I wouldn’t want to wait for a bus alone here if it were a rainy night now…I was waiting for a bus at Lost Lagoon Road after the horse-drawn tour. It was an isolated bus stop by a concrete tunnel under the raised highway and away from any popular sites of Stanley Park. I did not see or hear anyone around there. Although I was standing by the bus stop, I was worried whether a bus would really come. The bus stop had no timetable. My only consolation was that the weather was nice. To my relief, a bus came soon. To my surprise, suddenly about half a dozen people appeared as if from nowhere when the bus came into view, and they got on the bus before me.
In just a few minutes, the bus came to the place where I was going to get off. I got off the bus near Denman Street and started walking to a Lebanese restaurant. I had happened to read many recommended reviews of the shop’s “Chicken shawarma platter” on the Internet previous night. I had never tried Lebanese food. It was almost noon and I was hungry.
Interestingly I found many bike rental shops on my way at Denman Street. While wondering why, I heard a familiar language. I turned around, when half a dozen bikers wearing the same silver “Alien”- looking helmets were about to park their bicycles before a grocery store. They appeared to be female Japanese tourists. Probably they were going around the city by rented bikes. From the sound of their voices, they seemed to be over the age of 60. Japanese seniors are quite hale and hearty! They might have rented their bicycles around here.
Passing by a community center, a secondary school, and public library, I found a green canopy of the Lebanese restaurant ahead: Falafel King. When I opened the door, I was enveloped by a spicy aroma. The shop was tiny. There was a small table with two chairs by the wall and a counter table with several seats by the windows inside. I found an empty seat at the counter, but hesitated for a moment to eat there because all the other customers were big young men. At first glance, I felt it was no place for a middle aged Asian woman to dine alone. However, I was relieved a few seconds later. When I looked around again calmly, I found that all the customers were wearing the same clothes with the same word on their backs: POLICE.
Yeah, I saw a police car outside from the window. This must be a favorite restaurant for police officers of Vancouver and the safest place in Vancouver now! That was why, I replied brightly, “For here,” to the question of the shop master. But I could not answer to his next question. He asked me what to order, but I did not remember the name of the recommended food on the Web. So, I said, “Actually, I don’t know the name, but many people recommend it on the Internet. It’s chicken something…” To my surprise, he completely understood what I wanted to eat, and started preparing my lunch.
Chicken shawarma platter. Chicken shawarma is the same as the Turkish “Doner kebab.” The chef sliced the grilled chicken dynamically and piled it on the rice. Then he put a salad of parsley and tomatoes called taboule and mashed chickpeas called hummus on the same plate. “Sauce?” he said and I asked him to put it on. Although a police officer who had ordered right before me had declined the sauce, which seemed to be a little hot, I decided to try it. Actually, Chicken shawarma platter was not just the one plate. It was served with a flatbread. Can I eat the whole thing? The lunch was delicious. I liked the Lebanese food very much. But I could not finish it all. When I told the chef that I was full, he gave me a take-out container. How kind!
After lunch, I dropped by Safeway, the supermarket, to buy some batteries for my camera, and then took a walk downtown. The weather was incredibly nice that day. People looked like they were enjoying the sunshine. There were many food catering vans at the side of the road here and there. It was a great day to have lunch outside. After strolling about the town and shopping, I went back to my hotel to rest, and then I walked to English Bay Beach in the evening. It was after six o’clock, but it was still light outside because the sunset was after eight.
Many people were spending their time on the beach. Some were reading books, some chatting with friends, some drinking coffee, some walking dogs, some cycling, and some just sitting on the bench looking at the sea. I felt like time was going by more slowly there than in Japan. Now you have read my travelogues this far, maybe I looked busy as a bee during the trip in your eyes. In fact, not only me but also many Japanese tourists tend to bustle around in their travels. I felt a fool hopping around when I looked at the people relaxing on the beach…
In the bus to the airport next morning, I met a Japanese boy who was from Okayama Prefecture. We had not seen each other during our stays, but we were at the same hotel. When I told him what I had thought at English Bay Beach the previous day, he said that he had thought almost the same thing, “Yeah, I thought that, too. And if I was relaxing on the beach or park by myself in the evening, most people would regard me as a jobless man or psychopath. Then, they would cast pitiful eyes on me or call the police!” Too true…
Now I am back to a normal life in Japan. The days in Vancouver seem to me like a short dream. Ah…I want to go somewhere again!