Tag Archives: shopping

It’s been a while

To my dear readers, especially the throngs of you who have been on edge everyday, wondering if I’m still around – I am happy to announce that yes, I live on! There’s a good reason why I didn’t have “update blog more often” as an item on my list of things to do over the summer…

I can’t legitimately cross off a lot of things from the aforementioned list, but the summer has been quite awesome thus far anyways. Work has been going quite well. By “well”, I mean it’s never boring, and I can’t ask for a better environment. I think I’m one of the few people my age who thoroughly enjoy being at work. Either there’s something fundamentally wrong with me, or I’ve really struck gold here.

As much as I bask in the feeling of selling my soul to corporate, an office job with a 3-hour commute is hardly the way I would prefer to be spending my first summer in five years where I don’t have to worry about academics. I decided to use this free time to catch up with my travels. Given the amount of crazy I’d been through during the first half of the year, I had initially decided on some relaxing, resort-type, lounging-around vacation.

NOPE. Spent two months running around.

Buffalo, NY. A much-needed shopping trip while the Loonie was flying high (it’s actually flying even higher now). After a day of outlet craze, we swung by Niagara Falls on the way back across the border and were lucky enough to catch some fireworks.

 

Fireworks at Niagara. Photo shamelessly stolen from Eric.

 

Mont Tremblant, QC. As a last-minute decision, six of us signed up for one of those Chinese bus tours that took us to Mont Tremblant over the Canada Day long weekend. WHAT, you say, WHY would you crazy people lumber up to a ski resort mid-summer? WELL, I reply, it was actually quite gorgeous with surprisingly a wide range of activities. We made a few mandatory useless stops (namely Upper Canada Village) on the way there and back, so we really ended up having only one full day to spend at the resort. It was decided that we needed to make the day count as much as possible. What followed was our execution of CHALLENGE ACCEPTED:

  • Breakfast at French café! When I start the day with chocolate milk on a patio, I know it’s going to be an awesome day.
  • Boat cruise around Lac Tremblant! Watch a ginormous helicopter land at a baller vacation home.
  • Lounging / swimming at hotel pool! Reject idea of poolside eating because we can’t afford a $7 hot dog at the Fairmont.
  • Lunch at Spanish restaurant! The day only gets more awesome with chimichangas on a patio.
  • Cable car up to mountain top! It was extremely windy at the summit, and the view figuratively and literally blew us away.
  • Luge down mountain! Apparently it’s a Québécois thing, and was one of the best random calls of the day.
  • Kayak in the lake! By the time we got a hang of things, it was time for our appointment at…
  • Scandinave Spa! Lily and I went for Swedish massages and Scandinavian Baths to rejuvenate while the others had their own little misadventures.
  • Dinner in the resort village! With live music and yes, on a patio.
  • Le Casino de Mont Tremblant! Matt gained a 1000% return playing a slots machine called Chien Académie (sounds legit).

 

View from the top of Mont Tremblant! Thanks Matt for giving me implicit permission to post this photo.

 

After we got back to our rooms I pretty much passed out instantly and don’t recall anything else. On the way home the tour stopped by Kingston where Char gave us a quick tour of downtown and the Queens University campus. Now Waterloo seems even uglier by comparison.

California. I can’t even fully recall what I did here, but simply thinking back makes me miss it so much!

My impression of Los Angeles was what I expected after speaking to numerous people who have been there before – sprawling, overhyped and kind of ghetto. Certain areas were only nice in the sense that you could marvel up close at the multi-million dollar mansions of local residents in the Hills. We ended up spending much more time in San Diego, where the beaches were nicer, the traffic was better, and the burritos were holy. Some Kodak Moments included:

  • MXN, a chain of Mexican fast food restaurants. We could’ve eaten this on any occasion. Proper meal, midnight snack, drunk food, post-roadtrip arrival food, beach-side munching… you name it.
  • Surfing at Pacific Beach. Or our attempt at doing so. We rented some boards and were merrily floating in the water when I started noticing that the waves kept pushing me out to sea and made it nearly impossible for me to get closer to the beach. Before I made it all the way back, a lifeguard actually turned up with a megaphone and instructed us to get out of the water ASAP. Once we were all safely on land, he explained that we were in a riptide, and lectured us about getting actual surfing lessons. First time for everything!
  • Jetskiing in Mission Bay. I get why people can do this in circles for hours by themselves. It’s just so liberating. 30MPH doesn’t sound like much but it gets intense when you’re on pretty much what is a motorized bike on open water.
  • La Jolla. An upscale beachside neighbourhood in northern San Diego, I regretted not being able to spend more time exploring the area.
  • Meeting up with Gavin & co. for a bar night and dinner the next day at San Diego’s best lamb shank joint, according to Yelp.
  • Gifting Dan a microwave. “What did you guys buy? It’s so big… You guys got me a microwave?”
  • San Diego Zoo. Having worked in a zoo, I was impressed with the way everything was laid out, the tour buses were conducted, and the variety of flora and fauna found there. I didn’t quite feel all the hype with the Panda exhibit though. There was actually a line-up for the exhibit itself, and as adorable as it was, only one cub was on display.
  • Driving through Gaslamp. We were so tired at this point that we settled for a comfy car tour of the district. It’s so much cleaner and more upscale than any entertainment district I’ve seen so far anywhere. Somehow it has this warm, friendly, yet sophisticated vibe. Maybe I’ve just been hanging out in all the wrong areas.

