Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ten observations

there is definitely a special language to life in vancouver that you can only “get” if you were brought up there or have lived there for a significant period of time... something untranslatable (like a phrase of cantonese slang) that most visitors and tourists i imagine would completely miss or ignore. having said that, i bet the average tourist would be able to see and appreciate things that i've taken for granted my entire young life, and am only realizing now with absence. things like:

1. people are so laid back
like, sooooooooo laid back. well, i’ve always known that the pace in vancouver was slow relative to other cities -- but it wasn’t until, returning to london, someone said to me that they had visited toronto and found it such a quiet and slow city that i realized vancouver must seem practically comatose in comparison.

2. people are so friendly
i was constantly stopped in the street and in the shops by complete strangers dispensing well-meaning advice or short conversations. i probably noticed this less when i lived in vancouver as i used to drive everywhere (i walked and took the bus a lot this time back), and never really lingered in shops that long.

i was slowly making my way through an art gallery on granville street, and in my entire twenty minutes there the gallery assistants chatted to a couple of tourists, giving them suggestions on where to go to eat, what to do in vancouver, drawing them maps, and pulling out a georgia straight for reference. crazy.

3. shopping is so civilized
once, i took a friend visiting london shopping at topshop on oxford street on a saturday afternoon (she said she really wanted to go -- “how bad could it be?”). i don’t go to topshop on a tuesday, let alone a saturday. she lasted about 15 minutes.

so it’s so NICE to go street shopping (i was never one for the mall) on a sunny saturday afternoon in vancouver -- down main street with a coffee in hand, or along 4th with a jaunt to the beach afterwards, or even on robson. nobody blocking your way to the cute shirt because they’re changing in the aisle, no waiting 20 minutes for a dressing room (hence why everyone changes in the aisles), someone gets you another size if the one you have doesn’t fit... and service with a smile! i always took that for granted.

4. the mountains
they took me by surprise while i was walking to the neighborhood park my first day back. i turned my head and suddenly they loomed on the horizon. it was like meeting an old friend i had known all my life but in the hustle and bustle of being “so busy” had completely forgotten.

5. big trees
i felt like hugging one outside the airport.

6. soft water
so good for the skin!!!

7. fresh air
even at the airport! so clean and crisp -- smelling of pine on good days, of skunk on bad ones. but always so lovely.

8. it’s oh so quiet
even in richmond. i live in west london now, along the flight path to heathrow airport, which just opened terminal 5.

all kinds, cheap, and free tea.

10. asian population
it’s nice to be somewhere where locals don’t assume you’re a japanese tourist and young groups of punks don’t yell “konichiwa!” after you (this used to happen to me at least once every other week, when i worked in a more touristy area of central london). it’s nice not to have to explain the genesis of your last name (“ng”) with every person over the phone or at the bank. it’s nice to be taken as just canadian.


with all the hassles in london, there are a lot of great fantastic wonderful things, too. maybe i’ll write that list when i move back to vancouver.

photo: a sunny day on cambie street bridge, with the glorious mountains in the background. but where are all the people and cars?? so quiet!

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Is tuesday a busy time to shop? What day is the least busiest?