[Before you proceed to read this, just to give you a warning that this blog is extremely long (yes, even longer than all of my other blogs..). So read at your own risk..]
Waking up naturally without the need for an alarm clock is surely one of the greatest feelings on Earth! Today is an unusual day because we all woke up pretty late since we needed the rest, due to the tiredness and lack of sleep that have piled up in the previous days of this trip. To start off with this fun day of our trip, our first stop was to go eat dim sum brunch at a Chinese restaurant located near us in our neighborhood. This was actually a new experience to me because I usually only go yumcha with my biological family, and this was the first time I went yumcha with my CCDC family. In my opinion, the food was decent and the price was fair. Before we head on to the next activity on our agenda, we decided to revisit the wonderful Aberdeen Shopping centre again since we had some spare time. There, we did more observations of open space areas and as well as some window shopping, or even some real shopping.
After we spent time lingering around the grand shopping mall, we made our way to our next destination - Stanley Park! With it being one of the most famous tourist attractions in Vancouver, Stanley Park is a must-visit site for our trip and has a perfect environment for biking. Before we actually started biking, we took some time to explore around the area and did some more urban observations. Then we headed across the street to the bike rental place and got ourselves bikes that we’ll be having for the next two hours or so. For myself, I actually don’t really know how to bike. I would say that I am a beginner for biking when I just had a “biking lesson/training” a few days ago just for this part of the trip. I hope I am ready for this two-hour or so of biking.
Each of us rented a bike for ourselves except me who needed to ride on a tandem, which is a bike with two seats. Before we started to bike, we practiced for a while in one of the open space areas to ensure that we were fine with the bikes we had. With the map of Stanley Park that we have in our hands, we planned our biking trail around the park that would give us the best view of the park and opportunity to explore the area and be able to go back to our starting point in the limited time we had. We started our biking journey at the beginning of the trail. And off we went, following the path and biking towards the inner parts of the area. We made several stops along our way at the resting stations and also took the time to enjoy the beautiful view and fresh air environment. Biking along this path has been a very nice experience, with all the exercising and enjoying the scenery. One negative moment that happened along my journey was when my shoelace got stuck into the left pedal and it even swirled around the pedal piece. Unfortunately, I fell down on the ground but good thing was that I didn’t injured myself. After the incident, we fixed the bike and I also tucked in my shoelace to prevent this case to happen again.
As we continued on our journey along the seawall path of Stanley Park, we saw more and more beautiful sceneries of the harbor. One thing I like about this seawall path is its location which is next to the water, allowing bikers and pedestrians to enjoy the beauty of the city while they exercise. In addition, I think that the seawall path was well-designed that its wideness has a fair distance apart that allows pedestrians to walk along next to the bike lane. On my way along the seawall path, I have also noticed the visible signs and words that direct people to either the bike or pedestrian lane. As we approached the other end of our path, we got the chance to see the beauty of the waterfront in its whole picture. Reaching to the midpoint of our bike journey, we took a long break to rest for a while and took a lot of group photos along the seawall. Then we started to head back along the seawall path to our original starting point of our bike journey. Along our way, we made a few stops, including one at a park area that has a large open space area in grassland designed for picnics and also swings and other facilities that allow children to play on. We continued our way back and successively arrived at our meeting area. After this two hour bike ride, some of us actually still wanted to bike longer, despite the fact that we were all starving due to the exercise.
Biking at Stanley Park and along the seawall path was fun, but nonetheless we still have to return the bikes back to the bike rental place located across the street. Overall, I think that this biking experience was fun and a good amount of exercising for me. I enjoyed my first biking experience as much as I do with the sceneries along our way. I think that what I like most about biking is that it allows me to explore new places and gain new experiences. I feel that Stanley Park has a great and fresh environment which provides the opportunity for visitors and specifically bikers to learn more about the city, and that it is also a good use of open space area.
After we biked and explored around Stanley Park, we were heading on to our next and final destination of the day - Richmond Night Market! On the fifth day of our Vancouver trip, we have finally made a good use of our TransLink MultiPass and decided to take the bus after a long two-hour bike ride. In the previous days in Vancouver, we’ve been only taking the Skytrain and due to the honor system, our multipass somewhat became useless in a way. On our way to the night market, we took several different buses and walked for a bit, and we discovered an area that is near downtown that captured our attention and made us stayed for a while. In front of us where we were standing, we see a wall with a map of the world. In front of that, in the distance closer to us, there’s a big pond of water with a several small platforms designed for people to walk through as a path. This triggered the excitement in some of us, and we all ended up walking through the path by stepping and hopping on those small platforms. Before we left the site, we all made the word “Campaign” and two hearts at both ends of the word with our body gestures to represent our love and passion towards our program.
