Vancity Vibes | DAY 13: Biking along Fraser River and West Dyke Trail + Richmond Errands
A good day starts with uninterrupted sleep. Next comes the unhurried sipping of coffee. And thirdly, maybe some editing to kickstart the day.
Drawing away the blinds revealed reveal blue skies, bountiful fluffy clouds, and the distant beauty of mountains - a bona fide BC backdrop.
River Road at No. 2 Rd Bridge Lookout Point (49.174108, -123.158823)
The weather was splendid - ideal for my planned bike return trip. Gearing up in cycling attire inclusive of a hi-vis top and padded bottoms, I set out to complete the L-shaped route to Steveston, edged by the Fraser River.
No. 1 Rd North Drainage Pump Station Lookout Point (49.174197, -123.181108)
Admittedly, the path was of a greater difficulty level than anticipated. With the north side of the River Road trail being mostly gravel, it wasn't the smoothest of rides, but the view was spectacular nonetheless. Tree cover was minimal; with ample sunshine flooding the skies, I began to feel the blaze of the sun on my arms, especially as breezes subsided.
The River Road trail transitioned to the West Dyke Trail at Terra Nova, the northwest tip of Richmond. Despite desires to undertake the detour, I decided against cycling through the Rural Park. At peak afternoon hours, the park had filled with young families and children, filling the play area to capacity.
Typical of my solo trips to Vancouver are alternating periods of activity and rest. Fitted in between calmer days of editing and pilates would be outings with friends - normally those extending from the mid-morning to late evening. It was only wheen navigating as a unit with the Thai ahgase that back-to-back travel could not be escaped.
During the previous day's stopover at The Amazing Brentwood shopping centre, I engaged in unplanned retail therapy at Thinka. The Miniso/Mumuso replica had previously been spotted replacing Nature Republic inside Aberdeen, though fur-less, fruit-shaped plushies and stationery items had been of little interest to me. The Burnaby location offered an assortment of household items akin to Miniso, prompting the purchase of innisfree sheet masks (terribly tragic to locate in store these days) and tools to leave behind in the city for my next visit.
Lunch comprised of leftovers from the days prior: soft-boiled eggs, seaweed salad from T&T, and kimchi fried rice and fried chicken from DooBoo.
In consideration of the light lunch, I proceeded to unveil Paragon Tea Room's cookies for investigation and evaluation.
The thin discs had been pricey, extraordinarily so, yet I wasn't about to hold back after seeking them out in the rain. Having been deterred from purchasing the Matcha White Chocolate Cookie for its supposedly sweeter profile, I had taken to the Cornflake Earl Grey Cookie (at $4.50) and Okinawa Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Cookie (at $4.00). Their diameters spanned greater than palm's width, yet their cross-sections uniformly compact.
Okinawa Sea Salt Dark Chocolate triumphed easily over the Cornflake Earl Grey Cookie, which was needlessly gritty from coarse bits of tea leaves. The cornflake bits adorning the surface were also found to be bland and soggy, rather than nutty and crunchy. In contrast was the Okinawa Sea Salt Dark Chocolate's sweet-savoury profile, wherein, perhaps the only aspect left to be desired were melty pools of luscious chocolate. The utilized variety appeared to be baking chocolate instead of couverture.
Approaching supper time, I began to browse options for iron intake. Options were plenty on UberEats, however prices were steep for strictly veggie-based dishes. After a great deal of economic evaluation, I resolved to Yuu Japanese Tapas' Housemade Styled Teriyaki Hamburger and Housemade Gyoza with sides of Steamed Broccoli and a Single Salad.
The entire order totalled just under fifty dollars, fees included and Uber Pass discount applied.
Though I had been quick to propose hiking as the answer to a long-awaited meetup, neither of us could have predicted the 99-100% rainfall forecast for the selected date. It was, regrettably, the single instance of my stay where precipitation filled the day in its entirety.
I geared up in layers, drawstring nylon pants, and hiking boots. Braids and my new ahgase necklace finished the look. My jacket, the only one I brought for the entire trip, was draped over my shoulders in an attempt to shield myself from the impending droplets.
Setting out for King Edward station, I realized I had overestimated the amount of travel time needed. I detoured into Aberdeen Square briefly, in search of lavatories, as Translink stations were not equipped with indoor plumbing facilities.
I then continued past the Richmond-Vancouver boundary, re-emerging at ground level in the neighbourhood of South Cambie.
