A bad day in Vancouver …

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Blogs about Vancouver usually describe its beauty or the many unique cuisines you can find in this tourist gem of a city. I rarely see blog posts about safety or security in Vancouver, so in light of recent events I’m unearthing my blog. Vancouver, as it grows, still also has the pitfalls of many other cities – tourists be wary.

This morning at about 6:30 AM I sat at the Starbucks Coffee shop on Cambie & Broadway earnestly working on my laptop. I guess that I was so focused on my work that someone had the ability to reach into my bag, which was sitting less than a foot beside me, and take my wallet. It was only after a couple hours that I noticed my wallet was missing and went into a panicked frenzy.

No one likes having anything stolen, wallets least of all. Mine contained my ID, debit/credit cards, loyalty cards, gift cards and most importantly however, in my wallet was money for this month’s rent; I was planning to deposit it into my account for the end of the month deadline.

After calling my bank and being told that both my debit and credit card had already been used at the nearby drug store I was hit with a sense of sadness. It was a horrible gut wrenching feeling when I realized it was actually stolen. It wasn’t just the money that my fiance and I worked so hard for but the idea that someone violated my personal space – while I was sitting right there!

Most people around me know how unbearably optimistic and positive I am but when I started thinking about the simple act of a person violating my personal space it dragged me down a wormhole of  questions that rocked my core: why do people do these things? Why is it that in all the dangerous places I’ve travelled I’ve only ever had my belongings stolen in the city I call home? Should I be carrying my cards or money on a strap around my neck as tourists do?

The rhetoric in my head started becoming pretty depressing. My fiance came home and he was far more expressive than I was about this whole situation. As he lamented over losing our rent money with various Irish curses, I came to realize that things could be far far far worse. Throughout the day friends and coworkers generously offered support and getting all my cards re-issued seems to be straightforward. We stopped to think of what would happen if we weren’t as fortunate in a situation as we are now and were filled with so much gratitude.

Vancouver is a beautiful city and most people are generally wonderful but as the city continues to grow we should also remind tourists to keep watch over their belongings. As such with most urban centres, pickpocketing and other big city crimes exist. With summer around the corner I’m hoping to use this blog post as a caution for the tourists that are heading this way.

This beautiful gem of a city also has it’s sharp edges.

House Special Surprise

My boyfriend and I went on a double date last night at a new restaurant in Yaletown at House Special. We were invited as my friend knows the owners and I went because I hadn’t seen my friend in a long time. I was told it was a Vietnamese restaurant so I expected pho and rice noodles. To my surprise their dishes were beyond any regular Vietnamese restaurant.

IMG_7566Upon walking to the door I was greeted by cute paper lanterns strung on their patio with industrial brick of Yaletown as the backdrop made me feel as if I were in a different city. Walking through the door you are immediately greeted by an big open bar seating. Their menu was simple, and amazingly affordable with their share plates. Their tapas style Vietnamese cuisine was one of the first surprises of the night.

Our group ordered a few dishes but my favourites, that I now crave, were the spring rolls, crispy ribs, Saigon steak and Vietnamese pork tacos. I should have remembered the proper names for these dishes as they might seem like the ribs/steak/tacos you can get anywhere but they really are not. I’ve never had ribs so juicy and savoury at the same time, the meat literally came off the bone. Their pork tacos were very different from your average taco as it was more like a crepe wrap made with coconut than a flour or corn tortilla shell. I thought that the big seller for me was that everything tasted fresh. From the basil to the beansprout it all tasted as if it were just delivered that morning which was a surprise as I’ve been to far too many pho diners with I feel I should have been more adventurous and gone for salads and their pho but that just means I have more of a reason to come back.

My boyfriend who claims that he is not a fan of Vietnamese food (I didn’t tell my friend this ahead of time to save face) was suddenly converted and already wants to go back. Their wine & beer menu along with the already happening buzz in Yaletown leads me to predict that this restaurant will be this summer’s social dinner destination for those wanting to explore a modern take on Vietnamese cuisine.

