I hope all is well on your side. Time is flying by at INSEAD. Know when life is so good you can’t really talk about it because it would just seem like you are showing off? Like, there’s nothing even slightly negative to say. I never cease to be amazed by the quality of people, how much fun we have together, and the thrill of living in Singapore. Add the exciting career prospects and headhunting to that- and it almost feels wrong to NOT be constantly in awe of this MBA experience.. I’m still me, but it’s hard not to look at my old life and be so grateful that I stepped away from it by making this change.. because I’ve now been exposed to what life could be, and I’m definitely not going back to where I was. Case in point: I’ve been travelling every other weekend because I can- it’s so cheap and I have the time. This weekend, 14 of us are checking into this villa in Phuket. I know. Life is a dream. You can create this life too- if it’s what you want that is. If you’re seeking some inspiration on how I did it, read here.
Maybe one day I’ll be able to tell you about it properly (probably once I’ve left INSEAD), but for now, I’m going to tell you about LA.
We spent 4 days in the sunshine state, and while many people don’t like LA because of its highways, traffic and dispersed areas, I loved it. Probably because it reminds me a lot of JHB. Probably also because we hired a Ford Mustang, put the top down and were ballin’. Ha. Lots of different suburbs, each with its own identity. The cutest restaurants in the oddest locations. A touch of glam. Judge me all you want, but I was seriously desperate to spot a celeb- so I tried really really hard to keep an eye out everywhere we went, but alas, it was not to be. I even went to a seriously overpriced celeb brunch spot near Beverly Hills and saw no celebs. Get this- the TMZ tour bus actually drove past us and people were taking photos of us in the restaurant where all the celebs supposedly are. The irony- a few weeks after I got back to SA, I was in CT and saw Sean Penn at the One&Only. Ha.
The LA leg was in the middle of our US trip, so we intentionally didn’t do too much- attempting to pace ourselves. We were there on the 4th of July, and we spent the entire day at Venice Beach which I LOVED. It is the best place in the world for people watching, and we walked around for hours, just enjoying the street performers and soaking in the vibe. Bliss.
That evening, we went to one of the many fireworks displays in the city, and it was definitely the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen. I’m holding out for the Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks at NYE this year to beat that 🙂
While fine dining in Los Angeles is not hard to find, Farmer’s Markets are equally unique to the city, with each suburb having its own. I joined Melting Pot Tours for a tour of the Original Farmer’s Market, which was initially a dairy farm, founded in 1880. In 1900, the owner discovered oil on the premises and struck it rich, until the 1930s and the depression struck, when the area was left vacant. In 1934, the Farmer’s Market was born, with a few merchants selling their fare from the back of trucks. Since then, it has grown in size and fame, with dozens of specialty food items available for sale. We started the tour with a bang- donuts and coffee. We also tried ice cream made on the premises, falafel, and some artisan bread and cheese. This was a great way to hear about the history behind the market, as well as try some of its treats.
We spent the rest of that day at the Grove, a really cool open air shopping centre with a movie theatre. We couldn’t do the US without watching a movie there- with oversized butter popcorn 🙂
I stayed in 3 different hotels during my stay in LA, but the last night was the most memorable. It was spent at the London West Hollywood. Oversize, modern suites come complete with private dressing areas, large living spaces and private terraces. A few nice touches: free calls to London and a complimentary continental breakfast available to all guests.
Gordon Ramsay’s only LA restaurant is situated at the London, and here I tried the best gnocchi of my life. The US is generally unfriendly towards non red meat eaters like me, so I was thrilled to find a vegetarian dish as flavourful as the ricotta cheese gnocchi, served with rocket. Because my main was that delicious, I did not expect dessert to be the highlight- I tried “donuts and coffee”, which was coffee ice cream served with freshly baked mini donuts- completely decadent. www.thelondonwesthollywood.com
In addition to the obligatory walk up to see the Hollywood sign, the other super cool thing I did in LA was a Flytographer shoot at Santa Monica Pier.
This innovative company specializes in 1 hour shoots in hundreds of destinations around the world (Paris, Rome, London- you name it!!), so there’s no need to entrust a stranger to take photos of you while on holiday, or even worse, attempt “selfies.” Pick your favourite part of a city, and let the Flytographer team take it from there. The company is extremely organized, in that a Shoot Concierge will be in touch with you beforehand, to find out the type of shots you want (posed or candid, romantic or not), as well as explain various location options to you. Shoots can be done for couples, families, friends or even just for yourself. Within 5 days of the shoot, you’ll be sent an online gallery of the edited photos, where you’ll be able to download high resolution images and print them on your own. www.flytographer.com
Here are some of my fav shots from the shoot. I specifically said I didn’t want our pictures to look too posed, and I’m really happy with the results.
I still have a few more posts to write about San Francisco, Boston and NYC, so look out for those!
Photo Credit: Dipan Desai, Flytographer