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Photo of the Day: December 2nd

Ubud Wanderings: Rice Harvest (Bali, Indonesia)

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Photo of the Day: December 1st

The Ucluelet Lighthouse

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Balinese Kecak Dance

Kecak is a form of Balinese music drama, originated in the 1930s and is performed primarily by men. Also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, the piece, performed by a circle of 100 or more performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting "cak" and throwing up their arms, depicts a battle from the Ramayana  where the monkey-like Vanara  helped Prince Rama  fight the evil King Ravana. However, Kecak has roots in Sanghyang, a trance-inducing exorcism dance.

Kecak was originally a trance ritual accompanied by male chorus. German painter and musician Walter Spies became deeply interested in the ritual while living in Bali in the 1930s and worked to recreate it into a drama, based on the Hindu Ramayana and including dance, intended to be presented to Western tourist audiences.

The performance lasted about an hour and a half. It was amazing to hear so many voices singing “kecak, kecak, kecak” in unison. The dance tells the story of Prince Rama and his rescue of Princess Sita, who has been kidnapped by the evil King of Lanka.

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Priest blessing the lantern and dance area.

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More than 100 men singing and participating in the Kecak Dance.

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More photos available at mariskar on Flickr.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kecak

Whale Watching with Ocean Ecoventures

For my dad’s birthday this year, rather than have a big party, my dad wanted to spend some quality time with the family. With this request in mind, my mom drove down the beautiful Cowichan Bay, on Vancouver Island and booked a whale watching tour with Ocean Ecoventures.

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We arrived at the storefront location, which doubles as an art gallery, and were provided with full-body, wind proof, Helly Hansen flotation suits for the day’s adventure. It was the first really hot day of the summer so the need for the suits didn’t seem to make sense, but once we were out and speeding across the water I was grateful to have it.

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Once suited up, we made our way down to the zodiac was moored and were given a quick but detailed safety lesson for the trip by Simon Pidcock, owner/operator of Ocean Ecoventures. Before taking off, he took this group shot!

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We barely left the harbour when we caught our first glimpse of ocean wildlife. A harbour seal swam by about twenty feet from the boat!

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After about a 45 minute boat ride (with gorgeous B.C. views), we arrived to an area where the orcas tend to hang out and play around. Simon told us of all kinds of interesting facts, behaviours and statistics about the whales. He was very knowledgeable and much of the information was astounding!

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Whales were not the only wildlife we saw on the trip. After watching and following the orcas for a couple of hours, we headed back to Cowichan Bay. He took us into a kelp bed, where he showed us that kelp is amazingly strong, and that it has an unbelievable growth rate, as well as many benefits to the ocean and its’ creatures. We even took a kelp leaf out of the water and ate it. Yep, it’s edible!

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Other creatures we came across were several bald eagles as well as a bald eagle nest, a couple of ospreys and their nest of young, and of course a lot of seals hanging out on the logs.

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All in all we had an AMAZING experience! Unreal photographic opportunities! And we were lucky with phenomenal weather!

If you are planning a trip to Vancouver Island and are looking for a fun adventure in the Cowichan Valley, an Ocean Ecoventures Whale Watching tour with Simon Pidcock should definitely be on your itinerary!

A few tips for your trip:

  • Bring your best camera and best zoom/telephoto lens for the trip. I was afraid my gear would get wet, so I left it behind, but not a drop of water made it inside the boat! (*kicking myself!*)
  • Wear SUNSCREEN! Even on a cloudy day you are susceptible to sunburn.
  • Bring sunglasses and a hat to wear while floating around watching the whales.
  • Wear closed toed shoes.
  • Bring a bottle of water.
  • Ask lots of questions, Simon knows his stuff!

For more information about Ocean Ecoventures, visit their website, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to check out some of Simon’s beautiful whale photography on Flickr.

