Monthly Archives: May 2014

Vancouver: A Flagship City For The 21st Century

Coal Harbour "condo village" in Vancouver

If you have not been to Vancouver, it can be hard to place how modern and built up this city truly is.  Everybody has their preconceived notions surrounding Canada as a largely uninhabited wilderness with charming yet somewhat backwater-ish people.  So when you walk through a scene like the one shown above (just steps away from verdant Stanley Park), it can be a surreal experience.

Still not convinced?  Take a look inside the Vancouver I’ve grown to love, a city that is very much a flag bearer for 21st century urban living.

Vancouver art gallery

Despite this cities’ reputation for modern structures, it does manage to work some historic structures into the mix with great effect.  The Vancouver Art Gallery is a place that plays host to some of the best visual art displays in Western Canada, and also is a popular gathering spot for events.  On this day, I was strolling by on 4/20 … purple haze indeed!

Vancouver Public Library

Even rudimentary institutions like the public library get designed ambitiously here.  Styled after the Roman Colosseum, the inside is as impressive as the outside facade, which goes to show that if you want to get treated like a major city on the world scene, you have to do major city things … like doing a potentially tacky reproduction of a famous ancient ruin and totally pulling it off!

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The tallest building in Vancouver is the Shangri-la Hotel at a dizzying 201 metres (659 feet) above the street … like, literally.  Try standing at the bottom and staring up at the square dots … you’ll feel your head spinning and your feet starting to give out before you know it! 🙂

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With innovative, groundbreaking designs, water features that force you to stop and take in their magnificence, and the lush surroundings made possible by its mild climate, Vancouver’s skyscrapers and urban design are something that any self-respecting urbanite should experience at some point in their lifetimes?

What modern wonders does your city contain?  Feel free to share them with us below!

Photo: Tropical Dream Sequence in Malaysian Borneo

View from islands off Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

While most people travel to Kota Kinabalu only to continue on to climb one of the tallest mountains in Southeast Asia (Mount Kinabalu), lovers of tropical beach paradises take note: there are some idyllic hideaways lying just offshore of this frontier city in Malaysian Borneo.

Head to Jesselton Pier and purchase a ticket to one of the islands that comprise Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, which is a chain of coral islands that lie mere kilometres away from the core of downtown KK.

The one pictured above is Palau Manukan, but there are four other isles to choose from, with Manukan being the most popular, Sulug being completely undeveloped, and Gaya having resorts where you can stay overnight.

The water is unreal, and the SCUBA diving is supposedly quite good for being so close to a big city, so be sure to spend a day here if you’re traveling to Sabah in Malaysian Borneo.

Attack of the Engrish: South Korea Edition!

Optimized-IMG_0474For those that can’t see through the glare on the can: My fighting time! Let’s be cafe time!

In countries where the first language isn’t English, the populace has often attempted to insert education of the world’s most spoken language into their curriculum, with varying results.  Korea is one of those countries that has pushed hard to get their citizens educated in the use of this often confusing form of communication (2nd hardest in the world to learn after Mandarin Chinese), and for the most part, it has resulted in its economies’ rapid rise.

Of course, a culture with a different way of relating to self-expression is bound to come with a rather unique style of using the English language.  While this may include mistakes in grammar, most often, their use of metaphors and the like end up with light-hearted and humorous results, as shown above. Let’s go through a few more that I stumbled across during my 3 1/2 month sojourn in South Korea…!

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Every time I went to the PC Bang (gaming and internet cafe) next door to my apartment (due to my lack of stable wi-fi at my place), I’d buy one of these guys.  I certainly enjoyed my fruitful days, most likely because they would have quickly become my last, as these cafes are filled with cigarette smoke (yes, smoking indoors in many parts of Korea is legal)!

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Grammatically correct, but this phrase unfortunately has a negative connotation … so is it good.  SPOILER ALERT: it is!  Find it in the entertainment district of Cheonan (south of the Shinseggae department store in Shinbudong) and be sure to order one of their thin crust pizzas!

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Apparently this cafe is a meeting place for cannibals … I shuffled by rather quickly 😛 (just past this place in Buldong is a really awesome Mexican place called Cantina … check it out if you’re living here!)

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Coffee and pizza … such a killer combination, but I think I’ll stick to beer or Coca-Cola as my accompanying drink of choice, ok? 😛

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Ohhhh myyyyy …. I got nothing guys…!

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Bloody right I am … let’s get going! 🙂

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Found this on the subway. Note to self: avoid taking the train from 6 til 10 am/pm, lest I end up in the midst of a blood-soaked frenzy of Koreans taking their frustrations out in a homicidal fashion.  Mmmm, murder! 😛

What’s the funniest Engrish you’ve encountered on an overseas journey?  Tell us in the comments below!

Canada’s California: Palm Trees And More In Vancouver, BC

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Sitting on Canada’s west coast, the city of Vancouver, which sits at end of a low lying sliver of land in British Columbia’s southwest known as the Lower Mainland, experience considerably warmer weather than the rest of the nation as a whole.

Together with Vancouver Island and the North Coast, they are bubbles of mildness that endure through the vast majority of a harsh Canadian winter, with daytime highs averaging between 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (42 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) at a time when the rest of Canada is in the deep freeze and buried under mounds of snow.

