Field Trips a la Green, Broke & Living in Kits

A collection of my recommended field trips in Vancouver. 

All of these posts were previously published in my blog feed, but are amalgamated here for your convenience.

Happy day-tripping!





A Day in the Life - A Leisurely, Relatively Cheap Field Trip

Vancouver is the world's most liveable city (again and again) for a reason: our weather is mild (albeit occasionally damp), the scenery is breathtaking - tall Douglas Firs, lush gardens, blue ocean, towering snow-capped mountains, quaint neighbourhoods with very West Coast styled homes . . . I love it here, I really do. There's a few faults of course (and literally - we're on the Ring of Fire after all! Seismically, we're sitting on a geological time-bomb), but I wouldn't change it for the world.

One thing that makes Vancouver so great is the Seawall. Stretching from Coal Harbour downtown, around the whole of the jewel we call Stanley Park (bring the Cup to the park named for the man! 2011 is the year! Erm, sorry - hockey induced hysteria. Where was I?), all along the West End (English Bay, Sunset Beach) and along both sides of False Creek to Granville Island and beyond to Kits Beach.

Thank you GoogleMaps! Uh, okay if I use this? Thanks. Kits Beach = Start!

Only a few segments are good for rollerblading (there's some irritating cobblestones on my side of False Creek, but Stanley Park and the northern sections are perfect), but ALL of it is good for running and walking.

On a warm summer morning (if you're up), it's really the ideal location for a long walk.

For this trip, I will focus on the southern reaches of the Seawall, starting from Kits Beach or Vanier Park (or anywhere inbetween) and out to the Main Street-Science World area.

Distance: about 12.5 km return trip (or 6.25 km one way)

Wear good shoes for walking on pavement and gravel - it's a long trip! It will take a few hours, depending on how quickly you walk and what stops you make along the way. Bring a camera, too - it's a gorgeous walk. For good shoes, I cannot recommend more highly Forerunners on 4th at Collingwood (by Alma). They saved me from runners that were screwing with my knees (the head sales guy at Ladysport was convinced that I pronate, which I don't, and fitted me to a corrective shoe. I couldn't run for two months and was in intense pain when I tried! Bozo! So I limped over to Forerunners later on, bought another pair and have run happily ever after. I went back again just last week and bought the same shoe in the latest model - Asics Gel Cumulus. Awesome. Nice people, too!).

New shoes! They even asked if I needed a plastic bag - extra points for Forerunners!

Follow the seawall along by Kits beach, taking in the sights of the dog park next to the Maritime Museum. From above, you can watch the goofy chaos that is the off-leash area (note that there is a public washroom (parks board) in this area in the building near the trees, if you need it. The other closest one is back at the main part of Kits beach by the concession and playground). Continue on past the Maritime Museum and the totem pole on your right, cross over the parking lot (note the cute arched bridge on the Vancouver Archives property on your right - take a quick detour to cross over it if you want!).

From GoogleMaps - Kits Beach and Vanier Park

Following the gravel path along Vanier Park, you have a perfect, unobstructed view of the West End, Second Beach (Stanley Park), English Bay, Sunset Beach (which is just a hop, step and a jump across False Creek at the other base of the Burrard St Bridge, but I wouldn't try it). On your right is a giant staple (a momument to Captain George Vancouver, apparently), and if it's still up, a polished metal art sculpture entitled 'freezing water' (here for the Olympics and afterward). Sometimes people use the field there to play with kites (the sort you use for kite surfing), and the breezes here make it an excellent spot to fly a traditional kite. When was the last time you did that?

The water traffic is usually entertaining as well: rowers, dragon boaters, out-rigger canoeist, paddleboarders, the Aquabus, sail boats and those revolting monstrosities of fibreglass, the powerboats (which don't run gracefully on the wind but on fossil fuels, and very inefficiently at that. Boo!).

As you come to the Coast Guard building, look up and to the right - there is an eagle aerie and usually a big bald eagle perched above you in the tree. There's also very often a group of tourists clustered together on the seawall below, which helps you to not miss it.

