The Wonders of Vancouver’s West Side

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While most that visit Vancouver hang out on the downtown peninsula, there is so more more to the city that they are missing out on.  Case in point: Vancouver’s West Side (not to be confused with the west end, which refers to the westerly portion of downtown that’s one of the most densely populated parts of Canada, or West Vancouver, which is the uber rich enclave on the North Shore near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal).

This place is home to the ultra hip neighborhood of Kitsilano, two beaches where young Vancouverites go to see and be seen during the summer time, and the campus of UBC, where smart kids from across British Columbia, Canada, and the world come to further their studies.

Above all else though, the views and the surroundings of this part of town are truly out of this world…

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Walking along the shore of Burrard Inlet, a portion of land between the end of backyards of houses residing on Point Grey Road (of one Vancouver’s most elite addresses) and the ocean makes for a very scenic trail.

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While Kits and Jericho Beach are far more popular among the scenesters on the West side of Vancouver, no beach has the size and serenity that the Spanish Banks do. Located just before the UBC Endowment lands, there is no shortage of places to lay out a towel, play a game of beersbie with your friends, or just drink in the timeless view of the North Shore Mountains and ruminate how friggin lucky you are to live here (and if you don’t, you’re starting to work out in your head how you could make it so).

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Honestly, how can you go wrong with a view like this at any time of year?

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While summer and early Fall is an excellent time to be in Vancouver, I’ll heartily put in my vote for dropping by during mid Spring.  From Late April into May, cherry blossoms blow up all over the city, and with the streets of Kitsilano being lined with these beauties, your head will be swimming in a dream world of floral awesomeness.

The only proper way to head a day here into continue up the street from the waterfront to West 4th Ave and have a drink on one of many, many patios that exists there and nearby (Vancouver has such a competitive food and beverage industry that ridiculous deals exist everywhere here, so don’t be stingy … enjoy your time in this heartstoppingly beautiful place!

Ever been to Vancouver in the spring?  Love the west side of Van City and have an awesome recommendation for a place to eat and/or drink? Tell us all about it below!

Malaysian Food in Borneo: Delicious Eats On Gaya Street

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Everywhere you go in Malaysia, one life-changing meal after another can be found in the numerous cafes, food courts and restaurants can be found on the main streets and back alleys of its cities, towns and villages.

While the home of Malaysian society can be found on the Malay Penninsula south of Thailand, the lip-smacking cuisine (such as the claypot chicken and mushrooms with rice dish above) can also be found throughout its holdings on the northern third of Borneo.

Malaysian food in Borneo is taken very seriously, so any foreign tourists that come here expecting a good meal are in for a serious treat!

Being one of its largest cities here, Kota Kinabalu is a natural home to the best of Borneoan cuisine, which is a mix of Indian, Malay, Chinese, and indigenous styles of cooking.

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No matter your preference though, coming in one of these homely places and merely ordering a random dish will likely end with a pleasurable result.

With most meals costing less than $3 USD with drink included, it’s hard to go wrong (especially when you’ve got pork slices slathered in gravy, chicken noodle soup, and a refreshing mug of freshly squeezed pineapple juice sitting before, as it was for me above!)

My First Blogger to Blogger Interview: Speaking with the Couple behind KarolinaPatryk.com

Karolina and Patryk have had the honor of being part of my first blogger interview ... check it out!

While I have struggled to update and post on PoE in recent months (for the most part due to attempting to balance running a business with traveling and other aspects of my personal life), I have started to right the ship in recent weeks.

One of the things that has come out of the increased free time that I have had as a result has been my first blogger interview. Karolina and Patryk from karolinapatryk.com are a Polish couple who has been exploring the world for the past 18 months or so, and have also succeeded in making an income from the internet in the process.

Click here to read my thoughts on travel, life and work … hopefully this blogger interview is the first of a series of guest posts and such that will increase my site’s profile across the travel blogosphere … enjoy!

Gagwonsa Temple: A Chief Cultural Attraction In Cheonan, South Korea

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With South Korea having the rich past that it does, its not long after a foreigner arrives here before they go searching for relics of its heritage.  As such, I also went looking for the most vaunted cultural attraction in Cheonan, Gagwonsa Temple, within the first few months of being settled in South Korea (little did I know that it would be close to the end of my stay there, but c’est la vie).

