Monday, 24 October 2011

Travel As You Will

I haven't even been back from Hawaii a week and I want to go away again. That is the hallmark trait of the addiction we call traveling. Now when I am talking about travel I am not counting business travel. Many a business traveler will tell you it is not always enjoyable. What I'm talking about is the wanderlust that compels people from around the globe to give up their daily routines to see, smell, hear and taste the world. With that vast number of people experiencing the world comes a myriad of ways to do it. I decided to blog about this aspect of travel due to the varying response I received when I told people that I was going to Hawaii all by myself.

As I said, there are many ways to travel, though I would say it is safe to say that most people travel with others....staying in a hotel...often part of package a well known tourist destination. Nothing wrong with that - I myself actually enjoy that. Because it is such a common way to go the options, hotels, destinations and times to travel make it easy peasy. It is way the majority of people travel. So perhaps that is why I got some mixed reactions when I said I was going to Hawaii by myself and staying in a hostel. They were even more surprised when I stated that I hoped to "CouchSurf" - that is, staying in the homes of strangers for free. Some were amazed, some thought I was crazy, a few other were intrigued and still a few had done the same thing. I think what many were surprised at was not that it was unusual for somebody to stay in a hostel - young travelers do it all the time, but, I suspect because I am not the "typical" age of those who stay in hostels and because I can afford a package vacation. So I think some wondered "why?" 

Well perhaps the biggest reason I wanted to stay in a hostel and Couchsurf is because I was alone and staying in a shared room or someone's home allows me to meet new people and even hang out with them, even if for a short time. I can meet people I would otherwise never meet. Although I never ended up Couchsurfing I did enjoy my time at the Polynesian Beach Hostel in Waikiki. At first I kept to myself - this was a new way of traveling for me (alone), though I always smiled and returned a greeting when many would say "hi" to me. Soon I was learning the names and homes of those who were around me. I met a girl from Ottawa, a couple from the UK, a fellow from USA by way of Guatelmala and two friends from Wales who were working at the hostel until they return to travels in Asia. Some of these are now my newest Facebook friends ("Like")!  Would I have met people so easily is I was a packaged vacation? Perhaps, but I think the odds would have been a bit less.

The other great thing about going away by myself was that I learned things about myself, or as often was the case, reminded of what I enjoy and how I am. I was reminded that I do like my alone time but I still crave companionship. At times I was a bit lonely but as I got to know people well enough to talk with them that eased up. I also learned that some stuff I needed to do myself to know  that I'm capable. The main reason of this trip was to if I was capable but I learned that even on smaller scale - like getting to Diamond Head or Hanauma Bay. Now some may think that that is an easy thing to do. And it is, however, doing those by myself built up my confidence. I actually ended up doing most things by myself - sites, going to the beach, dining out (I didn't find out until before I left where the kitchen was in the hostel). It was the evenings I usually hung out at the hostel and talking with my new acquaintances. Some of the people I met I would like to get to know more and become friends with - perhaps in this day and age that can happen.

It was a good trip for me and I am so glad I did it. I had a few moments of doubt my first days (and especially since I was so tired) though now I know I can travel this whole wide world. I have changed one thing about my dream of traveling the world solo. That is that I want people to meet me along the way. Have my friends join me for portions of the trip. I thought, before this Hawaii trip, that I had to prove to myself and others that I could only consider myself successful if I went around the world by myself. I do not know where that came from or why but I know know that is a bit of a silly requirement of myself. I enjoy the compnay of my friends (new, old and yet to be) so why deny myself that - if they want to join me on my trip then they are more than welcome. If I do the trip solo then that is okay too. I will travel as I will.

PS: One more thing. When I say "travel as you will" I mean that - if you like package vacations then go for it! If you want to camp around the world, do it!  If backpacking brings you joy - be joyful! Just remember to smile and say thank you to those around you.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Just wanted to post really quick as I haven't really had time to in the recent days. That's because I've been busy working & preparing for my trip to Hawaii. I leave TOMORROW!!! A trip that I booked back in April has finally arrived. Am I excited? Yes, of course. I've never been to Hawaii and it's been just over 2 years since I was on a holiday out of the country. But in addition to being excited, I am also very nervous. This will be a solo trip and that is something I have not done in years!! And this is a solo trip different from past ones. Previously I volunteered at a summer camp in northern California at the age of 19. Then 2 years later I went to England with a church group to volunteer setting up a youth program. Both those times I was going to something where I'd meet an organized group. This time I'm just going on holidays. I am reassurred thought that I will meet people as I have set up to meet 2 people through Couchsurfing to show me around. Thank goodness for CS!!  Well I have to go to my last day of work before holidays. I will write and post about the island of Oahu and time there!


