Tuesday, November 25, 2014

GCA VII: Two Lakes

Lake Louise Inn

Our first morning in Lake Louise was a primer for the weather to come. Just getting to the car required three layers of clothing. And our breath came out in puffs. Grabbed breakfast at the Visitors Centre, the only commercial centre in the village. At first we looked at the cold sandwiches in the supermarket but decided against that (like it wasn't cold enough outside) and went queuing at Laggan's, the bakery next door. Got ourselves some croissants and a sandwich and most importantly hot coffee. Felt really good going down. It's refreshing to note that in Canada, even small cafes provide gluten-free choices and are able to advise on food allergy issues. The first attraction of the day was Lake Moraine with its beautiful blue-green waters. Actually most of the lakes around there have the same hue due to the fact that they are glacier-fed. Really, really fine rock sediment (called rock flour) in the lake water cause only certain wavelengths to be reflected, hence the colour. We trekked around the lake (while some chose to canoe), taking a 3 km round trip. Outdoor activities in Canada can be quite pleasant provided it's not too cold or wet.

Lac Moraine

Rock Pile

Canoe in the Distance

Enjoying the Hue

Ten Peaks

Lone Photographer

Tried to get to Lake Louise (I was anticipating lake fatigue soon) after that, but the traffic was crazy and we failed to find parking. Since it was nearly noon, we decided to have lunch instead. Tried some eats at Trailhead Cafe. Shared a Canadian Club (which by the way was a wrap full of bacon) and some hot clam chowder. During lunch we did a little reshuffling of our plans. Instead of Lake Louise, we went for the Lake Louise Gondola. KH was raring to see bears. The station was at Lake Louise Ski Lodge. Not many people went up. Feeling adventurous, we chose the open gondola instead of the closed option. Basically it was a padded ski lift. Halfway up, the wind picked up and it started to drizzle. When the raindrops reached us, they turned to ice crystals. X_X. Brrrrr. Strangely, people were coming down all dressed up, in coats, bow ties and dresses. Weird. When we arrived at the top, we found out why-- a wedding. The bride was in her gown and hiking shoes, taking pictures amid the Fireweed. She seemed unfazed by the cold, while KH and I tried to find shelter from the wind and intermittent drizzle. The weather conditions were not conducive for us to hike, plus bear country required us to travel in groups of at least four for safety reasons. In the end, we opted for the Great Bear Trail, a guided tour about bears, though it DID NOT include bear sightings (KH was not at all happy LOL). Some interesting information about the Black Bears and Grizzlies. Basically they eat A LOT of berries, like 20,000 a day! And that makes up 90% of their diet. Didn't stay too long up there. The rain wasn't letting up, so we jumped into one of the closed gondolas down.

Lake Louise Ski Lodge

Open Gondola

Lake Louise Gondola

Mountain Bride


Mossy Trail

It was already late afternoon, so we tried Lake Louise again. As expected, the crowd had left. The colour of Lake Louise was exactly like Lake Moraine. On a whole, I think the latter is more scenic. Did the usual trek around the lake, following closely behind a bubble-butt PRC guy in A&F sweatpants. Panas!

Pouring In

Lake Louise Lee

Halfway through, we bumped into last week's dinner guests at Westin. The guy and his wife were staying at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise at MYR1,200 a night! Little wonder his wife didn't turn up for dinner that night. Did not go all the way. Turned back and visited the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise instead. An atas place. Left the hotel to look for food, but we were stuck in another massive jam. Reminded me of Cameron Highlands during high season.

Lakeview Luxury

Majestic Lake

Rays on Lake

So we made a U-turn and headed to Deer Lodge which we had just passed by earlier. Started with King Scallops that were divine! beer-battered cod was for me and the bison burger was KH's. Bison had a real strong smell compared to beef and had a tougher texture. Traffic was much better after dinner. Used up quite a lot of our fuel, so we stopped at the gas station near our hotel. We were presented with a choice of 87, 89 and 91. Never occurred to ask the car rental people about the fuel we should pump. LOL. Fuel prices were expensive, taxed at an average of 31%. Cost us CND1.32 per litre. Pheww...

King Scallop

Saturday, November 22, 2014

GCA VI: Into the Rockies


Fearing a whole lot of checkouts the next morning, KH went to the front desk before midnight to settle the bill. It was a mistake really, cause housekeeping thought we had left and kept calling and knocking. Ugh. The next morning, we got a cab easily enough and went to Vancouver Airport (YVR) to catch our flight to Calgary (YYR). For the first time, used a self service system where you actually print your own baggage tags and lug them to the belt. So kampung of me right? Ate a breakfast combination of Tim Horton's and A&W, and I must say that the former was the better choice. Bumped into a guy that I had met at dinner the night before and finally met his wife. Strange that she chose not to attend. Since she flew all the way with him, might as well watch him go on stage to get his certificate! The flight was just an hour but it was delayed because they had to eject the luggage of passengers that didn't turn up. Gave me enough time to watch "Maleficent" on the in-flight entertainment. Thankfully I brought my earphones in my hand carry luggage because Air Canada charged for them. KH and I synchronized our screens and shared the earphone. Hehe.