Located up on the slopes of Taejosan above the rapidly growing industrial, high-tech and research city of Cheonan, this place is one of serenity and peace from the hustle and bustle present in the streets below.

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After taking a bus from the entertainment district of Cheonan, I arrived in the relaxing mountain village that lies just below the temple complex itself.  After a bit of a walk in the sweltering 32 degree heat (not counting the heat index), I finally made it to the most famous sight of Gagwonsa – The Bronze Buddha…

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Noted as one of the largest sitting Buddhas in Asia, it was a worthwhile sight to see on this day … but there was still more exploring to be done.

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To those not familiar with Asian religious history, the symbol of the swastika on these venerated temple structures may come as a bit of a shock.  They were used as Hindu and Buddhist symbols for thousands of years before the Nazis co-opted this icon for their own nefarious purposes.

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Heading down into the courtyard, I simply couldn’t come here without taking a look inside…

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Shoes off before going in!

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I wasn’t sure if cameras were frowned within the inner sanctum, so I snapped a pic before stepping inside.  Anyone in the know about this, please inform me on the proper protocol!

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I was going to go on a mountain hike on this day, but with the heat so overwhelming on this day, I thought better of it on this day and turned back at this point. Summer is a terrible time to go peak bagging in Korea, spring or fall is your best bet!

Do you have a favorite local temple in Korea where you live?  Have you visited one on holiday here?  Tell all in the comments below!

Welcome To Foodie Paradise: A Day At Granville Island Market in Vancouver, Canada

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In addition to all the world renowned natural scenery that can be found all around the Greater Vancouver Area, another aspect that makes this modern metropolis attractive to people from all over Canada and the world is its food scene.  From restaurants (like the Indian place on Davie Street that is shown above), to public markets, the astounding variety of high quality cuisine and foodstuffs will blow the mind of even the most discerning foodie.

Of all the markets in Van City and area, the Granville Island Market is the most celebrated of them all.  From produce to cheeses, prepared food to fresh flowers, even casual tourists will find enough stuff here to make a trip to Granville Island worthwhile.

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To get here, either take a harbor hopper ferry across False Creek…

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Or drive in underneath the Granville Street bridge!

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All the best foodstuffs from farms across the Lower Mainland can be found here, including a bewildering array of cheeses…

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… the bounty of the sea, from shrimp to scallops…

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Maybe some fresh cut flowers for the missus, or that crush you’ve awkwardly eyeing up the past week or so?

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And no matter who you are, it’s hard to say no to some field fresh berries!

Overall, the food on display here is well worth it just to gawk at it, but come for the freshly prepared meals (sadly, not photographed on this site for some reason), and if you feel like cooking up a storm in the hostel kitchen, maybe you’ll get some ideas from here!

 

I’m Not Dead: Back After A Break

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Hey folks, sorry about the extended absence lately. Between spending time with family, getting buried under a ton of work, and getting settled in a new region in the world (hola from Mexico!), I took a bit of a break from the blog.

Coming soon: A continuation of content from Canada, Korea and Southeast Asia, PLUS new photos from where I’ll be over the next year or so: Mexico, Central and South America.  It’s been a blast being immersed in a new language (Espanol), and exploring new environments, and I can’t wait to share them with all of you!

Talk to you all again real soon, and pura vida! 🙂

Photo: A Fine Day At The Floating Mosque, Penang Malaysia

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Penang Malaysia is often a curious blend of the old and the new, with soaring condo developments overshadowing Chinese shophouses, food carts and establishments that crank out time-tested recipes, and ornately designed temples and mosques that testify to the faith of those that live on this lively and industrious island in the tropics.

Of the latter, the mosque with the most inspired architecture on Penang is none other than the Floating Mosque.  Located around the northeast corner of the island, it stretches out into a shallow bay, blending in with the surrounding landscape, yet standing out in its own special way.

If you do visit this landmark and wish to venture inside, don’t be like me and throw on a pair of shorts, which bars you entry. Instead,  don a pair of pants and a shirt with sleeves, which properly respects the cultural mores of the devout, and see this fabulous place from the inside and the view from its incredible deck out back.  I was not able to access it due to my dress that day, which limited me to just a single photo of its exterior.

