Thursday, August 31, 2017

From Poutine to the Mekong - Our Last Flight

So here I am on our last flight to Cambodia. I have to be honest, it's not fun. I'm thinking we might regret making Hong Kong Disneyland our last stop before going to Cambodia. Disneyland is a place where even the worst things going on around you aren't that bad, and now we're heading to a great unknown.

This flight is also pretty bad as well. It seems to be filled with a group of people who didn't get their seats assigned to them until the last minute. They seem to be scattered all over the plane, and like to group up blocking the isles. One of them is in the seat next to us, which is annoying. They also seem to have a complete disregard for the fasten seat belt sign. The flight attendants don't seem to care either. Apparently it's just a suggestion on this flight.

The flight attendants also don't seem interested in dealing with us either as Allison has attempted to give our flight attendant an empty cup at least 3 times. Is this a sign of what's to come, or are we just sick of flying?



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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

From Poutine to the Mekong - Disneyland Hong Kong

The only way to describe our experience at Hong Kong Disneyland is to make comparisons. You should first know that we've been to a few Disney parks already, all 4 parks in Florida, both parks in France, and I've been to one of the parks in Tokyo (Allison's been to both parks in Tokyo, and she keeps reminding me of that). So it's safe to say we have a bit of Disney park experience.

Hong Kong Disneyland has some great aspects, and some really horrible aspects. The thing that drove us the most out of our mind was the general speed at which things happened. You have to wait a long time for a lot of things that weren't worth it, most notably the character meet and greets. You can get on the best attractions in 10 to 30 minutes, but you're waiting 45 for the average character meet and greet. Weirder still is the way they happen. There's a huge emphasis on taking pictures, there's reminders constantly that the characters don't just want to say hello, but that they want to take a picture with you. Then when you make it up to the character, they want to pose with you in several poses, while someone takes many pictures of you. It's all very time consuming and it feels a little creepy.

Speaking of photos, we were walking in front of the castle (by the way the castle is so small at this park, I mean really tiny) and we saw a Disney park photographer. We decided that we would ask him to take a picture of us in front of the castle. He agreed, and staged us in a couple of shots. He then went on to walk us down Main Street USA and posed us for about 20 more photos. What was suppose to be a quick couple of photos took 45 minutes. He kept saying "one more" after each shot. It was really strange, but kind of fun too.

As for the park itself, it's got some great attractions and themed areas, and some really lame ones too. Worth a visit if you're a Disney parks fan, but maybe not if you're not into it.



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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017


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From Poutine to the Mekong - Hong Kong Stuff

I haven't posted anything here in a couple of days because we've been so busy walking and exploring Hong Kong. We generally leave right after breakfast and fall asleep minutes after getting through the doors. That was until today, our last day in Hong Kong proper. We've been hit with the edge of typhoon Pakhar. It's not a major storm, but it's been raining all day, sometimes fairly heavy. We're not that upset about it though, I think we're just about ready to start the next chapter of this adventure, Hong Kong Disneyland.

The thing I've found about Hong Kong proper is that it's a really nice city, but the country side is amazing. Every day we've gone out and wandered the city streets, and on most days at some point we end up just outside the city looking in, at the spectacular views of the city. While the people have been friendly, and there have been some great sites, this is truly a city that's great to look at. From up in the mountains, or across bodies of water, it's just a good looking city from a distance.

Culturally it's a really strange place. I'm having a hard time finding it's unique qualities, the thing that makes it Hong Kong. I'm finding a bit of British, American, and Japanese, with a blanket of Chinese, but nothing really uniquely Hong Kong.

I can say is the people here are so genuinely nice, and so happy to teach us a few words of Chinese when we ask. Tonight we may try to visit a night market, or if the rain keeps up we'll just hit the sack a little early.

It still feels like we'll get on a plane and be headed back to Ottawa, but that's not going to happen. The good news is I'm getting into the Asian grove, I'll need that for later.

