Read Part 2 HERE !
I lead the way to the upper level of Waterfront station, which exist onto a rooftop park. We are amongst many to have gathered at the space, for it serves as the next best scenic lookout point beyond Miku (if you ask me).
The skies are positively gorgeous, a gradient of cerulean with dollops of chunky clouds here and there. As always (on non-rain days), the snow-capped mountains prevail in the distance.
The Thai ahgase expresses desire to stop by Granville Island. "My friend told me this nuts place is good." she tells me, evidently persuaded by the suggestion. We first opt to find a bathroom, though seeing none, we trek over to Bay 3 in wait of the next westbound bus.
I had taken Lyft last time, so the transit route wasn't entirely familiar to me. Due to my failure in keeping watch, we end up missing the stop and walking back. Thankfully, my partner-in-crime wasn't too annoyed, and, thankfully, it wasn't too hot either.
We cross into the marketplace and continue our search for bathrooms.
The Granville Island Toy Company serves our needs well. We traverse through the standard door, observing the adorable addition of a smaller, child-sized one next to it, then make a beeline for the bathroom.
View the full album HERE !
Read Part 1 HERE !
Within walking distance was the scenic tourist district of Gastown. Along Cambie we travelled, aligning ourselves with the Gastown Steam Clock.
The route passed Victoria Square, past which I had stealthily sped on several occasions in previous explorations.
On Cambie between West Cordova and Water was a familiar-looking alleyway - this one significantly more visually appealing than the one connecting East Hastings and East Pender.
I snapped a few shots for reference, reserving them to confirm my suspicions later on. My recollection proved correct: Discussions with my virtual dance partner had informed me of TWICE's LIKEY MV filming in Vancouver, and the backdrop coincided with the scene.
The Thai ahgase and I got our - well, her - tourist fix of the Gastown Steam Clock before venturing towards the clearing, where the West Coast Express trains could be spotted. Questionable figures lurked around the corner, so we cut our photo time short in response.
While she headed into the nearby Starbucks in search of lavatories, I perused the area to its east. My gaze fell upon Maison Kitsune and its adjacent Café Kitsuné.
View the full album HERE !
Sheathed in my cow print hoodie for protection against the hotel's inconsistent gusts of A/C, I had quickly fallen into a slumber on the first evening. I blinked open my eyes around 3 AM (6 AM EST), closed them once more, then eventually peeled away the sheets and readied myself for activity just before 6 AM (PST). The Thai ahgase was still sleeping soundly at this point, so into athletic attire I changed, gymbound.
The Fitness Centre was located in a different tower than our room. After receiving guidance from the front desk, I trodded to the other end of lobby and alighted the elevator. Upon exiting, the designated room was identified by posted signage. I didn't have high expectations to start, though the scene was overall more dismal than expected. Equipment variety was limited to a treadmill, treadmill with incline, elliptical, cycling machine, and one weight machine. Free weights and tarnished exercise mats were situated by the door, across from a water dispenser and landing area with cubbies. I stayed clear of the free weights, for a lady was occupying the space for an intense circuit while panting heavily. A few warmup movements were executed before I maneuvered to the treadmill. It wasn't long before I hopped off though, for I was certain that I'd be achieving - and exceeding - my step count in the upcoming hours. (Spoiler: I did.)
In the absence of headphones, I opted not to stay and headed towards the hotel's prized "Skyview" Rooftop Garden instead.
It gave a decent view of the nearby area, but not much of a scenic view. The skies were initially dreary, though gazing into the distance, one could perceive streaks of sunlight piercing through the cloud cover from behind the mountains.
The leisurely walk became not so enjoyable when the sprinkler system turned on. I had escaped dampness on my upper body by way of rain jacket, though succumbed to sprayed leggings and runners.
I headed outdoors, marching over to the neighbouring Sheraton. Between these two buildings lay a series of condos; in contrast to the compact gym of the Executive Hotel, their gym was situated on the main floor, street-facing, and encased in glass. A pool could even be seen adjacent to the space. I brushed past with feelings of envy and awe.
Read Part 1 HERE !
One of the first things to emerge from the awestruck demeanour of the Thai ahgase was that the city seemed reminiscent to a different country, that it didn't feel like Canada anymore.
Naturally, I was surprised to hear this, for I lay eyes on a similar enough setting each time I return. The SkyTrain platforms are, admittedly, a dissimilar setup to that of the TTC, or even the designated path of the Mississauga Transitway, but the transit system in itself is still very much reflective of suburban Canada.
