Some takeaways from our trip to Hong Kong and Vietnam

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The Hong Kong skyline

In late May/early June, my girlfriend Amanda and I visited Asia for the first time together. We’d been on a few other trips: Miami, New York, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic. While those were all solid vacations, none involved a flight longer than five hours or a stay longer than a week.

Asia is a different beast. An Asian vacation requires a lot more planning and a lot more travel time. And once you factor in the time it takes to get over jet lag, I’d peg two weeks as the bare minimum. The longer, the better, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to squeeze an Asia trip into a single week.

Our itinerary consisted of eight nights in Hong Kong (with day trips to Macau and Shenzhen) and six in Vietnam, including Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Hoi An. With Toronto as my barometer, when you travel within North America and Western Europe, a lot of it feels familiar to me. The bars and restaurants feel familiar. The way the traffic moves feels familiar. The shopping feels familiar. The culture feels familiar.

In my mind, to truly feel like you’re in a different world, to step out of your comfort zone, and to experience that uncomfortable yet exhilarating thing we call culture shock, you have to leave the Western world. With that in mind, here are some takeaways from our trip:

Hong Kong

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  • People are glued to their smartphones. While this phenomenon exists around the world, I noticed a few differences in Hong Kong:
    • Smartphones work on the subway so people are never without service.
    • Hong Kong people love to send and receive voice memos instead of writing text messages.
    • Many people have an iRing on their phone, a metal ring that attaches to the back of their devices. The idea is that you slide your finger through it while on your phone. The purpose is two-fold: You’re less likely to drop your phone and it functions as a stand so your phone can be upright on a surface. A nice, little invention.
    • It seems like everyone has a portable charger. You’ll often see a wire going from the phone into a bag, providing a steady stream of juice.
  • Hong Kong has more than seven million people in just 1,104 km², the second-highest population density in the world. So you know things will be a bit tight. For example, our hotel room was a mere 200 square feet. The bed took up most of the space!
  • They have one of the best subway systems I’ve ever seen. Clean, efficient and punctual. It feels like the year 3000 compared to the TTC, Toronto’s system.
  • It’s all about the Octopus Card, a charge card that works on subways, buses, and also at many convenience stores, restaurants and supermarkets. Once you arrive in HK, picking up one of these should be the first thing you do.
  • In certain areas of Hong Kong, especially Hong Kong island, you can feel the wealth oozing out of every corner. All you have to do is walk into the three-storied Apple Store or into a bar in Lan Kwai Fong for a $15 beer. No surprise here since HK is one of the largest financial centres in the world.
  • There’s 7/11s everywhere. And they sell beer. Enough said.
  • Shopping is like a religion in HK. Their malls are palatial and their streets markets seem to go on forever. Be prepared to bargain at the markets but there’s no point at the malls. Oh, and Uniqlo quickly became one of my favourite clothing stores. It can’t come to Toronto soon enough.
  • There are always little differences when you visit a fast food chain in another country and HK was no exception. Like how McDonald’s gives its drinks in individual plastic bags instead of the cardboard tray we’re used to. Or how you can order a Lychee McFizz drink or a matcha green tea ice cream from a Mickey D’s. Or how plastic gloves are a default item when you visit a KFC.
  • Speaking of food, I had the best dim sum I’ve ever tasted at a place called Tim Ho Wan, apparently the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world.
  • Oh, and it’s hot. Damn hot.