Ocean Ecoventures Whale Watching is located at:
1721 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Local – 250 748 3800
Toll Free – 1 866 748 5333

Have you taken a whale watching tour? Please share your experience in the comments.

Making Sense of the Spill Event Summary

I attended Making Sense of the Oil Slick discussion panel at the BC Marine Museum last night, and found that there is a lot of stuff that a lot of people simply don’t know! (or maybe people just don’t want to know?)

The panel consisted of:

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada
– Professor Geoff Mann, Dogwood Initiative / Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University
– Professor Kurt Andrew Grimm, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia
Robert Scales, Technology and Communication Strategist*

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The talk started off with Prof. Kurt Grimm, speaking from a scientific and religious angle, saying that science has gone crazy and this problem is bigger than we are.We need to stop pointing the fingers at other, because the problem here is starting with us, with our addiction to fossil fuels!

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Prof. Geoff Mann followed with a political policies discussion and had some very interesting things to say around British Columbia’s current situation and the risks of the potential plan to begin offshore drilling right here at home. He discussed ways to stop, or at least make it more difficult for companies to drill for oil off our coast. He told the group that the current tanker ban off out coast is unenforced and that our laws are generally too relaxed around the subject. The most effective environmental tool British Columbia has, he said, is our First Nations and their ability to stop such things from happening in our province and country. The 28 Nations have banded together to oppose Enbridge’s 1,000-kilometre pipeline stretching from the oil patch north of Edmonton to Kitimaat, B.C.

“We will protect ourselves and the interests of future generations with everything we have because one major oil spill on the coast of British Columbia would wipe us out,” Gerald Amos, director of the Coastal First Nations, said in a statement.

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Up next in the discussion was Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada. She continued Geoff Mann’s conversation by talking more about government policies saying that Canada’s oil and gas regulations are a joke. One major example is the bill that was passed just yesterday around environmental issues.

It is probably best described by quoting from Elizabeth’s blog,  “the 2009 Budget Implementation Bill was used to gut the Navigable Water Protection Act (NWPA).  The NWPA had been cornerstone environmental legislation since 1867, but the Conservative government decided that an objective definition of “navigable” could be replaced with “anything the Minister of Transport thinks it is.”

“This year is worse.  The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) is clearly in the Harper governments cross-hairs.   First, the budget text (as reported) included the unprecedented move to take energy projects away from the CEAA and assign environmental assessment for energy projects to the National Energy Board or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.  Now, the details of the 2010 Budget Implementation Bill have been released, and, you guessed it, it gets worse.

“The new amendments were clearly designed to evade the implications of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision on the Red Chris Mine.  The Red Chris mine is a gold and copper mine in BC. In January the SCC found that the Environment Minister had failed in legal obligations under CEAA by describing the details of the project that require review (called “scoping”) in such a way that damaging aspects would be excluded from environmental assessment. The 2010 Budget Implementation Bill means the minister can scope the project any old way he or she chooses.  Big huge mine? Tiny little assessment.

“This is a body blow to environmental assessment.  The new bill also removes the requirement for public consultation on projects subject to Comprehensive Study.   Comprehensive Study only applies to fairly large projects with real potential for environmental damage. This actually runs directly counter to the purposes of the Act.  It also removes projects funded through infrastructure money flowing to municipalities or First Nation.”

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Rounding off the panel discussion was Technology and Communication Strategist, Robert Scales talking about art, media and crisis. He spoke of the role social media plays in crises such as the oil spill and other major environmental events. He spoke of Twitter and how it is an effective tool for communicating more than what you had for breakfast and that it is a powerful tool for citizens like you or myself to get global conversations going, in this case about the oil spill, BP, and environmental effects of the damage. The image that held the most impact for me during his talk was this one, showing the relative size of the actual spill in comparison to Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.

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Bear in mind that this was the size of the spill 10 days ago, so it has grown since. You can “try the oil spill on” in different parts of the world by following this link: http://www.ifitwasmyhome.com/

For more links and to view Robert Scales’ slide presentation, please visit SlideShare.

