Downtown Vancouver Chapters Board Games Night!

Hey everyone!

So if you live in Vancouver, you may want to check this out! My friend and I stumbled onto this while we were walking around downtown waiting for our friend’s birthday party to begin.

Did you know that Chapters (the one near Howe street in downtown Vancouver) has board games night! It happens on the last Thursday of every month (according to the poster, up to July anyway), and it is free! They had two tables and board games scattered around for you to play with. What is even better? They serve popcorn and juice!

Photo 2013-04-25 7 36 42 PM

Free refreshments? Yes please!

Free refreshments? Yes please!

It starts at 7PM, and our friend’s birthday party did not begin until 7:30, so we decided to sit down and join a game of Taboo! They also had Jenga, Apples to Apples, and the other table was playing some sort of complicated card game. We met a nice group of people, and our table eventually started to grow. The staff kept offering popcorn and drinks to everyone, and it was definitely fun! Shame we could not stay longer!

So if you are downtown on a Thursday night, and it happens to be the last one that month, you may want to drop by Chapters and play a game or two with strangers! It goes on from 7:00PM- closing (which is around 10PM I believe)!

Our Taboo table! :D

Our Taboo table! 😀

Hope you guys are enjoying the sun!

-Karen

The Vancouver Aquarium — Torn Between the Good and the Bad

If you live in Vancouver, and have had friends or family visit from some far away land, you will probably bring them around town. Seeing as how we do not have a zoo (at least not close by anyway), nor is Playland open 365 days of the year, the Aquarium is a top pick for many to show off as a visitor attraction. It is perfect for even when the weather looks gloomy, which as a Vancouverite, I can safely say that makes up around 80% of our year.

Over the summer, my friend Monica and I decided to take our sisters to the Vancouver Aquarium, calling it our ‘sister date’. Honestly, I just wanted an excuse to visit the aquarium.

I have not been for quite a long time, so I was pretty excited! We arrived at around 11:30am, hoping to make the most of our day there. The Aquarium usually closes at 6PM during the summer, and their hours of operation are even shorter during winter. If you thought that you would be bored walking around, you have another think coming. We started off with a 4-D experience adventure, watching animals in their natural habitat. I get pretty freaked out at these 4-D things because I am terrified that something will grab me. Thankfully, there was no grabbing. There was, however, things poking my back, me being sprayed at with water, something tickling my leg and other interesting effects. Monica’s sister gave a shrill scream at one point, then declared that she was not scared, only to scream again a scene or two later.

Checking the aquarium’s schedule after the 4-D film, we realized that they had shows lined up for every time slot available (an example can be found on their website here). For some shows, they overlapped, so one would have to choose between watching the dolphins, or watching the sea otters. We ended up watching a dolphin show, an introduction to seals, a talk on the new penguins that came to town and the beluga show. In between running to the various locations for these shows, we had lunch. Food was really overpriced, but you would expect that. Not that it stop us from complaining.

For those of you who have noticed, some Canadian restaurants have a symbol beside some of their menu items. We noticed it at the aquarium’s cafe.This one to be exact:

I have seen this symbol loitering around quite a few menus around Vancouver, and it turns out that it refers to the Ocean Wise  program started by the Vancouver Aquarium. It helps ensure that the item on the menu is a good choice for keeping the ocean ecosystem in tack, and for supply to remain abundant for future generations. So keep a lookout for the Ocean Wise sign next time you visit a restaurant!

In all, the aquarium was great fun, albeit tiring looking after our sisters. But to be honest, my sister is 14 so I guess I am referring to Monica’s sister. However, it’s hard to get annoyed because she is adorable! I guess it was a successful ‘sister date’!

Playing in the Kid’s Zone 😛

——————————————————

So until this point, I have only spoken of the Aquarium in a positive light. Of course, every cloud has a silver lining.

During the trip, Monica brought up the questionable idea of whether the aquarium is actually harming the animals, forcing them to be mere attractions in a confined habitat. I was actually quite curious too. That led to a bit of researching after I got home. 

Suspicious pieces of facts that I found:
– their beluga whales dying within ten years after being born or caught (x)(x)
– how the aquarium acquires their marine animals (x)

There was more information from other sites, but they only provided small bits and pieces of information. The two above stood out most to me.

So it turns out that they do not only keep wounded animals, or those who cannot survive in the wild due to certain circumstances. There are cases in which they actively tried to buy sea animals for display. They also frequently try to expand further into areas of Stanley Park, making the aquarium bigger. Of course, these plans for expansion are always met with protests and discontent from various animal rights groups, but Vancouverites are generally pretty optimistic towards the expansion of their aquarium.

