5 Places I Like to Eat in Vancouver

I am old.  An imperfectly carved, ancient relic.  It dawned on me I’ve lived in Vancouver just over 10 years, much longer on this earth.  Which is why you should listen to me on where to eat. Respect your elders.

1.  The Reef – Carribbean

I sometimes get my island fix at Riddim and Spice on Commercial Drive.  See, I just love hole-in-the-walls.  Those places have the most run down decor, chairs shakily held together with duct tape, and the best food.  Yet, truly, my heart is with The Reef.  They have four locations: Commercial, Main, Chilliwack and Victoria, BC.  The original location was on Main Street, a happening neighborhood for families and hipsters.  Why do I love it?  They house at least 40 different rums.  That constitutes a rum bath.  And the food is fresh, spicy or even milder, with the right notes of crispy, tender and tasty.  I typically go for a vegetable roti or ackee and saltfish.  To accompany a meal, usually a rum concoction suggested by the server sustains my rum cravings.  4172 Main Street.  +1-604-874-5375. Take the #3 bus on Main and get off at Main and 28th. http://thereefrestaurant.com.  Prices: $6 to $18 CDN.

2.  Yamato – Sushi

I strive to shatter rash appearances, and Yamato would easily be categorized as shifty, due for a shut down by Vancouver health inspectors.  Wrong!  Apparently, Yamato’s cramped size and interior mimics eateries in Japan. The prices cause you to read them twice.  22 pieces for $5.95.  Uh huh.  They offer inventive rolls and rock bottom prices.  Right on the edge of downtown,

By |May 31st, 2011 |Categories: Vancouver |30 Comments

India, You Own Me

The moment I breathed in muggy air, felt my skin prickle from the heat as I exited Mumbai’s International terminal, was an awakening.  I knew this was going to be an unforgettable experience.

Friends or newly formed acquaintances ask me, how was India?

My voice dies.  Lips unable to speak.  A simple set of words eludes me.

She can’t be summed up in one sentence.  Ever.

Cities heave under the weight of human survival, prosperity and ingenuity.  The buildings, some gleaming, newly poured, while others are crumbling and abandoned.  Or the pockmarked pavement where motorbikes, scooters and Tata cars jockey for position.  The onset of car culture and the American mentality that is seeping in seems to be winning.  But the power of a 5,500-year-old culture doesn’t buckle so easily.

The cities may be considered the heart, epicenter of India, but it’s the villages that are the arteries, the veins pumping life’s blood into her, carving paths to multiple doorways of religion and culture.

Imagine this: thatch huts with a sow tied to a wooded fence stand in plain sight alongside a steel waste management bin that’s dutifully emptied by screeching, rumbling trucks that are fueled by gas, not magic dust.  It’s this marriage of tradition and modern that leads a wanderer to cover her eyes in wake of a collision, yet it never comes.  What you receive is ordered chaos – coexistence between the ancient and progress.

The village injects her desires into the pocket of every metropolis.

There’s no distinction between hick land and the cosmopolitan.  It all meshes together.  Within that what endures is family. Every distant relative is cousin, brother or sister.  A profound, staggering stronghold of community.  Then, the holy.  The spiritual tangling of India spreads to

By |May 28th, 2011 |Categories: India |44 Comments
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Osaka Fizzles Teriyaki Style

I don’t know about you, but I like my sake warm.  Icy sake leaves me thinking of a cold eel pulled from the water, squirming, chilling the palm of my hand.  Warm sake slides down the throat effortlessly, warming the centre of your belly.  Kind of like laughter.  Today, Sally Thelen is my sake. Please guffaw at this week’s story from Summer Chick Tales.

It was two days before my big date with the hot Japanese cop that I’d met at my friend’s party when he texted me to surprise me. Not in a romantic, cutesie, “I-can’t-wait-to-see-you-again” kind of way, but in a “Hey-guess-what! My-supervisor-is-going-to-join-us-on-our-date” kind of way.

Needless to say, it worked – I was, well, surprised.

But, hey, maybe this was just the Japanese way?

After all, what did I know? I hadn’t exactly been dating up a frenzy since arriving in Japan two years prior to meeting the hot cop. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in dating Japanese guys – I was. It’s just that they didn’t seem all that interested in dating me. Or, maybe “not interested” is not the right term for it — more like “completely terrified of the prospect.”

