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Friday, August 27, 2004
Vacation day 2 : Best guided tour ever / Happy Birthday to Layleng
Tuesday 24th August

We decided to do something totally different from yesterday; We got ourselves onto a canyon and city tour.

The tour was to start at 9am. We were about the first ones to sign up with the tour guide Erik. He seems to be a very nice and jovial person, with a real respect for the environment in a lot of the things that he did.

The weather wasn't cooperating too well. It was raining through the night, and Erik was expecting a low turnout today. I was actually thinking of not going too. However, his tour had great reviews and our itinerary meant that we would not be able to attend it on other days.

So off we went on the first part of the city tour, with a slight drizzle. The Supreme Courts building and its surrounding decor was a delight to see.

A quick brisk walk through the rain, and we were at a coffee place called Gutenberg. They had pretty good sandwiches, though the bagels were too hard for consumption.

We got onto a public bus, and off we went to the mountain range. Erik mentioned that Vancouver is the only city that has a less than an hour's distance from the mountain range. It certainly was the case. Within 40 minutes, we were at the entranceway to the canyon.

It was starting to rain quite heavily, ala Singapore typical standard rain. The initial hike was through some rainforest area, and the rain and the mist made it really looked like a walk through the Fanghorn forest in Middle Earth!

It was during this walk that Sharon accidentally scratched her right calf.

After a long and wet climb among slippery and hazardous terrain, we finally reached the swinging bridge. According to Erik, this bridge is neither the tallest bridge in the world, nor is it the longest bridge. However, when one multiplies the height with the length of the bridge, this bridge has the biggest figure of all bridges in the world.

The rain made it hard for us to really enjoy the sights, though the experience was memorable. Two walks across the bridge, and we were off to find shelter. Rain was pounding down on us at this moment. About 200 steps upwards on a stairways, we finally found shelter!

What do you know! It was almost exactly at this time when the rain STOPPED! Arrgghh.. but heck.. It was fun.

We had our lunch, the sandwiches and bagels that we bought at the Gutenberg place earlier. A short rest later and we were on our way back to civilisation.

A short bus trip to the ferry terminal, where we changed to a SeaBus, and upon reaching the Vancouver side, we took the SkyTrain back to downtown Vancouver. It was time for a tour within the very impressive Vancouver Public Library, though its acronym is perhaps a disaster.

This library, structurally made to look like Rome's Coliseum, was 8 levels high, and have very impressive range of books, multimedia, PCs, and a whole lot more than one can expect (or used to experience in the public library system in Singapore),

Here, the Vancouver residents get to be members free, with a limit of 60 books on loan at any one time. Imagine that! 60 books. Some people never even read that number in their adult life!

Sharon and I were so impressed with the facilities, and the thoughfulness of the planners and implementation of the library. The volume of books is in the range of three million books, and impressive figures for publications.

The tables have a number of power sockets, and wireless internet is of course available.

I think i was most impressed by the cost of this building. Canadian 100 million dollars. The public chose the design and the budget, and participated in the building from the design timeline. Imagine that.

The notorious durian cost more than US$600million, and almost from the start, it was like a private "public" project, and practically no one liked it.

We regathered at the Gutenberg for a coffee break. Half the group of 25 decided to call it a day, and who can blame them. The rain was still pouring down, now much like Singapore's typical heavy rain standards.

The final leg of the tour was to be at the Gastown and Chinatown areas. We decided to continue on, and almost immediately we regretted that decision. The rain was getting heavier.

However, and amazingly though all this, we came to the famous steam clock at the Gastown right on the dot, and saw the steam generating chimes and sounds at 5pm. That's right. 5pm and we're still not done with the tour yet.

A brief walk through the Gastown, and Erik warned us about seeing drug addicts and pushers along the way from Gastown towards Chinatown.

When we first reached the Chinatown area, we stood right next to the world's narrowest building. Due to some last minute city planning changes, the owner had only 2 meters wide of property to build his building, and out of spite, he did so. Now, the building is in the Guinness Books of Records, perhaps much to the city administration's chargin.

Next, we visited the public areas of Dr Sun Yat Sen's memorial park. It's a typical Chinese themed park, though it's a quiet recluse from the noisy streets outside.

The walk along the streets of Chinatown showed us that indeed this place is quite an authentic Chinese area. Perhaps even more so than San Franciso's Chinatown. It definitely overshadowed Seattle's International District,

At about 6pm, it was indeed time to go back. Before we left, we were informed of some offers in the touristy areas that we might be interested in. Perhaps we'll visit some of them later on.

The tour started at 9am, and ended at about 6:30pm. We took all kinds of public transportation available, and the costs of these transportation was included in our tour package. Erik was funny, informative, patience, and generally a nice person to walk around the town with.

The price of the tour? Canadian $9.99 (tax included). So many tours that i had been in all around the world, i think this IS definitely the one that's worth every single cent. It was made more memorable with all the rain involved.

This gentleman was with us on Erik's tour. He's currently a resident in Ottawa, and was visiting Vancouver with his friends. Doesn't he looks like someone familiar in APOC?

We were so tired tonight that we just went to a Thai restaurant and had a quick bite. You'll understand, 8)

Looking forward to tomorrow, when we'll be doing typical shopping again!

It's also such a coincedence that Layleng is having her birthday today in Singapore (August 25th). Wishing her a very happy birthday.
posted by Jonathan at 11:21 PM | Permalink |