A Hungry Hipster’s Guide to Pike Place Market

All of my tourist-ing was working up quite an appetite, but luckily, if there’s one thing Pike Place has a never ending supply of, it’s good food!

My first stop was Beechers Handmade Cheese. As an authentically artisanal cheese shop, Beechers’ cheeses are handcrafted using all-natural local ingredients. The milk is antibiotic-free (no hormones or additives) and is delivered to the shop within hours of milking. As all of the cheese is made directly on sight

...In plain sight, might I add

…In plain sight, might I add

To turn the milk into cheese, it’s first pasturized by being heated to 73C for 24 seconds in order to eliminate harmful bacteria. Then, it is cooled back down to 32C and placed in a Make Vat, where it forms into clumps (“curds”) that when cut and sized spit out gooey liquids (“whey”).

From here, the curds are stacked, squeezed and placed in hoops to get more and more whey out of the way as it ages.

Ending in a delicious result Little Miss Muffet would approve of!

Ending in a delicious result Little Miss Muffet would approve of!

I was now moving on to the birthplace of hipster-ism: the first ever Starbucks! This place got it’s start in 1971, so I’m actually quite impressed it took off so well, considering this was before wifi was a service it could offer its customers!

It might just have had something to do with the delicious drip coffee (I tried my best not to laugh at the employees using a watering can on my coffee)

It might just have had something to do with the delicious drip coffee (I tried my best not to laugh at the employees using a watering can on my coffee)

Personally though, I think the popularity came at least in part from the risk-y logo ;)

Personally though, I think the popularity came at least in part from the risk-y logo ;)

From there, it was time to hit the arcade!

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Because “arcades” are what the market areas are called

 

I literally cried tears of happiness sampling some spicy peppers

I literally cried tears of happiness sampling some spicy peppers

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With a Scoville Heat Unit of 1,001,304, I could feel the ghost pepper extract burning a hole through my tongue. It was AWESOME!!

 

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The guys at Pike Place Fish Co. were having way too much fun throwing their products around!

 

After what seemed like an endless deliberation of consulting every single person I passed that seemed like a Seattle local, I finally decided on lunch at the 3 Sisters.

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Just because there are very few things I love more in life than a restaurant with a funky design

 

…Other than a good sandwich, of course!!

…Other than a good sandwich, of course!!

A Hipster Tourist’s Guide to Seattle: An Introduction to Pike Place

Coming off my last travel rush from getting even 30minutes outside Whistler to Pemberton, I decided it was time to up my game again with a quick international excursion to Seattle. While admittedly I’d already been to the city and am not usually a fan of taking trips to a place I’ve already visited, I’m also less of a fan of saying “no” to any kind of trip at all.

With that, when a friend said, “I need to go to Seattle to renew a visa, wanna come and keep me from getting bored driving?” What I heard was, “I’m going on a sick road trip, wanna come on an adventure?” (Needless to say, I decided to come along.

Now, if there is one thing I should have learned in life by now, it’s that Google maps should not be trusted under ANY circumstance! Looking back, it’s completely laughable that they would quote the driving time from Whistler to Seattle at 4hours and 17minutes. Unless you’re driving in a post-apocalyptic scenario where there are 0 other cars on the road and no one at the border patrol, THIS IS A LIE. If you plan on making the trip, give yourself about twice that amount of time. I mean, all and all, the drive is right up along the west coast and is completely gorgeous anyways!

Once all the driving was out of the way, it was time to hit up what is now my favourite place in Seattle: Pike Place Market. Founded in 1907 as a way to help farmers connect with local buyers without having to go through over-inflated mark-ups by “The Man”, the market was the original hang out for hipsters, before doing things before they were cool was cool. Being the always-cool tourist I am, I couldn’t help but check out the sights, which you’re bombarded with as soon as you arrive at the iconic Public Market Center sign, which has been in place since 1937.

There are also about 1,000,000 post cards featuring this sign, it’s crazy

There are also about 1,000,000 post cards featuring this sign, it’s crazy

In an attempt to raise money for Seattle’s child care, food bank, medical clinic and seniors’ centre, Rachel the piggy bank was installed in 1986 in the centre of the market. Since then, she has been raising about $10,000 a year for her causes!

I wish I could make that much just hanging out in Pike Place Market all year!

I wish I could make that much just hanging out in Pike Place Market all year!

Next up was the quirky little Post Alley, home to one of the country’s most un-hygenic attractions, the Seattle gum wall. The wall was born in the 1990’s, when residents decided to create their own version of California’s bubblegum alley. Authorities tried to clean the walls up on several occasions, but eventually gave up and let the street develop into the selfie-worthy attraction it is today.