Vietnam

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  • The first thing that struck me when arriving in Vietnam from Hong Kong was the difference in wealth. Exit the skyscrapers and the futuristic public transit and enter a simpler (and decidedly poorer) way of life. In Vietnam, it’s not uncommon to see an entire family (i.e. dad, mom, two kids) on a scooter. We never entered a Vietnamese home but I imagine that most would be modest (likely) with no AC. I’ll get to the heat later.
  • Speaking of scooters, they are friggin’ everywhere. Much more so than cars or bicycles, scooters are the mode of transportation of choice in Vietnam. And it’s not even close. It’s a legitimate sport to cross the street amidst the sea of scooters coming at you like an army of two-wheeled assassins. But like anything else, you got used to it. The key seemed to be crossing the road with confidence. Don’t be afraid to cut someone off. Otherwise, you’re never getting to the other side. Timidity won’t get you anywhere in this case.
  • On our first night in Hanoi, a lady selling what can best be described as Vietnamese timbits stuck one an inch from my face, repeating “Buy, buy.” A bit frazzled, I grabbed the thing and stuck it in my mouth. Then she asked for money. I felt this wasn’t deserved since she basically forced it down my throat. Anyway, she walked off none too happy. Much like crossing the street, being timid doesn’t work with those trying to sell you things in Vietnam. They can be some pushy, aggressive mofos. The best approach is a firm “No” without making eye contact. They’ll leave you alone after that. Two of the oddest places where people tried to sell us things: From a rowboat while we were on Ha Long Bay, and from someone on a scooter who started driving beside us. I think she was selling a map. It did not feel safe.
  • The food! So fresh, so delicious and so affordable. There seems to be a pho spot on every corner. A banh mi sandwich will cost you a couple bucks, if that. You just really can’t go wrong with Vietnamese cuisine. One of my faves. img_1536
  • I bought a t-shirt that had the above on it and it’s definitely true. The best word to describe the driving and traffic in Vietnam is chaotic. But it’s controlled chaos. They somehow make it work.
  • Definitely build in some time to pick up some custom-made clothes. There’s something about having clothes made for you that just makes you feel like a king. And for high-quality clothing, you’ll pay a much lower price than what you’d pay in Canada. I picked up a three-piece suit and two dress shirts for around $400 CDN.
  • Last thing is the heat. Coming from Hong Kong, we couldn’t really imagine a hotter climate. But yep, Vietnam managed to top it. Heat stroke was narrowly averted on a few occasions. So don’t forget to hydrate. And no, beer doesn’t count. Although you should definitely have some of that too.

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Last night in the NBA by the numbers

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Last night, in one of the most historically-relevant nights in NBA history, I couldn’t help but think about numbers. They were everywhere. Let’s break some of them down.

14 – The number of NBA games played last night. OK, that one was easy.

2 – The number of NBA games played last night that REALLY mattered. Sure, there was some Eastern Conference seeding to hammer out and the Houston Rockets clinched a playoff berth. But the two games that people will tell their grandkids about (the most reliable barometer for historical significance BTW) were the Golden State Warriors gunning for 73 wins in a single season and Kobe Bryant’s last NBA contest.

2 – The number of NBA streams I flipped between for about three hours from 10:30 p.m. ET onwards. Yup, it was a late night. And yup, I should have split-screened them. And yup, I’ll go to bed earlier tonight.

37 – The number of years since Kobe was born. His age, in other words.

20 – The number of consecutive seasons Kobe has been a Los Angeles Laker, the longest any NBA player has been with the same team. Death, taxes and Kobe being a Laker. Three things you can always count on.

Infinity – The number of damn celebs at this damn game. I mean I know this is L.A. but damn!

A fun hypothetical: How people would have reacted had Kobe dropped X number of points

X=15Good job, good effort. I mean, he averaged 17.6 points this season, well below his career average of 25, so this hovers around what he’s been doing all season. Makes sense. Thanks for the memories, #mamba.

X=25Alright, now we’re talking. A nice throwback effort from the Black Mamba. He hit his career average, a solid way to end his career. Enjoy retirement, Kobes!

X=40Yo, did Kobe really just do that?! That shit is crazy. I did not see that coming. This from a guy who shot 29% from three and 36% from the field this year?! SMDH. Hats off to Kobe. What a way to go out. Mad respect.

X=50Hold up, Kobe did WHAT?! You’re fucking with me, right? No way he did that. Dude IS like 50. Let me look up the box score. Damn, you’re right. #Mambaout indeed. Kobe dropped that mic and stepped on it.

60 – The number of points that Kobe scored last night in the final NBA game of his amazing career. That means that in the 2015-2016 NBA season, Kobe scored more in one game than any other player. Watching this unfold live was one of the most insane things I’ve seen on a basketball court. It was surreal. It was video game-like. It was like one of those cheesy yet fantastic Disney sports movies. It was everything anybody could have hoped for in Kobe’s finale.

50/50 – The odds that Kobe was going to have to be carried out on a stretcher (thumbs up raised to the sky just like a Disney movie) due to exhaustion. Seriously, he looked THAT tired.

Oh right, the other game. Well, the other game was ONLY the Warriors trying to win the most games EVER in an NBA season. Only.

72 – Prior to last night, the most wins in a single NBA season, set by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1995-96 campaign.