We found an impressive number of budding flowers along our path: striking, saturated, and worthy of marvelling. Black and grey bunnies were another common sighting in Richmond, even on my solo treks after the Thai ahgase's return.
After analyzing our hotel situation (microwave not found, but mini fridge confirmed), we drifted onto the streets once more for continued exploration. A trip to So'O Salon was made to obtain a quote for my desired hair transformation. At hearing the duration and cost, my travel buddy stood, mouth agape. Despite initial considerations of her own appointment, the thought was banished given the prospect of her short-lived vacation.
In response to my suggestion for egg waffles, I suggested checking out The Bubble Tea Shop on the ground floor of the Superstore building. Along the way were accessible pedestrian signals that, beyond audible and tactile features, included the ordinal positioning of the signal at the intersection.
Nearing Lansdowne Centre, we caught sight of the infamous Japadog truck. It appeared to be permanently stationed in the asphalt lot, for within close proximity were tables for dining, a designated Drive-Thru path, and even curbside pickup spots! - just like McDonald's Mobile Orders.
As it wasn't quite suppertime as yet, we continued to our original destination. Suffice to say, not much has changed about the Superstore plaza.
At 4 AM, I reluctantly lifted my eyelids in response to the dreaded alarm. It was time to prepare.
Only dawning on me at bedtime was Larry's absence from my daily routine for the next little while. I had bid a lengthy farewell to him the evening prior, yet still wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to his cozy, furry presence amidst last-minute packing.
"Hey I'm on the Uber (heading) to the airport now." came a text from the Thai ahgase at 4:33 AM. She had departed earlier than I thought necessary, especially given her limited quantity of carry-on baggage, and arrived just short of 5 AM, just as I begun to close the trunk.
Within 15 minutes, I arrived at Pearson. The scene wasn't particularly chaotic - nowhere near as incredulous as news articles had made it out to seem. I printed my baggage tags without issues, then realized the calamity that awaited me: The baggage drop belt was malfunctioning.
I waited with inquisitiveness, initially unsure of the issue. After fifteen minutes of mistakenly joining the line for international departures, a member of staff gestured towards the side for domestic travel. There was no improvement to be witnessed, however, for the automated system was stalled for both international and domestic sections.
I was fifth in line to the bag drop, yet it made no difference as the line was not moving. A concerned flyer relayed her concerns to a nearby member of staff.
"What do I do if my flight is leaving?"
"You leave your luggage and run." the lady responded apathetically.
"And that," I thought, "is how you lose your luggage." I powered on my headphones and commenced the opening scene of Moana, in an attempt to balance feelings of helplessness with patience.
The queuing would only continue in the meantime, with crowds forming at each line and more passengers struggling to weave through the queue to access the kiosks. Suddenly, chaos had prevailed. The articles hadn't been mistaken after all. Even more amusing were the words of another member of staff that had passed us by: "It stopped once when I started, at 4 AM. This is the second time." It was shocking that, not only was the issue one of recurring nature, its priority for rectification was so low on the list. A manual override would have resolved the congestion while the technicians worked to rectify in the background.
The delay ensued until around 6:30 AM, where the belt accepted the baggage of 3 customers before ceasing functionality once again. It sputtered various error messages before working again - this time long enough for my luggage to be scanned and transported to the main belt.
In contrast to my 1.25 hours of frustration, the Thai ahgase had made it through security with ample time to spare, even offering to obtain a Starbucks breakfast for me while I restlessly stood at the baggage drop. I had declined the offer at the time, given that I neither had the appetite nor a definitive time of gate entry.
Security screening was the next step. The crowd was diverted from the domestic screening area ("D") to the international side ("E"). A twisting queue had formed here, yet the volumes dissipated quickly. Despite my laptop being held hostage for some period of time, all screening measures concluded within fifteen to twenty minutes.
From that point, I raced back towards the domestic side, laying eyes on the ridiculous lineup stemming from the gates.
The departure gate was misread, and I headed in the direction of DAVID's TEA, where my flights were often stationed. Only upon double-checking did I realize my mistake and retraced my footsteps. The Thai ahgase came into view just as boarding commencement was announced.
Somehow, I managed to use the bathroom, snag a Raisin Bran Muffin, and refill my water bottle using one of the questionably clean fountains all before emplaning. We were then YVR-bound.