Now we have finally arrived at this place, the night market! We already saw at the first sight the popularity of this night market through the amount of people standing in line waiting to enter. To not waste our time and to make the most out of our trip, we bought ourselves fastpasses that allowed us to enter without waiting in line for at least two hours. It was around 7:30 PM when we were standing next to the giant rubber yellow duck figure at the entrance, and we set our meet up time to leave at 10 PM; then we split ourselves into smaller groups and went about to explore this wonderful place.
Now what is the first thing that you would see at a night market? Of course, the answer is people. I already see the success of the night market through its crowdedness and human flow in the area. I assume that the visitors for the market consist of both tourists and locals of the city. We first walked around the merchandise area, where there seems to be a great variety of things for sale, including phone cases, anime posters and keychains, plushies, pens, and etc. Every merchandise “store” is separated by their own cabin or tent, and there are numerous merchandise stores in the whole night market that we’ve walked through and looked around. Many of them may actually sell similar or even the same things. After exploring the merchandise part of the night market, I feel that most of the products are associated with the Japanese culture, hence there are many anime related things for sale. Besides the merchandise aspect of the market that attracted me, another part that also caught most of my attention was of course something that I’ve been craving for (especially since we were just biking for two hours earlier)....FOOD!
When we first made our way to the food section of the night market, the smell of various food and snacks already attracted our smell sense. With my eyes gazing at the food booths in front of us, I can feel my stomach’s call and desire for food. We walked along the few lanes of food booths, to compare prices and to decide what we want to eat. Along our way, I’ve seen many booths selling snacks and drinks, such as boba (aka the well-known tapioca milk tea originated in Taiwan), fried squid and octopus, and popcorn chicken, which I don’t find surprising since these are the most famous snacks that you would find at boba shops that exist almost everywhere today. Besides these snacks, there was a specific snack that I saw people holding that caught my attention the most -- the rotato! I was attracted to it because I’ve seen pictures of this type of food from other night markets, such as the one in Taiwan or Japan (and perhaps night markets of other countries or cities as well), and so I wouldn’t be surprised that it would appear in the Vancouver Richmond night market. With the excitement to go hunt (or search) for the rotato, the food that I know I will get for sure, I walked around the food area with my peers in every corner. Before we found the rotato food booth, we checked out several other stores along our way, such as the dragon’s beard candy, strawberry skewers covered with crystal sugar, and different colored drinks covered with smoke in thin air. After walking and exploring for a while, we have finally came to encounter the food that I was craving for! Already, we see a lot of people waiting in line, and we finally got our rotatoes after the wait. As usual, following the tradition of “camera eats first before ourselves,” we took many pictures of this artistic piece of food before we actually started eating it, despite the fact that my stomach was growling and whining for me to feed it.
We continued to explore around the merchandise area and searched for things that we want to buy. What triggered my excitement in this night market besides the rotato was the Doraemon objects that caught my attention in many of the merchandise stores. There were, in fact, many Doraemon things that I wanted to buy, but I was mentally awake and balanced out that they weren’t all worth or useful to buy. I did ended up buying one Doraemon thing from the night market though, and it was quite useful -- a Doraemon wallet! My wallet was already making its way to the landfill before I went on this trip, as it was starting to break apart. In this trip, all the money bills and coins that I store in my wallet just furthermore increases its damage and sends it closer to the trashcan. I figured that after this trip, I would definitely need a new wallet, and now this is a perfect timing for me to encounter this lovely Doraemon wallet! Our group then split apart as several of my peers went off in searching for some anime posters, while my friend and I continued to shop around for souvenirs for friends. We came about to a phone case store and bought two iPhone 6 cases, one for myself and one for my friend, since we both seem that we need a new phone case.
