So, weekend before last we decided, after about five minutes of planning, to drive up to Vancouver. The only reason I’d been to Vancouver previously was to make it up to Science World for my birthday from around the ages of 8-11. I was super excited about the possibility of returning and going to my once-favorite place in the world: the planetarium, but upon some online research sadly realized that it isn’t quite the same when you’re 24.
We did find just about the next best thing, however, manifested as the greatest street food ever: at JAPADOG! About what it sounds like – a Japanese hot dog, basically two of my weaknesses smashed up together, in an incredible way.
The tonkatsu dog (left) and the terimayo. Note the obscene amount of mayonaise!!
The tonkatsu dog is actually that: breaded and deep fried pork cutlet complete with cabbage, tonkatsu sauce and mayo. Amazing!
All this hedonism goes directly in contention with the other main part of this trip – visiting Chinese Buddhist temples. Signs stated specifically not to leave wine or meat as an offering: more preferred were oranges, incense and, surprising to me – bags of peanuts. We made a point to stop in Richmond to visit the International Buddhist temple, said to be the most impressive in all of Canada.
Photography inside the temple is forbidden, and while I normally wouldn’t care, the groups of devotees bowing and offering incense to the statues made it feel super disrespectful. I’m still kicking myself for not, however, as the statues inside are magnificent: especially the ones of 30 feet tall, gold-plated and thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara.
(What I’ve been working on… the next one just might have to have a thousand arms)
In the middle of Chinatown, Vancouver, this is a view from outside the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Garden & Park: very pretty, and very ominous as it was filled with cawing crows (why is that sound so hollow and sad? Probably the conditioning from movies where they use that as a sound effect) and weeping willows.
Downtown (the main shopping district) was pretty predictable, and full of mini-skirts and heels despite the snow, suits and tourists (us).
The main Chinatown gate:
And again later that day:
Worse-than-expected weather, cheap hotel (smoky, broken headboard, you name it), cheap wine and iffy dim sum… overall, not a bad trip.
Being tourists, of course we walked through the Gaslamp “trendy (overpriced, old)” part of town, and what struck me the most was how the strip is literally one block away from the strip frequented by a good number of homeless. It’s a little like Pioneer square and the concentration of bums right outside of the government buildings. It’s always such a slap in the face and so surreal to be walking past stores of $200 jeans one minute, then blankets, boxes, and shopping carts full of gleaned necessities the next.