From GoogleMaps: Burrard Bridge, Go Fish inbetween, and Granville Isl & Bridge

Passing under the Burrard Street bridge, remember to KEEP RIGHT (you now share the path with bikes and there's lots of corners for them to whizz around and crash into you!) and do watch for falling debris from the crumbling old bridge. Read about earthquake preparedness here, though I think it should go without saying that the Burrard St bridge (on it or near it) won't be a good place to hang about in a quake!

There's a short cut to the fish dock (up the stairs once you round the bend by 'Cultural Harmony Grove' which is right next to the East side of the bridge), but I like to walk along the sidewalk on the otherside of the building there (continue to follow the path). Either way, you're about to intersect with:

First port of call: Brunch (early lunch) at Go Fish

First weekend of Spring and there was an hour wait for our food by 1pm!

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT come here if you're in a hurry. And don't come here at 1pm, either, or you will wait a good hour for your food. They'll say 45 minutes, but there will be a back-log of an hour. It's that busy! People do call ahead and order by phone, but that's a level of organization that I will likely never achieve!

It's not cheap, so SHARE AN ORDER of 2 piece fish and chips. The portions are generous, and the oily chips and fatty battered fish will fill you up. Besides, you've got some walking ahead of you still!

There's all sorts of nice things about Go Fish (only I'm not amused by their plastic cups for tartar sauce and lemon wedges - waxed paper cups would be a better option for the environment, I think) - local fisheries, and OceanWise choices! Please read up on my blog post on sustainable seafood before you go and choose wisely.

Alright, are you mostly satisfied? You will be once those calories hit home. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Bathroom break? Best bet is in the Net Loft or Public Market buildings on Granville Island (go up the main entrance road and keep centre-left - the Net Loft will be the building in front of the Public Market. There is a washroom by the cafe in the middle. Otherwise, brave the crowds at the Public Market. You can pick up groceries if you're only doing this as a one-way walk, but otherwise wait until the way home).

From GoogleMaps. Twisty, turvy seawall east of Granville Island.

Back to the seawall! From Granville Island, follow the seawall along past the marinas and enjoy the views of Yaletown and David Lam park as you approach the Cambie Street bridge. All sorts of lovely little parks I've never visited are along this stretch (below VGH area).

At the base of the Cambie Street bridge are some cute little store fronts (there's even a pottery place for some DIY overlooking False Creek and the seawall! So idyllic, and kind of neat to watch - without staring in an annoying manner, of course!).

Need a beer or bevy? Next to Monk McQueen's (lovely seafood restaurant, but $$$) there is a pub (The Wicklow) which I've never stopped in at, but one which is ideally situated for such an excursion. If it's a sunny day and a cold beer would make you happy, why not? You've burned a few calories on the way here.

From GoogleMaps - the seawall under the Cambie Street Bridge

Alright, beer or no beer, it's time to soldier on. Past the Cambie St Bridge is the Millenium and Olympic Village development. Now despite all the fiasco (MAKE IT AFFORDABLE HOUSING LIKE YOU PROMISED, YOU DOUCHES!), the waterfront here is simply lovely. There's even been an effort to plant native shrubbery, and last time I went by a great blue heron was busy snacking on the shore (got to be a good sign - fish and predators. Excellent). The tents of Cavalia are in this area too, and if they're gone by the time you do this walk, it may explain the empty lot that you see.

There are lots of neat little benches and lounge chairs along the seawall here. My favourite is the new pedestrian bridge (no bikes allowed, which is nice - they get another equally nice route). The giant sparrow statues in the centre of Athlete's Village always freak me out a little - you know we'd be bony little worms to them. But good for funny photo-ops, so I'll stop whining.

Second port of call: Absolutely fabulous, virtually line-up free gelato at Mario's Gelati's "Amato Gelato Cafe"

The Best Flavour IN THE WORLD: Italian Plum Cake Gelato @ Mario's

Yes, you've burned enough calories to enjoy some gelato guilt-free (says I)!

1st and Quebec. Probably the best-kept secret in Vancouver. Come in reverence!

