Vancouver Day 3: Granville Island, UBC, Museum of Anthropology, Japanese Garden, and Richmond Night Market

My route for this day took me far south and west of downtown Vancouver. Don't worry -- I didn't walk those 39 miles it lists; I took a lot of public transportation.

As the photos I took demonstrate, I started the day with a walk through Yaletown to catch a ferry to my first major destination.

Granville Island Market
It would be hard to use too many superlatives to describe the scale and diversity of the Granville Island Market. Instead, let me give a recipe: take a farmers market; mix in a few heaping spoonful of the small artisans and craftspeople that usually show their wares at street fairs; add a block of fish market, meat market, specialty food shops like cheese, chocolate, and bread; sprinkle on a few clothing boutiques and a hefty portion of art galleries from areas as diverse as painting, ceramics, and furniture; drop in a selection of restaurants and casual counter joints; adorn with a handful of specialty machine shops / industrial art studios that can perform tasks like rebinding old books or creating a scale model of anything; finally, grab many cultural institutions from the metropolitan area and transplant them here, being sure to include at least half a dozen theater companies, a musical group or two, and a couple small museums. Then place the conglomerate somewhere with a 270-degree view of the water (and the associated docks for yachts, places selling yachts, and marine recreation shops in general), add a park with a water playground for kids, and connect the whole area to miles of walking trails leading in every direction.

If that description didn't give you an idea of how big the market is, maybe this list of items I liked seeing will:

  • Hamantashen
  • Salmon jerky
  • Turkey figs
  • Pirogis
  • Stained glass place mats (functional and art!)
  • A bookstore that only sells cooking/food books
  • A coffee shop on a wooden pier that sticks out in the water
If you still don't believe me, browse the web site above or look at the list of businesses on page two of the Granville Island map. You'll see that not only am I telling the truth but that I omitted some types of businesses, like hotel, spa, cobbler, jeweler, ...

Incidentally, the museum I spotted, the Model Trains Museum, looked cool. Sadly, I didn't have time to enter. It's on my list of things to do in Vancouver if/when I return.

Wandering around Granville Island and seeing all the food on sale at the market made me hungry. (Could you tell from my list of interesting things? :> ) But I resisted enough to make it to my planned lunch destination, Go Fish, a seafood shack on the nearby coast. Here's my review.

Heading to UBC
Stuffed, I left the waterfront and walked through Kitsilano / South Granville, one of the neighborhoods I'd previously visited and been impressed by, to catch a bus westward. En route, I spotted the only Mexican restaurant I'd see on the trip that actually looked authentic.

The bus ride to the University of British Columbia was nice. The bus soon left the density of Vancouver proper to pass green spaces and parks, heading through a more suburban landscape. Sorry, I couldn't take any pictures as the bus was moving.

Museum of Anthropology
My reason for going to UBC was to see its Museum of Anthropology, devoted to what Canadians call the "first nations" / "first peoples," our equivalent of Native Americans. While at the museum, I got to hear a kentongan, a nice sounding Indonesian instrument. I also spotted a fairly hidden ceramics gallery that contained a wide variety of European ceramics from the past five centuries. Although a bit out of place compared to the rest of the museum, it was notable because it felt so comprehensive, showing the breadth of European ceramics and how they've changed over time. The gallery was too dark to photograph. Other than those few pictureless comments, my experience at the museum is well documented by the pictures I took and their captions.

Nitobe Garden
With extra time after the museum before my evening plans, I wandered around UBC. I ducked into the library to use a computer to check a bus route map. (Glad I could enter without a student id!) I also spent time at a traditional Japanese garden, Nitobe Garden. It wasn't quite as tranquil as it was probably meant to be, as one could still hear street noises in places. To explore the garden, the front desk lent me a surprisingly detailed guide map. It's impressive how much thought and symbolism went into every little decision when planning and building the garden. You can get a sense of it from browsing the "For the Scholar" section of the web site, especially the sections on symbols, religious imagery (especially the last paragraph of each section), and lanterns.

Bus (Mis)Adventures
I found my way back to the main UBC bus station at the perfect time to get on the bus back east. Once in downtown Vancouver, I transferred to a southbound line and disembarked when it turned onto the road on which I knew the Richmond Night Market was located. Since that bus only runs along the road for a quarter of a mile, I figured I'd get off and walk until I found the address.

Boy was that a mistake. Richmond is suburban. The blocks, if you can call them such, are far apart and the house numbers increase very slowly. I was a bit worried about hopping on another bus because I wouldn't easily be able to tell when to get off.

After probably forty minutes (three miles?) of hiking in the sun, I gave up and waited for a bus. It was easy to know when to get off because mostly everyone on the bus was going to the market and got off at the same stop. I followed them. And it's a good thing I grabbed the bus, as I think I was only halfway from where I got off my first bus to where the market was. Still, the experience gave me the opportunity to burn some of the excess calories I consumed at lunch.

Richmond Night Market
The Richmond Night Market is located in the back parking lot of a big box retailer. The retailer isn't even directly on the main street on which I walked in Richmond. Thus, getting there gave me the feeling of being in on a secret.

Most booths sold amazingly cheap, mass-produced, possibly knock-off goods like sunglasses, dvds, cds, clothes, and even printer ink cartridges. There were a few unusual ones such as one selling an "ultra light magic bra" and another offering hand sewn portraits.

The market was fairly crowded, especially the space between rows of food booths. Standing room only, I think it took me half an hour to push my way, eyeing the selection, from one end to other.

I noshed the whole time (several hours) I was there. I ate a variety of unusual items (see pictures): a BBQ duck wrap, a pork bun, some takoyaki (Japanese octopus dumplings), a Korean pancake, some barbecued squid, a shrimp dumpling, some spicy fish balls, some shu mai, a baked curry puff, some hot and sour soup, and a fried pork bun. I also had but didn't photograph a pineapple smoothie. There were more items that tempted me but, as one can guess, I think I had enough to eat. These items included a Japanese seafood pizza, fondue (yes, at an Asian market!), and shaved ice.

Regarding entertainment at the market -as if seeing all the stuff for sale wasn't enough-, after much bad adolescent karaoke, some guy with a great voice came on stage to sing some Elton John. That was nice to listen to.

In the amusing t-shirt category, someone wore one that said "I'm out of my mind (be back in five minutes)".

I returned to my hotel without difficulty, stuffed and a bit tired by my hiking in the sun. (I followed people back to the bus stop, and caught a bus that ran straight to downtown Vancouver.)

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