I have now been in LA for 10 action packed days. I have been to theme parks, travelled on the Metro, walked for miles (they don’t say kilometres over here). I have confused the locals with my funny accent, eaten new and interesting foods and even taken part in a couple of uni classes. So after this short period of time, what are my thoughts?
The biggest thing to strike me about LA is the vast divide between the haves and the have nots. Seeing the beautiful homes in Beverley Hills, and even the more modest hills around downtown, is a huge contrast to the number of people living on the streets.
When walking around the city you see many homeless sleeping on any available bench or street corner, or hanging out in their shelters put together from tarps and shopping trolleys. I am amazed that the shops have any trolleys left as all homeless seem to keep their worldly possessions in one. You see them walking around, trolleys overflowing, often with items salvaged from the trash that can be recycled for cash. Some have pets, which are their prized and most valuable possession. You often smell the acrid stench of urine whilst walking down the streets.
Yet as scary as these people appear to an outsider, for the most part they keep to themselves. The tent and tarp villages are clustered together along the side of freeways or main roads, normally near a church. Many seem to have some form of mental illness, yet they seem to be forgotten by the system.
Despite this I find LA to be a very clean and safe city. Catching the metro late at night, there are police and security both on the platforms and on the trains, and both are clean and graffiti free. In fact I don’t really recall seeing any graffiti. There are bins on most corners – even in suburban areas. Melbourne could learn a lot from LA in terms of keeping the city clean.
Well I have two more days in this fascinating city, and whilst I look forward to the familiarity of home, I have absolutely loved my time in this diverse city, with its snow capped mountains, exciting beaches, thrilling theme parks and incredible cultural offerings. If you have thought about adding this city to your list, I would highly recommend it.