 

Education & Certifications

I must be one of the declining number of millennials who still perceives education to be the path to legitimacy – is that to my own detriment?

In my mind going into school for a career designation is the path towards getting that desired position. Except, nowadays while it seems that knowledge is still key – it’s knowledge of who you know and how to network and sell your skills is what gets you to the top. Maybe my blog is simply just my own attempt to vocalize my frustration but who else is finding it difficult to take steps in your career ladder even despite your wealth of experience and education?

An article by Maclean’s declared the value of university institutions and typical ‘degrees’ to be not what they once were . The ‘job acquired’ statistics declined at traditional knowledge institutions, such as universities. The swarm to technical specific certification increased where instructors were individuals who worked within the industry and your curriculum included case studies on real/live projects.

With the dawn of the new year, and possibly my new age bracket, I’m seeing the increasing popularity of micro-education institutions. What are these? They’re the small enterprise that operates by hosting programs and courses dedicated to the full time employee to amp up their skill set. They are businesses rather than institutions or non-profit organizations – not to say this is a bad thing.

In the end we all complete our education with a certification and with that I believe that would lead to a position. It’s at this point where I experience frustration. More and more I am feeling like my education and experience are not sufficient. It’s where these smaller micro-education institutions are flourishing. They provide instructors from the local industry and the class sizes are small enough to successfully network.

And so I come to face the question as to whether I should enrol in these micro-institution programs? – to get my desired career advancement.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on your experiences and observations.

Lazy Days with Summer Rolls

I think only the privileged can really complain about all the sun and heat we’ve been getting in Vancouver. Here I am complaining about both. It’s hard to appreciate when all you want to do is laze around. Maybe that has something more to do with gaining more energy. In attempt to increase my own energy levels I’ve been biking to work (since I can’t run right now) and am trying to change up my diet.  Slowly but surely, I will maintain a healthy eating lifestyle as in less processed foods to be replaced with more lean meats, fresh veggies and natural nutritious snacks.

CaptureLast week I had this goal in my mind and shared it with a friend at work. We set aside this evening to make a healthy and nutritious dinner. She did most of the work to be honest, as natural nutrition is her background she has a liking for cooking and growing her own herbs. So with all her healthy veggies and home grown basil we made vegetarian summer rolls with a mildly spicy peanut satay sauce! She also blogs so check out her post here for how we did it.

Here’s to hoping I can maintain a healthy eating streak for the summer! Or atleast for dinner? … dinners during the week!

 

 

Lazy Days

So it seems that summer in Vancouver has started. What comes with the heat and the sunny skies are lazy days filled with patio sipping and flip flop tan lines. Last Friday, I celebrated with my boyfriend as he marked his 4th year in Vancouver. His migration story is something that is quite remarkable to me. He grew up in a little town of Wicklow in Ireland and as I’ve been told employment opportunities in Ireland are quite limited so he packed up his bags for Vancouver. Of course he had family and friends that he is quite close to (and still misses to this day) however he didn’t see a future for himself there and courageously set out for a land he had never been before with no one he know of. It’s quite brave and adventurous, something I would love to do however, realistically could not. I think the little adventurer inside of me wishes but my real home centered individual doesn’t. I could never imagine a life outside of Vancouver — and I have tried as far as traveling back to my home town in the Philippines for several months. There is nothing like the fresh air, mountain views and just enough city life to keep you entertained but of course my family & friends are my anchors in this city. Nonetheless, I am very impressed by someone who is able to know what he wants and pick up all he has and literally go for it. This is what I felt we were celebrating.

I surprised him with dinner at Lift in beautiful Coal Harbour and we had the backdrop of the amazing Stanley Park and North Shore mountains surrounding us. It was breathtaking. Dinner was also quite amazing. I had the sable fish with this grainy mustard sauce cooked to absolute perfection, it was a ‘melt in your mouth with crisp skin’ heaven. My boyfriend had a 10oz ribeye with scalloped potatoes – also tasted like crack in your mouth. We may have devoured our meals feverishly as it tasted soo good! The prices were quite reasonable for the ambiance and the quality of the food. The service I thought could have been improved but wasn’t bad. Overall, I would save this place for special occasions.

