Super Bowl Sunday in Chinatown

A trip to Chinatown on Super Bowl Sunday was the perfect way to ring in the Chinese New Year. Dancing dragons and lions, red envelopes and lettuce hanging from doorways, and overflowing restaurants brought Victoria’s Chinatown to life this afternoon. As the oldest Chinatown in Canada, it is a special little gem with a rich history and a modern vibe. It’s two alleys, Fan Tan Alley and Dragon Alley, boast a number of unique shops that carry everything from candles and incenses to hemp seeds and dog biscuits, and even fine art.


And it’s enchanting art, too. If you’ve never been to the Arrogant Pirate, it’s worth a visit. The hole-in-the-wall art boutique is one of Dragon Alley’s hidden treasures. As you step in the door, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a different time and place. It’s a feast for the eyes –an antique typewriter, framed art creations, and hand-crafted jewelry are beautifully displayed. The flavour is Asian with a twist of pirate. Arrogant Pirate has claimed it’s territory in the alley known for Dog In The Bakery, The Thai Spa, and Union Pacific Coffee.

Dragon Alley, Chinatown
Dragon Alley, Chinatown

Today I was a tourist–after a warm bowl of wonton soup, I was happy snappy. All the lettuce and red envelopes hanging in the doorways and scattered in the entrances — evidence that the lion had stopped by – fascinated me. I’m familiar with the red envelopes, but not the lettuce. After a little research, I’ve learned that shopkeepers and restaurant owners hang the lettuce for the lion dancers, so that they will pluck the greens, cai quing, and spit out the greens at the entrance to bring the owners good fortune. (The lettuce isn’t actually eaten by the dancers, but blown apart by the firecrackers.)

Chinese lettuce 2

Chinese lettuce 3

Chinese lettuce

Those lion dancers must have been dancing for the Seahawks today, too. The Denver Broncos didn’t stand a chance against the Seattle Seahawks. Truth be told, the only things that kept me watching the game were Bruno Mars, photo editing, and laundry. And all in that order. You would have thought the year of the horse would bring the Broncos some good luck?

For a monkey like me, the Year of the Horse is suppose to bring me luck. Money is looking good, and I’m going to be moving or traveling somewhere. The love outlook is still dismal, but I’ll have my health….and my sanity! I’ve already planned a trip this year, so it looks like my 2014 predictions may have some truth to them.

What does the Year of the Horse have in store for you? Find out here.


January 25: What makes “you” you?

I have an inquisitive nature. I’m not afraid to ask questions.  And I have a way of finding out the truth.  Some share the truth with me openly while others hide it.  But at the end of the day, I will know your story.


The other day, my landlord told me I was funny, and he didn’t mean in a funny ha ha way, but in a strange hmmmm way.  So, naturally, I inquired.  And he told me that I ask too many questions.  Hmmm…isn’t it normal to want to know what day the garbage will be picked up?  And how long the tenant before you lived in your apartment?  And why the man upstairs sounds like an elephant? And why the girl across the hall is in grade 12, living alone, and coming home at three in the morning?  I didn’t get all my answers, and he’s not the first to tell me that I ask too many questions.

My friends are often surprised by how much information I ascertain from someone in such a short time.  And I am often surprised by how much information they will divulge to me.   At times, I feel guilty because I don’t reciprocate.  I’m not an open book; If you want to get to know me, you need to ask questions – the right questions. There is an art to asking questions.  Your question is your springboard, and if you ask the right question, you will be able to dive into the deep end.  But if you ask the wrong question or nothing at all, you’ll be stuck peering into the pool.

One of my favourite questions is a question that was proposed by my British friend at a retro bar in Thailand.  As we enjoyed our cocktails, she leaned over the table and asked me, “What do you do when you ‘ave it?”  This was the second time we had met, so I was caught off guard.  I followed up with my own question. “Have what?”  She replied, “You know,” and pumped her arms.  I just laughed, but she wouldn’t let me off the hook.  “What do you do when you have a good time?” And she meant this in the most innocent of ways.  Anyhow, I love this question because no one quite knows what to make of it, and the answer can be quite telling as to one’s character.