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After all the panelists presented and the crowd took a bit of a break, we all reconvened for an open discussion. The main ideas that were shared were that we, as a people, need to make a shift from a “consumer” role to a “citizen” role.

The way we are generally speaking about our government is from an “us” and “them” perspective. What we are not taking advantage of is the fact that we have a democratic government. With that came the question, “What is a democratic government?” and one answer was “majority rules.” But in fact a democratic government is a government “by the people.” Meaning in essence that, “we are the government!” So if this is the case, why are we, as a people, not exercising this? We are letting “them” make all the decisions, when in fact we DO have a say in what “they” decide!

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So what it comes down to is that we are constantly complaining about things within our government, but not enough people are stepping up to do something about it. We all sit in our armchairs or at our computers, reading or watching the news, shaking our heads, but if we do not deem certain things unacceptable, they will never change! So what do we need to do? Well, we need to REDEFINE the acceptable!

And with that, the discussion was wrapped up, but it definitely inspired more thinking about these ideas for, I think, most of the people in the room. I know it did for me!

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*Robert Scales stood in for Kris Krug of Static Photography, who was unable to present at the event due to an invitation to head to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico to photograph the environmental effects of the BP oil spill. More information about Kris’s expedition can be found at http://tedxoilspill.com/expedition/.

**Photography exhibit on the walls of the venue was “Studies In Sea Ice” by Roberta Holden of No Barriers Photography, and will be available for viewing until October 3, 2010.

***More photos from the event are available on Flickr.

Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics Sporting Events

This August, Singapore will host the first ever Youth Olympic Games. Overall, there will be over 3500 athletes competing in 201 events, divided by age groups 15 to 16, 16 to 17 and 17 to 18. Over all there will be 26 sports represented.

Qualifying for the Youth Olympic Games requires at least the top four youths from each National Olympic Committee to qualify and go on to the Youth Olympic Games. Over all, all 205 National Olympic Committees are participating with mixed gender results and bringing the chance for attending the Youth Olympics to many members of the younger generation. Qualification events include competitions like the Junior World Championships, Continental Championships or any other official junior ranking lists.

Sporting events to be represented at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games:

Aquatics: There will be two events for both Youth Men and Youth Women, leaping from a 3m springboard or a 10m platform. For Swimming, events include Freestyle, Breaststroke, Backstroke, Butterfly and Medley, testing the speed and endurance of participants in Individual and Team competitions.

Archery: There are individual Junior Men, Junior Women and Mixed Team competitions. The distance that athletes will be shooting is 70m. The Olympic Round starts with a ranking match, followed by the individual and team elimination format.

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Athletics: Athletics, or Track and Field, is about running faster, jumping higher, throwing further than competitors and enduring long distances. For the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, Athletics comprises a total 36 track and field events for both Boys and Girls.

Badminton: Shuttlers will only compete in the Singles event. The objective of the game is to score points by hitting the shuttlecock over the net into the opponent’s half of the court, so that it hits the ground before the opponent is able to return it.

Basketball: There will be two teams made up of three players each on court at any one time. This adrenaline-packed game is played on a half court, with one basketball hoop. It includes three intensive periods of five minutes each. The team to first score 33 points or is leading the game after the regular game time is the winner.

Boxing: Each bout is made up of four rounds; each round lasts two minutes, with a one minute rest period between the rounds. The winner of a bout is decided by a win on points by five judges or the referee.

Canoe-Kayak: n the Canoe Sprint event, the athletes paddle on a circuit, and compete against each other over a 420m course. For Canoe Slalom, the athletes compete on a calm water surface and not on a natural river or artificial slalom course.

Each team consists of three Junior Men and one Junior Woman, with the three Junior Men required to compete in one discipline each (BMX, Mountain Bike and Time Trial) while the Junior Woman has to compete in all three disciplines. All male riders also have to compete in the Road Race.

