I have known Felix for a quite a long time – 10 years to be exact! We were in the same class since the first year of high school! We’ve parted our ways A LONG TIME AGO when he decided to pursue his studies in the States and I decided to come to Melbourne.
But you know, fate always turns people around and now he is here in Melbourne to continue his studies in Veterinary Science! I just caught up with him in a Filipino restaurant not too long ago and thought that Felix will be a good fit to talk about his experience living in Los Angeles!
Who are you, where are you from and how long did you live in Los Angeles?
Hello! I am Felix from Malaysia, and have lived in Los Angeles for about a year after the completion of my degree in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Why did you choose to live in Los Angeles?
I was looking for a job at the time, and landed one in a suburb called Woodland Hills, just an hour’s drive away from downtown LA.
What do you do for a living?
I am currently in vet school, but I was working as a tech support and warehouse manager in a biomedical supplies company.
Do you speak the main language that is spoken in Los Angeles? If not, what are the main difficulties that you faced while you first lived there?
There are so many languages spoken in LA – main ones being English, Spanish, Farsi, Mandarin. I speak Mandarin and English, didn’t have any problems communicating with people. Most government/corporate related services provide some sort of Spanish/Mandarin assistance.
Do you like or hate the public transport in Los Angeles? Why so?
I’ve never used the public transport in LA, but most people I know of complain about it (unreliable, not extensive). Although I’m pretty sure public transport will reach popular tourist areas, but if you want to experience the city thoroughly, it’s best to look into car rentals (there’s a reason why almost everyone in LA has a car *wink*).
If ride-sharing services (Uber/Lyft) is not a preferable option for you, I suggest looking into an app called Turo, it’s basically a car rental app that provides alternatives (from $20/day dirt-cheaps to Lambos) to corporates like Hertz or Avis.
Tell me 1 must-do thing in Los Angeles.
Not a touristy answer, but go hunt for taco trucks! They’re insanely good and authentic, plus in the process of tracking them down you have to explore the city a little bit! (Might require some traveling so again, a car is very handy)
Tell me 1 thing that you wish you had done but haven’t done so in Los Angeles.
Go to Channel Islands and Catalina Island.
What are your 2 most-loved neighborhoods in Los Angeles?
My absolute favorite is Malibu. I just love the drive to Malibu – there are a few routes (CA-1, or the 101 Ventura Freeway then through either Topanga Canyon Blvd or Las Virgenes Road). They’re all lovely, so I suggest taking a loop (you can go to Calabasas and spot some celebrity houses if you take the Las Virgenes route). In actual Malibu, I love going to Zuma Beach and soak up the sun all day, or do beach hikes! My go-to beach hike is at Point Dume. You do need to find a parking that may be further away (there’s only like 7 spots at the lot), but the view is absolutely worth it. You can look for secret beaches as well (they’re usually hidden behind those extravagant beach houses, but make sure it is for public use and not someone’s backyard).
It’s hard to pick my 2nd, because the whole San Gabriel Valley is full of Chinese food. But I’m picking Rosemead just because I lived there for a while. Just east of downtown LA, I’d say from the stretch between Pasadena, Alhambra and Rosemead is where I find my Chinese food (they’re actually very authentic!). Whenever I go there, I just find random Chinese places on Yelp and indulge myself.
Tell me your top 3 restaurants in Los Angeles.
- Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Café ($20~$50 for two)
– Fish and Chips
– Clam Chowder
- In-N-Out Burger ($10~$20 for two)
– Animal Style or Double Meat. But any burger will blow your mind!
- Sam Woo BBQ (can do $20 for two on menu items, but I get takeaway meats here)
– Roasted duck
– Soy Chicken
– Char Siu
Your favourite bar in Los Angeles?
I can’t answer this as I don’t really go to bars while I was in LA. If I have time at night, I go for a drive. I normally drive up Mulholland drive and I reckon that’s pretty good. With some good tunes, you are set.
Sometimes, I go for supper and that’s really anywhere in the whole stretch of San Gabriel Valley. Oh, and Griffith Park at night can be pretty cool too!
What is the the cheapest and the best alcohol you can get in Los Angeles?
No clue sorry!
Tell me 3 local specialties that you must get in major supermarkets in Los Angeles.
Californian almonds, Lay’s chips, Californian grape tomatoes.
Generally you can find all them at Ralphs. Walmart should carry all of them as well.
Where do you normally shop for clothes?
Premium outlets at Camarillo. There’s a Citadel Outlets in Commerce, but I’ve never been there.
Where do you normally shop for food?
Ralphs or Trader Joe’s when I want to feel healthier. Whole Foods when I’m extra spendy.
How much do you spend for a month living in Los Angeles?
I have paid $800 and $600 per month for a room in 2 different shared houses in the San Fernando Valley. Quite far from downtown. The utilities have always been included.
For groceries, it’s pretty hard to gauge for me. Generally it’s between $150 to $500. I know.
And I have a car. Car insurance is about $120/month and gas is $90~$100. I still have to pay for maintenance and stuff.
When it is sunny, how do you spend your day?
Assuming I’m not working – the beach! Malibu is quite close to me and I enjoy driving canyon roads. Or go to random places hunting for food.
When it is rainy, how do you spend your day?
I stay in and play games. No judgement hey.
Let say you are taking a small trip over a long weekend, where would you go and what would you do?
If I have 3 days, I would definitely be at San Diego to experience the unique architecture/arts/food culture. It provides a unique American-Mexican vibe without crossing the border!
If I have 4 days or more, I go north to San Francisco via CA-1 (pure driving bliss + so many coastal towns) and come back via the I-5 freeway.
Let say you are taking a small trip over a week-long holiday, where would you go and what would you do?
I’d take Route 395 to Yosemite and plan maybe Kings Canyon NP or Sequoia NP. Death Valley NP was the best surprise that I’ve ever had. Get Coppers Top BBQ if it’s open, best I’ve ever had.
Can include San Francisco (bay area in general) and Sacramento if I wanted to explore central California, or go explore Northern California (I personally haven’t). I’d go to Oregon if I’m feeling ambitious – I love Oregon.
What souvenir would you buy for your family or friends from Los Angeles?
Definitely some kind of keychain/mug/fridge magnet that says Hollywood.
A habit that you have picked up while living in Los Angeles?
A bad one, but zipping through traffic. Avoid the 405 freeway during peak hours.
The biggest culture shock that you have seen in Los Angeles?
How many people drive luxury cars – I’ve seen everything except a Koenigsegg and Lykan.
If not Los Angeles, where then?
Santa Barbara, CA.
What advice would you give to someone who is planning to move to Los Angeles?
There’s always choice – from the cheapest ever to most expensivest ever. Do your research and find what suits you.
Your worst experience/ memory in Los Angeles?
Going through traffic 3 hours a day.
Your best experience/ memory in Los Angeles?
Mexican food and Chinese food. They are glorious.
Anything that you would like to add?
Find a car ASAP if you live in LA. Can’t live without it. Just go on some generic car sales website and get it. You will need it.