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Finally, I ended the day off with a quick stroll across the street to Seattle’s waterfront. Now, I haven’t met a waterfront I didn’t like and Seattle and its Great Wheel were certainly no exception!

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When Alpine Hipsters go Nordic: Adventure (Park) Time Part 3

As a skier and a hipster, I pride myself on the fact that I am not a snowboarder for several reasons (to keep things short and sweet, I’ve cut it down to just 6 for you – which is waaaaay less than “several”):

1)    2 legs –> 2 skis = sensible BUT 2 legs –> 1 board = nonsensical; my legs are (also) hipsters, they don’t like to conform to what the other one is doing

2)    Skiers are faster than snowboarders

  1. Fastest downhill ski speed = 156mph
  2. Fastest downhill snowboard speed = 126mph

3)    Skiers were bombing down hills way before boarders thought it was cool

4)    It doesn’t take me 5,000,000hours to clip into my skis every time I get to the top of a lift

5)    I don’t have to hop around like a crippled bunny every time I get to a flat section of the mountain (hooray poles)

6)    I get to lecture snowboarders about all of the above reasons whenever they take 5,000,000hours to clip into their board or stuck on a flat section of the hill

Basically, I really enjoy skiing and how far my ski-bility has come over the course of the season. This means that when I discovered Big White’s Adventure Park had a bunch of Nordic ski trails, I was ready to show off my skills**.

** I had never actually been cross-country skiing before, but it pretty much looked like a flatter and easier version of downhill skiing, so I decided not to bother with lessons or anything silly like that.

I marched up to the rental shop with my boarder buddy and tried to disguise my confusion as nonchalance when I was handed a pair of “boots” that were shorter and thinner than some of my shoes (high-top shoes, but shoes nonetheless)! The rental attendant then asked if I wanted instructions on how to clip the boots, but I gave him a big “pffffffffft, nah, I got this,” and marched onwards with (misplaced) confidence to the start of the trail and got ready to start this cross country adventure.

Unfortunately, the “official” start was delayed by about 10mins of hopelessly attempting to stomp my boots into the skis, but after that small hiccup, I was ready to go!

Mini boot wearing CHAMP!

Mini boot wearing CHAMP!

By “go”, I of course mean, “flip head over heels every couple of centimetres because balancing on super-skinny Nordic skis turns out to be a lot more difficult than balancing on fatty downhill powder skis”. Seriously, I felt like I was learning to skate for the first time wearing skates with blades that were a metre long! After my buddy and I (along with several small but very talented Nordic ski-children) laughed at some of the most spastics falls known to man, we finally started making progress along the trail…somehow.

It turns out that there’s a technique to Nordic skiing. Something that to this day, I do not fully understand. I tried to swish around like I would with regular skis on flat ground but eventually realized that moving with more of a skating motion seemed to make more sense.

With that, I ski-skated my way across a couple different routes, all of which seemed to lead to intersections where Lower Copper Kettle crossed with Lower Copper Kettle in 4 directions.

While it was a bit of a labyrinth, it was a very pretty labyrinth!

While it was a bit of a labyrinth, it was a very pretty labyrinth!

Altogether, Nordic skiing was definitely a fun experience, but still has nothing on its alpine cousin!

Don't worry mountains, you're still my number one!

Don’t worry mountains, you’re still my number one!

Indonesian Kopi Luwak

Being the coffee-aholic I am (I’m drinking some right now, even), I have to admit that I’m a little embarrassed I haven’t had anything to say on the topic of kopi luwak before now. “Kopi” is basically the Malay term for coffee, but it’s used in Singlish as well. If you’re at a kopitiam (coffee shop), you can also add suffixes like –C, –xiu–dai, or –O–kosong–gau to order coffee with evaporated milk, coffee with less sugar or a strong coffee without milk or sugar respectively (Take THAT fancy Starbucks names).

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Anyways, kopitiams usually find their homes at Hawker centres and aren’t exactly known for brewing the best quality coffee in the world, but kopi luwak is a whole different story (I promise I’m done building this up now). It’s basically the same as any other type of coffee, except for the small fact that the coffee cherries *ahem* pass through the digestive system of a Paradoxurus (read: a little ferret-creature shits out the cherries before they’re collected). This process takes out most of the bitterness from the beans, producing a sweeter flavour, but also drives the price up to about $300 per pound (MAJOR novelty factor coming into play here).