P.S. we've been eating at McDonald's a lot lately, probably because we know that there isn't any in Cambodia.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

From Poutine to the Mekong - The weather has been nice, but it wasn't always.

So we've made it to Hong Kong, and it's very hot and humid. Last night we got in, had to handle a few logistical issues (Disney saved our skins), and eventually got settled in our hostel (not Disney yet). We're staying in a hostel in Kowloon for a while then transferring to Hong Kong Disneyland. For our first full day (today), we went to the bird market, downtown, and took a gondola to the giant Buddha. All fairly standard things for one visiting Hong Kong.

There was one difference though, the city is in really rough shape, there are trees and tree branches littered everywhere. It's all because of Typhoon Hato, the same storm that delayed our flight out of Vancouver. On the drive out of the airport, our taxi driver had to swerve all over the highway to avoid the ruble. Today we also came across all kinds of damage, particularly at the giant Buddha where trees were toppled all over the place. Apparently this was one of the worst Typhoons to hit Hong Kong on record, they keep saying it was a level 10, not that I know what that means.

The thing that makes this storm really weird for us is the fact that we weren't here for it. We literally arrived hours after the storm hit, and all of the roads were littered with debris. We've even come across some building damage. It's a bit crazy in parts of the city, but the storm itself doesn't feel real to us because we weren't here to see it. Instead it's just us wondering around, occasionally coming across patches of chaos.

While it doesn't feel real to us, I understand that it's very real to many of the people living here. One thing I can say is that it hasn't affected the spirit of this city. We have yet to talk to one unhappy person here. Everyone is so nice and friendly, and they seem to be getting back up, and going about business as usual.

P.S. I can't seem to be able to upload photos lately, I'll have to post the photos later. (fixed)



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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

From Poutine to the Mekong - Vancouver to Hong Kong delay

So here we are sitting in the airport, delayed. Two things are floating through my brain. First of all I continue to be mystified by the fact that HSBC has world domination when it comes to advertising on jetways. I've seen many parts of the world, and the first thing I always see is the reasons I should invest with HSBC. It doesn't bother me, it just seems odd that they could get such a huge share of this market.

Secondly, we're delayed. We got to the check in desk and the lady told us that there was a delay because of the typhoon. We've been so out of touch that we had no idea there was a typhoon in Hong Kong (where we're going). It's OK with us since we're happy to just chill out in the airport. I did however decide to look up this typhoon and see how it might affect our flight. Logistically it's not perfect, but it's not the worst. I did learned that the name of this troublesome storm is Hato. I asked a nice lady here who spoke Chinese, what does Hato mean? She told me it's just a name, and it means nothing. That's disappointing, so for the sake of making myself feel better I'm going to just say that it means airplane diverter, or maybe as Allison suggested it's Japanese for "hat".

P.S. We are the only couple in the world who seems to find the idea of egg salad sandwiches to be hilarious.


From Poutine to the Mekong Part 5... I think.

It seems appropriate that our last day in Canada is filled with nature, weirdness, and Pizza Hut.

The weirdness comes from the Eclipse, but it was that great weirdness that brings us together as Canadians. We took a walk along the water with our pieces of welding glass watching the sun disappear, as well as people pointing their cameras and eyes directly at the sun. I love the fact that the world is divided into two groups during an eclipse, people who believe it is more dangerous to look at an eclipse than it is to just stare at the sun, and those who think it's perfectly safe to leave their cameras and eyes fixated on the sun for the entire eclipse, unprotected. Much like politics, the middle ground is ignored. As weird as everything was, it was also very friendly with people sharing their various methods of watching the eclipse with those less prepared.

We followed our eclipse adventure with a walk in Stanley park. We saw wildlife around the park as well as at the aquarium. We also saw totem poles and other Canadian and Canadian related art. The only thing I don't understand about this beautiful patch of Canadiana is the name "Stanley". Who is this Stanley person, and how did they luck out having such a beautiful place named after them.

