Sunday: A Day of Bucket List Accomplishments

After starting out my two week adventure in a fast paced way, I decided that Sunday was to be my designated lazy day. What this translated to in actuality: Allison saying that she will do laundry.

Did she do laundry?

No. Allison did not do laundry.

Anyway, let the story continue.

Sunday was destined to be a lazy day for a number of reasons.

1. Three days of walking around the city and being lost can be a bit tiring.
2. It was a beautiful, perfectly idyllic cloudy Seattle day meant for coffee and reading.
3. A mysterious hostel roommate entered the room at 1 AM, passed out in the bunk above me (in what I’m assuming is a drunken stupor), snored so loudly it was like listening to a chainsaw move its way through a forest of pine trees, and then she haphazardly left at 6 AM.

Needless to say, I was a bit sleep deprived, and just ever so slightly confused. This mysterious encounter was by far the weirdest roommate experience I’ve had at the hostel as of yet.

So as I wandered downstairs for breakfast that morning, I made my way directly for the coffee pot and bananas. I gave a longing look to the toasting bagels and the giant muffins lining the counter, and sat down with my breakfast.

The hostel was bustling with activity that morning, as everyone was preparing to leave on the rest of their adventures. Sunday is mostly departing day. The hectic nature of the hostel further supported my need for a relaxing day that didn’t involve hiking back and forth across the city. So with that being said, I went upstairs to my room with every intention of doing laundry.

I even went so far as to sort my clothes.

(Still didn’t do laundry.)

But since sorting laundry is obviously such tedious work, it was time to read a book. So I grabbed a brownie that my mom made me, snagged my book from my backpack, and made my merry way downstairs. I poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat down in the comfy chairs in the TV room, and started to read.

Reading doesn’t happen in a hostel. At least, it doesn’t happen for me.

I attract awkward people.

I blame my gigantic eyeballs. I have a perpetual deer caught in the headlights, can’t run away look.

IT’S A TRAP!

So, if you didn’t guess it, I made really awkward friends with some really awkward and bitter Iraq vets. Now, I’ve met some vets in my time, but these three were by far the most awkward, depressingly bitter, and disenfranchised individuals I’ve ever come across. Meeting them was a unique experience. They told me their life stories, unleashing their bitterness as I sat there in silence, just listening to them.

Kadesh, a woman in her mid-30s with bubble-gum pink hair and tattoos trailing up and down her arms and back, changed her name after leaving the Army, never wanting to find herself connected to the government with the same name as before. She wouldn’t tell me her given name. She wants to design clothes in Chinatown. She has shrapnel in her chest from a car bomb in Afghanistan, and she covered them up with tattoos and funky thrift-store gothic chic clothing.

The other vet, let’s call him John (he never gave his name, only his life story), is an interesting fellow. He reminds me of an old labrador that was abandoned at the dog shelter. He, too, walks with a limp, and his hands are giant and scarred beyond belief. His entire body, from his left leg up to his right shoulder, is wrapped in tattoos of stars and butterflies. He’s been shot, blown up, beat up, and abandoned. He was Army Special Forces and did three tours through Iraq and Afghanistan. John has a fair amount of problems from his tours, one of which seems to be a dependence on narcotics and similar such things.

Let me tell you, it was an eye opening experience.

Also, quite possibly one of the most awkward experiences I’ve encountered in life, made more awkward by the fact that these two seemed to have bonded to me like two baby ducklings, and now follow me around the hostel whenever they see me.

Back to the story of Allison not doing laundry…

After making my escape from Awkward John and Sad Kadesh, I decided it was time to find me some food. I was absolutely starving, because a banana and coffee do not a lasting breakfast make. With that being said, I made my way to the Chinese market just around the corner from my hostel.

So I grabbed my backpack, my wallet, and some sunglasses, and I headed out to the Uwajimaya Market.

Wandering around the market was a blast in and of itself. It was an odd collection of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, American, and fresh fruits and veggies.

I spent a food ten minutes in the coffee and tea aisle, hoping that I could fin something to take back to the hostel and hoard away for my own delights.

I found this AMAZING chai spice mix that smelled heavenly, but alas all three flavors had soy lecithin in the ingredient list, which ultimately resulted in this sad face:

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But, I did find this awesome dinosaur bottle (which appeared to be a clever way to get children to take vitamins), and the much beloved ORANGINA!