Chair-less was the station shelter and drizzly were the outside conditions. With my arrival thirty minutes earlier than anticipated, my partner-in-crime was barely out of the door. Instead of staying put for another fifteen, I began to browse the vicinity - first virtually via Google Maps, then by foot upon discovering the close proximity of Paragon Tea Room.
The tea boutique had been bookmarked for potential exploration well in advance of the trip, though, without definite plans to visit, I had never bothered to confirm its coordinates.
The establishment was empty at my time of visit - reasonably so, given that its doors had just opened at 10 AM. Fully stocked were the shelves and pastry display: the names I had gleaned over online materialized before my eyes. Brioche donuts and cookies were stacked by the cash register.
One of the staff members approached me as I gazed upon the product assortment. Despite embodying tonality of a tourist greater than a tea connoisseur, I was not regarded with any less respect. The team member admitted that, as she did not bake personally, she was unable to extend commentary in regards to the type of houjicha most suitable for the purpose. That said, she called upon feedback from a coworker to assist with my inquiries.
As I neared the cashier with my picks of hojicha obsidian and genmaicha (the soufflé cheesecake was too good), the cookies caught my attention. I took the opportunity to ask my chauffeur of her gustatory preferences, in the meantime conversing with the staff member. Our chatter would unveil her Ontarian upbringing, along with the shocking revelation that we had grown up in the same neighbourhood. What a small world it truly was!
The reply came back, politely declining my offer for AM sugar. For my own latter consumption, a Cornflake Earl Grey Cookie and Okinawa Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Cookie was added to the order, resulting of a bill total just short of thirty dollars. I took a quick peek at the single stall bathroom, painted luxuriously in forest green, and headed back into the rain.
I spotted Rain or Shine Ice Cream en route back to the bus stop, grinning to myself at its exceedingly appropriate name.
Soon, I met my companion for the day, in her designated alleyway of choice for pickup.
She whisked me away to Bahn Mi Saigon, where we would procure picnic-able paper bag lunches.
The sandwiches were ginormous and extremely affordable. A Special Dac Biet set me back seven dollars in cash. Having been provided only a paper bag that nearly did not conceal the banh mi's ends, I wrapped the lengthy baguette in a plastic bag before stashing it into in the drink compartment of my backpack.
Read Part 2 HERE !
Burnaby is closely associated with Korean cuisine, much like how Richmond is tied to Chinese/Cantonese fare. My suggestion for sustenance aligning with this demographic was met with a proposal for Korean-style torched beef sushi at first. However, being neither keen on the non-traditional offerings nor the large party portion sizes, I pointed to a different spot on Google Maps.
Four kilometres east on Kingsway, DooBoo was found in a small plaza with limited parking. Managing to secure one of their last spots, we tugged at the door to reveal a full house. A brief wait was involved.
There were only two members of floor staff: one younger and one middle-aged, both lean and quick on their feet. Between delivering tables orders, the duo busily packaged takeout orders and arranged them by the door for pickup by food delivery services such as Fantuan and DoorDash.
Laminated menus were provided for our review. Instead of inspecting the names before me though, I had taken greater interest in taking in my surroundings.
Availability of a password-secured Wi-Fi network was announced via a bold, grey arrow, its head pointing not towards the check-out counter but rather the washrooms. Framed images of menu items were distributed along the walls. Standing partitions were positioned between tables, like Cafe Login, to assist with physical distancing between tables.
Read Part 1 HERE !
Before departing, we made one last visit to the bathroom. Desperate attempts were made to dry my jacket with the hand dryer. No luck.
We scurried back to the car, with me smelling absolutely musty in drenched cotton and polyester. Bless my companion, who allowed me to hang my belongings about the passenger seat while taking control of the navigation aspect.
The entrance to the Amazing Brentwood was not easy to locate. Construction for the mallside condominiums was underway, which led many entrances to be obscured by construction fences. After looping about one half of the shopping centre, our eyes met signage for an undercover parking garage. It wasn't until disembarked that we came to recognize the covered lot as private property demanding parking fees.
Trying our luck by the London Drugs entrance, we found an entrance to the rooftop asphalt lot. An elevator, unlabelled and situated far, far away from any occupied shops, brought us down to the retail level of the mall. Further and further we trekked, first finding shops puny enough to rival the likes of Oakville Place.
An open concept food court was situated on the top level of the east building. In contrast to the shops we had passed, it adopted the appearance of One York's Harbour Eats by Mercantino, sophisticated with black and gold accents.
A pedestrian overpass had been constructed over Alpha Way to connect the west and east buildings. Crossing over to the other side, The Rec Room came into view. We were greeted by a group of attendees, one of which requested verification of IDs prior to entry. Witnessing staff stationed beyond the limits of The Rec Room itself had already been peculiar, but ID checks before 10 PM was another odd procedure at the Burnaby location.
