Author Archives: taisuke

my temporary bachelorhood came to an end two weeks ago in seattle. brenda and nayou flew in from maryland, and i drove down from vancouver to meet in our old stomping grounds. since nayou doesn’t really have a posse of friends in canada yet, we decided to celebrate his sixth birthday with his cousins and friends south of the border.

angel and heidi graciously volunteered to let us use their house for the shindig which was perfect. we went to bed on saturday with a five year old and woke up with a bona fide six year old! nayou reprised his halloween costume for the occasion.

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nayou wanted a lego set and a fishing rod for his birthday, so that’s exactly what he got 🙂

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he also wanted a carrot cake shaped like a fish, so i had a think and came up with this:


i remember when me and my sisters were kids our mum used to make these elaborate cakes for us that were really cool. it was a blast for me to figure out how to make it, so i think we have a bit of a tradition going here 😉

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back in canada our friend boofa was waiting for us. we know boofa from our days in new zealand, and its been about five years since we saw him. he is travelling around north america and it was a blast to catch up with him again!


nayou putting his fishing rod to good use!


winter is definitely upon us now. the whole city has been dusted by snow this week! brr.


two weekends ago we were in whistler. then last weekend we drove down to seattle to see nayou’s aunt, uncle and cousins. well, the main reason we went down was because brenda and nayou were flying to san francisco, and it was way cheaper to fly domestic than from vancouver. but getting to spend time with angel, heidi, penelope and paloma is always a bonus as well. we barely saw nayou after we walked in the door as he was pretty much glued to penelope the whole time.

20131114_03 the weekend flew by quickly and before i knew it i was bidding adieu to my family as they embarked on a three week journey to see various members of the diaz family. thank god for modern technology because i think i would go crazy missing them without it. i’m enjoying my temporary bachelorhood, but life is definitely a little less full without brenda and nayou around!

the two of them are having fun in san francisco. the chimbies, as the twins are now known, have grown up so much! i’m glad nayou is getting quality time with lots of his cousins. being able to do these kinds of visits is a big reason why we chose to move to vancouver 🙂

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i can’t believe how big nayou is compared to these eleven month olds! it seems like he was that little only a short while ago 🙂

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last weekend we hopped in our trusty honda and made our way up north to whistler mountain. a couple of friends from sayulita live up there so we took them up on their invite for a visit. it took us less than two hours to get up there, but it felt like a world away. the air was crisp, the snow line was creeping down and the area had that quiet, mountain calm about it.

nayou has been excited about having a snowball fight, but unfortunately there wasn’t quite enough for a full on battle. we still made some and threw them around though!

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nayou had loads of fun with the little bits of ice and snow that was around. i can’t wait until the winter when we can play all sorts of games in piles of snow. this will be our first winter in over four years… and nayou’s first snowy one. can’t wait!


it was a gorgeous sunny day on sunday so we went for a hike around lost lake. maybe its because we’ve been in beach-y areas for so long but i am loving big old trees and the peaks and valleys. its pretty easy to be blown away by the nature around here.



it was good to see our friends again too. having a ready made group of friends in the area has been a big plus for us settling in. especially ones as cool as these! bex is a kiwi that we met on the beach in sayulita way back in 2010. she’s been living up in whistler for the last five years. and vasant is a physiotherapist who we spent some time with in mexico earlier this year. he has done some work with brenda and her knee with amazing results. he is a bit of a wizard when it comes to fixing bodies!

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as a matter of course we busted out the fishing gear!