Due to our food coma state post meal we walked from Coal Harbour to English Bay and watched the sun set along the park. It was quite a romantic beautiful day.

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Beer, Beer and Plantain Chips

This weekend was quite the luxury for me. Aside from a couple of hours of working on my non-profit on Saturday morning, a co-worker’s birthday in the early evening and my family day on Sunday afternoon I didn’t make any plans. It was thoroughly enjoyable. I know you must be saying that those are plans but if you really knew me most days are fully booked by the minute! Now you must be thinking I am a snob or you also are a scheduling fiend!

Anyway, Friday I got off work and randomly decided to bike to BierCraft on Cambie with my boyfriend. We ate their poutine with barbeque braised beef brisket, Drunken Mussels (marinated in BierCraft pilsner, cilantro and lime butter) and BierCraft Burger. For the price of the food I almost expected a little bit more with portions and since we were both starving the food should have tasted amazing however it was a little lack luster. The mussels were good, nothing too special but the poutine for $13.50 should have tasted phenomenal with all the gravy and cheese curds. The burger I thought was a little dry and quite tasteless. Aside from the food, the waiter was amazing and I loved the Grimbergen! If I returned it would be solely for the beer … and their outdoor patio (like every other Vancouverite).

Saturday night my boyfriend and I decided to wander down towards Kits Beach. We made it in to Hapa Beach for some appies and some drinks. They had a really super inexpensive Pabst Blue Ribbon which I loved (probably because of the price). I had their yummy popcorn pork and the amazing Ahi Tuna Avocado Salsa dip with plantain chips. I loved everything. The only hiccup may have been waiting 10 minutes for a manager to seat us. We arrived at about 9pm there were at least 10 tables empty but I guess not all servers or staff are allowed to seat customers? Not too sure. Might be an excuse to make a return for the dip! Initially I was going to talk about everything I ate this past weekend but then I realized this could be content for my next post!

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BierCraft Bistro on Urbanspoon

Date Night Friday

 

IMG_2647Last night I decided to plan a date night surprise for my boyfriend. I thought it would be fun and different. After work I had my hair appointment at Sutro Hair Salon on West 8th and Cambie. They have the most amazing people working there. Tara Lynn was so great at teaching me the best way to achieve volume in my hair AND she made me look so fabulous. So when I met up with my boyfriend I not only looked great but also felt like a million dollars (minus the hair bits on my top).

He had no idea what I had planned for the night and kept guessing with each step we took. I asked him not to bring his car but to meet by foot instead. We walked down from the Starbucks on Cambie to Spyglass Place which was also a ferry dock for the False Creek Ferries. To his surprise we took a ferry over False Creek and walked to a nice little restaurant right by the water.

IMG_2648We had the pleasure of experiencing dinner at Ten Ten Tapas under the Burrard Street bridge. I started with a flight of BC white wines (my fave was the Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris hands down) and some root chips with a deadly carrot ginger dip. Dinner itself was a glazed roasted black cod with shiitake mushroom, pea shoots, soba noodle cake with this drug like of a soy glaze & carrot ginger emulsion. This dining experience, with its view of the marina on False Creek and the live flamenco guitarist serenading diners on the patio, may have been one of the best I’ve had to date. The food was delicious, portions were just right and the price was not insane!

Our little perfect romantic dinner had abruptly ended when my debit card didn’t work… at first it was a TCP error (clearly signal issues) and the second read ‘Insufficient Funds’ which was really confusing because I know I had enough money for dinner that night; infact I had enough money for dinner all weekend long so I’m not really sure what happened at that restaurant. My boyfriend ended up paying and then asking me if I was alright financially, which he knows my financial situation so it was just an awkward moment. I may have attempted to reassure him that the machine should have ran through as we walked over the Burrard Street bridge toward Kits. It was so horrifying and embarrassing but I was actually just really confused at how it could have happened. We stopped at the Charqui Grill for a pint and a cheesecake which I thought was mediocre coming from an amazing dinner!

Ten Ten Tapas on Urbanspoon