Sunday, May 31, 2020

Spud.ca review ($20 off promo code included with this!)

Spud.ca is a great way to order groceries from the comfort of your own home without having to venture out into the pandemic filled world! I've recently started to use Spud.ca for groceries and they are relatively efficient and you can also get next day delivery (if it's available). If you are interested and is looking for the promo code, here it is: Click here for the code for $20 off your $50 purchase: https://www.spud.ca/refer?r=CRVAN-HSIMIK 

In summary:
  • Pros: 
    • Relatively reasonable prices, sometimes things are cheaper if they are on sale
    • Free delivery with $30 order
    • Sustainable and health oriented focus
    • Rewards program (if you spend over $75 per order)
  • Cons: 
    • Not intuitive to use interface at times
    • Limited selection and availability of items (at times) and some items could be more expensive
    • Customer service not as responsive (though, there's many self serve options that's usable)

When I first ordered on Spud, I was confused as to how it works. It's not the most intuitive at first as you would expect it to be a "add-to-cart" and check out type of service. After signing up, the system will ask you to pick a day for delivery (during the pandemic, delivery dates were unavailable, so I had to keep checking. Since then, they've greatly opened up the total number of delivery dates available). Once a day for delivery is picked, you can add things to your cart until 3:00PM the day before delivery (but... some items need to be confirmed). Then you check out and add your credit card information. They won't charge you until the items ship out and you can make changes. 

There's quite a big selection of goods on here. Upon first glance, any product you see has a lot more information than what you would traditionally see at other e-commerce sites. Information such as where the items are originating from (if it's local) and etc... They have a wide selection of goods that are focused on being sustainable and health conscious. There's also a good assortment of local small business items as well. 

That said, a confusing thing I noticed was that they put a charge on my credit card a few times for the first order. I was very confused so I contacted their customer service to clarify why. Their interface for customer service felt very primitive (like it's different than some sites that use Zen Desk). I then found out they put a hold on your account (which is released once the items ship) for some weird reason. I think this was because they used to do deliveries in Rubbermaid boxes and they wanted to ensure it's returned (I could be wrong). 

On delivery day, you can log into your account and view when the items will be delivered. You cannot choose the time, but you can choose the day. For some of my orders, I noticed they were delivering as late as 9PM. There's usually an ice pack with things that are cold (and you can return the ice packs and bubble wrap for recycling as well. 

Out of the items I bought, I have to say I was quite pleased. I've been buying organic apples and soy milk from them. Out of one of the orders, there were a few apples that were rotten in the bag. I went online and I indicated how many went bad and they credited my account - without needing to talk to a person or send pictures. 


Overall: I've been pretty pleased with using Spud.ca for my grocery needs. I definitely don't buy everything I need from them because I usually shop around and find that some other places may be cheaper. However, out of the things I bought so far, I've been pleased. 

Click here for the code for $20 off your $50 purchase: https://www.spud.ca/refer?r=CRVAN-HSIMIK 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Food Delivery App Reviews - Promo Codes

With so many food delivery apps around, it is super confusing to navigate which app to use. I decided to use a handful of them to compare which one is better. In general, all the apps are very similar, but they all offer different choices with a different combination of charges. Some offer free delivery, but charge a service charge. Others charge both a delivery fee and service charge. Here are the promos if you are looking to try one (or a few services out):

§  There’s some great prices and places on here such as Burgoo. However, delivery is geographically limited.

§  Cactus Club Delivers their Happy Hour on here! Their prices are slightly higher than if
§  Can deliver “long distance”
§  Avoid some places – they charge a markup. I ordered 3 large pizzas from a place called “Super Great Pizza” and if you go in-store to pick up, it’s only $20 a pizza. On the App, it’s $25 a pizza (not including service fees and tips).
o   UberEats ($5 off) – Enter: eats-mikeh65825ue in the Promo area after downloading the app
§  My favourite app so far for deliveries. Sometimes there’s delivery fees and other times there aren’t.
§  They have an area on the app where you get free delivery fee (for a limited time usually) if there’s a courier who is already heading your direction to pickup another order.
§  There’s promos such as free bubble tea with order (which is not the same as if you did pick-up).
§  Used to be my favourite… until the mishap where I ordered food to the office and then the courier apparently couldn’t find our address. Then the restaurant cancelled my order and I requested a refund, which was denied. I contacted customer support and it was like talking to a robot who keeps repeating the same things.
§  They don’t charge delivery fees and there are some places exclusively on here (unless you use Fantuan below which physically sends someone to go pick it up and pay the restaurant on behalf of you – but the charge for that service)
o   Fantuan ($7 off ) – use code 3VVCD