Equestrian: There will only be the Jumping event (Team and Individual) and the horses will be provided by the organising committee. For the Team event, there will be six teams representing each continent – Africa, Asia, Australasia Europe, North America and South America. Penalties are given to teams in cases such as riders knocking down fences or when horses refuse to jump. The team with the lowest demerit points wins.

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Fencing: Fencing is a traditional sport developed based on ancient sword fighting, involving two competitors contesting bouts using light weapons: épée, foil or sabre. There will be Individual and Mixed Team competitions during the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

Football: Playing time is made up of two periods of 40 minutes with a half-time break of 15 minutes. At the final whistle, the team which scores more goals is the winner.

Gymnastics: Judging for Artistic Gymnastics is based on the level of difficulty and actual execution of the moves, while Rhythmic Gymnastics has an additional criterion on artistry.

Handball: A game consists of two 30-minute halves with a 10-minute half-time break. Amid intense physical contact, players pass, throw, roll, catch and dribble the ball with their hands while trying to score goals. The level of difficulty is heightened with the inclusion of restricted goal areas beyond which the players must attempt to score from, on top of the last line of defence put up by the goalkeeper. At the final whistle, the team which has scored more goals than the opponent is the winner.

Hockey: At the completion of each match during pool play, three points will be awarded to the winner; one point will be awarded to each team in the event of a draw; zero points are awarded to the loser. To determine the final standings after the end of one pool competition, teams will play the final competition in the form of single elimination.

Judo: Judo involves two individuals who, by gripping the Judo uniform or Judogi, use the forces of balance, power and movement to throw the opponent over. There is no kicking, punching or weapons involved. There are a total of eight weight categories for both Boys and Girls at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

Modern Pentathalon: The Modern Pentathlon for the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games (Singapore 2010) consists of four of the five Modern Pentathlon disciplines: fencing, swimming, running and shooting. The fifth discipline, riding, will not be competed at Singapore 2010. Pentathletes achieve points in each discipline according to their performance.

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Rowing: For the regatta, crews or individuals race each other on the same course for positions, which then determine their progression to the final. The winning boat is declared when its bow ball, attached to the tip of the boat, crosses the finish line first.

Sailing: The Sailing competition at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games comprises four medal events with Boys and Girls sailing in either the Byte CII boat (one person dinghy) or Techno 293 (windsurfing).

Shooting: A total of four events, the Men and Women Air Rifle and Air Pistol will be competed in for the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Shots are fired at a ten-ring target. The higher score is awarded when a shot touches the line between two zones. The shooter with the highest total score based on the addition of the qualification and finals score is the winner.

Table Tennis: In Table Tennis, a game is won by the player or pair who first scores 11 points. Should both sides score 10 points, the game shall be won by the first player or pair that subsequently gains a lead of 2 points. A player wins the match when he or she wins the number of games (three out of five or four out of seven).

Taekwondo: A martial art sport, involves the use of both hands and legs to overcome an opponent. The trademark of the sport is its combination of kick movements. Athletes will be competing in five weight categories per gender during the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

Tennis: A Tennis match is a game of endurance, quick-wittedness and precise execution. For the Singles competitions, all matches will be determined through the best of three tie-break sets. For the Doubles competitions, all matches will be determined by two tie-break sets and a match tie-break game (10 points) in place of a third set.

Triathlon: The Triathlon competition format for individual competitions includes a 750m swim in open water, a 20km cycle ride (three-lap course), and a 5km run (two-lap course). The 4 x Mixed Team Relay competition includes a 250m swim in open water, a 7km cycle ride (one-lap course), and a 1.7km run (one-lap course). The competitors’ official time includes the transition time between the individual legs of the race. The winner is the first athlete to complete the entire course.

Volleyball: Volleyball games are played to 25 points. The first team to score 25 points (and be two points ahead) will be awarded the set. Matches are determined through the best of five sets and the fifth set (if necessary) is usually played to 15 points.