I do not know where I stand. I know that some of the animals were rescued, as told by the guides from several of the animal shows we saw, but how about the rest? The aquarium is no doubt one of Vancouver’s most profitable tourist attractions, so wanting more is no doubt on their minds. At the same time, the aquarium is also a great place for kids and other visitors to learn about animal conservation, as well as the importance of keeping the oceans clean. The Vancouver Aquarium also has, as previously introduced, the Ocean Wise program set up, plus helps organize and encourage shoreline cleanups around the city.

Sorry if this post is really torn between the good and the bad, but I really cannot decide. So what do you think? Hope I gave you something to think about the next time you visit the Vancouver Aquarium!

-Karen

Yup, it was a pretty Amazing Race!

…considering how we won!

Hey there!

Yeah I know, “Karen?! Racing? Physical activity? What?!” But it was seriously very fun!

On Monday, my friend Josh organized an Amazing Race around Vancouver for a group of our friends! I must say, it was very successful, seeing as how 7 teams competed against one another!

~The Amazing Race~

Teams were as follows:

– Paul and Jody, “the White Boys” (blue)
– Connie and Karen, “thebomb.com” (purple)
– Wendell and Kody, “ex-convicts” (red)
– Chris T and Vanessa, “The Amazing Face” (yellow)
– Kevin and Mimi (silver)
– Michael and Jason, “PMS: Perpetual Motion Squad” (white)
– David and Eric, “Men’s Generation” (black + white)

thebomb.com!

So Connie and I were Thebomb.com! A.k.a. the purple team! I did expect quite a bit of physical activity, but I did not expect my muscles to be this sore the day after! It hurts to move and the fact that I’m leaving on Friday and thus am doing a lot of preparations these few days (for university!) does not really help the problem!

Anyway, it was a wonderful day and here is a quick summary of it before I forget the details myself! The race took us around the City of Vancouver, truly tested our sense of direction around the city and put Vancouver’s public transit to the test! We were also not allowed to use our smart phones and search stuff up on the internet.

Don't be jealous of my microsoft paint skills

Meet-up for the event started at 9:30 a.m, but Josh actually expected people to be late, so the actual starting time was at 10. Everyone gathered at the bottom of Queen Elizabeth Park and after reading our information packages, we were soon ready to start. By the way, besides the challenges themselves, we were also given a list of photos that we could take during the race that will help our final score Yay for scavenger hunts!

The first challenge was to fill out a sheet, ranking activities from the least amount of people performing a certain activity from another. It took a while for Connie and I to finish and after doing so, we were directed to go up QE Park towards the water fountain at the top! Honestly, running up the hill to the top made me feel like dying seeing as how I barely did any exercise for quite a while now! Several groups were in front of us, namely yellow, red and white (I think) and at the top, William was waiting for us with a Detour sheet. We had a choice of taking a picture with a McDonald’s employee, going into a store and asking for condoms or going to the liquor store and finding out where a wine (Oyster Bay Pinot Noir, I believe) was made! We opted to do the McDonald’s one and a lady hesitantly came over and took a photo with us.

After obtaining the photo, we ran towards the Sir Charles Tupper Secondary (our school! Or rather, former school) oval, where Monica was waiting for us to give us the next challenge. It was to find a penny hidden somewhere in the oval. Honestly, this was the most time consuming and my least favourite part of the race! It almost took us an hour or so to find the penny as only one team member was allowed to do the searching (Roadblock!)! However, we were the third group to find our penny and we had to solve a coded message, telling us where the next checkpoint was. This involved the periodic table, which was provided to us somewhere within our package, which led us to the Science World gazebo!

We took the bus down to Science World near Main and Terminal and we found the gazebo. We soon realized that the challenge was to eat one of the items that was laid out for us. Among the selection, there were salsa packets, a can of Vienna sausages, a mango, caramel rice cakes, a package of instant noodles, an apple and a can of sprite. The last two were taken by the two teams that were ahead of us and so we chose to eat the rice cakes. We managed to get it all down after much choking and gasping for air, and then was told that the next stop was a pit stop at Vancouver City Center, the Canada line station! When we got there, we had our times recorded. We were 14 minutes behind the first group that arrived (white team). When all the teams arrived (after almost an hour, probably due to the penny challenge), we headed off to Pacific Center’s food court for lunch!