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and i flashed some skin:


we have another adventure coming up this weekend as we travel to seattle. watch this space for an update!

this year was the first halloween that nayou really got into. it has never been a big thing in my family so i’ve never really paid it much attention, but here in vancouver people get really jazzed up. brenda found him a super dinosaur costume on the day and nayou voluntarily wore it the whole night. he’s usually notorious for not wanting to dress up, but not when there is free candy to be had! he went around the neighbourhood with some local kids and collected loads and loads of loot!


going as a dinosaur was a win because its pretty chilly at night these days. i felt bad for all the wonder women, princesses and tarzans out there!

there is a road called trinity street that is one over from ours which is famous for their outrageous halloween and christmas decorations. apparently its an unwritten rule that you have to decorate your house for christmas and that if you don’t do it your neighbours will do it for you. crazy! we pretty much canvassed the entire length of trinity st. and it did not disappoint. there were lots of makeshift graveyards, smoke machines, fireworks and even an inflatable animatronic cat. it was pretty dark out there so our photos didn’t turn out, but trust me when i say it was cool 🙂


here is nayou counting out his treasures. he was a good sport about only keeping the candy that he really wanted to eat and letting me unleash the rest on the rabid packs of artists at work. i hope everyone had a happy halloween!


Its been almost six weeks since we left Mexico behind and hauled ourselves up north. Now that I’m back at work full time, its been hard to find the time to update the blog. In fact, I’m typing this at a noodle bar during my lunch break!

Our car has been super awesome. Vancouver still has a ways to go in terms of car share services and public transport outside of the downtown area, and it became clear to us early on that we were going to need wheels. Brenda stepped up to the challenge and spent many hours combing through ads on craigslist before finding our 2003 Honda CR-V. It is so much nicer to be able to get around in a car, especially north toward the mountains. There is a place called Rice lake which is about ten minutes drive from our house. Its so close, but the old growth forest you step into makes you feel like you are world away. The government stocks the lake with trout so there is plenty of fishing there as well!

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You can start to see why people are nature lovers out here. And speaking of wheels, Nayou got himself a bike! Check out his mad hipster steez:

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Another reason for the long interval between posts was the fact that I went down to LA for two weeks. Because Sony’s Vancouver office is a satellite office, it can be hard for newcomers like myself to get going. So they flew me down for some training which was super fun. I met all the people I am working with, plus got all of the political and historical gossip I needed to function properly up here. I stayed in a historic hotel about five minutes walk from work, with a cinema next door and a yoga studio steps away. Not to mention a gazillion restaurants all over the place. Needless to say, I was pretty happy! I got a chance to see a fair bit of Aya and Ryan, although we were horrible Japanese people and took pitifully few photos. Our ancestors would be ashamed. We did manage to take one at a concert at the Hollywood Bowl though!


While I was in LA, Brenda and Nayou took the new car for a spin down to Seattle. It takes about three hours each way including the time spent at the border, which isn’t too bad. The last time we were all there in January Nayou and his cousin Penelope bonded really fast, and this they were inseparable as well. Its so cool to see the cousins getting along well. One of the main motivations for sticking along the west coast was to be closer to family and it makes me happy to see it paying dividends already.

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IMG_6828Here is Nayou attacking a ginormous plate of pancakes at the Coastal Kitchen in Seattle. I remember back in the days when Brenda and I had first started dating we would go there for brunch often. Kind of cool to see Nayou chowing down there now.


Speaking of ginormous plates, one of the things I have noticed about Vancouver is that their portion sizes are huge! In Mexico they are big but still small enough that Brenda and I would usually order a main dish each. But up here it makes more sense to share and even then I still end up full!

Another bonus about being in Canada – a working postal service! Thanks to Kiki and grandma who have been sending care packages up to us. Nayou loves getting them 🙂

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Here are some other photos to finish up.

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nayou got his locks chopped off today and is looking very cute and boyish. the funny thing about vancouver is that so many people think he is a girl. everyone – from the bus drivers to the kids in the playground – refer to nayou as “she” and brenda and i can’t figure out why. sure he has a pretty face, but his demeanour and clothes are definitely boyish. in any case, no-one is going to be mistaking him for a girl now!