§  This is a free for all… they delivery almost EVERY THING and you can order things from Hot Pot to groceries. You can also use this app to have their couriers run errands (like go to the store and etc)… 


Saturday, February 1, 2020

Smell the Tea Farms and the Ocean (Soar Over Taiwan Review )

I was very surprised that Fly Over Canada was featuring a Fly Over Taiwan as a limited time showcase. Being a transplant from Taiwan and not having visited Taiwan for over a decade... I jumped on the opportunity (3 days after it first opened) to go see Fly Over Taiwan.  Before this, I actually never even been to Fly Over Canada and the closest I've experienced this type of a ride was in Disney's California Adventures - Soaring Over California.

The experience begins after the attendant scanned my ticket. Since I bought the ticket online (you can save money by buying online), I showed the online ticket on my phone to the attendant. She then took me to a photo wall (it's a green screen) to take a picture. You'll get to see the picture at the end of the ride at the gift shop and it will be for purchase. After the photo, there is a waiting area with tv screens that features trivia questions about Taiwan.

While waiting for the doors of the theater to open... I was trying to figure out some of the trivia questions. For the most part, I got them all right. The only question I didn't get right was how many hours it takes to drive around the Island of Taiwan. I think the answer they gave was 7 hours... I definitely think that it takes longer... more like 10 hours because of traffic.

After the doors opened, there will be a room full of projectors that projected videos all the way around the room. For Lunar New Year, the center of the room had a buddha statue and the video that played was explaining the significance of the Lunar New Year and the story behind some customs (like how "nien" was a monster that people would use fireworks to scare away). I thought this part was cool.

When the short video in the project room is finished, an attendant led the audience through a hallway (decorated with Lunar New Year Decorations) to a line up area where they showed a quick safety video. They split the group up into numbers and took people to different seats and levels of the actual theater of the experience.

The Actual Experience
I was very surprised at how big the theater was. After putting my bags in the compartment beneath my seat, I fastened my seat belt and off we went. Photos and videos weren't allowed during the actual show, so I couldn't take any to describe it. However in a nutshell, the show began with the seats leaving the floor and accelerating (or so I felt) through the stars into Taiwan.

The opening scene was Kaohsiung where the audience got to experience briefly the busy port city. After that, there was a scene featuring the canyons of Taiwan and the vast mountainous landscapes followed by scenes of tea farms. At certain points, there would be smells from the scenes that comes out as the seats moved up and down to simulate an experience of flying on paragliders. At one point, the scene took a dive into the underwater world, where it showed the vast amounts of marine life that Taiwan has to offer. Soon after, we were flying over a festival in Taiwan where there were fireworks and then into Taipei. The total duration was around 8 minutes, but it was exciting!

It showed highlights of Taiwan and I was very surprised at how well the footage was shot. Especially during the scenes of the mountains or the tea farms. It definitely brought memories of Taiwan into my head and made me want to go back and visit. Once the show finished, we proceeded back through a hallway and into the gift shop. Overall it was pretty awesome (but not cheap for 8 minutes).

In A Nut Shell:

  • It was definitely a well rounded "touristy" experience. I can see that this would be a very good place to bring friends that are out of town to visit. 
  • Not the cheapest for the amount of time the experience was for, but for the occasion, it was worth it! 

Tips:

  • Book your tickets online! For BC residents, it's 20% off and on days where there's not that many people, it's cheaper. https://www.flyovercanada.com/events-promotions/soar-over-taiwan/
  • Take public transit... finding parking downtown can be expensive and time consuming. Even though the show itself only lasts 8ish minutes, there's a pre-show and some waiting time. Over all, you can easily be spending 30 minutes here (not to mention you actually have to walk to the end of Canada Place). 
  • It was pouring rain, so unless you have brought an umbrella, be prepared to get rained on. They have spaces beneath the seats of the ride

Friday, March 29, 2019

Scene Card/ Points Fraud - It's REAL and what to look out for!