Sunday, 25 September 2011

M.E.C Day

Confucius say: "It does not matter how slow you go, so long as you do not stop."

That is one of my favourite quotes. It also applies to my lifelong dream - I've had this dream for 20 years and it still hasn't happened. It will though, it will. And nobody will be happier than ME!  To keep me spurred on I often drop by the M.E.C. store (Mountain Equipment Co-op) on W. Broadway St here in Vancouver to buy a few necessities for my trip. Most recently (today actually) I bought items to make my First-Aid kit - something I hope I don't have to resort to using but is smart to have on hand. Previous trips have included me checking out the travel backpacks, silk sleeping bag liners and other fun stuff. One particular day, as I decided to purchase compression sacks, my friend A joined me. It was great having her there as she is so enthusiastic about my dream. She herself has a big life dream and can appreciate the way goals and dreams motivate us to keep at it.  Well, in true A form she had to "document" the day with a picture, which she e-mailed to me later in the day. Along with that picture she also wrote a few words about the day. She did it so cleverly that I can't help but share it. Here it is, straight from The National Questioner:

Vancouver Celebrity Daily Dish:
Sunday, March 16

The delightful and respected Vancouver based massage therapist Eeva Valiharju was spotted at the Mountain Equipment Co-op Store (Broadway location) today apparently purchasing an item for her rumored around the world trip !! The usually bubbly blonde was giddy about her purchase. She was spotted actually being photographed with an item she purchased by another blonde, who at this moment remains anonymous, but is rumoured to be her assistant. Happy Travels, Eeva!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Bucket Lists

According to the Merrimam-Webster Online Dictionary (under New Words and Slang) the term "Bucket List" is described as:
bucket list (noun) : A list of tasks to complete before one dies, or "kicks the bucket.".

The term was popularized in the movie of the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
We all have one (whether we write it down or not) - the things we'd like to do in this life. So here is mine. Please note that I have included stuff that I have already accomplished. The stuff I have yet to accomplish is subject to change in the future. I also have marked the items that I have already done as well by striking them out in red. :-)

Eeva's Bucket List (and in no particular order)

  • Backpack around the world for a year hitting 6 continents  - that means circling the entire globe
  • Go Skydiving
  • Get my Driver's License (did it at age 16)
  • Move to Vancouver
  • Visit Antarctica
  • Write a book
  • Ride a camel
  • Be part of a flash mob
  • Go to a Vancouver Canucks game
  • Do the Grouse Grind (in North Vancouver)
  • Start a blog 
  • Take a road trip through the USA and Canada
  • Learn massage and make a career out of it 
  • Have my own apartment 
  • Own my own home (condo or house)
  • Live in Australia for at least a year
  • Climb Mount Fuji (I heard it's not that difficult)
  • Do the Camino de Santiago de Campostelo pilgramage for my 50th birthday
  • Celebrate my 40th birthday atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • Go see the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil
  • Learn to read Tarot Cards
  • Meet a celebrity
  • Win big on the lottery (okay, so I know this one is hard to achieve and is by chance but I still want it)
Eeva's Travel-related Bucket List (again, in no particular order).
  • Finland (where my parents grew up)
  • Malta
  • Mexico x5
  • Bhutan
  • Ecuador
  • Bolivia and its salt flats
  • Argentina (Salta's Train to the Clouds)
  • Chile and Easter Island
  • South Africa
  • Tunisia
  • Jamaica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Australia
  • Indonesia (Sulawesi, Flores, Komodo Island, Rote Island, Java)
  • Malaysia
  • Vietnam
  • South Korea
  • Cambodia (to see Ankor Wat)
  • India (only to see the Taj Mahal)
  • France (Paris, Cote d'Azur) x3
  • Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa)
  • Vatican City
  • Canada (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Dawson City [Yukon], PEI)
  • China (only to see The Great Wall of China)
  • Egypt
  • The Netherlands (Amsterdam)
  • England
  • USA (NYC, New Orleans, San Francisco, Montana, Arizona, Texas, New England area, Washington DC, Seattle, Portland [Oregon])
  • Revisit New York City to see if I really do dislike it or was it circumstances
  • New Zealand
  • Spain
  • Croatia (Dalmatian coast)
  • Bangladesh
  • Albania 
  • Turkey
  • Greece
  • Aruba
A few extras that I never expected that I'd do/see. They weren't on my list but were still cool
  • Seen a film/TV set (several times)
  • Hold an Olympic medal (It was the Bronze sample medal [Beijing])
  • See Egyptian artifacts (at a museum in Victoria, BC)
  • Be in a city that held the Olympic games (Vancouver 2011 Winter Olympics)
  • Experience the excitement of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in my city (2011)
  • Visited the following (these were not on my travel list but didn't turn them down)
    • Las Vegas, Florida, New Mexico, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden (day trip), St Martin/Sint Maarten, Bahamas x 2, Margarita Island (Venezuela), Majorca (Balearic Islands), Cuba, Switzerland
  • Stayed in a French Chateau and visited a swanky hotel's wine cellar
  • Eaten first class meals for a week (Loire Valley, France)
  • Seen the Hope Diamond (Smithsonian, Washington DC)
  • Spent a Canada Day in Ottawa, ON
  • Went Ziplining
Overall, yes there is plenty left on my list, however, if I'm gonna dream, I might as well dream big!  Good luck on your Bucket List - make it happen!!!

