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

Reading break at Portland! Friends, dining, shopping- the perfect trio!

Reading break has officially started! But it felt like it had begun two days ago! My friends and I went on a road trip to Oregon basically right after school ended on Friday. It was a tough ride since the drive took at least 5 hours to get there, but it was worth it! Poor William (our friend who drove)! He had to pick up the car AND drive us there! But, we had a shotgun system where we rotated people who sat in shotgun so that they can keep Will company– even if everyone else was sleeping.

What kind of sucked was that I was a bit sick during the trip. Through my lack of sleep and unhealthy lifestyle choices during midterm exam weeks, I managed to get sick. Joy oh joy. My voice is currently gone from all the talking I tried to do with my sore throat during the trip!

Back to the road trip story… We all woke up at around 4am on Saturday and everyone was picked up at their house at around 5am. You can clearly observe that everyone in the car lacked sleep and all eyes were promptly closed around an hour into the drive. I had shotgun responsibilities first so I fiddled around with the music and talked to William while he drove. Honestly, I have not seen Will for a while and I wanted to catch up, but my lack of voice and my throat kind of hindered my efforts! 😦

We stopped by a McDonalds’ on the way, just like we did last time. Connie, Will and I headed over to Hagens to look for fruits or veggies to munch on…sadly we were sidetracked by the bulk section of the store. SO. MUCH. STUFF. Connie bought us all chocolate covered gummy bears, chocolate covered coffee beans and chocolate covered almonds!! Yum 🙂 Afterwards, we went back on the road and continued our drive.

After arriving at Portland, we parked and decided to hunt for their famous street vendors! It took us a bit before we found them…and it was amazing. There were so many to choose from, and I settled on a pulled pork sandwich meal! I have been craving pulled pork for a bit and Portland did not disappoint! I really wish Vancouver had something like this! I mean, it takes up so little room for these vendors and their trucks! Allowing a bunch of them to congregate around a parking lot would be a good use of space and a good source of employment. Anyway, after our tummies were full and our fingers were frozen from the cold, we headed over to our motel. We left again pretty soon after that to do some outlet shopping. We went to SO many different places to shop! So happy! But, my shopping expeditions did not go as well as I planned and I did not get as much as I thought I was going to. 😦

Us and our street food!

At night, we drove by a McDonalds’ to steal their free wi-fi so we could search up good eating joints around town. We finally settled on Le Bistro Montage, which had high ratings from everyone online. We arrived at the restaurant and we thought it looked very sketchy. It was kind of under a bridge, where it was really dark and creepy. It was around the industrial part of town and there was no other restaurants nearby…just the one. BUT, when we arrived, we put down our names for a table and was told that the wait would be one and a half hours! That made us curious as to what restaurant would require that long a wait! The actual wait took around two hours, and by then, we were ready to eat whatever was thrown at us.

Le Bistro Montage's menu

The place had a nice vibe to it, though it was really dark. There were huge paintings decorating the walls, as well as little trinkets such as a skull of some sort of animal, and a dried puffer fish– things of the like. We all sat down and was ready to order within minutes. I got the buttermilk chicken with garlic mashed potatoes! It was served with veggies and corn bread! Delish! I also ordered a POG juice, which was as combination of passionfruit, orange and guava juice! I am so glad I tried it because I loved it! Wish they had it in Canada..or do they already have it?? Will do some juice hunting. Some of us also ordered oyster shooters, which were so delicious I went and ordered another one. Overall, the place was pretty awesome asides from the wait. I would definitely recommend it as it was not an expensive meal, and it provided a unique dining experience. Oh, and if you have food left, definitely ask them to help you wrap it up! They do the funkiest foil art for you! Connie took some of her Jambalaya to go and they came back with a scorpion-shaped package!

Buttermilk friend chicken and garlic mashed potatoes!

So delicious!

Scorpion shaped takeout!

Later at night we visited a Wal-Mart, where Connie and I freaked out about how big everything was! Big bags of candy? Hell yes! We all started grocery shopping and returned to our motel well after midnight. One thing I dislike about Portland? How far everything is from each other! I cannot imagine what it would be like to commute around that city…honestly, I am pretty sure everyone has to drive. Being from Vancouver, everything is pretty well connected, so it was hard to have to cross a million bridges to get to a certain part of town.

After spending a good chunk of time playing “The Game of Life” (we lost miserably. We as in Connie, Monica and I), we then returned to our respective rooms for a good nights sleep. Which was not that good because I woke up freezing since apparently we forgot to turn up the heat. We are so smart.

The next day consisted of a LOT of shopping. We tried to make use of Portland’s tax-free system, and then we headed over to Westfield Southcenter Mall for lunch at Jollibee. I was kind of excited because back in Hong Kong, so many of my friends at Jollibee! It was my first time eating a meal at Jollibee and I thought it was delicious! Sure it was kind of greasy and unhealthy, but delicious all the same! Us girls also split a halo halo, a popular Filipino dessert! It was also my first time trying that and it was DELICIOUS! If I was not getting so cold from the drink, I would of had more!

Halo halo!

Again, I am skipping the details of our shopping expeditions and moving on to dinner. We ate at Olive Garden! It was my first time in that American chain, but I am amazed by all the bottomless dishes! They refilled practically everything! Monica, Josh and I were still pretty full from lunch so we decided to each get an appetizer and share. I got a Smoked Mozzarella Fonduta, Monica got a Italian Sampler, and Josh got a flatbread, though I forgot which one. We ended up not even finishing our three appetizers because it was so filling and big!

At Olive Garden

Afterwards, we spent a good portion of time fooling around in the parking lot and rearranging our shopping bags and luggage. At some point, we accidentally set off a car alarm when we were messing around with breadsticks. Do not ask.

I am so happy that my reading break is off to such a great start! Friends, dining and shopping– the perfect trio! Hopefully I will also have more time to blog amongst other things! 🙂