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Onto the next island! I did not want to volunteer on Kauai but still wasn’t sure what I was doing. I found an outdated travel book full of interesting sounding places, but it turns out every one of them was closed. Well, now I know why it wasn’t updated. I was looking for a sign and unclear of what to do. The next more mainstream book flipped open to “go camping on Kauai!” Well, I’ll take that as a sign.

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I fall asleep on most planes. This time I woke up to this fantastic mythical looking view. This does not look like it should actually exist.

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Beautiful Anini Beach where I spent most of my time camping. The local story is that the beach used to be called Wanini but the W fell off the sign.

After a stop at a Walmart with a strangely cheap rental car, I was full of camping gear and ready to go. Sort of. I’ve only been car camping in California before so this was interesting. Luckily Hawaii is not full of large, dangerous predators so camping is relatively easy and you don’t have to protect your food or anything. The county of Kauai lets you camp for sixty days on permit and I never made it past that or to the hippie enclaves at the end of the eleven mile hike. My days were spent pleasantly in the water, on the sand, and chatting in front of fires with tourists and more long term beach residents alike.

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Sunset off the side of a road. There were endless dramatic sunrises and sunsets.

I soon tired of moving campsites so often and sleeping inside a tent around lots of people was decidedly less charming than the screen meshed hut I was in before. This time around I checked out WWOOF-ing again as I was ready for a bit more work with the land. I ended up on Kauai Authentic Farms and got to enjoy an even closer knit family oriented community on a homestead farm. This means they grew things mostly for themselves and this meant a Noah’s Ark of a small number of each type of critter and lots of interesting exotic fruits and grasses. The latter is because cows like exotic bites too. Oh and I guess the farmer was testing out high protein grasses for the local college.

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The happy pigs that I had arrived to learn about the butchery of. The bottom one was thought to be pregnant for a few months, apparently it’s hard to tell with pigs. She was indeed, not pregnant but happy to get extra food and pets.

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The season of birthing as this calf was born when I was there. There was fresh, unpasteurized milk to be enjoyed and cheese to be made.

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I think I ate a papaya daily but then one month one of my favorite fruits ever, the wax apple, exploded everywhere.

I had never lived off the grid before and it really turned out to be less of an adjustment for me than I thought it would be to use an outdoor kitchen, solar fridge, and not have a running water toilet. The beautiful screen mesh tarp roofed hut overlooking the ocean and secluded on a hill certainly helped. Similar to the Big Island, I also got to enjoying showering outside amongst the plants in mostly hot water. The bevy of friendly folk and children running around was enjoyable as well.

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Camping the last week with farm landmates teaching me about hunting for sand crabs and how to cook them on what my camera made look like a magic fire.

I’m pretty sure I could starve out there and marveled as the others pointed out so many different edible foraged plants and fishes. Time not spent farming was spent snorkeling, picking fruits, preserving and processing veggies, fishing, scraping opihi clams off the rocks and playing with the kids. It was really great to see a bunch of children trying to get me to climb trees with them and getting just absolutely dirty. Things you see less of in cities. I switch quickly between cities and rural areas, but this experience definitely made me wonder if a homestead farm would not be a bad place to be for a while. Unfortunately this time an ankle sprain I got fjording a river multiple times to a waterfall before I even got to the farm got worse over the course of a few months and I could no longer do farm work.

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An end to this Hawaiian adventure.

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When I did the round the world trip a few years back I said I was looking for a place to be. I remember the friend I made in Honolulu asking me how that went and I recall thinking Hawaii was the top of that list. So many years later as I wandered about more, I wondered why not Hawaii?

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Paradise much? Spoiler: this was my view every sunset for a couple months. And no, I didn’t get tired of it.

I dreamed of it and jokingly kept asking if people wanted to move to Hawaii but I never seriously considered it. It’s so expensive, I thought. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, where to go. So pulling a very LA move, I went and talked with my Reiki healer. She recommended talking to her teacher, who was an intuitive artist. Great! I called and she asked if I wanted to talk to any dead people. Wait, what? Oh, you’re a medium! Wait, what is that when it’s not a  thing used on a CBS detective show? In the end it meant having someone else tell me what I wanted but was afraid to do: go to Hawaii with nary a plan and hope for the best.