Monday, 15 August 2011

THE Long Weekend of Summer

The August Long Weekend in Canada really is the last great summer long weekend. By the time Labour Day rolls around the days are shorter and the air just a bit cooler. So this it! The peak of sunshine and time to enjoy summer for all it's worth. In Van City and area there is much to choose from: camping, hiking, being a beach bum, patios and food trucks, picnics, the Celebration of Light fireworks, the anual Pride Parade and of course SUNSHINE!

My weekend this year was fun, thought not as exciting as last year where I drove to Whistler, BC to meet friends to go zip-lining with Ziptrek Ecotours - now that was damn fun! I highly recommend it. This blog, however, is about my 2011 August long.

The crowd at English Bay at about 8pm
Our picnic spot!
The birthday cake on the beach
 My weekend was good. I got to see some friends I hadn't seen in awhile and enjoy a few of the events around town. Overall a mild, relaxing and enjoyable weekend. Finally the summer weather had arrived after a rather wet July (not that I minded -- I quite like the rain). I was glad it wasn't too hot though or sticky -I'm not a fan of humidity. I worked on Friday and then Saturday as well, so I stayed in on Friday night (which has been my regular, uneventful habit for the past few years). After work on Sat I headed out to English Bay beach to meet with a few friends for a picnic and viewing of the Celebration of Light fireworks. It took me a bit longer to get there as transit was packed with locals doing the same thing - going early to get a decent spot. Over 300,000 people lined the beaches at English Bay and Kitsilano as well as at Vanier Park. What can I say - we like our fireworks in Vancouver. So while I toted my green beach bag filled with rice pilaf, diet coke and my trusty camera I waited for a bus that didn't flash "bus full". Finally I arrived at a very crowded English Bay around 6:30pm, found my friends and settled in with them on our small blanket. We dined on salad, beef, rice, blueberries and peanut butter cookies all the while watching as the beach swelled with bodies hoping their view was the best. As the evening wore on, our friends Jimena and Caio came by (they  found us by way of cell phone) to say hello and to have a mini birthday celebration for Jimena. We sang her "Happy Birthday" and ate the cake with a setting sun backdrop. They soon re-joined her other group of friends.

At 10pm the sky lit up with it's first set of exploding stars. A stunning show by China of bright lights and crackling sounds set against the black backdrop of the night. An incredible site to see. A spectacular start to the fireworks competition (Spain and Canada peformed later in the week, respectively). After 25 minutes of  oo-ing and aw-ing we gathered our things together to try to make way through the myriad of people.I decided to just head home and passed on going for drinks and salsa dancing with the birthday girl. Buses were not operating along Davie St. so it was time to hoof it to the first bus that would take me home. Soon the rain began and when I finally arrive near my home I walked 6 blocks in the rain. But truth be told, I enjoyed that rain walk!