Weight Lifting: The Men will compete in six bodyweight categories, while the Women will compete in five bodyweight categories. The combined results of the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk will produce the champion of each bodyweight category.

Wrestling: Wrestlers will be competing in the three Olympic wrestling styles during the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games: Greco-Roman, Men’s Freestyle and Women’s Freestyle. In Greco-Roman wrestling, the wrestler is forbidden to grasp the opponent below the waist, or to use the leg to trip or actively perform any action. In Men’s And Women’s Freestyle wrestling, however, it is permissible to grasp the legs, or to use the leg to trip or actively perform any action.

I’m looking forward to photographing as many of these sporting events as I possibly can with my International Olympic Committee Media Accreditation! Which events would you be interested in seeing images from? Only 68 days to go!!
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Tinhorn Creek, Wine Tasting with a Social Twist

The Tinhorn Creek Winery had a very cool event last night, at the CBC building on Georgia Street in Vancouver.

Think speed dating… only instead of talking to a random stranger, you are tasting random wines, hidden in paper bags and trying to guess what it is that you are drinking! At the end of the evening, the bottles were revealed by wine maker Sandra Oldfield, and those who guess correctly were entered in a draw for prizes.

The event was called: Wine Tasting With a Social Twist. As in social media twist! There were big-screen tv’s posting current tweets about the event for all to see and respond to. Very cool!

Tinhorn Creek Wine Tasting, with a Social Twist

@TinhornCreek Wine Tasting with a #SocialTwist

Tinhorn Creek Wine Tasting, with a Social Twist

Tinhorn Creek Wine Tasting, with a Social Twist

@TinhornCreek Wine Tasting with a #SocialTwist

Tinhorn Creek Wine Tasting, with a Social Twist

A big thank you to Rebecca Bolwitt of Miss604.com for the opportunity to attend this event via the tickets I won on her blog! And thank you to Sandra Oldfield of Tinhorn Creek Winery for making such delicious wine!

Awesome event! Awesome people! AWESOME WINE!!!

(More photos of the event on Flickr!)

A Texas Wedding

Pugz & Lori Wedding

My trip to Texas in March was last minute and unexpected. I was meant to travel there with a friend and assist on a wedding shoot, until said friend had a car accident and I was suddenly the primary shooter for a couple that I had never met or even spoken to before arriving in Texas!

I arrived at the Austin airport and walked outside to warm, sunny weather. It felt so good after the cold, wet weather we were having in Vancouver! Both the bride and groom were very easy-going people and we became fast friends. They graciously welcomed me into their home, fed me, toured me around Austin, took me out for Amy’s ice cream and some tasty Texas BBQ. They were amazing hosts, especially considering they were about to get married and had a lot of other things on their minds!

On day three, we drove from Austin to Houston. I wasn’t sure what I expected from Texas, having never been before, but it was a beautiful drive with very pretty landscapes and wild flowers on the sides of the freeway.

What blew me away the most on the drive (being from tame Vancouver and all), was the freeway overpasses when we entered Houston. There were eight of them layered at some points! I couldn’t believe how high these things were built! Honestly, it was a bit freaky to be driving on one of the higher ones.

We made our way to the mother of the bride’s home and from there the ladies headed to a nail salon where every chair in the place was filled with family and friends of the bride for mani/pedis. This is where the photography began (after my pedicure of course!)

After a lovely afternoon getting pampered, we headed to the wedding rehearsal at the Houston Junior League and ran through the ceremony for the following day, then off to check into the hotel for a relaxing evening before the next day’s festivities.

The next day, up early, over to the mother of the bride’s home again to prepare for the big day. Hair! Makeup! Dress! Photos!!!

Then off to the Junior League for the noon ceremony. The bride looked gorgeous! Her dress suited her perfectly, as did her hair and makeup, and the flowers were unbelievably beautiful! The Jewish ceremony was perfect, as was the luncheon that followed. It was truly a beautiful wedding, and it was so nice to see such a happy couple.

