Scooter night at the market
VANCOUVER—I’d wanted to go to the Summer Night Market for a long time now. Happily, the alignment of the planets that resulted in perfect weather and a scooter to ride also saw the market’s Labo(u)r Day Weekend edition declared Scooter Night—show up on your scooter and you not only got to park free, you had a chance to win prizes.
The group met up at the former Olympic Village, across the waterway from downtown Vancouver. You’ll recall this is the place with the gigantic sparrows. I understand the condos have started selling, after sitting empty for quite a long time.
The ride was led by one of the Ruckus guys, who was not on a Ruckus, but on a 2007 Yamaha Morphus. (Not “Morpheus.” No choosing between red or blue pill needed.) I lost count of how many passers-by exclaimed, “it looks like a space ship!” I admit, I find myself thinking it looks like something that should be able to operate several feet off the ground.
The itinerary’s refreshing honesty (every time listed was indicated as “scooter time”) was appreciated, as it allowed lots of time for strolling around and admiring the Vancouver skyline in the late afternoon.
While we from the ‘Ham had earlier discussed the most direct way to get to the Night Market site, the actual route took in Kitsilano, UBC, and Vancouver’s far western neighborhoods on the way to Vancouver International Airport.
From there, we snaked through the airport roads, then rode past intersections staffed with sign-wielding traffic directors rocking brand-new HyViz, reflectorized-striped clothing. We passed by a lot of these folks. The Summer Night Market is hugely popular in Metro Vancouver, where in spite of a reputation for being all-transit, all-bicycle, the vast majority of people still drive cars.
And still shop at big-box stores like IKEA and Home Depot, which are close by.
After riding for what seemed like hours, we arrived at the Market site. I expected it to be bigger, but it didn’t take up a whole lot more space than the Bellingham Farmer’s Market.
We were directed down an aisle marked with orange sticks, and greeted enthusiastically by attendees, who apparently weren’t expecting a big group of scooters to come toodling down the middle of the market. Cameras and smartphones were quickly whipped out.
We had our own primo parking spot, right in front of a scooter display on a performance stage. We were the stars of the evening!
Night markets are common in Asia; Metro Vancouver has a large Asian population. The crowd was anything but exclusively Asian, reflecting a city that has been called one of the world’s most ethnically diverse.
While the Night Market’s vendors offer an eclectic array of stuff for sale, the action is on the food aisle, which is what you are most likely to have seen on the Travel Channel and Food Network.
“Where to start?” asked Jason. Where, indeed.
There’s so much to choose from, and so many different cuisines. I didn’t go for the squid poppers (squid was a common menu item), but had a skewer of lobster balls and some really fresh spring rolls, five bucks total. The food aisle is a good place to graze, nearly every stall offering at least a few items for two or three dollars each.
As I said, there’s lots of other stuff on offer.
Had I needed a day-glo garment or windshield sun blocker, this vendor could’ve hooked me up.
Another vendor had a large selection of cartoon-character socks. Hope the stuff is properly licensed.
Heck, if you were looking for a car, the Lower Mainland Chevrolet dealers had their latest models on display. The Spark, resplendent in catalog metallic green, was drawing a big crowd. Gas costs more than $5 CDN/U.S. gallon in Canada; Canadians buy lots of cars like the Spark. They also buy lots of full-size pickup trucks, too. Go figure.
We only stayed for half an hour, because we needed to get back to Bellingham before it got too late. We all expressed a desire to come here again, and stay a lot longer.
The trip home was an interesting one, and I’ll tell you about it in the next installment. In the meantime, click here to see more pix.