you please a: not spread your family out so that more earnest travellers cannot pass without poking you in the back with an umbrella b: not just stop 2 or 3 abreast and clog the place up like a blood clot c: breed.

Such behaviour is however restricted to certain demographics and at the risk of being declared a racist I shall name and shame…the Chinese and Indians, both of whom come from populous and crowded nations have, for some possibly cultural or genetic reason, absolutely no spatial awareness or perhaps no awareness that other people even exist…my theory is that when you live in a very crowded country you tune people out and therein lies the problem.

New Zealand isn’t crowded, we have plenty of room for everybody…we cram 4.5 million people into the same sized landmass that the Poms fit 70 million in and the Japanese fit 130 million…and yet we are very precious about our personal space….this may well be because we are used to having some…

At the gate I did my usual people-watching….hmmm, who do we have tonight?…yes earnest young Preppie types heading back to LA after succumbing to a drunken coach trip around NZ’s tourist traps….Mr Business man who likes to act casual and wear brown shoes and a pink shirt with a blue suit and no tie (oh the horror!)…a young blonde chick wearing active wear to accentuate a body most men would die (or pay by the hour) for and this American family….gosh…he was wandering around in brand name travel clothing and had his backpack on….over BOTH shoulders and the waistband was done up around his waist! He was 50 ish and skinny and had to keep walking around because he was either ADHD, busting for a poo or had just had a stomach full of smuggled Meth sachets burst in his stomach.

He fired directions at his wife and a staccato stream of the sort of information about airports that I would only inflict on my wife if she couldn’t sleep…she was dressed in pink and looked long-suffering while the kids just buried themselves in their devices looking at Katy Perry’s latest tweets and anything else that would blot out the true horror of actually having parents that only teenagers can feel.

The husband fascinated me, he was so awkward and anxious yet firmly in control…I had to make up a fantasy about what his wife did when he was at work to understand the dynamic between them.

A man with a clipboard wanted to ask me some questions about NZ that having a Kiwi passport disqualified me from answering and we made awkward banter until the call to boarding came.

I have flown a few 777’s and I know my preferences, we had 58C and D which is the first row of 2 seats behind the last row of 3 seats on the port side, it means more personal space (see what I mean about Kiwis?) and that means a lot on a long-haul.

I love that feeling when you board an Air NZ 777 in the dark (NZ2 departs around 22:00 hrs) there is a dimly-lit and softly enveloping loveliness about the experience….Air NZ really do put your comfort first, even in economy and this is why I fly them in preference to any other airline. I like the smell, I like the colours and like the mature but sexy Flight Attendants, well the female ones at any rate, they are friendly with a hint of no-nonsense, strict but flexible…oooh nice!!

So yeah, we like got our act together and like hung out waiting for the engines to fire up and we were a bit late pushing back but when those big fat turbo fans fire up and the noise rises in pitch, goes through a rough patch and then breaks through some invisible barrier to a smooth pitch that doesn’t make you wonder how far through the cabin an uncontained fan blade can smash, ooh! Geekery!!

We taxied out into the warm dark night, lined up on the runway and the Captain let slip the dogs of General Electric to send us hurtling down the runway with a mighty roar, out to the west for a left turn over the Manukau Harbour…oh joy, it has begun, we are road trippin’…

MUY TURBULENTE!!! The next 12 hours, although comfortable were a bit crash-bang-wallop, it is storm season out in the Pacific and above it so we had our share of bumps.

The seats on Air NZ 777’s are made to fit Kiwis and Maoris, both grow well in our climate and that means that I had adequate but not luxurious personal space and a shitload of movies and music to choose from. I started with the movie “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and after dinner plugged into some Lana Del Rey “Born to Die” until I fell asleep.

“Bump, crash, shudder” wake up, go to the toilet, read the bogus book titles on the pictures of a book shelf on the toilet wall, walk about the cabin and touch things I shouldn’t, like the knobs and catches in the mid-cabin galley…steal a bar of chocolate from the same place next time around.

I finally found out what the hauntingly lovely song I keep hearing on the PA when boarding Air NZ domestic fights was…”This is why we can’t have nice things by Olympia”…and it became the soundtrack for this entire trip as it is the most effective earworm I have yet to encounter but I didn’t mind as it is a nice thing to have in your head and even now it reminds me of this trip, properly transporting me back to any part of it.