I’ve been a bit of an overplanner, and being in America seems like as good a time to try making zero plans as anywhere. It’s also a good way to be stuck in an eerily Kona airport for hours as the place empties out in-between flights. Landing in a place with almost always high season and hostels that won’t take you without an exit ticket made for an exciting experience. I scrambled into an AirBnB terrified of geckos running around in the room I was in. Little did I know that part would be come normal.

Well, ok now what. AirBNB wasn’t going to sustain me very long when I aimed for an apartment and missed. I started looking into volunteering again through Craigslist and Workaway. There was a promising spiritual retreat on Workaway that didn’t want people until later and an interesting looking farm on Craigslist. I was being driven to the interview for Workaway when two separate people told me I couldn’t go to the farm, it was known for being abusive to volunteers. The horror stories later even included volunteers being beat with chickens. Don’t subject yourself to poultry abuse. Luckily for me, beyond a couple hours I sat around fretting with the ranch owner running errands, I was ok because she was kind enough to take me in that day.

So began my adventure at the Dragonfly Ranch. It was a whirlwind of two months living in a community with a bunch of mostly young people seeking through various esoteric spiritual methods. There’s an awesome rainbow labyrinth overlooking the ocean on a hill in the sacred triangle of the City of Refuge. The national park there preserves an area that used to be a haven of native Hawaii. If you had some issue or done some criminal act, you would be forgiven if you could make it to the City of Refuge. Accordingly, in a culture full of violent warriors, it was not easy to get there. It was a lot easier to get there now and probably serves a similar purpose where I was, for people to sort some stuff out.

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A pleasant and balmy two to three mile walk or hitchhike to the famous snorkeling spot Two Steps full of critters.

I went snorkeling almost daily and saw dolphins my first week there. I got to see them a few times during my stay. I slept in a screen mesh and tin roofed “hale” (Hawaiian for house) and was surprised when I was awoken not just by sunrises and tropical rain but also the full moon. It was a beautiful feeling to be so outside. It was a great balance of helping out with running the B&B in the morning and then having the afternoons free to hike, snorkel or do whatever I wanted to which mostly consists of being outside. There was a pleasant garden and beans and grains were provided. There were weekly community events that often included the guests. It became pretty unclear who was a guest or not, as it seemed more like a gathering place with various ways of exchange to stay. It was a great place to meet people exploring interesting things. There was some friction as the automatic assignment of women to housecleaning and barring them from maintenance did not work out super well with my skills, but we sorted that out fairly quickly. Gotta follow your nature.

Some of us would band together every once in a while to rent a car and explore the island. It is fairly common to see people hitchhiking around the island though, since I learned upon landing at the airport that the bus only ran once a day to take people to and from work. I soon got used to hopping in the back of pick up trucks with tools, toys and who knows who else. One time my friend and I even managed to hitch a ride with a kayak a few minutes after getting out of the water. These are the vital Hawaii skills.

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Big Island has active volcanoes. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see lava but this sulfurous cloud was stunning.

It was also a great to explore everything else on the big island. This may be the biggest island but it’s still drivable all the way around in a few hours. Beautiful hikes, waterfalls, lush forest, exotic fruits and beaches containing white, black and green sand. Unfortunately my phone camera and the cloudy weather didn’t always make for the best pictures of these. Being somewhere a few months was definitely a more relaxed way to see a place than trying to do it in a week or less though. It was possible to stay longer, I think some volunteers had stayed years or even indefinitely. My curiosity about Hawaii and other communities pushed me onward to see the other islands. I wouldn’t mind living on Big Island, it’s a pretty amazing place. Where else can you see land being born constantly?

Edit: And then I made it back to the Big Island while I was on Kauai and crashed the friend’s honeymoon that I had not made it back to California for the wedding of in the summer. Honeymoons are more fun anyways.

 

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That lava is flowing straight into the ocean and causing a whole mess of steam. I wish I had an actual camera to capture how amazing it was to see waves crashing and sending molten lava flying.

