Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Vancouver | Jinkies! It's the Parade of Lost Souls

As Velma from Scooby-Doo in Vancouver, Parade of Lost Souls

My lack of travelling coupled with an intense summer of social activity — not to mention the time invested in finding the elements for this Velma costume — has killed the energy of this site. However, it’s a new season, I’ve switched to a new theme, and I’m dedicating myself to upload all the old travel diaries (which I will direct you to in the near future).

And unless something serious happens in the next few months, I will be off on another long-term adventure early next year. Something’s in the works, my friends. I’ll let you in on the plan closer to the date, but I’m open to suggestions that will take me a little off-course… because, really, that’s always where the excitement lies.

Until then, I’ll post re: old diary and picture updates. The next few months will be an exciting, exciting time.



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The one o’ clock cannon, as taken by a tourist at Edinburgh Castle

I’m in Princes Street Gardens right now, trying to relax. Trying. A family on the bench across from me is definitely not in happy land, cursing the daylights out of each other. The mother has a perma-scowl and curses her children for anything they do. “Don’t sit like that!” “Don’t walk around!” “Don’t make a noise!” “Why aren’t you talking to me?!” and on and on. The only time I saw her crack a smile was when the one o’clock gun blasted from the Castle, making the kids jump and hide. Such a sadist.

I must admit the blast scared me as well. In the two months I’ve been here, this was the first time I’d been near the Edinburgh Castle around one o’ clock. I’d forgotten about this tradition, thought it was a fatal car bomb, and nearly soiled my trousers.

Speaking of which, my coworker Luci and her friend Barry worked at the Edinburgh Tourist Office and said their favourite tourist question was: “Where does the cannonball land when the 1 o’ clock cannon strikes?” Right on your head, madam. Right on your head.

I watched the “Songwriter’s Circle Program” on BBC2 last night, a wonderful program showcasing four different artists and their best acoustic tunes. I swooned when I heard Nick Cave. The CBC back home should take some tips from the BBC – I swear, their music industry is only where it is because the national broadcasters take time to promote it.

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I’ve been a failure with the written blog. Please check flickr for the most up-to-date images from SXSW.

SXSW Music | The Pipettes @ Flamingo Cantina

I can’t explain how amazing this week has been, intellectually, creatively, and socially. Even the entertainment is more than I expected, and believe me, it takes a lot to please this little girl.

SXSW, I’m definitely coming back for more love. xoxo.

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SXSW Interactive | Will Wright at play, in the Interactive Playpen

Will Wright, designer of Sim City, the Sims, and the upcoming evolution epic Spore, works on his own Lego creation for the SXSW Interactive Playpen.

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I stumbled into Austin a few hours ago, and already I’m in love. It’s kind of a blind love, really; it’s pitch black outside, and I haven’t been exposed to any of the nightlife that the city boasts. Still, I think it’ll be good.

SXSW | Taking their advice...

My accommodation this evening is situated two miles from the downtown core — that’s about 3.5 kilometres to those of you back home — right along the banks of the Colorado River… I can see the city across the way, yelling something like, “Hey! This is going to be your life for the next 10 days! Love me! Take me now!” And Austin, I think I will certainly love you, but it’ll have to start some time tomorrow. With the day-long interactive conference in full force tomorrow, mixed with free evening parties with free booze and hors d’oeuvres, followed by free concerts at the music festival and more free booze, and then pulling 2:00-3:00am nights in various SXSW clubs, it’s going to be a rough week.

It’s probably best that I just relax on the shore with a chunky issue of The Austin Chronicle, take a deep breath in, and enjoy the balmy evening breeze (71 Fahrenheit / 20 Celsius), since it probably won’t happen back in Vancouver for another couple of months.

Thanks for being my temporary home, Austin!

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For someone who suffers from Internet A.D.D., scheduling for SXSW should only be done with the aide of an administrative assistant and a cup of soothing chamomile tea. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me, overwhelmed and quivering in a corner of the apartment.

The good thing about this whole event is that 1. I’ve scored myself a wristband, which, though overpriced and does not guarantee me a single thing, at least offers the opportunity to weave in and out of clubs at leisure and the luxury to move from one group of annoyingly inebriated spring breakers to another. And 2. I actually have accommodation set with an awesome host from couchsurfing.com, which is more than can be said for a lot of last-minute planners who will probably end up sleeping in public libraries, movie houses, or a puddle of their upchucked Pabst Blue Ribbon between gigs.

For other SXSW virgins like me, here’s a list of some useful sites to plan your week full of great music, sore feet, and ringing ears. Maybe you’ll become just as overwhelmed and sick as me. That’s right; I’m bringing you down with me!