Three words you need: Italian Plum Cake. This elusive and comparatively unpopular flavour is positively orgasmic and must not be missed! You can sample a scoop of ANY flavour you want, and I'm telling you that as a reader of my blog, you are OBLIGATED to give Italian Plum Cake a whirl if it's on offer! It's like rum raisin, but better. It's like a trifle, but less custardy. It's smooth, it's pale yellow, it has bits of candied plum in it - it is the gelato that I will forever refer to as my number 1 favourite!

Gin & Tonic on top of Cinnamon. He likes it, but I think it's an odd combination!

There are probably 100's of flavours (I would guess between 150 and 200? Hard to say!), and they're all delicious. Other recommendations include Gin & Tonic (seriously refreshing after a long walk!), Cinnamon (not my thing, but my partner's favourite), the Mango sorbetto and Pink Grapefruit sorbetto (no dairy, and a winning two-scoop combination), and I personally rather like the Red Bean, though I will admit that it caters to Asian taste buds more than Western Caucasian's. Mario's has all the typical gelato flavours too (Spumoni (which is great here!), Dulce de Leche, Hedgehog, Tiramisu, etc.). There's always a few really odd ones too (the Granville Island Brewery Lager one was, umm, a swing and miss! But it was entertaining), but Mario's is, in my opinion, the best gelato in town (possibly the world over, though I've yet to visit Italy...!).

Those display cases wrap around to the left, too.... And there's other goodies on the right!

Unfortunately, for all the loveliness of Mario's, the Amato Cafe is NOT CHEAP. It's actually terribly expensive. HOWEVER, as with the Fish & Chips at Go Fish, sharing a 2 scoop cup will go a deceptively long way. I could barely finish one on my own, and next time I'll be less of a glutton and share.

Sometimes though, the best food is worth paying extra for. I think you'll agree it was worth the price. You've saved at least that on gas or transit fares by walking here anyway!

Second (optional) port of call: Science World

Admittedly, I didn't stop in. It costs money. But I hear that the current OMNIMAX film ("Hubble") is outstanding! (Yes, I have friends that work at Science World!). They also have a surfing one on ("Ultimate Wave - Tahiti"). Now that would be neat! It's $14.25 a ticket, though....

And you're done!

You have a few choices on how to get home (back to the start at Kits Beach, anyway) from here. In order of preference:

  1. WALK BACK. Sure, you'll be sore (in that 'good way'), but you'd be surprised how the vistas change as you start heading back west. There's lots to see, and as you pass by Granville Island again, you can stop in and buy ingredients for dinner. I was, at one time, of the mind that the vegetables at the Public Market were more costly there than anywhere else, but I'm actually not sure the difference is all that great anymore! The selection is unbeatable. Other great places to stop within the market (apart from the produce stands) are the seafood shops, the fresh pasta makers (that fresh squash ravioli with the pink stripes is fantastic!), the Granville Island Tea Company, and The Grainry, where I can find all sorts of useful spices and grains that are next to impossible to pick up elsewhere in the area.
  2. TAKE TRANSIT. The Main Street-Science World SkyTrain is right there. There are trolleys that run up Main, or you can walk to Main and Broadway and catch a B-Line - some great off-the-beaten-path stores are along the way! There's also the 84 express from VCC-Clark station that runs along 4th Avenue in Kits (and along 2nd in this part of the city), but I hear it's incredibly unreliable schedule-wise, so be patient if you're waiting. 
  3. GO FOR DINNER AT CAMPAGNOLO ON MAIN NEAR PACIFIC CENTRAL STATION. Okay, not overly cheap, but very, very delicious. I'd take a date I'd want to impress here. It's Italian food, but real Italian food - not cheap heaps of pasta like at Anton's in Burnaby (not recommended, by the way. Never been, don't want to go. Definitely the most overrated food in the city from what I hear. Loved by people who eat unhealthy-sized portions and equate quanity with quality, and by male SFU undergrad students still in the gangly-phase of growth). Alternatively, if you prefer seafood and a patio, GO FOR DINNER AT MONK MCQUEEN'S. Same cost (more or less), and again, not cheap so perfect for taking a date to (but maybe not for everyday meals!).
  4. TAKE THE AQUABUS BACK. The Aquabus is the maritime equivalent of The Little Engine That Could. It's quaint, it's cute, it's not overly eco-friendly, but it does give one a real appreciation of our waterways, up close and personal. I have a soft-spot for it in my heart, and I have definitely found it the fastest way to get from Granville Island to the West End if you're short on time. It's not free, of course, and isn't included in Translink fares (bummer), but if you live in the area, it's certainly worth buying a pre-paid pack of Aquabucks (I don't believe that they expire, either). It's cheaper this way, and you can carry some in your wallet. The Aquabus stop closest to Kits is at Granville Island. I thought there was one at Vanier Park as well, but weirdly it's not listed. Worth inquiring about, though. Don't forget that there are also Translink trolleys running on 4th that are within easy walking distance of Granville Island. There's also a taxi company right there if you're in real need of express service!
Hope you enjoyed your day!  I know I did.