I leave England, school and having a flat to hit the road and to parts and plans unknown once more. It was fun to be in one place for a bit, to have friends and a neighborhood again. I miss the road and an opportunity to drive across America came up. I’ve been meaning to do this ever since I drove across Vietnam. Why am I driving across another, albeit much smaller, country instead of my own?

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“What’s in the large bag?” is a fun question to come up with answers that don’t let the baggage person know it is a bicycle. I think “kinetic natural art sculpture” is my favorite answer so far.

I landed in New York just in time to celebrate the Superbowl and Chinese New Years on the same day. This is my yearly or bi-yearly dose of snow that did make me wonder if two Californians would be ok driving through the northeast during a blizzard.

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Because none of my friends live in Manhattan anymore, I get a great view of the island from Queens.

Luckily the northeast and the eight states we shot through went by real quickly and we hit the south for barbecue and warm weather galore. I’ve driven from Chicago to Los Angeles before but mostly missed the south that time.

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We stayed on a plantation our first night, already out of the cold and across six states in one day!

My friend and I would marvel at how many states we drove through. The west coast is not that fast to shoot through so many small states. My European friends were confused that I could drive a whole day and not leave the state

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The lovely car that someone let me drive getting our car mishaps out of the way early on the second morning. We kept the nail on our dashboard as a good luck charm.

The destinations we stopped by were picked by a mixture of places I wanted to eat, national parks my friend and I wanted to see and cities I’ve been meaning to check out to see if they might be a good fit for living in in the future.

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I missed good barbecue… and ridiculous American portions. Food comas during driving are hilarious.

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Seriously though, I would not mind owning a rig to smoke meats this big one day. #LifeGoals

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Outside a small batch whiskey distillery in Nashville. I was here for the hot chicken, design and to be one of those LA people possibly moving to Nashville.

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If I had a bumper sticker, it would say, “Will stop for gravy, biscuits, chicken fried things, really anything you would put gravy on.”

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The famous Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans for beignets and chicory coffee at all hours of the day and night.

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How could you not love the wide open road surrounded by endless sky and water topped with many layers of dreamy clouds.

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We stopped at a gator rescue. This involved getting to hold adorable baby gators. One of two times the trip involved critters on the road not for eating. The other was also in the bayou and involved a black pig ambling across our path at dusk. Somehow I missed going pig hunting in Austin AND getting roadkill pig, but alas, it’s not my car.

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Not quite the season to do all the beautiful art and earthworks scattered through the southwest but we did stop in Marfa. I did not know everything is shut down Monday through Wednesday so we mostly got to see this.

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Well, we also stopped to try to see the missing encounter or alien like lights that are supposed to be visible in the area. With views like this, you do kind of feel unearthly.

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The twisted path down to the Carlsbad Caverns. Or hell. Whichever you want to imagine.

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We zig zagged across New Mexico looking for everything that could be found with the infamous Hatch chiles. A former roommate from New Mexico instilled a love of these particular chiles that the state is so rightly proud of.

This included a stop at Spaceport America in Truth or Consequences. There’s something charming about a former hot springs town that was fading into the dust near a bunch of military complexes. The addition of an abandoned recently built spaceport that was supposed to be the first consumer space flight port only makes it better. The poor disinterested worker there was much more excited to tell us about where to get a great hatch cheeseburger.

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Chile relleno in a burrito, hatch chiles in a burger, Christmas style sauces (both red and green) on enchiladas, I could wax Dr. Seussian about hatch chiles forever. That tiny cup in the lower left corner from Horseman’s Haven was the real killer though. One drop burned my mouth to tears. Worth it.

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We got to the Grand Canyon just in time to see both snow and clear skies for their one hundredth anniversary. Happy birthday canyon!

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I will also always stop for roadside fried foods. This is one of my favorites, known as Navajo fry bread. You can get it topped with butter and honey or with taco fillings.

Nothing like a good road trip to end having a place to live again. Do I want to live on the road in America? I’m not quite sure yet but I certainly keep falling in love with all these places.

Los Angeles may be a city famous for cars and smog, but there are also lots of outdoor spaces. This is mildly delayed but spring is a perfect time to visit a lot of these places while the weather is warm and not yet hot. I am not covering the popular Griffith Park, the Malibu area, or Runyon Canyon areas as I’ve been making an effort to explore places I had not been yet.

