Sunday, 26 July 2009

First night shifts, movies and Lantern Festival - 20/07/09-26/07/09

This week was a little less action packed as I begun my night shifts and worked most of the weekdays. So not many interesting things to report.

Monday was a nice warm evening so we went for a walk after dinner to Granville Island, to get a feel for it at night. Its nice looking across the water to all the lights of the city. There are some nice looking restaurants there, we may have to head back one evening.

Tuesday was a half day at work for me, after this we headed into town for a small amount of much needed summer clothes shopping. We can't wait to actually be able to go shopping properly, so much saving time and no spending gets to you in the end, never thought I'd say that. We got tickets to the movies, headed home for dinner and then back into town to see Ice Age 3 in 3D. We both found this hilarious. Both of us laughed most of the way through the movie. There was one point we were in hysterics, I had trouble seeing through the tears streaming down my face. I don't know what it was, but I just think they had more adult jokes placed throughout it. I definitely recommend this to everyone, if you enjoyed the first one.

Due to starting nights on Wednesday (my first 12 hour night) we had a late one the night before and a bit of a sleep in on Weds. Today we headed for a relaxing lunch at Hurricane bar in Yale town. They had beautiful meals, great location, reasonably cheap and the waitress we had was very good. All great components of a great meal out. The one time I don't mind tipping someone. We walked back along false creek towards home and I had a bit of a snooze before starting work.

Night shift went surprisingly well for the first day anyway. Actually went a lot faster than I thought it would. I think I will start to like 12 hours. The only thing is when your working you work, eat and sleep, I feel too tired to do anything else, well things that are energetic anyway.

Friday morning I finished my night shifts and slept till about 2pm. We decided to have a nice night in and watch movies. Picked 2 very different movies. Yes man with Jim Carey was the first movie and this was surprisingly good, even Cam liked it and hes not the biggest fan of Jim. It even had Rhys Darby in it and he was hilarious. If you want to watch a movie that you can have a good laugh in and not have to pay much attention then this is the movie for you. The second movie was completely different, this was Valkyrie, based on the true story of a plot to kill Hitler. This was also quite good in its own way, didn't blow us a way but still worth watching.

Saturday started out to be a really nice day, but ended up with lots of rain, thunder and lightening, which started right before the Illuminati Lantern Festival at Trout Lake Park. This is a festival which happens every year, hundreds of people gather with home made lanterns or anything that glows. There are performers, stalls and lanterns set up all around the lake. There are no lights as such, just the light from the lanterns. We headed over to Alison's house (a lady I just met who has started at the hospital) which was about 10 minutes walk to Trout Lake park. We enjoyed sitting around in the sun drinking mojitos made by Alison and other drinks while chatting the evening away.

The weather started clouding over so we moved onto the covered deck for dinner when it started raining. Along with this came the constant lightening and thunder (apparently something Vancouver never gets), it must have gone on for at least 1-2 hours. The rain wasn't going to stop us though, we all borrowed rain coats off Alison and headed out into the rain. On our way to the festival people were telling us it was cancelled, we decided to continue along for a look anyway as we could hear drums in the distance. Good thing we didn't listen to those people, even though there weren't as many people or lanterns as other years (according to Alison) there were still enough around to get the idea. Initially there were supposed to be fireworks as well, however these were cancelled due to the grass being so dry with the heat Vancouver has been having. It was pretty funny really considering now it was poring with rain. We didn't need fireworks anyway the lightening took care of this. It was beautiful walking around looking at all the neat hand made lanterns and seeing lights glowing in the dark in the distance. Alison had an awesome jellyfish lantern. We ended up reasonably wet, well I wasn't too bad, but worth it.

Sunday (yesterday), yes we are catching up on our blog, was Caribbean day in North Vancouver. We should not have gone to this as now I really want to go a Caribbean place, it looks soooo nice. Definitely think I have to do it one day though. Didn't really get up to much here as it was so hot, must have been around the late 20's/early 30's, only supposed to get hotter next week as well (Another thing that doesn't happen in Vancouver either apparently). We had some traditional Trinidad and Tobago food though, well I went for the chicken curry but Cam had goat curry, wasn't too bad but think we could have found a better stall. Then we sat in the shade and looked out at the ocean drinking smoothies, another relaxing day over.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Whistler, Drinks and Picnics - 13/07/09-19/07/09

Monday and Tuesday for me were spent at work on study days. Tuesday while at work Cam joined Sarah for a few drinks in town at a Cafe above the Vancouver Art Gallery. What better to do than to spend a beautiful afternoon drinking. I finished my study day early today so headed into town to join them. It was nice sitting out in the sun, listening to music, drinking and talking amongst friends. Sarah's friend joined us toward the end and then the 2 of them headed off for dinner. Cam and I headed off for dinner also, I had been craving Wendy's since I saw it in the first week of arriving in Vancouver, so we decided to have this. We have actually been really good since arriving, we hardly ever have take aways so this was a bit of a treat.