Photo: Korea Is A Carnivore’s Dream (Unless You Like Beef)

Pictured above is the aftermath of a typical grocery trip in Korea for yours truly.  Before you start getting concerned about me dropping dead of a heart attack at 35, know that most artery inflammation is mostly the result of over-consumption of simple carbohydrates (sugars + white bread) and trans fats (often created when processed foods are made) with red meat ranking well behind on the danger scale.  Besides, I did buy spinach and onions before this grocery run, with remnants already in the fridge and cupboard, thank you very much 🙂

Grocery costs are well below that of Canada, despite the constrained land to raise livestock and grow crops … economies of scale work wonders, what can I say?

Prices of items above:

Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts (2) – 2500 won each = $2.27 CDN each
Pork, cut into stir fry strips (3) – 1180 won each = $1.07 each
Big pack of ground pork – 3520 won = $3.20
Big bag of frozen Mandu (Korean dumplings) – 4500 won = $4.09
12 eggs – 3000 won = $2.73
Tall can of Cass Beer – 2500 won = $2.07
The sole expensive buy … small but good-looking beef steak – 6600 won = $6

All told, this haul, which was a bigger trip than I normally made, added up to 28,660 won, or $26.05 Canadian, which is markedly less than my grocery bill in Canada for a lot less meat.  Not pictured or purchased on this run was spinach, which sells at Homeplus for about 1200 won a bag, or slightly more than $1 Canadian, rather than the $3-$4 it costs here at home.

Conclusion: Korea is paleo heaven (just learn to love chicken and pork a lot more, and request purple rice instead of the standard white rice at restaurants, and you’ll be golden!)

Readers: any killer grocery buys you’ve made in Korea?  Spill your guts to us in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vancouver: A Flagship City For The 21st Century

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If you have not been to Vancouver, it can be hard to place how modern and built up this city truly is.  Everybody has their preconceived notions surrounding Canada as a largely uninhabited wilderness with charming yet somewhat backwater-ish people.  So when you walk through a scene like the one shown above (just steps away from verdant Stanley Park), it can be a surreal experience.

Still not convinced?  Take a look inside the Vancouver I’ve grown to love, a city that is very much a flag bearer for 21st century urban living.

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Despite this cities’ reputation for modern structures, it does manage to work some historic structures into the mix with great effect.  The Vancouver Art Gallery is a place that plays host to some of the best visual art displays in Western Canada, and also is a popular gathering spot for events.  On this day, I was strolling by on 4/20 … purple haze indeed!

Vancouver Public Library

Even rudimentary institutions like the public library get designed ambitiously here.  Styled after the Roman Colosseum, the inside is as impressive as the outside facade, which goes to show that if you want to get treated like a major city on the world scene, you have to do major city things … like doing a potentially tacky reproduction of a famous ancient ruin and totally pulling it off!

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The tallest building in Vancouver is the Shangri-la Hotel at a dizzying 201 metres (659 feet) above the street … like, literally.  Try standing at the bottom and staring up at the square dots … you’ll feel your head spinning and your feet starting to give out before you know it! 🙂

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With innovative, groundbreaking designs, water features that force you to stop and take in their magnificence, and the lush surroundings made possible by its mild climate, Vancouver’s skyscrapers and urban design are something that any self-respecting urbanite should experience at some point in their lifetimes?

What modern wonders does your city contain?  Feel free to share them with us below!

Photo: Tropical Dream Sequence in Malaysian Borneo

View from islands off Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

While most people travel to Kota Kinabalu only to continue on to climb one of the tallest mountains in Southeast Asia (Mount Kinabalu), lovers of tropical beach paradises take note: there are some idyllic hideaways lying just offshore of this frontier city in Malaysian Borneo.

Head to Jesselton Pier and purchase a ticket to one of the islands that comprise Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, which is a chain of coral islands that lie mere kilometres away from the core of downtown KK.

The one pictured above is Palau Manukan, but there are four other isles to choose from, with Manukan being the most popular, Sulug being completely undeveloped, and Gaya having resorts where you can stay overnight.

The water is unreal, and the SCUBA diving is supposedly quite good for being so close to a big city, so be sure to spend a day here if you’re traveling to Sabah in Malaysian Borneo.