Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dear Stomach: I'm Sorry!

It appears that I need to pen a letter to my stomach anytime Kris and Nicole come down to visit. It's a short letter that basically reads, "Dear Stomach: I'm sorry!" Because, while we always go out and enjoy a day of sensory delights for our palates, the punishment to our stomachs afterwards is inexcusable. After our 8 hour food and drink odyssey yesterday, I went to bed and experienced what it must be like to try sleeping while 7 months pregnant, as I had incubated a rather active food baby in my tummy.

If you think I speak in hyperbole, here's what our itinerary between noon and 8pm looked like: 1) Brunch at Ten Foot Henry -> 2) Shakes and fries at Re:Grub -> 3) Beer Flights from the Cold Garden taproom -> 4) Hot Chocolates and 'pork wings' at PZA Parlour -> 5) Beer Flights from Banded Peak Brewing -> 6) All you can eat hot pot at Regency Palace. Aside from making our way from place to place, the only downtime we had in between was spent buying beer at Oak and Vine, and sodas and potato chips at Bite Groceteria.

A day of Excess-13
Just the lead off photo to entice you.

A day of Excess-2
Kris and Nicole at Ten Foot Henry - the very reason my palate feels enriched, but my stomach feels destroyed this morning.

A day of Excess-3

A day of Excess-4

A day of Excess-1

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Immediately upon finishing brunch, we walked here.

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For some delicious milkshakes.

A day of Excess-7

A day of Excess-8
And some asiago truffle fries.

A day of Excess-10
Next up: Cold Garden taproom.

A day of Excess-11
Flights served with old sawed off skis.

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Pool noodle decor. It's eclectic, to say the least.

A day of Excess-9
The beautiful wooden bar, burned by electricity.

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PZA Parlour's signature concoction for YYC Hot Chocolate Fest. Nutella infused, pop rock rimmed glass, marshmallow foam, and topped with an Italian donut.

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The only appropriate thing to do with delicious pop rocks stuck on your glass.

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Delightful Pork 'wings' at PZA.

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The taproom at Banded Peak Brewing.

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More beer flights. Fun side note: You can get 1 litre cans of the craft brews here!

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And to cap off the glutton fest, we finished with some all you can eat hot pot at Regency Palace. I regret nothing.

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While not food related, we went out for a stroll to walk off a calorie or two from the day's events. This was the 'Nibbles' installation for the Glow Downtown Winter Lights Festival.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Saigon Street Shots

Yesterday marked the end of Lunar New Year celebrations, capped off with what Chinese people call 元宵佳節 (essentially, Chinese Valentine's Day). To celebrate the near alignment of east and west Valentine's Days, Anita and I are going to hunt out some unique hot chocolate concoctions as part of YYC Hot Chocolate Fest today. But before we head out, I just wanted to share a few more of my sad attempts at street photography while wandering around Cholon and Saigon last month. The hustle and bustle of everyday life at street level in Vietnam in unlike anything else, and if you are looking for a new experience in travel and culture shock, look no further.

Saigon Street Life-11

Saigon Street Life-2

Saigon Street Life-3

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Saigon Street Life-1

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Year of the Rooster

In light of the recent xenophobic measures passed down in the US to bar refugees, I just wanted to remind everyone of what being a refugee actually means. It's making the tough decision to flee your homeland, to an uncertain future in a country that you may not know much about, where you will have to work twice as hard to learn a foreign language, struggling to find a decent paying job to support your family, while facing stigma and systemic racism towards your culture in a world that is increasingly distrustful of you simply because you are different than them. You will work desperately to integrate into your new culture while trying to silently maintain a sense of your own. And in spite of this adversity, you will do it whole heartedly because it is your only escape from the persecution and/or war torn ravages of your birthplace, so that your children may have the opportunity to flourish as you did not. It isn't easy being a refugee. Let's not make it any harder for them than it already is.

If you count me among your friends, then you don't need me to remind you that I am only here because of the way the world welcomed refugees when my parents fled their home in the 70's. Let's do our part and ensure future stories like mine continue to be written.

I hate to leave you on such a lecturey note, so instead will wish you all a Happy Lunar New Year! Peace, prosperity, and good health to you all! Below are some photos of random Buddhist and Taoist temples I've visited over the years.

Lunar New Year-1
Vendors hawk Lunar New Year decorations in Ho Chi Minh city.

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The Summer Palace in Beijing.

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The Taoist Dongyue Temple in Beijing.

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A pagoda seen along a hike in Taroko Gorge, Taiwan.

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A beautiful pagoda/ temple complex in Da Nang, Vietnam.

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A taoist temple on Mt. Hua Shan, north of Xi'an.

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Xi'an at night.

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Rain or shine, worshippers arrive at this temple in Hue.

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Slow burner coils of incense hang in this buddhist temple in Cholon.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Assorted Scenes From 'Nam

Welcome to season 9 of my very own little corner of the inter webs! I returned from a short trip to Vietnam recently, but haven't had the energy or time to sort through most of the photos, so this set will seem incredibly random, which I will agree is an accurate descriptor.

My trip was awesome despite 1) stepping in a pile of dogshit with my white as snow Adidas sneakers the day after I arrived, and 2) people assuming Anita and I were having some kind of marital problems (because apparently there is no possible alternate explanation for why we wouldn't have gone together).

The trip's main purpose was to attend my uncle's wedding (pictured below), but also encompassed eating too much food and drinking too much beer (I gained 8lbs in my first 8 days there), taking tons of street photos, watching beautiful sunsets, impromptu bottle flip contests, exploring many local markets, and otherwise just hanging out with my relatives. Good times.

Vietnam - Dec 2016-13

Vietnam - Dec 2016-12
Sunset on the beaches of Phu Quoc Island.

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Vietnam - Dec 2016-7

Vietnam - Dec 2016-6
Drinking beer the Vietnamese way: warm, with a chunk of ice in it.

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Drinking beer the proper way: draft, craft, and cold on tap.

Vietnam - Dec 2016-14
Who knew there was such a selection of interesting craft bia (beer) in Ho Chi Minh?

Vietnam - Dec 2016-16
Because OF COURSE seahorses are for making liquor... right?

Vietnam - Dec 2016-9
Street shooting - a mobile vendor hawks Baos (steamed buns) off the back of his moped.

Vietnam - Dec 2016-8
I can never get enough of the sights and sensory overload of local fish markets.

Vietnam - Dec 2016-3

Vietnam - Dec 2016-4
Thai Ice Cream rolls.

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This has to be one of my favourite photos, EVER. My mom (far left) looks like she's having so much fun!