June 7th, 2005

Well the final few days in Canada were a lot of fun. The weather picked up considerably and it becamse actually nice and sunny, it was also pretty warm!! I have been ‘hanging out’ at Daria and Bijon’s house in downtown Halfiax and have been getting around the town to see the local sites a lot.

When the weather picked up, Diane, Biman, Bijon and myself went on a day trip to the South Shore. Where we visited a few of the towns that were underwater only a few days before!!!


The Beautiful South Shore

Later that evening we had a BBQ in the garden at Diane and Biman’s house it was very nice. Tofi the dog even got to eat a packet of crisps!!! (He is the naughtiest dog I have ever come across, last night he broke into my room and tried to sleep on the floor.)

The next day Diane and myself went on a day trip to a nice little village in the middle of nowhere. It was one of the towns that was only 10km away from the location of the Swiss Air Flight 111 disaster and so we went to have a look at the memorial for that. Here is the fishing port of the little town. The place boasts the only lighthouse in the world that has a post office. It was pretty funny and a little weird because the light house was in the middle of nowhere and inside was the tinyest post office I’d ever been in. It didn’t even have enough room for a postbox!

It is by the sea so I attempted to take a photo of the waves breaking, this is the best I could find –

On the weekend Bijon races his car at a driving school on a race track in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Nova Scotia. The road to the race track almost requires a 4WD to access which is pretty funny considering the Maserati, Porsche and Ferrari brands that were there. The event is a ‘driving school’ and isn’t considered a ‘race’, but to look at it you would say it was a race. The event is basically just street cars some with modifications and some without tearing round a track at high speeds “sometimes I kiss 140km/h” says Bijon (which is pretty quick because there’s not many straights on this track and also it is probably faster because that is what he was telling his mom).


Bijon on turn 2

Here is proof that the car isn’t everything. This is Bijon’s buddy Graeme taking down a Ferrari on the front straight –


Eat my dust Mr Ferrari

It was pretty funny at the track, I got offered cash to take photos of some guy drive his car around the track (my new camera makes me look more professional). Maybe a change of career could be in order. The night before I went around to Graeme’s house with Bijon and ‘Mills’ and we throwed some TJ’s (Thomas Johnsons aka Burgers) and some Smokies aka Snags aka Sausages onto the Broil King aka BBQ (English is very different everywhere else in the world).

Here is my favourite car of the day (although I prefer the non-soft top) coming over the crest onto the back straight –


I want one of these

A pretty nice little day of car photography.

I am now at the airport and I am a little bit let down. My flight goes via St. John’s, New Foundland meaning that the duty free in the airport is closed to us, meaning my Dad may not be getting a bottle of Canadian Club. That is very disappointing. Apparently Air Canada was voted best airline in North America. The rest must be prettttyyyyy poor. He has got a bottle of Grand Royal which apparently the Gurjinator says is better.

May 31st, 2005

This is Tofi, the dog that was found on a beach in Tofino by Diane that was lost and had no owner. Sometimes when he goes for a walk he doesn’t want to come in so plays dead outside the front door –

Daria, Bijon and myself went on a road trip to Antigonish which is on the North Side of Nova Scotia. Daria is doing a locum role at the Hospital there. We drove the scenic route in Bijon’s nice BMW which goes pretty fast so the journey time was only 3.5 hours at an average speed of 140km/h I reckon.


Racing Driving Bijon

We stopped for a rest break at one of the huge lakes that are all over Nova Scotia –

After a few stops at T. Hortons we headed for dinner at one of the only bistros open in Antigonish (pop. 5000). Here’s a photo of Daria and Bijon outside the Tall&Small Cafe, pretty funny –

tall and small...get it?

The next day Bijon and myself drove back to Halifax on the main road rather than the scenic route. We saw this truck that was indicating to us that we should overtake on the gravel road trap, although we didn’t do it –

Today I visited the Halifax Citadel which was the first massive British Empire miltary base in Nova Scotia. Here are some guys pretending to fire the gun –


You can’t get away from the UK

Here is a little boat going past what looks like another barracks in the middle of the channel that comes into Halifax. You can get an idea of the layout from this satellite image.