Pride colours
The City of Vancouver float
The next morning, as I headed to meet friends for breakfast, I saw that the sun was trying to break through the cloudy sky. Looked like good weather for the days events. Ah, Sunday morning breakfast - something I don't do enough of but highly  recommend.  I had my "breakfast of champions" at The Edge Social Grille located in the Best Western Chateau Granville. Feasting on my eggs benny and the company of TJ and Kwan (both Couchsurfers) was a delightful.  After our hearty breakfast, Kwan left us to meet some of his friends and TJ and I headed toward Davie St, with our final destination being Beech St to find a decent viewing spot for the annual Vancouver Pride Parade.

Amazing stilt walkers
The Pride Parade is the finale to Pride Week that is held every year in the West End of Vancouver. It's a time to show support for the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered community and is the largest parade in Western Canada. The theme for the last three years has been "Educate, Liberate, Celebrate". By the time we reached the parade route the sun had burned off the haze and the clouds were long gone. We found standing room only, slapped on some sunscreen and watched as the parade reached our eyes. Music, colour, (sponsor's) floats, stilts, balloons, boas, sparkles,costumes, flags, smiles, cheers - a one-day-a-year event that allows participants to dress wacky, weird, fun and outrageous in an effort to raise awareness and support of equal rights and tolerance for all.

Action Figure Cop
So how big is the biggest parade in western Canada? BIG! Especially on a hot sunny day. After about an hour and twenty minutes of standing in the blazing sun TJ was feeling a bit woozy (she's very fair-skinned) so we decided to head back to Davie St and get a cold drink at Blenz Coffee. The parade was still in full swing. I believe it was about two hours long. It was still very fun even thought we didn't see the lot of it. The rest of the day I took it easy and was happy to discover on Monday that I had some colour on my otherwise pale shoulders.

Monday, 8 August 2011

To write about it or not?

I have thought a fair bit about whether or not to write about riots that occurred in Vancovuer on June 15, 2011 following the Vancovuer Canucks loss of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins. It's been almost 2 months and the city has been cleaned up and the media has moved onto other events. It was an awful time to see my city in that state. An awful time to see the actions of these Canadians being so violent - something that Canadians are not usually known for. And for what? A hockey game. I thought about writing about it. So many emotions and so much talk about it everywhere. I thought about it and then I thought about it some more. I pondered and wondered. Then time started passing. More time passed. It became clear to me- in the end I never really wanted to express anything here at all. Move on and get over it. I will leave it at this - it's come, it's gone and hopefully we have learned a bit more and come out positively from it. I hope there is proper justice and the people that did this learn and become better people. That those that are/were angered do not/did not act out some sort of vigilante justice - leave it to the police. Had I written about it 2 months ago it would have been timely to pour out my thoughts and feelings but now, it's just bringing up the past and I'd rather look onto the future. Look at things like Vancouver finally has summer weather, my birthday is coming up in the fall, Hockey starts again in Oct and that I'm going to Hawaii!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We should never forget our past - we are meant to learn from it, however, some things from our past are not meant to define us. So I'm going to enjoy the rest of the summer and enjoy the fabulous fall - a season that I am liking more and more. Happy rest of August everyone!!!

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Last Tuesday night (May 24) after work I headed down to the Ivanhoe Pub on Main St in Vancouver, a dive bar that was the location this weeks regular Couchsurfing meeting, a ritual that participate in almost every week. But this week was going to be different. Not because I was going to meet some great new friends from around the world. Nor because I was going to see some of my regular CS buddies that I always have fun with. No, this was going to be different because we were all collectively gathered to see if it would be the night that our beloved hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks, would advance to the Stanley Cup finals. We were not alone. Bars, pubs, living rooms and even a public screening had Canuck fans gathering to cheer on our team over at Roger's Arena.

The Canucks were in Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks. Since hockey playoff games on based on best of seven and with Vancouver leading the series it would not have been the end of the world if they did lose. Another game a few days later would be scheduled to continue the battle. Though what made this night an auspicious one is that it was seventeen years ago on May 24, 1994 that the Canucks were pitted against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They played with heart, talent and skill to beat out the Leafs, thus advancing to the Stanley Cup finals. Although they played hard in the finals it wasn't meant to be and they lost to the New York Rangers. Since then the Canucks have been working hard to fin Lord Stanley's Cup. Years past, especially the last couple years, they have come close, making it to the playoffs but never succeeding as far as they did in 1994. This year is different. And I know, in my heart of hearts, that the team from the city I call home will bring that cup back to Canada - where it belongs. The Vancouver Canucks have really become an amazing team this year. Despite being riddled with injured players they still managed to not only be the number one team in the Western Conference but in the ENTIRE league. Impressive. The Sedin twins, Kevin Bieska, Ryan Kessler, Alex Burrows, Roberto Luongo to name just a few of the players have made us proud. I'm sad that Manny Malhotra is out due to an injury but know he is supporting his teammates and hope he is back in good form next season.

