Tuesday, December 30, 2014

GCA XIII: Sea to Air

Waterfront

Tater has an uncle on Victoria Island and during his last visit there, he took a sea plane to visit him. And from that experience, he strongly-encouraged us to do the same. So KH got tickets with Harbour Air and packaged it with a whale-watching company at Victoria Island. Got off the Sky Train at Waterfront station and had a simple breakfast panini from Pepe. Walked over to Vancouver Harbour that was located right next to the Vancouver Convention Centre. Only after checking in did we realize that they served free pastries and coffee to passengers.

YWH

Harbour Airport

Our flight used a Sea Otter and could seat twelve passengers. Luggage is stowed in the pontoons. Very different taking off from the water. But taxi-ing out to the open waters was quite a slow process. Take off was smooth and view was amazing with no turbulence. Our altitude was low, so we were rewarded with a great birds eye view of the islands. Further out we could see how salt water and fresh water mingled judging by the dual color of the water.

Cockpit

View from a Seaplane II

View from a Seaplane III

View from a Seaplane I

Fresh Meets Salt

Arrived at Victoria Island in about an hour and the landing was smooth as well. With such a small plane, one would expect things to be bumpier. Upon arrival, we checked in with the whole watching tour. Our vessel was the King Salmon and there around thirty other people in our group. Half sat inside while the other half sat outside catching the rays and sea spray. We shared a table with a British couple who brought their baby along. Our guide loves to joke that the baby was 'whale bait'. Kinda contradictory when she was later trying to portray the orcas as gentle creatures. The whale watching companies share information with each other, constantly updating whale sightings.

Vancouver Island Harbour

On the Harbour

Orca Bait

We travelled out quite a bit before seeing our first Orcas in the distance. Just caught glimpses of their dorsal fins. From the markings, the guides can identify the pods. Was supposed to do a rotation from inside the boat to the top, but we preferred to stay out of the sun, wind and spray. Good enough looking out from the back of the boat and enjoying a jot cup of tea. LOL. For the whole trip, we kept a respectful distance and finally headed back.

Lookout

Orca II

Orca I

Orca III

The recommended thing to eat there was Red Fish Blue Fish, a small fish and chips joint. Unfortunately, the queue was long and the throughput was as efficient as the government service counters back home. Fed up with waiting in the scorching sun, we went into town first. Shopped a little at The Bay before trying our luck again at 3:00 PM. We ate the Albacore tuna tacone, halibut fish and chips and a green curry clam chowder that hastened me to the toilet later. Walked around at Market Square and some misc shops to while away the time. Found an all year round Christmas shop that sold ornaments from all around the world. Interesting, authentic and expensive trinkets.

Q for Fish

Red Fish Blue Fish

Market Square

Our flight back was graced by an handsome Canadian in super tight business wear (let's call him Otter Oswald). More breathtaking views. Back in Vancouver, we had a Ramen dinner at Menya. Not very impressive, except for the kid (let's call him Bubble Barney) with the bubble butt sitting a few tables away. LOL. Look at how it stretched his sweat pants.

View from a Seaplane V

View from a Seaplane IV

Bird's Eye View

In-flight Snooze

Sleeping on a Seaplane

Shio Ramen

Bubble

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

GCA XII: Chinese Food, Indian Bridge, Canadian Gelato

Fat Siew Mai

Kenji and Andy took leave to spend the day with us. Actually Andy called in sick. Lol. Not wanting them to come all the way down to fetch us, we took the Sky Train to Lansdowne. Nearly everyone on the train was of Chinese-descent. While waiting, we did some shopping at Lansdowne Mall. They took us out for dim sum that day. Some say that dim sum in Vancouver is better than Hong Kong due to the freshness of the ingredients, but I don't agree. Sam Sui Wah looked like your typical dim sum place with Cantonese-speaking waiters, typical furniture and gilded Chinese characters on the walls. The prices were relatively steep but the portions gweilo-sized. Some of the stuff were good, but some I did not like. The weirdest item was the baked melon lolo. Halfway through, felt a bit 'zhai' and Kenji's stomach reacted to something we ordered too. Andy sent us back to their place so that Kenji could purge a bit. The place they live in is quite nice, with several housemates. The living room is conquered by gamers judging by the multiple LED displays and powerful desktops. At the other end is a large TV surrounded by an impressive DVD movie library and a collection of anime figurines, including Ichigo and Ryo's zanpakutou from Bleach.

Crispy On The Inside

Boo

Next up, we did the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Kenji and Andy had a year pass for the place and luckily they were expiring on that day itself. Saved quite a bit of money there. From the name, one could guess that the main attraction is a suspension bridge. One that could take the combined weight of 1,300 adults at any one time. Even an old tree falling on it after a prolonged snowfall couldn't bring the bridge down. Other than that, there was a treetop walk and cliff walk that was quite interesting. However, the park did not offer any spectacular views of the cityscape. We got our "I did it" certificates and went to Grouse Mountain. Our initial plan was to do the Grouse Grind, basically a 2000+ step elevation to the summit. But our days at Banff had taken the wind out of us, so we considered the gondola ride up instead. Unfortunately, it was pretty expensive and our host's year passes had expired so we just gave that a miss.