Oddly enough, after we all sat down with our food, we realized that each team got the same food within their groups! Connie and I had sandwiches, Michael and Jason had New York Fries, Wendell and Kody had hot dogs, Chris and Vanessa has chinese food, Mimi and Kevin had home packed lunches, David and Eric did not eat and I think we saw Jody and Paul at another table both holding Orange Julius cups. Sorry for listing that out, but it was so peculiar that I wanted it recorded somewhere! =)

We were then released in the order we came in, but instead of making the last team wait and hour or so after the first group left, we were released in intervals of 2 minutes in the same order. Connie and I were the third team off and we were given another Detour sheet. We had the choice of either going to the Apple store and taking a picture of ourselves on Photo Booth and then sending it to Josh, or go to H&M and try on clothing. We chose the Apple store one and we were quickly done. Josh told us our next stop was at the Vancouver Central Library. We ran there to see William already instructing Kody and Michael what to do. Apparently, we had to look for a book on Vancouver’s history and then go photocopy a page from it and take it back to him. Only one member was allowed to do this, as it was a Roadblock. I ran into the library, inquiring where the history books were. After finding out they were on the 6th floor, I had to find a photocopier. Kody could not find one for a while so in the end, Michael and I exited the library before he did.

On Photo Booth!

William then told us our next stop was Scotiabank Theater. Connie and I originally wanted to bus there, but we realized how close it was and thus we just ran/walked there. Michael and Jason (white team) got there before us and we all had to do a fill-in-the-blank sheet on either Natalie Portman or Mila Kunis. Connie was really good at the Natalie Portman trivia questions but we could not finish all the blanks. So we ran into the theater where we met Geoffrey, a Natalie Portman expert or something! He helped us with the rest of the questions. After completing the sheet, the letters came together and pointed us towards the Vancouver Art Gallery. Oh and before I forget to mention, we have been taking loads of photos during the way.

At the Art Gallery, despite taking off before the white team, they caught up and we were given the challenge of playing charades. Connie acted out a series of well performed actions and within a minute or so, I guessed “Obama” and we were clear! We then had to head towards Robson Square to find William. However, this is where a problem took place. We got there before William and thus we had to wait for him to arrive. We used the time to take some photos to add to our points. When he finally got there, he gave us a sheet of paper. On it was a word written in Russian (oh Josh…) and we had to find out what it meant. Connie and I ran upstairs to the Art Gallery information desk and luckily enough, we found an employee there who knew Russian! The other groups, as we were told, all ended up getting stuck at this point. It took about half an hour before William practically gave them the answer and they had to dart off all at once.

After realizing the word was “watermelon” in Russian, William directed us back to Josh at the Art Gallery. We had to down a can of soda water each. Originally, he was going to make us take a shot of Vodka, but that was illegal. It tasted disgusting. But after we were done, we were told to go to the Olympic Cauldron. We took the Skytrain to Waterfront station and we ran towards the symbolic pillars left behind by the Vancouver Olympics! We found ourselves once again ahead of the leaders. Monica arrived in place of William, telling Connie and I we had to find out who built and how much the Gastown Steam Clock weighed. Because she was not supposed to be the person giving us the clue, she failed to give us all the info we needed as she did not have all of it. So we ended up messing up this challenge, but was given an okay in the end because it was not ultimately our fault.

Our next stop was at Vancouver City Hall. We Skytrained there, soon to find Chris and Vanessa (yellow team) hot on our heels. Here we had to answer questions. Each question wrong meant we had to just sit and wait for 2 minutes. We had to wait a total of 6 minutes before we could head off to our final destination. The yellow team had to wait one minute or so more than us. Ultimately, we ended up taking the same Skytrain to the finish line! Talk about dramatic! So as the doors opened at Waterfront once again, Connie and I raced to get out of the station before Chris and Vanessa. Honestly, they were really fast, both being athletes and whatnot. Connie and I? Not so much (though I suck way more than Connie when it comes to physical stuff).

Despite getting to the location of the finish line, we were not told where it actually was. After a good 10-15 minutes of blindly looking around for Josh, we ran out of places to look. We both decided to run to the roof, only to find that we were the third/fourth (cannot remember which one) team there. The Yellow Team ran there before us and I think the Silver team got there before us. The Red team was also there but they were given a penalty of an hour due to accidentally skipping a challenge.  However, we were allowed to take 6 minutes off our total time due to the mishap at the Olympic Cauldron. But there was still the points that came from the photos. Thus, we had to wait til everyone arrived.

