i have adventures (sometimes)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Jet Lag and Self-Portraits

Jet lag is not my friend. A combination of the eight hour time difference and not having had a proper night's sleep in about two months is making it hard to have the energy to go adventuring. But I persevere, because I am an ADVENTURER. An adventurer who takes daily naps and goes to bed at 8pm, but an adventurer nonetheless.

Anyway, when I'm awake to see it - and, no doubt, when I'm not - Vancouver is beautiful and sometimes sunny and full of pirates and tiny dogs.

I may take a nap right here.
Of course.
You have a ridiculous dog.

I've seen a few different sides to Vancouver over the last few days. Kelsey took me down to skid row on the lower East side, which was a real eye opener, with needle exchanges and obvious drug addicts, and stolen goods bought and sold on the street. It was such a crazy juxtaposition with the first world city I'd seen until then. I must have looked like the wide-eyed innocent middle-class girl I am as I tried not to clutch my bag and stare. It's funny - I say I come from the third world, but my life has been so privileged and sheltered. It's sobering to acknowledge.

We bought our groceries at an amazing giant Chinese supermarket nearby, where I was so overwhelmed by everything that I spent fully fifteen minutes trying to choose noodles. In the afternoon, we talk a walk around Queen Elizabeth Park, which was gorgeous.

With opportunities for LLTG!

I maintain that that conservatory is full of alien plants just waiting to burst out and devour us all.

And then yesterday, I took a bus and a train and a seabus (new favourite form of public transport!) and another bus to North Vancouver, to visit Grouse Mountain, the highest point in Vancouver. There was a celebration of hypermasculinity a lumberjack show, complete with axe throwing and log rolling and sexist jokes, and a ski lift, grizzly bears, and amazing views of Vancouver.

Let us demonstrate our masculinity and compete for females.
My ticket included a trip up in the ski lift to the peak of the mountain, which was my first time in a ski lift, and pretty terrifying. I've discovered that I don't have a phobia of heights - phobias are by definition irrational. I have a perfectly rational fear of being MILES AND MILES FROM THE GROUND in a flimsy chair with no real safety restraints.

This is a very rational fear.
I think it would have been very peaceful if my brain hadn't kept screaming at me that I was almost certainly going to die or drop my camera or lose my shoes or DIE, because the ski lift is almost totally quiet, and the silence so far above the city is unbelievable. I hardly interpret city noise as noise any more, but it makes a big difference when it's not there.

At the peak of the mountain was The Eye of the Wind, a wind turbine with a viewing platform at the top, 65m up.

If I look like I'm hanging on tightly and trying not to stand too heavily on the floor... I have no idea what you're talking about.

I stopped for a picnic lunch with a view that might have been breathtaking, although it's hard to tell because I'd just travelled in a tiny lift up to a point several thousand feet above the city, so there were a number of reasons I might not have been breathing.

It is lovely, though.
I enjoyed the trip down in the ski lift much more, because I felt a lot less like I was going to die, which was a nice change. I also managed to have a very brief chat with a girl from Manchester, who greeted me as our flimsy flying chairs passed each other, and we managed to establish Northern English kinship before passing out of range.

Then suddenly, bears! Grouse Mountain has a sanctuary for two orphaned grizzly bears, which look adorable and huggable, but probably aren't, so I didn't try to hug them. Because I have a well-developed sense of self-preservation.

But look at that face.
Bear fight!
Kelsey shepherded me to the mountain in the morning, but I managed to find the way back all by myself. I think I even managed to do a passable impression of a local, because the public transport tickets allow you to take multiple trips, but only within an hour-and-a-half window, which meant that I had to rush and look serious to make sure I got onto my last bus in time. I'm not sure the looking serious helped, but you never know. In my new role as Vancouver public transport expert, I also told someone how to open the back door of a bus. I am winning at fitting in.

So, Vancouver is doing well so far in my estimation. It has electric buses and mountains, which are two of my favourite things, and it's introduced me to seabuses, which are EVEN BETTER than electric buses, even though they are boats and not actually buses. It also has Kelsey and bears and sunshine and the world's most excellent Chinese supermarket, where I would happily grow fat on exciting tofu puddings. I approve, Vancouver. I approve.


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