Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Country of Maple Leaves 4 ~ Stanley Park

Stanley Park is the backyard of Vancouver, an evergreen oasis of 400 hectares next to the downtown Vancouver, and that’s our next destination of the day. We rented 2 bicycles from a shop at the entrance, and started our exploration of the park.

This is the map of Stanley Park. We started from ‘S’ in the map, and cycled a big round through Beaver Lake. We were not able to make a full complete circle, as we originally decided to rent the bicycles for 2 hours, but we ended up with 3 hours for the ¾ round.

Some nice scenery along the way.

The green lungs of the city:

Yacht parking

Notice the divider on the road? They have very good system in the park: separate lanes for bicycles and for pedestrian, both ways. It was so enjoyable riding in a nice cold weather, without worrying that you might hit someone jogging in the park.

The totem poles, monumental sculptures carved from large trees by native aboriginal people in Canada.

The light house

Cloudy weather, best time for cycling as it’s not too hot or too cold.

Stanley Park is home to a wide range of resident wildlife including:

Raccoon – we met this cute little fellow half way cycling. Many people stopped by to take photo.

Duck A: I don’t want to friend you anymore.
Duck B: Hei, we are not friends. We are just colleagues.

How come this guy was talking using hand phone with swan?

It was as if a goose standing on top of my head :P

Vic: Where are we? Are we lost?

This is the Beaver Lake. We rested there for a while, and had some chocolate to restore energy.

There were some ducks resting in the middle of the lake. When they saw me squatted down eating chocolate next to the pool, 2 ducks swam quickly towards me from far hopping for food. It was so funny to see the ducks shaking their bucks and swam eagerly towards you.

We spent some time relaxing and cycling around the lake and jungle, then realized that we almost late for the 3 hours rental time. We cycled quickly and rushed back to return the rented bike, and yes, we make it on time!!!

After returning the bicycles, I was too tired and just sat down near a resident area. Those residential are very well maintained, the gardens are decorated beautifully with colourful tulips and all sorts of flowers.

Victor took a nap in front of the Lost Lagoon after the tiring exercise =P

After taking a good rest, we had our dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant before heading home. I always miss Vietnamese food in North America; tasty, big portion and cheap!

Wow, what a great day to begin a journey! I have fallen in love with this beautiful city in just 1 day!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Country of Maple Leaves 3 ~ Gastown

Gastown is the historic centre of Vancouver. Today, it is a refreshing mix of old and new, the host of restaurants and nightspots. We took a relaxing walk down the cobblestone streets, experiencing the Victorian fixtures and narrow lanes that display the historical landscape of 20th Century architecture.

The Famous Gastown Steam Clock
On a street corner of this Victorian-era warehouse district stands the world's first steam powered clock. The timepiece plays the Westminster Chimes every hour and whistles every 15 minutes with a gush of steam. This melody is the first song I learned to play piano when I was 7 :)

There are many unique shops in this little street. We stopped by a few souvenir stores and were attracted by the Vancouver Winter Olympic 2010 mascots.

All the mascots of Vancouver 2010 are based on legends from Canadian aboriginal culture. Let me introduced you Miga, Quatchi, Sumi and Mukmuk.
Say hi, guys!

Miga was based on the legends of the Pacific Northwest First Nations of orca whales that transform into bears when they arrive on land, but is also a snowboarder.

Quatchi is a sasquatch, but a shy and gentle giant, that loves all winter sports, and is especially fond of hockey and dreams of becoming a world-famous goalie.

The third mascot, Sumi, is an animal-guardian spirit who wears the hat of the orca whale, flies with the wings of the mighty Thunderbird and runs on the furry legs of the black bear.

The three creatures' sidekick is Mukmuk, a rare Vancouver Island marmot. While not officially a mascot, Mukmuk enjoys surprising his friends by popping up on occasion.

There are some cute videos stared by the mascots here:

The logo of 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics is based on the Canadian Inuit Inukshuk.

Inuit : The native tribes who inhabit portions of Alaska, Arctic Canada, and Greenland.

Inukshuk: a stone marker that has been used by the Inuit to help guide through the northern Arctic terrain for centuries. In order to pass on information that is critical to survival, the Inuit developed a unique form of communication based on rock formations. The longer arm of an inukshuk points in the direction that one should travel to.

It is amazing how much Canada history and culture I can learn from the Olympic logo and mascots, by making a trip to Gastown.