73 – The number of wins the Warriors achieved last night after beating the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104. The Grizz never stood a chance in this one. I don’t care how good Matt Barnes is at scowling.

30 – The number of dollars I won this year from betting on the Warriors 🙂

402 – The number of three pointers that Steph (i.e. Chef) Curry has made this season, the most in NBA history. Dude is lit from three.

286 – The second-highest number of three pointers made in a single season, accomplished last year by, wait for it, Curry. That means he broke his own record by 116. WTF.

276 – The third-highest number of three pointers made in a single season, accomplished this year by, wait for it, Curry’s backcourt mate, Klay Thompson. Yeah, they’re the heavy favourites to repeat as NBA champions, I’d say.

433 – The total number of three pointers made this season by the entire Milwaukee Bucks team.

2 – The number of days left until the NBA playoffs tip off. Can’t wait.

4 – The number of hashtags I’ll end this post with.

#ThankYouMamba #ThankYouWarriors #LetsGoRaps #WeTheNorth

 

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Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are currently the cutest thing on the Internet

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In case you haven’t noticed, a serious bromance has bloomed in the 6ix.

The state of the Raptors is pretty strong at the moment. Kyle Lowry was voted in as the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the second year running. DeMar DeRozan should also end up on the squad as a reserve. The game is set to tip off in a few weeks at the Air Canada Centre, the first time Canada will host an NBA All-Star Game. And thanks to last night’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers, the Raps now sport an eight-game winning streak, their longest in 14 years.

But this post isn’t about stats, team records or All-Star votes. It’s about the fact that Kyle and DeMar are currently the cutest couple on the Internet. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Exhibit A

You know you got a real pal when you start ribbing on each other. And that’s exactly what Kyle does in this video as he calls out DeMar for his suspect math skills. He even manages to throw in a USC dig, DeMar’s alma mater. When DeMar sheepishly says “I didn’t even go to college that long,” you kind of want to reach into the computer and give him a hug.

Exhibit B

At about the one-minute mark, you’ll see a mysterious water bottle enter the frame. This is Kyle messing with DeMar’s interview. At about the 1:30 mark, Kyle says DeMar gets his shot off “after 38 pump fakes,” leading to one of the most glorious laughs in the history of laughter. Pure joy.

Exhibit C

I’ll break this one down as best I can. It seems to me that DeMar tells Kyle he smells good and then Kyle (get this!) says thank you and says it’s the soap he bought him. I have so many questions about this!

  • Why is DeMar buying Kyle soap?
  • Can’t Kyle buy his own soap?
  • Was it a Christmas present?
  • What kind of soap was it?
  • What else does DeMar buy Kyle?
  • What does Kyle buy DeMar?

These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Exhibit D

In a video of outtakes, Kyle and DeMar can’t seem to nail down this read for the JUNO Awards. OK, maybe more so DeMar than Kyle.

Exhibit E

Kyle: Yo D, give me a piggyback.

DeMar: Aight bro but you do me next.

Kyle: Ya aight bro.

DeMar: Cool.

Exhibit F

I feel like this is a game that children play in grade school. But Kyle’s not afraid to bring it back! A theme is starting to develop here: Kyle seems to enjoy messing with DeMar’s interviews. Maybe we should expect DeMar’s revenge one of these days.

"We are the two best friends that anyone could have."

A post shared by Toronto Raptors (@raptors) on

Exhibit G

And the fun just keeps on coming. After this past Friday’s win over the Miami Heat, Lowry was at it again, producing the following exchange:

DeMar: Y’all have a great day.

Kyle: It’s night-time.

Listen, all of these exchanges are awesome. As The Starters have been saying, these two are the best comedy duo in the NBA right now. They’re providing a lot of laughs for a lot of fans. Hell, you don’t even have to like basketball to find this amusing.

But all kidding aside, this chemistry bodes well for the future, both immediate and long-term. As is the same with any profession, if you get along with your coworkers outside of work, you’re more likely to be productive at work. Also, if you genuinely like your coworkers, you’re more likely to stay put.

And in a game where chemistry is second only to talent in terms of predicting success, here’s hoping this bond leads them to make some noise in the playoffs this year. If your two best players get along like this, you have to think it’ll trickle down to the rest of the team.

We currently sit 2.5 games back of Cleveland for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. And with all the changes and uncertainty facing that squad, finishing tops in the East isn’t totally out of the question.