First up is Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. I’d been here many years ago on a misguided mountain bike adventure that I am still not skilled enough for. As a hike it is lovely with a small fishing area, barbecue and picnicking areas, hilariously fake waterfall, and lots of beautiful, if somewhat smoggy, views of Los Angeles.

20140526_132243It’s near impossible to find a map of the park online for some reason. The trails are outlined but it’s hard to find your way around them as there are a lot not shown on this map. Luckily the 308 acre park is easily navigated.

20140507_182654It feels like an oasis of plants in the middle of what is otherwise an endless sprawl of buildings. I’m not sure if it’s technically the same park as the Baldwin Hills stairs but they are only separated by La Cienega and an oil field. This park is much bigger with better trails, less people, and similarly great views.

20140607_200538This is the view from an empty lot near where I live. The oil fields are not the most scenic or full of nature but it is probably an important cause of why this area hasn’t been completely developed yet.

April brought the annual blooming of the poppies at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. I wanted to go in years prior but the drought meant that there were not many flowers to be seen. This year was not the best bloom they’ve ever had but it was enough to make the trek out there.

Panorama_PoppiesIt felt like endless fields of orange and yellow. I can only imagine what this park looks like on a good, non-drought year. On our drive in even the highways are lined with endless fields of wildflowers. Purple, white, yellow, silver, orange and pink explode in patches everywhere. Even the car is not immune as the monarch butterflies were out in force and can’t seem to avoid your car.
20140420_115636The season for these beautiful flowers is not very long but luckily it is before the desert gets too hot. The park is about an hour north of the city and requires lots and lots of water even for these mild 90 degree days. I’m not sure I want to know what full summer looks like. I love how the flowers ranged from pure yellow to pure orange and every fade in between.

20140420_110529On the way back we stopped at Agua Dulce park. I am amazed that Los Angeles handles so many parks of this size and across such a large area. This park is famous for being the filming spot for many television shows and movies, particularly for the original Star Trek series.
20140420_153638 I often take the Ballona Creek off street path but not the other paths so I ventured out to Playa Del Rey to check out Cabora Road. Unfortunately it is not great for road bikes but would probably be fine for mountain bikes. It seemed great for all the walkers and their dogs. The only information I could find about this path online were outdated from 2007 and mentioned the path being closed. Luckily it seems very much open with helpful signs and even paper maps.

20140609_152317Now the path mostly looks over tech companies but the area has an interesting history as well. This is the old Hughes Aircraft headquarters and warehouse where the Spruce Goose was made.

20140609_163205Riding out to the beach takes you past lots of condos and high speed roads with no bike paths but you also get this beautiful view of the Ballona Wetlands.

I grew up in the South Bay area of Los Angeles but wasn’t much of a hiker while growing up. My parents’ idea of the great outdoors involved staying in cabins and maybe doing a nature walk. I revisited the area recently and it looks like various groups have popped up to make the area’s trails more accessible.
20140517_105020The views are incredible as always and the tide pools and caves are fun to explore. The strange part about this area of Palos Verdes is that there are technically four cities so as you pass through trails they are in different states of accessibility and marking.

I also visited the Lake Balboa park in the San Fernando Valley but did not get any good pictures. I’m happy to see such large expanses of green space set aside for everything from picnics to model airplane flying. I have also revisited the Griffith Park area and note that the river bike and pedestrian path has been improved a lot in the last few years. You can even take a kayak down a portion of the river now. Get out there Los Angeles, and enjoy the seemingly endless perfect 70 degree days.