We finished our day in Canada the same way we start and finish all our postings, a quick dinner at Pizza Hut followed by panicked packing. The packing is just what happens on these moving trips, the Pizza Hut is a little stranger. For some reason the closest sit down restaurant to us whenever we come back or leave the country is Pizza Hut. Generally when we're leaving the next day we don't have time to explore options so it generally has to do.

P.S. I think this might be the last numbered chapter of this blog series, I keep forgetting what number I'm on and it seems kind of boring anyways.

P.P.S. I have written this blog a day late, so you'll likely see another blog very soon after this one. This chapter should have been posted yesterday.



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Monday, August 21, 2017


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From Poutine to the Mekong Part 4

Today's adventures in Vancouver were about two topics, water and layers. We took a trip to Granville island and wandered around. I don't want to ruffle any feathers, but I don't think that Granville Island is actually an island, particularly when one side of the island is surrounded by water so narrow that I could jump it. I'm not an expert, but I would say this is some land with a stream running through it.

After a rather crowded walk through Granville "Island", we took a small water taxi like vehicle to the mainland. We were near the stadium district on our way to Gas Town. We decided to walk right through town, from the stadium district, through China Town, up to Gas Town, then downtown. What I learned about Vancouver at that time is how layered the city is. Or more importantly how you can go from a beautiful neighborhood to an extremely sketchy neighborhood and to a trendy neighborhood in the blink of an eye.

Each neighborhood in Vancouver seems to have a very different vibe about it, but none such changes are more apparent than walking from China Town to Gas Town. China town is a little bit sketchy, but nothing too weird at all. Then as you head to Gas Town you come across Hastings Street, and suddenly you're in a seriously sketch part of town. I mean the streets are lined with strung out drug addicts, alleyways are filled with homeless people, it's just a mess. I've traveled to a few third world countries and this street would fit right into some of the worst areas.

Then as quickly as you found yourself in this sketchy place, you look across the street and you see a store with no bars in the windows selling very expensive trendy shoes. Within a few feet of that you can buy an 8 dollar cup of coffee, and you find yourself in a super trendy neighborhood. The short distance between a terrifying street and a really hip street is amazing.

It's not to say that there isn't any crossover though. In the center of Gas Town, near the statue of Gassy Jack, a woman walked right in front of a bunch of tourists taking photos. She was obviously very strung out, with beaten up shoes and one leg ripped off her dirty track pants. It was marvelous to watch.


Sunday, August 20, 2017


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From Poutine to the Mekong Part 3

Day 1 in Vancouver started really early, after we slept for almost 13 hours. We were pretty tired from 2 weeks of packing set up, and a full day of flying. We woke up at 5 am, with the goal of staying up a little later tonight. How would we keep ourselves both entertained and moving? The Pacific National Exhibition, or PNE.

The PNE is basically like a state or regional fair, only bigger. It's not as big as the CNE, or Canadian National Exhibition, but it's bigger than most regional fairs. There are rides, junk food (I'm sure I'll podcast about that soon at, and farm stuff. Allison and I tend to focus on the junk food and farm stuff most.

While visiting the farm stuff, Allison asked a girl at the 4H club booth about what the 4H's stand for. The girl (Emily) was helpful and very friendly. We talked with her for a while, and found out that she had a pig going for competition that afternoon. We got the details from her and told her we would be there to cheer her on. We suddenly became pig fans. We visited Emily's pig Mavis to check her out and whisper words of encouragement, and we made sure to plan the rest of our day around the pig judging.

Finally 2:30 rolled around and we were there, front row. We checked the schedule and found out Mavis and Emily were showing in the second round. We started to get really excited about this contest. Emily saw us and stopped by to say hello, we wished her well as she went off to prep Mavis. Then the second round started.

We learned that showing pigs is kind of intense. We read earlier that day that it's important to cover your pig in baby powder, but we didn't know why. Then we found out, pigs are mean animals, and they hate other pigs. Most of all they hate the smell of other pigs, and they will brutally attack each other. So they cover the pigs in baby powder so they can't smell each other. This helps, but there are still regular fights, mean nasty fights.