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it was a gorgeous sunny sunday in vancouver today, so we had a leisurely stroll to our local cafe,  followed by a ferry ride over to north vancouver.


there is an indoor market there which has loads of things for kids, including a barber and an ikea stye ball room. nayou spent the whole day running around with other kids and came home happy and exhausted. as did brenda and myself!



we have been slack on the photo taking front, but are getting into the groove of life here. on saturday we bought a car (2003 honda crv) which we are picking up on tuesday! we thought we may be able to get away with using a car share service like we did in sydney, but unfortunately they aren’t as convenient. sydney really did get the car share thing right. having wheels opens up a whole slew of things for us, including jaunts up to the mountains, fishing lakes, and of course trips to seattle and beyond!

in face, we’ve been here for a week already! our bohemian days in sayulita already seem so far away. there is so much to write its hard to know where to start, so i’ll just stick with the basics – our journey up here was as smooth as can be. i didn’t know there were direct flights from sayulita to vancouver and had booked a flight that took us through dallas. america has this silly law that requires passengers to collect and re-check their luggage even if you are just in transit, so i was dreading having to deal with all of our bags… but as it turns out american airlines has a deal with the government that lets them bypass that law! not sure why this isn’t standard procedure, but in any case it was a big relief 🙂 the only annoying thing was that we had to wait two hours at vancouver airport to get our visas, but that was about the worst part.

we spent our first five days at casa macmello, this charming little cottage tucked away in the host’s backyard. it was a nice cosy place to land and also quite a central place from where to get our bearings. vancouver is big, and i’m still adjusting to the amount of energy it takes just to get navigate from one place to another. at least the public transport is pretty stellar, especially the train system.

sunny weather greeted us and lasted for a good four or five days. we were bracing ourselves for rain and grey, but it seems like we brought a little bit of mexico with us. it was the perfect opportunity to check out stanley park, which apparently is the largest urban park in the world! its pretty surreal to be in this gorgeous forest and see high rise condos packed on the other side of the shore.

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brenda and i were very excited to find good coffee, but unfortunately we have been pretty disappointed so far. we’ve tried the chains (blenz, cafe artigiano) as well as the local cafes but none of them have really caught our attention… have we turned into coffee snobs?!

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nayou went bowling for the first time as well! we got a lane in the “glow-in-the-dark” section of the building 🙂


now we have settled into what will be our home for the next six months. we found a sublet on craigslist and its just starting to feel like home now. its got two bedrooms, a good sized backyard and stays nice and warm. its a little far from the city for my liking, but instead we get to be right on the water and enjoy lots of fresh air. we’re in the market for a car so once we have wheels it will be much easier for brenda and nayou to get around.

20130925_02i’ve been back at work for three days. its definitely a weird feeling being away from brenda and nayou all day, and only getting to see them briefly in the evenings for a hang out. imageworks has a full-on training week for me which has been very helpful. their workflows and pipeline are very mature and i am excited to be working on some cool technology there! i suppose we’ll all get used to this new routine, but i do wish i could see more of my lovely family during the week!

brenda and nayou went to vancouver’s famous science world today. nayou really liked it, especially some of the science demonstrations he saw. they joined as members, so i think the two of them will be visiting a lot!

20130925_08 20130925_09 20130925_10well thats about all i have in me for today. got to go get some shut eye before another early wake up tomorrow! my mexican sleep-ins are another thing i miss, for sure!

our next stop was guadalajara, mexico’s second biggest city with over four million people. we could tell it was big because we got a bit lost finding our hotel, but once we did we were so happy! the place is called la villa del ensueno and it was super cute. lots of tile and nice colours, which was nice because the weather was all rainy and grey.

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the hotel was about a ten minute walk to an area called tlaquepaque (t-la-ke-pa-ke, seriously).


we saw this dude on the corner along the way. brenda captured the moment in another of her gorgeous iphone snaps. some of these scenes remind me of paintings.


mexicans definitely know a thing or to about colour, especially when it comes to painting your house. these were all shot against someone’s concrete fence. they were somewhere along this road…


tlaquepaque is famous for its furniture and artisan stores which are made super accessible by a big wide pedestrian street. the area was a good mix of genuine artsyness and trendy design. we had a lot of fun just wandering in and out of shops and horsing around.

