May 26, 2001

Finding our Groove in the 'Couv

Day Three:  Vancouver, BC

The "research" I did to write about a five year old trip has revealed something funny to me.  Back then, probably in an effort to hide some of my idiosyncrasies from Hoang, I didn't really plan all that much to do.  Sure, I had all the hotels reserved and the maps and the locations picked out, but didn't really figure out what to do once there.  Also, we visited two massive, beautiful National Parks (Mount Rainier and Olympic (Day 5) and barely even poked around.

In hindsight, I think I did the right thing - there was no need to reveal my insane need for order and hardcore itineraries or my love of walking around in the woods that early in our relationship.  As we progress through our trips from the past and into the future, you'll notice more planning on my part.  Not to the point of being a dictatorial jerk on trips - not at all - but there are not so many days like this one Saturday in Vancouver.  Though we had a lovely time, neither of us can remember anything specific we did besides eating, drinking, and ignoring homeless beggars.  Oh well, I guess that means a short essay for once, right?

Maybe.  While Vancouver is a beautiful town, and the weather was perfect, we spent this Saturday pretty much just walking around and absorbing the scene.  We ate brunch al fresco and enjoyed people watching - something Hoang and I can do for hours on end.  I remember this place for two reasons; one, I have pictures of us eating there and two, the bloody mary's were simply awful.  Sure, they were running some cheap special, but serving us bland tomato juice with a stalk of celery is a bit disingenuous.

After brunch we walked up and down the busier downtown/shopping streets and sort of questioned what we were doing.  For some reason at that time, Hoang and I were becoming more and more fascinated by the Inuits and their art.  Back home we had taken to calling any unidentifiable vaguely Asian/Native American/South American person "Inuit" for no other reason than our penchant for stupidity.  Being relatively so close to the Inuit homelands was a real treat for us, so we were sure to check out some Inuit art galleries.  I kind of dig their stuff, actually.  And to this day, I don't think I've met a true Inuit in person.  We all need goals.

One thing about Vancouver (and Montreal for that matter) is the proliferation of attractive young Asian women.  Sure, I married a stunning Asian woman and all, but I was never one of those white guys with a specific "thing" for them.  For those of you who are (and I know who you are), I highly recommend Vancouver.  Back in '01 the knee-highs with short plaid skirts and pigtails thing was big among these girls.  Can't say I had a problem with it.  It certainly made shopping all that much easier, that's for sure.

Anyway, all that walking made us hungry for some ice cream.  The only reason I mention this is because in the second picture below, if you click on it and look closely, it appears I chose the "sour sewer water" flavor.  At least that's what Hoang says.  Personally, I think her face is even funnier here than mine. 

Who knows what we did the rest of the afternoon (Perhaps Quynh can offer some memories in the comments) but I do know we ended up in the "hip" part of the city called Belltown.  It's your typical "hip" area, with shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants.  What's atypical about Vancouver's Belltown is the ridiculous number of homeless - or homeless appearing - people.  While very polite, these leeches are all over you up there.  In fact, one particular dude would literally just circle the busiest intersection endlessly and quietly ask every single person for loose change.  It didn't matter to him if he'd just asked you 2 minutes ago.  So I decided to circle the intersection the opposite direction to see how many times he'd ask me the same dumb question.  Let's just say, he won.  I grew tired and bored and rejoined the others for a beer just over yonder.

My theory on Vancouver's massive homeless problem is pretty simple:  99% of Canada is freezing cold 9 months out of the year.  Vancouver is the warmest part of Canada.  Canada has universal healthcare.  Canada has a very lax drug policy.  Canadians, on the whole, are much more polite than Americans.  Therefore, every single homeless person and/or junkie makes their way to Vancouver.  It's "warm," and it's still nice ol' Canada, and they can smoke their weed without fear.  On the one hand, it was a pleasant experience to hear "please" and "excuse me" from bums (as opposed to the, "Gimme a dollar" I get in Hartford) but on the other hand, when every 3rd person you pass on the street is begging you for money, it's a tad annoying.  The abundance of bums does have one great effect... Creativity:

This dude rules.  I doubt he's still alive, as he seemed pretty out of it five years ago, but if he is, make sure you drop a couple bucks in his bucket when you visit.  At least he is making a serious effort!  At least he is entertaining you!  He'd play old Elvis songs on his tiny little piece of crap boom box and sing along on his crappy little microphone.  He was terrible and always behind on the lyrics, but who cares.  Check my man out!  As far as all the bums I've enjoyed over the years, he's my second favorite of all time, just behind 8-Ball in Chicago.  Oh, 8-Ball, I do hope you are well.  No one can touch you.  (What a night that was; I met a girl from Mongolia - MONGOLIA! - and my friend danced with a girl who was on crutches for a good long while at a club with an inch of flood water on the dance floor.  It was awesome.)

After grooving with The King for a while, we sat and enjoyed a couple very lazy beers, watching the aforementioned boring bum do his laps over and over and over again, marveling at his tenacity.  We had some dinner and ended up at some nightclub, all within the same area of the city.  And that, as I recall, was that. 

Oh yeah, the club we hung out at had the coolest bathrooms any of us had ever seen.  It was huge and luxurious, with those silly frosted doors that are clear until you lock them behind you.  That's right, ice cream, a destitute Elvis impersonator, and a restroom are our three main memories of the day, so I guess it was pretty uneventful all in all.  That was about to change though, as the next morning I learned Hoang was not as unflappable as I'd thought up through that point in our relationship... One word: "Acrophobia."

See?  Less than 1200 words this time!

On to Day 4

Back to Day 2
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