All Posts Filed in ‘Canada

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4th Floor, Vancouver Public Library, British Columbia

I come to this place everyday and sit at a table logged onto the internet. Today, opposite me, some guy in a Cancun baseball cap is hitting the keys of his laptop like it’s a drum kit, making the table shake.

The library closes at 1pm today so in 55 minutes I’ll have to venture out into the real world, which is quite wet at the moment. Perhaps I’ll find a cafe. There are plenty of cafes here. I don’t understand why Canadians prefer to walk around holding their cups of coffee rather than sitting in a nice warm dry cafe. Some do sit inside, but there’s such a culture of take-outs here. Almost everywhere, when you order something they assume you want to take it out rather than sit in their establishment and consume it.

a quarter past seven on Bunny Lake

I have noticed many people sitting outside cafes, mostly smokers, and always though it looked a bit cold for that until I tried it the other day and realized they have outdoor heating, which seems like a very extgravagant waste of energy. According to this site – Peak Oil: Life After the Oil Crash that kind of thing won’t be going on for much longer. It is nice to sit outside and smoke in the warm, but I think this just goes to show that banning smoking is bad for the environment.

cycling into thunder clouds around the North of Lake Superior

After my stay on Lasqueti I’m a lot more environmentally aware than I was I think, particularly about things like this. I’ve been going around turning off bathroom lights whenever I find them left on. Not that it does much good. And I feel bad about throwing things away and not recycling them, which happens a lot here. But on Lasqueti most people got around by car whereas here in Vancouver people seem to walk or get the bus, which is partly electric (they have cables above the street – like trams), which must be better. I wonder who has the bigger carbon footprint. After I fly to Bangkok, which I do on the 8th of next month, mine will be huge – probably bigger than if I had driven across Canada in an SUV. But I didn’t cycle for environmental reasons.

the back wheel that took me across Canada, 6600km

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Vancouver, British Columbia

Just put some more images up on my video stills website. They’re of the bit going around Lake Superior, the first day of that section, which took a week to do and was one of the toughest parts of the ride, but also one of the best: amazing scenery and I met some good people.

The video editing is taking a long time. It’s hard to decide what to cut out – not because it’s all so good, but because a lot of the shots are very similar. Long point of view shots of cycling along. In some the camera is more shaky than in others, but I don’t want to edit out all the shaky bits since they’re often when the going is tough, like when I’m going uphill. I didn’t film as much going up hill as going down hill. It’s hard to hold the camera when you’re going up a hill since you really need both hands on the handlebars.

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Vancouver, British Columbia

Some carol singers just came in to the internet cafe banging tambourines and asking for money. If it hadn’t been for the tambourines I might have given them something. Don’t trust groups of people with tambourines.

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Vancouver, British Columbia

I’ve not written much while I’ve been in Vancouver because it doesn’t feel like much has been happening, though that hasn’t stopped me writing things before.

At the moment I’m on the fourth floor of the Vancouver Public Library, where there’s free internet access, though it’s generally pretty slow, depending on how many people are using. Not too many at the moment – about six other people. I’ve been coming here pretty much every day I’ve been in Vancouver, and spending most of the day here, doing some website work which will hopefully fund the next leg of the trip, which at the moment looks like being a flight to Bangkok, staying there for a few weeks, and then on to India.

Staying in Vancouver is quite expensive. I’m spending around $40 (£20) a day. I have a private room in the YMCA here which costs $20 a night – quite cheap for a private room, but I get it at that price because I paid for a month up front. And it has a TV in it, which has become a bit of a distraction. I’ve been watching lots of Seinfeld, South Park and the Simpsons, plus some classic movies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies): The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles) and Destry Rides Again (James Stewart & Marlene Deitrich). They also have a swimming pool, which is a more healthy distraction, so I’ve been going swimming quite a bit, usually in place of having a shower since the showers they have in the washrooms aren’t very good – the type where you have to press a button to get a five second burst of water. Did 20 lengths yesterday (in the swimming pool).

