Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Best Travel Deal Around

Not far from home exists a wonderful place called 99 Ranch Market. An enormous Asian marketplace, it's filled with groceries that, while including such universal homemaking staples as dishwashing soap, milk and toilet paper, focus mostly on an Asian clientele's palate.

As I've mentioned
here before, John and I really enjoy eating all kinds of Asian food; as such, Finn and Shea have been exposed in their few years to more exotic items than each of our mouths saw in our first 20. So we try to visit 99 Ranch every couple months or so, mostly to replace our supply of sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, and spring roll wrappers. (Yeah, compared to the traditional American dinner table--and judging by the scrunched up faces my mother makes when I show her some of our food choices--we eat some pretty funky dishes sometimes.)

For me, going to 99 Ranch (or
Mitsuwa, a marketplace with a more Japanese bent where John and I spent an entire afternoon one pre-children Valentine's Day), is like traveling. One of the things I love about traveling is the feeling of confusion and uncertainly it brings. That sounds slightly counterintuitive, I realize; after all, don't most people travel to escape the stresses of life? Yes, some do. Especially those who stay at their hotel pool or hotel bar for the entire duration of their stay in Hawaii or some other equally breathtaking locale. Ahem.

But the heightened awareness of one's surroundings that comes about from being in an unfamiliar place, smelling unfamiliar scents, tasting unfamiliar flavors, and negotiating unfamiliar terrain shrieks savagely in the face of the complacent normalcy that's often bred in the everydayness of life.

It feels more like living.

It's also humbling to be immersed in a place where not everything makes sense right away--Oh yeah, I'd forgotten, the world's much bigger than my little universe--as is having to work a bit to unravel the patternwork that's commonplace to everyone else. (Holly writes about this beautifully,
here, in a manner more concise than I'm able to articulate right now.)

Once, during my corporate employment days, a Chinese co-worker agreed to allow me to tag along with her through 99 Ranch as she did her weekly shopping. Because we had just filled our bellies at a company dim sum lunch at the restaurant next door on the last workday before the Christmas holiday, we were able to leisurely wind our way through the aisles without worrying about watching the clock. She kindly stopped to explain what many of the products were that filled her cart; most of the items she considered staples had never crossed my mind, let alone my lips.

Now, as a little gift of travel from me to you, I present our weekend trip to 99 Ranch--in pictures! Don't miss the special contest at the end, wherein one witty Double Duty Diary reader will be awarded a very special prize for their creative input.

Who ever said Tuesdays were boring?

Fish you can just reach out and touch,
if you're into that kinda thing

Tiny little bananas make tiny little babies happy

And this, folks, is just the bok choy section

Doctor Noodle is Mr. Noodle's macho half-brother

The charming language fumbles are too plentiful to count

I've tried shrimp heads and chicken feet in my time.
But this? This just blows my mind and goes from bad...

... to worse.


In the blog comments section, please leave your best/snarkiest/wittiest/fishiest captions for the photo below. Deadline for captions is this Friday morning, August 25th, by the time I drink my morning coffee. Fabulous prize, to be determined and distributed by me, will be awarded to lucky winner. Winning caption will be announced sometime on Friday, so don't delay!


JennaRN2008 said...

Top fish - "Dammit Louise, I told you asking that worm for directions was a *BAD* idea!"

Bottom fish - "Fred, this is no time for "I told you so's"!"

christine said...

top fish - i don't know about you, but something smells humany about this.

bottom fish - at least your uterus and bung aren't packaged in styrofoam and plastic wrap!

NC Clarks said...

Top: One fish, two fish-Redfish,Bluefish.....

Bottom: What an IDIOT! We are so screwed pal. -AND- My eye is cloudy and I am not feeling so fresh.

KarinGal said...

This one's on behalf of my Uncle Bob, who e-mailed his response directly to me:

Top fish- "I'm calling Travelocity, Honey..."

Bottom fish- "I'm calling a lawyer!"

Emely said...

Top fish: "We couldn't just stay
home tonight, no, you had to
insist we go out for a midnight

Bottom fish: "Don't blame me,
you agreed!"

Anonymous said...

Top golden fish:
I guess we should have listened to the turtle about the land-dwellers after all.


Bottom golden fish:
It is in the nature of existence to experience suffering, my friend.


Om in O-Town, M.

John said...

Top Snapper: "Bung / Uterus that is nothing compared to the neck on that Geoduck Clam".

Bottom Snapper: "I wonder which end you talk to"? "Hey clammy cover up".

Paul Gallagher said...

Top Fish: "Burt you said we were going to meet your agent for a gig on Spongebob Squarepants, BUT !! he turned out to be a fisherman you dolt."

Bottom Fish: " I don't want to hear it this still beats waiting tables and besides were on the internet so were STILL famous !!

Paul in Colorado

pat said...

Top fish- It was your idea to drink all that tequila.

Bottom Fish- Yeah but,it was your idea to eat the worm.

Carolynn said...

Top fish: Pick me.

Bottom fish: no, pick me.