 

Can I just live here...

Mark my words, San Diego… I will be back for actual Gaslamp shindigs, SeaWorld and of course the ever epic LegoLand. And maybe to retire.

A morning drive up the I-5 later, we found ourselves back in the Los Angeles area to meet up with Connie and Herman. First up was ferrying our burrito-filled butts (1lb burrito for breakfast, say WHATTT) to Catalina. It was a gorgeous island, albeit touristy. After exploring the boardwalk, we did the only thing there was to do – golf cart around the island bluffs! This was much more fun than I expected. I don’t think anyone in history was as elated as I was driving a golf cart. Caddy, anyone?

 

Golf carting to new heights. That's how we roll.

The highlight of Catalina was having the chance to scuba dive for the first time in an actual reef. Normally for recreational dives they’d first train you in a pool or something. I have no idea how deep we went (40-50 feet maybe?) but the experience was interesting to say the least. Not the most comfortable hobby but I suspect you’d get used to it. It might be a while before I dive again, but it’s rather surreal to be swimming among schools of fish and holding a live sea urchin in your hand.

We spent the night out in downtown LA, then caught some Zs before flying back to the Land of Thunderstorms and Haze, aka Toronto.

On a couple of random notes:

  • I completely understand the California song, about driving down the freeway. It is really such an awesome feeling, with the ocean on one side (though you can’t really see it) and mountains on the other. The only thing that could’ve made it better was if we rented a convertible. While I’m at it with the random points, doesn’t that blond guitarist from Wave look like Neil Patrick Harris? A little bit??
  • I am impressed at how well flippers work in practice. For some reason I never expected them to be a necessity but they do quite a good job in propulsion.

I miss this.

I’m going to cap this post right here and continue MY SUMMER: PART DEUX in another entry, before anyone starts suing me for eye strain. You’re welcome!

Shenzhen

I am majorly behind in blogging! About three weeks ago I went to Shenzhen because I got a multi-entry visa and wanted to get my money’s worth worked really hard during the week and deserved a break. Getting there from Hong Kong is quite easy, as the MTR goes directly to the HK-China border. From HKU it took about two hours. There are two border crossings, and we went through Lok Ma Chau, as it’s newer and is less crowded.

We met up with our friend from Shenzhen and she took us to dim sum, shopping, then dropped us off at Window of the World (she is too nice!). Dim sum was really good and relatively cheap, except certain starving kids got carried away with ordering food, and we had way too much leftovers.

This is like maybe 1/3 of what we had

The Shenzhen Metro is a lot like the ones in many other large metropolitan areas. Declining-balance card, or single journey tickets. Only stupid TTC runs on prehistoric non-electronic ticketing/tokens. I realize I bash on Canada/Toronto a lot, so I will say that the one thing TTC does right is having the ‘next stop’ announcements on their buses. Buses in HK all have crazy windy routes, so knowing when it’s your stop without knowing the area is extremely difficult and non-intuitive. I’ve under/overshot my stop countless times.

Shenzhen shopping was super cheap. I got a couple items including A&F (probably fake but look pretty legit) flipflops for around CAD 2 and they are the most comfortable flipflops ever! I need to go back and buy more pairs in other colours.

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Girlish indulgence

I recently made a quick trip back to Waterloo for an on-campus interview and got to see some of my beloved Loo homies. After the morning interview, I rushed back to Toronto on greyhound, slipped into the office for a couple hours of work, went back downtown for a CFA study session, and then finally home. It was a tiring day but I realized how much I love the rush and pressure of keeping busy. I get a lot more done in a day, and there is really nothing better than the feeling of accomplishment. It sounds unorthodox, but I need the hustle-bustle of a big city and busy life, at least for now. Preferences are liable to change with age…

While in Loo with Jin and Lily, it occurred to all of us that we are sort of going through a very girly phase. Or maybe it’s not just a phase… I still don’t know. Apparel shopping hasn’t appealed to me in a long time. I find it tediously dull to comb through racks upon racks of clothing to maybe find that one holy grail of an item. Bargain-hunting and claustrophobic changerooms make me feel like I’m just wasting my time. In fact I now shop like a guy – on a needs basis, and no meaningless browsing.