I visited a couple of the surf shops in the town and one of them was selling the Red Bull Ice Break DVD that Daria’s brother is in. Here is a small preview of that DVD –


Click to View

Today is the first day of sun so I am out of here!!!!!!!!!!

May 28th, 2005

I will be in London, England on 13th June and I have nowhere to live. If you live in London can I stay at your house until I find somewhere to rent? Thanks in advance friends.


Trying to remember exactly what I do

I found out the other day that my cousins fiancee brother is Nico Manos a cold water surfing dude. I watched his promo DVD at my cousins house and it is cool. It is ashame he is not around it would have been cool to go out with a pro. Although I saw a surf report last night in a surfing shop window in Halifax and the water temperature was a cool 3.1C. Crazy!!! I also heard that the temprature in London reached 31.8C and it might have made Big Ben stop!!

And on another note, I hope Marcus decides to do more of these surf trips, I am looking forward to hitting the South West coast and ripping it up!!!!!!!!!!!

May 26th, 2005

I’ve finally found an internet cafe so here’s an update….

Keri and her family very nicely let me stay at their house for a couple of nights in Cloverdale. I chilled out with Ryan (Keri’s Brother) and watched some Hockey and Basketball in the basement. Ryan taught me all the rules of the games which was helpful –


Just chilling watching the game

It was great timing because the Cloverdale Rodeo was on so I went along with Keri, Kath (Keri’s Mom) and Al Joe Bear (Keri’s Dad). Cloverdale Rodeo is the second biggest in North America after the Calgary Rodeo apparently. Here is a shot of a cowboy with some action going on behind –

I guess this is the cowboy’s version of a surfing wipeout –

This is the rodeo running into the night time with a lovely evening cloud. They had Rodeo Clowns at the Rodeo which I thought was pretty cool, straight out of the Jack Johnson songs –

Afterwards we walked around the Rodeo and had a look at all the rides. There was also an animal pen where they had lots of different farming animals, including a bull which was no joke 6ft high and about 12ft long, the biggest bull I’ve ever seen. There was also some cute little goats and sheep as well as some tiny horses. Keri thought they would make good friends for Croney Baloney (their cat) but that is not going to happen because they never let it out of the house (unless it is on a lead).

The next day Keri and I headed to Crescent Beach to have a look at the lovely scenery and also take a look at some of the nice houses that are down there, they are really very expensive though!! Here is the view from Cresent Beach-

We got back in time for Al Joe Bear’s BBQ where he cooked Prawns and Scallops as well as some vegetables. It was beautiful and very tastey, the most healthiest thing I have eaten in Canada so far!! That night we went out to a place called Langley because Ryan had to take pictures of the bar for the newspaper he works for. Keri, Ryan, Ryan’s girlfriend and myself headed down there for a few drinks. It was a pretty cool bar for a place that was in the middle of nowhere. Lots of girls dancing on the dance floor and not a guy in site, brilliant!! Although most of them looked like cowgirl rednecks. Here I am enjoying a lovely Canadian lager (they really are good lagers in Canada, much better than Australia and England) –


Molson Canadian

The next day I headed back to Vancouver to meet Julie, Doug, Sean, Heather and Maggie at a really nice breakfast bar in Yale Town. I had some lovely Crepes with raspberries it was beautiful. Here we are at the breakfast table –

Afterwards Julie, Doug, Maggie and myself went on a driving tour around Stanley Park, which was great because its the biggest city park I’ve ever been in and would have taken me ages to walk around (plus it would have probably been raining). Here is the North Shore with a huge boat coming into dock –

That night I went out with Keri for the last time and we had a nice Tandoori Pizza and watched the film ‘Neopolean Dynamite’ which is pretty funny. I had a great time in Vancouver it was really cool.