Tim Hortons

Surprised to see that at YYR, the baggage claims and the arrival hall share the same space. Yikes. That pretty much means that anyone can walk up to the belt and make off with your luggage! While waiting for our bags to arrive, KH went to settle the car rental at National. Once he got the car (it was a cute, white KIA Soul), we loaded our bags into it and went for lunch at the airport food court (no fear of theft like in back home). Shared a plate of rice with stir-fried chicken and beef prepared by a couple of pinoys. They were thrilled when KH told them that he was from Malaysia. So eager to show off his command of Malay by repeatedly asking whether "Nak tambah sos?". Perhaps that's supposed to have a double meaning? Finished up, bought coffee and a muffin from Tim Horton's (again) and hit the road! I drove really carefully in town (left hand drive!), but relaxed when we hit the highway. Signboards in Canada are dual-language to cater for the Francophiles. Just about 150km to Banff. When entering the park, we had to purchase a pass. They charge for each day we spend there. At major tourist attractions they would check for it. Guess it covers road and park upkeep, maintenance of parking and restrooms (a hole in the ground, but with hand sanitizer and toilet paper).

Welcome to Calgary

Moose @ Belt 4

Driving Soul

Darling Drive

Destination: Banff

Our first stop in Banff was Tunnel Mountain. No tunnel there, it was named thus because they thought that they needed to blast a tunnel through the mountain. It was a 3.6km return hike with a 300m elevation via a few switchbacks up the hillside. For one thing, it was cold and we were tired so on the onset we were already feeling a little hard-pressed. Lol. We persevered anyway. Just a third into our journey, we were rewarded with a great view of Banff. Several teens were there enjoying the view (and enjoying the fresh air by smoking) and I think too disinterested to continue further. We trudged upwards and met a couple who were descending. They told us that we were nearly there, only ten minutes! What a lie that was. The first major 'wow' near the top was the view of Mount Rundle. Crazy. Something that I can only describe as being very Mild 7 (those ciggie advertisements from my childhood). At the peak was a breathtaking view of Bow Valley. As it was getting dark, we hiked down and tried to squeeze in The Hoodoos before driving off to Lake Louise. However, we were unable to locate it on the GPS and the printed map wasn't of much help. So we just gave up and went for dinner at El Toro.

Trudging Up Tunnel Mountain

Mount Rundle

Summit Dating

Stop, Enjoy

Had a difficult time finding parking along the main road, so we turned into the residential areas. Parking with left hand drive was a challenge for me. Normal assumptions totally out. Haha. Luckily nothing happened to the car. Ordered a meat and cheese platter and some ravioli. Hardly touched the latter. Also had some sangria and beer. Walking back to the car was another challenge because we were full and it was f*cking cold! When we arrived at Lake Louise, it was already dark and bloody cold! Found the Lake Louise Inn easily enough. Checked into our creaky room (it was a wooden building away from the lobby) and plonked onto the bed. No air-conditioning was available, not that it was required. Just had to open the windows to enjoy the cold mountain air. And when it got really cold, we fired up the heater. Or just started a 'fire' in bed, whichever was more convenient.


Friday, November 14, 2014

GCA V: Stanley Park Revisited

Run & Cycle

Stanley Park's a huge ass park, definitely bigger than Nicky Minaj's power-upped booty, so I decided to give it a revisit. On my first day, I went to the counter-clockwise direction, so I went to the clockwise direction instead. A different segment of the Seawall that is more rocky, a perfect place for rock stacking. Actually walked 8km that day, pushing myself from the second beach till the third beach and finally turned back at Siwash Rock. Unfortunately, during that excursion to Stanley Park, I dropped my monopod's smartphone extension. KH sulked for a bit. Hehe. But all was not lost as we could still use it with my digital camera.

Rock Stack I

Pano Stanley Park Clockwise

Seawall Clockwise

Siwash Rock

I walked back to English Bay and made my way to Denman Street for an early lunch at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, bypassing the long queues. Sat next to a studious looking nerd at the counter and slurped our noodles in unison. Compared to KL, Vancouver's version is better and I had correctly chosen the Shio Ramen that best showcases their flavour. After slurping all my noodles, I went back to the hotel to rest. Later that evening was KH's graduation dinner. Had to look my best. Put on a tight, royal blue shirt and gray striped tie to match KH who was looking dapper in a suit. We joined the tail-end of the cocktail party Just managed to grab some scrumptious king scallop hors d'ouvres. It was free seating and KH chose a table with familiar faces from Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand. All of them were there with their wives. I had the honour of being the only husband. Dinner started with a mushroom soup that I found too peppery, followed by a chunk of AAA beef steak. Along the way there were speeches and video replays of the past three days and right after dessert was served, they started handing out the 200 odd certificates. The tables from Quebec were the most boisterous with their "Ole, Ole, Ole" and loud banter. Oddly enough, it provided much atmosphere to an otherwise bland affair. For every person who went up, they would shout, "You did a good job!". And of course it would be a notch higher if the person was from Quebec. A woman even requested a little something special for them when it was her turn. Toasted with wine and took pics. We didn't stay for the president's reception as we needed to pack and check out the next day. Congratulations again to my hubby! And one step closer for me to Tai-tai-hood!