My wristband and Pump It Up! card had been left at home, since venturing out for The Rec Room had been unthinkable without a ride. I promptly purchased a new game tag and proceeded to load 170 credits. As my companion anxiously retraced her steps to the car to check fulfillment of door-locking protocols, I readied myself for gameplay.
The Pump It Up! pads were amazing: unlike those back home, the keys were sensitive and not depressed at all! Moreover, the facility was spacious, clean, and evidently very new. Several business conferences were observed to take place during our stay, likely in an attempt to advertise the establishment for team-building purposes.
Leading the way, I guided my partner through the various arcade games The Rec Room had to offer. She proved a natural aptitude at Grand Piano Keys with steady, sharp hand-eye coordination and generally good sense of rhythm at Pump It Up! The location also featured games like Fruit Ninja and Hungry Hungry Hippos, previously only seen at D&B locations.
With the bruises on the left wrist hurting significantly less than two days prior, I opted to undertake the baking mission I had planned from the onset of the vacation. On the singly unoccupied day of the week, I would commence with Banana Bread to use up the rapidly browning trio on the countertop; it would serve as a warmup before progressing to the comparatively more challenging recipes.
1) Hot Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread
Banana Bread is quite versatile and, really, requires no more than a scale, bowl, whisk, and spatula - items already existing in the average household or items that could be easily acquired within a reasonable timeframe. The endless variations of this classic and, more importantly, its ability to be constructed manually in its entirety was its most attractive aspect.
SK's Marbled Banana Bread remains my go-to formula. It has never ever failed me, whether I had marbled it or not. In the absence of my potato masher, I took to the good ol' three-prong table fork, taking care to not bend the piece of cutlery in the process (as I had with my own back home). The bananas weighed in at 115 g, 112 g (with a small brown section removed), and 120 g respectively. "Virtually smooth" is subjective, and I had a few chunky bits remaining in the bowl after my right wrist began to fatigue.
One stick of cultured butter, melted, would be used to substitute the oil (as per usual), crusty brown sugar was salvaged using a damp paper towel and the insulative capabilities of a microwave, and cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice was omitted, as I simply was not in the mood to purchase the tin for a one-time use. The same would apply to the specks of raw sugar I customarily dusted across the surface.
For the marbled portion of the batter, I had not cocoa powder on hand. Instead, I reached for a can of Tim Horton's Hot Chocolate Mix. It would prove a tad sweeter than natural cocoa powder, but contribute an interesting dose of creaminess from dehydrated milk components.
Subject to the power of a convection oven half the size of that of a standard house, the batter baked evenly, though browned quickly at the top.
The results were fabulous, even if I do say so myself. A thin layer of plain batter served as the foundation. Chocolatey goodness was found in the centre, followed by moist bits of roughly mashed banana above it, then lastly a crunchy, satisfying surface. Cinnamon and nutmeg would have been welcome accents, though the slices were nonetheless scrumptious!
2) Green Tea Cookies
Next up were sugar cookies. Reaching for my SK favourite, I folded in expired matcha without hesitation. The grassiness was way subdued than before, naturally, as the container had expired. The same water bottle trick was used in place of a rolling pin, though this attempt saw insufficient chill time and an utter lack of cookie cutters.
At long last, the day had arrived.
Long awaited was my return to Vancouver, and even longer was my commitment to adopting purple treads. In the months leading up to a prospective West Coast vacation, I had fervently researched the desired style, eventually also confirming my salon of choice.
The appointment had been secured on the date of arrival, my decision utterly unaltered by the price and duration. I mean, I'm here anyway and wasn't about to lose out on the opportunity.
The earliest appointment slot of 11 AM was obtained, for I had been warned of the lengthy procedure time. Inclusive of bleaching and styling, it was anticipated that entire process would span five to six hours.
I evaluated my options for the journey: 15 minutes of walking or 30 minutes by bus. The choice was simple, and so I began a slow trek along the River Road gravel trail. A gorgeous view of the mountains accompanied my walk.
Turning onto Hollybridge Way, there was no longer shade within sight. 19-degree weather proved scorching under direct sunlight.
The doors of So'o were wide open. In I strode to relay news of my arrival to the faux nail-donning receptionist.
My stylist appeared shortly afterwards and ushered me inside. At this point, we commenced discussion on the desired outcome, consulting both my references images and his past projects. I had my eyes set on a trendy layered style that, admittedly, seemed to be popular locally than back home. While maintaining the top layer natural, the bottom layer would adopt a cool purple. However, unlike most partial dye jobs, I requested to maintain the bottom-most layer its natural shade.