The results came and if this is not climatic, I do not know what is. The names were read out one by one, from bottom to first place. Connie and I expected probably somewhere in the top three (fingers crossed!). When the third name came and it was not us, we were sure we were number two. But unexpectedly, we won! WE WON!! The difference between second and first places was only a minutes! The prize was originally $100 (which came from the $10 entrance fee we had to pay to play) split between the winners, but we ended up splitting it a different way so that second and third place would also get a prize, with some money left over overall for a pizza party or something on a later date!

So there was the amazing day, where I realized I knew a lot more about and around Vancouver than I though, how Connie and I make a great team, how wonderful Josh was at planning stuff, how competitive I was and what great citizens Vancouverites were considering how we had so much help along the way!

Oh and I tried raw beef sashimi at night at all-you-can eat. =) Another story for another time.

mmmmmmmmm...

Thanks for reading and if you actually read the whole thing, you have made my day!

Karen

Meanwhile in Vancouver…

Hey all!

I have not updated in a while…but between juggling Calculus schoolwork and trying to fit in time for my family and friends, I felt at a loss when it came to blogging! But believe me, I have wanted to blog several times after my adventures! So I hope this will allow me to summarize what happened in between these two weeks! Oh, and if you need ideas on what you can do around Vancouver during summer this year, feel free to try these out! Of course, some events are limited to the days they occur…

So to begin, on the 21st of July, Carmen and I went to Metrotown to watch Captain America! It was the advanced screening so we were both excited to be seeing it! Metrotown itself is not exactly a place I like visiting, with it’s busy customers and practically what seems like 50% of the population of Vancouver there during the holidays, but the movie itself made the trip totally worth it! The movie was amazing and I was going to blog about my feelings and probably a short review of it after the movie, but somehow, that post never got written. I even had the title made up: “And a bunch of Canadians shouted, “GO CAPTAIN AMERICA!” Did I mention special edition 3D glasses?! They are red and blue!

So here are the Cliffnotes version of my reflections on that night. Of course, Chris Evans was eye-candy galore! But he was also a good actor, portraying the weak but strong minded Steve Rogers and then the action-packed hero we know as Captain America. I also really liked the how the movie was not made to criticize the Germans, but focused more on the evils that Red Skull aimed to unleash. The audience was also wonderful, cheering together at the right moments. Many of us stayed behind, hoping to catch a glimpse of the preview of the next marvel film, but sadly, they did not show it for the advanced screening. We all complained, but that did nothing…so we all trickled out of the cinemas. There were fans in Captain America gear, which made you feel like you were part of a legit group of excited people! It was also funny how all of us Canadians were so excited Captain America, but then again, a hero is a hero. Thanks again Carmen for the tickets and spending the day with me!

Special 3D glasses at Captain America!

Onto the next outing! If you live in Vancouver, you will know that the fireworks display during summer are a big deal to many of us Vancouverites. That is why around 300,000 people showed up to the first day of the Celebration of Lights! You needed to head out there early to get a good spot, but despite the heedings, our group had people there at around 5:30. Connie and Robert were the first ones there and then I arrived a bit later as I had to eat dinner with my family. Slowly, our group all managed to find the rest and we ate snacks and played Taboo as we sat and waited on the grass. I did not expect too much from the fireworks and was mainly there to spend time with my friends, but when the show went on, I was truly stunned. The Celebration of Lights was also a competition between countries to see who can put up the best display of fireworks and on the first day which we went, it was China’s turn to show off what they had to offer. I believe at some point during the dazzling lights, I said to someone “I feel like this is the closest I will get to magic.” The dark night sky was lit up in brilliant explosions of color. There were many different explosions and effects that the fireworks brought about, but my favourite were the ones that cascaded down like a curtain of stars.

After the show, there was the problem of getting home. No doubt, public transit would be congested so we decided to walk to Broadway. It was quite nice walking across the Burrard bridge at night and I eventually found myself on a bus and well on my way home!

iPhone quality..sorry!

Then came hiking. Yesterday, Monica, Josh and I ventured to Lighthouse Park and Whytecliff Park in west Van! Lighthouse park was a series of many trails that you can choose to explore. I had no idea where I was going, but Josh seemed to know his way, and Monica seemed willing to take whatever road seemed most dangerous. And so we hiked. Hiking made me realize how out of shape I am, but asides from that, I have not felt that close to nature in a while. It was nice seeing all that green and it really felt like you were a part of nature while you got lost in the towering green giants of trees. Of course, I was scared of the spiders, bugs, wild animals and whatever else was kept in secrecy among the leaves and bushes. However, we made it out alive and then made our way to Whytecliff park. There was less walking and hiking involved at Whytecliff, but the view was equally gorgeous if not more. We just relaxed near the cliff’s edge, watching the sun slowly set and the waves gently roll by. I saw a seal amidst the waters and I quickly pointed it out to my friends, but it slipped away before they saw it. By the time we got back to Vancouver, it was quite late and we had to Yelp check what there was to eat. William joined us along the way and we eventually settled for Korean food. We were actually craving sushi, but after walking in to an all-you-can-eat place and being told it was $26 (price was sans tax and tip) per person, we booked it out of there. We were also wanting to try “Guu” or “Guu with Garlic” but somehow we went to Ma Dang Goul. The food was delicious, but we were so hungry you could have given us stale bread and we would have scarfed it down.

