USA & L.A. – Difficult Arrival

Arrived this morning after some very long flights (2 segments from Singapore with a total of 17 hours without the layover in Narita).

Border control was tricky! Even before boarding, the crewmembers of the airline are very strict, I assume as a precaution:

  • You  need to prove you have a return ticket, or buy one directly before checkin to the USA
  • You are screened about your plans
  • You need to provide an address for you stay (at least the first day). I did not have any concrete plans, but quickly did a lookup of a hostel address.

I was lucky that my ESTA application from last year was still valid, so if you don’t change passports you can use up the remaining days (I believe you have till the end of the year after your application to use up 90 days).

It was however not a good idea to make jokes about my shoes… I was just checking on what they were screening them and the officer-lady was making jokes about the potential smell they were giving off (not the case 😉 ), on which I somehow managed to use the word ‘shoebomb’. She was shocked and sushed me pretty hard. (with a wink). Indeed, not my best move 🙂

Delta airlines have a very funny way to brief you about safety rules. In their movie they will add a lot of humor. To give some examples, look at the pictures to have an impression.

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The stopover in Japan (Narita, Tokio) brought back some memories: the special toilets! They have many special features: a warm seating, a place to sit your baby, sprinklers with different modes, etc… use your imagination 🙂

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Interesting to notice about the USA:

  • Even in the case your end destination is not within the USA but you have a landing and stay in transit, you’ll need to have an ESTA. I don’t think the USA has something such as a ‘transit zone’.
  • Make sure that you activate your creditcards for the USA specifically & to withdraw money as soon as you can. The USA is very known for creditcard fraud, since you don’t need to use your pin or provide your autograph.
  • You do have a policy on the amount of alcohol / beer you bring into the USA. My officer took me out of the queue and found I had more as the allowed amount on me, but as I explained to him they would serve as a gift for locals, he let me pass exceptionally. So both in Singapore & USA I seem to have unwillingly been smuggling alcohol, I hope it will serve me well 🙂

Getting to L.A. city is easy. For about 8 USD you can get a shuttle bus named FlyAway shuttle where you pay upon arrival. From there, it’s easy to take the subway. For 1 USD, you’ll get a plastic card to topup. One ride is abour 1.75 USD.

The subway trains don’t have any markings to see your current location on the track, but they do announce everything clearly and the most interesting landmarks of that stop.

I tried to avoid the website booking fees, it however did not make much difference. Furthermore, they also charge 14% city tax (not included in online booking fee), by which the total price for bed in a 8-bed dorm was around 45 USD / night (region Hollywood). Not so cheap…

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