To me, Vancouver has always felt more like its own republic than a Canadian city. The vast expanses of water, and rim of mountains to the north and east, impart a sense of pleasant isolation. Clean, beautiful, and dense, its evergreen backdrop blends with a penchant for modern design. With concrete and glass in all directions, its aesthetic similarity to Hong Kong is heavily influenced by Asian investment beginning in the mid-1980s. At one time, this was the most Chinese city outside Asia. It remains the most Asian integrated city in North America. A walk down almost any street reveals a shocking number of Asian eateries and the tantalizing smells that escape them. From dumplings to pho to sushi, the saturation and competition is such that ducking into virtually any Asian restaurant is a safe bet for seriously delicious food. In case you were wondering, Vancouver does non-Asian cuisine just as well.
Unlike most North American cities, where the end of the workday signals a mass exodus from the urban core, downtown Vancouver is a near perfect model of what it is to live, work, and play in a compact area. With ~30,000 residents per square mile, the streets are alive with activity at nearly all hours.
If Vancouver were part of the United States it would be a very different place, but acting on my fantasy of moving here, at least for a few years, would be so much easier. Despite the exorbitant cost of living, I’m perpetually jealous of the people lucky enough to call this city home. These are a collection of moments from my last two visits centered around downtown and East Van. I can’t wait to go back.