You often hear about credit card fraud, identity theft but points fraud is something you don't often hear about. The Scene rewards program is great in the sense that you get slightly more bang for your buck. Normal credit card reward programs (that's no fee) usually gives you back either cash or points of some sort that amounts of 1% of what your purchase is - from my observation. This is true for Scene points, but since 1000 points can be redeemed for something (a movie, in this case that's worth $13+), you get a bit more bang for your buck

While logging into my banking account today, I found that my Scene points balance was significantly lower than the last time I checked. That prompted me to check my Cineplex account and Scene account (their log-ins are different). I found out that my Cineplex account showed the same information as my banking account but I couldn't even log-in to my Scene account.

After digging a bit on my Cineplex account, I found out that there was an "adult's night out" that was redeemed. I don't remember ever redeeming that - nor would I ever actually (as a side note.. I think it's a waste of points redeeming for something cheap like popcorn). This caused me to feel alarmed so I decided to contact Scene to figure out if there was any information they can give me on it.

Once I contacted Scene, they told me that they couldn't find any account under my name or contact information. This was quite alarming. Then after digging and verifying, they finally found my account - or the trace of it. They discovered that the name corresponding to my account was someone called "Rodrigeuz". The last time I checked.. I wasn't of Spanish or Latino descent... and they fraudulently redeemed all my points on an adult's night out.

Honestly.. I was very shocked that someone would go through the trouble of hacking into someone's account, changing their information and then taking things away. I am not too sure where the breakdown in security is, but I can see (from my perspective) that just to log-in to Scene, there's three different systems that can access the same information... it does make me feel uneasy.

The customer service at Scene was nice enough to give me a new card and then return the stolen points back to my account.

In summary - Check your scene points balance regularly. I know it may sound silly and even if you don't use it a lot, it could mean that there's a security breakdown somewhere. You should change your passwords and verify if information (like transactions are correct).

Friday, March 15, 2019

Boeing 737 MAX 8 Experience on Air Canada (AC 556 YVR to LAX)

I recently embarked on a quick trip to Los Angeles from YVR. As a big airplane nerd, I was looking forward to flying on the Boeing 737 Max 8. I was secretly hoping for a plane that can fly through turbulence with avionics that's so futuristic that passengers can't feel a thing. I also hoped for an airplane that is so spacious you would forget t
hat you are in an airplane. I have to say.. I was slightly disappointed because everything about the plane and flight felt the opposite. This post will be about my thoughts about the flight experience more than anything.

Not all that spacious and turbulence
Comparing to the older generation of 737's like the 737-800, I feel like the B737-max as the ceiling is higher. The mood lighting does make the airplane feel a bit more modern. However, compared to the Airbus 320, the seats are definitely quite small. For someone who is over 6 feet, you wouldn't have too much space in front of your knee. The cabin itself also felt a bit small.

Throughout the flight, there were a few patches that felt turbulent. Especially if the airplane was flying over mountainous terrain or near the coast or over thick clouds. Prior to landing in LA, the plane was also shaky. I thought there would be more dampening designed into this aircraft, but it doesn't feel like it could be as smooth as it could be (or perhaps global warming is making all of our weather patterns go more wild so there's wilder plane rides).

In-flight entertainment system
This was definitely great. The touchscreen and the amount of selection was great. Everyone gets a tv regardless of class. Compared to the airbus 320, where the screen required more pressure and sometime to load content, the system on the 737Max is great! There is little to almost no lag, the selection was great... and... there were games! I was surprised to see Angry Birds be one of the games that you can play. The only downside is that I would recommend you bring your own headphones. The headphones handed out by the cabin crew was not the best.

There's also a USB charger so be sure to bring your own wires.

Cabin Service
There isn't honestly too much to write about for cabin service. The crew were nice and friendly. They offered a small selection of drinks to the guests, but that was it. Because the flight was bumpy (yes.. I was disappointed at the absence of the make the turbulence go away avionics I was looking forward to), there were not hot drinks served.

