summer so far

I went hiking a couple weeks ago. It was a 23.2-kilometer hike, which according to my hiking buddies was the equivalent of half a marathon. Clearly they were more active and more outdoorsy than I was.

By the end of the hike I could barely walk. We stopped by a pharmacy-slash-grocery store on the drive home to buy ice cream, some sort of reward after surviving a challenging route. Unfortunately my legs were burning I couldn’t even get out of the car. I needed something for the pain, so I asked one of my buddies to buy me Salonpas.

“Salon what?” asked S.

“Salonpas,” I said. “They’re like small rectangle patches for pain relief.”

He had no idea what they were but he found them anyway, much to my relief because my legs were literally throbbing in pain.

“It smells like menthol,” one of them noticed. “What’s in it, Jols? What are the ingredients?”

I handed them the Salonpas package so they could check the ingredients themselves. This group happened to be a nerdy bunch, and so a discussion ensued on what camphor is, how salicylic acid soothes swelling, and why our skin has cold receptors. I would have participated in the discussion too but I was already half-dead after climbing a mountain for no other purpose than to, umm — I didn’t even know. Bragging rights? Exercise?

Oh. The view was nice, I guess.

I also went to Vancouver recently just for funsies. A few things I learned about myself while travelling:

✤ I prefer moving around on my own.
✤ I prefer starting my day early.
✤ I prefer having a clear structure to my day.
✤ I prefer figuring things out myself than asking/bothering other people for answers.

It was a fun trip, I must say. It was also fucking pricey, but if I really, really think about it, I think I enjoyed the trip enough to convince myself that this entire buy-a-flight-on-a-whim episode of my life was well worth the money.

I visited museums and art galleries, I ate good food, and, most importantly — and I couldn’t stress how big of a deal this was — I saw some beaches! Real beaches! There were pretty waves and blue water and coarse sand! I hate sand just as much as Anakin does but man was I just ecstatic to see the ocean.

The first beach I visited was Wreck Beach, which apparently was clothing-optional. People could hang around absolutely naked, and so I witnessed quite a number of breasts and penises basking under the glory of the warm Vancouver sun.

I was very careful not to take too many photos lest I disrespect some unspoken privacy rules in a clearly very public space. I took the photo above on zoom. It looks meh, but the quality doesn’t quite capture how calm I felt sitting against one of the logs and watching the calmness of the ocean while the cold breeze caressed my skin, or at least the parts of my skin that were not obscured by clothing.

Despite all them naked peeps, Wreck Beach is not a nudist beach. Unlike in clothing-optional beaches where going naked is not required, nudist beaches encourage everyone to take off their clothes so all beach-goers are on equal footing, so to speak. This was definitely a phew-moment for me because I was wearing jeans that day and my body was definitely not beach ready.

To get to Wreck Beach, people have to climb down a long-ass flight of stairs. This is also the only way out, so one has to be fit enough to hike back up to the main road. This may be why people are more comfortable hanging around here with no clothes on. It is quite secluded, especially compared to other beaches in town.

Kitsilano Beach or Kits was relatively more accessible. I just took two buses from I-already-forgot-where, and I passed along the city’s tree-lined sidewalks to see the ocean and the mountains and the pockets of people enjoying that chill, Saturday afternoon. I felt like I was in Georges Seurat painting except men wore wife-beaters instead of top hats.

I prefer travelling by myself, but I suppose having someone beside me by the beach wouldn’t be so bad. Other than beaches, I also count museums and galleries as my go-to date places. I genuinely don’t mind going alone though. There’s something about quiet spaces that attract me. Silence, I feel, is often underrated.

Art, too, is underrated. Choz! I just don’t know a lot of people who are into paintings or art in general. Not that I know anything about art myself. I don’t even know how to “read” art, or how to properly behave in an art gallery. I typically just walk around and take photos of scenes that interest me. Sometimes there are pieces that stand out. I stand in front of them and stare like a creep while I try to absorb what exactly enamors me about the work. I never find the right words though, but I suppose verbal articulation isn’t always the goal.

During my visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery, I learned about the Group of Seven, an informal group of male artists from the early 20th century who were considered to be the most influential Canadian artists at that time. Who knew Canada had its own art history? Char.

But the exhibit I saw was only tangentially related to the Group of Seven. It was called Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment, and it showed the works of female Canadian artists who were the contemporaries of the Group of Seven but were not given the same recognition and acclaim, most likely because they were neither white nor male.

The exhibit was eye-opening in many ways. Seeing how women depicted female nudity in the early 1900s was refreshing. The painting Nudes by Regina Seiden Goldberg (above) was one of my favorites. While one could argue that her depiction of the female form still caters to the male gaze, there is something powerful about the two women’s ambivalence to the viewer. Their facial expressions and body postures scream kebs kung nakatingin kayo sa amin, and I think that’s beautiful.

I also liked Scott Eaton’s Caffeinated Diversions, a collection for another exhibit in the gallery. Eaton taught neural networks how to draw using photos of human bodies in various positions. He then drew basic line drawings and fed them to the neural networks who completed the sketches based on their training. I found it very clever. I wish I had the time and luxury to explore ideas like this.

I also went to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and saw totem poles and other cultural and art pieces mainly from indigenous peoples. There were also pieces from all over the world, even the Philippines, which of course reminded me of the inherent contradictions in museums and galleries, specially those in developed nations. How did these pieces get here? Were they stolen? Bought? Exchanged for other goods?

And what of the so-called primitive art? A number of the pieces displayed were considered “tourist art”, trinkets and sculptures made by peoples from colonized nations specifically for tourists from colonizer countries. The experience, then, of walking along the halls of a Canadian anthropology museum as a Filipino woman was quite different, even uncomfortable. I saw my people’s baskets and sculptures and I felt branded as one of the Primitive Other, a tricky implication that I struggled to reconcile with my privilege of having access to the space in the first place. It was weird.

Of course I did tourist-y stuff myself, like walking around the city and daydreaming that I was rich enough to afford a yuppie lifestyle in BC. A girl can dream, haha.

If I had the money I would visit Vancouver again and go to the aquarium, maybe cross the Capilano bridge and explore more beaches. Oh, and I also just started taking swimming lessons! The next time I visit BC I could probably already swim. Should I take freediving lessons too? Man, if only work hasn’t been too stressful — there’s so, so many things I still want to do.


2 Comments

  1. Ruo Ruo

    Parang ang sarap mag-dive doon sa asul na asul na tubig at ‘wag ng umahon pa. 😅
    The view wer very beautiful. Hope could travel outside the country. But the idea of riding plane or ship, makes me back off. 😂😭😂😭

    Liked by 1 person

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