2004-06-21 Victoria

Spent the day in Victoria, the provincial capital that I haven't been to for at least five years. We saw a bit of the downtown, but spent most of the time in Canadian Tires and architecturally interesting housing developments. Also saw Onkel Ottmar's 'stretch' of the Canada Trail.

Upon entering Esquimalt we saw a sign that announced the city as the home of Canada's Pacific fleet. The pacifist that I am, I was still quite curious to see Canada's Naval strength. We drove out to CFB Esquimalt and after turning back from the main gate with the guards, we found a parking lot on the fringe. Curious to know where the best view was, we walked into the guard house and found the Armed Forces Member asleep at his desk. Such was Volkmar's introduction to Canada's military, but CFB Esquimalt is quite open and we were allowed to walk through the grounds to the small and interesting museum. A US Carrier was in harbour the night before, but we just missed it.

2004-06-23 Tofino

Camped out at the National Park at Long beach. The fog hung over us the entire time we were there, but the visibility was good enough to realise that you were at the ocean. It was the first time that I saw the open waters of the Pacific from British Columbia. We went in Tofino proper to make some phone calls and get some groceries. We also went on a very specific souvenir hunt for Volkmar's brother with no success. Didn't really warm to Tofino and neither was the weather, so we headed back through the valley to where the sun shines and the sky is blue.

Just outside of Port Alberni was the most spectacular lake with public swimming access. Donned my trunks and drove in. It was fabulous and serene. A beautiful mountain lake and exactly what a B.C. vacation needs, even if we were going to the ocean.

2004-06-24 Sechelt

On the last night of the road trip we camped near Sechelt. It was a nice campsite overrun with kids and with a beautiful lakefront. The downside was that we were only there to cook and sleep and the mosquitoes got in the way of most things.

2004-06-27 Toronto

Came back for a couple weeks in Toronto. After a couple days of moving in Lindsay came to visit before we headed off to Singapore. She brought with her a new hair-style and a pink top that I could spot from the other side of Pearson. Our first full day in the city we spent up in Brampton with Josh and Jen as it was the Brick's family picnic day and we were lured with cheap admission and cheap entrance fee. It was quite a good day. The weather held, the Brick allowed me to cook my brought-from-home veggie burgers (all meat for a thousand people!) and I was even allowed on go on the bouncy-castle obstacle course!

We went up to the farm, and the weather was warm enough for us to go swimming on the last day. A short visit, but one I really appreciated.

On the Saturday Long Weekend, Lins and I went to Gibran's Wedding in Oshawa. The sun roasted us in the beautiful grounds. It was a very good wedding. There was a bit of a lull between the ceremony and the reception, so we went to the beach at Oshawa, which is really quite nice. The reception was tasty and spicy, although maybe not exactly to Lins' taste and we were quite full on the drive home along the Danforth. The only downside was not seeing that much of Gibran (what else do you expect from the Groom), but I did catch up with Benson, whom I hadn't seen in ages.

Lins left in the morning for Singapore via O'Hare and Narita, I left in the afternoon with a stopover in Paris. If illogical, this was the cheapest for both of us, since I wanted to spend the rest of the summer in Europe. Flew with upstart Zoom airlines and did not pay extra to pre-book my seat. In trying to make the flight as cheap as possible, I expected to be stuck in the worst seat possible. But no...the flight was full, except for two seats. The one behind me and the one next to me. I could stretch out on this little charter! Everyone else glared at me in their cramped uncomfortable state. Hooray for budget travel!

2004-07-06 Paris

Landed in Paris in the early morning after the plane offered a beautiful view of the city. The day was a scorcher and just beautiful. Since I wandered around with shorts and my backpack on I stood out as a tourist. I was happy to stand out, since the well dressed Parisians must have been roasting. I was less impressed when the German girl laughed after I asked one of a group to take a photo of me. "He speaks German!" she guffawed, apparently this is a talent unheard of in the American tourist.

Since I only got a couple hours of sleep on the plane, I was a little tired and I didn't really warm to Paris this time. I had a little trouble finding the hostel and when I did, it was a dump. I was even too tired to fully enjoy my meal of baguette, tomato, wine and cheese. Jetlagged and worried about missing my early flight, I went to bed at 7pm local time. Woke up at 4am and didn't dare go back to bed so I read until the metro started running and headed out to Charles De Gualle. Terminal 1 is horrible, but mostly because it is overcrowded. I was very relieved to be finally boarding the plane.

2004-07-08 Singapore

Arrived in Singapore after a good flight. Twelve hours, the longest single stretch that I have ever flown, however the at-your-seat-TV provided me with non-stop choice of movies, so I almost wished the flight was longer. Lins was at the airport to meet me and we took the neat-o subway into to town to meet Nawaaz. The system uses swipe cards, even for single journeys, and because they have a deposit, all the cards are returned. It is an entirely paperless system.

We met Nawaaz at the hospital and went to his room to dump our stuff. He went back to work and Lins and I tried to cool down. Phew, it was hot and humid and it took us a few days to adjust. After a nice lunch at the University, Lins and I were able to check into our hotel. The illustrious Fragrance Emerald in the red light district. I highly recommend it. The district is not unsafe, and as the Emerald promised, is colourful and interesting. The hotel was far nicer than I am used to staying in, and we had a big bed, aircon (necessary), tv and free super sweet coffee and sponge cake. In the evening we joined an improptu barbeque made by ex-pats like Nawaaz from around the world. Most complained of the lack of life in the city, some complained of all the rules, but the Germans were the most praising.

The rest of the weekend was spent doing whatever Singaporean we could do. We went to Hawker’s markets for food (slim pickings for veggies sometimes), to the massive malls (every British, American and Aussie shop you think of, when was the last time TopShop and Brooks Brothers were next door?), to Raffles (of course), the Botanical gardens, the harbourfront…and of course Sentosa island! We went swimming in the unnervingly tepid sea water and enjoyed Sing’s only beach.