Overall...I would say that this plane feels more 21st century. It doesn't feel all that more advanced from a passenger's perspective (but it might be more from a technological perspective). Honestly, if you are flying from point A to B in North America or flying to destinations served by a small handful of airlines, you might not have many options in-terms of aircraft type to look for, but the 737 Max does feel decent. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Vintage Japanese Izakaya - Tairyou Ichiba Burnaby (大魚市場)

This restaurant's been here for quite a while and it's definitely one of the more authentic Japanese restaurants around. The owners are Japanese and the way it's setup is very similar to some places in Japan (like Izakayas) where you drink some beer/ alcohol and then eat at the same time. I came here with my family on the weekend for dinner and it was quite busy. Here's my impression:

Service (I would give them 3/5)
I think they are under staffed, so it seemed like between the three waitresses, they were stretched thin. When we arrived, it took us around 15 minutes because a waitress came by to take our order and then another half an hour before we got our food. So it was a bit on the slower end. That said.. given that it's supposed to be Izakaya style.. I think we were supposed to order drinks (which we didn't do) and then wait for the food to come, but instead we only ordered food. The order the food came was also a bit strange. We ordered the chawanmushi (which is an appetizer I think) that came after the sushi came. The noodles we ordered also came after the sushi. At the end, everyone ate at a different time because the time spacing between the food was longer than usual.

Selection of Food (I would give them 4.5/5)
I do have to admit that when I first looked at the menu, my head hurt a bit on how many items were on there. It reminded me a bit of my university days when I was trying to look through my computer code to see where error was and then having a hard time doing so because of how much text I had to look through. The menu here was like that and there were quite a few items. There were some Japanese dishes like the Chawanmushi that I saw here and that I'm a big fan of.


Value (4/5)
Overall, this is one of the more authentic Japanese around restaurants around. The price of the food is priced pretty fairly in my opinion for the most part. There were a few things that I thought was a bit overpriced like the Chawanmushi (for $5+ when it's nothing more than some vegetables and steamed egg with a small piece of scallop). That said, the rolls of sushi were pretty fairly priced and all tasted pretty average. If it wasn't for the long wait to get the food, I would definitely given this place a higher score. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

OneZo Tapioca (Burnaby)

There's not a shortage of places that sell bubble tea... or drinks in general. So what's so special about One zo?  For starters, I really like the fact that they make fresh tapioca pearls at their store. I actually don't usually eat tapioca pearls as I'm not a big a fan of their consistency and where shops usually source their pearls. However, this place makes me more at ease to see the packaging of where the pearls are from and the raw ingredients being used to make pearls onsite. Besides that, the quality of the tea is pretty good as well.

Price - The price is pretty average for what you would pay for a cup of bubble tea. For around $5, you can get a cup of milk tea.

 You can see the menu on this picture from the right hand side.

Seating - I would take my drink to-go because there aren't many places to sit here. When I was here, there was a long wait after orders have been placed for people to receive their orders.

Overall, I would say the taste of this place is above average and I would definitely come again.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Race #83 - Great post-race buffet at the Galley Patio and Restaurant (Hypothermic Half Marathon)

This was the first time I ever ran in the Hypothermic Half-Marathon. First of all, I would like to thank all my friends at the Running Room for your support in my pursuit for 100 races. The Hypothermic Half is a Half-Marathon/Full Marathon series across Canada organized by the Running Room. These races are community events where participant numbers are around 100 - 500. This event comes with a decent amount of swag. Each participant got a Running Room backpack (which retails at $59.99), a bib, a medal and a post race buffet. 
   The event features a double figure 8 loop starting at Jericho Sailing Center. It is pretty hard to find a location to host a race that is perfectly 21.1km, so that made sense to me from an operations perspective. The weather was thankfully very good and the skies were partly cloudly. On that note, the course was very beautiful, which definitely made it more fun to run considering that it was a repetitive loop.
   When the event finished, my favourite part was the post race breakfast buffet. It is not very common to see at an outdoors athletic event that uses ceramic and have a sit down place for food. The Jericho Sailing Center has a really nice restaurant that overlooks English Bay. The food selection and post race buffet was spectacular. From freshly baked croissants to sausages, eggs, waffles, hash browns, bacon and fruits, this is definitely one of the best post race buffets around. I am definitely fan girling around the fact that we get ceramic served food. I didn't eat too much though since I am not usually that hungry after a race, but I did have some food :p