Now Wednesday was an exciting day. Sarah was staying with a friend in North Vancouver who happened to let us borrow her car for the day while she was at work. We took this perfect opportunity to head to Whistler for the day. It just so happened that the weather was perfect, it was beautiful, sunny and extremely hot. So we headed off early in the morning to get the most out of the day, as it takes about an hour and a half to get there. We headed a little past Whistler to Pemberton as Sarah had heard that this was beautiful place to visit. It was a quite, little town in the countryside, surrounded by mountains and the view was beautiful. It reminded me of the movies. There were some beautiful houses in this area. We stopped at a little petrol station/town store/McDonald's and had lunch, its amazing McDonald's is everywhere. Who would of thought you could get a picture in front of McDonald's with huge mountains in the background.

We continued on our journey back towards Whistler and stopped at Nairn Falls. There was a 1.5km walk along the river to the falls. Over 150 million years ago the area was near the shore of a vast ocean. Gradually the earths crust moved upwards and crushed nearby volcanic islands against the shoreline. Further upheavals and other movements of the earth's crust changed this area from a seashore to a mountainous area. The falls were huge and very powerful, it was very beautiful.

Next stop was Whistler, it seems that even on a weekday in the middle of summer there are plenty of people that want to visit Whistler. Still not packed though is was quite nice, we didn't have to wait for anything. We stood around for a little while watching the mountains bikers on their jumps and turns. Now if you were a mountain biker I think this would be an awesome place for you, not really my kind of thing looked pretty exciting but dangerous. So we headed up the gondola towards the summit, the gondola takes you almost to the top but not all the way, you have to get off walk down a small distance and then catch the chair lift to the top. This chair lift is quite steep and in summer all you are looking down at (well mostly), is really sharp rocks. Now the view from up here was very panoramic and beautiful. It was a really nice day but a bit hazy unfortunately as it always seems to be. They have a big monument at the summit called an Inunnguaq commonly mistaken as the Inukshuk. It is a stacked rock in human form which models the Inukshuk as created by the inuit (native) people of Canada's Artic. It was used as a guidepost that provided direction across the vast horizons of the North. Over time it has become a symbol of hope and friendship across Canada. The Olympics 2010 emblem is an interpretation of this. This spot also seemed very popular for taking photos, with a peak called black tusk in the background.

We had our first sighting, this time it was a chipmunk not that I would have recognised this by looking at it. They are very small and cute. We fooled around up here taking random photos, and repaying favours by taking photos for others, before we headed down the chairlift to go across the peak to peak gondola. The peak to peak gondola connects the incredibly high mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb. It is 4.4 kms long and 436 metres above the valley floor. This breaks 3 world records of the longest unsupported span of 3.024 kms, highest lift of its kind at 436 m above and it completes the longest continuous life system on the globe. I thought this was going to be really scary looking at it from the bottom, turns out it wasn't that scary. We were lucky as there were only 5 of us in our gondola and it takes up to 28 people. Some of them have glass bottoms but the wait for them was much longer and we would be stuffed in like sardines with others, so decided to go for extra room instead, turns out you couldn't even stand on the glass. We walked around the top of Blackcomb for a little while and then headed back down the chair lift on this side to the bottom. We had a short walk around the Whistler village before heading on our way home as it was getting a little late. After a petrol stop and dinner time we headed back along the sea to sky highway towards Vancouver.

Along the way we had several stops taking photos of the beautiful scenery as the sun had just gone behind the mountains. It was great to be able to get pictures in the start of the day and then complement these with dusk photos. The lakes and ocean around this area was very stunning. All in all a very long tiring day, but soooo worth it, we had a blast. Thanks Sarah for driving (and thanks to your friend for the car).