Cheap Field Trip the Second: Dressew & International Village Mall

Need a cheap summer project? (And I do mean cheap - under $2). How about also picking up dinner (or a snack) that's a little different from the usual?

Need a way to entertain the kiddies for pennies? Need a way to entertain yourself (which is what I do)?

Welcome to the second Green, Broke & Living in Kits recommended Vancouver day-trip!

In keeping with tradition, this day-trip is geared towards sturdy walking shoes, an adventurous spirit, and use of public transit (i.e. it's car-free . . . and also bike-free since I do not enjoy urban biking! Give me country roads or I'll walk/bus!).

Ah, Google Maps! So useful - click to enlarge!

This time though, the suggested region is a little 'rougher' than the False Creek seawall, so keep your wits about you - watch for pickpockets and sketchy situations.

Stop #1: Dressew's 25 and 59 cent fabric off-cut bins

I've mentioned Dressew before, but I'll quickly remind you in case you missed it. Dressew is a discount fabric, sewing and notions store (among other things - Halloween masks, hats and accessories like no where else in the city, typically year-round). It's on West Hastings between Homer and Hamilton (remember the 3 H's!), which isn't perhaps the most kid-friendly neighbourhood, but it's easy to get to by public transit. Dressew is close to Waterfront station (easy walking distance), and also trolley bus routes from Kits (#4 and #7) as well as the #22 Knight/MacDonald bus.

Head downstairs (although right now, by the main door, there's a stretch of tables with 59 cent fabric roll ends and cords and trimming clearance for a buck a roll!), and to the right - there are two wire bins that contains the aforementioned 59 cent roll ends, and one that has 25 cent pieces. START DIGGING!

I love this. I have yet to come up with a project for it, but I will some day!

This is a great time of year to buy Christmas fabric scraps for canning jar tops and for other crafts (i.e. cut out a Christmas tree shape or a cross and glue it to a blank card for a one-of-a-kind Christmas card). Here's a couple of 25 cent Christmas scraps I picked up on one trip:

I also grab anything I like or have a project in mind for. Usually though, it's just take what I'm attracted to and come up with something after the fact (like drawstring bags!). The best drawstring bag tutorial I've come across is here, at BunnyBum's blog.

59 cent fabric pieces, and ribbon leftover from a birthday gift.

The beauty of the drawstring bag is really its ease. It's an ideal beginner's or child's sewing project, and because of its simplicity and portability, it's a really good take-to-the-beach sort of project. With a couple of vibrantly coloured pieces, a drawstring bag can make a festive birthday gift bag. Choose more muted colours and make yourself a reusable produce bag or crochet project stash bag (much lovelier than a nasty plastic bag!).

This one is headed to Bangladesh, to a sponsored child. :)

If you don't have leftover ribbon (KEEP USED WRAPPING PAPER AND RIBBONS! THEY COME IN HANDY!), YokoYaya123 sells lovely satin ribbons for $2 a box. They get scooped up quick!

If you choose solid colours, you can put on an applique or embelm, or monogram it with felt initials, or paint it with some fabric paints (like Pebeo, which you can buy at de Serres, where small kits of which occasionally go on sale).

Uh, it stands for interferon-gamma. My dorky soccer cleat bag. :) In my defense, the whole team has 'em . . . and yeah, I made them all. Compulsive crafter, I know.