Take a hit from my Anti Jet-Lag spray, drink water, look at the airshow map on the IFE, think about dying, think about something else, feel remorse for bad things I shouldn’t have done years ago, think about sex, sleep…

“Bump, crash, shudder” wake up, walk the other way around the cabin, use a toilet I haven’t used yet, think about weather, think about not thinking, adjust seat, take a hit of the Anti Jet-Lag spray, drink water, think about Xena Warrior Princess, give an imaginary speech on the evils of activism, look at small girl curled up on her seat, hate her for being so small and comfortable, listen to Sigur Ros, feel ethereal, sleep….

“Bump, crash, shudder” wake up, look at airshow, see we are above the equator, feel happy about that, feel excited, go to the toilet, walk around the cabin end up in the aft galley and talk to a lady with a tiny baby in her arms….

”Where are you going” I ask

“Birmingham in the UK” she replies

“I’m going to London and Norfolk” (she takes one step back)

“Norfolk?” (she shields her baby with a protective hand)

“I live in Auckland now” I said trying to allay her fears

“I live in Wanaka” the winsome creature replied

“I know someone in Wanaka” I exclaimed

“What is her name?”

“Marian, she just got married”

“Marian XXXXX?”


“I know her” she was warming to me “Her ex was a real prick!”

And so we had a good yarn about the small-town politics of Wanaka and dirty scum-bag lowlifes.

The toilet became free again and I went to check some more book titles.

“Bump, crash, shudder” wake up; see daylight round the cracks of the window blinds and the cabin lighting switched to “sunrise”. Great! Soon be breakfast! Soon be LAX; soon be at the hotel and horizontal, farting and snoring!

After breakfast TPO and I sat gazing out of the window at the Californian coast slipping by, he was enthralled as he had never landed in LAX in daylight before and ‘Merica was a whole new experience for him.

He got very excited as we started to join the queue for the runway as there are two and so you get some good views of other aircraft actually flying.

We scrubbed off speed and descended, hit a couple of bumps as thermals lifted off of acres of concrete and then, as we geeked out of the port side window we landed in the smoothest, greasiest landing I have ever experienced…it was perfect in every way, the transition from flying to being earthbound was indiscernible, 11/10, marvellous.

We had arrived for our 24 hour stopover in LA, I switched my cellphone on and prepared to descend into the 5th level of hell that is LAX immigration, oh yes… the land of the free has a funny way of saying “Welcome Y’all!”

Last time I was in LAX it was still a world-class shithole but sometime in the last 4 years at least part of it has had a makeover and it is now an airport rather than just a dark concrete shed full of grim.

But really, for an airport that has a zillion long-haul flights an hour landing you think it would have a bigger passport control hall. We queued up with thousands of other jet-lagged people in a very hot maze of lines to be polite to people with guns who took pictures of our eyeballs and our fingerprints and asked questions designed to cause us to admit to having committed “Moral Terpitude” and other crimes against turps…

We were not fazed, we pretended to be innocent tourists with no hidden agenda or dark thoughts of any kind which helped things along no end as we had spent what felt like the last 400 years watching those who went before us making endless small-talk with the people with guns and anal probes as if they were chatting with an uncle or aunt who had just returned from a holiday in Florida and didn’t have 50 OxyContin hidden up their back passage.

I had a kilo of cocaine for the Harlots but more of that later….

So we were through pretty rapidly, so rapidly that our interrogator thoughtfully stroked his Glock as we left as if he suspected that we had an agenda and momentarily thought about yelling “Get on the ground!!!”

Our bags had been waiting for us for so long that somebody had taken them off the carousel and placed them in a gaggle by the side of it…no doubt they had also been X-rayed, sniffed by dogs, opened, had tracking devices fitted and wiped clean of prints…do the illuminati have fingerprints??

We exited LAX past the throngs of people peering expectantly for a loved one or a relative.

Pressed against the rail they were, peering intently at us in case the lithe strawberry-blonde 25 year old niece they were waiting for had been transformed into a couple of 50-something bald guys whilst away on holiday.

Nobody claimed us which was both a poignant disappointment and a relief all at once.

We emerged blinking into the bright, sultry afternoon heat and exhaust fumes of LAX courtesy bus pick up zone, to await a blue bus with Crowne Plaza written on it.

