Friday, May 08, 2009
I woke up this morning at about 3:00 to take the two hour drive to the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas for my flight to Vancouver, British Columbia.
The flight was about three hours and it went alright.
I arrived in Vancouver at about noon. The airport was packed because today was the first day of cruise season.
I met some girls from Australia in the customs line who have been traveling all over the States and made their way up into Canada.
I was met in the passenger pick up area by Karl’s driver, Vinod. He’s from India and probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. I felt kind of like the president, getting in this shiny black Lincoln with my super cool driver.
Vancouver bears a striking resemblance to northern Minnesotan cites like Duluth. It’s very green and not nearly as cold as I suspected. In fact, today was extremely nice out.
Vinod drove me to Karl’s office, and I have to say that walking around that place is a surreal experience. The offices double as sets for studios. So when we went to see the people from the Sports Broadcasting Department across the parking lot, we went into a place that looks like a pizza parlor, it even said “Joe’s Pizza” (or something to that effect on the front). Karl pointed out that all of the different office buildings are for different sets. There’s a court house, a bank, a New England style neighborhood street, contemporary condos, etc. It’s all really cool.
I met with some of the broadcasting people. I found out that my assignment had been moved from Cypress Mountain to the Stadium for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and other events that will take place there. I’m actually more excited about that than I was about Snowboarding and Aerials.
Karl took the rest of the day off and we walked around downtown Vancouver. I saw where the IBC (international broadcast center) will be and some other really cool stuff as well. There are alot of hippie types here, and someone is singing and playing a guitar on just about every corner. Lots of people walking, and everyone seems to be from different countries, it’s a very culturally diverse city.
We went to Stanley Park and walked around there for a bit, that place is awesome.
Then we came home. We originally planned on watching Nacho Libre, but I’m exhausted.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Today we woke up and drove to Granville Island. It was awesome, such a rad place. While we were walking around the harbor we saw some kids playing big xylophones and stopped to watch. A group from Africa that is touring Canada was also watching and they spontanteously started performing with the kids, doing dances and drumming, it was so cool. The whole place turned into the big festival with people dancing and clapping. It put me in the best mood, it was so cool just to see all these people from different cultures and countries hanging out and dancing. It was a very moving experience. Everyone that I have met up here has been awesome and way nice.
We went to Karl’s co-worker/friend’s house tonight for dinner, and it was a nice little get together. We had grilled prawns, scallops, and salmon all as fresh as you can get them.
We also went for a hike to try and see a bear, but to no avail. However, the place we went hiking was absolutely beautiful, and it was also the place where they shot the camp scene for X-men 3, so no complaints.
Tomorrow morning we’re going deep sea fishing and crabbing, and I’m super excited for that.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
We went fishing in the ocean today! The first time I’ve ever gone in my life, and I was awesome, despite the fact that we didn’t get to bring home any fish. I did catch one fish though, it was a coho salmon. It was funny because it was the biggest fish I’ve ever caught (about 10 lbs), but it was too small to keep by law. We had a few others on the line, but we also had a damn harbor seal following us the whole day that kept snatching them from us. One thing cool about the boat that we chartered though, is that they set crab pots when we first went out. So just incase we didn’t catch and fish, we got to bring home some crab at least. Which incidently, was exactly the case. I personally thought the crabbing was awesome, and more exciting than the fishing. Also, I like crab more than I like fish.
When we got back to the dock the guide showed us how to clean and prepare the crab, and Karl got to try his hand at it. It was an awesome trip and well worth the price. I suppose it’s easier for me to say that, since Karl is the one who paid, but I’m pretty certain he would agree.
We got home at about 1 pm and we were all exhausted and took a nap and haven’t really done anything else. Couldn’t ask for a better day really.
I have the flu. I went to the doctor today and that’s what he told me.
Going to the doctor in Taiwan is much different than going in the States.
A) It’s much cheaper. Because of Taiwan’s subsidized healthcare program, doctor’s and hospital visits are a fraction of what it costs in the States. My whole visit (injection, and take-home medication included) came out to about the equivalent of $15 USD. If I had the Taiwanese Governmental Health Insurance it would have been about $3 USD.
B) It’s a lot quicker. I showed up with out an appointment and was in and out in about 20 minutes.
C) The tools and methods. The office looked very similar to those back home, but he had some way weird tools; most of them looked like the tools you see in movies where they’re interrogating someone and the torture guy comes in and slowly unrolls his kit out on the table. The methods were also way different; the doctor stood at a distance from me and looked at me as though he was a sculptor and I was a block of clay that he was in the process of shaping. He only came in close if he had a reason to (i.e. to stick over-sized, medicated q-tips up my nose or to check my temperature). He didn’t ask a ton of questions, mainly because he didn’t speak a ton of English, but after silently looking me over for a bit he said: “OK, you have flu; you want injection?” He then told Helene that I had a pretty high fever and that he was going to give me kind of a medical cocktail that would bring it down and alleviate the aching.
That was about 6 hrs ago and although I’m not 100%, I feel much better.
I’ve become a pretty big fan of this subsidized healthcare, I think it’s something our government should really take a closer look at.
Tonight was New Years Eve. I didn't do much, I was planning on going to Taipei, but I waited til' the last minute to make reservations and couldn't find anyplace to stay.
Well, I here at the Kaohsiung International Airport yet again. I’m off to Hong Kong for three days. I’m fairly excited about it too.
I cannot honestly say that I am all too thrilled to be sitting in an airport again, and I’m even less excited about getting on another plane, but I suppose I’ll survive.
