Coachella this year is happening soon and I know a lot of people are excited about it already. As Coachella is no ordinary festival, it is really advisable to plan your trip carefully. Especially if you are traveling from outside the US like myself last year.
What to do in Vegas when you don’t party, drink alcohol, and gamble?
Before I went to the US, all I know of Las Vegas were the three things mentioned above – party, drinks, and gambling. At first I was hesitant to put Las Vegas on my itinerary but R said there are lots of good buffet restaurants so I was sold, haha. I first went there in 2013 and went again during my 2015 visit. So what did I do there? What do I like so much about Las Vegas that I visited it every time I went to the US?
Belle and Sebastian are an indie pop band from Scotland from the 90s and I have been a fan for over 10+ years now. Their songs played a major part in my college days in the 2000s – an era where I spent so much time browsing for new music and listening to different kinds of them.
Monday 27 April
After a weekend well-spent with friends and family, on Monday me and R went to downtown LA. We had lunch at Little Tokyo, which was surprisingly empty. Too bad I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but I can tell you that the meal was so-so, thus no need to be discussed further :p
After lunch we decided to go to Old town Pasadena. It was an impromptu decision, and we decided to take the Metro! So we went to Union Station where R parked his car and took the Metro to Pasadena. Actually, it was not my first time inside the station but this time we had more time for sightseeing and taking pictures because we did not have any fixed schedule..
Although I have never been to NYC’s Grand Central Terminal, I think Union Station has its own charm and is veryy pretty as well.
It was a sunny day in Pasadena but since me and R were enjoying our quality time, I did not take that many pictures, instead we spent our time walking around the main street. By that I also mean me going in and out of shops with R patiently accompanying :p
When we got back to Union Station from Pasadena, we realised we still have some time before sunset, suddenly R took me to what he called “a romantic park”. Hahahaha. The park – Vista Hermosa Park – is located in downtown LA, in a middle of what seemed like an ordinary neighborhood. But just look at this view…
Tuesday 28 April
On Tuesday we had a movie date! we went to a neighborhood mall and saw this movie called “Unfriended“, a teen – horror movie. The movie was so – so, but still it was good to finally have a movie date after two years! *LDR problem*
Afterwards we had lunch at the mall, then went to downtown LA again for a cup of coffee. This time I wanted to try Go Get Em Tiger, which I found from Instagram :p The coffee was good, most definitely will visit again the next time I’m in town.
Later that day, we met R’s friend at Anaheim Packing District. It is a foodcourt but designed in a fancy way, which has lots of interesting and delicious food stalls ranging from Indian to Southern American. Yummm~
Wednesday 29 April
We went to LA’s Farmers Market that day. This iconic market has been in the business since 1934 and is home to many delicious food and groceries stalls, like these pictures below:
But my highlight was Pampas Grill – a Brazilian Churrascaria stall located inside the market. If you are an avid meat eater like myself, be sure not to miss this when you visit the market. Did I take any pictures? sadly no, I was too busy eating 😦 :p
Thursday 30 April
We did not do much on my last full day in LA. We went to the OC in the afternoon to try the much talked about Afters Ice Cream, then went back to LA to have dinner with R’s family. Then I spent the night just resting and packing (so much to pack, so little time!)
Btw – Afters Ice Cream is a must go when you’re in Orange County area. Try their Milky Bun, it is to-die-for!
Friday 1 May
Last day in the US :(((((((((
Don’t have much to share for that day.. so let me just share this picture that I took on my way to the airport.
Bye LA, I’ll see you soon (hopefully!).
Monday 20 April
On Monday we left Coachella campgrounds. Our next stop was Las Vegas, approximately 4 hours drive from Indio. On our way to Vegas, we managed to stop by at Desert Hills Premium Outlets for a quick window shopping. Hehehe :p Although I did not buy anything on my visit, but I have to admit it the price was so much of a bargain! If you’re into shopping, I’d say not to miss this outlet when you’re in Los Angeles area.
We arrived in Las Vegas a bit later in the afternoon, feeling soooo tired and desperately needing a good meal. We went straight to our hotel – Rio Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. We chose this hotel because it was rather cheap for Vegas’ standard, our room was around $40 a night! Quite a good deal, right? But, it turned out that there were so many people during our stay there – we had to queue for about an hour just to check in! I guess everybody figured out the Groupon deal even though it was a Monday 😉
After we checked in and had some rest, we went out again to Las Vegas Strip for dinner. Our choice that night was Shake Shack – a famous burger joint originated from New York. This Vegas branch is their first in the West Coast and since both me and R never been to New York.. we were excited. Lucky it met our expectation – their burgers were delicious, and it’s not because we were very hungry. Hahaha.