Whytecliff

Asides from keeping up with things around Vancouver, I also started watching TV shows. I guess that is what a big chunk of my time is used for these days. I just roll in bed and watch them until I get tired. Not the best activity there is, but I am addicted. I finished Game of  Thrones (wonderful TV show by the way! Would not be surprised if I write something about it soon!) and then realizing I had nothing better to do, I started to watch Dexter. Both AMAZING shows and thus why I do not feel guilty wasting my life on them…well, not too guilty anyway.

Well, that is all for now! Hope your summer has been as fun as mine so far!

Karen

Contingent Contemplation: Harry Potter- End of my childhood

It all ends here...=(

So a day ago, I watched the last Harry Potter movie– Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. It was amazing. I re-watched Part 1 the day before and I was pleased to find that the two movies connected seamlessly! I was prepared for a sobfest at the cinemas so I was armed with 2 packs of tissue!

Waiting in line was not as long and tedious as I thought it would be! My friend Edna lined up for the whole day! Well…from 11:50am til the midnight premiere! And I got in line at around 3:20ish in the afternoon, prepared to be super bored while waiting– or at least super cold! But time flew by! We started off with some board games, namely Taboo and then moving it on outside with Cranium as we were sure to get loud and rowdy while playing! We took trips to the food court, Safeway and basically walked around Oakridge Mall several times. Later on at night, we started a game of Wizard Ninja, with more and more random strangers joining in! Super fun! We took pictures with some of the fans who dressed up as characters from the movie, watched people freestyle rapping and invented new spells! =)

Josh and I trying to reenact the part where Harry and Ron goes for the Gryffindor sword

Cranium to pass the time =)

Waiting...

When it was finally time to enter the theater, everyone was super excited! We all sat down waiting for the movie to start, and of course, everyone applauded when it finally came on!

It occurred to me the night before the midnight screening that my childhood was coming to an end. I am now seventeen and when you’re seventeen, you feel like you have grown up and left your childish ways behind. I like to think that way anyway. Harry Potter was a connection to my childhood. It seemed like only yesterday when I read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (yes, I read the 3rd book first. I don’t know why, but I was like 9-10 back then so don’t judge). I remember pre-ordering the last book back in Hong Kong and then reading it in Thailand after picking it up and then realizing I had to leave for my family vacation the next day. I also remember thinking “At least there is still the movie! Harry Potter does NOT end yet!”. But now, what else is there to look forward to? I will always remember the magical adventures that was Harry Potter…but that is not the point! I do not want it to end! Its end seem to symbolized an end to a period of time in my life where I was happier, more innocent and more carefree. A time when I actually checked my mail for my Hogwarts acceptance letter when I was 11! (I never did get one when I was 11…obviously. But at that time, I did not give up hope! I remember rationalizing to myself I would get it next year because my birthday was late and Hogwarts started before I turned 11.)

Anyway, I do have a bit of hope left for Harry Potter as my friend Josh introduced me to Pottermore. It was created by J.K Rowling so that the story never ends! I seriously NEED something like that in my life! I am super excited to see what will be in store!

Oh and before I forget, here’s a excerpt of a dialogue from the FAKE HARRY POTTER fans ahead of us in line that day. (We were second in line, so despite being fake fans, they were there first. Which pisses you off more.)

Fake fan #1: Hey, which house is Cedric Diggory in?   (Me: *Facepalm*)
Her friend: Either in Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, I think?
Another friend: Yeah, in Gryffindor I’m pretty sure.
*All murmurs in agreement with an “OH YEAH!” from Fake Fan #1*

I wanted to kill myself.

Credits to Josh for Photos, thank-you William for helping me get the tickets! TY ADRIAN FOR GETTING ME A PAIR OF THE 3D GLASSES!! EKK! Thanks to everyone else who helped make the time fly by!

Just had to include this! Stolen off Tiffany, but I'm sure she stole it off somewhere too =P JKS THX!!! XD