The next day was another nice day, we were a bit tired from the previous day so decided to have a relaxing afternoon sitting at Charlson Park, listening to music and admiring the view, before heading home to make mince pies. Turns out you can follow a recipe from good old Edmond's but pies just don't turn out the same. There was something missing but I can't quite put my finger on it, needed just a little more flavour, this is just one small thing I was missing from NZ after 7 weeks of no pies. Guess it'll be good for us in the end haha. Tonight was Sarah's last night in Vancouver and she was staying with us, however I missed her, turns out starting 12 hour shifts can be quite tiring and I had to head to bed before she made it back to ours. That's alright got to wake her bright and early the next morning and say goodbye as I was heading out the door to work.

Saturday we were heading out for the evening to David Lam park for a picnic and outdoor movie. Unfortunately we arrived off the bus with our picnic rug, chairs, chiller bags and backpacks ready for several hours out, and there were hardly any people there. This was a little concerning. Anyway one thing we looked at said the Saturday however these details we set up wrong and the actual day was Sunday. So we ended up having a really nice picnic, in comfort, overlooking false creek watching the cyclists, people and dogs going by while the sun was going down. Turned out great anyway. So as it was a Saturday night and there was now no movie we decided to head out to Cactus club cafe in town for dessert and a drink. I had a really nice peanut butter crunch fudge thingy and Cam had a slice of cheesecake. Normally I don't like cheesecake at restaurants however it seems they know how to make them in Vancouver. To top it off we had a frozen cappuccino martini with vodka, coffee liqueur, creme de cacao and cream whip, which tasted like coffee and alcoholic goodness, it was awesome. Tonight was also another movie/film spotting at the Marine building (a beautiful old building in the centre of Vancouver, which was once one of the tallest buildings in Vancouver). Unfortunately we didn't get any glimpses of stars, this time they actually had the area sealed off, so maybe there were more famous people involved, oh well one day!!

Sunday was another hot sunny day. This called for a swim and laze around at kits beach. I'm actually starting to get a little bit tanned now (even on my legs, thought this would never happen), I guess that's what happens when you go from one summer to another and when the country you move to actually has an ozone layer. Its great to only need sunscreen on once in the day. The water today was actually warm, of course you get the initial cold but once you were under it was really nice. I would say it was about 19 or 20 degrees this day which beats the 16 or 17 it has been. We lay in the sun for a while, listened to music and had a drink before heading home. A nice relaxing day.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Holiday over for one - 06/07/09-12/07/09

So this week was the start of work and end of my official holiday. If only every day was like the first and I actually got paid for a full day. They eased me into it with a 4 hour generic hospital orientation, then we got to go home. This half day was about policies/procedures, disasters, infection control, human resources and what is available to us from the hospital. The day also included other safety/need to know things. We also had croissants, donuts, fruit platters, pastries and coffee to keep us going for the day which was awesome.

After getting home, then doing the groceries and having dinner we headed off to the Cambie again for drinks with a couple of guys Cam went to school with, Justin and Dave. It was a great evening of a few drinks, catching up on old times (for Cam), discussing Vancouver and watching a bit of sports. We go a month not having people to go out with then 3 nights in a row we catch up with people, it was really great. Turns out I think we have found somewhere that may play the All Blacks games, well they were advertising the tri nations on the TV, so fingers crossed we may get to catch at least one game. We headed home at a reasonably decent time as I had to get up at "normal" time again to head to work for a normal 8 hour day of nursing orientation.

So Tuesday and Wednesday at my new job were about getting to know each other and the leaders within the hospital. We spent a lot of time discussing the values and missions of the hospital, how these related to us and what we wanted/expected of the hospital. It was actually good to write down your ideas, then all the leaders went around the room looking at what our expectations were and what we wanted out of this experience. We spent time talking about different policies and safety. I can't believe how positive the staff seem here, you get a really good vibe being there, lets hope it stays this way. The people that spoke to us seemed to really love working here and it made you feel really positive and wanted. It is encouraging that about 80% of people that spoke to us have been in the organisation for over 20 years without leaving, so maybe we will end up staying longer, who knows. The last half of Wednesday we were shown around our unit, looked at the computer systems, registered for courses and talked about what we wanted to learn from the unit. I always forget how tiring learning is, I was stuffed when I got home.

Thursday was a day off work for me, we slept in for a little while, then headed to be tourists again. This time our destination was Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This is located in Chinatown, Vancouver. It was built in 1985-86 to maintain and enhance the bridge of understanding between Chinese and Western cultures. It was built using equipment/materials sent over from China and uses only this equipment. It honors principles and techniques from the Ming dynasty garden, halls and pathways are constructed with precise joinery and without the use of nails, screws or glue. Even though it is a reasonably small-moderate garden there is a lot of story behind the construction of it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We decided to take the free tour they had on offer which described why everything is constructed in the way it is and how yin and yang have a role in this (feng Sui). I found it very informative, I think if we hadn't done this we would have been in and out in 20 mins or so. It meant that we actually had things in particular to take photos of. There was a piece of embroidery that looks the same on the front as it does on the back, there is no bad side (something I thought you would appreciate Kay). Only thing is you can't really appreciate it properly from the photo.

