So, yes, the accommodation...
I choose a cheap (25 dollars per night) place downtown LA about 15 minutes walk from where the Airbnb Open conference I'm here for is taking place. "The Fashion District" sounded good. There would be bunk beds in a shared room, but I'm fine with that.
Well... bunk beds, yes. But I didn't count on 34 people in two rooms sharing two bathrooms and one kitchen. And loud AC all the night - I'm glad I brought ear plugs. Ok, the hosts who are there are nice and friendly and keep the place clean, but I think 25 bucks for a mattress in a dorm is a little bit overpriced. Regarding safety, there is no place where I can lock my things in. On the other hand, I guess the risk of theft is pretty low, since the other guests seem decent and everyone has their own MacBook anyway... And it's an interesting experience trying this type of accommodation too, all other Airbnb places I've stayed in have been more personal, a home, this is something completely different, but seems a lot more common here.
And the neighbourhood... Before I arrived I got a message from the owner of the place: "Keep in mind, that it's an old building in the process of being converted from it's industrial roots, but it's also safe and secure and there is a host present to help you out with everything. If you are on foot from downtown LA, I recommend walking down 8th st. until you get onto Towne. The building is on 8th and Towne."
Well... the place is located in a building that was probably nice once, but like most houses here is very worn down. I haven't seen so much of that conversion yet. A couple of blocks away there are people with carts tenting in the street or sleeping wrapped in cardboard. I understand why walking there on 8th is recommended, because if you take Towne Avenue you'd walk through Skid Row, one of the more infamous neighbourhoods (I tried that in daylight, not recommended). According to wikipedia Skid Row "contains one of the largest stable populations (between 3,000 and 6,000) of homeless people in the United States". That's two blocks away. And outside my place there are no night open bars, restaurants or shops whatsoever, so the whole block is dark after sunset.
In other words it doesn't look too safe. The first night I was even worried to go out after dark. So I asked one of the hosts present at the place (not the guy owning the apartment).
- Is it safe around here?
- Yeah, sure, don't worry. The floral market is close and this is the fashion district.
Eh, well, fashion district... if you by fashion mean textile wholesale shops and cheap 3-T-shirts-for-10-bucks stores.
- This is better than San Fran. A lot of people who use drugs there. *making a gesture like shooting drugs*. Here it’s just prostitution.
- And homeless people. They all come to California. There's no better place to be homeless than here. On the East coast they will tell them to leave. And in Texas they will shoot them. It’s more relaxed here.
So all in all, maybe the biggest risk at this place is catching the bird flu...