Sunday, October 12, 2008

Adventures from around the world (of sorts)

Turkey

So my sister recently visited Turkey, and brought me back some nice stuff. The first is what is supposed to be the best Turkish Delight in Turkey. The second were these salt and pepper shakers shaped like two people hugging. While I don't really have a need for a salt and pepper shaker so long as I'm living at home, they're pretty cute; and as for the Turkish Delight, and I always appreciate high quality edibles.


Asia

So after finally finishing our first major anatomy exam (and hopefully not earning myself a "yellow sticker of death" in the process), my friends and I went out for karaoke. Originally we were supposed to go uptown (where I live), which would have been ideal for me because I was looking forward to taking my friends around areas with which I was more familiar and because I was in my crusty exam state and really wanted to go home and shower, clean up, and change. However, despite being planned more than a week in advance, people started bailing out day of. As a result, we ended up having to revise our plans on the fly, and ended up going to a Korean karaoke place downtown. Of course, the employee there tried to speak Korean to me, which earned him only a friendly blank stare.

All the songs we sang were either in English or Chinese. My throat was kind of scratchy, so I avoided singing as much as possible... but I did have a lot of fun rapping through Linkin Park's "In the End." I took Mike Shinoda's part, and my very exuberant friend did Chester's.

On arrival, one of our friends mentioned that he tended to sound like a girl when he sang karaoke, partially because he often ended up singing girl songs. He did not disappoint, he pulled out an extremely high-pitched teenage girl voice for Britney Spears' "Oops I Did it Again." Other highlights included another male friend asserting how his "milkshake [brought] all the boys to the yard, and they're like it's better than yours."

Thailand

We capped off our post exam festivities with dinner at a Thai place. I ordered a chicken-rice dish that was named after the restaurant (so I assumed it would be extra good). I don't deal well with spicy foods, so I ordered my dish be made mild. However, that didn't stop my nose from sweating the entire meal. It took me two bowls of rice and copious amounts of water to down the dish. Near the end, I swapped a spoonful of my chicken for another friend's pineapple rice and they agreed that my food was indeed spicy. So I'm not crazy, Thai mild is not mild at all.

Their pineapple dish was particularly cool looking, using a hollowed out half-pineapple instead of a bowl. I almost wish I had gotten it instead. On a related note, after the pineapple rice arrived, a coconut rice subsequently came (which used half a coconut as a bowl). As it turned out, that did not belong to our table, but it did make me wish I had looked at the menu harder for all these hollowed out fruit dishes.

North America

My siblings came back to Toronto for the Thanksgiving weekend, and it being a particularly nice Saturday, we decided to log some outdoor time before the snow starts falling. My eldest sister suggested we go to Main Street Unionville and find ourselves a nice patio.

Now Unionville is deep in the suburbs of Toronto, farther even than I live. I've lived in the suburbs all my life, and while they can be pretty nice, they're also generally fairly new. As such, most of suburbia lacks that classic "heritage" feel that downtown cities often have. So I was much surprised turning off Highway 7 to find this secret treasure trove of little independent shops and restaurants flanked by greenery, filled with strolling pedestrians, and sporting a quaint old town feel. It completely boggled my mind that such a place could possibly exist (and unbeknownst to me) so far from the Toronto core. In fact, it reminded me distinctly of Toronto's lovely Distillery District.

The weirdest thing about it was that while it definitely had an old town atmosphere and architecture, being in suburban Markham, it was filled predominantly with Chinese people. It was almost like some kind of bizarro universe where Chinese people grew up in the West and Caucasian people grew up in the East. Images flashed through my mind of what Little House on the Prairie might have looked like if Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family had all been Chinese people building log cabins and going to church in Sunday dresses.

Speaking of church, we walked by what I confused for a church (and indeed, it obviously was built and used as a church at some point), but sported the sign "Closing sale, 90% off." Intrigued, we went inside to find a discount clothing store (of course, run by Chinese people). Thongs, 3 for $5. Shoes and boots, $5 each. Jeans, $5. It was a strange thing. To my understanding, the entire Main Street district seems to be a collection of heritage buildings that have since been converted into modern shops while maintaining their original look and feel.

We settled down and found a nice café to sip tea and eat cookies. This particular quaint little place was called the Too Good Café. I ordered a small Masala Chai, which was really quite good. My sisters both ordered large teas, but later the waitress came by and gave us a pot of hot water saying that our tea bags would be good for three cups without losing their flavour. I chided my sisters that they could easily have gotten away ordering a small also, and they agreed that this had also crossed their minds. All in all, I was amazed to find this beautiful little corner of the suburbs and am already planning my next romantic excursion with Evey.

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