Pre-vacation periods are never easy. In the working world ensues a mad rush to hand over one's duties - or provide a crash course for them to the unlucky delegate. Behind the scenes are last-minute situations that arise for attention, for they too must also be resolved a long hiatus.
"Nonstop chaos" is how I would depict the my post long-weekend, pre-Pearson phase. Worries were partially drowned in Chocolate Churro and Injeolmi Turtle Chips, which entailed a feeling of guilt so great that cardio became a no-brainer for calorie compensation.
With a newly activated UberEats pass, I proposed either Greek or Thai for our household's mid-day meal. Greek was the safer alternative, and Lazros was chosen. The assortment comprised of: Mixed Beef and Lamb Gyro w/ Greek Fries and Lemon Potatoes, Chicken Souvlaki w/ Lemon Potatoes and Rice, Spanakopitta, and a tiny conainer of Hummus (to meet the promo requirement).
About 1.5 years since my last purchase. Since then, the pita quantity has diminished, the tzatziki blander, feta noticeably saltier, and the portion size less extravagant than I recalled. The Chicken Souvlaki bits were dry and tough, while the Beef and Lamb Gyro slices chalky and salty. Frankly speaking, the meal, on an overall note, was far more sodium-laden than our palates could handle. The yearning for garlicy, crunchy tzatziki also failed to be satisfied.
Other meals spanned a Tomato & Egg Soft Scramble (not pictured), Stewed Eggplant and Meat (not pictured either, but capable of being visualized as a soft, savoury pairing to steamed rice), and tidbits of Lazros, with frozen veggies mixed in to neutralize obscene saltiness.
Creations of the week included:
1) Apple Ginger Juice
Inspired by my local ahgase, I took to peeling and coring a weighty bag of golden delicious apples with the intent of preparing a juice concoction of sorts. Unlike her though, I had no juicing apparatus readily available. To the blender I went with roughly seven teensy apples, some unmeasured quantity of ginger root (peeled, for once!), a squeeze of lemon, water, and honey. The formula was too thick for homogenization at first, thus water was incorporated gradually to assist. Pulpy like oversaturated applesauce, I took to straining the mixture once to obtain a partially filtered juice (15% solids).
The combination was revisited a second time in the latter parts of the week, with more water and lemon juice from concentrate, as seeds had accidentally made their way into the mix previously. Blending was made simpler with more water, yet the lowered viscosity made filtration of solids more difficult. Now finer, the solids streamed into the final product, escaping the sieve. The second batch was cloudier, at roughly 20% solids.
In hindsight, the Golden Delicious variety is likely best reserved for pie-making due to its relatively moisture content. The flavour is barely present in the juice, and the yield is quite minimal.
2) Double Chocolate Chip Muffins
Having been made aware of this recent addition via the weekly smitten kitchen digest, I hesitated not at seeing the mention of "yogurt" and "chocolate". Really, the reasoning was simple: I had yogurt in need of using before my vacay and the sleepy polar bear's talks of chocolate had echoed in my subconscious.
"The chocolate chips, however, are not optional.", but as I only had the (off-)white variety, in they went. To achieve the same gooeyness factor though, a few Callebaut callets topped them off before baking. True to her words, the muffins were overflowing. Given the lighter cake-like consistency, the muffins were quite delicate, causing even the gentlest of lifts to dent its sides during removal. Consequently, I'd recommend portioning one third of the batter for mini muffin tins.
3) Ultimate Banana Bread
At the end of a week-long wait were five spotty bananas residing in the warmest part of our dining room. I took to another iteration of banana bread, but this time The Ultimate. The decision may or may not have been made during the time of banana acquisition, after being reminded by orangecane of the most extravagant rendition of banana bread to grace SK territory.
With the knowledge that each of my bananas would weigh in at roughly 130 g each (less if bruised patches removed), I meticulously assembled the peeled specimens over my scale, watching anxiously as the number neared the specified 510 g. My first attempt at The Ultimate had not entailed such a weighing process, proving far too moist as a result. SK's bananas are likely at the smaller end of the spectrum, for 4.5 bananas had been sufficient in attaining the required weight. The last was stashed into the fridge for later use, probably consumption.
"A concert!!!...AT 3AM?!?!"
Following a brief moment of dismay towards the announcement of a domestic in-person concert came the realization of a livestream opportunity for global fans. Ahgases have waited patiently for the members to regroup again, and the comeback announcement had brought nothing short of delirious excitement.