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After wandering the market for a little while, I discovered a few other hidden treasures. One hidden treasure would happen to be these odd little sweet rice balls I found buried in the frozen food section. Surprisingly, they didn’t have any of my normal allergens in there.

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Now, I did find a meager gluten free section at the market, but it wasn’t particularly forthcoming, so I continued to wander on my way through the store.

After about a half hour of walking through the store, my hunger pains were getting much worse, so it was definitely time to be heading back to the hostel with some food before I turned into an evil monster. However, the world smiled upon me one last time as I made my way to the cashiers. Right at the check out, designed to taunt you into buying candy, was CHOCOLATE!

Now, chocolate is always a reason to celebrate. However, finding dairy free/soy free chocolate is a reason for ecstatic celebration.

I’m not ashamed to say I spent $10 on this 90% dark chocolate.

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While it has a bit of a grainy texture (because it’s literally just ground up cacao beans and coffee beans and some sugar), man is this chocolate TO DIE FOR! This needs to be available in Colorado.

Anyway, I got back to the hostel, and I promptly unpacked my wares and fixed myself a snack:

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The joys of living in a hostel are many (and quite honestly a bit odd), but one of the perks is a giant kitchen where you can store food. My more expensive, and precious, items like my almond butter, my jam, and my chocolate made their way up to my room with me, where they were promptly stored in my locker for safe keeping.

Now, the hostel kind of frowns on you storing food in your room. I’m sure it’s a perfectly logical fear, probably stemming from the fear of bugs and mice infesting the rooms of the hostel. But sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

And having food allergies: girl’s gotta be a food hoarder.

After having eaten my lunch, and taking a bit of a nap, I again contemplated doing laundry.

Nope, still not doing it.

So I headed out in hopes of an adventure. And this adventure had one goal in mind: to chop off my hair.

New city, new adventure, new look.

The prospect of cutting off my hair was a scary one, because you see folks, I haven’t cut my hair shorter than down the middle of my back in six years. But sometimes you need change.

So with that in mind, I wandered the streets of Chinatown with Siri in hand, while she mockingly told me that I was turning the wrong way down the streets. She really needs to work on her empathy.

It was a pretty exciting afternoon on the streets of Chinatown, because I was able to mark something off my Bucket List as I wandered in hopes of a stylist.

I’ve always wanted to end up caught in a rainstorm in Seattle. Stuck outdoors as the big fat rain drops slowly descend and then quickly pile up until it’s just a downpour that catches you completely unawares.

It happened. And it is probably one of my favorite experiences in life.

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Luckily, I was only about two blocks away from Instyle Salon where I was going to say goodbye to my long locks.

When I told the stylist that I wanted to cut off most of my hair, she was immediately excited at the prospect. So, with language barrier fully in tow, my iPhone and her iPad we exchanged pictures until we mutually agreed on a length that would be fully suitable.

My heart stopped beating just a little bit when she took that first full snip and chipped off six inches in one full go. I was committed to this haircut now. So we continued, and the hair just kept coming off and droves.

I felt so bad for my stylist. She was wearing a white shirt and some white pants. Definitely not ideal for cutting off over 8 inches of dark hair…

Her shorts were basically black when she was finished with my hair. She was definitely going to need to do laundry. It’s a good thing that I wasn’t the one who had to do it, because let’s face it, that wouldn’t happen any time soon.

When she finished with my hair she was so excited, but she gave me one look and said:

“Oh honey, you want to do eyebrow wax too? I give you 75% off, only $5…”

When a little Asian woman looks at you with sympathy and offers you a $5 eyebrow wax out of pity, you take that and run.

And when you get home, you spend the next two hours wondering just how horrific your eyebrows/unibrows were to warrant a $5 pity wax…

Anyway, this was the result of brand new hairstyle!

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Yep, it’s drastically different. And yep, that is a Star Trek tshirt.

Now, it may have been a relatively lazy Sunday in regards to full blown adventures, and it may have been a little bit lame in regards to vacation experiences, but hey…I found chocolate. And a dinosaur beverage.

Oh, and the laundry still isn’t done.