Sunday, January 28, 2018

Race #82 - MEC Vancouver Race One

The biggest thing about MEC events is the price. If you buy the season's pass, you can get all of their races for $12, or else each race is only $15. That is unbeatable in terms of the price on the market. I think MEC does not actually make money on this, but for them it's more of a marketing thing to bring people into their stores. That said, you get what you pay for when it comes to these MEC Events. A big reason why many events and races cost more is because there are huge overhead costs to running an event (insurance, permits, food, venue prices, staff, timing, swag and etc...). It's analogous to how there are budget airlines vs traditional airlines. There is a varying degree of how much is spent per event too from the organizing perspective. In terms of what is provided for the runners, the MEC events are more on an economical scale. But for many though, that is all they need. These races also don't support charity and they tend to rely heavily on their staff versus investing time and effort into volunteers. But hey, sometimes you don't need all that if you just want to race and nothing else.
Nuun Hydration
Bathroom Lineup
   The start and finish line areas of this race is pretty barebones. It has all the bells and whistles that a start/ finish line should have, such as an arch, some portapotties, coffee and bananas. KIND Snacks and Nuun Hydration was also there. They also had However, the choice of start/ finish was interesting as it was on a muddy field. The usual run for the washrooms before the event happened (I have plumbing issues too - anxiety...what do you expect? haha). As I mentioned before, because this race relies on staff, they have a strict schedule they stick to. They will shut down package pickup and registrations on time and they usually won't make exceptions. They send the staff to the various points on course.
     The course was a loop around the seawall, starting and finishing at Devonian Park. The loop is a classic for many events that want a 10km distance (this is a certified distance by BC Athletics for other events such as the VFAC's Summerfast 10k and other races). It is gorgeous on a beautiful day to run around the sea wall, but on a day that's pouring rain and windy, it can be rather cold. That said, I enjoyed myself. Nothing better to wake you up than a cold shower right? I also enjoy the event because I got to catch up with many people from the running community whom I adore very much <3
   Overall, I would definitely run the races again because the selling point is the really cheap race entry.





Saturday, January 27, 2018

Quality Buffet for Under $10 and BEER INCLUDED?! (GrandVilla Casino Buffet)

An unlocked beer fridge
There is no other place in Vancouver that has buffet that you can go to for around $12 (for lunch or $19ish for dinner) and get food that is of this quality.  Sure, there are many buffets like Uncle Willy's which is relatively the same in terms of pricing but the quality is like comparing night and day. There are two buffet locations (at least the ones that I've been to, which are the ones in Starlight Casino and Grand Villa Casino) and they both are run by the same company so the pricing and food selection is almost identical. In addition, you don't need to gamble to eat here (like for me, I don't gamble). For this review, I'll focus on my most recent visit to the Grand Villa Casino for lunch.
There's a free shuttle that can take you from Metrotown to Gilmore station right to the casino. They have 2 for 1 deals sometimes (which means you can be dining here for $7 per person), and I would go with my mother or friends. We took the shuttle from Metrotown to the Casino and on the shuttle it was all full of retired people. The minute we got off the shuttle, there was a bit of a feeding time at the zoo feeling with everyone trying to rush off the bus at the same time to go to the buffet.
Assortment of soups
   Once you pass security on the second floor with your ID, the buffet is conveniently located on the second floor. Since we were here only for the buffet, we went straight to the line. There we had to register our names. The host took down our names and then gave us a pager (I am not sure what to call those, but it reminded me of the ones doctors wear at the hospital). The wait was about 20 minutes, so we headed up stairs to see if there is a place to hangout until our pager beeps.
The pager thing
Your greens and carbs
   Upstairs, there are machines that are beside the entrance where you can swipe your Encore Rewards Card (If you don't have one, I recommend getting one because you get a discount at the Buffet) to ballots (I don't even know what this is for) and sometimes it spits out a 2 for 1 coupon at the buffet.
   After 20 minutes, our pager beeped and we headed back to the Buffet. Using that 2 for 1 coupon, we got in for around $7 per person. It didn't take long before we were seated and able to go and grab food. It's worthwhile to note that I probably bring down the average age of the whole dining area by a ton (in other words, everyone here is pretty old...). When it comes to entrees, they have a set of two types of soup (usually one meat and one vegetable). After the soup, there is a salad bar section where there is an assortment of cold salads (such as potato salad, macaroni salad and cold noodles). They also have things like lettuce and condiments that accompany it. After the salads, is the entrees which usually includes rice, vegetables and some sort of stir fry and fish. When we were there, there was macaroni and cheese and tortilla chips. The tortilla chips tasted a bit moist because it was inside a chafing dish and just absorbing water. There was also fish (but I tend to avoid fish because I wasn't sure if it was farmed - farmed fish poses a health risk).
Salad

