Monday started off nice and slow. I thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in a real bed so it was a tricky thing for me to get out of. We lounged about in our room and took advantage of the complimentary breakfast provided, whilst trying desperately to figure out what to do with our day.
In the end we settled on Chinatown as our area to explore. Spencer and I weren’t particularly enthusiastic about this choice as our trip the previous week saw us in the outskirts of Chinatown… it was not all that pleasant. I want to explain that a little bit more about that than maybe I did before because it’s not actually a rough part of town by any means, it’s just…
There is a serious crisis in Vancouver and it comes in the form of homelessness. The sheer number of people living on the streets is heartbreaking to see, especially in such an affluent city. I’m not sure if this is an accurate observation but the homeless community seems to be made up of the older generations and very young ‘kids’. When I say community I don’t just mean a group of people sharing the same experience in the same city; I mean there is an actual area of Vancouver full of homeless people and the items they have gathered from the streets. Locals refer to this area as Tent City, and it’s really close to Chinatown.
As it turns out, we did end up having a not so pleasant experience after all. After visiting a stunning Chinese garden (I’ll spill the beans on THAT in a mo) we were on the hunt for some food. Rarely do any of us make the time to visit big cities like Vancouver and because of that we wanted to take the long route to the bus. Shelbey (16) was accosted for money directly, and a highly intoxicated man was screaming up and down the road, threatening anyone who looked at him, frightening Ali (11) as well as a large group of younger school children across the street.
It was a horrible thing to witness but was over within a couple of minutes. For that man, it’s a different story altogether, as his life is on the streets. I am fortunate enough to have a roof over my head so cannot imagine how awful sleeping rough must be, especially not in the middle of a snowstorm. With a good foot or so of snow on the pavements, roads covered in slush and slick, black ice… how can we expect a human being to survive, let alone make a living and thrive, in such conditions. Now I don’t know what series of events lead to that man being out on the streets, but I do know that we should not be experiencing a homeless crisis like this and there are definitely things we can do to help.
Below I have linked a few charities and organisations who work tirelessly to rectify/ease this homeless epidemic in Vancouver and London. Please donate if you can, but if not, drumming up some attention for the issue will maybe inspire others to give do feel free to do that too.
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Please keep in mind that I’ve not done crazy amounts of research into these organisations; I have checked over the available site information, but please do you own research prior to donating your time, money, clothes and/or food.
Okay, now I’ve gotten that off my chest…
Anything I say from here on in will sound unimportant, but you’re here to read about my travels, are you not?
The Chinese garden we had intended to visit was actually closed. We were a bit peeved about it until we noticed the door open so went in anyhoo. It turns out that only PART of the gardens are closed on a Monday. It wasn’t clear why, but I did notice a few of the local food shops were closed on Mondays too?
When you enter through the circular entrance you are greeted by a truly spectacular winter wonderland. Whilst not a classic winter scene, it certainly harbours the same kind of magic. A large frozen over pond is surround by knee high shrubbery, a selection of Bonsai and of course the ever elegant Cherry Blossom Trees. I can only imagine what this magical garden must look like when everything is out in full bloom, I sure would like to be witness to that.
That being said, the powdery snow really does add it’s own charm to the place. Snow covered walkways, ornaments and oriental buildings pair with dustings of fresh snow settling on the already frozen pond, whilst a whole murder of black crows try their luck with ice skating. You could easily mistake this delightfully comical scene for that of a Mary Poppins remake (which I am stupidly excited for!).
We then moved on to a very quick and cold trip to Stanley Park. The whole family needed to warm up and eat before the Hockey game that night so we were keen to get back with plenty of time! Yes, the main event was nearly upon us and although we were all feeling the cold and the tiredness was starting to set in, I did have a bubbling excitement brewing inside me… and I promise it wasn’t the cheese!
Stopping at a quirky looking Ramen place we each ordered a bowl of goodness. Having never sampled the wonder that is Ramen before, I was a wee bit concerned about the whole thing. Ramen is epic and I hope I can find a similar place close to home.
Before we knew it the evening was flying by and it was back in the bus for this crazy crew. If you’ve never been to Roger’s Arena before it can be quick tricky to find where you need to be. Public transport is great, but unfortunately it can’t always drop you directly outside the door… even if it is a huge stadium and home to Vancouver’s Hockey team, Canucks! Eventually we did manage to locate our tickets and get ourselves inside. With Hot Dogs and huge cups of Pepsi in hand we were settled into our seats early in anticipation for the upcoming game.
Until that evening I had never seen a Hockey game before, not even a full one on the TV. Of course it is hard to escape in Canada, but I never paid it much attention.
Being at a hockey game was such a great experience. The adrenaline fills the room just as quickly as bodies fill the seats, and the DJ’s play all kinds of music designed to get everyone pumped. A particularly great moment was hearing the Canadian Anthem sung so beautifully by a young girl. She was incredibly talented and the whole room really got behind her. Everyone who know the words (not me, oops) was singing along and being totally in the moment. It was the sort of occasion whereby all the hairs on your body stand on end and you get a big lump in your throat. I felt nothing but love and pride in that room. it was awesome.
Obviously I’m unable to give you a technical run down of the game, however I can tell you that it was fantastic from beginning to end and I cannot wait to go back and see my team, YES! MY TEAM, play again.
Canucks lost. That kinda sucked but when the home horn goes off the stadium goes completely wild. It’s bonkers and I love it.
The following day saw us travel home to Nanaimo. The ferries were not cancelled which we were VERY pleased about, but we did have to dig out the car from under a few feet of snow… surprisingly, not AS pleased with that one.
Now as much as I hate to say this. that kinda ends my journey! Nanaimo was hit very badly by the snowstorm which made hikes and most outdoor activities almost impossible. Not wanting to break my neck a few days before heading back to the UK, I was very sensible and we stayed inside just hanging out. It was a really relaxing way to end the trip but I am sad I didn’t get one last crazy hike in!
It’s now 03:00 GMT and I am sat in my bed feeling awake. Not wide awake, but awake. This time I have not beaten jet lag. BOO.
I want to thank you for reading this rambling blog full of nonsense, and for just coming along on this self-indulgent journey with me. The whole trip was designed to allow myself to feel a bit more in touch with me again; to be completely selfish, to be honest with myself and maybe even a touch irresponsible! Well, it’s worked and I feel amazing. I feel like my year is only just beginning and I have such a positive plan of action… trust me when I say I’m working on cool little projects that I hope will lead to something a bit bigger than what I’m messing around with now.
Of course, one thing that’s kept me going with this creative space is you. It’s been nice to have comments from friends and family about my adventures, and the contact from people I don’t know has been really great also.
I hope that no matter what I end up writing about, you manage to find some part of it enjoyable, so please ALWAYS keep in touch via the comments here. Alternatively, you can use Instagram @courtneyjadebanks, Twitter @courtneyjadebee or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get in touch. If you just want to say ‘Nice post!’ or maybe you have a suggestion/ edit. Even if you have the odd question about anything I’ve written… my eyes, ears and heart are all very much open.
Lots of love,