|The Great Sausage Roll Quest.
Taste testing down the Pacific
West Coast - looking for
the best sausage rolls based
unscientifically on taste,
texture, grease, and hunger
Current Location: Sidney, Vancouver Is, British Columbia, Canada
Total Distance Cycled: 12,174 km
Nicest Campsite in British Columbia: Newcastle Island Provincial Marine Park
Best Sausage Rolls so Far: Powell River Safeways
|At Bangkok airport. Our world after 13 months
on the road. The tandem in two bike boxes
each weighing under the 23 kg maximum
allowed. No additional charges from
Korean Air – they get a thumbs up from us.
Reverse Culture Shock
|Deer graze at our campsite.
|A fire keeps the spring chill
Deer graze on the edge of our campsite, Canada geese honk at the water’s edge and we have lit a wood fire to warm ourselves before we crawl into the tent.
|Judy shows off her new shoes
as we cycle over Vancouver’s
Lions Gate Bridge. Her old
shoes were held together
with Super Glue.
It’s a long way in more than just distance from the frenzy of Bangkok and the other places we have visited in South East Asia in the past seven months. Our return to the west has led to what we are calling reverse culture shock.
Where are all the people? Why is everyone so polite? Has the sky ever been so blue? Aren’t there a lot of rules here? My, isn’t it expensive? Why can’t we have better internet access? Why do we have to put coins in a slot to have a hot shower? Why are there no showers at all at this campground? Guess what? Lots of shops are closed on Sunday. And so on. We knew it would be much like this before we touched down in Vancouver, BC, but even after two weeks we are still adjusting.
|Judy consigns her old pants
to the bin after shopping in
|Mt Baker, Washington State, USA, in the distance.
We could spot its volcanic cone from vantage
points around southern BC.
|Sunset at Kin Beach Provincial Park, Little River, Vancouver Is.
Perhaps the one difference that disturbs us the most is the obvious wealth, and the comfortable lifestyle of residents here. The other day as we waited to board a big, comfortable ferry we fell into conversation with a young motorcyclist and his girlfriend. We compared notes about Thailand and he said when he holidayed there he didn’t like the people much.
“It was all about money, money, money,” he said. As he talked, he sat astride a new-looking 1,000 cc Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle and he was wearing expensive protective leathers. The contrast between him and his disposable income and the millions riding their 110 cc Honda Wave motorscooters in Asia (with up to five on board) couldn’t have been more marked. Somehow it seemed unfair, unjust and made me feel uncomfortable to be part of the First World.
|Bangkok guesthouse – a first floor “balcony”.
No rules, rotten planking, and no handrail.
|Lots of rules.
|And more ...
|Ummmm. On the beach.
|Coffee on the beach at Half
Moon Bay. The woman behind the
counter asked Judy if she wanted
room at the top for milk - something
that never happened in SE Asia
where the coffee often arrived laced
with sweetened condensed milk.
|View on our way to Powell
|Judy gets into the spirit. Cap backwards
and tucking into New Brunswick sardines.
In the left of the picture are pistachio nuts,
given to us by a fellow cyclist who
found a huge bagful lying on the side
of the road where they must have fallen
from a vehicle.
That causes a different problem. Canadian drivers are so polite it can be excruciating. On occasion we have stopped at an intersection to read the street signs and then realise that all around us drivers have also stopped and are waiting patiently for us to resume so they can give way to us. Once we notice, we try to wave them on but by then it is too late. Their politeness turns to an exasperated shrug as they surge forwards.
|Ferry to Newcastle Island, Nanaimo.
|On the Trans Canada
As we approached Vancouver’s Lion’s Gate Bridge we somehow left the bike lane and found ourselves in amongst the traffic. Drivers tooted angrily at us and waved their arms about, indicating we should get out of the way.
|Part of a mural on a wall at Chemainus. The small town has transformed itself into a tourist attraction by bringing in artists to show off their painting skills.
|Judy gives the thumbs up
after dipping her toes
in the tide at Island
View Beach Regional Park,
north of Victoria.
The politeness on the road, we feel, is only skin deep. Once aroused these drivers grow impatient and indignant in equal measures, something that never happened in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia or Laos.
As the Captain on the front of the tandem, I have found it difficult adjusting to the riding conditions and have even wished for the frenetic days of Phnom Penh or Bangkok. In those places, the first and only rule of the road is that size matters - bikes give way to everything except pedestrians.
|Campsite at Island View Beach Regional Park,
north of Victoria. No showers and one tap, but a
lovely spot despite the cold washes.
Drivers behave as if they are playing in an orchestra with no conductor. Everyone joins in but each is playing their own kind of free form jazz and the only skill comes in not hitting anyone else. It’s a crazy, chaotic, discordant shambles but it’s fun and can become addictive. Back in the west it’s suddenly tame, and orderly and not so much fun.
We are getting used to buying groceries and cooking food and discovering that in Canada you can’t buy a beer or a bottle of wine in a supermarket. And we are having to put up a tent again. That said we have been spoilt as house guests on two occasions, and have been offered meals and drinks by other people - Canadians are a friendly lot and it is nice to be back in a country where English is the main language (exception, Quebec). Judy says with the invitations coming our way she is practising getting to the word “yes” more quickly - so we can take them up.
|With Jennifer and Peter, our hosts
in Vancouver, BC, through
a cycling organisation. We had a
wonderful time and lots of help
from them in planning our route
through BC and buying
gear to replace some of
that worn out after 13 months.
|Judy with Byng and Liz Woo in Vancouver. A big
thanks for letting us forward our tent and
other bits and pieces to you, and for a very special
lunch at which we discovered we had much in
common (especially books and opera).
|With Kerry and Linda Vivian at Fanny Bay, Vancouver
Is with whom we shared their roaring campfire
and were introduced to pear cider.
|Angus Beef - the dog. Enjoying
walkies in Chemainus.
|With Ed and Pat Fougner, who invited us to
stay after spotting us bedraggled
and wet outside Thriftys supermarket in
Parksville. They were a mine
of information and we had the most wonderful stay.
|Judy on the beach near Parksville.
The scenery reminds of us New Zealand but sometimes it’s even better. Vancouver city seems to be an amalgam of the best of some of our centres - Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, Wellington’s waterfront, Queenstown’s snowy peaks and the volcanoes of the central North Island. It’s almost enough to make us homesick.
Judy the Stoker’s Quotable Quotes
On passing a winery: “Look, wine tasting. We can get sozzled for free and come out and lie on our wet weather jackets in the grass and sleep it off.”
We watched this old sea dog clamber into his dinghy and with his pet row off across the harbour at Nanaimo.