It arrived and we boarded to be transported to West Century Boulevard in that relaxed but surreal state that typifies Jafa in ‘Merica….it never feels quite like Planet Earth…

The hotel was like a teenage boy’s mate’s Mum, robustly constructed but comfortable and attractive, somewhere you would happily snuggle up and feel the embrace, not freshly scrubbed, lean and almost devoid of character, like a teenage girl with more show than go…this hotel was a m-i-l-f and all the better for it….

We checked into our huge room with its two huge beds and we crashed, we tried to watch telly but the insane blurring of lines between advert, infomercial, advertorial, product placement and actual, factual content messed with my head so I drifted off into oblivion while TPO watched a doco about old men trying not to die a lingering death in some god-forsaken wilderness in the hopes of being the last man standing and winning a shitload of cash.

Two or three hours later I woke up and started aimlessly moving about in the hope that I would work out which way was up and what day it was. I looked out of the window at the ceaseless parade of planes landing, gazed at the carparks that surrounded the Hotel areas and decided that as I didn’t need any crystal meth or a (very) cheap hooker we would probably not go anywhere other than the bar today.

I nearly succumbed to the Emergency Pizza button but the patient one fancied something a little more American so we headed to the bar/restaurant and had a Budweiser and a Burger each with fries….many, many fries!!!!

This left us in a mellow mood and I taught TPO the finer points of people-watching and the micro-clues that give away their real intent. He saw a young and very pretty black girl who was clearly an attorney or some other legal type talking to a Hispanic guy and a white guy most likely about work and how they stiffed some blatantly guilty wrongdoer for zillions in legal fees….WRONG!!!! by watching for the micro-clues I was able to put him right.

A drug deal was going down, at their feet were three briefcases, one contained non-sequential used notes in mixed denominations, one contained 2 kilos of Meth and the other an Uzi with 3 spare clips….each knew which bag they came with and which one they would be leaving with…

The effort of trying to explain to TPO how his entire reality was a lie started to take its toll so we headed back to our room and fell asleep.

Sometime during the night an ex-employee of mine texted because her new job was presenting some issues and she need some advice, so in order not to disturb TPO, who was snoring like a drunk warthog, I slipped out of the room and paced the long corridors of the 4th floor having a chat on my cellphone with a deranged Iraqi chick who was hiding from the wind and rain in WLG. Eventually I decided the area by the lift was a place where I could chat without disturbing any of the guests in their rooms.

Thing is, in NZ if one saw a 50-something bald guy wandering the midnight corridors with a cellphone to his ear and wearing PJ’s one would say “Hi”, possibly ask the way to the laundry and generally keep calm and carry on as if it were an everyday occurrence, no need to mention it to anyone….however this was the land of the free and as occasional mobs of jet-lagged or generally “end of the day-ish” travellers and families exited the lift they were so disturbed that they had to do power-ignoring to put the dreadful apparition from their minds….small children were ushered away as if there was a homeless person with a dog on a string standing there…or this being LA, something really shocking, like a normal person.

I was happy to blow a few minds (I do have Danvers Rothschild L’Homedieu on my Facebook friends list after all) but after a while paranoia descended and I started to fear that the lift doors would open and a gaggle of over-zealous Cops would leap out shouting “Get on the ground!!!” only if I had the gumption and the opportunity to flash my Kiwi passport would I be liable to be dismissed as a bloody colonial and allowed to exit a free man.

So I went back to bed and dreamt about Eels and fragmented memories of school.

Morning crept around the curtains like a thief, TPO and I got ready for breakfast, attempted to find some local attraction on the TV but nearly ended up adopting an adorable dog and buying a Toyota while stocks lasted.

Down in the restaurant we piled into an American English Breakfast and pondered how one makes white butter or purple hot chocolate but put such matters aside due to the Hispanic waitress having a really cute bum.

After breakfast we asked her what one could do in LAX for 5 hours which is how much time we had before we had to leave for the airport.

She suggested we feck off and stop staring at her bum…not really, she told us about the $5 return bus trip to the beach and we bit…purchased out tickets, grabbed a map and headed outside to an uncertain fate that was bound to include sand, pickpockets, getting mildly lost and narcissists with seriously toned bodies…we were wrong about the pickpockets but on point with the rest.