Of course there’s the obligatory video. It contains footage at Wendy’s after a night in Langley, a collection of Starbuck photos backed with some ‘G.Love and Special Sauce’ (that’s a real band FYI) and then a Shania Twain cover.

Now I am in Halifax Nova Scotia and it is surrounded in trees. It definetly has a severe weather problem. I started this trip in the 42 degree weather of India and ending it in 0 degree wind chills of the East Coast of Canada –

I am staying at Diane and Biman’s house in Bedford. It is very nice and today Diane took me to the beach to see the Atlantic Ocean. My hands were numb from the freezing winds and I had to wear two coats and a pullover but I managed to snap some of the beautiful swell that was coming into the beach. I so wanted to get out there, but the freezing cold weather was a real off putter –


Right Hand 1/2ft Dream

I also saw this sign on the main surfing beach (which didn’t have as good surf as where I took the picture above), I agree with the beware of cold it is absolutely freezing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! —

We visited the North Shore of Nova Scotia where we visited Grand Pre, a place where the French speaking people were forced to leave Canada and made to go to United State of the Americas. I can’t think of anything worse. This is the Church of Evangeline which was built after some lady that alerted the French speaking people that they were about to be forced to go to USofA. It is very beautiful, although we got chased off the premises because we were not wearing stickers saying we had paid to be there. Here is the Church, notice the French flag –

We then headed to a little town and then took a back street to the beach where we discovered this home –


Home of Hansel (so hot right now) and Gretal

We then had a lovely dinner in Kentville where I tried Fried Ice Cream. Yum.

May 19th, 2005

So after the unsuccessful surf experience I made my way back to downtown Vancouver where I saw a crowd of people queueing to get into the cinema to see the new star wars. They were dressed in their special geek clothes and one guy was even reading out Star Wars Trivial Persuit questions to the crowd. There was even the token uber-geek sitting in his camping chair with a laptop.

In the afternoon at the hostel I managed to hang out with some surfers. They are an easy crowd to spot because we all wear something surf related and all look pretty miserable when surfing isn’t happening.

I had my quicksilver beanie on and a t-shirt with a surfboard on it, another guy had a billabong cap and ‘let there be waves’ written on his t-shirt and the other guy was wearing a volcom t-shirt. We were all ‘grounded’ by the crazy storm like waves that were coming in today and with no look of improvement (gale force winds forecast for Van Island tomorrow) we just sat and talked about surfing whilst I waited for the bus to drive me back to the ferry. One of the guys was from Southern Ireland and he had some real interesting stories about surfing all around the world. I always fancied surfing one of the small Islands like Fiji or Indo and asked him what it was like and he told me it was very scarey (reef bottoms etc.. etc..), I told him I’d surfed reef and it didn’t scare me (I didn’t tell him it was with Fizzer at Seal Rocks in 0.2ft surf). I reminisced a lot about Australia surfing with them and after the debacle of trying to surf here in Canada I’ve come to realise how lucky Australians have it on the East Coast. So let this be a lesson to you all if you are reading this at home in Australia on a nice sunny day… get to the beach and on the waves because you have it better than anyone else in the world!!!

Although at the moment it is going crazy in Sydney for surf, I checked out the surf report and saw this picture from this morning –


Deewhy Offshore Explosion (Credit: RealSurf)

Oh well there’s more to life than surfing… I just can’t think what right now!

May 18th, 2005

I got on the boat to Vancouver Island at 9am, it takes one hour and goes at the speed of light through the water. The day started off real nice, I took this photograph of an Island that the boat went past, if it wasn’t for the harsh cold look of the ocean this could have been somewhere in the Caribbean or Maldives –

After arriving at Nanaimo we boarded the Tofino Bus that did the 2/3 hour (can’t really remember how long as I slept most of the way) to Tofino. The bits I didn’t sleep had fantastic scenery of trees and mountains, although the bus driver seemed to want to tank it the entire way. We also saw a bear cross the road infront of us which was nice.