Emily and Mavis went out, and I don't want to brag, but I feel that Mavis was the most respectful pig of the group. As each pig was eliminate, we soon  realized that Mavis and Emily were doing well. The truth is they won this round, in fact we came back later to learn they had won the entire section. We were like proud sports fans, and we stopped by Mavis's pen to congratulate her. Emily wasn't around, but we left her a note.

We had a great day at the PNE, lots of food, shows, and sites to see, but I don't think we'll ever forget about the time we became pig fans.


Saturday, August 19, 2017


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From Poutine to the Mekong Part 2

It's 6 am on day 2 of our trip here in Vancouver, the first stop on our adventure to Cambodia. I'm still wearing the same clothes that I was wearing on the flight over, but it's not a totally bad thing. Let me recap what happened.

We got on our plane to Winnipeg (our stop over point), and other than a slightly crappie video screen, the flight was fine. We did however discover that the plane we were on was to be the plane we had to transfer to for our connection to Vancouver. That sort of thing puts you at ease when you've got a tight connection.

In Winnipeg we had 15 minutes which was just enough time to get a muffin, and have a bathroom break, not in that order. We got back on the plane and to my joy, the new seat had a perfectly functioning video screen. Everything was fine with this flight except the landing.

For the first time in my and Allison's collective travel experience we had an aborted landing. It happened seconds before we touched down. We were coming in and suddenly we were going up very quickly. We flew around for about 20 minutes before we tried again. The second attempt was successful, but a little nerve wracking for the passengers.

In Vancouver we collected our bags, and also checked a few of them that we won't need on this leg of the trip. We then jumped on the train heading for our AirBNB. We checked in, grabbed a bite to eat, did a little grocery shopping, then proceeded to take a 13 hour nap. That's why we're up a 6 am and still wearing the same clothes.

Today we're off to the PNE.


Friday, August 18, 2017


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From Poutine to the Mekong - Part 1

It's raining and really early. Security went remarkably well.

Allison says the coffee sucks, she's going home.

I don't want to write anymore.

Let's see how our layover in Winnipeg goes.

Sleep now.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

From Poutine to the Mekong Part 0-b

Tonight we started packing, and I freaked out about shampoo and batteries. I'm not proud of this fact, and most of the fault lies in myself. Some of it however falls on the airlines. You have to be a mechanical engineer to understand the requirements for batteries you can travel with these days. I'm not certain we got it right, but at this point there's nothing we can do.

It's very late at night, but we're finally packed. I'm going to take a shower and get a few hours sleep. I'll try and post something tomorrow morning, no promises that it will be intelligible.

P.S. told Allison about this blog, not sure how she feels about it.

P.P.S. tomorrow is odds on favourite for the day our luggage gets lost.

P.P.P.S.sorry about spelling "poutine" wrong in the title of the last blog. (fixed)


From Poutine to the Mekong Part 0

I've decided to write about my current relocation from Ottawa to Phnom Penh. I've always enjoyed writing random thoughts down while I travel from one place to another, and I always have the best intentions to publish them somewhere, but that never seems to actually happen. So this time I'm just going to post it immediately.

This is the first thought I've had, it's kind of cliché for your first idea to be the introduction of your journal, but I'll just have to live with that. At this point I have no idea where this is going, but I have an idea how it will end. The last post in this series will be a photo of the Mekong river. The first photo (above) is a photo of the empty bowl of poutine I ate when I came up with this idea.  There will be many photos I imagine.

There also may be some spelling issues on these posts as I'm writing them on the go. I do plan on coming back to these and editing them, but as long as thys (fixed to this) word is misspelled, then you know I haven't started. You may have also noticed that this is part 0, that's because I haven't left yet.

We'll I'm done introducing this idea, let's see if I keep it up.

P.S. Allison doesn't know about this yet, so I don't know if she'll participate.

P.P.S. I can't seem to make these posts sit in the left margin, so it looks like they'll always (or sometimes) be centered. (Fixed)

Update, I've fixed it up... I think.



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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017