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Posts Tagged ‘vancouver’

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.

Jinkies!

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Vancouver | Post-Flash Mob Pillow Fight on Robson StreetA fatigued participant post-flash mob pillow fight

I never thought getting whacked in the head with a pillow would actually hurt. I only lasted a mere 30 seconds in the crowd, so believe me, I have a lot of respect for these people who kept taking hits for the entire 15 minutes:

Vancouver | Flash Mob Pillow Fight 2007, Feather Extravaganza on Vimeo

It’s great to see people getting together and having a little public fun, even on a rainy day. Vancouver, today you rocked long time.

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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.

YAHOO!

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I’ve bemoaned the cooler-than-thou nature of Vancouver for a while now, but it’s come to my knowledge that a smile and a few words of enthusiasm go a long way. And so do fire alarms.

In Toronto, I shacked up in a ghetto apartment located in the heart of Fraternity-ville: The Annex. The complex itself was inhabited by intoxicated students, a sorry bunch of seniors who ate cat food, and a middle-aged man who pushed his seven Pomeranian puppies around in a stroller. When the fire alarm rang there, which it often did due to the intoxicated students, the mere thought of forcing myself to (gasp!) TALK to my unsavory neighbours outside sparked an internal conflagration so grand that it would be far more preferable to burn inside. Plus, I had a balcony, which gave me an opportunity to play the suffering maiden if there really was a fire. Come on, I take romance where I can get it.

Anyway, the alarm rang in my Vancouver apartment just moments ago, and out of habit, I stayed in my PJs and shrugged the whole matter off. But when I’d realized I hadn’t talked to anyone all day due to the solitary nature of my job, I went outside, bid my neighbours a hello, ran off to the local coffee shop, and ended up having a jovial conversation with my latte-maker. I followed this by hovering around the front lobby with my neighbours and dabbled in a bit of concerned discussion there as well. The ladies of the building admitted they only came down to check out the firemen, so I joined them to ogle the middle-aged lads sauntering into the building. Discovering the lack of eligible hotties, we laughed it off and decided to return to our respective abodes… taking home with us a slice of much-needed community.

A friend of mine mentioned something about a Vancouver grassroots campaign to get people talking to each other. He was unsure of the name, but it had something to do with passing around buttons proclaiming “It’s okay to talk!” If I ever find one of these buttons, I will snap up 100 of them and distribute them to anyone who cares. We don’t talk enough, but when we do, when we let our guard down, it feels right. It feels like what the good part of “being American” offers: that confidence to be able to talk to anyone and not worry about what they think of you.

Or, you know, I can just simply bank on another fire alarm. I mean, if nothing else, the ladies of the building will be happy about that.

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Innsbruck, Austria | At 8,000 feet or somethingAbout 7,000 feet up and suffering both altitude sickness and a debilitating fear of heights

It’s a right crime to be stuck indoors on a sunny day. The bright fireball in the sky rarely makes its appearance up here in Vancouver between November and February, so this is a double smack in the face for a weekend web tester.

But this is all my doing. I’m a masochist: I’m working 7 days a week to save money for an upcoming period of possible unemployment… which may be in the cards sooner than I think. And an added freelance writing gig pretty much guarantees that the contents of my brain will be as flat and lifeless as my hair on the best of days. I reckon I won’t be seeing the sunlight for another week, and that’s a tough ride for a wandering shoe. Sigh.

But the more I work, the more I want to socialize, the more I want to explore, because I can’t let one thing dominate my entire life. Besides, let’s face it: I had three months of freedom last year, so this is a small price to pay… especially when there *is* a light at the end of the tunnel.

I went to see a local travel presentation by backpacker Fiona Scott the other day, and though the Powerpoint presentation was riddled with typos and excessive exclamation marks, it did get me thinking about my old travel photos and how I should really get a move on to organize them. Enough excuses, already. It seems like every entry since the inception of this blog has bemoaned the lack of time for this project. Blah, blah, blah. Get on with it.

World, here I come.

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I’ve been working every day since Boxing Day (or St. Stephen’s day to those of you fine blog surfers hailing from parts of Europe), and despite not actively trying to find career-related work, I think something decent will invade my life soon enough. The first priority is rent at this juncture. Writing work will have to simmer on the backburner until that happens, but don’t you worry: it will continue to simmer, and that’s the important thing.

I’ve been posted out in Richmond the past week which forced me to pay an extra $1 fare for the pleasure of leaving the central Vancouver area, into the enticing mess of Asian malls and plazas choc-a-block with furniture stores and a million mattress stores with going out of business sales on Bridgeport Road. There’s no way you would catch me renting a flat out in this sprawling suburb of Vancouver unless I had a car and a clear need to have no social life whatsoever. But to come here for an occasional shopping visit — well, it’s actually quite intoxicating. If not for Ikea, then the collection of Asian malls scattered on No. 3 Road around Cambie.

If you have a moment with any of my friends, they’ll tell you that one of my not-so-wee obsessions is a not-so-wee shop called Daiso, located in Aberdeen Centre right at the corner of No. 3 Road and Cambie itself. Aberdeen Centre as a whole is not so much to write a whole blog entry about, unless a pretty modern food court, an elaborate water fountain show, or cheap discount perfume is your thing. Daiso, for most visitors to the mall, is THE reason to go to Aberdeen Centre. It’s a haven for all the $2 goodies you could ever desire, including Japanese dishware, umbrellas, kitchen supplies, and a vast array of questionable products without any English labelling, leaving you standing in the aisle for 15 minutes wondering if the product you have in your hand is something you eat or use to wash your armpits.

WELCOME TO DAISO!

The place is like a veritable crack supply store: if you go once (and can handle the frustrations of the parking lot), you want to go back, again and again and again for more cheap and sometimes questionable goodies. But times are changing, and it tears me apart that the employee habits of yelling “Welcome to Daiso!” throughout the store have disappeared, likely due to the cardiac failures suffered by most unsuspecting single customers in the snack aisle. Employees are getting younger. Yes, times are changing.

However, my week-long daily affair with Daiso had to end. My contract with the Richmond firm is complete, and there’s no need to be in Richmond. I’m already suffering withdrawal symptoms, but I am comforted by the fact that this fix is only a half hour bus ride away and an extra $1 fare. In these sour times, it’s worth every penny. Sigh.

Thanks for welcoming me, Daiso.

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