Vancouver is a beautiful city. We can see snow on mountain while walking in the city.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Country of Maple Leaves 2 ~ Granville Island

In the afternoon, we went for lunch in Granville Island with Joyce. Granville Island is an island in the middle of Vancouver, physically connected to the city by a causeway. The whole island includes several theaters, a huge market place, numerous galleries and shops. Public transport in Vancouver is really convenient. We can basically take bus to go to most attractions in the city. We took the bus to go to Granville Island, walked pass the causeway, and the first sight we saw was a very beautiful lake and garden. The weather was perfect, thus there were many people hanging around the garden. We too enjoyed the warm sun with slightly cold breeze, hanging around the garden and watching Vancouver people spent their spring time. Wild geese were everywhere and they were not afraid of human.

This little Korean girl was feeding the little geese with bread, so cute! The baby boy also wanted to play with the little goose.

Cats Social House, no dog allowed. This poor dog had to wait outside.

A nicely decorated pet shops ~~ Woofles & Meowz.

A street performer, he asked 2 audiences to tied him up with big chain, and then covered with black clothes. We didn’t finish watching the entire show...

We hopped into the Kids Market, which is a kid-friendly zone with unique shops geared towards the younger, before we continue our journey to the Public Market. Food sold there was really fresh and looks attractive and colorful. Wandered through the counters and stalls set up by farmers, bakers, butchers and fishmongers, we bought some fresh fruits, meats and other ingredients for our home cook meal tomorrow.

We were very lucky that it was Spot Prawn Festival that week, and the market invited a Canadian Iron Chef ~ Rob Feenie for a cook show. We watched him demonstrated the Prawn Fettuccine recipe, and had chance to sample it too. I like the little taste of lemon flavor in the pasta. Look at the mirror on top of the chef; they placed it in the right angel so that everyone could see clearly how he cooked.

Done with our shopping, we had our lunch in The Keg Steakhouse, one of the finest local-based steak house in Vancouver. These are the food we shared among 3 of us:

The spinach salad: It could possibly be the nicest salad I have ever tasted. Baby spinach with mandarin oranges, mixed with slices of red onion, dried cranberries and sour cheese, I just love the combinations and it tasted incredible! Besides, I enjoyed the bread served (no photo).

The appetizer, can’t remember the name, it’s something like a fried potato shrimp cake. It was too salty for me.

And here comes the main course: The steak was done a perfect medium-rare and it was very juicy and tasted great with its sauce. This is one of the best meals I had this trip. I like the garlic mashed potatoes too.

After we left the restaurant with happy full stomach, Joyce went back home with our fresh food from market, while Vic and I continue with our next visit to Gastown.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Country of Maple Leaves 1 ~ Spring in Vancouver

We had our second honeymoon to Canada, the country of maple leaves. This was not just a honeymoon trip to us; the main purpose of the trip is to visit Victor’s grandmother in Toronto, and to offer tea to her after we got married. We had a long tiring 18 hours flight from Kuala Lumpur to Vancouver, landed in Vancouver International Airport at around 9pm in the cold spring night in May 2009. We stayed with Vic’s sister, Joyce in Vancouver. She lived in Kerrisdale, 15 minutes away from University of British Columbia (UBC).

This is my favorite corner in the apartment. I love the fire place coz we won’t be having this in Malaysia =P

Vic, the couch potato and his pet.

We woke up very early in the morning the next day, mainly due to jetlag. It was already very bright in 5am. Nothing to do at home, Vic took me for a walk around the neighborhood.

Vic brought me around to familiarize with the place he spent his 4 years of university life. It is a very convenient neighborhood. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, convenient stores, banks etc in walking distance. This is my first time traveling in spring. Some people said that the most beautiful place to experience spring in Canada is Vancouver, and this is perfectly true indeed. The weather in Vancouver is incredible, that’s the reason why it is one of the best city to live in the world. There are different kinds of flowers blossomed everywhere on the street. I love the tulips especially, they were just so colorful.

The neighborhood

The blue sky and the blossom flowers.

Another corner in the city.

The proud cat guiding her territory.

After the walk, we went to a Hong Kong restaurant to have our first breakfast this trip. Vic told me that Hong Kong food in Vancouver is compatible to those in Hong Kong, because there are many good chef migrated here. The size of the dim sum here are very big, 2x or 3x compared to Malaysia. Here’s some delicious dim sum we tasted:

Shrimp dumplings 虾饺

Can you see the steam coming out from ‘Siu Mai’?

‘Jin Chong Fan’ 煎肠粉

Steak 牛小排