Last night I went to the Cinemateque, an arty type cinema quite nearby which has been showing recent European films. The film I saw was called “The Day After The Day Before” and it’s about a guy who shows up in a place where he doesn’t know anyone, someone gives him a motorized bicycle (not a motor bike, but a bicycle type bike with a motor) and he rides around, time gets mixed up, he meets various poeple and someone dies. It was pretty good. And I didn’t have to pay to get in, thanks to the fact that just before the flim I was standing outside smoking a cigarette (thinking it’s a bit pricey seeing a film, but seeing an arty film is usually cheaper than seeing a blockbuster) and someone came up to me and said “have you got your ticket yet?” and i said “no” and he said “well, i ordered one too many over the internet so i’ve got a spare which you’re welcome to” and i said “i’ll pay for it”, hoping he’d say no, no, no you can have it for free, which he did pretty much.

And last Saturday I went to a Blim event at Video In Studios, something I found out about through the internet. Most people there were showing something, performing, playing music or doing something, but I just watched. Two guys sat in front of Mac Powerbooks hooked up to speakers and created sounds out of samples and things. It was hard to tell if they were creating the sounds live or whether they just pressed “play” at the beginning and then were pretending to create. There were videos, also mostly made out of sampled films, and there were a few musicians playing old fashioned musical instruments, like electric guitars, someone with a piano accordion. Mostly it was the sort of thing where you’d say “that was interesting” rather than “that was good”. It was a good evening though, and not too expensive. I’m not sure if other people paid to get in but I didn’t.

Finally, before I get back to work: last night after the film I went to the best pub I’ve found in Vancouver, a place called Morisseys, where they play grungy and punky type music like the Ramones, the Undertones, the Clash, but mostly American / Canadian sounding bands I don’t know, but usually quite listenable. Most of the clientelle in there have heavily tattooed left arms. Why just the left arm? Perhaps so that when they go to work in the bank the following day they can wear a long sleeved shirt and look respectable, and they have the option on hot days or when doing the washing up, of rolling up their right sleeve.

Now back to work. The library closes at 6 today, though there’s an all night cafe which has semi-free (you have to buy a coffee) internet access, so I’ll probably go there later.

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Vancouver, British Columbia

Sitting inside the warm library but outside it’s snowing. I’ve been trying to arrange a boat across the Pacific to China or India but it doesn’t look like this will be possible. I’d have to have a medical here, which would be expensive, and I’d also have to have proof of onward travel, like a flight ticket or a train ticket taking me out of whatever country I arrive in, which would probably be China, and all this makes it too complicated and too much to pay up front so unfortunately I think I’ll have to fly.

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Lasqueti Island, British Columbia

It’s time to leave the rock and go back to the other side. A bit sad, but things change. It’s been good to get to know people here and feel part of a community, sort of. I always feel like an outsider wherever I am.

I’m now looking into getting a boat across the Pacific, to China or India. I’d rather do that than fly, though it seems quite complicated to arrange. Found a website which can arrange for passengers to go on freighter ships and need to sort out visas as well.

Time to head down to the Lasqueti Island ferry now. It’s a calm day so my breakfast should stay in my stomach. When I get to the other side I plan to eat several doughnuts.

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Lasqueti Island, British Columbia

People keep asking me when I’m leaving and I keep saying I don’t know. “So you’re still here”, someone said the other day.

I’ve been helping to build a house out of wood, wood from trees cut down to clear space for the house, though I’ve been living in a small cabin (shack) next to this. I’m getting to be pretty good at hammering nails.

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Lasqueti Island, British Columbia

Corrections to the previous post:

The island is not 12km wide, it’s much narrower than that. More like 5km, though there is a possibility that there exist spatial distortions so you can travel for hours along the same road without getting to the place you think you ought to be getting to, especially if you choose to travel by bike – not a good choice on Lasqueti once the sun’s gone down, as I discovered last night.