The hotel I’m going to stay at is near or part of the YWCA on Hong Kong Island, I can’t remember which. I picked it because of the location; it’s right near the bottom of Victoria Peak, which is rated as having the best night view in the world. Unfortunately, when I read the weather forecast for Hong Kong, it said that it’s going to be cloudy and rainy all weekend. I just hope that the weather folks were wrong.
I’m sitting in the waiting area by the terminal and there is an old guy sitting next to me that is full out brushing and flossing his teeth, toothpaste and all… the people you come across in airports.
** Arrival*** 7:15 pm
I took the Airport Express to the Hong Kong Central Station (about a 25 minute trip) and then a taxi from there to the Garden View YWCA Hotel (about 5 minutes).
The hotel is much, much nicer than I expected. My room is on the 17th floor and has ceiling-to-floor windows that look out over the city. It’s got a very modern design, and unlike the place I stayed at in Macau, it’s got heat.
I walked down Garden Street to the Peak Tram and took that up to the top of Victoria Peak. I must say that it really does live up to its reputation of being the world’s best night view; pictures just cannot do it justice. I met and kind of hung out with a family on my little trip up to the Peak. The husband is from Birmingham, England, and his wife is Taiwanese, and they have a 3 year old daughter. He’s an engineer in Taichung, Taiwan. After that I walked around Central Hong Kong until about 12 and then I made my way back here, and it’s 12:45 right now.
Hong Kong is extremely westernized, everyone speaks English. Even the Chinese people here speak English to each other. Also, there are a ton of British people here, it’s like little England. Honestly, while I was downtown I’ll bet I saw almost as many British as I did Chinese.
December 27, 2008
I woke up this morning and walked through the Botanical Gardens, across the street. It’s a very pretty little spot, nothing too fancy or too exciting, but it’s a nice place to sit if your legs are tired. The Botanical Gardens has a large variety of birds, and some other animals as well (it’s like a small zoo).
Then I walked down to St. Johns Cathedral. It’s a very beautiful building, and it’s old. Sadly, it almost seems out of place now, because of al the ultra modern surrounding it. I walked around downtown again while I was down there to look at the cathedral.
Hong Kong is very hilly, so it takes a lot of energy and time to walk around. So, after I walked back up to my hotel I really didn’t feel like going anywhere for a bit.
I talked to people on Skype for a couple of hours, took a short nap, and then went back out for the evening. I walked down to the MTR station and took the train to Kowloon and went to the Temple Street Market. It was pretty crowded, I went there specifically for the fake stuff, but their fake stuff isn’t cheap. It was pretty much like every other big night market I’ve been too. Some good stuff, but mostly junk that you wouldn’t ever want to pay to lug back home.
I walked around Kowloon for a bit and ran into some senior missionaries from Snowflake, AZ.
Then I went to a big store called H&M and got a sweatshirt and a regular shirt. I walked around some more and then came back here. I’m freaking tired.
Hong Kong would be a lot cooler if I had about $1,000 spending money. Hong Kong seems to be best for shopping.
December 28, 2008
I planned on going down to the pier and taking the Star Ferry this morning, but it’s been raining all day, so I just went down and walked around downtown again and used the skyways to get from building to building. I don’t feel like it was a wasted day at all. I saw some pretty interesting things. The cable cars that go around downtown are pretty cool. They look (and move) exactly like the crazy bus on Harry Potter II. Also, the Pilipino people that live here congregate in large groups , just about wherever they can find room and set up little makeshift cardboard living rooms, and just chill there with their families, eat dinner, and play cards; very strange. At first I thought they were homeless, but after observing them for awhile, it became obvious that wasn’t the case.
I walked back up to the hotel, got my bags and took a taxi down to the airport express railway. There I fell asleep in my chair waiting for my train for about 2 hours and almost missed my flight.
For the past year or so I’ve noticed that I feel guilty when I don’t write in my journal or make sure I get in my own pictures more frequently. From time to time I read my brother Manny’s account that he wrote which concerns the time just prior to, during, and after my father’s death. In the essay, he expresses regret for not taking more pictures of my father. That seems to be a common theme of concern among most people who lose a loved one. Everyone scrambles to find pictures and put together stories from that person’s life.
A lesson that I learned from the decline of my father’s health, is that memory is not something that you can always rely on, so it is imperative that you record things when they happen. I really wish I knew more about my father’s history, his adventures, his successes, his hardships. Most of all, I really would like someway to see what my dad’s thoughts were when he was fully coherent. I never really got to know him before he started to lose his grip on reality. I was too young to realize the importance of it, and probably too preoccupied with trying to grow up as fast as I could to really care.
I really want my kids to have known who their father was when I leave this world. I want them to be able to see how I made my way through life. I want them to see what my concerns and solutions were at each stage of my life, and hopefully they will be able to identify with me more.
Many times a lot of us get camera shy and avoid being in photos; what a selfish thing to do though. I wish I had more photos of my parents. I could look at those old photos that we do have all day. It’s fun to see what they dressed like and to try and imagine what their lives must have been like that long ago before I was even a thought to either of them.
So now I’m over here in Asia, a once in a lifetime opportunity, and even though I may be awkward to ask complete strangers to take pictures of me at various places while I’m traveling, and it sucks to write in my journal, I find motivation to do these things in the idea that I’m providing my unborn children with as much information as I can so as to paint the most complete picture possible of what this time in my life was like. I feel like I owe it to them, and I feel guilty when I fail to do it.