The Via Rail Experience & Home


Home is a funny idea. What is it exactly? A place? A sensation? Possibly a complete narration of the mind.

When I left the country where I was born, being in unfamiliar surroundings meant rebirth over and over again. You walk through a ring of fire and arrive to the other side, blemished a tiny bit, but doused in the baptist waters of renewal.

Tackling that foreign pronunciation on your tongue, while the native food stings your taste buds. Oh, the smells! That always get me, those competing odours of a country that sometimes seem familiar but then don’t.

So coming home (again, that word) was a doorway to old, yet new discoveries for me.

I keep forgetting to wash my hands after using the restroom because with public toilets in China, there is no soap. Anywhere. Don’t panic! I do remember more often than not now.

I keep forgetting to tip, so I seem like a jerk when I don’t.

I started talking to myself out in the open the other day. It was a habit I fell into because nobody could understand me and I could get away with it in China. Not anymore, crazy bag lady.

The cure I mentioned a while ago was Via Rail Canada. Lots of people don’t know what this train trip is about.

Some people mistake it for a commuter trip or a waste of time. They’d rather take the bullet train in Japan.

A Via Rail experience is a journey. It’s slow, considered. Meditative. On top of it, the journey continually offers some of the best views of Canada.

I didn’t think it was going to be a life changing experience, but it kind of was. It was better than I expected and allowed me to acclimatize to this country I once called home and still do.

By |April 23rd, 2014 |Categories: Adventure, Canada |8 Comments
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Vancouver: You Make Me Brave

Messages on the boarded up windows of The Hudson Bay

We left during second period, knowing the game was finished, that the Cup was lost.  In hindsight, that might be considered strategic.

Our mistake was staying downtown.  I had taken Dylan, Lorna and Mark to one of my favorite restaurants on Robson, savoring two aloe vera and vodka’s, sharing Tuna Tataki.  I felt pride that they were enjoying the food in a city I haven’t seen in over a year.

Since I’ve returned, the Vancouver that met me has been a dose of pleasant.  I walk down the tree-lined streets, inhaling musky droplets after a sprinkle of rain.  It always reminds me of a load of laundry coming out of the dryer. Clean, fresh, new.  I’ve revisited memories, places that made me ridiculously happy.

That night, it changed.

Respect for the Vancouver Police

I could recount moments after our dinner when we looked towards the skyline, as smoke billowed upwards.  That was Georgia, at least two cars burning to blackened, twisted metal.

I could recount our walk towards Granville, where Dylan and Mark were staying.  We had little knowledge of what was unfolding.  Our banter and gait was a pause.  That moment when an intake of breath happens and you wait, unsure what will come.

I could recount the crowds as we approached closer, the screaming, a high-pitched scraping sound as someone toppled a newspaper stand or howled in unbridled angst.  Against what?

Lorna, ever the documentarian and calm presence, snapped photos of the

5 Places I Like to Eat in Vancouver

I am old.  An imperfectly carved, ancient relic.  It dawned on me I’ve lived in Vancouver just over 10 years, much longer on this earth.  Which is why you should listen to me on where to eat. Respect your elders.

1.  The Reef – Carribbean

I sometimes get my island fix at Riddim and Spice on Commercial Drive.  See, I just love hole-in-the-walls.  Those places have the most run down decor, chairs shakily held together with duct tape, and the best food.  Yet, truly, my heart is with The Reef.  They have four locations: Commercial, Main, Chilliwack and Victoria, BC.  The original location was on Main Street, a happening neighborhood for families and hipsters.  Why do I love it?  They house at least 40 different rums.  That constitutes a rum bath.  And the food is fresh, spicy or even milder, with the right notes of crispy, tender and tasty.  I typically go for a vegetable roti or ackee and saltfish.  To accompany a meal, usually a rum concoction suggested by the server sustains my rum cravings.  4172 Main Street.  +1-604-874-5375. Take the #3 bus on Main and get off at Main and 28th.  Prices: $6 to $18 CDN.

2.  Yamato – Sushi

I strive to shatter rash appearances, and Yamato would easily be categorized as shifty, due for a shut down by Vancouver health inspectors.  Wrong!  Apparently, Yamato’s cramped size and interior mimics eateries in Japan. The prices cause you to read them twice.  22 pieces for $5.95.  Uh huh.  They offer inventive rolls and rock bottom prices.  Right on the edge of downtown,

By |May 31st, 2011 |Categories: Vancouver |30 Comments

Twas the Best Night in Halifax…

Twas the best night in Halifax, when all through the pub

I met Candice and Cailin after catching some grub.

The streets were on route to a Saturday night party,

While conversation and drinks proved deliciously hearty.

Halifax was originally an Acadian village;

Till the English arrived bringing pain and some pillage.

In time it was settled, then others arrived

Leaving a modern day Halifax historically uncontrived.

There’s spirit and home pride, all through the air,

Enjoy the Economy Shoe Shop, or Maxwell Plum if you so dare.

Or sample Greek feed at Opa, there’s plenty of cheer!

So the next night I staggered after drinking some beer.

And went back to Jimi’s mischevious and all,

We dared each other to slide down the stairs, but what if we fall?

We laughed and laughed, squealing like kids

Reminding me that travel is never the skids.

It brings wonder and innocence,

Bridges the gap of dissonance.

There should be more weekends like this,

When I meet new friends and experience bliss.

Goodbye Halifax, I’ll be back for sure

Your shoreline and beauty is part of the lure.

By |October 22nd, 2010 |Categories: Halifax, Nova Scotia |11 Comments

Object of My Desire

“You don’t understand, I need that credit card back!!”

I almost fell to my knees to pray to Allah, Goddess, anyone.

Montreal, I really like you.  It’s been fun meeting new people and getting an invite to one of the coolest brewpubs in the city.  You know what’s wonderful about you?  I’ll walk past a Reitman’s and beside it is a Catholic church built in the 1700′s.  How do you do that?  Make the ordinary so extraordinary?  The point is I’m late.  Very.  Of course it was my fault I got off at St. Laurent instead of  Laurier, started hoofing it, realizing these ineffectual feet couldn’t possibly make it to Dieu du Ciel on time.  And I am grateful for the chance to have this time.  Whoever I have to thank – big hugs and kisses. And here’s my blood in exchange. But come on, an $8.00 cab ride towards disaster?

The cab driver was amiable, but took forever to process my card, slide it through the machinery already – I wanted to shout at him to hurry.

It was a slow-mo replay, he seemed to take hours instead of minutes to complete the visa slip.

He had my card cradled on his thigh when it slid off and disappeared.

Semi panic singed my throat as he clumsily handed me the slip with a goofy smile.  You realize THAT was 1 of 2 cards I have with me.  PERIOD.

My voice struggled to remain casual.  “Oh yeah,  guess I need my card back.  Can you find it?”

“Sure, no prob.”

It was momentairly amusing to watch a grown man root underneath his butt cheeks, until

By |October 13th, 2010 |Categories: Montreal |30 Comments

Worst Washroom of the Week

A stroll in the woods was soooo not a good idea.

Nature Park, New Brunswick

By |October 2nd, 2010 |Categories: Halifax |3 Comments