I Can Take It

Totem

Looking Up at the Treetop Walk

Cliff Walk

Buy, Buy, Buy

Touristy Cookie

Headed back to town and was caught in the usual rush hour jam on Lionsgate Bridge. Had gelato at Bella Gelateria, loitered at Toccino and did some shopping at Hollister. After meeting Kenji's di, it was time to meet his gor, Eric over dinner at Coast. A fantastic seafood restaurant in the downtown area with fresh fish and fantastic service. We shared the seafood tower which was basically the seafood equivalent of an afternoon tea set. KH and I shared a tomato-based seafood soup and sturgeon. Our server was very attentive and made sure the food came out in the correct order. My food was served split and nicely plated! Eric was from Beijing and had lived many years in Vancouver and Toronto. He seemed to be planning to bring his mother over and the question of mother over boyfriend came up. And when discussing about ex's, it was revealed that Kenji and Andy actually shared the same ex. Small world. When it was time for the bill, we could even split and share items according to groups and it was all nicely presented in the print out. Since we did not do the view of Vancouver from Grouse Mountain, Andy drove us up Cypress instead. A dark lookout point perfect to look at the stars (been ages since I saw Big Dipper) and the night lights of the city. Perfect place for lovebirds. Hehe.

Clothing Optional

Thursday, December 18, 2014

GCA XI: Granville Island & Metrotown

Looking Out

Truth be told, our schedule for the second part in Vancouver was a bit fluid. Based on a recommendation from our hosts, we visited Granville Island. Took a bus (she even taught us how to cheat! But we didn't do that. Actually wantend to buy the tickets on the bus, but since we didn't have any coins, the bus driver just gave them to us FOC!) and subsequently went by foot. Nearly went the wrong way as the signage was quite bad. Doubled back from on top the bridge and walked under it instead. Along the way, we asked directions from a woman who was luckily going the same way. Started off at Net Loft, a place where the local art writers from Emily Carr University sold their wares. Most of the shops weren't open, so we had a simple breakfast at Net Loft Cafe first. Wandered in Net Loft and then the Public Market. Fantastic selections of fresh produce, arts and craft. Interesting to note that all the fruit sellers spoke Cantonese. Then went to RIP and the Kids Market.

Exploring the Public Market

Is Chocolate Better Than Sex?

Sausages Galore

Pastry

Cured Meat

Silo Art

Sockeye Salmon

Farmer's Market

Under The Flyover

The Crystal Ark

Aquabus

Covered quite a huge area. Stopped to catch our breath at Tony's, a popular fish and chips joint. Tried the halibut, some scallop and the white clam chowder. And the waitress was perplexed at our choice of fries as side dishes for both the mains. Potato poisoning.

White Clam Chowder

Scallops & Halibut

In the evening, we went to Metrotown to meet up Kenji and his di, George. While waiting for them to turn up, KH did some luggage shopping at Sears (took him ages to finally decide on a Delsey). That bag really came in handy because we had a lot more to bring home (bought six pairs of bras for SK from Victoria's Secret). George was a tall, lanky fella with interesting facial features (thanks to his mixed parentage) and a perky ass. He shook my hand then turned to Kenji to ask, "Is he your ex?". Haha. We had steak for dinner that night at The Keg. We were given an outdoor table but that didn't work too well cause it was a little cold (there was a heater above me thank goodness) and Kenji was a little concerned about the 'bombs' from ravens flying back to their nests. I shared a prime rib with KH, while Kenji had a hankering for lobster. George was famished having just a granola bar since lunch, so he ordered the rib steak that was approximately 16oz of beef! Everyone was in the mood for alcohol so we had mojitos, slushy bellinis and whisky sours all around. Had a nice round of conversation with George (he's a traffic engineer by the way), but towards the end, he started to slur-- drunk on steak from the looks of it. LOL. Kenji then sent us home...

Monday, December 15, 2014

LRT Celebrities: KPop Kim



As with all my travel posts, they can lengthy affairs that sap your patience. Hehe. Tater even suggested that I just fast-forward to the current. But, I can't! This blog acts as my journal. A place where I compile all my life events, memorable or mundane. Anyway, stay with me for just a few more posts. Hehe. Today I'll reward everyone with an LRT Celebrity, KPop Kim! Been ages since I found someone of this quality. Rare to see someone all-dressed up, with slick hair, flawless skin and big guns (I'm such a sucker for muscular arms) on the Ampang Line. I managed to get some pretty good shots since it was two in the afternoon. Perfect light. Even managed to get his pits! Enjoy!