Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Complete Waste of a Day

Chinese Night Market in Victoria, June 12, 2013
“It has been a complete waste of a day,” said Duncan.

“I know.”

“It isn’t fair. I didn’t do anything I wanted to do.”

“I know. Now time for a bath.”

“A complete waste of a day.”

He didn't go take a bath.  He went straight to bed.  Exhausted.

"That guy has the best view of the street market," said Duncan
Duncan and I left for the Night Market in China town at 4:30 pm today.

Did you know that Victoria has the biggest Chinatown next to the one in Toronto? Or that in 1900, 95% of all Chinese people in Canada lived in Victoria? Or that Chinatown has one full block which has never been restructured – it is as it was when it was built at the turn of the last century.

I know all of this from listening to tapes at the Royal British Museum yesterday, or from reading Danda Humphrey’s Government Street: Victoria’s Heritage Mile.

... Duncan trying the sticky rice ...
“Where are you books on local history and places to go in Victoria,” I wrote to Rebecca.

“I can’t believe I have to say I have none,” she wrote back.

I went to Moores, a local bookstore mentioned in the book above, bought the book, and began to study what I planned to see downtown before I leave.

An absolutely charming harbour, a couple of blocks of touristy (touristic, as they say on the ships) shops, and old buildings ... at least old for this island.

... fudge in a cup for dessert at Victoria Harbour...
Duncan and I took the bus. He tried to get a sliver out of his foot for a long time before we left. He couldn’t walk on his foot, but when I said I would cure him by digging it out with a needle, he attacked me for wanting to poke him with a used needle. Funny kid. He was wrong. Few of the needles in Rebecca’s sewing kit could be called used.

... 66 flavours and the top choice is bubble gum ...
He was mad at me again when we hopped off of the bus after the driver telling me that the stop was Chinatown.

I don’t blame him for being mad.

I was at one of those intersections where I didn’t know if I should go north, east, south or west.

My idea was to ask some street people on the corner, since these blocks are their front room.  They should know.

Duncan thought we should get a taxi and go right home.

A skate boarder told us to head out through the park and Duncan felt that at least all was not lost if it was that close.

... whales in leaves outside The Empress Hotel ...
We had discussed our potential menu for the night – street market must be a place where we can buy pork buns, I told him. And he said he has a taste for red beans – so we had our mind made up to be authentic in our cuisine. The vendors were the Mama Rosies, Puerto Vallarta Amigos and the Hungry Rooster Food Truck which we had seen at Congress -- all of which we felt were authentic to the campus, but not to China.

I dragged that poor kid through dry good shops. His eyes were burning due to the smoke from a charcoal fire over which hot dogs were cooking (why were they called Smokin Bones, I wonder).

I ducked into a Chinese dry goods store to save his life. We did see that famous good luck cat that perpetually waves his arm – all sizes and shapes of those, but wanting none, we moved on. The owner was mopping his floor – all six isles were wet. I estimate his mop solution was ¼ bleach. By this time Duncan thought he was choking to death for another reason.

... local town councilor and Duncan ...
Outside the Chinese butcher shop sat a young girl doing her homework. She was selling sticky buns for $3.50, egg rolls for $1 and Coke for $1. Duncan and I bought our food there and sat on the curb beside her to eat our authentic Chinese fair. He had never seen the bamboo leaves wrapped up as a package and bound with all of the string – so we shared our Chinese adventure. He took 3 bites, the last one where his teeth dragged out the pork centre of the bun, so that was tasty, though he said the sticky rice is bland. I think it was the Coke that really made the meal.  My only fear of the day happened at that curb.  Would I be able to get back up?  Curbs are very low.

... one man band at the harbour ...
We wandered off to see the rest of the harbour, stopping to have his picture taken at various places. I had looked over the quay and seen what I thought was a band set up to play yesterday. But Duncan and I saw it was a one-man show, an old bearded man down by the water. He had all of the instruments set out as well as a harmonica in front of his own mouth and was belting out his songs. “Don’t give her flowers / when she is dead. Give them now  / when she can smell them.” Duncan swayed to the music as we listened.  I told him the old singer is right.  Give me my flowers now.

Duncan and I sat on a bench in front of Bay 3 on Government Street – the place I have been catching the bus home. After a 40 minute wait I went to a nearby idling bus and asked if the #27 had finished its route for the night.

“No, it is still running but it doesn’t stop at the Government Street stop after 5 pm.”

 I brought that news back to Duncan and the photographer with whom we had been chatting. The chatting began when Duncan told me that he doesn’t like street musicians, for he feels they are begging. I told him how hard it is to be a musician and make money, how few gigs a person gets – not enough to make a living, usually. We should think about that when we aren’t tolerant of them. The photographer told us that both of his appointments had cancelled for the day, so he had brought his equipment downtown, but had no work.

... the fawn that walked right in front of us on the way home ...
These things just happen in Victoria!
We timed ourselves to find out how long it would take the bus to come when we were finally at the next bus stop we found – the one where we might actually catch a bus to come home.

 Duncan said, “Why do you laugh when these terrible things happen to us?”

"I just didn’t feel that ours had been that bad a day"



  1. what a fabulous day! (no matter what duncan thinks!)

  2. I thought it was a grand day, as well. Everytime I go out with him, he can spot animals. I don't see them. That day he saw a doe and a fawn beside her. I said, no, that is a rock. He said, no, look, it is a fawn. Again I looked -- no, a rock. Then it moved.

    Duncan is funny. The term a "a complete waste of a day" must be one he uses often. We were delivering papers yesterday and as we were walking home, he also pronounced that day as been a complete waste, having had to practise his trombone and deliver papers, all in the same two hour period. I thought I was going to have to do another post called COMPLETE WASTE OF A DAY, PART II.

    As well, I don't know what it is that is deep inside of me that makes me laugh at him, but take this incident. He did not want to go swimming today. I wrote to you. You gave him permission to skip this afternoon's swimming class and go to the museum with me instead. When I told him he could skip swimming with that proviso he was so disappointed.

    "That will be four hours at the museum, instead of two, swimming. I will go swimming, thank you."
    Swimming -- A Complete Waste of a Day, Part III.

  3. It was a day etched in his memory forever. I love that!