Beyond “Gong Xi Fa Cai!” in Richmond, BC

by Nancy Mueller
( April 18th, 2015 )

Chinese New Year

Smiling faces and friendly greetings of “Gong Xi Fa Cai!” follow me as I stroll through the bustling Asian shopping extravaganza. Here at Aberdeen Centre, hundreds of Chinese lanterns hang high overhead. Everywhere I look, a sea of red and gold, lucky colors in Chinese culture, light up storefronts in dazzling vendor displays. Packages of red envelopes, gold-foiled candies and small stuffed rams line the tables from end to end. The scent of fresh flowers and fruit fill the market mall. Meanwhile, the promise of exuberant lion dances express the joyous spirit of revelers on the scene. The celebration of China’s longest and most important holiday appears well underway even though the official kickoff is still days away.

Annually the holiday occurs between the end of January and February, with a variable start date, based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Closely connected to the Chinese Zodiac, each year features one of twelve animal signs that rotate in a twelve-year cycle. 2015 celebrates “Year of the Sheep,” or “Goat” or “Ram,” depending on the translation.

Whether you wish another person “Gong Xi Fa Cai” in Mandarin or “Gong Hey Fat Choy” in Cantonese, each expresses the same sentiment: “Wishing you great happiness and prosperity!” Translating the English version, “Happy New Year,” into Chinese becomes, “Xin Nian Kuai Le,” or “New Year Happy.” It’s a time for leaving the old year behind, symbolized in ritual house cleaning, in eager anticipation of new beginnings, a sweeping away of the past for the promise of what lies ahead.

Tastes of Asia in Richmond, BC

On the restaurant scene, delectable dining menus feature “lucky foods,” tokens of good luck, longevity and prosperity: a whole squab for wholeness with family (the head and tail for good beginnings and good endings), fish and dumplings for money, tongue for ease, oysters for good business and long noodles for longevity. But with menu names like “Beautiful Family Happy Days,” often the real adventure lies in discovering exactly what foods comprise the dish. Visits to the Richmond Public Market and Osaka Grocery Store at Yaohan Center shed some of the mystery by offering a peek at Asian meal ingredients and an authentic Asian food court.

Chinese Calligraphy

Sixty percent of the local population in Richmond, British Columbia is of Asian, predominantly Chinese, descent. Little wonder then that Chinese New Year has become a favorite annual festival in this once-sleepy Vancouver suburb. But a visit to Richmond, B.C. reveals the region’s diverse cultural traditions beyond celebrating Asia’s lunar holiday.

Lingyen Mountain Temple

For starters, visit Richmond’s No. 5 road, better known as “Highway to Heaven,” to see how residents of different religious faiths and spiritual practices co-exist peacefully. Mosques, temples and churches encourage visitors for guided tours, special events, lectures, celebrations and art exhibits. Our Richmond stay includes a brief stop at the Buddhist Ling Yen Mountain Temple, home to 10,000 worshippers. Welcomed with a cup of fragrant Asian tea upon arrival, we next tour the Chinese palatial-style temple and hibernating garden grounds while sounds of chanting surround us, creating a calm and peaceful presence on our walk.

Tea Ceremony

To gain further insight into the diverse cultures of local inhabitants, visitors can attend a tea ceremony, explore a traditional Chinese medicine shop or browse the two-dollar Japanese bargain store, Daiso, all at the Aberdeen Centre. And with summer on the horizon, why not extend your cultural explorations at the area’s two Asian Night Markets, a stunning array of vendors serving sweet and savory dishes, together with live entertainment and performances.

For more information, visit:

Tourism Richmond
Four Points by Sheraton Vancouver Airport
Ling Yen Mountain Temple
Golden Paramount Seafood Restaurant
Lulu Island Winery
Bushuair Restaurant
Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant
Richmond Public Market
Yaohan Centre
Aberdeen Centre
Uncle Lu

Many thanks to my host, Tourism Richmond, for this glimpse into the cultural wonders of the region!

Richmond, BC

Wander on!


What about you, wanderboomers? What’s your favorite way to discover a new region through its cultural traditions?








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Chase Away the Clouds at Chihuly Garden and Glass

by Nancy Mueller
( March 13th, 2015 )


Need a color infusion to brighten your cloudy days? In Seattle, look no further than Chihuly Garden and Glass for a striking counterbalance to Fifty Shades of Grey in the Pacific Northwest. Showcasing the works of local glass artist, Dale Chihuly, the long-term exhibit at Seattle Center offers a vibrant tonic of sumptuous colors, innovation and inspiration.


Wandering through the stunning collection reminds me of the Navajo prayer and blessing, “Walking in Beauty:”

Beauty is before
me, and beauty
is behind me,
Above me and
below me hovers
the beautiful.


In color palettes ranging from cobalt blues to fiery reds, in tones from golden yellows, iridescent orange to honey amber, the collection dazzles as a movable feast for the senses.


Visitors can learn more about the eight art galleries, soaring glasshouse, and outdoor garden in daily spotlight talks with exhibition hosts. The notable galleries include a Sealife Room, Chandeliers . . .

Chihuly Ikebana and Float Boats

Ikebana and Float Boats . . .

Chihuly Float Boats

Macchia Forest . . .



Glasshouse and Garden.



For more information about the exhibit, special events or to purchase tickets to Walk with the Gardener visit Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Wander on!


What about you, wanderboomers? What’s your favorite way to beat the winter blues?


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Fifty Shades of Grey in the Pacific Northwest

by Nancy Mueller
( February 16th, 2015 )

Gray Northwest Sky

Fifty Shades of Grey? For as many words as there are for snow in the Inuit language, we have at least that many for the color gray here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Though we Americans usually spell the hue that lands between black and white on the color wheel as ”gray” unlike our British friends who opt for “grey.” Unless we’re talking about a movie premier, of course.

Beyond the book or film, as any true Northwesterner knows, we bask in a wild beauty of subtlety, nuance, . . . um, shades of gray in our region. From our remarkable wildlife to our natural wonders . . . From our style of architecture to, of course, our well-known cloudy climate.

For starters, we have glacier gray . . .

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier, – Juneau, Alaska

Goeduck (pronounced “gooey” duck) shell gray . . .

Geoduck Taylor Shellfish Farm

and Gray-whale gray kind of of days . . . Gray-shingle gray . . . Garter snake gray and gray-blue skies kind of gray.

Gray-blue sky

Blue-gray skies

We have gloomy gray . . .

Gloomy gray

Gray wolf gray . . . and Robert Gray sea-gray shades of gray.


Mt. Baker

How about you, wanderboomers? How many shades of grey have you found in the Pacific Northwest?

Wander on!







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