The term "homecoming" was especially fitting, for it implied a grand return: GOT7's return to a scene where they rightfully belonged. Whether it be performing on stage in front of screaming ahgases or broadcast channels via YouTube content, they would, after this long, grueling period, be seen together - seven as one unit - once more.
For the boys, "HOMECOMING" meant a lot more. Their home was the warm embrace of ahgases, a place where their work was appreciated, efforts were supported, and love was given, unconditionally. Despite being renowned worldwide, they remain the humblest of artists: While BamBam worried over whether the fandom would remain after their group hiatus, Jinyoung claimed himself to be a "nobody" who could only shine as much as ahgases allowed him to. These comments summoned an aching heart - Do they not know how awesome they are?! Of course we'd stay!
True ahgases will remain for certain and, what's more, support the members' individual pursuits to foster a stronger sense of awareness in the global music market.
A self-proclaimed regular observer of Twitter happenings and collector of data, BamBam was quick to ask the crowd of their ahgase seniority status. Majority had participated in their last world tour of 2019 - myself included - with a handful seeing the group in person for the first time. Interestingly, he also noted the possibility of those joining the fandom after JYPE era. He noted that a number of articles had circulated upon news of GOT7 going separate ways from their parent company, and that he wouldn't eliminate the possibility of those articles stirring up interest in the group and their past endeavours.
I had purchased my ticket a few days after the release date, reassuring myself that my Saturday plans would not interfere with the decision. In reality, I was terrified.
My last trip on public transit dates back to the first quarter of 2020 - and on the Translink system no less! On the GO Transit network, I would make my final, unmasked trip on March 5th - the good ol' pre-COVID days.
Since the notorious surge in gas prices though, I ran a cost comparison between options of driving or GO Train-ing, including parking fees for the former. Results were then evaluated against constraints such as transfer period between PRESTO taps, route considerations based on parking locations, as well as the distinct and definitive tremors towards driving maneuvers beyond my control. In discussion of my analysis with a like-minded companion of orangecane, I was made aware of discount passes for unlimited travel on the GO network: $10 for a single weekend day and $15 for entire weekends (inclusive of 3-day long weekends). It removed the hassle of parking altogether, along with rushing to make the transfer period.
We departed in the direction of Clarkson at the early hour of 10 AM, with me, unsurprisingly, scrambling until the very last second. The forecast was predicted to be rainy and humid, yet we saw clear, sunny skies for majority of the morning.
"Exhibition" came the announcement overhead; onto the concrete walkway of the CNE we disembarked, and through the underpass towards Atlantic Avenue.
Sauntering through familiar paths in Liberty Village, I saw familiar buildings bordered by new construction - a neverending phase of the City, it seems. A variety of floral attractions lined the north side of Liberty Street, as roadwork took place on its south side.
SCHOOL was the brunch destination of choice. At 11 AM, a short lineup was found huddled about the restaurant entrance. The sight was in line with expectations, for reservations were not accepted. An approximate ten- to fifteen-minute wait had been declared by recent visitors given their 10 AM. However, an early bird I am not, and will willingly accept my fate in exchange for sleep.
Roughly forty minutes would pass before we were eventually guided within. Frankly, it hadn't appeared all that lengthy. The bulk had been spent gazing upon blue skies, shaded by nearby shrubbery, and welcomed by warm breezes. Had it been hot and humid, my perception would have varied vastly.
Originally to be seated in a two-seater with lower noise pollution, I requested the same dining conditions as my previous visit (339), in the open area underneath the clocks. Despite tighter seating, space was sufficient for two sharing plates, two mains, water glasses, and additional drink beakers. There was ample opportunity to add sharing plates to the spread, unlike Papa Giuseppe's patio spots.
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Instead of the brunch classic of mimosa, I yearned for the refreshing qualities of juice instead. My supposedly "freshly squeezed" Pineapple Ginger was sweeter than preferred, revealing similar qualities to storebought, filtered pineapple juice with fine bits of ginger pulp at the bottom. Constituting of 75% pineapple-y essences and 25% ginger, there was simply not enough of the anti-inflammatory root in its composition. The sleepy polar bear's Mango Tangerine was far too sugary to be natural, exhibiting no more depth beyond mango juice from concentrate.
Feedback tends to generate a wide array of responses. Constructive criticism isn't always met with a positive, contemplative reaction. Yet, the same can be said about praise.
When chancing across new species of humans, I was dumbfounded to find them fishing for praise, that mindless commentary from those irrelevant to their lives held so much power over them. I also grew wary of those seemingly allergic to feedback, any negativity or disagreement from their preferred practice or habits, and, conclusively, change.