Not that this was anything new. I’ve been told my whole life that I can be a little bit, well, intimidating. I’ve never been completely sure what it is about me that puts men off – whether it’s my fierce independence or my intellect or my biting sarcasm or, say, my tendency to get loud and sloppy at parties and start dragging boys across the dance floor by their lapels in an effort to make them

El Amor and Travel

One important lesson I’ve learned this past year is that affection can materialize in many forms.  You could be passionate about animals and nature.  Fall in and out of love with humans in a swift stroke.  Once in a while, another kind of love will envelope your senses, leaving you hungering for more.  Diana Edelman tells us.

Madrid under blue

I’m single. I’m in my early thirties.  To say I haven’t thought that traveling might introduce me to the love of my life isn’t too far off.  I mean – how perfect would it be?  Sitting in the common room of a hostel and in walks Mr. Guy of My Dreams.  Sparks fly instantly.  We spend the day wandering ancient cobblestone streets, sipping coffee at an outdoor café.  Grab a traditional dinner.  Head back to the hostel for drinks …

Yes.

Travel and love.

I’ve traveled a fair bit in the past two years of my life, and there have been times when something nearly exactly like the scenario above has happened.

In Croatia, it was with an Aussie.  We spent a magical evening together walking through Zagreb’s abandoned city streets and planning a hiking trip the next day.

In Spain, it was with a Spaniard.  We, too, spent a magical evening together, devouring tapas, tinto de verano, dancing flamenco.

There have been a few others, but, like most travel loves, when the trip ends, so does the love.

So, needless to say, my travel love is something other than the norm.

I remember the first time I realized I was in love when I was on the road.  It was love at first

That Thing Called Fear

Fear Itself

Maybe it’s because of my diminutive stature, people ask me frequently about fear and traveling alone.

In our present, scattered and politically shifting world, fear is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.  There’s that stab of fresh fear about revenge terrorism after the demise of Osama.  American citizens are on high alert, which has introduced innumerable feelings on the endless, pointless and violent cycle of war.  Or how about the fear of rejection, the kind Akila McConnell is facing as she composes query letters to editors and agents for her novel.  The prospect of criticism can be gripping, producing sleepless nights.

But, back to me.

I puffed up my chest like a blowfish and boldly announced to my friends, “I am GOING to Brazil.”

Some gasped, some hesitated before congratulating me.

I could sense the radio waves of their thoughts.

We love you, but you’re crazy.  I would never go there alone.

My sanity aside, what the solo female traveler endures is not the fall of dictatorships or a nasty, mocking circle of 13 year old girls, but space.

Is anyone near me physically?  Or that person in my face, is he or she threatening?

Every year feminist groups in Vancouver hold an event called Take Back the Night.   Women from all branches of life brandish candles, walking through a pitch, black night in Stanley Park to symbolically show a woman’s plight to be free, unencumbered.  In years past, there were assaults and attacks in the park.  I use to live right beside Stanley Park and would often run or hike through at varying times of the day.  Rather than

When Love Rode Up in Finland

When I read this story Finlandia Vodka came to mind.  In a rocks glass, two fingers worth, mixed with soda and cranberry juice.  Then, ice.  Three to four cubes.  It’s a complete drink to accompany Shawna Enns’ tale of love found and lost in the brisk environs of Finland. Please enjoy today’s story from Summer Chick Tales.

Snow Dust Winter Glow

It was 2005 and I was absolutely thrilled with myself, because I had put a dream in motion. I had successfully arrived, completely solo, in Turku, Finland to begin a four month university exchange. Now, this location in itself is not terribly exotic, and the weather was generally far from paradise, but this was my first time overseas and just as I had hoped, it proved to be an experience of a lifetime.

During the first week of school all of the International Business students were put into teams to do a city-wide scavenger hunt, which essentially turned into one huge pub crawl.  I spotted him right away, a rather cocky, but quite hilarious, Dutch student with spiky hair, obnoxious yellow high tops, and a shit-eating grin.  His name was Erik.

As it turned out, our apartments weren’t too far from each other and we were the only students within our group of friends that decided to bike to school instead of getting bus passes.  We would bump into each other on the bike path and soon enough, he started waiting for me each morning to head to school together.

As October approached, I found myself thinking of home and the big juicy turkey that my friends