I am staying at Whalers Point Guesthouse in a shared dorm, which is possibly the nicest backpacker place I’ve ever stayed in. This is the view from the room window –

The first thing I did after dropping off my luggage was head to Storm Surf Shop to enquire about rentals. After sorting out a deal on a 5/4 wetsuit (yes 5/4, the temp here is about 10 degs) I preliminary booked the only short board that they rent out. A 5’11 Webber, I checked out another surf shop and if the 5’11 is too small they have an NSP 6’6 (not a big fan of NSP boards but will have to use it if the 5’11 is too small or the waves are 0.5ft). I then had a walk around Tofino, which took all of 5 minutes. I would have gone surfing straight off the back of arriving but the beach is too far away to walk (there’s a beach bus but I was too late on arriving for it).

So I wondered around the ‘City of Tofino’ for a bit. You have to take the word city with a pinch of salt as there is about 4 shops and a hostel.

I headed back to the hostel after running out of things to do in Tofino and talked to a Canadian from Montreal that moved here to learn how to surf (I would have gone to Calif. or Australia if I were him) and was in the process of trying to find somewhere to live. I then spoke to an investment banker from London that seemed to be enjoying not having to go to work, I can’t blame him.

So I met my ‘roomies’ they were all English and have been living in Canada on a 1 year working visa doing the Whistler season, now that it has ended they decided to come to Tofino. They seemed pretty chilled out as they have been here for 10 days and have not actually done anything yet apart from sit on the beach when its sunny and then just sit around the hostel when it is rainy!

So after making tomato soup for dinner with some bread I packed my bag and got ready for what was to be the most exciting day of my Canada trip so far. Not having a car and relying on public transport to get around is a real nightmare, so is not having any personal space whatsoever.

I woke up at 08h00 on Wednesday and it was tipping it down like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve never seen so much non-stop rain. If it did this in England there would be a national emergency! So I walked down to Storm Surf Shop in my boardies with the palm trees on and my Quicksilver coat getting absolutely soaked and freezing. I didn’t feel right, normally surfing involves loading the boards on the roof of the Vitara and flying across the bridge in Sydney to the north shore in brilliant warm sunshine. I was soaked to the skin with my bag when I arrived at Storm Surf Shop, I talked to the guy he said that someone had already rented out the Webber, but they had a 5’11 fish, which was cool because I always wanted to try one of those out and am thinking of getting a fish (Fish is the shape of the board, they look a bit like a fish obviously) back in England. So I filled out all the forms and then was told I needed a credit card as a deposit, I’d left all my card in my locker at the hostel so they wouldn’t get stolen!! Agh! I had to walk all the way back to the hostel to get my credit card, I couldn’t really get any more soaked than I already was! It would also mean I missed the beach bus and would have to walk the 4km to the beach! So I went back and got the credit card and walked the entire distance back to Storm Surf Shop. When I got there I went back into the main shop and I couldn’t see the guy I was talking to. So this girl came to me and asked if she could help me. I said that I was renting a board and had just come back with my credit card. She said that they weren’t renting boards today because the surf was massive. So I was like errr… I just rented a board and have my card as deposit. So we walked into the room where the rentals take place and the guy was there and he said ‘sorry dude I didn’t know’. So I was thinking great, the charlatans of surfing exist not only in Australian surf shops (namely dripping wet). So I asked, what about the Webber, you hired that out? I think to avoid questioning he said “i don’t know where its gone” and then left the room. So I was standing in the rental room all on my own thinking nice… I packed my bag and my brain chemically wasn’t in the mood for surfing anymore, aftering missing the bus, having to walk back to the hostel and back and being absolutely soaked through to the bone and freezing cold with a 4km walk to look forward to. The guy then came running into the room going, “OK OK HOLD THE PHONE…you can have all the stuff for free!!!” I was a bit shocked and was thinking what was going on. Does he know I have page rank and could potentially bring Storm Surf Shop to its knees? I said if the waves were 6ft and only one tiny part of one of the beaches was surfable it wasn’t worth the 4km walk and then drowning a cold dark icey death (as Mike would put it). So that is my surfing Canada experience done and dusted – although maybe there’s some surf in Halifax who knows.