Tortilla and zombified dinner breads
   On the other side of the dining is the drinks and desserts section. For the first time, I saw a cooler with BEER! I am not even kidding, it was unlocked and it seemed like you can just grab one. I am not sure if it's actually included in the buffet (but you can check if you go). It was next to the coca cola machine, unlocked...  I am personally not a fan of alcohol so I didn't drink it at all and didn't bother asking, but it was cool to see what you can get for less than 10 bucks. The desserts section is also pretty good. They have a wide assortment of cakes and also things like cream puffs. My favourite dessert however, is the ice cream. I love to put my ice cream inside of my ice cream.
Got to feed that sweet tooth
Keep feeding that sweet tooth, just don't get cavities
 Overall, I love this place. Even though I don't eat everything because a part of me is health conscious and my butt screams each time I eat too too much, I love the fact that you can choose whatever you want to eat here. The cons are that you can't really bring family here because it's 19+ and that I am not a big fan of gambling. However, for what you get out of the price you pay for, it is definitely worth your trip!



Friday, January 26, 2018

"Is that a dinosaur?" - Beaty Biodiversity Museum UBC Overview and Tips

My feet compared to a dinosaur's
The Beaty Biodiversity Museum has got to be one of the coolest places to visit for both UBC students and the general public. From the outside, you can see this big blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling (or to some they think it's a dinosaur). I used to walk by here during the times I was doing my degree and I came in here a few times to check it out (it was free for students). However, it was hard to appreciate the things in here in its full entirety as a student as my priorities were dedicated to exams and graduating.
The big blue whale 
   I decided to come back here today as I saw a 2 for 1 deal on Groupon (UBC Alumni gets a 2 for 1 deal already). There was a "save 20%" deal on Groupon and I used Ebates so the total came to less than $12 for 2 people (which was roughly 75% off the regular price). I came here with my +1 as he loves animals (and I do too, but I'm a nerd and loves everything) and we were in the area for a meeting.
    The museum itself isn't super fancy, but it has all the bells and whistles a museum should have. There is a mini-gift shop, a small cafe (which I believe is closed) and an admissions desk at the top level. Upon showing my groupon, the volunteer at the admissions desk checked it off of my app.
No flash photography, foods or drinks are allowed in the museum. After entering the lower level through a ramp, you enter the main hall area where there are some displays and the entrance to the theatre. Inside the theatre, they feature a documentary on how the big blue whale skeleton was found. The movie wasn't playing when we were here.
    After walking past the main hall, you will see rows upon rows of black shelves (I am not sure what you would call them... maybe cabinet? We'll call them shelves - lack of a better term). There were over 30 rows of shelves. It looked sort of like a library at a glance. However, once we walked into the first row, it was impressive to see the displays. The very first row is a display of animals that went through taxidermy encased in glass cabinets. There were so many of them. For each animal class, there were numerous species in display. From goats to jaguars to different kinds of birds, insects and their eggs. This row was mainly an overview row I think. However, I genuinely enjoyed the captions that the animals had.

  We decided to start from the back and work our way forward. The very back section of the museum contained fossils of plants. If you keep walking into the sections, there are displays in the ground (such as a dinosaur feet). While we were comparing our feet to the dinosaur's, a volunteer was pushing a cart with a bunch of bird feet. It wasn't encased in anything, so we decided to take a closer look. The volunteer also had pictures (like full body ones) of each bird and she was showing us how birds that prey have clawed feet while birds that swim would have webbed feet. Looking at the wide variety of specimens of different bird legs was interesting as it painted a story on how animals adapted to their environments.
    During our conversation with the volunteer, I asked her if many students visited here. To my surprise, she said no. She was mentioning how ignorant some students were and how some students actually asked her if the big blue whale skeleton over the main hall was a dinosaur. I had a chuckle when I heard that (the skeleton didn't even have legs, how can it be a dinosaur?!). She also referred us to the hands on area hidden at the back and how we can feel some of the taxidermy animals.
    The hands on area was like a classroom. Before you are able do anything hands on, the volunteers would ask you to wash your hands (understandably, as you are touching fragile specimens). In the back of this hands on section were cabinets. When we were here, a volunteer had one open and inside were jars of animals placed in formaldehyde. My eyes grew wide open as I started to question what they were. Before we knew it, we were in a deep conversation with the volunteer and he opened every cabinet to show us everything they had. There were very interesting things from road kill (like skunks) to turtles, fossils and more. They even had taxidermy of many types of birds (they didn't do the eye part too well on this part, but it was cool to see none-the-less.
The hands on section of the museum
    Overall, there is more to the experience than I can write with this post. There are so many different animals and things you can learn about the living world here. From the animal kingdom to the fungus, there are specimens from all 5 kingdoms of the living world. Moreover, this place is actually used by researchers, so it is interesting to know that by going to the museum, you are contributing to research efforts as well as recognizing the work that many people put in, in the field of life sciences. Whether it's kids young and old, I definitely recommend coming here. The amount of things you learn is well worth it.