Outside, the day was heating up fast and we stood by the wide palm tree-lined road and awaited the red bus with pictures of the beach on the side by a thin metal pole with an A4 sign on that was allegedly a bus stop. We stood nervously beside the road expecting a drive-by shooting to come our way at any minute as we stood there, blatantly un-American, beacons of tourist-ness, overdressed and under chilled…targets...we were targets just waiting for the vultures to pick us clean man…

Back on planet earth the bus arrived and we got on, sat down and wondered why the main road past the airport was in such shocking condition as the bus jolted rhythmically down the concrete strip of bumps.

The driver made a comment about the state of the road but I could see the Qantas cargo hangers and was trying to hide my excitement…

A mile and a half on a bus really can take a long time if the traffic is heavy but it wasn’t heavy.

We left the sparseness of the airport environs to track along the beach with the sea to our right. Out in the warm seas tankers tanked, sailing boats sailed and drug boats left a creamy wake as the skipper tried to pretend that 40 knots with a MAC10 in the crook of your arm was normal behaviour in LA…which it probably is…

They don’t half pack the houses in along the beach in LA!!! Ten or twenty deep, no real gardens, each tier higher than the last as the serried ranks of very expensive houses tiptoed up the hill towards the road as it struggled up from sea level with the weight of 100,000 houses on its back. We saw flash cars, cafes, beautiful people and fire hydrants.

“FIRE HYDRANTS!” Exclaimed The Patient One…”They really exist!...Just like the movies!”

Bless…..he does get excited but I have to admit that after years of being bombarded with images from the USA in a shitload of movies it is a trip seeing certain things…I saw my first proper Yankee Cop car outside LAX in 2003 and that was an odd/exciting feeling too.

NZ is the land of the free, don’t let anyone tell you it is America…punch them if they do because they need to snap out of it….an example of this happened while I was still peeling TPO off the ceiling of the bus after he saw the fire hydrant.

The bus had stopped in traffic and one of the passengers asked the driver if he could get off the bus because we were opposite the place he was going “No” the driver said in that stern “get on the ground!” voice that is usually reserved for crack heads in a stolen car “Sir, you have to get off at the designated stop”…in NZ the driver would likely have opened the doors and let the guy off, it’s like that….customer-focussed service…

I have other examples I could share but that would be over-egging it, y’all know what I mean.

So, we arrived at the designated stop with its tiny little sign and after checking our surroundings and taking a quick photo so we wouldn’t get lost trying to find the little sign hidden in a tree, that was the only clue as to where to get back on the bus later in the day, we wandered downhill towards the beach.

Houses on these waterfront areas are really packed in tight, if you party on your deck you can hear and smell your neighbours, every al fresco social interaction becomes a block party and wandering around naked in one’s garden would have you on the ground and ritually humiliated by over-caffeinated cops in minutes, you might never see it coming!

But the vibe was good, it didn’t seem as if anyone really worried about their neighbours BBQ smoke or hushed conversations about their guests alleged infidelity with the hot African-American Attorney on the 14th floor…in LA one’s perceived and possibly false sense of acceptance allows the populace to bare it all (unless it involves a nipple or a foreskin) and “issues” are just real life to the average Californian…or maybe everyone is on drugs…

The beach hove into view and there were pergolas and tents and Beach Volleyball Courts all over the sand, stretching down from Manhattan Beach to Hermosa, a vast area of warm sand, framed by the respective piers of the adjoining beaches…it was a Beach Volleyball Championship of some note and we stood transfixed by lithe, toned women…all Misty May-Treanor and Holly McPeak they were…

We developed an instant and unhealthy interest in sport, standing and gawping at these wonderful specimens of sports-womanhood as particles of sand stuck to the lines of drool that clung to our goatees making us look like Paul Teutul Senior playing at Rambo.

TPO declared that we should move away for fear of being arrested and as it was very warm we tore ourselves away from the spectacle and walked down to the shore so I could touch the water and connect with my homeland, 10,498kms to the south, sending my vibes through molecules, jellyfish and half sunk shipping containers to the black sands of NZ’s West Coast.

The pier beckoned, there was a hexagonal building at the end that suggested ice cream and chilled mineral water.

