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Thursday 22 Apr 2004
Los Angeles, USA

Santa Monica

Venice Beach aint cheap for internet access... this one in the hostel (Venice Beach Cotel) is 6 dollars per hour, which is actually the CHEAPEST in the area!! Crazy, when you consider that Americans get internet access for free in their homes!

I spent today wandering around Venice Beach in the great weather. Its a curious place... not quite as dodgy as it first seemed - its actually quite safe to walk along the beach-front promenade toward Santa Monica (a lovely 4km walk!) at night (I just did it). Although its also dead quiet at this time too...

There are many weird and wonderful people here, but most of them seem fairly "down to earth" and not quite the "airy fairy" Californians that you hear so much about. In fact thats what Ive found about most Americans Ive met here, theyre not quite as ignorant of the world as they are assumed to be (I guess itll change as I go more inland though cuz this place probably exposes most Americans to foreigners than any other in the States - except NYC). They even sell "Bad Bush" t-shirts here...and here I was thinking that they had an unholy respect for their government, whether they do good or bad. Lots of homeless guys here, plus (as a racist American room-mate of mine in the hostel noted) lots of black and hispanic peoples. Then living amongst them are super-rich beach bums living in quality apartments over-looking the beach. No bars separate the rich houses from the poor, since everyone seems to exist in a state-of-respect for on another. Makes for a great cultural vibe.. and indeed the plethora of craft stalls and poets on the beach promenade,beside buff guys in their briefs dancing fora few dollars (plus a kicking bin-drummer that was probably the BEST drummer Ive EVER heard!!! Sorry Jonny) make it interesting to stroll through. Not to mention Muscle Beach, where over-confident steroid addicts pump their stuff in front of passers-by. People seem to make money doing ANYTHING here... my racist American room-mate for instance sits down in the sun all day earning loads via his mobile phone!

Great T-shirt shops here, though all 100 of them sell EXACTLY the same set of t-shirts (as was the case all over Thailand too!!) so just enter one to get the idea. They sell,amongst others, "geeky Tees", which I like, like Nintendo, Atari and comic fan tees. I got a t-shirt plus a baseball cap (hey image is everything here!)

Just visited Santa Monica this evening. Its only 30 mins away (by foot) but almost like stepping into Santa Barbara. Its quite affluent, but yet, as with Venice, not too stuck-up and has some pretty trendy shops. Its a haven for religious buffs though. In less than one hour I got harrassed by 2 separate groups.. although I just ended up making fun of them.... on the way back I encountered a group of about 100 skateboarders doin a slalom down a hill,winding down through a course of small cones. Unbelievable skill... most of the guys were in their late 20s too...maybe skateboarding still had its height back in the 80s.

Yes. I have truly arrived in America!

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