Santouka Ramen

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Osaka Celebrities: Osaka Olaf & Gu Grant

Osaka Olaf

While going through Picasa, I realized some stragglers in my spycam folder from my Osaka Trip last July. Might as well post them before the year is out. The first guy is Osaka Olaf. I was standing right in front of him, so I could not get his whole face. Such a waste. Anyway, I love his scruffy, manly look. Works great for him. Oozing testosterone unlike your usual Japanese dandies and twinks. Definitely no squealing like a school girl in the bedroom here. Like his arms too. Yummy.

GU Grant

GU Grant above works as a cashier at GU Shinsaibashisuji. Not only are their clothes cheap and stylish, they have cute-sy staff too. This guy  rocks the lanky nerd look. And his lips look super kissable too. Can imagine moans escaping those lips while one licks his nips!


Sunday, November 09, 2014

GCA IV: Two Times Gay

A-maze-ing Laughter by Yue Minjun

On the second day of my solo Vancouver excursion, I chose to go to Davie Street, the gay area of Vancouver. Just a few weeks before, they had a big pride event there and I heard that 100,000 revellers attended. Once again, I slowly strolled out from the hotel. Some elevation on certain stretches but definitely walkable. The first landmark I came across was English Bay Beach. There was a cute art installation at Morton Park nearby, called "A-maze-ing Laughter" by Yue Minjun. A cheerful bunch of bronze sculptures. Took some pics, then walked down to the beach to spy on some shirtless hunks. Too little, too far. On Davies Street, I kept my eyes peeled for signs of gayness. A little rainbow flag here, a splash of colour there, a hairy-chested Superman sticker in the window, and some left over Pride decorations in the window. Other than that, they had pink dustbins and pink bus stops. That was about it. My gaydar wasn't even pinged a whole lot. But quite a big concentration of tourists there with all the hotels in the vicinity. The highlight was the Rainbow pedestrian crossing at the main intersection at the heart of Davie Village. Definitely something you wanna photograph. Part of the road was also blocked for community activities. But from what I saw, it was just boardgames. Spent some time around the amazing Living Shangri-la building that is tallest building in British Columbia (a mix of hotel, office and residences). Beside it was Offsite, a public art space installed by "Time To Let Go" by Babak Golkar. A person working nearby was nice enough to demonstrate for me how he interacted with it. Did a short detour to Barclay Street to take a look at Roedde House, but it did not interest me.

English Bay Beach

Davie St. 1700

Hairy Superman

Rainbow Crossing

Living Shangri-La

Time To Let Go by Babak Golkar

Old Charm

Slowly made my way back to Robson Public Market where I had an avocado turkey sandwich for late lunch from Apple Deli. Went back to rest after that. KH finished up at 5:00pm that day and he wanted to go to to Davies Street! I nearly fainted. My leg was painful from all the walking, a nagging ache in the left part of my groin (not from skanky activities la). I accompanied him anyway, and retraced my steps from earlier (bumped into a bunch of Jap boys at Morton Park!). But we did something extra by visiting the Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium. In my opinion, it's more sex shop than anything else (just a small collection of books and cards) . A good selection of hefty dildos, more silicone lube and boy butter than you could ever use, bondage rope, electronic toys, leather costumes, strap-on dicks, clitoral stimulators, douching kits and double-headed dildos. Phew. KH bought a bottle of GunOil (which his mum found by the way, don't ask) although we aren't exactly fans of silicone oil. Repeated the other sites and ended up in Stepho's for dinner. Their lamb came highly-recommended and it was no joke. Juicy and tender. Came in a huge bed of rice and rough cut potatoes. For appetisers, we had meatballs that were superb (love the refreshing zucchini-mint dipping sauce) and hummus with some pita bread. Too much to finish since the meatballs came with more of the bland rice. Yikes. With heavy stomachs, we slowly crawled and limped our way back to the hotel. A heart-warming scene played out in front of us though-- two guys holdings hands with a kid. They lifted him up together as they were crossing the road. Gay parents? KH squeezed my hand tight and we went on our way...

Avocado Turkey Sandwich

Jap @ "A-maze-ing Laughter" by Yue Minjun

English Bay Buddies

Little Sisters

Proud as an Orange