The tension at the Ivanhoe was high. I had missed the regular periods as I was working but made it in time to watch the 1st overtime period while sharing a chair with Erin as all seats were taken, carefully hoping that I wouldn't knock her beer out of her hand if the deciding goal was made. A painful and tense OT period still kept the game tied. FRUSTRATION! Just score dammit!! Alas, we had to wait with bated breath for the final goal during the second OT period. So many close scores. And so many great saves by Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo (my fav player). Finally Bieksa spots the puck that nobody saw and placed it in the Sharks net. "We're going to the cup, baby!" is what he cried out when he scored. It was a second after the goal was shot and netted that everyone realized that they just WON! Smiles, hoots, hollers and screams drowned out all other sounds at the bar. Erin and I started screaming. I hugged Jenn, then Darren and the German CSer that I just meet. The streets filled with car honks and Josh informed me that a bunch of us were going to the street party on Granville St. Our group of  8 - 10 led a screaming and hooting parade along the Georgia Viaduct that was punctuated with cars honking and excited fans leaning out the windows waving their  Canuck flags. The crowd on Granville street was a sea of blue jerseys and flags, everyone giving out high 5's to every passerby. The police kept a watch on the exuberant (and often drunk) fans. I felt sorry for them - having to work on such a great night. Soon I was separated from my group and wandered around trying to text, hoot and high 5 all at the same time. With the blessings of modern technology I was able to find my friends via text and joined them at a local pub for a round of celebratory beers and then headed out dancing. Hockey fever was definitely in the air! It was a great night! I can't wait for when we win the Stanley Cup. That win will not only be special for Canuck fans but for all Canadian hockey fans as the precious Stanley Cup will be back home!! GO CANUCKS GO!!!!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

April in Vancouver

Eeva's Spring Guide to Vancouver
I've blogged about where around town I've been so now I will write about stuff that is yet to be done around town. Kinda like a travel guide - only I've taken everything from the Internet.
Hey - that's what it's there for :-o  !!

Now of course there are the year round things you can do like visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver Aquarium but I think I want to find out what stuff is going on that is usually only in April/springtime.

VANCOUVER CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL - The city in pink! With the lovely mild weather here on the west coast the cherry blossoms welcome spring in pink and rose hued splendor. Various bike tours, walking tours, painting events and even a haiku invitational allows everyone to be involved in some ways. I attended the "Cherry Jam" at Burrard Station. They had musical performances and vendors offering samples all beneath a breathtaking canopy of pink blossoms.

MAKE IT VANCOUVER! CRAFT FAIR - Apr 15 - 17, 2011 at the Croation Cultural Centre you can find unique and one of a kind crafts and jewellery. Plus it's a fundraiser in support of Union Gospel Mission. Check it out. Entry fee is $5 and children under 12 are free. Visit the website for a coupon for $2 off your entry.

VANCOUVER SUN RUN - April 17, 2011 - This annual 10km race is the largest of its kind in North America. No need to be an elite athlete to take part. All you need is comfortable shoes, perhaps some sunblock and the stamina to walk or run 10km through Vancouver. Oh yeah and cough up the registration fee too. I have done this in the past, either walking or a walk-run combo. Decided to skip it this year but there is always 2012...

PLAYLAND OPENS (at PNE grounds) - Although you have to wait until the end of the month it still is open in April. Summer is on the way when Playland opens. Go out and have fun on the wild rides this amusement park offers.

HASTINGS RACE COURSE OPENS - Horse races, casino games, dining and other events all start on April 16, 2011. Now I have never been to see or bet on the horses but I have heard it can be fun.

SMELL THE ROSES AT VARIOUS GARDENS - Spring is a great time to visit some of our cities great parks. The Rose Garden at Stanley Park is in it's glory. Take a walk around Van Dusen's Botancial Gardens (fee required) or meander through Queen Elizabeth Park. If you like (and the grass is dry) bring a picnic lunch, a blanket and bask in the colourful beauty around you.