Picking our way through the currently deserted mini-stadium to the steps that led to the pier twenty feet above sea level we narrowly avoided obtaining the autograph of someone we felt we should be in awe of but hadn’t a clue who he was. We also turned down a 2 for 1 deal on some energy powder being offered to us in an orange tent by well-tanned promo girls with legs that would make an Aesthete weep and mounted the steps to emerge onto the wide sweep of the pier.

The deck of the pier was studded with bronze stars bearing the names of every Beach Volleyball star back to St Peter and beyond…fascinating reading as I had actually heard of some of the female ones.

Heroically we endured the heat to arrive at a kiosk in the suggestive building, bought chilled fizzy water and ice creams and turned our attention to a man wearing far too many clothes for the weather and a leathery suntan.

He was obviously a keen fisherman and we engaged in conversation about fishing (something The Patient One and I do instead of therapy) until the point at which I felt he preferred his own company and had probably had this conversation every day for 40 years.

I am tenacious and we stayed until we saw him catch something, three fishes that not even a dozen loaves would have padded out to feed the 5,000 but then a noise like small children drew my attention into the small museum of seaweed that fits snugly in the back of the suggestive building. I noticed a class of ankle-biters being taught about turtles by a robust but rather lovely young woman wearing nothing but a yellow bikini…I was beginning to like LA and for all the wrong reasons…

To distract myself from this vision of fecundity I looked south and watched the mass of houses peel off into the distance, a single thread of humanity, punctuated only by the desalination plants piercing the heat haze like Nuclear Powerstations, doing that thing that the USA does well….the industrialisation of the natural in a brutal and old-school way that would have the NZ Department of Conservation rolling towards an assortment of Corporate Offices with Tanks and a Lynch-Mob.

Try putting anything near a beach in NZ and see how much of your life tales place in court….true there are urban beaches with houses up to the shoreline but it is very strictly managed and the majority of our beaches are unsullied by dwellings and you will never hear the ring of a cash register on the beach side of the road in any town, village or city in The Land of The Long White Cloud…so as you can probably imagine…this was all a bit of a head-trip…

Being hardy, inquisitive souls with a fear of Deep-vein Thrombosis we decided to walk to the pier at Hermosa Beach, which we figured wasn’t too far away and we set out past the pop-up surf schools, hundreds of litter bins and bikini-clad jailbait, MILFs and the Gender Fluid.

We past hunky guys with six-pack stomachs that would stop a bazooka round in its tracks and oldies letting their sagging bellies hang out with no shame and no fear of judgement…skin is in…or rather out, in LA and rightly so, nobody needs to body-shame anybody, we all have one and they come in many shapes and sizes.

They cut a scene out of Lawrence of Arabia, or rather shortened it, the original being something like 11 minutes of the hero, riding a camel at pace through the desert towards the camera…our walk to Hermosa Beach would have looked like that…only much longer and without the camel…feck, it was a long way but we got there and wandered onto the pier so we could say we had done it and took in the sights…people fishing, people walking, skin in motion and skin just tanning in the breeze...it was a relief to arrive and although there was no suggestive building there was a wide street in Hermosa itself that screamed cold drinks…we succumbed to its siren call and bought two ice-laden orange juices from a charming young lady in a small café and felt that everything in the world was the right way up and lovely.

Having used up more than our allotted time-box for getting to Hermosa Beach we found ourselves in need of a quick way back which manifested in the long pedestrian and cycleway that led past the fronts of the front row of real estate that overlooked the beach. The proximity to the front decks and doors of these houses was intimate to say the least but a slim strip of shade allowed ourselves to feel a bit less El Alamein as we strode purposely towards Tenth Ave and the uphill trek to the bus stop.

Our time in LA was seeping away and although we didn’t need to hurry we didn’t need to miss the half-past-the-hour bus and have to wait for the next one.

We saw the sort of things that one would expect to see on a Californian beach, a buff dude with no shirt on being towed down the cycleway on his skateboard by three Pitbulls…a trifle too self-consciously for my liking but I dare say it is an essential part of the mating ritual in these parts. Pregnant women in Activewear and Goths propelling their skateboards with a wan, skinny leg because they had sacrificed the Pitbulls to Azazel.