SXSW Official Schedule of Bands

Get it.

An incredible site listing great free day shows. If you’re low on cash, you’ll probably be able to see all of your favourite bands if you plan accordingly and are willing to wake up before noon hour. Indie favourites Architecture in Helsinki are playing around 3-4 free day shows, if that’s any indication.

Need to compare checklists with friends? Need to know where you’re going and if you’ll be able to leave the datarock show and make it in time to see Matt & Kim in time before you have to leave 15 minutes early to see Daniel Johnston and get back to the first club to see Peter Bjorn & John? (Gasp.) This is the place to do it, with Google Map and all.

This isn’t specific to the music festival or of SXSW in general, but it does have a lot of great interviews and show announcements for anyone wanting to have fun in the city.

You’re getting sick, aren’t you?

Have fun.

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I can count on one hand the times I’ve paid more than $15 for a haircut. Maybe my friends are snickering in the background, whispering, “No wonder” to each other. Fine. Judge. But look who’s saving money and who’s not, Miss I-Got-Extensions- &-Highlights-for-only-$200. Please!

The last “expensive” hair cut ($45) I received was at Misako’s Hair Salon (888 Davie Street, 604-683-8853). The joint is staffed by a team of hipster Japanese youths with their finger on the pulse of every breaking, happening trend, which is paradise for someone with lifeless and flat Asian hair like mine. So I figured I deserved to have the appearance of being hip this past holiday season and spent the “big bucks”. My stylist’s name was Shuzo, a new arrival to Canada who barely spoke English. However, despite some communication problems, I was endeared by the fellow, namely because he kneeled down beside me and asked me if I wanted my hair to look “cute” or “cool”. I opted for “cool” and after a soothing head massage and chopping session, left rather pleased. And with typical Japanese courtesy, he bowed his head when I paid my bill and then ran out of the salon to prop the door open when it was time for me to leave. If I wasn’t all bedecked in my runners and ripped jeans, I would have felt like true Asian royalty.

However, as wonderful short hair can be sometimes, it ends up looking like a mop in a matter of two months, and spending $45 each time is a pain for someone who depends on unreliable contract work to fill her pockets. Sorry, Shuzo.

Your best bet if you’re cheap and willing to deal with people who don’t speak English are the joints in Chinatown. The service may be surly at times, and at other times a bit over-eager and pandering, especially if you’re a non-Asian, but you can find haircuts for as little as $7! If you’re okay with a lack of style or just want something shorter, this is perfect. In fact, my locks were chopped last week for a paltry $8 at Carmen Beauty Studio (150-139 Keefer Street, 604-685-1088), just across the street from the mall on Keefer, west of Main Street. The older man cut my hair with strict Chinese efficiency, and it turned out just as I’d hoped. To show my gratitude, I offered a 50% tip. Do the math, and you’ll see that everyone wins.

Vancouver | Chinatown hair salon and freaky heads

Many other Chinatown salons exist for just as cheap. You’ll just have to prowl the area yourself and judge the stylist by his or her own haircut. It usually works.

Hairport (740 Davie Street, 604 688-9099), close to Misako’s, was all right the first time, but befriending the lady can be disastrous to your precious hair if you’re concerned about length. This cute Vietnamese lady has good intentions, but aches to talk for a decade and will clip and clip and clip until you say stop. Be on guard if you’re the last person in the joint, because she will, indeed, go out of her way to keep talking and clipping. But if you’re in the market for a slick buzz cut, this is the perfect place to go.

Burrard Hair Design & Skin Care (2421 Burrard Avenue @ Broadway, 604 738-1808) is hit and miss. It’s approximately $14 for a cut, but I’ve gone there enough to say that it has about a 25-50% success rate. Only one member of staff can be considered a “stylist”, and it’s quite obvious who it is once you spend some time there — she’s the only one with an immaculate hairstyle and, even more telling, constant traffic in her chair. If you get her, you’ve scored, and the success rate could be elevated to 75%. If one of the other rotating members of the team stands behind you, don’t panic. Just ask her to substitute the razor/hair-thinning device with a pair of scissors. I know it’s only $14, but you deserve a real haircut.

For real adventurers, prowl Craigslist for ads by hair design students in the “volunteer” or “free” sections. I know one pretty trendy girl who gets her hair cut by craigslisters on a regular basis for free, and she looks good.

Again, it all depends on your hair type and how finnicky you are as a person. If you tend to be dissatisfied and Mr. or Mrs. Picky-Pants with most things in life, stick to your $100+ stylists. For the rest of you, enjoy the ride and let me know about other cheap hair salons. I’ll will enteratain all recommendations: after all, I’m cheap and none too proud.


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