Best of Vancouver aka selling the city to a potential migrant aka super super-long August weekend

Today, I returned to work after a super super-long weekend that spanned started on Friday and ended on Wednesday evening where I took two days off on top of the Friday off freebie from work on top of the BC Day stat holiday on Monday. My sister and BIL arrived in town late Friday night so from Saturday until Wednesday evening, I pulled out all the stops to showcase Vancouver, my favourite activities and haunts, and my life these days.

This is what went down.

Granted, my sister wasn’t in town yet but NPY took the day off to cramp my style join me on a rare day off when the kid is in daycare. These days, we like to spend these kid-free days off cycling and this time, it was quality time before the (fun) upheaval of having visitors from out-of-town. In the past, I have run to New West (and then taken a train back) twice during marathon training as our 23km training route. Since learning to cycle, I’ve wanted to revisit that route to New Westminster and we finally could last Friday in the midst of what seems like the longest heat warning ever.

After dropping off the kid at daycare, we set out and I was pretty mad at the world and NPY early on when within the first 10 minutes, we climbed up to Clark. It seemed unnecessarily cruel and for a while I thought he was for some reason trying to avoid the BC Parkway as one of the Google routes was to take Ontario all the way to Marine and then across to the quay in New Westminster. We did, however, get onto the greenway and NPY got to see it for the first time. We took a break at Mon Paris, just across from Metrotown for the flakiest kouign amann and I’m-so-Asian sesame truffle. Very shortly after, we cycled by La Forêt which NPY  recognized from Instagram photos but I didn’t because I don’t follow local foodies. My greedy heart wished we could stop there, too, but we already had our morning pastry from Mon Paris. The stark contrast between running and cycling (amongst many) is that even if you’re going downhill while running, you have to do work – on a bicycle, it’s no work at all. I thoroughly enjoyed the downhill stretch to New West because I had no intention of making the return trip. I thought we’d made the hard trek to Coquitlam or across Marine to Cambie. We took another break at Steel & Oak and shared a flight. By which I mean NPY drank for samplers and mine is only half beer anyhow because it was a radler. We didn’t really need to make it to the quay so NPY found the Spud Shack that was located on the train platform – kind of wild. We wolfed down a medium size poutine that was still so large and I immediately felt it when we got back on our bikes. NPY didn’t want to take transit back, didn’t want to ride back west a bit on Marine (didn’t know the route), so I was suck making the return trip. If we approached it piecewise, it would be okay. My incentive was to get from New West to Burnaby and we could visit La Forêt. That’s incentive enough! The space is really nice and unique and we shared a delicious if pricy waffle topped with fruit and ice cream. The ride back to Vancouver and home didn’t feel like an hour and it wasn’t so bad.
All said, that was at least a 46km ride.

In the evening, we went to Richmond Night Market which we haven’t visited in a couple of years. We arrived as the gates opened at 7 p.m. and didn’t buy a VIP pass and waited a whole hour to get in. It was so mind-numbing that when we did get in, all I wanted was to get some food the kid was guaranteed to eat and no energy left to find whatever is most trendy to buy this year. We got chow mein noodles and some chicken karaage. The sights for the kid were entertaining enough from animatronic dinosaurs to watching the midway games.

My cousin Alan emailed the cousins for our pretty much annual dim sum and I organized something for the kids to do before having to sit through a meal. We met up at Terra Nova Adventure Play Environment in Richmond which – unsurprisingly – the wimpy kid wasn’t that keen on. My cousin Dan’s kids are like 10 and 12 now or something and the older one isn’t interested in handling a toddler any longer but happily the younger one was. The most interactive the kid got to be was just before we left and they were playing chase. That didn’t involve being high above ground like the slide that was new to him.
I finally saw my sister and BIL when we went to Empire Seafood Restaurant for dim sum. I wish I saw my Surrey cousins more than about twice a year but I’ll take that for now and fully appreciate that he does meet up with us and it’s a blast to catch up with him and his wife.
We split up during the afternoon while the kid napped and then met up for dinner at our new favourite Taiwanese beef noodle restaurant RedBeef Noodle Kitchen in Kitsilano. The way they cook their beef just melts in your mouth. MY and BIL took off spend the evening with BIL’s family and friends and we stuck around – it was already so late – to watch the final Celebration of Light show for 2018 from a field along Chesnut between Cornwall and Whyte. The kid wore my shawl cardigan and chased us around the field while we waited for the show to begin, so convince he had become a “baby 雀仔” that for the rest of the night, that is how he referred to himself. Compared to seeing puny fireworks from our place, the ones I think are launched at Nat Bailey, the show was spectacular and we weren’t sure if the kid would hate the size of the display or the sounds. He was non-plussed by the sounds until near the finale when the pop-pop sounds were more frequent and maybe louder with the echo off the condo nearby.