And of course the wonderful April fresh things you can do any old time is to start sitting out on the patio for your meals/drinks at your favourite restaurant, smell the daffodils, picnics in the park, walks throughout the city, race around the Sea Wall on two wheels or two feet or work up a sweat by surviving the Grouse Grind hike!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Printed Word for Inspiration

Although I like to see shows and pictures of far off places it is usually the stories behind the pictures that I enjoy even more. I often read travel literature and the occasional how-to travel guide with great pleasure. Now there are a plethora of books out there that cover pretty much every type of "travel" you can think of. And you can probably find it at Amazon or Chapters with relative ease. It's all out there for you to indulge in.

In regards to travel literature, my personal favourite "sub-genre" is women travelling, particularly, women travelling solo. I find it reassuring and motivating that there are hundreds of other women who, like myself, long to see the world on their own. There is something empowering to be able to do it by yourself. And really, from what I've read, you rarely end up alone.

Below I have listed a few of my favourite books - either travel literature or how-to guides. I hope some of you find them as interesting as I have.

My all time favourite travel book (to date) is The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett and Amanda Pressner. In 2006 these three 20-somethings quit their jobs and travelled together around the world for a year. Although the book is not about solo travel their story is very an interesting one. The writers not only included what they saw and where they went, they opened up their hearts to show how they felt and grew as women. I highly recommend it. They also have a travel website filled with plenty of information. Check it out at Lost Girls World.

Seal Press put out Go Your Own Way: Women Travel the World Solo (Editors: Faith Conlon, Ingrid Emerick, Christina Henry de Tessan), a compilation of 23 short stories from around the globe. Some are funny, some heartfelt and yet others filled with adventure. This was actually the first book that I read about women travelling solo. Here is a link to an interview with the editor Ingrid Emerick on the website Expat Women.

Thinking about going around the world (a.k.a RTW trip)? If you're like me and have this as a lifelong goal then get yourself a copy of Rough Guides First Time Around The World (3rd edtion, 2010) by Doug Lansky. This book has information to cover pretty much anything to do with extended travel. Even if you are not planning on circumnavigating the globe but want to travel to certain areas of the globe, this book is a great option. Actually any Rough Guides travel book is helpful in my opinion. Take a visit to the Rough Guides website for updated info or to download their iPhone app. Just a note - I'm about halfway through this one and I have learned plenty!

Well those three are my top picks but there are a few others that are also worth mentioning:

Adventures of a Continental Drifter by Elliott Hester - This book was certainly enjoyable. Tales of Elliott's adventures in 2002 when he quit his job & started travelling from place to place. He also has a syndicated travel column and another book called Plane Insanity (he was a former flight attendant).

Practical Nomad- How to Travel Around the World by Edward Hasbrouck (4th edtion, 2007) - Although I haven't completely finished this book it is filled with good information. A bit more detailed than the Rough Guides' book but also a bit harder to get into.  I will get through it though.

I know I've posted quite a few books but I do want to make mention of two other books - mainly because they have gotten away from - literally. Both of these books I have, unfortunately, left on the bus and nobody has turned them in. People, please if you find a book on public transit HAND IT IN TO THE DRIVER!! They send it the Lost and Found so they can be reunited with their absent-minded owners. Thanks :)
I do intend to re-purchase these books and finish them. Not because I found them to be superbly written but because the premise was interesting and I wanted to hear the end of their tales.

On the Couch by Fleur Britten - This UK journalist decided to travel across Asia and stay only in the homes of strangers by using the CouchSurfing online network. Since I am a member of CouchSurfing I wanted to read about her tales. Although I found her writing style to be rather bland I will eventually finish this book to hear the stories and what her final thoughts are about this alternative form of accommodation.

Grounded: A Down To Earth Journey Around The World by Seth Stevenson - My sister gave me this book for christmas and I started reading it this month. Seth and his girlfriend embark on an RTW trip without taking a single airplane flight. They use train, bus, and boat and see the world from a closer vantage point. I was bummed I lost the book because I barely even got into it.