Tips:

One of the sections inside the rows upon rows of displays.
  • If you want to save money, take public transit (remember, it's $1.75 per every half hour of parking at UBC, and no there's no combo pricing for anywhere under 6 hours)
  • Students, faculty and staff go in for free, alumni can get in with a 2-for-1 deal.
  • If you are not associated with UBC, you can get a Groupon for a 2-for-1 (they are not always available, however when the Groupon is available and you combine it with a Groupon sale) and then a further 6% off with Ebates.
  • Website: http://beatymuseum.ubc.ca/

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"Iraashaiiiiiiiiiiii" Jinya Ramen Metrotown Review

Table upon being seated
The moment you walk into Jinya, the first thing you will notice is the decor. Out of all ramen places that I've been to, this place is a bit on the fancier end for decor. You can tell that they have taken some time into designing their shop. They take more of a contemporary style of design compared to other ramen places I've been to.
Vegetable ramen
     This place is very busy by the looks of it. What is cool is that you can leave your phone with them and they can text you when there are seats for you. Alternatively, you can wait there (there is not much of a waiting area though...). The waiting area in front of the host feels more like a crowded elevator as there really isn't much space for anyone to wait. In the summer time, I can see that people can wait outside or on the patio. However, during the winter time, that would be unpractical. If you want to avoid long waits, I suggest coming here before lunch hour or after lunch and before dinner or after dinner times.The seating itself is usually shared (so you are either on the big table with many other people or at the bar). If you are looking for a place to bring your whole family, just be aware you maybe placed with other people due to the nature of the store. 
Wide Angle of the restaurant 
I was here with my mom for lunch, and I decided to order the Chicken Ramen with the kaedama (which was the noodle refill for $1.50) while she ordered the Vegetable Ramen. There were other things on the menu besides ramen such as sides (tempura) and drinks. They also had a very interesting looking kids meal ($12 and it includes tempura and other things in a small boat together with a small bowl of ramen. The pricing of all bowls of ramen were around $12 - $15 - which is slightly higher than average but it was good.  
The Menu
    After we ordered, It didn't take too long for the ramen to come, and the portions were pretty fair. The vegetable ramen looked very interesting... Besides having a vegetable soup base and the ramen noodles, they seem to dump a salad ontop of the ramen. So when the bowl of vegetable ramen came, it looked more like a salad than ramen. The chicken ramen was pretty interesting too. When I got my ramen, I asked for the kaedama to come at the same time. Then I put the kaedama into the bowl and then added three spoons of spicy sauce. The noodles sucked up all of the broth, so I had a bowl of semi- spaghetti like noodles. When I started eating, the three spoons of spicy sauce was wayyy too much. By the time I finished, I was already sweating all over with a runny nose... That aside, it was pretty good. The thing I like about their ramen is the broth isn't too greasy and the noodles (whole grain) and the broth feels real (there are some places that just use powder and you can really taste that.  
The funniest part about this restaurant is that everyone shouts to the top of their lungs Japanese phrases (like they do in Japan). Things like "Irasharimase" which means welcome, and things like how many customers there are coming in and etc... It does feel nice to have such a warm welcoming. However, not being too judgmental or anything (I learned Japanese for a few years while my mom did her bachelor's degree in Japan), the pronunciation of the phrases the waiters and waitresses were shouting were pretty off. I'll give them credit for trying, but I can see someone who speaks fluent Japanese would find the dining experience pretty funny. Overall, I like this place and would definitely come back again.