This temperate climate, combined with some of the best soil in the nation also allows a mind-boggling variety of plants to grow, and yes, as shown above, some of the hardiest palm trees in the world can indeed grow in Van City, lending the place more credence to its legendary status among weather-obsessed Canadians.

Here’s some more examples of horticultural brilliance that can be found in one of Canada’s best cities…

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With robust bushes of pink flowers and palm trees and a condo tower in the background, doesn’t this feel like Hawaii at first blush?  The water and the air might be a bit chillier, but use your imagination, people!

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Cherry trees are planted here in abundance and luckily for me, I was in town during blossom season.  Being in the mid to high teens Celsius (60’s in Fahrenheit) while Alberta continued to freeze also allowed the flower beds throughout public spaces like this one at the end of Davie and Denman to flourish in a truly spectacular fashion!

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Just a brilliant day to head to the beach, soak up the spring sun, and enjoy the beautiful bounty that such a horticultural and climatically rich part of the world has to offer to you.  Yes, Vancouver’s an expensive place to live or visit, but with surroundings like this, the pain is worth the struggle to experience what can only be described as Canada’s California! 🙂

Ever been to Vancouver, or any other freakishly warm place when the rest of your country was suffering in the cold?  Tell us all about it below!

Guide to Ghana: the Best Adventures to Take Part in

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The nation of Ghana is located in West Africa and is the perfect place to take part in adventurous activities. If you are planning to spend some time here it is recommended that you get a hold of a car, which is the best and most convenient way to get around the country.

If you check local classifieds onlineyou will find plenty of cars for both rent and sale. With that in mind, here is a short guide to some of the best things to do in Ghana.

Going on Safari

Ghana boasts a large number of enchanting national parks, which are home to a diverse range of wildlife. Taking a safari through
Ghana’s national parks offers visitors the chance to get close to safari animals and view them in their natural habitats. Safaris come complete with local guides, who will make sure that visitors enjoy a fun and safe experience while getting as close as possible to the wild animals.

Hiking and Trekking

The rainforests and savannahs of Ghana feature hiking and trekking trails that take visitors to areas of pristine natural beauty. Visitors can choose to go hiking either alone or as part of a group, although it is a good idea to take along a guide
on your trips.

Camping

Many of Ghana’s national parks feature campsites, which offer adventurous travellers the chance to sleep underneath the stars. Waking at dawn to find yourself surrounded by nature is one experience that should not be missed. Before your trip, pick up a tent at www.onlysportsgear.com so that you are properly protected from the elements…

Deep Sea Fishing

Set sail in the Atlantic Ocean for the chance to catch fish such as yellow and big eye tuna, barracudas, blue marlin and even marko shark. A number of operators offer deep sea fishing trips from parts of Ghana such as Miemia Bay and Ada
, and successful fishermen have the chance to keep their catch of the day.

Paragliding

People who have a real head for heights will be able to experience Ghana in a whole new way while they get their adrenaline pumping. Ghana’s stunning scenery makes this the ideal location for paragliding trips and several flying centres can be found around the stunning Kwahu Mountain Range.

Mountain Biking

Use peddle power to speed through the dry savannah while pausing to explore traditional Ghanaian villages along the way. This is an exciting experience for visitors who really want to get off the beaten track and mountain bikers will have plenty of time to experience the true natural beauty of Ghana.

Vegas of the East: Top Casinos To Hit In Macau

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When looking for gambling in the Western Hemisphere, Las Vegas is definitely the best choice. On the other hand, when looking for the best casinos in the Eastern Hemisphere, you should direct your appetite for risk taking to the island of Macau.

Formerly a colony of Portugal, this hotspot for casinos is now a special administrative region within China. While it is ruled by the world’s most populous nation, it is allowed to set rules that have grown one of the largest and best known clusters of casino gambling in the East.

Around 8 years ago, Macau was able to surpass Las Vegas with the largest annual gambling revenue. It has maintained its position ever since, as Macau has added countless excellent casinos, of which there are a few that should not be missed.

The MGM Macau is one of the best casinos in Macau. It was built by the same developers who built the MGM Grand in Vegas. Actually, this is a common trend with several Macau casinos being owned by Vegas entrepreneurs.

Additionally, this trend also provides for larger casinos than the ones in Vegas which is the case with the MGM Macau. The gaming floor measures almost 300,000 square feet, which can hold many variations of games, which is vitally important considering that they are competing with online casinos like www.gamingclub.com/au these days, as they have amassed many games, and have the unbeatable advantage of being far more convenient for their gaming customers.

In spite of this, guests can not only gamble at the MGM, but they may also choose to dine in the many restaurants or relax in the bars and lounges, supplying a visitor experience that differentiates it from online gaming.

The Galaxy Casino should be next on your hit list, as its twin towers and six cupolas are a truly decadent sight that symbolizes the spirit of present day Macau. These cupolas are covered in 24 carat gold which creates the appearance of wealth that is transforming this former colony in profound ways.

The Galaxy Casino offers many alternative attractions in addition to casino gambling; for example, visitors can enjoy a diamond show, a laser show or a crystal gallery among many diversions. If guests had to pick one show to see, the laser show is the one, as it is the largest of its kind in the world, and is visible from various places around the city.

Finally, do not leave Macau without checking out Casino Lisboa, as this iconic hall of gambling’s design and age harkens back to a time when Macau was a Portuguese colony. Poker players will want to spend some quality time here, as many lucrative cash games and major tournaments are conducted throughout the calendar year at this landmark casino.