The stylist agreed, expressing respect towards my decision. We then went back-and-forth to confirm the precise shade of purple. Even based on reference photos, he noted that, oftentimes, the same dye job could appear distinctly different depending on angles and lighting. We agreed upon a cool purple, void of warm, pinky undertones.
As part of the booking, I had requested a trim as well. Once again, the stylist was diligent in confirming the length to be removed and ensured confirmation was received before proceeding. Likewise, he repeated this for each step of procedure before initiating, explaining the steps he would be taking.
For the first time in any colouring appointment, I was permitted to keep my glasses on. This was tremendously helpful, as I would retain, at best, 40% vision strength otherwise. Smartphone use could continue in parallel.
He began to separate sections of hair for bleaching. At first, he worked silently, but curiosity soon crept up from within. He posed the question, "Why did you want to leave a small section?" It had probably come an uncommon request. "instead of dying the entire bottom section?"
"When it grows out, it will look ugly." I began to explain my rationale, though he caught on quickly.
"Ah! So you can hide the parts underneath black hair!" He nodded, acknowledging my thought process. "You are smart."
My strands were a yellowy blonde after the first round of bleaching. A touch had come into contact with my ear, causing a burning sensation. The stylist quickly followed up with ear covers and carefully cleaned off any exposed areas of skin. The gap in bleaching relieved my ear tremendously, though I did find that particular section to be less pigmented than the rest, even after the job was done.
Two rounds of bleaching spanned approximately three hours. In this time, my battery was slowly depleted. My concerns were relayed to the stylist again, who set off in search of a USB Type C cable for Android. With majority of the staff being iPhone users, some time passed before he returned with the correct cable for my needs. It was a very courteous act, and I was truly appreciative of him taking the time to search the salon grounds.
More small talk was made over the course of the treatment, especially when it came to the colouring portion.
"Did you want to colour these sides as well?" He gestured to the pieces that would frame my face.
I contemplated the idea for a moment, then responded, "What do you think? Will it look nice?"
He thought for a moment as well, then concluded, "Yes, I think it will nice."
"Ok! Let's do it."
The next morning, I woke bright and early. I reached for the phone to make my calls, eager to nab a spot at the closest x-ray clinic in their first few hours of operation. But as BC would have it, no clinics were open until the 8 AM mark. A one-hour wait ensued.
Once correspondence was made with the receptionist, I was informed that obtaining an examination slot would not be an issue, even for out-of-province visitors. Whether patients had a BC-issued health card or Canadian "MSP" (Medical Services Plan) was irrelevant for the provision of their services; the sole requirement was an x-ray requisition from a local doctor.
"You can go into any walk-in." assured the receptionist. But this process was much easier said than done.
Finding a walk-in open at 8 AM was impossible. Some had transitioned to only caring for existing patients, while others were fully booked on their online system until two weeks later.
At 9 AM, I phoned WELL, since apparently Google Maps hours had differed greatly from their hours in reality; the receptionist squeezed me in for a phone consultation and mandated a fee of $160 for the medical consultation (Insurance claim details to follow). I had originally hesitated, but further research proved fruitless: other clinics in the vicinity charged an even steeper price, and their next available slot wouldn't be until the following week!
I had been informed that, following the phone consultation, the x-ray requisition could be faxed over to brooke radiology directly, such that I would not need to hobble down two blocks with an injury.
Patiently, I resided at home, waiting until the 2 PM mark to call the clinic again, as I was "on call" until 3 PM. The pain had not lessened during this period. The receptionist's voice seemed to grow quiter each time, the volume barely audible over the cordless landline phone. The office confirmed that I was still on the list, and that the doctor was making his way down the list, with two more patients ahead of me in the virtual queue.
Eventually I received the call at 3:31 PM. A male doctor with heavy Chinese accent commenced the phone consultation. As I explained my situation, he constantly cut me off, expressing extreme arrogance, and demanded that I go into the clinic for a visual inspection. In spite of relaying my difficulties to him, in that not only was I was an injured, out-of-province visitor without a car, he was insistent on the in-personal examination, pointing out that I had "paid anyway" and "it would be better to come in."
Without any other options, I called an Uber; time was ticking, as the radiology clinic was slated to close at 5 PM. And I was most definitely unwilling to wait till the next day to confirm my suspicions.
Another wait ensued as I arrived at the clinic. The droopy-eyed receptionist gestured towards one of few chairs that were not taped off and marked with an "X".