So let’s raise a glass to the best comedy due in the NBA. Here’s hoping I’ll have to do a part two of this post.

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What more does Leo’s character have to endure to finally win him that Oscar? (SPOILER ALERT)

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Forrest Gump did everything from fighting in the Vietnam War to running a successful shrimping business to being the inspiration for John Lennon’s Imagine to give Tom Hanks one of his two Best Actor awards in 1994. One year later, Ben Sanderson suffered through extreme alcoholism in Leaving Las Vegas, giving Nicolas Cage the honour. King George VI overcame a stutter in The King’s Speech to nab the Best Actor trophy for Colin Firth in 2010. Ron Woodroof was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at a time when the disease was highly stigmatized in Dallas Buyers Club to give Matthew McConaughey the trophy in 2013.

As for Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant? Yeah, he had to go through just a tad more.

The cries of Give Leo that damn trophy already! have peaked with the release of The Revenant. Award shows, in the grand scheme of things, don’t have a lot of true meaning. Sure, it makes for fun water cooler talk and provides content for trivia nights. But if Leo never wins an Oscar, he’ll still continue to be Leonardo frickin’ DiCaprio. The money, the fame, the women. Yeah, he’ll be alright. So let’s not feel too bad for him if he misses out again.

That being said, can we just give him the damn trophy?! I mean, what more does he have to do? Let’s take a quick look at what Hugh Glass, played by Leo, had to go through. (SPOILER ALERT)

  • In one of the most I want to look away but can’t scenes I’ve ever seen, Leo is viciously attacked by a grizzly bear. He miraculously survives but not by much. He has to be carried around on a stretcher for the next hour of the movie and he’s essentially rendered mute and immobile.
  • He is then abandoned by the majority of his fellow fur trappers, leaving two in charge of getting him home. And to make things worse, before they abandon him, he’s forced to helplessly watch his son get stabbed to death prior to getting half-buried in a makeshift grave. Ugh.
  • He is then forced to escape a group of Arikara by being whisked away by some heavy rapids. He floats down the violent rapids while doing his best to avoid sharp, jutting rocks before being flung down a waterfall. He, once again, miraculously survives.
  • After bravely rescuing a young girl from being raped (allowing her to exact her revenge), Glass steals a horse and races off. After a peaceful night’s sleep, things get difficult again. He’s awakened by another group of Arikara, forced to flee on his horse and (in a scene not unlike Wile E. Coyote), he rides his horse right off a cliff, injuring himself further and killing the horse. The only thing missing was him pausing in the air before plummeting down. This guy just can’t catch a break.
  • After regaining consciousness, in order to make it through the night, he cuts open the horse, pulls out its remains and gets all nice and cozy inside the carcass.
  • When Glass is finally found by his men, the hunting party leader says “Jesus Christ, what happened?” Leo’s line back should have been “You don’t want to know.”

As the movie went on, I found myself watching it through the lens of This is Leo doing whatever he needs to do to finally win that Oscar. He’s leaving it all on the floor. He’s pulling out all the stops. He’s going through all this shit and just daring the Academy to not give him the statue.

Apart from Leo’s performance, which I hope wins him Best Actor, this was a remarkable movie. It was unlike any other movie I’ve seen. And in a world where it’s hard to produce truly original and unique content, this is a difficult task to achieve. Like the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit or Yeezus, this movie felt groundbreaking. Everything from the score to the sound effects to the spit and blood on the camera lens. I was sucked in from the first frame to the last.

One more thing. From 2007 to 2014, Jon Hamm was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series at the Emmys for his portrayal of Don Draper on Mad Men. That’s eight straight nominations. Last year, he won his first and only. One for eight. When he won that award, there was a sense that an incredible actor had finally got his due for an amazing character.

So come on, Oscars. Let’s let the world breathe a collective sigh of relief and hand the trophy to Leo this time around. This will be his fifth acting nomination at the Oscars. It’s not quite eight but still, let’s give him this one.

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Grantland will be dearly missed but never forgotten

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With the Internet these days, it’s hard for most people to concentrate on one thing for a long time. There’s even an expression for it, TLDR, which stands for “Too long, didn’t read.” There’s too much stimulation online, too many options. Researching dog breeds can turn into Hotline Bling memes minutes later. It’s tough to stay focused online. The result is that we become a jack of all trades but a master of none. We don’t take deep dives anymore. We stay in the shallow end, where it’s safe.

