The disastrous start of our first day in Portland had worn us out that as soon as we got back to our hotel, we crawled into our beds and immediately fell asleep.
The next morning, I woke up to (what I assumed) the sound of rain. I peered outside and was disheartened to see it was really raining! Because we lucked out with yesterday’s weather, I was hoping it’ll be the same today (yeah, wishful thinking). This time, you are raining on my parade, Portland! I was now posed with the challenge: what to do in Portland when it’s raining?
Texas is two hours ahead of Oregon. Much to my son’s annoyance, I was wide awake by 6am local time. This morning (and everyday for four days), I had breakfast in our hotel alone. One of the disadvantages of traveling with college-aged kids is they would rather sleep in than have breakfast.
I waited for the rain to subside, but it just kept pouring. I hate wasting time while on vacation so I abruptly woke up my son and told him to get ready. “But it’s still raining!” he said. “Yeah, so? I have the perfect place in mind!” I told him.
Those who know me well know that it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Sushi, tea, and books are among the things I really enjoy. And if given a choice—going to a mall or browsing books at a bookstore—I would always pick the latter. When my older son was still in high school (before he drove on his own), I would stay for hours at the bookstore before picking him up at school. But sadly, there’s been a decline for bricks-and-mortar bookstores and are now slowly being replaced by digital technology.
The flagship Powell’s City of Books is listed as one of the must-visit places in Portland. It is claimed to be the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world! A map is provided to find your way around the bookstore! Cruising the aisles, I found the books I normally wouldn’t find in a regular bookstore. I told my son I’d move to Portland just to be near Powell’s. It’s that good!
After a few hours of browsing, the stimulation from the books must have made us really hungry. Famous for their Southeast Asian specialties, Pok Pok, one of the most famous places to eat in Portland, was what I had in mind.
The food is out of this world and if you’re expecting normal dishes you’d usually find in Asian restaurants, you will be disappointed.
Deep fried wings marinated in fish sauce and palm sugar, Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings is their most ordered dish in the menu. If you’re thinking what’s so special about chicken wings, trust me, you haven’t had these chicken wings. After eating one of the most satisfying restaurant meals I’ve had in a long time, I couldn’t help but wonder why the restaurant was named Pok Pok. The server explained that it had something to do with chopping something on a wooden block (in Thai). I shared with him what pokpok meant in my language (it’s slang for slut). LOL
The combination of spicy and salty got us craving for something sweet after. We were in luck because Salt and Straws was just down the street.
One of my son’s friends in college (who’s from Portland) told him about this ice cream shop (a must-visit)! The sea salt and caramel ice cream topped with caramel sauce and hazelnuts was absolutely divine, I went back to get more the next day!
Day 2 in Portland was a success! Spending hours at Powell’s was my idea of heaven on earth! Browsing through the aisles, finding books I wouldn’t normally find in other bookstores surely gave me bookgasm, a feeling I can’t fully describe or express in words whenever my hands touch a book! All I can say is it’s butterflies in my stomach. Did I already mention that I just experienced heaven on earth?