I signed my sister up for a Class Pass (referral bonuses, yo) and we went to Spin Society for her first spin class ever. That went over well and she thinks BIL would enjoy spin, at least a few sessions with her. We had lunch at NPY’s favourite restaurant in our area, Marulilu, a homestyle Japanese cafe. While NPY took the kid home to nap, I tried to find out open houses to visit – laughably absent – but we got a coffee at Matchstick in the Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighourhood we’re eyeing and we peeked into the display home that is similar to what we would go for. We visited The Soap Dispensary I plan to patronize in the near future and start my packaging-free reduced packaging life and then a Costco trip as if that is just something we normally do as sisters who live in the same city. (BIL spent the day in Seattle to catch a Mariners-Jays game which is why she was free.)

After the kid woke up from nap, we put MY on a bike for the first time in over a decade and cycled to Yaletown – MY on my bike, NPY on his bike with the kid in his Thule seat, and me on a Mobi bike. We didn’t eat anywhere fabulous as it was getting late and Saturday evening dinner queues. We just ate a the Earls but it was pleasant anyhow.

The plan was to bring MY to Club Row for her first rowing class but she thought that when I couldn’t get BIL into the class that she didn’t have a spot as well. I ended up going alone and it being my first time back in months, how surreal the workout is hit me again. I really wanted MY to try it, at the cost of me going again soon, but realistically it wasn’t in the cards. I told them to meet us for brunch at Catch 122 around 12:30. NPY and I cycled over with the kid in his Thule seat but – seriously – something is amiss if we could actually get in. We regrouped after they got coffee from Prado and on the fly, NPY suggested we head to Chinatown and we were tucked into a booth at The Boss within half an hour. The Boss is familiar stomping grounds for us and NPY quibbled that I was taking them to nothing but Asian and budget places but it turned out to be BIL’s first time at a HKSC (Hong Kong Style Cafe) so I’m happy with that, and that the kid got his macaroni in soup dish.
We split up for dinner and we kept a low profile ordering in pizza – Hawaiian for the kid, so Asian – and plenty of fruit.

It was originally planned that MY would come to Kitsilano Pool which is outdoors, immense in length, and unique being saltwater. But she forgot about a conference call for a committee she chairs and it was just me and the kid. It was a super experience for the kid and we recovered from the effort to get to the family dinner I scrambled on Monday evening to arrange. Who makes phone calls? Me, to my elderly relatives, back-to-back-to-back. We met for dinner at Happy Day Cafe and that was a minor feast that I’ll chalk up as celebrating their nuptials last year and providing me and NPY with leftovers to continue not cooking another evening.

MY spent the night but instead of staying up and watching a movie and chatting of yore, we retired separately and I was up for a bit to prepare for the next day. MY accompanied me to drop the kid off at daycare, a stone’s throw away from our apartment. Then we retrieved my bicycle from storage for her and I picked up a Mobi bike for me to head to our first stop, Bel Cafe. I knew she wasn’t going to be keen to order or taste the blue lavender tea latte made with butterfly pea flower tea. It’s blue. Then we head over Burrard Bridge and before getting on to the fun stuff, made a stop at Joe Fortes library branch so MY could print out her Greyhound (bus) ticket. Then we continued on Cardero – cool biking route – to Coal Harbour and finally begin our cycle around Stanley Park. I’ve done the route once but it wasn’t nearly as busy as on a Wednesday in summer. It was the height of tourist activities in Vancouver but feels like an accomplishment at the end. We did have one mishap when MY took one hand off the handlebars to adjust her helmet. It merely looked like she might have hugged the edge of the curb too tightly and feel off the edge. It was a bit messy but we’re immediately grateful that it was cuts and scrapes and not a knock to the head or mouth/teeth. So we were really glad to make it to Minami in Yaletown, over an hour late for my reservation but it was okay. This time, I ordered the perfect amount of food although I remember that I could just eat salmon oshi all day long and not want for that other roll we ordered (champagne roll). Thus we had room left for ice cream at Mister.


Refueled, we cycled back home and all said, it was 26.5km – not bad for reintroducing MY to cycling! I commiserated in her mishap by miscalculating a curb (I simply should not try to go over it) and wiped out with no injuries except to my pride.

We cleaned up and picked the kid up from daycare. It seemed like a special treat to him that I brought his cruiser bike for an after-daycare cycle, but really I just wanted MY to see in person (cf in a video) the elation the kid has on his little cruising bike.

I feel for the kid who is so excited to see his beloved relatives but then they so quickly disappear again. He doesn’t have a sense of the passage of time yet so I really am just feeling for myself. MY was on the evening Greyhound bus into the interior and at least time time, I could console myself that we’ll see her in a couple short weeks!

On this day..