Have you ever went somewhere and suddenly became the minority in the group? Or went somewhere and saw many different things that you aren’t used to so it makes it a bit interesting? Well something similar to that happened to me on one of my first trips alone to LA. I experienced being with a lot of other diverse people which meant lots of diverse foods to eat and languages to hear.
Last May, when I was only 18 years old, I came to LA with my friend Siouxsie by coming on the Metro. We had plans to go to a music festival that celebrated Asian and Pacific Islander culture. It was open to the public and free so we decided to go. Before the festival, we used buses and subways to go around LA to explore a bit. As soon as we got off the Metro, first trip was to Little Tokyo. We got there around eight A.M. and the majority of the stores were open, but the restaurants were almost all closed. Little Tokyo is all filled with red and white lanterns hung everywhere and really cool building that look like they would be placed in actual Japan. We walked through the stores and they all had lots of plushies, anime merchandise and korean pop merchandise. Everytime we would want into a new store Siouxsie would tell me “ Let’s go see if they have any nice face masks or if they have any more B.T.S merch.” As it started to become afternoon, more people started to come. There was a Japanese market where people started to come to get their groceries from. Inside the store, there were all these different kinds of food and many different brands I’ve never seen before. A lot of the food had labeling that was in a different language so I could not tell what some stuff was. As soon as I saw that they had Thai tea coffee I knew I had to try it. We decided to buy some snacks such as honey butter chips and Thai tea. As soon as I tried the Thai tea coffee I said, “ Welp, this is interesting, uh kind of not what I was expecting” with a sour face. It was a lot stronger than I expected it to be.
After leaving Little Tokyo, we used the subway to get to Koreatown. By the way, everytime I have gone on the subway it has this very weird smell to it. On the subway, we saw a lot of homeless people. These people all wore really baggy clothes and some of them even were super skinny. The majority of them looked a bit messy and had messy hair. It was scary because sometimes on the subway, people would walk in and start saying nonsense and would start screaming or would do something that was not normal to me. The majority of the homeless people I saw seemed to be not okay like if they were on drugs or something since they would be yelling to someone who was not there or would start hitting random objects. One lady was even screaming to no one “Leave me alone dammit. I SAID LEAVE ME ALONE!” A few other times people would be shouting prayers and Siouxsie and I would just awkwardly look at each other. We tried to mind our own business and not talk to strangers. At Koreatown, we went to a supermarket there and just looked around. Just like the Little Tokyo market, this had everything in another language and everyone there was Korean. Throughout the whole store, I heard multiple people speak Korean and realized my friend and I were the minority in this place since we were not Korean.
Finally we headed to the festival, and when we got there it was packed with so many different types of people such as Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics and Asians and probably other types of people too. There were booths selling merchandise from Asian clothing brands which were really pricey and they had food trucks selling different kinds of food from Asian and Pacific Island cultures which was bit overpriced, but I understand since it was a big event. During the performances, they had artists who sang or rapped in their language and english. Like there was some who sang in Filipino,others who sang in Korean or Vietnamese or another language from those cultures. I got to see famous Asian youtubers and actors and singers that day.
On this day I got to see diverse cultures from Japanese to Korean to all the ones celebrated in that festival and it was really awesome. I also got to see a diverse socioeconomic status which was the homeless people in the subways since they have a different lifestyle than I do. It scared me a bit because I do not usually get exposed to seeing that type of people that close. This made me realize how diverse and different California really is.