"What do you mean, you don't think my poop is worth that much!?"

“What do you mean, you don’t think my poop is worth that much!?”

I’m not usually picky for quality with my coffee, but my one requirement is that the coffee is, in fact, coffee (not foam, not caramel, not steam, COFFEE). This has actually cut down quite a bit on the types of beverages I order, but has saved me from being a Starbucks snob, allowing me to re-focus my hipsterness into other outlets like hanging out in public areas for the free wi-fi. Also, especially by my native Canadian standards, kopi is definitely less mainstream than Starbucks, so I would probably have to rank it higher on the hipster scale anyways.

Aw, yeah! That's the stuff!

Aw, yeah! That’s the stuff!

Back to the main point of this post, one of the (many) reasons I was excited to come to Sumatra was to try out this famous (and sometimes infamous) coffee. So on a subsequent trip to the Berastagi markets – the colours were much too pretty and the bunnies were much too cute, I couldn’t stay away – when I got separated from my girls, instead of looking around the corner for them like a normal person, I decided to go off and take a coffee break (they had already had kopi luwak, and weren’t really looking to try it again).

Jittering with excitement (something usually reserved for AFTER I drink my coffee), I ordered my beverage and started happily snapping photos since I was too excited to actually start consuming the drink.

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Eventually, I settled down and finally took a sip. The drink was definitely sweeter than a regular brew, but that might have had something to do with the fact that the barista had put quite a bit of milk and sugar in the brew. Either way, it was certainly significantly less bitter and quite palatable. Not something I would drink on a regular basis, but definitely worth trying out.

After my taste buds finished their little adventure, I reunited with the girls and went back to crooning over bunnies.

Tales of a Longboarding Hipster

So now that I’m officially all booked up to go to Thailand (Bangkok and Koh Tao) next week for Nanyang’s recess week to check out some floating markets and to get my PADI scuba certification (yes, I do plan on just briefly mentioning this without going into more detail… for now), I figured it was time for me to buckle down and get some school work done. While I did manage to get a good amount of productivity out of the way (Google scholar for the win), I ended up spending mot of my time just being a hipster.

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Now, even just admitting that I’m a hipster is something that took me quite a while to come to terms with. This eventually led me into what I call the “Hipster-Denial Ploy”. This situation consists of a person refusing to accept their position as a hipster because they don’t want to succumb to labelling. In doing so, they automatically become a hipster because of their distain for labels. It’s a sad scenario that has trapped many unfortunate souls.

This isn’t to say that that’s the only reason I had to come to this hipster-realization. I spent most of my time in Toronto toting my precious Macbook to school on my second-hand bike with only one functioning while wearing skinny jeans (because they wouldn’t snag on the gears like other pants, okay).

Now that I’m in Singapore, I realized I’ve been more than able to keep up my hipsterdom by substituting my bike with photography, ukulele playing, the wearing of thick-rimmed glasses and longboard riding.

With added designs because regular blue ukuleles are too mainstream

With added designs because regular blue ukuleles are too mainstream

As an alternative mode of motorless transportation, longboarding is probably one of my favourite hipster past times and Nanyang’s campus is the perfect place for it. Its full of hills of varying size and on weekends, most of campus (who are native Singaporean) goes home. This means the campus is basically free from cars (who never know what to do when they see a boarder, and usually end up swerving awkwardly to try to get out of the way, but just make avoiding them more difficult).

Who doesn't love stickers and spring-loaded trucks?

Who doesn’t love stickers and spring-loaded trucks?

After receiving a bunch of quizzical looks from other students outside my hall (where I had just managed to conquer the hill leading down towards – aw yeah), I got another first-hand reminder of how bi-polar people’s opinions of longboarding seem to be. People either think you’re crazy and are going to kill yourself, or that your board is the coolest thing on the face of the planet.

A PhD student on their way out of the lab came up to me and confessed that they had always wanted to give longboarding a try. Happy to meet someone on the loving end of the attitudes-towards-longboarding spectrum, I agreed to give some lessons. My teaching must have been alright, because they got quite a bit better in that short period of time – they even made it down a section of the hill without killing themselves!

After our session, I got a couple lessons in hip-hop and moonwalking in return (which didn’t do a lot for my 2 left feet, not going to lie) and a renewed appreciation for the openness of my school (and Singapore’s) culture in general. Longboarding is such a unique activity, there’s definitely an instant connection whenever you meet another boarder – I even get excited when people recognize by board as a LONGboard, not a SKATEboard (longboards are longer and go faster, skateboards are smaller and are more for doing tricks)!