Posts Tagged ‘canada’

I’m not a big pet guy….unless they take care of themselves. I’m sharing my condo with a Gecko family of two. So far we’re getting on like a house on fire. These are a small variety, and they don’t chirp at night. Naturally I had to name the first ‘Killer’ because since they moved in we haven’t see a single mosquito. The second, which might be female, is also named Killer, because I can’t tell them apart.

The Asian Tiger mozzie variety bounces along the ground more than it flies. So the Gecko is perfectly designed. I had no Gecko’s in my last apartment and mozzies in the hidden places behind the toilet and under tables….waiting….sneaky buggers. Now….with the Gecko Army of Condo B….none…so far, so good.

The Gecko’s I have are welcome. But what if more move in? How many Gecko’s are enough?

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Trisha and I collect memories, not possessions. I blame this on my addiction to travel and to her enabling me…and now me her…because she’s the driving force these days. I make a good travel companion. I love to sit and watch life roll by. Neither of us has any interest in homemaking, decorating, automobiles and the like. We own a house but haven’t spent more than an occasional  few weeks there in the past few years.

We must be getting good at what we do. Our perch in a Bangkok hi-rise is pretty comfortable. Amenities are easier to find than they used to be. The internet has set us free free in so many ways. We can work, study, invest, pay our son’s tuition…watch Netflix USA movies at night and our favorite international news and radio channels all online, without skipping a beat. The only differance we experience from place to place is the time zone.

Right now, I’ve got ‘KHYI 95.3 The Range’ streaming ‘Red Dirt Texas Music’  through external stereo speakers. Red Dirt  sounds good in Thailand, the lyrics are often magical. I have a bank next door that accepts every plastic card I carry. The ATM’s work as well as anywhere. The exception is that the cost of living is so much more reasonable here in Thailand that I don’t visit a bank as often as I would in Canada.

We occasionally talk about ‘what we should do today’…and mostly come to the same conclusion…we’re already there. I have a great view of Bangkok from a distance. The swimming pool below my balcony is where we spend most days. Swimming is the perfect exercise for body and mind. You can swim in the rain, under the stars, watching monsoon thunderheads race by. Listening to thunder pounding down in the distance like an artillery barrage is provocative. When life is this perfect…why seek change?

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Our little perch in Bangkok is surrounded by a wide green space. I can smell the Gulf of Thailand on the morning breeze. The rising sun resembles an expanding supernova. Bird song and Soi Dogs are the melody of this neighborhood. 7 AM and already 90 degrees F. I hung our towels out last night and they haven’t dried. Humidity during this late monsoon month is well over 100%. What a shock to have transitioned so completely from Dallas in such a short time. We were away two years and it feels like we never left. This is the anniversary of my 40th year of coming to Thailand.

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We’ve only been back in Vancouver a week and already the walls are closing in. Fortunately we have only 8 more sleeps before we bug out to our traditional winter perch in Thailand via Hong Kong. I can’t fault the weather in BC in the time we’ve been back. The West Coast has experienced a ‘hundred year summer’ where the weather has been the best in memory. It has been warm and sunny as opposed to what we are accustomed to as normal when it rains and is mostly cloudy except for a few days now and again. It is normal for summer to occur the last two weeks of August and be raining the rest of the time. So…we got super lucky this year.

I would like to cheerlead for what has been my home town…but it’s hard to do when so little happens here. For a variety of reasons people in Vancouver tend be miserable. There’s a dearth of cultural activities and those are primarily administered by the social engineering wonks at city hall. Vancouver is not famous for it’s spontaneity. Now that the beaches have been closed due to fecal matter ( high coliform count includes hospital waste and viral waste) making the beaches and ocean a no-go zone for health reasons it’s hard to enjoy the coastline without that in mind. This is all because Vancouver continues to loose approx., 800 million liters of raw untreated waste into the waters surrounding the city every day. Yuchhh !!

I wouldn’t hurry to be a tourist to Vancouver due to the bedbug infestation of most major public buildings including hotels and hostels. Public health officials are warning people about possible rat borne diseases such as meningitis etc affecting children (and adults) due to an explosion in the rat populations. Sickening that rats have got out of control…but the famous ‘Mayor Moonbeam’ has no interest in tackling such things it seems. Video’s of the out of control rat population are abundant on YouTube. Not something any one locally is proud of…but the cities tourism mavins and politicians would have you focus on other
things…of course.

8 More sleeps….and we will wake in the Land of Yim (Smiles) …away from the malaise of Vancouver…The Land of Nod.

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What a fiasco, what an embarrassment for the employees of American Airlines. Management should be immediately replaced over the mass cancellations of flights in and around Dallas Fort Worth Airport. Less than an inch of snow and these incompetents stranded tens of thousands of travelers for days.  While management dithered over cancelled flights for days at a time all other responsible airlines were in the air and landing at DFW on the same day American went on vacation.

The official response from American was that the ice storm was at fault…but we all know that was not the reason behind the slow moving operations tangle that stranded so many people…. it  was incompetence. I suggest they hire some Canadian or European managers who don’t freak out at the first sign of snow. After all European airlines and Canadian airlines fly in the cold weather all the time…hell I taught my wife to drive in worse weather than we saw at DFW…..there is no excuse for the incompetence shown by American Airlines management.