Tuesday, 21 April
We spent Tuesday walking around Las Vegas Strip. It’s the road which is full of hotels/casinos/restaurants – where all the life of Vegas are. Our first stop was Bacchanal Buffet for brunch. It’s actually our second time – our first visit was back in 2013 for dinner. I’d have to say they still has their charm! Everything I ate was soooo good and the food selection was extensive! They have almost everything from Asian – Mexican – Italian – American, even fresh seafood and scrumptious dessert. If you’re a foodie, make sure you don’t miss this buffet when visiting Vegas. Oh well, since I was too busy eating I did not take any pictures, but here’s one I found on google search.
After brunch – we went to The LinQ promenade – Vegas’ latest entertainment center.
Here you can find a lot of restaurants/cafes/shops.. including the famous High Roller Las Vegas. It’s world’s largest observation wheel – larger than Singapore Eye, even London Eye! Guess who managed to go, despite the fact that he’s afraid of heights? R did! with me, of course. Hehehe. It was so cool to be able to see Vegas from up top. Since it was a Tuesday afternoon, there were no queue to go inside the High Roller and we also got one pod for ourselves! At first we thought it was cool until the ride started and we started to feel anxious when we realised that it was indeed, very high. It’s 550-foot-tall! Here are some pictures I managed to take:
The ride lasted for around 30 minutes and although the view was spectacular up there, I have to say that it was indeed rather scary! I did not know that I could be afraid of heights.. all this time going to a rollercoaster ride/ferris wheel/hot air balloon were never a problem until I went to High Roller. I guess it’s reaaaally high and got me nervous at some point :p
Afterwards, we spent the rest of the day strolling around The LinQ and The Strip – I managed to try Sprinkles’ Ice Cream (originally from Los Angeles but they finally opened a branch in Vegas!) in Red Velvet flavour… so good!
Wednesday, 22 April
We headed back to LA on Wednesday morning. On our way, we stopped by Ontario Mills mall. This is a very big mall with lots of factory stores.. which means bargain! Weeheeee! 😀 I have to admit that R is indeed a patient man for not complaining while I was busy deciding which GAP cardigan I should buy (it was $8 in every colors that you could imagine… R thought they all look the same :p). Afterwards, we met with his friends for dinner. It was fun to finally be able to meet some of his friends for the first time!
Thursday 23 April
We spent the morning resting, and then managed to go to Venice Beach in the afternoon. Too bad it was windy and rather gloomy, so I did not have the chance to enjoy typical California beach weather. Unlike Santa Monica – its neighboring beach, I think Venice Beach is more laid – back, more artsy while Santa Monica is more touristic and upbeat. That’s just my thought though. Have you been? what do you think?
Although the beach was nice, but what I love about the neighborhood is this Canals! Perhaps you have seen it in the movie Valentine’s Day (2010)?
Well I went there, only in daylight and no.. I did not re-enact the scene with R! :p Hehehe. But anyway, in a more serious note, I love the area, everything was pretty and serene. Here are some pictures:
Afterwards, we went to Abbott Kinney – a nearby neighborhood. We went there because I wanted to get coffee and thanks to Instagram I found out that there’s a Blue Bottle Coffee branch in Abbott Kinney. It’s only around 10 minutes away from Venice so we went. Lucky me, the coffee was indeed tasty! After coffee, we spent some time strolling the street and I fell in love with the area too. Like I said before, everything was pretty! The street is full of coffee shops/restaurants/small boutiques/shops which from what I saw looked expensive (later I found out that some of the restaurants there are the celebrities’ to-go-to!), but looked so pretty. The people I saw on the street all looked nice, well-dressed and laid back. No, I did not meet any celebrities (well maybe I did but perhaps I did not realise it? :p), but I have to admit everyone I saw looked nice, hehehehe.
Friday 24 April – Sunday 26 April
The weekend was well-spent with R’s family and friends. I was happy to be able to meet them and I can’t wait for R to meet mine too! So… that wrapped up my second week in the US. Will write more about my third – and final week – in the upcoming post! 🙂
Being in a long distance relationship means that we are lacking the chance to have date nights. So, whenever we meet, we always make some time for a date night in between our busy traveling schedule. This time we went to see a movie, but not in an ordinary theatre. We went to a drive in theatre! We actually had talked about going to a drive in theatre since my 2013 visit but it did not happen then. We both never been before, so we thought it would be cool to go.
Finally we managed to squeeze some time just two days before my stay ended. As we were based in between Los Angeles and Orange County, we searched for “drive in theatre Los Angeles” and Vineland drive in was one of the top results. It was not far from where were at, so we went there after dinner time.
The admission fee was $9 per person. This, however, is simply an admission fee to enter the theatre area. There were several screens inside the area – forgot how many, probably three or four. There were two movies played in a screen, back to back and that admission fee is good for each screen. Meaning, you could actually watch two movies in a row with only $9! Quite a good deal, I think.
