Okay, it took a while to get the first part of this trip blog out but I think I’m on a roll. It also seems to take me longer to blog if I’m concerned about uploading and dropping in photos. If I’m as good a writer as a fancy, photos aren’t necessary, right??
Thursday, August 23
A day ahead of our flight to Toronto, I called for the first time in a while the Chinese car service that I only know of as “Friendly Lau”. At this point, their rates probably can’t compete with Uber but I can rely on patience from a fellow compatriot and I knew they are permitted to pick up at airports. Uber might recently be allowed airport pick-ups?
It seemed nuts even to myself that I booked a connecting flight – Montreal again! – to Toronto all in the name of briefly exploring the “new” (opened in summer 2015) pedestrian tunnel that eliminates the need to wait for the 30-second ferry ride. The tunnel was nice in a way but not particularly grand and the consolation was that the kid loved running through it and I love to see that. We wait a few minutes for the van to arrive and the driver was understanding and patient while I installed the car seat. During the slow-going ride to MY’s place – there’s no highway route – both the kid and I fell asleep, despite his initial excitement to be in a van for the first time and possibly sitting higher than ever before and definitely higher than in a week in a Mazda 3!
Dinner consisted of delivery from a pho place. It may have been Pho 99 as MY told me they joined Uber Eats. I wanted the noodles for the kid and did not enjoy the vegetarian spring roll with mushy filling or the sweetly spicy fried tofu that was served cold.
For my first evening in town, MY arranged that we would watch Crazy Rich Asians as the cinema nearby at Yorkdale. The 10:00 p.m. movie time worked for the kid who was just going to play after dinner with his Uncle J who was subjected to endless Paw Patrol antics and then physical fun when they pulled all the cushions off the sofa and climbed all over.
Friday, August 24
We set out for the zoo first thing in the morning. MY hadn’t ever been inside the zoo properly although a few years ago she did the Oasis Toronto Zoo 10K. We arrived around noon and the queues were many and so slow going. What gives? At the booth, each agent has to ask if you want to purchase other activities – to which some newbs might respond with an inquiry what activites are available, ugh – prepare a parking pass, confirm all of your selections, and have you sign a slip that you did receive a parking pass. Even the online purchase line was slow-going. I estimate that we waited just about 10 minutes longer than if we purchased online but when we got in, I swear I felt like some energy was zapped out of me.
The first exhibit we visited was of the one-horned rhino. There is a you can enter and the stench was a swift reminder of the realities of being in a zoo. The rhino looked like it was just moping, lying around. It didn’t seem like a good omen, but the animals seemed happier thereafter. Seeing live giraffes were truly majestic and we took photos with it. We missed all the monkeys and apes somehow. It was almost a relief if a creature was hiding out from the heat because we could just move along. It was a blessedly warm day and it felt like we were in a savannah (when I’ve never been to one) – lessons learned. Maybe having a stroller is a good idea – I seriously underestimated how big a zoo needs to be.
I pushed for having lunch out so that the kid would definitely have a decent amount of food in him after a questionable morning and then nap in the car. It worked. We went to Asian Legend on Sheppard Aveue East and ordered noodles off their noodle specials – hot & sour noodle soup, Fujian noodle tossed in a peanut, soy, and garlic sauce, and XLB.
The kid’s nap ran late and we were 15 minutes late to get to our cousin’s for dinner. Their kids M&O met us in the yard and the kid watched as they rolled around in the grass. It’s small but it’s still a yard. O was excited to show us the garden hose and his bikes in the garage. We went inside and it’s a wonder to the kid who barely ate pizza and some salad. I watched him and O play in O’s room upstairs and with O being a responsible four-year-old, felt like I could leave them there and keep an eye on them heading for the stairs. They had too much to play with to want to wander back to the adults and O is keen to have a younger friend watch. M is not too old to not care either. When the cousins hugged each other fiercely when we parted, it was really sweet.
To end off the night, we went for a dip in the condo pool. It wasn’t really eventful because there wasn’t much diversion there for the kid, but I wanted something to wind him down.
Saturday, August 25
Our cousin’s recommendation was to visit Evergreen Brickworks and I didn’t mind checking it out as it has been on my list for a while. The farmer’s market was nice and it’s when I’m just visiting when I most strongly want to buy something, lol. The toddler garden was sweet and we got some nice pictures of the kid running amongst the willows. The Children’s Garden was – um – very nature inspired. The kid liked running up the mini hill most and I wasn’t going to let him get into the sandbox or dip his hands into a communal trough of water for waterplay. We instead painted rocks and slabs of wood.
We took our lunch at the food court with momos and vegan pasta from TC’s Tibetian MoMo and a pulled pork sandwich (no beef brisket left) from Canto Sando. It was low-key good and we dashed to the car when it wasn’t raining so hard. The kid fell asleep in the car.
BIL was at a great-uncle’s funeral and begged off in the evening while feeling guilty about it (because he was going to go out even later). I don’t mind as we can move faster when it’s just me and MY and the kid. Also, I feel more comfortable expressing my suggestion where to go eat. I got my wish and we got Korean at Tofu Village in K-Town and then desserts from Dessert Kitchen. Dessert Kitchen is a chain from China and doesn’t have particularly epic creations. It was nonetheless a nice cap to our evening out and a comfortable spot to hang out for a short while.
Sunday, August 26
Finally, we had a flight that wasn’t terribly early. I printed out my bag tags and the bag drop was all automated but wonky. It said my luggage was 25kg and thus overweight (max is 23 kg) and I was terribly irritated because I didn’t want extra in our carry-on. I barely took anything out and was down to 20kg and my luggage was accepted and whisked away.
On the exceedingly long flight back, I allowed the kid to look over the back of his seat and watch Grayson play on his Leap Frog tablet. I talked to Grayson’s dad about the adjustments that come with moving from the city (or its burbs like NW) all the way to Abbotsford and briefly about his life with three kids. I think he napped for the last part of the flight – good riddance.
In a weird hiccup at the airport, we were waiting on the tarmac for a while next to three empty gates but we were waiting for the one that was occupied. At baggage claim, we waited and waited for our luggage to arrive. All of this gave the kid a lot of time to learn about airport operations including air traffic control, luggage carousels and that wings have moving parts and aren’t “broken” – boy was he concerned about the last one!