The doctor, a bald man in his thirties, said nothing about the abrasions. I had kept them bandaged and refused to remove them on the basis that I would have no backup Polysporin or bandaids to cover them back up. Instead, I offered to show him images, though he refused to extend comments without viewing the wounds.
"I saw you move your hand." He remarked skeptically at my swift re-positioning of my fanny pack to my backpack. "It doesn't seem broken at all."
He declared the bruise on my left leg worse than the wrist, and observed no fractures in the wrist upon physical examination. Then, he proceeded to interrogate in a manner that spited rather than solicited specifics.
"Does this area hurt?" He asked.
"It hurts here." I pointed to a neighbouring area.
"Does it hurt where I'm pressing?" he snapped, exasperated, as if I should have known he was strictly inquiring about the point in question.
He announced that "(I) was fine" and that I had sounded significantly worse over the phone, as if I had been exaggerating the situation when, in reality, I was merely informing of how I felt in that moment following the trauma-inducing occurrence. As a patient seeking medical advice and confirmation, my sole duty was to provide coherent and comprehensive details for analysis and recommendations. Degrading it was to be taken as someone who was not visiting the clinic for story-telling and drama.
But that wasn't all.
More McD's muffins awaited me for breakfast the next morning. Along with my must-have iced coffee was a lightly charred Fruit & Fibre Muffin topped with oats.
I would also, for the first time since the commencement of the trip (!), undertake a pilates session. Engaging in the act of mobility was truly nurturing for the soul.
Originally purchased as a birthday present, I was urged to sample the ever-pricey Russian Walnut Cookies from La Patisserie. Within its paper container were a total of eight mounds, leading each to assume a unit price of $0.999 plus tax. The cookies had been heavily praised for its crunchy properties, piquing a great deal of interest in me.
A mild sense of aversion arose from my first bite into the powdered sugar-topped scoop: albeit crunchy with fine chunks of walnut, the cookie was dry and reeked heavily of milk powder. Beyond this synthetic addition, there were few flavour notes to be perceived. Buttery it was not, nor particularly fragrant. While I appreciated the uniform golden hue, the costly half-orb was not for me.
I would, instead, be taking back these observations to formulate my own variation when time warrants - ideally a version with less milk powder, more nuttiness, and more butteriness.
The previous day's round of errands had also included pre-ordering of a Mango Cream Cake.
Mango and fresh cream were the main constituents of the cake, as with typical Chinese-style birthday cakes.
The sponge was exceptionally airy and light, likely the result of cake flour, oil, and gentle mixing for the formation of uniform, fine air bubbles); that said, it was sweeter than preferred, which may be, in part, owed to meringue for structure. Sandwiched between these two sponge layers - each measuring roughly one inch in thickness - was a delicate whipped cream and vibrant pieces of mango. Fresh whipped cream, especially when unstabilized, is susceptible to dissolution (read: melty) and lacks dimension. It retains a greasy mouthfeel without much contribution to complexity and depth.
Note: Images from majority of this day were lost in transit. From Swiss roll varieties at La Patisserie to Raspberry Frozen Yogurt from Timothy's, it pains me to admit that these images could not be relocated even after countless attempts.
There was no doubt about it: for the duration of my stay, I would need to undertake at least one grocery run.
Plans had been made the evening prior to facilitate the acquisition of daily necessities for self-sufficiency. Following a breakfast of iced Starbucks Medium Roast and a thawed Blueberry Muffin from McD's, I was whisked away for groceries and errands.
With ample time to prepare my getup, I reached for my contacts, only to find a distinct tear in the right lens. No wonder my eye was hurting!
I would remain contact-less for the rest of my West Coast journey.
We would first stop at Superstore for cake-making ingredients. Being unable to find cake flour, I requested cornstarch for mixing with all-purpose; the 1 kg bag would be more than sufficient for my short-lived baking endeavours.
La Patisserie, which had opened in new plaza called Central at Garden City, emerged as the go-to spot for Chinese-style bakery items, "Honey Cakes", and Swiss rolls. A $7.99 bag of Russian Walnut Cookies, two Honey Cakes (which emerged as nothing more than standard cupcakes brushed with a layer of honey), a Prune Swiss Roll, and Coffee Swiss Roll were procured at this stop.
I accompanied a series of errands at Parker Place before we ventured back in time for lunch.
La Patisserie's Coffee Swiss Roll would prove itself light and airy, yet utterly deficient of buttercream. Moreover, the cream was thin, greasy, and exhibiting signs of separation. My own renditions were concluded to be far more gratifying.
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.