So…..what do you do when you ‘ave it?

Uncharted dreams

January 24boat: If you were going to start your own company, what would it be?

At the moment, I have my own tutoring company, and make my own schedule.  It’s a small business, but it’s rewarding to have built something on my own, and so satisfying to answer only to myself.  It’s tough, too.  It’s a one-woman show, and if I succeed or fail, it’s all my fault.  I’m continually learning new ways to market myself, and reminding myself what I’m worth.  It’s ironic, but it’s my students that help me with this the most.  They are all savvy Japanese women in their early thirties that are either studying English or building a life in Victoria.  In their home country, they are computer programmers, wedding planners, teachers, nurses…. They have left their jobs to pursue their studies in a foreign country.  One has even left her family to pursue a new life and career in Canada. They all are truly inspiring, and I can’t help but feel that we aren’t that different.  We’re all in new territory, feeling a little out of place at times, but still forging ahead.

And my dreams go beyond my tutoring company.  But I’ve learned that it’s not always wise to share a dream until it comes to fruition.  Sharing a dream gives you a false sense of accomplishment, and the fuel you have to chase it diminishes somewhat.  So, for now, all I can say is that I will follow in the steps of many in my family, and become the captain of my own ship.




Security or adventure?

January 22: Are you seeking security or adventure?

Security.  No….. wait…..maybe it’s adventure!  I want both.  I feel like I should be seeking security.  I feel like I should be seeking stability.  And I do want security and stability.  I do want to walk along the path that leads somewhere and not anywhere. But every time I walk by a travel agency my eyes light up.  As my eyes dance over the colourful advertisements for exotic destinations,beach  I wrap my scarf a little tighter around my neck, and dream a little.  Silver beaches, coconut juice, blue-blue water.

But maybe that isn’t such an adventure.  Maybe that is my security. Somehow everything fell into place in Thailand, and for six years, I always felt certain that things would.  I somehow knew that I would always find another job or another apartment, and that whatever drama I was going through would pass.   My life wasn’t perfect, but even when things got a bit mucky, I continued to grow.  I felt secure in Thailand.

In Canada, I feel uncertain.  Maybe this is my adventure. Somehow I am not so sure everything will fall into place.  I’ve always got one hand on my passport and the other’s flipping through the classifieds.   Maybe this is what I need to embrace.   I need to embrace this new adventure, and navigate this new world with an open heart and mind.  Perhaps, in Canada, I can find security and adventure.  And to be honest, I really wouldn’t want to settle for just one.


Running & connecting

January 21: What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to going for a run on Thursday.

Now, that the New Year is here, I should stick with at least one resolution and let my running shoes see the beautiful world outside my door.  I live in a wonderful neighbourhood, just minutes from the ocean , temperatures are above freezing, and I’ve found a new running partner.  So, I’ve run out of excuses not to run.


In the past, I enjoyed running as a solo activity, but in recent years, I’ve found it is a great way to connect with others.  In Korea, my running buddies turned into wonderful friends, and their company and stories motivated me to keep going. On our runs, I learned about Korean history, film making, the ups and downs of marrying your opposite, and pushing your limits.  These are things I would never have learned running solo along the river.  And as I run along the ocean in Canada, I hope to learn new things and be inspired by the stories around me. And no matter how hard it is to get out there for a run, I know that I will come back a little wiser, and a little stronger.

Keep reading: 2013 has just begun

January 11: Today you lost ________.

Nothing.  In fact, I gained followers on my blog and Twitter.  I’m still new to this blogging and tweeting, so when I receive a ‘like’, a comment, or a follow, I get little butterflies in my stomach.  And you thought butterflies were only reserved for first dates, meeting the parents, and interviews (of any kind).  Nope, I’m getting them as I type.  It still amazes me that complete strangers find me here, and take an interest in my thoughts. And I love that I have readers from all over the world including Australia, England, Canada, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Bangladesh and the USA.  I want to send a big thank you to all of you for taking a peek into my world.

HinduOffering 2013 has just begun, but I know it is going to be something special!