Camping at Syringa Provincial Park

How did we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday? We decided to go outdoors and embrace what BC had to offer: we went on a 3-day trip out to Syringa Provincial Park!

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Beautiful British Columbia: Our BC Backyard

Hey all,

That’s a lot of “b”s in my title I now realize.

I recently took up hiking again, since Summer’s just around the corner! I was itching to go explore nature again, and luckily, my boyfriend was super on board! Since we don’t have a car, the bothersome thing about hiking is the commute. Getting away from civilization takes at least an hour or two. Then getting back sucks because you’re tired, but you’re not home for another two hours.

I think spring is the best time to go hiking. The air isn’t muggy, but crisp and fresh. Mosquitos aren’t roaming for human flesh. And students are still mostly in school, so there’s slightly less people hiking the trails.

There are times when I cannot believe that we have views like this right in our backyard:

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Pack a sandwich, grab a fruit, fill your water bottle. It’s nice to escape away from the city. Something about knowing that the snapping of twigs you just heard was made by nature, and not by something man-made. If you live in Vancouver, go out there and seize what you’ve got! (Believe me, having lived in asian countries where they’ve ran out of natural land to develop and had to turn to land reclamation, having natural trails within arm’s reach is a blessing.) I’d recommend using Vancouver Trails to figure out which trails to go to!

– Karen

A very productive reading break

I spent my reading break up at Whistler at my boyfriend’s family’s cabin. I had wild visions of me finishing all my homework up there as well as getting my studying done. I did semi-start one of my presentations and then read one of the 20 readings I was supposed to do but otherwise, homework was not touched.

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We did, however, eat a lot. We cooked our own meals up there and I don’t mean to brag but they were all delicious. We’re master chefs (I say this, but at the same time we burnt our grilled cheese sandwiches not too long ago. How do you screw up grilled cheese??). A sample of some of our creations:

– Creamy Avocado Pasta

– Steak with potatoes and stuffed tomatoes 

– Pancakes with candied bacon and eggs

– Strawberry daifuku

We always cooked too much, and that puts us in a great spot for food coma-ing after dinner and into our bed with a good movie or two. We watched The Imitation GamePulp Fiction (finally!), and started, but never finished Selma. We also progressed in Firefly, which we’ve since finished. So glad we finished Firefly before going to Emerald City Comic Con since two of the leading ladies will be there!

It was great to be by ourselves for the week. Very relaxing! Of course, we did visit the Whistler Village. We did some studying at a cafe, ate at the Warehouse (a one hour wait in line…), but that was pretty much it. Snow was bad this year anyway. I had my first bubble bath in probably two years. Man, I wish we could take a Whistler reading break every month. Such a great de-stressor!

– Karen

Whistler = A Winter Wonderland

Hey all, I have not been to Whistler for… I’m guessing at least ten years. To be fair, I was actually on another continent for five of those years, but I realized how much I wanted to see it again. It felt like the first time since I barely had any memories of it. It’s reading break and to start off our holiday, two friends and I went to the snow dusted municipality of Whistler. Here’s the thing though: we don’t snowboard or ski– so what is there to do there if you’re both hesitant to slide down the mountain at high speeds, and want to avoid spending a few hundred bucks on rentals? Well, our itinerary was basically the following:

1. Eat

2. Toboggan (Would recommend just heading by Canadian Tire and getting your own board. It costs $10 there, and $30 in Whistler)

A pic with some kid who taught us how to properly toboggan :)

A pic with some kid who taught us how to properly toboggan 🙂

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4. Watch the Sochi Olympics in the square (or in the hotel with a nice can of beer at 9AM in the morning– Yay! We won men’s hockey which was no surprise!) IMG_2846 5. Eat

6. Watch shows (x)

Driving around Whistler was beautiful– it looked exactly like a winter wonderland that you would expect to see on Christmas Cards. The snow covered the limbs of trees, framing the green giants. In some areas up there, the snow was so thick and untouched it looked fake! I wish I could bring back the exact image of the environment with me because it was beautiful. But I guess I’ll have to do with just pictures.

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This was more beautiful in person!

Sure, Whistler is cold, but it’s not too bad if you wear a decent amount of clothing. I was fine with a large waterproof jacket and a sweater inside. I would highly recommend not wearing jeans because any contact with the snow will result in you feeling like you wet yourself. This little three day holiday was refreshing in one other aspect as well: we did not wake up till noon every day. We planned everything quite well and knew when we had/should head out to Whistler Village again, so everyone felt well rested! I mean, it has been a while since we could all sleep in. Most of time during vacations, I am forced to wake up early in order to make the most of my time, but I realize that with proper planning, sleep is an option. Hope other fellow UBC students are having a good reading break so far, and that everyone else is enjoying the slow transition from winter to spring! – Karen

What was I doing in Langley!?

Hey all!

Last week, I did something crazy. I went to Langley.

Okay, it isn’t that crazy and I’m sorry I disappointed you, but it was a 4 hour bus ride back and forth. So most of my friends and family thought I was crazy.