I was going to stay here until Friday but I am going to go back to Vancouver this afternoon instead because it sucks here (I am sure its nice if you like whale watching or looking for bears but I came here to surf and it seems it is not meant to happen :( )

I headed back to the hostel and my ‘roomies’ were still in bed, they said when the weather is like this its the best thing you can do, I agreed with them and told them I was going to go and do the next best thing after sleeping on a rainy day…..go on the internet.

I have been trying to get creative with my new camera in the five minute gaps between raining. I took this picture of a sea plane with the beautiful view behind it –

Back to Vancouver now with freezing soaked feet in my only pair of shoes :(

May 15th, 2005

I just went onto Starbucks’ website and found out how many there were from the hotel I am staying in. There are 131 Starbucks within a 20 mile radius of my hotel, that is totally insane. I am making my own little collection of starbucks photos that I will put up here at some time in the near future with a bit of luck.

I have not really had the opportunity to plug the laptop into the internet so that is the reason for a lack of updates apart from non-Canada related stuff. Well a lot has been happening, I’ve changed backpacker hostels and hotels almost everyday (just to keep things interesting), now I am in a hotel with internet access and a beautiful view out the window of Vancouver.

I went out with Keri to Kitsilano and we looked out at downtown from the beach there but for some reason decided not to bring my camera and as so don’t have a photograph of the beautiful view that you could see from there. We then had dinner at some place in Kits and then met her friends in the park – I felt like I was really getting into the Canadian life, rather than being a tourist and hanging out with other backpackers I am down with the true Canadian lifestyle, which rules (thanks Gurjinator for putting me in touch with the Vancouver scene). We then went up the Grouse Mountain as far as you could go at night, there was a great view back down into Van from here as well (where is the camera when you need it).

I went up the sky view building in downtown Vancouver and took a few pictures and then used the sticher tool to put them all together –

I then had a look at the famous steam clock in Gastown (which was located right next to one of those 131 Starbucks) –

I had a look around the Vancouver Art Gallery here because I thought they had some Picasso but apparently that does not arrive until September, so I will not be seeing that.

I then walked all the way over to Kitsilano where there’s a few surf shops, including one called Blue Crush which is obviously named after the film because most of the stuff in it was for girls –

There were a couple of surf shops but mostly catering for ski and snow as that is more popular here. I won’t be going to the ski resorts, the ski schools are closed and I don’t fancy trailing all the way to the top of a mountain with a snowboard that I don’t know how to use. That is surely going to result in injury…the good news is I’ve managed to book a room in a hostel in Tofino for Tuesday to Friday which is where I’ll be going surfing on Long Beach!! Providings its not 3x overhead and 2 degress centigrade! It is going to rule!!!

Anyway, back to Vancouver. I walked back from Kits over the Burrard Bridge and took a lovely Kenco Coffee style pictures of the mountains with a crow flying into the shot (that looks like I painted in with paint.exe) –

That night I went out with April and Keri to Yale Town which reminded me a lot of Shad Thames in London. We went to a Thai Place and had lettuce wrap, shrimp roles and Yellow Thai Curry which was beautiful, afterwards we went to a trendy bar in Yale Town where we met some of April’s friends, one of them was a spitting image of a younger Jimmy Chamberlin – again another night without the camera so no proof of that!

Here is a pictue of Yale Town in the day time –

The next day I caught the Sky Train to King George to meet Keri for a day out of Vancouver (about time, I think I know Downtown Vancouver better than the locals). She picked me up in the coolest car to cruise around in (although later we had to swap it for a not so cool Honda Accord) –

I have heard so many stories about Coney Baloney, the cat that I had to take some photos of it. Here is Coney Baloney in the garden with (his/her) special leash (because (he/she) is an indoor cat) –

We walked to the local town which is called Cloverdale, Keri dropped the bomb on the way there by telling me it was the town out of Smallville (the series about superman’s younger years). I really liked watching Smallville on E4 when I was in London, so this was the coolest thing ever!!! Here I am in Cloverdale/Smallville as happy as can be –

