I’ve always been curious about Thai Town in LA. So, another key thing, apart from visiting my cousin and his family, was to check it out. With a short time I had, I was looking for fragments that could tell some similarities and differences from Thai Town in Sydney. Not many established Thai overseas communities on this planet: LA and Sydney.
There wasn’t much time in the city. The plan was to see it in the day and night. By day was to walk along Hollywood Boulevard get a glimpse of the Thai Town strip. Then, I needed to find out where Thais go out at night. And I would do those with my latest experience of Sydney in 2016 in my mind.
Obviously, the area stretched wider along the road than Sydney. Still, the two Thai Towns had similar shops: restaurants and grocers. I was pretty sure that I could find anything from Thailand in LA as much as I did in Sydney.
What I could observe, they looked they’d passed their peak. Lots of signs were decade old and some were broken, deserted, and frozen in time. It was Thanksgiving Holiday but the area was quite quiet, to my surprise. Sydney Thai Town would be busy on the long weekend like this.
I was able to find out from a Thai staff where to go at night. And apparently, the place where Thais went was just in the same block as where I had lunch.
After a movie, (2001: The Space Odyssey screening at the Egyptian Theatre was such a fortunate timing to be there.) I got to Darabar Secret Thai Cuisine. It was just the right place. The bar was full since there were three birthday parties. All the patrons were Thais. T-pop live music was on stage. And you could get a bottle of Black Label for the table. What could be more Thai than that?
Back in In Sydney in 2016, I was taken to C-Bar, in Thai Town more than once by different peeps. It was good to see pubs for Thais to hang out even though the crowd was mixed. The Thai community had come a long way. Those things weren’t there when I left Sydney in late 2010. And I was glad to see them.
It was impossible to get a deep picture of the community in LA as I could in Sydney, where I spent my life almost a decade. However, something told me that Thai identity was rooted deeper in LA than Sydney. Whereas Sydney had been catching up with more contemporary Thai pop culture than LA.
Ultimately, you could be able to tell that there was something about being Thai—whatever it is— wherever in the world. What an embrace!
Side note: the weather was a bugger. Coming from the cold in DC and hitting warm in LA was a challenge. It was steamy walking to Thai Town and then foggy and chilly at night when getting back there for a Thai pub. It reminded me a lot of autumn time in Sydney.