I've been very interested in immersive theater lately. New York and San Francisco have had shows where you can walk around but I've had more trouble finding experiences in Los Angeles. Cue "The Industry" who put on "Invisible Cities" last year. It is exciting because it happened in a public and not an enclosed, private space. They put on a full opera with a symphony at the beautiful Union Station where you walked around with bluetooth Sennheiser headphones and followed wherever your attention went as the singers wandered through the real life drama of the station. Sadly it was sold out by the time I heard about it. I managed to find out they were running a free show at the Hammer Museum in April and was very excited to catch it. They performed Terry Riley's In C in the main courtyard with inflatable tube men, a symphony, singers, and dancers. The Hammer Museum went completely free this year so this made it even more of an easy and delightful activity on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The Hammer Museum courtyard is a lush two story open air space that is beautiful to walk around in without a show going on. I walked in during intermission and there were only two xylophone players and a drummer. It seemed more magical that new elements appeared out of what felt like nowhere. The music was minimalist in a way where I could have sat the entire afternoon listening to it meditatively. We walked around both floors to get different views on what was going on and were pleasantly surprised as performers appeared in every direction around us. 20140412_163039I was too enthralled to take pictures of the dancers as they wove their way into the audience individually and started dancing. People didn't always realize there was stuff occurring behind them. The dancers would wander in and out of spots in the audience to perform. When they were separate, each dancer had their own style as they mimicked the tube men. When they congregated they would follow each others leads and do some synchronized scenes. StageThe singers in the middle were making some fun sounds that felt like beatboxing. That certainly is not something I expected in a form like opera, which I always thought of as stodgy. This performance turned all of that on its head. They all looked like they were genuinely having fun, laughing and smiling throughout the show. People would approach performers when they were on short breaks to talk to them. I even saw friends and family approach with hugs. I like how casual and friendly this felt. 20140412_165548To heighten the whimsical nature, there was a guy on what appears to be a toy piano. At the end of the show, I realized that this is probably the director of The Industry, Yuval Sharon.  I liked that there was a general uniform but everyone looked like they just grabbed what they had in their closets. It really made them blend in to the audience when they chose to.

20140412_164418At some point while standing on the second floor I thought I heard someone belting out loudly behind me.  It turns out some of the singers were sent walking around.  Soon we realized the performers were all wearing white or cream shaded shirts.  I chased around various performers but most people seemed to completely ignore the performers in their area. IMG_0802I was impressed with how clear and loud these singers were. I thought her popped collar hid a microphone. No, she just has some crazy lungs. It is an interesting sound to hear these wandering singers come in and out of your range and echo off the courtyard.

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I loved that the dancers were around the audience all the time but it made me wonder two things. One, why didn't any kids get involved as they were running around and dancing? Two, did they hit anyone ever? Turns out both things happened! You can see a little kid joining the group in the video.

20140412_155551Take a bow, inflatable tube men. It was really fun to see so many different elements drawing my attention in so many directions. At one point I stood around trying to grab inflatable tubes as they whipped around unpredictably hitting the second floor. I'm really glad I caught this show and I'm looking forward to what this group puts out next. I can't say I've watched an opera before this but if they are more like this, I would watch more.

One of the first things I did when I got back in the country was try to find a low commitment hands on volunteering opportunity. Much like how I handle everything else, I wouldn’t shut up about it to everyone I talked to until someone had a great suggestion. I’ve been volunteering monthly with Days For Girls’ Los Angeles chapter for a while now. They make reusable and washable sanitary pads for women in developing countries where girls are often kept home from school whenever they have their period.  Imagine having to skip school for days a month!  That’s a serious disadvantage for half the population.  I am excited to hear that they may be aiming a little closer to home and delivering kits to Los Angeles’s own skid row.

Easy to use serger machines that just require you to hold some fabric straight.  I can handle that.

Easy to use serger machines that just require you to hold some fabric straight. I can handle that. I didn’t want to bother anyone so I avoided taking pictures of faces, but everyone is really friendly.

My complete lack of sewing skills and anything related is not a hindrance at all as everything is prepared so well that anyone can contribute. I’m constantly amazed at how much people prepare at home so that those of us without sewing skills can feel like we’re helpful.

Shields are made of colorful patterns and have pockets to hold one or two liners, depending on what kind of day it is.

Shields are made of colorful patterns, snap onto underwear, and have pockets to hold one or two liners, depending on what kind of day it is.

I kind of wonder if people on Etsy sell similar things for those living lifestyles that want to not use disposable products.  I doubt those are made with the sweatshop force of volunteer labor same love.

A complete kit involves multiple liners, shields to hold liners, a bar of soap, instructions, and a drawstring bag to hold everything.

