Thursday, December 10, 2015


By Mansor Puteh

I have been to many out of the way places in America because each time I am back in the country I would prefer to travel in the Greyhound bus. It is not only very convenient this way but also the most interesting.

And I would sleep in the bus so when I get to the next destination I am at another city, where I would go about to see the place before returning to the station to move on.

And in this way too I could save money on hotels and also move along in the journey to travel around America.

I have returned to America few times since leaving the country after my stint at Columbia because my films were selected by some film festivals and I did not choose to fly direct to the cities where the festivals are held, but stopped at Los Angeles and then take the bus to go to the festivals.

I had once traveled for fifty-three hours from Los Angeles to St. Paul/Minneapolis passing different areas in the country, the deserts and prairies and another thirty-six hours from here to New York City. It was fun.

I had not had the opportunity to travel this widely in America when I was studying at a university in New York City.

Even if I were to do that, I would not be able to want to see much; now after leaving the country so long I could see more.

And on my last trip back to America I flew into John F Kennedy Airport and then visited New York City and also Columbia before heading on to Boston where I had lived a few months to recuperate and then to Salt Lake City before getting to Los Angeles to meet some friends.

I took the opportunity to visit Hollywood for the first time and returned there the next day to see more of the city.

This was the first time I got there and it was fun, seeing how the city which is very small yet significant in the cultural life of America, without which America itself would not exist in the world as we know it. 

I hope to return to New York City soon because I have some unfinished business at the university…and may be it would be better if I drive this time so I can stop anywhere I want…

And what else that I like the most about traveling in the Greyhound?

Because I travel a lot longer than most on the trips, I got to meet many people some interesting and some not so, especially the chatty ones who liked to talk till late at night despite them being warned not to do so.

The drivers of the buses are all disciplined who know what they are able to do including to call the cops or police and get the unruly passengers off the bus if necessary.

So they tended to behave themselves.

Most of the passengers would travel for a short distance while I would go on and on to my next destination which may be more than a day long.

And along the way I had to switch to different buses and stop at their stations for snacks and to stretch out.

Most of those who travel by bus in America are those who are not so economically strong; and they are mostly the working class who could not afford to fly or to drive, with some students.

I sometimes bump into the Amish community who would normally refrain from traveling by bus but they sill do, if forced to. They are distinguished by the special clothes they wear and they tended to keep to themselves and hardly ever want to strike any conversation with anyone.

I am often mistaken for a Native American but most of the times, a Japanese.

I spent a bit of time in Hollywood and went about. I took the bus from Los Angeles where I was putting up with some friends from Rohingya who used to live in Malaysia many years before they were resettled in America.

And in Hollywood I also got on a tour to see the houses of some of the more famous stars and stared at the Hollywood sign which is far away from the lookout point where we got off to view the view of Los Angeles from the low hill.

This is the Hollywood many Malaysians had often known of but who have not been to before.

And it took me a long while before I went there for the first time in 1990 and the next time in April, 2014.

I visited Hollywood again from Los Angeles where I had gone to Chinatown and taken the subway train which stopped at the station near the Hollywood Boulevard and Vine junction where one can see the famous Capitol Records building.

It was cold at many parts in America and in New York City it even snowed but here in Hollywood the temperature then was warm with low humidity so I did not break a sweat even when I had walked a lot.

From the looks of it, Hollywood defies logic; it is supposed to be the place where many things happen, but in reality this is not so.

The happenings are done elsewhere in the studios and when the Academy Awards Night is on at the Kodak Theater.

Otherwise, it is a small city in America where things do not seem to happen and where there are more curious visitors from the country and elsewhere converge to see if they can get the sense of the place. Not many can.

It takes a lot more effort for anyone to be able to catch a whiff of what this place means.

And here and there one can easily see some musicians strumming their guitars, collecting coins from generous passersby; the undiscovered talent who may be the next Hollywood star.

There are buses and trains that one can take to go to Hollywood from Los Angeles, and be there but one can never ever get there…

The Hollywood that many want to see and get to and remain there is one that only exists in their dreams.

Even those Americans who live in the city and the environs and also in Los Angeles and all over America who grew up with Hollywood can only dream that they are there…

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