That time, there were actually no good movies that we really wanted to see. The choice that suit our time was limited too, it’s either unfriended – a teen horror movie which we have seen before or Cinderella. We chose to see Cinderella hehehe, since we both haven’t seen it.
We got there quite early, probably 15 minutes before the schedule for cinderella. After paying our fee, the cashier told us to set our car radio to a certain frequency… that’s how we got to hear the sounds of the movie. Cool, right? then we drove to our screen area. When we arrived, another movie was still playing. it was Home – another cartoon movie. That’s when we realised that we could actually see two movies in a row, only by paying 1 time admission fee.
There were around 5-8 cars in our screen at that time. Not many, because it was a working day and it was quite late, around 10PM. What’s interesting is that half of the audience were families with young children, they parked their car (mostly van) and took out chairs to watch the movie. I guess it’s a convenient alternative to regular cinema when you have kids.
Overall, we really enjoyed going to a drive in cinema and would love to do it again! We’d also recommend going to Vineland if you happen to be near LA. It has an interesting retro feel, but with current movies. Any of you have been to a drive in cinema as well? how’s your experience?
Pacific Theaters Vineland Drive-In
443 N. Vineland Ave.
City Of Industry, CA 91746
Camping in Coachella is actually not mandatory – it’s just one of the accommodation options when you are going to the Festival. However, since I came all the way from Indonesia and it was my first Coachella… might as well just camp to have the full Coachella experience. My boyfriend has been to Coachella before but he did not camp.. so it’s his first time too. Excitedddd!
When we purchased the ticket in May 2014, we purchased a car camping spot as well. This would give us a 10′ x 30′ spot the car camping area. The spot must be filled with a car and a tent. It’s then up to us how many do we want to bring in our spot, as long as everyone has a festival pass. The spot is good for the whole Coachella weekend and once you’re in, you can’t drive your car out until the festival is finished.
This year the festival area was opened since Thursday 9AM. We arrived in the afternoon, just with enough time to build our tent before the sun sets.
After our tent was built, we spent some time resting and got to know our neighbors. As you can see from the pictures above, the space is rather packed so we thought it’s a good idea to get to know our neighbors. Interestingly, both our left and right neighbors were college students, all from California.
They are young and from what we overheard (hahaha), some are not even 21! Ahhh good old days of partying :p They are the typical American college students we often see in the movies – making us look like old married couple compared to them hahaha (yet we’re not even married! lol). But they were nice and although they could be noisy at times, it was still tolerable to us.
By now I hope you already have a clearer view of what it’s like to camp in Coachella. But perhaps you still wonder – was it boring? what to do when the festival site was still closed? (they opened at 11AM every day).
The answer is.. no, it was not boring at all. In fact the experience was so interesting! Some group of people prefer to have their own “party” in their camping spots, just chill, played some music, some drinking games. But there’s also a camping center inside the camping area – a big melting pot full of activity centers, food trucks/stalls, farmer’s market, games booth, internet booth, and even a beauty bar! All activities were for free, but be prepared to queue. Like this one day I wanted to try the beauty bar, I came there at 11AM and they were full booked until 3PM. The stylist told me people started queueing since 6.30AM hahaha… i’d rather sleep if that’s the case :p
Other than the question I answered above, when I told my camping story to my friends at home, I also got two other “frequently asked questions”, lol. One is – how did you get food to eat? the answer is… we cooked! Hohoho. Yep, we brought a cooler with dry ice (which surprisingly lasted for the whole weekend!), a gas stove, and purchased some meat, eggs, and also.. Indomie. YESSS. So our meals were never a problem , we cooked breakfast (normally eggs + bacon), lunch (normally steak+eggs), and supper (normally indomie :P). We had dinner inside the Coachella festival area because the festival had some interesting food stalls/trucks we wanted to try. But, with cooking we could save money and also have one interesting experience!
The other question (and the most commonly asked!) is – where did you shower? well shower was not a problem at all for us because there were shower trailers (separately for men and women) available – pretty decent to my standards. We made a mistake on Friday morning when we wanted to take a shower at around 7AM… we had to queue for almost an hour! No fun but we figured we had to shower anyway so we did it. Later that day after we came back from the festival, feeling so tired and dirty because of all the dust in the desert, we decided to take a shower again at night.. approximately around 11PM. To our surprise there was no queue and the shower trailer looked like it was just being cleaned! After that day, we always took a shower at night while we were there.. more comfortable and we could sleep better at night, feeling fresh 🙂
Overall, I think camping is a very fun thing to do and I’d definitely do it again the next time I visit Coachella! It definitely gave colors to my whole Coachella experience and I’d recommend you to give it a try if you’re thinking of going.
Will write more about the festival itself, meanwhile here’s a picture of (probably 1/4) the car camping area taken from top of the ferris wheel… Ohhh how I wish those days could come back once more!