A complete kit involves multiple liners, shields to hold liners and button onto underwear, a bar of soap, instructions, and a drawstring bag to hold everything. Everything is placed into the kit so that you understand how to use it if you for some reason don’t read instructions, like everyone does.

The fabric is a mixture of donations and things the organizers buy with money they fundraise. A lot of these kits go to young teenage girls so there’s an emphasis on bright and fun colors and patterns. I really enjoy seeing how vibrant and different all the kits are. There are designer fabrics tucked in there which is always fun to keep an eye out for.

The finished kits are packed inside the drawstring bags.  The bags are so girls have something discreet to carry their pads around in.

The finished kits are packed inside the drawstring bags. The bags are so girls have something discreet to carry their pads around in.

It’s an easy two hours on the first Thursday of every month at Grace Lutheran Church in Culver City.  There’s always people around to chat with and some tea and snacks on a side table.  I’ve missed a few for various classes and because Etsy craft night is the same schedule at CAFAM, but I always try to come when I can.  I wish this was around and I had found it when I lived in LA before.

The unofficial mascot, because breast cancer awareness shouldn't get all the fun slogans.

The unofficial mascot, because breast cancer awareness shouldn’t get all the fun slogans.

I can’t say this is making me go home and rush to sew anything else, but it does feel fulfilling to go and feel like you’re helping out immediately.  Their Facebook page is updated with where the kits are going and it is very rewarding to see girls from all over the world holding their new kits.  I struggled to find ways to volunteer meaningfully while traveling so I’m glad I am able to do so here.

When I was a freshman in college, my roommate would suggest that we drive into ethnic parts of town and try a random restaurant.  This worked better in Thai Town than it did when we ended up with extremely gamey offal and blood sausages in Koreatown.  Alas, although I’ve known to go to Jitlada, Pa Ord, and Sapp Coffee House for a while, I haven’t explored the rest of delicious Thai Town.  My recent time in Hollywood has reignited my interest to get into the weirder nooks.  I know I’m not done exploring yet but this is certainly a start.

I think Ruen Pair is actually the first restaurant in Thai Town I went to ever, the one in college.  The papaya salad was tasty and a bit big of a portion for one.  The morning glory was delicious but the crispy pork was a bit stale.  I've tried crispy pork with holy basil at Pa Ord many times as well, and always find it much less tasty than chicharrones.

I think Ruen Pair is actually the first restaurant in Thai Town I went to ever, the one in college. The papaya salad was tasty and a big portion for one. The morning glory was delicious but the crispy pork was a bit stale tasting. I’ve tried holy basil crispy pork at Pa Ord multiple times and find it much less tasty than chicharrones.  I guess I don’t like Thai crispy pork and won’t need to try the next door AYCE Crispy Pork Gang.

While I’ve tried Pa Ord and Sapp Coffee House for their boat noodles, both being delicious, I never get very far past that at Sapp Coffee House.  I haven’t been in years though so I did go back and try the boat noodles, still delicious and I mildly prefer them more than Pa Ord’s.  I can vouch that Pa Ord, who may or may not have three locations now, does do plenty of noodle dishes and tom kha kai well but is less spectacular for the rice dishes.

I've never gone past the boat noodles at the early closing Sapp Coffee House.  The jade noodles are beautiful to look at but I found the meats overwhelming and the overall effect a bit fishy due to the crab.

I’ve never gone past the boat noodles at the early closing Sapp Coffee House. The jade noodles are beautiful to look at but I found the meats overwhelming and the overall effect a bit fishy due to the crab.  Maybe it would be better “wet” with soup, but likely not.

For all my time in Thailand and Thai Town, I really haven't eaten very many curries.  I usually leave that to Jitlada's delicious mouth killing spiciness.  This is the red curry from Yai Thai, a northern specialist.  I believe curry is from the east, but this was pretty good with the mound of sticky rice.

I used to think Thai food just meant pad thai and curries.  For all my time in Thailand and Thai Town, I haven’t eaten very many curries. I usually leave that to Jitlada’s delicious mouth killing spiciness. This is the red curry from Yai Thai, a northern specialist. I believe curry is from the east, but this was pretty good with the sticky rice.