I managed to drag a friend with me down to Langley (I was actually really surprised anyone would agree to a 2 hour bus ride, so I love you M). Why did I want to go to Langley? There was a toy store I wanted to visit. Yup, I am twenty years old and I will spend 4 hours on transit for a toy store.

During the Vancouver Fan Expo, I was at one of the many retail booths and the guy behind the counter told me that they actually had a physical store in Langley. I was surprised since I knew many of convention booths that sold items either travelled from convention to convention, or was a local artist selling their crafts. In Vancouver, we have Golden Age Collectables, and I have been there way too many times. So I wanted to go to Toy Traders to check them out!

Toy Traders was a fairly big toy store. Their front section had much of what you would expect in a regular toy store, as they sold some boardgames and toys for little girls and boys. So you would find your typical Lego, Barbies, and plushies over here.

If you stepped in a bit further, you would get to their more adult section. No, not their XXX section. This was where you would find action figures and collectables. They also carried official merchandise from certain TV shows, such as Game of Thrones and Doctor Who. Of course, Star Wars took up a sizeable portion of the store. They also had Marvel merchandise, licensed T-shirts and other good stuff. My Little Pony comics too if that’s your thing.

What was really cool about the store was the decor. Lining this section of the store, they had displays set up all around their walls, depicting scenes of sci-fi struggles. You could see spaceships attacking a base, soldiers fighting off a giant robot, and more. I feel like it would have been fun to play a game of I Spy with the dioramas.

A horrible pic of a bit of their diorama

A horrible pic of a bit of their diorama

I spoke to one of the employees (actually, he was the same guy who told me about this place back at the Vancouver Fan Expo’s booth), and he told me that they were opened every single day of the year except for one day on Christmas. On this day, they would get a carpenter to come in to add to their dioramas. So this amazingness was only going to grow!

They also had a Star War display in a glass box that had C-3PO and R2-D2. Towards the back of the store, there was a Terminator display. My friend and I kept joking about how it will come to life and kill everyone, and then I started to get wary of the robot behind the cage.

They have a signed picture from David Prowse in there!

They have a signed picture from David Prowse in there!

I decided to make the most obnoxious girly poses with the displays, just to annoy anyone who was watching.

If you were judging me before, how about now?? :P

Obnoxious asian pose

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The emperor’s face says it all.

So what else can you do in Langley?

My friend and I decided to eat at Olive Garden, since it was the only one in British Columbia. They have a million Olive Gardens in the US, but we have to go to the one in Langley in order to have some of their addictive free breadsticks.

One of the dishes we ordered to share was mussels. Looks good right?

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But then we opened up the last one, and found this inside.

A tiny starfish!

A tiny starfish!

At first we were pretty grossed out. But then I removed the starfish from the shell and started playing with it. Our waitress caught eye of what I was doing and asked me what that was. I then explained how we found a stray starfish in our mussels. She got queasy (she explained that she was pregnant), and asked if she should get the manager. I told her it was fine and understandable, since we were having seafood and this was probably bound to happen at some point in time. In the end, she talked to the manager herself and after we paid, she chased us down in the washroom and handed us a gift card as an apology. I thought that was excellent customer service, so props to them! (Then my friend and I realized that we will have to go back to Langley one day to spend the card… more transit fun for us.)

You can also go to Planet Lazer or The Great Escape in Langley. Planet Lazer boasts that they have the largest floor for laser tag in North America, and we were planning on playing a few games. But we walked into their establishment and walked straight back out. It was stuffy and very hot. My friend and I were both wearing jeans and boots, and we probably would have fainted if we were in there much longer. Planet Lazer’s Langley branch had Yelp reviews saying that their service was horrible. We can add to this, since when we called to make our inquiries, they were quite rude. But I guess you are not going to Planet Lazer for excellent customer service anyway…thought it would make the visit more enjoyable.

The Great Escape is more targeted towards younger kids from what we observed. They had a small arcade area (with around 6 machines), and a huge jungle gym for kids. They also had a 2-level laser tag area, and I think I would want to try their place out next time– mostly because I have been to Planet Lazer’s Richmond branch, and also the staff at The Great Escape were really nice. However, I have a feeling the whole place may be flooded with little kids, and I’m not sure I want to shoot at kids.

So that’s a summary of my day at Langley. We walked a lot, since Langley blocks were very different from Vancouver blocks. Walking three Langley blocks to cross the street was actually quite a workout. You can also forget about jaywalking, because if you think you can wait for a gap to cross on the Langley bypass, you’ll be roadkill before you know it. So if you can drive, I would definitely recommending going around Langley by car. But, if not, I guess I am living proof that walking and public transit is possible. Just wear shoes you can walk in and clothes that won’t make you sweat buckets.

If you know any other hidden gems in or near Vancouver, let me know! I’m glad I discovered the toy store, and it did make me go to Langley for the first time, so it was a rewarding trip!

Until next time!

– Karen