Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver’

I haven’t felt like writing since I wrapped up my last novel. That two year experience was arduous, and I’m not feeling the energy to do that again any time soon. My daily life is consumed with personal thoughts about today and tomorrow, but nothing too far down the line. I feel like I’ve done enough scheduling to last quite some time.

Planning the next act of travel is my only obsession these days. I have fantasies and dreams that don’t include security or pride of place. I don’t work anymore, and with retirement I have allowed myself to exercise a degree of ‘I don’t give a shit’, that I haven’t allowed reign in the past twenty five years or so since becoming a husband and father. Getting older is somewhat like being a teenager again, feckless and cynically disorganized.

I just got back from a trip to Cambodia. I was less impressed by the poverty than I used to be. I looked for happy photographs instead of images of misery and neglect. Trisha and I fed the children beggars instead of artfully ignoring them as many tourists do. I saw far too many people working way too hard at ‘getting everything done’ as they grow closer to the end. The simple facts of life lay strewn on the sidewalks and gutters like cast off flowers . I saw  tell tale signs of utter exhaustion, fear and desperation, disconnected people, no where near the completion of their guide book inspired ‘bucket list’. I seek no such frustrations.

When I was young(er) I  left ‘home’ to travel. My passions took me away for so long that I became disassociated from everything and everyone I’d  ever known. After years away I returned a stranger to family and friends who’d moved on. I remember the impression that the streets of New Delhi were more familiar than those I returned to.

Today I live in Bangkok Thailand, occasionally struck by emotions of longing and separation. Returning to BKK from Cambodia was a homecoming to familiar territory.  I walk around my neighborhood and realize I know everyone, everyone knows me. People noticed I was gone. My favorite soup stall vendor, Khun Fa, remembers what I like, it’s endearing.

I’ve lost the familiarity with what was once my home, once again I will have to start over in Canada, where communities change rapidly with new immigration endlessly churning the population and neighbors last for minutes until they’re replaced with someone elses great expectations. I have no idea what to expect if and when I return. Here in Bangkok, people reside in the same area for generations in giant family units, and give life a sense of continuity. That’s how things are going, I’m floating from one day to the next, unwinding myself. The end of the road for a happily homeless traveler has no stop signs. Fringelords

Advertisements

The worst has happened. Our property managers have drained our swimming pool. This is a disaster !! No not really. We just have to find another pool somewhere in the neighborhood. I had to bus around today looking…and found quite a few that are either frog ponds or not as advertised…the search continues.

I should have seen this coming…they’ve been talking about resurfacing the pool for five years. In Thailand…it’s common to hear of great plans afoot…while very little ever gets done. In honesty the pool does need a few new tiles.

Of course they didn’t tell us because we’re renting and all the strata minutes are posted in Thai. It’s a hell of a thing to wake up and find you daily ritual has changed. Like I alluded to..plenty of pools around, while ours is out of commission for 6 to 8 weeks…..bummer. Or have I gotten so lazy I can’t even travel around my own area….some of that for sure.

BTW…wrong about the silent ninja Gecko’s…they’ve started to sing.

IMG_3381

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?

IMG_3856-Optimized

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.

Wayne 2

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.

I arrived in Vancouver last night. From the air the city reminds me of a weeping fistula. When I see the glass towers I am reminded of anal warts. I am constantly reminded of the millions of gallons of raw untreated sewage and toxic hospital waste that spills out into the polluted waters. It’s as if a little piece of hell broke through and now sits festering on the surface between the ocean and circling mountain. I know closer up I will see the thousands of homeless, addicts and mentally ill people who control the streets below. Between the drug fueled gangland violence ruling the nightclub scene and the unchecked police shootings of innocent citizens the inner city is no place I want to be these days.

Propaganda aside….this city is one sick puppy. people are miserable and it shows. There is no friendliness or compliments, the people I pass look suspicious and sullen. Are they jealous we’ve escaped and do they envy us our travel? I listen to passing conversations and I’m reminded of growling dogs. I know there’s an enforced hierarchy here, the rich civil servants and the poor working class. Is grinding personal poverty at the root of Vancouver’s cranky masses? After all, credit debt has reached the astronomical level of 170% of disposable income. Housing takes an average of 84% of a workers wage….are these people hungry? I know that child poverty rates are skyrocketing. People who live in million dollar homes are sending their children to school hungry and without food. Is this why crimes of violence are so common here?

Describing the US as  violent and gun crazed  is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. The differance is that more legal gun ownership is the case in the US and in Canada the same number of guns are in the hands of violent criminals. Knives, hammers and hands are the weapons of choice among the rolls of offenders in Vancouver’s courts. The crimes are ugly and personal. Vancouver is a much more violent place per capita than Dallas…for example. Theres no doubt that Vancouver has an extreme incident count of rape and stands as the road rage capital of the planet.

We exist on a reputation that is long since passed. The propaganda machine of the elites who run things spends billions advertising on the back of a corpse. The cities civil service royals spend millions on planning pleasant bike lanes through public places when children , seniors and the under privileged shiver and starve. Vancouver they say in the ads…is the best place on earth,  except nowhere outside the reach of the tightly controlled local media machine will you ever hear this nonsense repeated. It takes only minutes after landing at YVR to realize that the myth of a friendly, welcoming, inclusive Canada doesn’t exist.

Step off the plane and  I am reminded of a death camp, there are no greetings or signals of welcome. Of course there is no car rental kiosk in the airport, we’re forced out into the rain and onto a dark causeway to find our way without signs. Once there, the service is abysmal. I can speak with some authority. I have been to the worst and most dangerous countries on the planet and have never witnessed as horrendous level of customer service as we do when we arrive in Vancouver.

Stay in Vancouver and you quickly see that the second myth of inclusive multiculturalism is a joke. Vancouver is a network of ethnic ghettos where interaction is impossible and not welcomed….people don’t mix…there is no common bond or integration…it’s everyone for themselves.  Ethnic divisions are strictly regulated by the elite politicians who farm the ghetto’s for votes. Government employment and welfare is  meted out by ethnicity…never by merit. Indian hates white, Chinese hate Indian, Mainland Chinese and Cantonese share no love for one another and will not tolerate the physical presence of the other. Muslim, Hindu and the other various odd ball sects avoid contact with anyone who doesn’t share the cult of slavery they impose upon one another . Vancouver is more like an old whore in bad light than a fresh faced princess. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.