Our flight out of Vancouver to Dallas has been cancelled for the fourth day running. As American Airlines tries to reschedule it’s massive network of flights and clear up the back log of stranded passengers, Vancouver is an after thought for the schedulers right now. Even though other international flights are beginning to land at DFW after the massive ice storm …flights from Vancouver are getting the rump treatment….think of that next time you try and fly out of this place if there has been a disaster…..Vancouver is the last place that flights will start up again…as our experience has shown us. My advice..be prepared for a long stay…and remember…hotels, car rentals and restaurants are hyper expensive in Vancouver. The airlines do not give you vouchers for weather delay and the entire cost of being stranded will be borne by the stranded.

We’re not aware of YVR giving any comfort to stranded passengers during the three day delays. In Dallas they have given out thousands of cots, toys and food vouchers…Vancouver has given the hundreds of stranded passengers nothing that I saw while there. YVR, for those of you who know it, is one of the least comfortable airports and most disorganized or welcoming  on the planet. There are no suitable stations or special areas ( like Singapore has for ex) where passengers with long stopovers can make themselves comfortable. YVR is cavernous and barn like. It’s just one long cold hallway with no comfortable chairs or suitable areas for children or passengers in distress.

The only attached hotel starts at $240 per night if you need a shower. Arrivals are chaotic and there is no visible information for the first time traveler to know where the transportation access points are. The few signs there are tell the traveler nothing about which buses to take or where the teensy train goes. Frankly the train looks like a model left over from a tourist attraction. Oh..and YVR…thanks for letting the newly arrived traveler have to be greeted by the smokers at the front exit…..nice welcome…not.

This is a typical experience for anyone coming to Canada. It’s all smiles until there’s an issue..then they turn on you…and you realize that you don’t matter. Thats the true face of the Canadian experience.

The entire network of air traffic headed south came to a halt on Friday. Dallas Fort Worth in particular was hit by a massive early season ice storm. This is so unusual in Texas that the emergency administrations panicked and stuck their collective heads in the sand. The feeder airports like Vancouver, where we got stuck, can fly, but they have no destination to fly to, and that has caused thousands to be stranded in the airports overnight. Travelers are hard hit because airlines don’t give hotel vouchers for weather related delays. Hence there were thousands of people forced to sleep in the airports overnight….4000 in Dallas-Fort Worth alone.

Our being stranded in Vancouver for two extra days gives me a chance to get a good look at the city again. I can’t believe how miserable people really are here. There is no Christmas cheer. Say ‘Merry Christmas’ and you’re more likely to get a growling response about how crappy someones life is…or how much they want to get out. The cities famous road rage is whacked. There is zero courtesy on the roads. A simple drive to the grocery store yields people of all ages, races and attributes shouting at each other, honking, cutting one another off, failing to yield. If this was a sole indicator of peoples attitudes in a city then Vancouver deserves the reputation of ‘Road Rage Capital of the World‘…..what a bunch of assholes…seriously.

We’ve learned not to tell people we’re from somewhere nice. The mention that you’re heading out and you’ll instantly see the face of a Vancouverites turn sour. people seem genuinely angry if you have someplace better to go. I’ve been watching the local television stations for the past few days and I’m thinking that people here are being programmed to be as miserable as they are. There are two glaring aspects to the television offerings…one is the numbing number of murders, rapes, incidents of violence, police shooting citizens and getting off scot free 100% of the the time.

Everyone talks of how they neither trust the police or government and of how they’ve lost their faith in receiving justice, about fatal accidents, home invasion robberies, desperate families, starving children, poverty, grasping, needy, jealous, envious, rat and cockroach populations, breakout of maggots, bedbug infestations, polluting the harbour with raw sewage, arrogant civil servants telling people they’re stupid…things like that…there are no good news stories. A constant diet of these kinds of negative stories could be part of the problem. People might begin to see that they are being attacked from every side. With bad news inundating you from all sides, every day, I’d expect a person would come to expect a miserable outcome from every day activities. People get absolutely furious if you tell them their $45 dollar holiday turkey costs $12 in the USA. No one except the elite civil service has enough money to live at all well here…and everyone is furious that food and clothing in the US is a third the price….but ask why and the same people say “Its the high wages we pay government workers’.

The other prominent aspect of the news barrage is covetousness at it’s most raw. The television stations rotates possessions, hate fueled political diatribe, lottery wins, media stars with multimillion dollar salaries, expensive homes and the like that must have the effect of making people feel like inadequate losers. Together it is this characteristic which is most prominent in Vancouver’s population. People present themselves as mean, greedy, grasping, jealous, envious, burdened with dislike for the people around them and generally hate  for life outside themselves.

Another thing that is obvious is the failure of the multicultural experiment. You see ethnicities aligned against each other…there is no assimilation towards the greater good. Each ethnicity is distinctly separate…in isolated race ghetto’s, each with their own media, that appears to race bait one another without any blow-back from the administration….as if the separation exists on purpose. You’ll get the impression that a sanctioned state of apartheid exists is regulated by the government.

Poverty is increasing in Vancouver. The facade of middle income sanctuary is a myth. There is a thin layer of richly paid civil servants wrapped around a miserable rotting core. Child poverty is at it’s highest in Vancouver. Seniors are starving due to the high cost of living. Young families are the fastest growing segment of Food Bank clients. People who live in million dollar houses are sending their children to school hungry. 85% of income goes to pay mortgages. Credit debt is now the highest in the world with a debt/income ratio at 180% of disposable income. Those luxury goods advertised on TV are driving people into fits of dissonance. When people see that their civil servants being paid like international elites, four and five times what an average worker makes…of course it results in road rage and general incivility.

I have to laugh at the constant advertisements that describe Vancouver as ‘the best place on earth’. Thats something you’ll never hear on the streets of this city. Every one I’ve talked to wants to get the hell out….myself included.