Galleries Lafayette in Paris. Be still, my beating heart.

Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Be still, my beating heart.

Once upon a time I was a hater. I thought painted faces and fragrances were for either super-glam people/events or fakes/uglies. Hell, I had no idea what pressed powder was. BUT. Throw me in Sephora right now and my eyes will sparkle more than an otaku in Akihabara. It may have been imminent, but I developed a deep attraction to cosmetics and skincare products. The colours, the shimmer, the gloss, the scents, the snazzy packaging – draw me in like bugs to a bulb. Unfortunately, this obsession does not ring cheap. (Once you shell out $40 for a lip gloss, there’s no turning back.) I’m happy to have oozed some of this infection to Lily, getting her hooked on beauty-related blogs. I am still blown away by the devotion some of these bloggerettes have towards cosmetics. The vast array of products they try, the depth into which they conduct their reviews, the breadth of comparisons and “looks” they are inspired to create, the amount of judgment they cast upon the difference between a coral pink and a nude pink… Let’s just say that I have vastly expanded my colour and texture vocabulary to a degree I never knew existed. I still don’t really wear much make-up, and I’m nowhere close to matching the level of passion these people pour out for the beauty industry, but love the aspects of it. For now, I will just lust over pretty Dior compacts, swap product recommendations, and worship skincare regimes with mah girliez.

Shopping fix

Cant live without em

Can't live without 'em

Yesterday I went downtown to have lunch with a couple of friends who were co-oping in the area. I met up with Yuan, and we went up to the 8th floor of the Bay (flagship store on Queen St). I had never even noticed the Bay had 8 floors, much less gone up there, so I blindly followed. The elevator doors opened to reveal the elegant and classy Arcadian Court restaurant. Tucked away behind it was Cityview Cafe, which was our destination. It’s a self-serve cafeteria-style eatery, and I got a veal lunch complete with sides, drink and dessert for less than $9. In keeping with its namesake, the view was pretty awesome, if you were lucky enough to get a window seat. Wei joined us a bit later and snapped random shots with his new camera. In conclusion, that place is a winner in my book.

After lunch I went shopping by myself. I managed to pick up almost everything I needed, including birthday presents and cleansers. Then I embraced my inner shopaholic and possibly went a bit too liberal with my purchases. After shopping, I met up with Evelyn, Joanne, Fred, Vincy, and HP and we had dinner at Korean Grill House. I had Korean ribs in kimchi noodle soup and OMG I’m salivating just thinking about it right now…

Today I had a dental appointment in the morning. Our family dentist is on the second floor of Pacific Mall. I avoid P-Mall at all costs, and left as soon as possible. It was really cold today, but the wind was blowing east, so I decided to walk home. I felt pretty gross for over-indulging myself and not hitting the gym at all this week. It took me around 30 minutes which wasn’t so bad.

A couple hours later, I met up with Char at Goldhawk Park library for no reason other than lack of good hang out spot. Unfortunately I think we both forgot that it was a school night, so around 4pm, all the kids started filtering in. But instead of the kids bothering us, it was more like vice versa. I’m pretty sure the girl sitting beside me doing her gr. 10 science homework didn’t really appreciate our incessant chattering and random shrieking.

Void

She looks like she's having fun

She looks like she's having fun

Recently there has been a void in my life. It just felt like something was missing. After endless nights a few minutes of soul-searching, I realized it was shopping. I haven’t shopped since Boxing Day. It’s not like I really need to buy anything, but I miss the nonsensical indulgence of a little purchasing power. There are some birthdays coming up, so maybe I can satiate my retail needs over Reading Week.

School has been very shitty the past few weeks. I have a CO370 midterm on Thursday and I just can’t motivate myself to study because the course material is so damn perplexing. It’ll take me 30min and 10 re-reads to figure out a single constraint in a linear program. We started future income taxes in accounting, and I don’t understand it. Whoever the hell came up with all these rules and policies for accounting must have hated business students.

Last night I went out for dinner with Lis, Wes and Kelv. We went to Miju, a Korean restaurant in the plaza at King/University. As we walked in, I saw a guy carrying a bunch of menus. I thought he worked there, so I told him that we had 4 people. He didn’t say anything but walked straight to his table. Turns out he was a customer. Yes, sometimes I am just too awesome.