You can make a very elegant velvet shoe bag like this one on Martha Stewart's website (hint: cheap velveteen is downstairs at Dressew - go down and turn right, walk to the end by the bins and the cutting table, then right again at the back end of the fabric roll row. At least, that's where it was in late July - they do move things around, especially the yarn which can be right by the entrance on your left as you enter, or downstairs near the bargain bins and cutting tables).

For drawstrings, the possibilities are endless, and I encourage you to use what you have on-hand. If you're working with a young person, this is an excellent lesson in efficiency, frugality and creative-thinking. What do we already have that we can use, instead of buying something new? I used a Mardi Gras bead necklace and leftover gift wrap ribbon here. Shoelaces work (check the length before you start, of course!). You could also very easily braid 3 lengths of yarn (or plarn) together (same colour or different for a bolder effect). Or make some t-yarn out of an old t-shirt. The cheapest place in town to purchase cords and trims is Dressew, so far as I know. But do have a go at reusing something you already have at home - it's cheap and it's green to do it this way!

Don't limit yourself to just ribbon - I found a reuse for Mardi Gras beads!

I've also sewn wine bottle bags from 59 cent off-cuts as well. Pet toys (think: catnip and yarn scrap stuffed mice for the cats), fabric hot pads, bean bags, Barbie doll fashions and housewares, sachets, cloth-covered hangers . . . the possibilities are pretty much endless. And the joy of small projects is that a small time investment means you can complete the task and get that well-deserved rush of smugness that comes with all completed creative pursuits.

If you don't have *anything* at all for sewing purposes (i.e. no needles, no thread, no straight pins, no scissors, no nothing), get them at Dressew. I needed some white thread . . . so I bought this:

Can you read the price tag? $0.49! Sure, it's not the best quality thread in the world, but it's still better than that stuff in the complimentary hotel sewing kits (do they still make those?!). I didn't buy needles, but you can bet they're somewhere in the surprisingly-inexpensive price range, too. I even bought one of those quintessential tomato pin-cushions for $0.25 last trip!

Don't forget to browse your local thrift shop - I picked up vintage faux-pearl tipped straight pins from the one at 4th and MacDonald for pennies.

Stop #2: YokoYaya 1-2-3 @ The International Village Mall (Tinseltown)

Again, regular readers of my blog will know all about YokoYaya (and Daiso, its better known bigger sister), and why if you're on a budget, it's a very important shop to know! One major trouble with it: it's not very green very often, so do purchase considerately. Then again, you can get cheap umbrellas for $2 that are NOT made of PVC, and so a PEVA purchase is a fairly green option all things considered. As will any foodstuff you buy, read the label first!

Just down the street from Dressew is The International Village Mall, a curiously empty new mall on the border of Chinatown (right next to the Gate, actually). There's not a lot of places there I can say much about (there's a JNBY, which isn't cheap enough for my liking; there's a shoe repair place that's alright; there's a dungeons-and-dragons-variety of a game store . . . they didn't have Dutch Blitz, so I was unimpressed and disinterested). They do have a large, largely undiscovered movie theatre, though, and I believe parking in the parkade is free if you see a movie (good to know if you're driving in from out of town). It's also nearby the Stadium SkyTrain station if not. And the best part of the movie theatre are the see-through escalators that cross high over the main mall (which is great, unless you have a fear of heights in which case that won't be a highlight for you!).

Probably ecologically evil, this magnetic dry-erase 'chalk' board (and a liquid 'chalk' marker, a.k.a. creepy chemical liquid plastic ooze) is what I put my grocery list on. I take a pic of it with my phone, and voila! Off to the store. $4 for the board and the marker - kind of a neat thing!