The garden is set up in a masculine/femine way (yin and yang). For the women it has an outside walk which is set up so that there are two pathways for different times of the day so that she can stay in the shade. It has seats along the side of the pathway which are made uncomfortable to sit on with your back directly against the ledge so you have to sit sideways which is more flattering. These areas have beautiful views of the gardens and water, these areas were used for the scholar to entertain his guests. This particular garden is a scholars garden, scholars worked for the emperor. They built these gardens at their houses outside of the city, they built them away from the city as their the emperors generally changed their mood frequently, one minute you may be his best friend and the next minute he hated you. This was a place to go to do their work away from the emperor. This garden had an area away from the water where the scholar would do his work in peace from the running water and he would have someone playing a musical instrument in the corner while he was working. It was quite interesting the difference in noise from one area to the other just by stepping through a door way in the walls around the garden. Overall this was much better than I was expecting from when we first entered.

After leaving the garden we walked past the guiness book of records worlds skinniest building. It goes from the red part of the building to the dark blue, the lighter blue stripe on the left hand side is a different building. We were shown this on our sins of the city tour.

Friday was another day off for me. We decided to go for another walk today through Stanley Park, there are so many different walks around the area, we still haven't managed to get around them all. We headed off to find Lumberman's Arch which we though we were near when we were last walking around the area however we couldn't find it. This time we found it and it was right next to where we had been before but was obscured by trees from our direction, easy to miss. Lumberman's Arch is the site where 2 squamish nations log houses were situated at one point in history. It is a basically a huge arch made from a tree trunk. It was home of Khwaykhway a major village and gathering place. It was such a hot day we decided to sit in the shade and have an ice block.

After this we headed into Stanley Park and headed towards Beaver Lake. Beaver Lake is currently changing from a lake to a bog which may eventually become a meadow and then a forest ecosystem. There is a decreased amount of incoming water, increased amounts of sediments and incomplete decomposed plant material which is accumulating on the lake bottom, this is making the lake decrease in size. Lillies were introduced to the lake and are now overtaking which has slightly increased the rate which Beaver Lake is transitioning from a lake to a bog. The area around the lake is home to many Douglas Firs, Western Red Cedars, Sundews (a carnivorous plant) and flying squirrels. Well actually they don't fly but are called this as they jump from tree to tree, jumping gaps up to 58m wide. We did see some but not jumping. From here we headed along Stanley Park seawall and back home, another beautiful, hot, sunny day.

Just a random photo we took on our way, a 2 ways over bridge accross the road with designated lanes, weird.

Saturday and Sunday we my first 2 12hour days at work. We were straight into it you don't get any days off here, on my first day we had 3 reasonably complex patients. However it was good for me as these 3 patients were similar to what I have looked after in New Zealand, which was helpful. It helps having nursed before as things are very different over here, so its nice to have the general nursing processes sorted, then I just have to adapt to the way things are done over here, what I am or aren't allowed to do, different paper work and of course the different medication names. I guess something I will get used to eventually, though it makes you feel like a brand new nurse again. The other thing I find difficult is the accent, its so frustrating. Its hard to believe that we all speak English but it can be so different. I really feel for people now that go to a different country where they speak a different language. Its even had with the different names for things eg: torch=flashlight, nappy=diaper, plaster=bandaid. Oh I can't forget loo, but they just don't even know what that means hehe. We didn't end up doing anything these evenings after work as I was stuffed, I think 12 hour shifts will mean work, eat and sleep. Activities will have to wait for days off I think.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Richmond, Botanical Gardens, Vancouver Lookout and CANADA DAY!

On Monday we realised that our 2 zone bus pass expired in a few days. We decided to make the most of it and have a trip down to Richmond. Richmond is a City just south of Vancouver, it has a large shopping centre, a Buddhist temple... and not much else that we could find.

We headed straight to the Buddhist temple. Its a nice garden and buildings modelled on the Forbidden City. It was really nice but similar to temples we had seen in Thailand not that long ago. It didn't take us too long to put a tick in that box. From there we headed back to Richmond Centre which is a massive shopping centre - and also the main bus terminal in Richmond. After a couple of hours wandering round the mall we had had a nice lunch in the food court, found Rach a new earring butterfly and found Rach some clothes for her first week at work (which was getting close fast). After wandering malls and gardens all day we were stuffed and our feet were sore so that was all we could manage that day.