So to recap:
Allison is really bad at doing laundry.
The Chinese market was an odd success full of weird finds.
Rain in Seattle is better than Colorado rain because it doesn’t result in hypothermia.
Sundays are the best days for making odd, not-very-important life changes (such as hair).

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The Traveling Allergen: Seattle, Day 1

Eating out with allergies is always an adventure. Eating out when you’re allergic to the entire world is like a trip to Mordor without a Samwise to keep me from being eaten by dangerous spiders, and in general, keep me alive.

With my fear of restaurants and cuisine, I’m a bit worried about my two week solo-adventure to Seattle.

Today is my first day in the city. I arrived in the city this morning, promptly at 9:36 local time, and immediately got lost in the airport. After wandering the airport for about 45 minutes, I found my way to the light rail into Downtown Seattle. Public transport is a beautiful thing people. For $2.25 I made my way into Downtown Seattle on a spectacularly clean tram.

Once I exited on Westlake Center, I made my way up from the underground and walked around a bit. I again found myself lost in the city , which is by far the best way to tour any new area. After I got off the tram, I made my way up from the underground and walked around a bit. I found a Starbucks (no surprise), and sat down in the middle of Westlake Center (a giant outdoor mall/business center/general large commercial area) with a cup of iced coffee and some delicious homemade brownies free of gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and peanuts that my wonderful mother made for my trip.

Here I am enjoying people watching in the beautiful 75 degree sunny weather, smack dab in the middle of downtown Seattle:

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While regaining energy from a caffeine and chocolate buzz, I attempted to learn how to read a bus map. Let me tell you…I am not talented at reading maps, and being a Colorado girl, I have no sense of direction when you take away my mountains.

However, I did come across a nice socialist activist (no joke, his tshirt said “Socialism Now!”) who informed me that Mount Rainier is always on the south side of Seattle, and also told me what bus to get on, I found my way to Seattle’s very own Chinatown.

Verdict? Chinatown in awesome.

Now, you may be wondering “Why is Allison in Chinatown on her first day?”
Well, I’m staying in a super awesome youth hostel located in the middle of Chinatown. The best part about this is it’s right next door to a comic book shop, and right around the corner is the wonderful Hing Hay Park, where I discovered an abundance of giant games.

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This giant chess board was accompanied by an adorable little old Chinese man performing in this amazing square that was surrounded with beautiful murals of artwork.

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I relaxed around here for a while, watching people play chess and shuffleboard while children fed the over zealous pigeons who are obviously fattened up on fried rice and pastries.

Later, I wandered around the corner to an awesome little espresso and tea shop called Gossip, where I had the most delicious peach tea of my life.

And what I’ve learned about Chinatown is that everyone is so genuinely nice and helpful. When I finally found myself in need of real nourishment, not brownies and caffeine, I wandered around town until I came across a small food court that encompassed about ten different local Asian cuisine restaurants, ranging from Chinese, Thai, Japanese, English (this was random, but the creme puffs seemed to be pretty popular with the locals), and Hawaiian.

Personally, I tried Aloha Plates, a fantastic hole-in-the-wall Hawaiian restaurant. Let me tell you…these ladies were so incredibly kind and understanding of my allergies.

After being bitterly disappointed that their famous Kahlua Pork dish was not soy free and dairy free, she took down my allergies and helped me to figure out what dishes were available for me. She determined that their lemon chicken with jasmine rice would be a suitable option for me.

So, I sat down and watched them prepare my meal, and I was stunned by their kindness. Three people operate in the tiny kitchen of Aloha Plates. It’s a meager four burner stove, an oven, four cooking pans, and refrigerator that make up this kitchen. But what they lack in amenities, they make up for in heart.

Understanding that I have multiple allergies, the cook changed all of their equipment. They brought out a new cutting board, new knives, new pans, and all new equipment for me. I was delightfully surprised with this wonderful dish:

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Lemon Chicken with Jasmine Rice, served with (as my waitress/cook was really excited to tell me) a personally crafted sauce of Sesame Oil, Salt, Pepper, and Lemon that was a delightful addition to my meal.

And it was fantastic.

So for my first day in Seattle, wandering the streets of Chinatown, and attempting new cuisine were all a massive success. Being lost in the city, finding my way through public transport and general human kindness, and discovering tasty delights has been the perfect start to a two week solo journey through the Pacific Northwest!