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After the celebration ended I headed back to the hotel to download the images and take a nap! Surprisingly, the new Mr. and Mrs. made plans for a sushi dinner with me, rather than spending their wedding night doing what newlyweds do… Despite my insisting that they should celebrate their nuptials without me, they insisted.

The next day we headed back to Austin and as it was my last day in Texas, they insisted on getting some Rudy’s BBQ and took me out to the creek on the green belt for a picnic. It was PERFECT! Sunny, tasty food, great company, on the creek, nothing could have been better!

I’d like to thank Shawn and Lori for their incredible hospitality and the honour and opportunity to shoot their wedding photos! It was an unexpected, pleasant surprise and I feel that I have left Texas with new friends for life! I’m so happy to have met them both and I wish them all the best in their life together. I look forward to another visit to Austin to catch up with them and to see more of that wonderful city! I can see why it tops many people’s favourite cities list!

Pugz & Lori Wedding

Travel to Bali: Taipei to Denpasar

Well… I think I was MEANT to take this trip at this time or something, because things are only getting better and better (and better!) as my travels continue!

We are finally boarding the plane from Taipei to Denpasar, on Bali, Indonesia. Looks like a packed flight on this one. Not much chance of getting an empty seat beside me. I’m usually in no hurry to get on planes because seriously, why be squished into that tiny seat in that tin box longer than you need to be? But from the looks of the crowd lining up to get on, I wanted to make sure I would get some overhead storage space for my carry on bag relatively close to my seat. So through the line I went…

Everyone’s boarding pass was making a short high pitched beep as it was pulled through the machine, and then mine went through and it made a different, double low toned beep… I was thinking, “what now!” But, it seems it was nothing to worry about! In fact, it was my second seat change of the day; my seat at 21A had just been changed to 1K! Which makes it what? Yeppers! That’s right!! I was upgraded to BUSINESS CLASS!!! WOOHOO!!! My first time in business class, EVER!

Business Class Cabin

So here I sit, in my LARGE cushy seat with my plump pillow, nice thick wool blanket and glass of champagne! Pretty sure flying doesn’t get any better than this! The seats have power outlets for my laptop, and looks like an internet connection would be possible, if I hadn’t packed my RJ45 cable in my suitcase… (d’oh!) The seats are electric with foot rests, and lumbar support in my back and if I wanted to lie back and sleep, the seat reclines all the way back into a sleeping position! Craziness!

(Apologies to those of you who experience business class all the time, but not having traveled a whole heck of a lot, i’m new at this and a little bit excited to be so spoiled! Haha! –or should I say so LUCKY?! Someone buy me a lottery ticket back home, it will be sure to win today!)

The flight attendant refers to me by name, and hands me a menu of food and cocktail options for the flight. Wow! I never knew how spoiled they were up in these hidden front seats behind that mystery curtain until now! So although it’s only about 9:30am here in Taiwan, I order a vodka/soda because my biological clock is telling me that it’s 6pm in Vancouver. And hey! If they’re gonna offer me free booze while I sit here in business class, I’m gonna TAKE IT!!!

Enter vodka/soda with two slices of lime in a REAL glass (none of that plastic crap they’re getting in economy class!) complete with cocktail stir stick! LOVE IT!!!! I could get used to this! If this keeps up, this is going to be a fantastic month of adventure!

My cocktail in a REAL glass!

Next on the menu: A shrimp cocktail appetizer, then shrimp, rice and bokchoy in a creamy mushroom sauce as the main course with a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, and cheesecake with fruit, whipped cream and chocolate sauce for dessert, all followed by a lovely cup of green tea. Holy horse! I’m not going to have to eat for a week!! The best airline food I’ve ever tasted, that’s for sure!

Business Class Entre

Business Class Dessert!