Well those are my extensive reads for the time being. If you get a chance to read any of them I do hope you find them as intersting as I have.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Diwali Festival 2010 Vancouver

"Better late than never" as the saying goes. And so it is with my entry about the 2010 Vancouver Diwali Festival. I attended on one of the days & took some pictures but just haven't gotten around to making an entry - until now at 5 months later. Oh well.

To best describe the Diwali Festival I decided to copy & paste the description from the Vancouver Diwali Festival website (see link above) as they sum it up well:

A beautiful dance performed amazingly
on the main stage

"Vancouver Celebrates Diwali is a South Asian arts & culture festival intended for all cultures and communities. Diwali means “row of lighted lamps”, and its worldwide festivals are a unifying celebration of light over darkness that symbolize the triumph of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Celebrated across South Asia, this festival is experienced on a grand scale in almost all regions of India and is looked upon mainly as the beginning of the New Year. People give expression to their happiness by lighting diyas (clay lamps), displaying rangoli (colorful floor mosaics), decorating their houses, bursting firecrackers, partaking in sumptuous feasts, and celebrating with dance, music, and storytelling. For all, it is a time of renewed spirit, celebrated with family and the community through joyous music, dance, crafts, and delectable sweets."

The festival ran from Nov 2 - 7, 2010 with various activities & workshops around town. I attended on the last day, which was a Sunday. From 12:00pm - 6:00pm the Round House Community Centre in Yaletown was buzzing. Actually it was bursting at the seams. A free event that had several stages, food vendors & a great view of a beautiful rangoli certainly wowed many a people. It was the largest attended Diwali Festival in Vancouver's seven year history. As much as I enjoyed it, I hope that next year they hold it at a larger venue. It was packed!

When I arrived the crowd was already a fair size and I only found standing room only for viewing the main stage. The dancers and the musicians were enjoyable. I particularly fond of the bright coloured costumes worn by the variety of dancers.

Asian & Indian dancers performing
together amazingly.

Inspiring musician.

I just love the stunning costumes.
A short while after watching these stunning performances I went to the lobby area to meet a friend. We walked around & found the large rangoli which was almost complete. The bright, colourful, large floor mosaic was simply amazing and my favourite part of the festival. I was amazed that  it was make from dyed rice (or something similar - it looked like rice). Unfortunately for me the battery in my camera died and I couldn't take any pictures. Perhaps next year. And I do hope they have a larger site to hold it at. That was my only complaint.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

First Full Moon of the Year of the Rabbit

Another aspect of diversity that comes from living in a larger metropolitan city is the various representations of religions. Although I am not a fan of organized religions and do not subscribe to any one belief  "system", it can not be denied that religion plays a huge role in the lives of people everywhere. In Greater Vancouver there are plenty of temples, mosques, churches etc that support it's peoples beliefs. Even if you aren't religious sometimes it's great to visit these places of worship to keep your mind (and heart) open. And if not for that, just to get a taste of what is it's like in some other country in the far reaches of our great world.

Seeing as my main mode of transport is public I have been able to see the outsides of many a temple via bus. The two that I thought were quite beautiful were the Buddhist Temples in Richmond, BC. I've wanted to visit them for some time now but have never wanted to go by myself. So when my Couchsurfing  friend J organized a trip out to one of the temples to celebrate the first full moon of the Year of the Rabbit I was all over it (we went on Feb 17, 2011).

The temple that we went to is a Mahayana Buddhist temple and part of the International Buddhist Society. Although I don't know all that much about Buddhism, J say this is the same type of Buddhism practiced in China. She also told us that this temple was quite lavish compared to many of the ones she visited in Singapore. There is a lot of support for this temple from the Asian community in Richmond.

If you want to visit this temple I would recommend it. Here are the details of when & where:

Buddhist Temple
9160 Steveston Highway (between No. 3 and No. 4 Roads)
Richmond, B.C., Canada
(there is a bus that stops in front of the temple too)

Open daily from 9:30am - 5:30pm
They offered guided tours to groups of 15 or more but otherwise you're free to walk around the temple, as our group of 5 did. They have information areas set up in the main building.

Check out my pics below!!

Upon entering

amazing detail from the buildings

Smiling Buddha (outside the temple) - offerings of incense could be made to him

The main temple itself. No photo taking was allowed inside the temple. Here you could make offerings of fruit & vegetarian foods. They go to the monks who reside at the temple.

My fellow temple visitors (I'm taking the pic). A great day it was!