A July Visit to Vancouver and Bowen Island

During my two week stay in BC, I did stuff and things and so forth, etc. These activities included…

Giving my brother Matt tips as he learned how to ride a motorcycle:


Going to Tuesday night karaoke at J-Lounge with Denise and Dan, who were awesome on stage:


Watching Toy Story 3 and seeing Kevin James, of the movie Grown Ups, in the theatre:


A long sunset walk around part of the seawall and Yaletown with my friend Amanda:


Attending the Canada Cup of Beer with Stash (not in this pic), Dan, and Lyndsay. Got to catch up with Colin and Rick, the organisers, as well. Rick is on the left of the truck:


Eating pho at KPXL twice, the second time being a post-glup dich noodle celebration with many amazing people:


And cycling with my brother Dan to Bowen Island for a bit over a day by the sea, which deserves more than one photo. Arriving at Horseshoe Bay for the ferry, sweaty and tired from far too many hillclimbs:


The ferry ride to Bowen Island:


When we arrived on Bowen, the tide was the lowest I can remember ever seeing:


My brother Matt took the windsurfer out a few times, and had not fallen until I pulled my camera out, assuming he’d fall. It took less than 30 seconds for my prediction to come true:


The three of us decided to get ice cream in Snug Cove, so we had a ‘race’ to get there. Matt took the windsurfer to Sandy Beach while Dan took the canoe and I rowed Jaro, the half-century-old fibreglass rowboat, across Deep Bay and into the cove. I would have beat Dan by a long shot if I hadn’t stopped to wait for him for this photo op, but I still barely beat him. Matt was still out on the water when we walked over to Sandy Beach to find him, and he had to paddle to shore for lack of wind.


There were quite a few deer on the property this time. In fact, at one point I counted seven (!) of them altogether in the front and back yards – three adults and four fawns.


The ferry heading back to Vancouver, with UBC behind it:


Deep Bay:


A good place from which to stare at the ocean:


I found this creepy crawlie, a steatoda borealis, on my bedroom floor in the cabin I stayed in:


One of the fawns that were running around the property on Sunday:


Dan and I spent at least an hour in the forest picking berries to give a friend of mine back in Vancouver. We got a whole bunch of huckleberries, salal berries (which is what he’s picking in this pic), and plums – delicious things you’ll probably never see on a grocery store shelf (the plums in question are not the kind you see in stores).


One of the deer in the backyard as seen from inside our kitchen:


On the ferry ride back to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, the haze was nearly non-existent so the green trees of the mainland coast actually looked green!


The cycle from Horseshoe Bay back to Vancouver was much easier than the opposite direction the day before. Dan insists it was the evening tailwind, while I believe it was a combination of me not having any luggage on my bike and having a small coffee on the ferry ride. The lighting was amazing as we cycled along the scenic Marine Drive, through Park Royal, and on toward Lion’s Gate Bridge.


Views from Lion’s Gate Bridge:


Dan and I parted ways at Denman and Robson, where for about 3 minutes (Dan timed it roughly) the underside of these clouds lit up like fire:


On the 13th, Dan and I spent some time at Kerrisdale Cameras testing out extension tubes on my camera for macro photography. This is part of my finger:


On the evening of July 13th I caught a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 owned by KLM from Vancouver to Amsterdam en route back to DR Congo.


September Adventures in London

On August 29th I flew over the Arctic from Vancouver to London. These clouds were kind of strange and neat:

I landed on the 30th, stayed a night with Gareth, a fellow logistics intern, then found my own place in northeast London on the 31st. A very rare empty car in the tube (London Underground):

Gareth and I went to the Notting Hill Festival, which is a big Caribbean festival in London. It was better-organised than Caribana in Toronto, and we had a good time navigating through the crowds and chatting with random people.

A capoeira group displaying their skills:

There were also LOTS of police around:

Check out the woman on the right side of the photo:

Neat street art:

My friend Aidan lives in London now, as a med student at Imperial College. We met up on September 5th and headed to a local pub, but when we arrived there was a crew of firemen arriving!

The firemen eventually left, and my friends Stash and Ian showed up to join us not long after. Stash and Ian were in London at the end of a two month European backpacking trip, and it was great to hang out with them while they were in town for a few days.

Stash and I went to the Lion King musical, which was amazing! No photos allowed, so I just took one before the curtains opened. But man, the visuals were amazing. If you ever have the chance, go see it.