I won't say too much about YokoYaya since I wrote about it earlier (see that post here), except to give you a list of things that I think are worthwhile/well-priced:

  • false eyelashes (huge selection, too)
  • aluminum crochet hooks ($2 each! And they're lighter weight than steel ones)
  • unlined (not flocked) rubber gloves (I hate the smell of flocked rubber gloves!)
  • small bread loaf and cake pans of all varieties (good gift size, good portion size, too!)
  • cookie cutters 
  • rice paddles and timbale moulds
  • Japanese-style cookware
  • Japanese ceramics (teacups, sake sets, bowls, etc. - some lovely pieces, $2 each!)
  • USB cable extensions and computer-related gadgets and tidies
  • writing paper (NOTE: I have yet to see recycled products or forest-friendly products here, though. Shop carefully)
  • home organization (The Daiso in Richmond has an exponentially larger selection and bigger containers, too)
  • socks (both Japanese/Ninja-Turtle style and regular Western ones - get the ones with the thicker soles)
  • laundry washing bags and lint collectors/nets
  • sink traps
  • bath salts
  • headbands (the skinny elastic type - infinitely cheaper than Shopper's or other drug stores)
  • nail polish
  • hilarious gag gifts like the portable toilet (which could also be a very handy thing in a traffic-jam, as the package suggests!)
  • ingenious gizmos like the clip-on side pocket for my fridge door to hold the little packets and things that slip out/off of the shelves, and suction-cup shower hooks that actually work
There is an amazing selection of all sorts of things, some of which are absolute steals (I mention the false eyelashes not because I use them at all regularly, but the comparative price-point is insanely less than Shopper's Drug Mart! Same as with those skinny headbands - $2 for a 5 pack, where I spent $9 on 2 at Shopper's when I was in a pinch! Ouch!).

Stop #3: T&T Supermarket

and finally, once you've killed a hour (I find it impossible to get out of there in less time!) and you're hungry, head out of the mall and across the street to the T&T Supermarket (which is right next to the Expo Line Stadium SkyTrain station if you don't live in Kits or are headed elsewhere).

Recommended inexpensive and yummy things for lunch at T&T include:
  • The dim sum counter just to the right of the main door. Har Gow is steamed shrimp dumplings (yum!), but there's all sorts of things to choose from (stuffed steam buns are also delicious). There's hot chow mein-type dishes as well. There are pictures you can point to if you can't pronounce the food item. There's also a sit-down lunch counter the immediate left of the entrance, and you can pay for your lunch items and eat in there.
  • Giant Arizona Iced Tea cans for less than a dollar (but you probably will have to use the toilet if you make it all the way through it. WARNING: International Village Mall toilets are some of the yuckiest I've come across - picture Costco or Walmart bathrooms but less freqently cleaned.)
But nevermind lunch - here's where the fun starts! If you're travelling with kids (or someone who needs simple entertainment, like myself), head straight into the produce section and pick out a weird fruit or veggie to eat later at home.

Can't get your kids to eat enough fruit? Try serving them some 'spikey dragon balls' (ha, there's a mental image!) or 'bomb fruit', known to the rest of the world as lychee (but it doesn't sound nearly as cool). You'd also have to furnish them with a small paring knife (or a steak knife would do just as well) to crack into the shell (easy to peel once you have a way in).

Lychees, if you've never tried them, taste like a cross between a cherry and a white grape (they're quite tasty, actually! A little less sweet than cherries). They have pit in the centre like a cherry as well, and apart from having to cut into the shell first, they're fun and easy to peel. They were also on sale for super cheap when I got a bag in late July (must be in season).

A Korean melon

I wanted to try something I'd never had before, so I picked up a very pretty-looking Korean melon (I've never even heard of these before). There was another shopper nearby so I asked if she'd ever had them before ('yes'), were they any good ('they're alright'), and do I need to cook it first or can I just eat it like a cantaloupe ('just cut and eat'). She was a very nice lady, but unfortunately the chances of her being there when you're shopping are likely quite small, so be prepared to buy something and then do some research on the internet when you get home!

Pretty lace-like honeycombed seed web.

I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of cantaloupe or honeydew melons (LOVE watermelon, but not fussed on the others particularly), but the Korean melon was like a harder, crunchier version of a orange-fleshed cantaloupe (and I actually prefer the crunchiness of the Koren melon to the sliminess of a cantaloupe!). It was also very pretty, too, which is why I took so many photos.

Just like cantaloupe, but crisp and crunchy!