Approaching Bali by Air

Approaching Bali by Air

Yep, there’s no better way to spend 5 hours flying through clear skies, 11,634 meters above the ocean to the tropical paradise island of Bali, Indonesia… Haha! Today, this is MY LIFE!!! I wonder what tomorrow will bring! 🙂

Stay tuned for more Balinese adventures coming soon…

For information on Bali and the neighbouring island on Lombok, I recommend the Lonely Planet guide.

Quebec City Ice Hotel

I never thought I would take a winter vacation, being a sun baby and one who is not at all fond of the cold. But with a friend from Montreal, the idea to head out to Quebec City in February 2009 for the annual Carnaval d’Hiver somehow didn’t seem like such a crazy one. It was an incredible 5-day adventure that I will not soon forget!

We decided to spend the first couple of days just outside of Quebec City at Station Touristique Duchesnay, home of Quebec City’s Ice Hotel! We were not able to make a reservation to stay in the ice hotel, but thought we would go anyway and tour the ice structure and stay at L’Auberge Duchesnay, next door. Connected to the hotel is spa, which we took full advantage of with a massage, body scrub, sauna and jacuzzi package. AMAZING!

Ice Hotel Entrance

Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

Drinking nook at the ice bar

Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

The Ice Chapel

We thought we would check out the bar in the ice hotel for a cocktail one evening, before it was closed off to the public for the hotel guests. Because it’s so cold at the Ice Hotel, they serve only hard liquor, as anything else would freeze due to the icy temperatures. To boot, all cocktails were served in glasses made of ice, eliminating any worry your drink getting warm!

Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

For entertainment, they held an ice carving competition. I never imagined myself as an ice sculptor, but now was my opportunity to give it a shot. It turned out to be a fun, creative experience! The ice was fairly soft and easy to carve. Between myself and my travel partner, we carved the head of the Bonnehomme d’Hiver, the mascot for the Carnival. I carved the toque, while he carved the face.


Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

We had such a great time in the Ice Hotel that evening that we tried our luck with the ice hotel reception desk to see if there happened to be any cancellations that night. We were in luck! We were even able to swing a themed room for the price of a regular room, and ended up with the Cathedral Room.

Again, let me stress to you how much I hate the cold… And I mean HATE THE COLD!!! So I’m really unsure what possessed me to agree to staying in a hotel with walls made of ice, floors of snow, a bed made of ice, and an average temperature of 4 degrees Celsius! I think I may have suffered from some form of temporary insanity at the time… But in the end it was a “cool” experience and I would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to do it!

The hotel provided us with North Face sleeping bags and a crash course on how to stay warm for the night. There were  six hot tubs and a sauna at the Ice Hotel, to warm up before turning in to your COLD room for the night. They recommended to dry off COMPLETELY (including all your nooks and crannies) when leaving the changing area, as any moisture at all would be a risk of freezing and making your Ice Hotel experience a very unpleasant one. They provided blow dryers to help with this – not only for your hair, but your entire body!

Once in the room, we unpacked out sleeping bags and crawled in fully clothed, socks, toques and all! The bed frame was made of ice, but the mattress itself was foam covered with animal furs, which made things much more comfortable.

Ice Hotel, cathedral themed room

Ice Hotel (l'Hotel de Glace)

We survived the night right up to the 8am wake up call when they booted us out to prepare the hotel for the daily public tours. I had woken up maybe an hour prior to the wake up call and it was not until then that I started to feel cold and a bit uncomfortable. But I stuck it out, my sleeping bag was still the warmest place to be at that moment!

The best part about the stay at the Quebec City Ice Hotel is that you have the comfort of knowing that you have a room at the nice WARM L’Auberge Duchesnay, just up the hill included with your stay. So just in case you do get too cold and don’t think you will make it through the night at -4 Celsius, you are able to go to a nice warm bed! And after our wake up call, you can bet that I made a beeline for a nice, long, hot shower!

For more photos of the Quebec City Ice Hotel, please visit my Flickr page.