There were a fair few people on rented electric bikes, most seemed fit and happy and a couple were obese and happy….I think they arrest miserable people in LA and send then for reprogramming…or everybody is on drugs…

We had a bit of a moment when I decided that the correct street was the wrong one and when we managed to find an elusive patch of shadow, the photo I had taken earlier showed that the street we were on was a street too far and we hurried back to the bus stop, waiting patiently in the blessed shadows as the bus struggled through the traffic to pick us up.

My attempts to communicate with the elderly Hispanic driver were met with a curt “sit down!” as were similar attempts by the passengers we picked up further down the road.

I made fists in my pockets and wished him harm as he drove like a nutter through the heavy traffic, a mile and a half on this bus really did take a long time but eventually we made it to the shopping mall, which bizarrely enough was the chosen destination for people on the five dollar bus loop who found skin, sun and sea all a bit bothersome when retail therapy was available.

Mr Grumpy-pants parked the bus, peremptorily waved off the alighting pax, then turned to me with a cheery smile and said…..he really did say this….”would you mind watching the bus, I really need to use the bathroom”…and off he went, sphincter clamped tight against the emerging turtle-head in his undies.

TPO and I looked at each other in disbelief, each concurring that in the UK the bus would likely be stolen by the pax as soon as he had clamped his butt to the toilet seat and opened the floodgates…I looked at the little wicker basket placed in front of the fire extinguisher for tips, mixed denomination used notes idly waving in the furnace breeze, the keys, still swinging in the ignition from a casual but firm encounter with a knee, extracted in haste from the footwell…we looked at each other and laughed until our jaws hurt…this was epic!

We sat there in the heat and waited for the driver who returned looking less stressed and in better humour. He thanked us for waiting (like we had a choice with all the drive by shootings, car jackings and drug deals going on around us) and drove at a more sedate pace back to the hotel.

The map made the hotels seem pretty close but Sepulveda Boulevard is long and choked with traffic and I started to sweat a bit as we had to check out at 13:00hrs and leave for the airport at the same time.

We made it with 30 seconds to spare and found ourselves outside the Crowne Plaza with a bunch of Volunteers from some youth organisation and after their feeble attempts to load a guy in a wheel chair into the back of the bus stretched on for so long that another shuttle turned up we swapped to that one and left before the fresh-faced and nauseatingly happy volunteers were fully loaded.

Nice!! So back to LAX we went, sunburnt, thirsty and happy that we had “done” LA without getting arrested or shot…as it was to turn out, not everybody booked onto NZ2 would be so lucky….

Part 2 here now! Read it! http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...l#post27287564

Last edited by Jafa39; Oct 1, 16 at 3:59 am
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Old Sep 27, 16, 3:57 am
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Enjoyable read^ I guess you looked trustworthy to the driver Only visited once the beach in LA and it was a unique experience....
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Old Sep 27, 16, 8:52 am
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Location: 6km East of EPAYE
Programs: UA Silver, AA Platinum, AS & DL GM Marriott TE, Hilton Gold
Posts: 9,576
Thanks for sharing ^
Madone59 is offline  
Old Sep 27, 16, 11:11 am
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: JNB
Programs: Flying Blue, Miles and Smiles, Hhonors, ICHotels
Posts: 1,199
This is an amazing read - I have giggled and snorted Scotch over my keyboard.
So looking forward to the rest of your trip.
roadwarrier is offline  
Old Sep 28, 16, 9:55 am
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Seattle area
Programs: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan MVP Gold
Posts: 138
I love you.
ScarletHarlot is offline  
Old Sep 28, 16, 12:21 pm
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: SOU
Programs: BA Gold, Emirates Silver, Priority Club Gold, Hilton Gold, BA Amex PP
Posts: 869
Cracking read, looking forward to your assessment of the post-brexit apocalyptic wasteland we're shuffling around in here.
Jonobigblind is offline  
Old Sep 29, 16, 12:15 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: NZ
Programs: airpoints
Posts: 65
Originally Posted by ScarletHarlot View Post
I love you.
You had better, you feature heavily in part 3
Jafa39 is offline  
Old Oct 1, 16, 10:46 pm
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: NZ
Programs: AA, UA, QF, TK, EY, NZ
Posts: 447
Welcome back to the report writing scene!! Loved your reports on that site which used to be a fun place to hang out.. And I haven't been disappointed! I had wondered where you had disappeared to..
ANZ787900 is offline  

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