I'm sure like the majority of fruit you find in supermarkets, the seeds are sterile, but in retrospect I rather wish I had kept a few to see if I could grow these puppies on my balcony next year - they're lovely to look at and tasty, as far as melons go.

Some of the stuff I haven't yet eaten/used up from my recent T&T trip. I'm not a big Pocky fan, but I love the gummy choco tubes (muscat grape is the best, but the mixed flavours is a safe bet!). I use the empty tubes to hold crochet hooks and pencils - a Hello Kitty gummy choco tube held all my writing implements in college years.

I never just buy produce at T&T. Not everything is a great deal (think: it's the Asian Safeway!), but there are a few things that come up even a little cheaper than they are at (New) Apple Farm Market (4th and Vine) by $0.20 - $1.00 or so.

Kung Fu Chicken Noodle (ramen noodle!) Soup - that'll kick a cold! Ha ha! The cans were "jelly drinks" which contained jelly (unsurprisingly, I suppose). It was weird but entertaining and $0.88 each.

Things worth stocking up on at T&T:
  • Thai rice-stick noodles (for pad thai, etc.)
  • Thai red curry pastes
  • Thai basil (fresh) - hard to find elsewhere
  • Fresh Kaffir Lime Leaves - have never found fresh anywhere else (frozen & dried only)
  • Asian mushrooms (i.e. enoki, black cloud fungus)
  • ramen and udon noodles
  • soya sauces and seasonings
  • frozen dim sum for another day
  • Pocky (every flavour imaginable!)
  • Gummy Choco candies in tubes! おいしい (Yummy!)
It's also the place to go to get things like Pho spice packs, wasabi powder, fish sauce, bonito flakes, and other very specific but otherwise impossible to find asian ingredients. I'm stocked up on ketjap manis and laos for the moment (Indonesian stuff, for dishes like the delicious Nasi Goreng) thanks to my Auntie Kim and Uncle Jo, but I have trouble finding them on my own (T&T might not even carry them - it's mostly Chinese, with a Japanese section, though you can find Thai and Korean items as well).

The clamshell package on the right held dim sum. I can't handle the waste from these things, so I bring them home, wash them and reuse them. So bad. The Asian community as a whole seems a bit behind on the "tread lightly on the Earth" trend. I hope this will soon change.

This is what I do with those empty dim sum containers (#6's are not recyclable in Vancouver!):

And so concludes the walking field trip of Dressew, YokoYaya and T&T! I hope you enjoyed it!

Getting home is easy - catch a #4 or #7 trolley (4th ave trolleys) or the #22 MacDonald outside of Wild Rice (Pender and Abbott, just half a block from T&T and the mall). If you don't live in Kits, hike up the stairs behind the T&T to the Stadium SkyTrain station (Expo Line). Brilliantly transit accessible, eh?

Theoretically, this could be a pretty cheap outting. For a couple of dollars you'll have enough fabric bits to sew drawstring bags out of, maybe a small toy or craft notion for $2 from YokoYaya (if you're with children, it's a great store to let them pick out "2 things" from!), and some bizarre new fruit or veggie to try at home from T&T's produce section. Excluding bus fare but estimating $6 for lunch (for one person), you could potentially spend less than $20 in an interesting and shopping-heavy afternoon. I will warn you, though - the thing about 'good deals' is that it's always tempting to buy more than you need (the "Costco Effect"!), and YokoYaya1-2-3, Dressew and T&T get me everytime. I never break the bank, though, so if you're going to go on a binge, do it here!

Bonus stops along the way:
  • A walk through Chinatown itself on a sunny day can be nice (and sketchy, so keep alert!)
  • Dinner at Wild Rice if you're dressed nicely (Wild Rice is fantastic, especially for people with food allergies! They are wonderful there! OceanWise, Green Table, local and organic ingredients, you name it. The cocktails are amazing, too - I like the rosemary-infused Victoria Gin & Tonic)
  • A visit to the Army & Navy discount store for shoes or camping gear, etc. (also a very sketchy area)
The GARLIC & ONION-FREE menu at Wild Rice! They even cater to MY bizarre allergies!