On the first day of my second week as an intern, Stash and Ian joined me after work at a local pub called the Bavarian Beer Hall, where they sell very large beers. We did not order this:

The three of us, plus my friend and fellow intern Joanna, then headed to Tottenham Court Rd to eat Pho. Ian and Stash are tall:

We phound it!

Jo’s not in any of our photos cuz she was always taking them for us… man was it tasty!

After we had our fill of Pho, we had a walk around the area and soon found Poland Street, which made Stash (who’s Polish) very happy. Especially when I renamed it Pholish Street. We like Pho a lot, what can I say.

And as we passed an electronics store, the TV inside was playing some crazy weird movie with dinosaurs and aliens and stuff:

Stash and Ian then headed back to Vancouver, and I finally started getting some sleep in the evenings!

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Weekend motorbike trip to Mae Sariang

This blog post begins and ends with food photos.

On December 12th I set off with my friends, Matt and Hans, on a weekend motorcycle road trip from Mae Sot just over 200km up to Mae Sariang. First we filled up on petrol and I bought some chips. Tasty flavour!

We drove for about 15 minutes and stopped at a chicken stand to buy our lunch – two chickens with sticky rice and sauce! Yummmmmmmm!

An hour and a half later, we stopped in a little village to refill our tanks as Karen women walked along the road.

A typical hand-crank petrol station. It cost us $2.50 to fill up here, which was nearly twice what everyone else charges us, but there’s no arguing when you’re in the middle of nowhere getting petrol.

Hans demonstrating good riding technique by staying on the road:

Matty demonstrating how to drive on gravel with sidebag:

Matty’s friend Goldie, a Karen girl he taught last year and who lives in Mae Sariang, has a red bike. It says “Organic Sport” on it. Explanations are welcome.

Matty’s bike says “Ecology Power.” Again, explanations happily accepted. My bike just says “Ultimate 4 Stroke Engine.”

We arrived safely in Mae Sariang in the evening after a long day of driving on beautiful if not always well-maintained roads, and slept well at the North West guesthouse.

In the morning Goldie came to pick us up and lead us to her home village, a place called Mae Sam Laep, which is on the eastern (Thai) bank of the Salween River, the border between Thailand and Burma. Since Matt’s rear brake wasn’t working quite as well as it should have been, we got a mechanic in Mae Sam Laep to adjust and lubricate both his rear and front brakes. It’s important to have good brakes when you’re riding down a 45 degree incline, which happened at least twice to us.

After a little walking about, we found a boat skipper and worked out a price for the four of us to take an hour-long trip along the river, with Burma on one side of us, and Thailand on the other. Matt quite enjoyed his pink life vest.

River boats!

Two ladies and a young girl joined us in our boat, though not as tourists of course!

Our captain:

The boat was a bit less than five feet wide I’d say, though it looks much larger in this photo:

Every time I’m in Southeast Asia, I’m constantly reminded of M*A*S*H by the scenery.

An SPDC checkpoint:

After a great river trip and a nice chicken curry lunch, we were back on the windy mountain roads to Mae Sariang. The outskirts of Mae Sam Laep, just as we were leaving town, look something like this:

That evening Hans and I watched this fisherman in Mae Sariang catching something that looked from our distance like a snake or eel. Then he walked across the river, waist deep, and I presume went home to eat or sell it.

On Sunday we were on the road again, back to Mae Sot! The road is really something amazing, though it might not be amazing if you’re riding in the back of a songthaew or someone’s car even, depending on your predisposition to motion sickness on windy, steep, sometimes bumpy roads. And sometimes the locals like to share the road too:

At a certain point, the narrow, pothole-riddled, one-lane-each-way ‘highway’ turns into a big dirt construction site. This is where the new highway meets the old one. They’ve been working for a number of years to improve this highway, kilometre by kilometre.

Matty enjoys the dirt road like Hans and I:

Right after that dirt track, the road became an amazing, better-than-Canadian, wide and smooth highway. After a while on this great road, we reached Tha Song Yang, a small town where we had a delicious lunch. The Thai version of Pho. As you can see, Hans was ecstatic.

Matty seemed quite contented as well:

An hour and a half after leaving Tha Song Yang, we were back in Mae Sot for a quiet beer and I was off to get my bags packed and catch an overnight bus to Bangkok, where I did some touristing for once. But that’s for the next post.