Leap Year at West Edmonton Mall

BioWare rocks. Case in point:

As last Friday was February 29th, EA Canada spontaneously decided to grant a free holiday to all Canadian employees. There’s your first advantage to EA’s takeover of BioWare! How cool is that?

So what’s a guy and his girlfriend to do on an unplanned day off in Edmonton in the middle of winter? Why, go to West Edmonton Mall, of course!

I’ve had been both dreading and looking forward to going to West Edmonton Mall. “West Ed”, as I hear it referred to here, is iconic of the city of Edmonton, and its biggest tourist attraction. Until 2004, it was considered the largest shopping center in the world; now it’s probably 8th behind some gynormous mall in China, but it’s still an impressive feat of consumerist architecture. (Thanks to Helene for the mall world record trivia.)

Those who know me are aware that I have an aversion to malls. This is why my moving to Edmonton was so ironic to a lot of my friends. It’s also why I’ve already broken my all-time record for number of times I visited a mall in a week. Anyway, we made our way to “West Ed” Friday, by bus, and began exploring the mall.

As malls go, actually, it was a bit of a letdown. I’ve seen malls in Asia which, albeit smaller, were much more stunning for their modernity; and the sheer human experience of waddling through thousands of people in a market were missing from the polite and quaint West Ed. (Guess I should go back during Christmas shopping.) Yeah, there’s stuff like submarine rides, but they amount to crappy-looking rides at the bottom of a swimming pool. Still, there’s a quaint quality to all of this that was worth the trip.

The mall does offer a humongous Asian supermarket, though, and I get the feeling we’ll be back. The supermarket is huge, and is surrounded by little stalls offering anything from bubble tea to dim sum. All of this can be found past a Chinatown “gate” which is more impressive than the one downtown.

All in all, we had a good afternoon and evening at West Ed, though I don’t see much of a reason to go there… outside of leap years!

About Daniel Roy

Daniel is a writer, backpack foodie, slow traveler, and endurance runner. He is the author of the upcoming book, "The Way of Slow Travel: A Hands-On Guide to the Best Travel of Your Life."

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