I, like many folks in my generation have lost myself to travelling. The more I explore in one country, the more I want to see what it is like in another. And during my latest travels, I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, we explored the country he grew up in, from his perspective as a local. Where, I was also able to reintroduce myself to many of the snacks and dishes I remembered fondly from my own childhood. In many ways I was familiar with Malaysia culturally, thanks to my experiences visiting Brunei (in Southeast Asia, where I was born), the two times since our family left so many years ago.
But I was also able to find so many commonalities between this country and others, from my experiences growing up in Vancouver, given how diverse our city is. But in bringing them all together did Malaysia make it their own. I discovered that Malaysia doesn’t necessarily have its own distinct style, instead it takes what it deems the best from various cultures, and combines it all together to form a mosaic of customs, practices, and a cuisine all their own. Indian, Chinese, French, Korean, and Japanese influences found their way around the city and into concentrated areas. It gave the city character amongst its mix of old and new.
It was a wonder to see towering skyscrapers beside abandoned lots. To drive past multi million dollar luxury stores, turn a corner and be moving past a bank of small businesses stacked in a worn building, one on top of another. The city was a teeter totter of opposites. It had so much and gave you a little bit of everything.
As a whole my five days there was a truly memorable experience, and one that has me wanting to explore more of Malaysia. I am looking at specifically Penang next, with a trip to Singapore as well. But for now I will have to contend with recalling the memories made and encapsulated on this blog.
Traveling alone for the first time and learning to be content with my own company.
An impromptu trip to Toronto had me learning lots and eating more. I gave myself the opportunity to appreciate my own company and to have several meals a day. I travelled far by foot and took in a new culture and different way of living. But my greatest accomplishment from this was learning how to be more self reliant and having 3 large servings of ice cream in one day!
Toronto has made me envious of its food and entertainment scene, but has simultaneously made me fall in love with the beauty of Vancouver all over again. How to combine the two?
I wanted to get away, I wanted to do an eat, pray, love thing, with just the eating part. I had never travelled alone, but figured I was old enough to and should have the experience of doing so. Especially as my idea of having an enjoyable vacation is trying all the trendy food in an area, which can sometimes lead to multiple meals, and much more money spent on food than a normal person would budget. That’s why, to not to burden another, and to not take away from my own enjoyment; I decided it best I do this one alone.
For my first solo trip I wanted it to be in Canada for safety reasons. Canadians are friendlier to travellers, I spoke the language, and carried the currency. I wanted a big city with a big food scene and lots to see. It was either between Toronto or Montreal, but my lack of French frightened me, and I thought it best to stick to a predominantly English speaking population.
For this trip to work, I had to get over my awkwardness of eating alone. To be able to take myself on dates and order enough food for me to try all that I wanted. To get over the fear of being judged, and to learn not to care what others thought. I see dining out as an experience shared with another, and don’t often enter a place asking for a table of one. But I did find it easier to do so during lunch and at more casual restaurants. The weekend and it’s nights became troublesome as it was date night and here I was taking photos with my flash on in any given dark and romantic setting. So the flash soon disappeared for a better tell of lighting, and how what I ate looked under it. That and I didn’t need the extra eyes on me.
Travelling alone, I also got a lot more done in a day than I thought I would, and walked a lot further than I thought I could. My calves were sore every night and one ankle was swollen in pain. But boy did I have to push forward and burn as many calories as I could. I was eating enough for two, at 4-5 snack-like meals a day. In my upcoming posts, I will be cataloging these meals. All of which I planned in advance, using photos tagged on Instagram and found using its geo tag function and my map app. I was thankful for the ability to use my phone and my data without incurring long distance fees.
Overall I found the whole lonely traveller experience gratifying. I came back with a new found self assurance and self reliance. I could travel alone, and found out that I could be by myself for an extended period of time. Any socializing I needed was spent with the folks I met along this travel. The nice people of Toronto engaging in conversation and directing me to their local, favourite spots.
So to catalogue my time spent out East, over the next month, my regular Vancouver dining and recreational posts will be intermingled with my foodie adventures from Toronto. 4 days and 4 nights with 23 stops for food and drinks. Hopefully it will tantalize your taste buds and inspire you to eat, love, and pray in the “6ix”!
Another trip means another travel post series. The destination this time: Quebec, specifically Thetford Mines; to visit my partner’s (aka Frenchy’s) family. The last time he was here was over 5 years ago when he left in search for more than a small town life.
Although my partner is French Canadian, I never really knew what that meant or who he really was, until this visit to Quebec. Or at least I never really put any thought into it. I blame it on my selfishness and pure ignorance. I always thought if you lived in Canada you were Canadian and generally we were a similar bunch. We enjoy nature, we can stomach the cold, we love our hockey, and even more so with beer. And we often say our “pleases”, but always our “sorries”; because we are a polite bunch. I naively didn’t realize how different life from province to province could be. How living in Quebec differs from life in Montreal, like the story of the city mouse and the country mouse. A valuable lesson I was able to learn through food. This trip has left me reflecting that I definitely need to get out more, and to experience more than what is abundantly available in beautiful British Columbia. This was another eye opening travel experience I wanted to share. Hello Canadian country life in the eyes of an Asian city girl.
I am back from my travels abroad. I have been exploring Japan for the last two week. So I am giving fair warning that I will be updating this blog not only on meals had in Vancouver, but on my adventures in Japanese dining as well. Doing so in rotation, as to not inundate anyone.
I will also be creating a separate page for my travels. I don’t know where blogging will take me, but such posts are nice to keep around. If anything they are like an ongoing journal for myself, reminders of the adventures had and the lessons learned. And if all else, to ground myself on how blessed my life has been and how rich I have become with such experiences. Read them or not, they are here.
As self reflection, I have found that since I have started this formal note taking, I haven’t felt the need to hoard souvenirs and bring home reminders from my travels. Instead I collect memories, take photos, and translate both to something I can share. This blog, these posts.
Instead of just documenting all the restaurants I have eaten at, I have documented most of the posts by food type and type of dining experience had. I have made an honest attempt at hitting all the major Japanese cuisine types. However with the language barriers I faced and the dietary limitations of my particular travel companion, it was hard to get through them all. That and there is of course so much, almost too much to try. I guess it gives me a reason for a return trip. Hopefully in the summer, where it’s hotter, the days are longer, and you actually want to eat the cold sweets that are still so abundant during the winter months. I hope those who are thinking of venturing to Japan, or are interested in a culinary adventure will find this useful. I enjoyed writing them and mixing in my own views.
These stories are, as always, my personal opinions. They are not meant to be definitive, but instead a look into the life of Maggi.
For those who follow this blog and find use in its musings, thank you. Thank you for the support and I hope you find my work purposeful. This year I hope to increase the net of what I write to include not only the places I dine at, but all the services I partake in as well. Like food blogging, my other posts will include my original thoughts and my findings on decor, customer service, and overall experience of an establishment. My hope is that through my journal taking readers find value. Maybe by way of discovering a new perspective, or perhaps from being able to take part in something they were otherwise wary of.
I just like to warn these are my own opinions, I write as a hobby and gain only enjoyment through this medium. I ask that if you have something constructive to add please share, but otherwise please do not hate what you do not know.
In 2015 expect more posts on great food in and around Vancouver and British Columbia; from fine dining establishments to food court fare. Notes from the places and services I receive from my travels abroad. And all the little indulgences I enjoy from spas, to beauty treatments, and everything in between. In 2015 you will get a larger peak at my day to day activities, and what really makes up the life of Maggi.