Grantland, which suffered a quick and painful death this past Friday, wasn’t afraid to take deep dives. That’s what made it special. And that’s why I’ll miss it like it was a family member.

If the rest of the Internet was fast food, then Grantland was a slow-cooked beef brisket. Quality over quantity.

From what I’ve heard, Grantland didn’t make ESPN a lot of money. If you think of clicks as monetary values, then this makes sense. The site was split up into two blogs (one sports and one pop culture) and one features section. Off the top of my head, Grantland would publish approximately 8-10 blog posts and 3-4 feature articles per day, in addition to various audio and video content. Oh, and Grantlanders were 9-5ers, never publishing on evenings and weekends.

Given the financial state of online print journalism, this was a ballsy move. While their competitors were going HAM updating their websites to turn clicks into revenue, Grantland stuck to its model. There were no listicles. There was no clickbaiting. Just quality, thoughtful, well-researched long-form journalism.

There was Rembert Browne’s storytelling, whether he was on Air Force interviewing the President or in the middle of it all in Ferguson, Missouri. There was Jonathan Abrams giving us an inside look at Matt Barnes and Joakim Noah. There was Andy Greenwald making me anticipate the recaps almost as much as the episodes themselves for Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. They even invented a word: Precaps! There was Zach Lowe, perhaps the most impressive basketball mind out there, getting us ready for NBA seasons with his crazy predictions and his reads of the league. And there was not much on the Internet more fun than the brackets that Grantland rolled out. To name a few, George Costanza was the top “second banana”, The Empire Strikes Back was the winning sequel, Hey Ya won best song of the millennium and “footage” won 2014.

And then, of course, there’s Bill Simmons, the mind behind Grantland. Bill often talked about the importance of taking risks with the site. To try things out, to push the envelope. And that’s what they did from 2011 until this past Friday. In the end, Grantland felt more like a group of friends than anything else and I believe that, to an extent, that’s what Bill was going for. I’m going to miss this bunch and will consume their content wherever they end up. Given the amount of talent on the team, I don’t see them struggling to find work. So thanks for the memories, Grantland. It was a great run, indeed.

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The realness of Eddie

Eddie Huang loves food. Eddie Huang loves hip-hop. Eddie Huang loves basketball. Eddie Huang loves weed. Eddie Huang loves women.

And Eddie Huang does not give a fuck what you think.

For the most part, Eddie Huang figured out all of these things at a young age. But after reading Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir, his autobiography about going from a culturally-conflicted kid to the confident and successful man he is today, it’s clear that the last one materialized over time. As T. Swift would say, haters gonna hate.

Authenticity is the most admirable of human qualities. It’s also why I find myself so drawn to Eddie’s story. In my mind, there’s nothing more attractive than when people are true to themselves, when they don’t put on airs. Sure, we all have different tastes; that much is clear and unavoidable. But the hardest thing in life is to figure out who you are and own it. As the late Stuart Scott said, just do you. The story of Eddie Huang is about somebody finding himself, and owning the fuck out of it.

Side note: Given his restaurant, his book, his YouTube series and now an ABC sitcom based on his life, Eddie just being Eddie seems to have worked out just fine.  

In a story relatable to many children of immigrants, Eddie, now 32, grew up conflicted. On the one hand, there were his Taiwanese-born parents, speaking Mandarin and eating traditional Chinese food, even famously making him take it to school for lunch. On the other hand, there was America, with its fast-food restaurants, rap music and capitalistic outlook.

From an early age, he met other Chinese people that he simply didn’t relate to. They were shy and quiet. They were safe and obedient. They were all studying to be doctors or lawyers. All of their parents approved of them. It took him some time but he eventually realized he wasn’t down with all that. He wanted to speak his mind. He didn’t want to be shy or quiet. Inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan and Jay-Z, he wanted to blaze his own path.

There is an interesting contrast to Eddie. In spite of his brash way of speaking, there is no doubting his intelligence. After all, before leaving the corporate world behind, he was an associate at a law firm in New York City. On Huang’s World, his excellent travel/food YouTube series, he may curse like a sailor and drop rap references ad nauseam. But these are offset by thoughtful and intelligent comments on the places he visits and on humanity in general. He can seemingly find a way to relate to anybody, no matter their country, language or culture. His street smarts are off the charts.