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brenda got a new hat. nayou got to wear it 😉


all the stores had really interesting things for sale. i saw some amazing low wooden coffee tables that i’m still kind of lusting after, but forgot to take any photos…



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there was a sergio bustamante gallery which was fun to visit.

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i love this one bodie took. peep the doll peeking out from inside the newspaper:


we ate some grasshoppers at a funky restaurant with an amazing mural:

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even the school buses are beautiful:


on saturday night we ate at a hipster shabby-chic restaurant. i wore my raggedy old t-shirt with holes all over it and no-one bat an eye. at least i was wearing close toe shoes.

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we took turns taking photos of each other in tlaquepaque plaza:

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the weather wasn’t so good, we were all kind of under the weather, but we had so much fun! it was exciting to be back in a big city again. visiting guadalajara was definitely the highlight of the trip for me.



so i think i’ve mentioned a couple of times that nayou is currently obsessed with fishing. he’s going to continue his love of the sport in vancouver, but brenda and i really wanted to give him a chance to go out on a proper fishing trip in sayulita before we left.

unfortunately the fishing boats charge an arm and a leg. fortunately our friend jorge is possibly just as obsessed with fishing as nayou. brenda called jorge yesterday and organised an outing on his kayak to go find some fish. nayou was sooo excited, its all he talked about all afternoon. he got his “fish pack” ready with all of his gear and sprung out of bed like a wild man at 7.30 this morning. the two men ventured out into rough-ish seas and came back with this:


wow! apparently nayou got sea sick and threw up on the ocean, but even that didn’t phase him in the face of such an awesome catch. we’re having a farewell party at a restaurant tonight so guess whats on the menu??

after our great road trip kick off in san blas, it was time to turn away from the ocean and head into the mountains. our destination was amatlan de cañas, a small town situated in a valley about 100km inland. the highways got wider and better maintained, and i actually enjoyed driving on the mexican autobahns for a change. i love the colours in this photo, even though its an ad for a craptastic company.



just before amatlan there is a small pueblo called el rosario which we stopped at to buy some fruit. we arrived late in the afternoon and it seemed like everyone was taking their siesta or something because it was very very quiet.


we couldn’t find a fruteria, but we did stop at the plaza and had a nice chat with two older dudes who sat down for a yarn.

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we eventually made our way to amatlan and grabbed some food there before checking into our room at los pavos reales.




the grounds of the resort are huge and immaculately maintained. there is a huge lawn with a swimming pool in the middle and some rooms on the side. peacocks and dwarf chickens run around and keep you company. which was a good thing because we had the whole place to ourselves! one of the perks of travelling on low season i suppose.




the main reason why we decided to come to amatlan was to visit el manto. brenda, bodie and i were all super keen to check out the gorgeous waterfalls, but unfortunately our plan was foiled. they were doing some big construction up at the falls and you could only go and see them, not swim in them. it was a bit of a bummer, but luckily for us amatlan happens to have some hot springs right in town! so we hoofed it over to the hot spring place, stopping at a big pink wall to take some photos. i love the whole series… each one is a classic!

20130914_26 20130914_27 20130914_28 20130914_29 20130914_30the hot springs were very mexican – lots of concrete and things that would make litigious lawyers salivate. like a mostly empty pool with no fence with scalding hot water pouring into it.


makes for a good photo op though!


we soaked ourselves in the mineral rich water and felt much better. the weather in amatlan was waaaay colder than what we were used to in sayulita. in fact, this was around the time when everyone except brenda started to feel a little run down. so we kept it low key and played cards, ate lots and took walks. bodie also introduced nayou to netflix, which has now launched a whole new level of cartoon watching. um, thanks, bodie. i guess.


us hippies attracted a lot of stares as we wended our way through the streets.


and what beautiful streets they were. these smaller towns have so much character to them.

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nothing like a good photobomb to ruin an otherwise nice photo.

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love this one of nayou picking up some treasure or other.

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even though we didn’t get to go to el manto, the trip to amatlan was definitely worth it. we got to laze around in some hot springs, take leisurely strolls and hang out in a nice place. not bad at all really. thanks, amatlan! we hope to visit you again!