I spent most of my time in Thailand in the north so I have fallen in love with khao soi.  That is a khao soi on the right that tastes like nothing I had in Thailand, but is still pretty tasty.  On the left is a delicious flaming tom yum soup.

I spent most of my time in north Thailand so I have fallen in love with the curry noodle soup, khao soi. That is a khao soi on the right that tastes like nothing I had in Thailand, but is still pretty tasty. On the left is a delicious flaming tom yum soup.  There’s some sort of unlimited Thai iced tea cup you can order here.

This is the khao soi at Pailin Thai.  Still not quite the same as I remember but much closer.  Their bamboo salad, northern and Issan style sausages, and  nam ngeao, a red curry fermented rice noodle soup full of offal, are all delicious.

This is the khao soi at Pailin Thai. Still not the same as I remember but closer. Their bamboo salad, northern and Issan style sausages, and nam ngeao, a red curry fermented rice noodle soup full of offal, are all delicious.  The Thai iced tea is pretty good as well.

Khao man gai, quite similar to Hainanese chicken, is an obsession I picked up from a food truck in Portland.  It involves poached chicken, rice cooked in chicken stock, fat, and garlic, a clear brothy soup, cucumbers, and a fermented soy dipping sauce.  This one is from the late night Sanamluang Cafe.  It was a bit dry particularly compared to the fancy sous vide version I had at Sticky Rice in Grand Central Market the week before.

Khao man gai, quite similar to Hainanese chicken, is an obsession I picked up from a food truck in Portland. It involves poached chicken, rice cooked in chicken stock, fat, and garlic, a clear brothy soup, cucumbers, and a fermented soy dipping sauce. Hainanese chicken involves a chili laden soy sauce and ginger oil sauce.  This khao man gai is from the late night Sanamluang Cafe. It was a bit dry particularly compared to the fancy sous vide version I had at Sticky Rice in Grand Central Market the week before.  Being able to get it at 1 AM makes it pretty great though.

I found Siam Sunset while looking for some Chinese/Taiwanese breakfast items I love and stumbled upon this amazing two page menu.  Where else can you eat a full non-fast food menu for under 5 bucks?  There's even mildly terrifying fried mussels on the other page.

I found Siam Sunset while looking for some Chinese/Taiwanese breakfast items I love and stumbled upon this amazing two page menu. Where else can you eat a full non-fast food menu for under 5 bucks? There’s even mildly terrifying fried mussels on the other page.

A congee chock full of delicious poached egg and super soft pork ribs washed down with a fresh coconut juice.  The Thai guy next to me got a whole coconut, mine comes in a cup with the flesh pre scooped out for me.

Siam Sunset’s congee (rice soup) chock full of poached egg and super soft pork ribs washed down with a fresh coconut juice. The Thai guy next to me got a whole coconut, mine comes in a cup with the flesh scooped out for me.

I could pretend I'm somewhere else or another meal, but this is totally still the same meal at Siam Sunset.  Stubby Chinese style donuts with condensed milk and dou fa, soft tofu in ginger sauce with fried bits.

I could pretend I’m somewhere else or another meal, but this is totally still the same meal at Siam Sunset. Stubby Chinese style donuts with condensed milk and dou fa, soft tofu in ginger sauce with fried bits.  So despite ordering enough for more than one, I still want to go back to Siam Sunset to try their khao man gai and the $3.95 menu.

I also explored the markets of the area.  Bahn Kanom Cafe has a delicious array of desserts and snacks of both hot, cold, and pre-packaged varieties.  They just got mango sticky rice in stock which comes with a whole mango and coconut milk in a separate container.  They are also open until 1 or 2 am, which is wonderful.  Of the two supermarkets, I prefer Silom Supermarket over Bangkok Market which is a little further out of Thai Town.  The deli hot foods, curry pastes, and noodle selection at Silom were much better at this bigger store.  I did not check out the much smaller Bangluck market.

After three months in Vietnam, I know I didn’t try everything available so I know I must’ve only scratched the surface after a month in Thailand.  I’m glad I get to explore some of those options in Los Angeles.