On the contrary, rarely do I respond positively to praise, instead seeking out areas of improvement that can be addressed constructively. While a firm non-believer of perfection (beyond GOT7 and Park Jinyoung, of course), I've strived to achieve objectively good results by taking into consideration the perspective of a variety of users. Further constructive remarks are also welcome, with each iteration enabling growth and progress.
Many, many attempts at Soy Braised Eggs have honed a time-consuming, but worthwhile procedure. The eggs ought be cooked to a soft-boiled state, where the whites have solidified but the yolks remain runny. The soy-based formula is brought to a simmer, reduced, and let cool to at least room temperature. Too many times have I submerged cooled eggs into piping hot braise, leading residual heat to remove the translucent, gooey properties of the yolk. One cannot rush the steeping process: forty-eight hours is the minimum chill time required to obtain umami goodness.
A replacement microwave reinstated the ability to quickly reheat food and beverages, eliminating the 30-minute heat-up period and reducing the chance of steam burns.
Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate and Coffee Frappés were enjoyed as mid-day pick-me-ups, while a soju float combining Green Apple Soju and Hazelnut Gelato from Nani's Gelato sealed off a relaxing post-stretch session.
A gentle buzz set off my phone around lunch hour on a sunny Tuesday - it was McDonald's announcing their new McNugget dipping sauce. Without a moment's hesitation, I was persuaded to embark on the trip.
Temperatures had dropped since the previous day, casting a chilly veil on the park I had ventured towards. The skies were vividly blue, yet cloud cover was unmistakable. Occasional gusts had me questioning my choice of attire: nylon Adidas track pants and the white short-sleeved tee from Jay B's first Represent collaboration.
The spread consisted of a Big Mac ($3.49 on Mobile Offer!), Peach Passionfruit Smoothie, and 10-piece McNuggets. Alongside the chain's newest Honey BBQ sauce was the classic choice of Barbeque.
Entry into the working world has solidified the importance of events that never truly garnered much interest in my teen and young adult years.
Politics matter, whether you believe true democracy will prevail or not. Familiarizing oneself with the various parties may be a hassle, but these respective platforms, supplemented by general public opinion, are deciding factors in the government's future investment(s) and job availability. Every instance of tax relinquishment reflects our investment back into the system, so thorough contemplation of these matters isn't entirely optional, as much as the act of voting is made out to seem.
Spendings have been striking this quarter, spanning utility bills, vehicle maintenance, small appliance replacement, and special occasion dining ventures. Adding to the financial burden is a pending vacation (at long last!!) and GOT7's comeback. VICTON and ASTRO are also releasing EPs within this month, though their impact is negligible in comparison to OT7.
It is with much dismay to note that my quarterly review is delayed. The corporate class is frustrating, with an insatiable appetite for prosperity and ascent on the social ladder; what is more: these circumstances are consistent across majority of companies, with the same woes being expressed by those simply looking to survive, and maybe strive towards their career goals.
The week commences with Dalgona Lattes, one with espresso and one with a concentrated dose of genmaicha. Sickeningly sweet are the shards when incorporated in generous handfuls. In small doses though, they are quite enjoyable, contributing a caramely robustness to the iced beverages. Granola with vanilla Greek yogurt subs in for blue sky bran muffins on a few breakfasts.
In the absence of a functioning microwave, creativity continues to be employed for the delivery of weekday meals in a timely manner. Sourced from the freezer are frozen vegetables and a mini pizza, which is elevated with additional cheese cubes and a few strips of Arirang takeout bossam.
Steamed Pork & Chive buns, chopped kale, and garlic short ribs were also obtained from the same source, then subject to heat via either steaming or baking in the toaster oven.
Creations of the week included:
1) Marbled Banana Bread Feat. Mini Marbled Loaves
With five browning bananas on hand, it was time for another batch of freezer-ready banana bread to be constructed. SK's marbled prescription used three bananas, masses unknown. To scale the recipe accordingly, each banana was weighed and approximated at 130 g. Removing brown patches would leave the standard banana at about 88 g.
Who Am I?
Formerly an avid owner of several interest-based portals, Random Thoughts of a Quirky Blogger presents precisely the elements expected. From experiments in the kitchen to miscellaneous musings, from IGOT7 reflections to developments in transportation infrastructure, it's all consolidated here. Welcome to the raw, unfiltered side of Quirky Aesthetics.