We see that the time is almost up and we would have to meet up with the rest of our group at the entrance soon, and so we quickly went back to the food area to buy the giant ice cream that we saw earlier when we were exploring. We were a bit disappointed when we found that the green tea flavor was sold out already, but nonetheless we still wanted to try the ice cream and so we bought the vanilla flavor. After we picked up our order, we quickly rushed to the entrance since it was just a few more minutes before 10 PM. At that time, we actually didn’t want to leave the night market yet because we really love this place, as if we were Cinderella who didn’t want to leave by midnight. When we arrived at the entrance still trying to catch our breath, we panicked for a bit since we saw no one of our group there. I was trying to analyze the possibilities with my friend, which were either we went to the wrong meeting area, our group left without us (which is unlikely), or everyone else was just enjoying the night market too much that they were all late. Since we stayed there for a while and saw no one else coming back, we went to look about in the night market. After we discovered that everyone else is still shopping and looking around, we continued to go shopping for souvenirs since our meet-up time is now changed to 11 PM, which is when the night market closes. Before we left the market, I did some last minute shopping and bought two octopus shoulder pins and a pillow for my friends. I actually feel that the merchandise and food here have the power of calling us to buy them, as we all did spent a lot of money at this place. I guess our whole group left the market with their wallets in tears. In the end, we all left with handfuls of things we bought from the night market, and off our way we were back to our home to enjoy the last night of our trip in Vancouver!
The Richmond Night Market provided me a whole new and fun experience of what it is like to live in a city with active nightlife outdoors. It attracted many people through its fun activities and a variety of food and merchandise. I find that night market food and some of the merchandise for sale are unique and special, as if you might not be able to find these same objects in other places, which is what I like most about the Richmond Night Market. Having a local night market not only can bring revenue for the city by attracting both locals and tourists into a concentrated area to become consumers for many small businesses, but it also provides a source of entertainment for people to enjoy their night with their friends and family! Our group showed support to this event first of all by attending it, and as well as spending most of our money there; meanwhile, we also enjoyed our night there as it got us all hyped up and excited. In my opinion, I think that night markets in San Francisco sounds like an idea that we can try. These types of event can help to activate the nightlife of our city of San Francisco, and thus meanwhile bring revenue to our city. I feel that night markets are places that provide people the opportunity to really see and know a city better, thus having night markets in SF can promote its beauty to both visitors to the city and local San Franciscans.
Overall, this trip has provided me a wonderful experience and opportunity to explore two cities: Seattle and Vancouver. Our group has explored upon the topics that are relevant to our program Campaign Academy and our organization CCDC, which are the public transportation system and city planning in both cities. This 8-day trip can be considered either long or short, long because all the packed agenda and sleepless nights made us all felt tired, but short because many fun moments were created throughout this trip! One thing that I find ironic was that we took the bus for most of the time in Seattle when we didn’t have any day passes, whereas we only took the bus for once or twice in Vancouver when we actually had a multipass for five days. Well, I guess we liked to exercise more when we were in Vancouver, or maybe it was just because of the time constraint of our trip.
Learning trips like this one do bring me a lot of new knowledge of new cities especially, and I have had a great experience exploring in Chicago last year also with my program Campaign Academy. Although urban studies and city planning may not be involved in my future career, it is surely a topic that I’m interested. It is good to learn how cities are built and development, and how they maintain their prosperity and sustainability. This trip gave me the chance not only to explore and compare other cities to my own city but also to learn more about my peers! Through this trip, I have developed a closer bond with my friends, and we have created many fun, sweet, and great memories together! I enjoyed this learning trip as it broadened my horizon and expanded upon my perspective of how I view this world. Sometimes, we just need to take a break and be away from our own city, and so we can go out for some fresh air and to explore other cities in the world!
P.S. Now this comes to the conclusion of my blogs for this learning trip, and I would appreciate (actually I would be surprised) if you actually read through all my blogs. Not that I don’t support my own writing, but I would actually advise you to read the blogs of my peers, as they are much shorter than mine. However, if you really want to get a real detailed sense of how we’ve gone through our 8 days in these two new cities for most of us and also what we’ve experienced and got out of from this trip, feel free to read (or maybe skim) through my blogs! Once again, thank you very much for reading!
P.S.S. Hmm….I just realized, now that I have travelled to and explored around two new cities, that I have just took a step closer to reaching my dream goal -- To travel around the world (and maybe with a significant other in the future?)! =)
- Shirley Tsang