In the background of that shot you can see The Talon which is the Cinema that Lana Lang (Kritsin Kreuk) runs in Smallville. They were playing Sin City later that night and we decided to go!!! The main reason for walking into Cloverdale wasn’t because it was the home of Smallville but to visit Starbucks of course!!! Cloverdale is rodeo town, my parents have actually been to a rodeo here! Here is Keri outside of Starbucks in true rodeo cowgirl fashion –

After that we went to a few malls and then drove to the USA border which was pretty funny, I didn’t have my passport so we didn’t cross (I don’t want to go to the land of the unfree anyway) –

There is a club on the Canadian side just past the checkpoint which all the American kids who are 19-20 come to so they can drink as the drinking age is younger in Canada than USA. We then went to Whiterock and had ice cream. I had chocolate and peanut butter which was probably the most fattening ice cream in the world.

Here is a picture of a Mountain Range from the beach in Whiterock –

About half a k from the end of the pier in Whiterock and you are in the United States of America..crazy stuff. So afterwards we went back to The Clova (The Tallon in Smallville) to see Sin City, the film was pretty crazy, it is cartoon in style but with some pretty graphic killing scenes. It was funny because the people in the cinema all looked a little bit strange and in Smallville (the series) some of the people in the town have weird things wrong with them because of the kryptonite that fell from Supermans space ship as it crash landed over the town. Looking around the room it seemed that that the reality of Cloverdale and Smallville weren’t too far apart. Here I am inside ‘The Tallon’, again, as happy as can be –


In The Talon, no sign of Lana Lang though

That is it for now, preparing for a wave off on Vancouver Island…..

May 10th, 2005

I get concerned when I have walked more than half a block and Starbucks is not in sight. After having waffles and maple syrup with an apple for breakfast I headed out. Here I am enjoying a Starbucks Coffee in Starbucks whilst looking across the road at another Starbucks.

I then had a look around the Coal Harbour and took this nice photo of a flower with the yachts in the background, this is the only shot I could get without someone with a Starbucks cup walking past –

I then went and had a look at Lost Lagoon which has a Geneva Style water fountain that goes off now and then. I followed the sign for the beach and was secretly hoping to find a couple of left hand 4ft bombs with long periods between them going off in lukewarm water. Sadly that was not the case, I did find a wave though –


Right hand beach break – 2 inches on the front (not surfable)

So with waves in my mind and images of some beautiful waves from Australia I headed to Virgin Megastore and bought The Last Summer on DVD. I then headed to the only place I could find that looked like a surf shop and asked about where I could find a wave. They told me that ‘the Island’ is the place to surf but the water is icey cold and the waves are massive. Maybe I’ll give that one a miss.

I took this picture of the Art Gallery at a really high shutter speed to freeze the water fall, I will visit inside tomorrow maybe –

Off to the pool now to make sure I don’t lose that surf paddling strength that I gained in the last 9 months.

May 9th, 2005

I woke up in Tokyo at about 10h30 Monday, got the train to the airport at 13h00, got on the plane at 17h35, had a 9 hour flight across the pacific ocean, and then landed at Vancouver airport at 10h30 on Monday. Two Mondays in a row is a bit extreme.

I went into one of the 10 million Starbucks downtown (I suppose this is acceptable being a mere 3 hours drive from Seattle) and, in Terminator 2 style, checked the date on the front of the newspaper to confirm what day it was because it has all got a bit confusing.

I didn’t sleep at all on the plane, I don’t know why, but now I am more jet lagged than I’ve ever been. Here’s a picture of Vancouver on approach to 26L with this bird coming into 26R at pretty much the same time.

First impressions of Canada is that it’s just like United States but with ‘The North Face’ and ‘Roots’ bags. Here’s another Vancouver mountain range –

It’s not as cold as I expected it to be, but it is still cold.

The Tokyo video link is now fixed, thanks for pointing that one out everyone.