On Tuesday we carried on with the garden theme and went out to UBC to see their botanical gardens. Given that we had to pay admission, I'd have to say I was a little disappointed. It wasn't hugely expensive, but it wasn't a huge garden either. To be honest, Hamilton Gardens are better and free. After that we wandered around the coast starting at Wreck Beach... Vancouver's "clothing optional" beach. Based on my experiences at most European beaches, you only see things that you really didn't want to. It was hard work, despite keeping our eye's on the ground right in front of us we were slipping on rocks the whole way around the beach and Rach got some massive blisters as evidence of the pain we went through. Here's a look at the mission/walk:
It took a lot out of us so we headed home after that to put our feet up.

Wednesday was a big day... it was Canada Day! We started the day down at Granville Island. The place was crazy, people were everywhere and the atmosphere was fantastic. We wandered the stalls and watched the performers before grabbing ourselves a spot for the parade. It was just a small parade, only took about 15 minutes to pass but it was really well done with a lot of effort put in by most participants. After the parade they had speeches and the National Anthem on a stage in a park on Granville Island. I think everyone there had goose bumps after the anthem, it was really nice to see everyone so passionate about their country.

After Granville Island we headed into town to catch the celebrations there. They had four areas setup with stalls, stages and hundreds of people! We had a small brush with fame here too, at the main stage we stopped for a quick bite and sat right next to where Elise Estrada walked past. Unfortunately we didn't have cameras ready and we didn't know who she was. After that excitement wound down we wandered up Thurlow St to grab a spot for the day's second parade. This parade was fantastic! It went on for ages and finished with what was basically a street party. We left the party and headed to the conference centre to hold a good spot for the much anticipated fireworks display. We got a fantastic spot, right on the water only about 100m from where the fireworks were being fired from. We had a bit of time to kill while we waited for the display to start so we took some great photos of the sun going down over Stanley Park. After the sun was gone, we took some more fantastic photos of the fireworks.

Canada Day was fantastic. It's such a good thing to get everyone outside together just celebrating their country. I really think New Zealand should do the same, the only thing NZ has that compares to these celebrations is New Years.

We got home late after the Canada Day celebrations so took it easy on Thursday.

On Friday we packed a picnic and went to second beach. We had a nice afternoon sitting on the beach watching the world go by. We packed up early and headed home because we wanted to catch Transformers 2 that night. We had grabbed our tickets on our way to the beach, which was lucky because it was insanely busy. We got to the theatre about 20 minutes before it started... and we were lucky to find two seats together. It was a nice evening but the movie was disappointing. It was like an 80's movie had been made with modern CG effects - which i guess it is in a way, shame the story line was of that era too.

Saturday was a fantastic day, one of the best since we've been here. We started the day with nothing planned so decided to make the most of the good weather and go up Vancouver Lookout. Unfortunately it wasn't as clearer day as Friday had been, a bit of a haze had rolled in. It was still a good day and an amazing view from up there. While we were up there we got a txt from Sarah who had flown in from NZ on Friday on her way through. She was at Kits beach and invited us to join her. So once we were done up the lookout we headed there. She had already spent a few hours there when we eventually arrived so they were starting to pack up. Instead we went round to Marie's place - she was a friend of Sarah's from when Sarah lived here. Marie was lovely we attempted to make burgers while drinking Sangria. The burgers were a small disaster but it was still a really nice evening. After dinner we tagged along with our new found friends to catch some of the Vancouver Jazz Fest... unfortunately we arrived half way through the last song. Instead Rach and I headed back to Vancouver Lookout to see the city at night. It was surprisingly different and I'm glad we made the trip back there.

Sunday was a day we'd been looking forward to for a while. We had heard good reviews for the local Les Miserables production so we grab a couple of tickets a few weeks earlier. We were not disappointed. It was a fantastic production and so well done. They've extended their production another couple of weeks because of the demand so we're obviously not the only ones that were impressed by it. After we got out of the theatre we headed back to the park to try again at catching the Vancouver Jazz Fest.

We meet Sarah there this evening and had another good catch up with her. Its so weird catching up with another Kiwi on the other side of the world. The music was quite different this night and wasn't really do it for either of us so we headed home early so Rach could get a good sleep for work the next morning.