The beauty of Eddie’s story is its universality. You don’t have to be the child of Chinese immigrants to relate to it. You don’t even need to be a child of immigrants at all! You just need to be human.

In an age of FOMO and a world with maybe too many options for people, there’s no wonder that people are confused. If you start a family, you miss hanging with the boys. If you hang with the boys, you miss the comfort and intimacy of a true partnership. Maybe your parents want you to be somebody you’re not. Maybe one group of friends has different values than another. Maybe you’re not sure if you fit in with your colleagues.

In other words, life is hard. It can be messy and chaotic. It can pull you from different directions. Choices are everywhere and the correct decisions are rarely apparent. What Eddie has taught me is that you can’t please everyone. You can’t meet everybody’s expectations. Just make sure to be real to yourself, even though it may take a while to figure who exactly that is.

 

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Hey TTC, start charging all your customers already!

Notwithstanding some funky arrangements, businesses should always collect pre-determined amounts of money for whatever goods or services they provide. This tuna sandwich costs $6, that spatula costs $4, and one ride on the TTC costs $3, for example. This gives order to our universe. Payment, whether it be cash or plastic, is a necessary step towards self-preservation for any business.

That’s why I get annoyed when the TTC doesn’t collect what’s owed to them. Sometimes it feels like public transit in Toronto is one big pay-what-you-can operation. Here are three scenarios that play out on a daily basis across the TTC’s vast network of subways, streetcars and buses:

  • You enter a subway station. You drop $3 worth of change in the compartment before passing through the turnstile. But while you’re doing it, maybe the attendant is staring off into space. Or maybe you’re dropping your change onto a pile of other people’s change, making it impossible for anyone to determine how much you put in. I mean, Rain Man himself would struggle with the count. Hey TTC attendant, at least press the lever that empties the change compartment to give yourself a chance. Don’t wait until emptying it sounds like someone hit the jackpot at one of these casino games. I could have dropped a handful of nails in there and you probably wouldn’t have known the difference.
  • Not dissimilar to the example above, a bus rolls up to your stop. Personally, I’ve always dropped the correct fare into the box because I guess my mom raised an honest kid. But there’s really no way for the driver to know how much money gets thrown in. Unless TTC training involves listening to a bunch of change falling and determining the sum without looking, the driver has no clue.
  • You’re waiting for the streetcar. Logically, everybody is lined up where the front door will end up. The streetcar arrives, people start getting off from the back, and then BOOM!, half the crowd decides to enter the streetcar through the back door. The problem is there’s nowhere to pay back there. A few well-meaning souls wave a Metropass in the air, oblivious to the fact that nobody of importance is paying attention. In the meantime, the TTC loses out on a whole bunch of fares. That shit adds up, right!

I’ve lived in Toronto pretty much non-stop since 2002. This was an issue then and it’s an issue now. Is it really possible that the TTC has not improved their payment system in the past dozen years? At this point, I’d like to point out that I’m not a transit expert. I don’t closely follow the transit-related storylines coming out of City Hall. I’d also like to point out that I realize I’m not really offering up any solutions, just pointing out a problem.

So yes, I don’t know the ins and outs of the TTC but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I see pretty much every time I ride the Red Rocket. If the TTC wants to improve its services, it needs money. And for it earn money, it needs to charge its customers, the same way any self-respecting business would. And when I see dozens of commuters getting a free ride each and every day, it reminds me that the TTC has a long way to go, notwithstanding its new influx of fare enforcement officers.

I don’t walk into a Canadian Tire, leave with a pair of skates saying “Nah, sorry, I don’t really feel like paying for these today.” I don’t walk into a convenience store, grab a Twix bar off the shelf, casually stroll out and continue on with my day. No, these things don’t happen. But the equivalent is happening every day on the TTC network. And to be honest, it’s a little embarrassing for a world-class city.

The counterpoint to all this is that the TTC is far from perfect and maybe doesn’t deserve our full fares. I was recently waiting for the northbound Spadina streetcar at Bremner Boulevard. It was a Saturday night. SIX (yes, I counted) southbound cars passed before a northbound one came along. So yeah, it was hard to justify paying the three bucks but I still did.

Maybe the solution is simple: Go buy a bike. And unlike the TTC, expect to pay the amount marked on the price tag.

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