Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bear with me...

... but I got to tell you this before I tell you anything else! I f*cking saw a wild Brown Bear with my own eyes, when I was all by myself in the bushes. I had went for a 12 km hike by myself along Spray River, and met nothing but two mountain bikers, birds and dragon flies so far. As I strolled up the path, I was enjoying the quietness of the forest and I might have been daydreaming at little bit when I suddenly saw the bushes move about 20 metres away. At first I only thought it was a dear or something, but then a very furry head with pointy ears poked out of the bushes. My body instantly froze and my heart started thumping hard, as I realised I was looking at a fully grown-up Brown Bear. It was scary, but at the same time extremely fascinating! I couldn't get myself to back away slowly as the tourist brochures tells you to do, but nor did I want to get more than a few metres closer to the big beast. It didn't seem like the bear noticed my presence at all. In the ten minutes I stood and stared at it, it only looked in my direction once and either didn't see me or didn't care. He or she was probably to busy eating berries of the bushes. After ten minutes, I lost sight of the animal as it walked in the other direction, away from me, which left me standing all my myself in a forest halfway across the world thinking: "WOW". I did pull out my camera, but to be honest, I did not have the nerves (or the stupidity, some might say) to concentrate on taking photos. So sadly the photo's are pretty poopy. All you can see is a bit of fur or a set of ears. The single moment where I saw the whole animal only lasted for a few seconds, and sudden movements (such as pulling out your camera) probably isn't advisable when you're standing face-to-face with a bear :) Secretly, this is a dream come true! It was the one thing I was hoping to see, though it's a relatively rare sight - and I did!!! An experience quite different from watching bears in Copenhagen Zoo, I tell ya! :O) The rest of the hike was just as nice and peaceful as the first part, before encountering the bear, had been. Check the gallery for photos of good scenery and cute little chipmunks.

Hopping off in Banff has turned out to be a really good idea. I really needed some time all by myself, and I daresay a quiet 12 km walk through the woods, just you and nature, is indeed a very good method of obtaining inner peace... Even though you might get your pulse multiplied by three at the sight of a Brown Bear :-D

Back in my dormitory room at Banff Y Mountain Lodge, the Dutch from my room told me a female backpacker had gotten killed by a Grizzly (an aggressive cousin of the Brown Bear) the previous day :-| I'm glad the bear I met was a bit more friendly...

After a good organic breakfast at the Wild Flour Cafe next morning, plus a photo session with some friendly locals, I took the Gondola to the top of ??? Mountain for some breathtaking views of Banff and the surrounding mountains. Banff really is a gorgeous place - the town (despite all the construction) is a really cosy place to be, much nicer than it's rival ski resort, Whistler. Definitely worth visiting when you're on your way Calgary.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


After almost a week in Vancouver, it was time to leave and head off to Vernon instead, to meet up with Curt and Nicole. Friday morning, I jumped on a bus to Kelowna. Devan wanted to pick me up in Kelowna because he had a friend there, so I drove from Kelowna to Vernon with him instead of going all the way to Vernon with the bus. When we got to Vernon, we couldn't get a hold of neither Curt nor Nicole, so we drove by Nicole's work, her dad's surf shop, and said hi instead. Shortly after, Curt had learned how to use his phone and called us :) We met up with him at his house. Happy reunions, but it really is a strange feeling to drop by your old travel buddies' home while and see them in their "normal" life. Nothing wrong with that, but it is very different from the two last places we hung out: East Bundy Backpackers in Bundaberg, Australia where we all were fruit-picking slaves and Koh Lanta in Thailand where we ripped around on scooters, snorkeled, drank Sang Sum buckets and stuffed ourselves with cheap food.

Devan and I each got our own room in Curt's parents' place, a sweet house overlooking the lake. At night we went to Nicole's friend Rebecca's birthday party, where Curt passed out on the lawn after too much Guitar Hero and Jack Daniel's. Quite good fun for a Dane like me to crash a house party in a random country town in Canada... :)

Fallon flew from Vancouver and joined us the next day, when we were curing our hangovers with bacon, hash browns and eggs at a local breakfast restaurant. We spent the afternoon at a local beach floating on air mattresses and getting ourselves sunburned. At night, we went to a local restaurant for dinner and to the bar Curt works at afterwards. I have no idea how those country town folks can keep drinking several times each weekend... People in Vernon seem to be quite simple. Work all week -> Sunbathe/Snow board -> Drink -> Work all week... Although they live in a beautiful place, I would go nuts if I lived there, grow tired of recognizing all the faces you see on the street and miss all stuff a city has to offer.

On Sunday, we went floating down a river about an hour west of Vernon. It was a cool and fun thing to do, especially since it was about 30 degrees and the scenery was nice. Although it took 4-5 hours, which was way to long. Sucks I forgot my camera at Curt's place :( But what sucked a whole lot more was that we were delayed several hours by some dumb locals who were coming along, which resulted in us leaving way to late. Way to late to enjoy the insanely beautiful scenery of the Rocky Mountains we were meant to drive through in daylight, on our way to Devan's place in Calgary, Alberta. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't right pissed off about it. So was Devan, who had even hired a car to take me on a guided tour through the Rockys. GRRRRRRRRR... F*CK.

I spontaneously changed my plans a little bit on the way back, and jumped off in Banff instead of going to Calgary with Devan. Fortunately, he happened to know a hostel, where I checked in at half past one in the morning... It must have been three in the morning before Devan made it back home. Sucks he has to be a work at 7 PM :-| Going to spend a day or two in Banff, feel like spending some "Quality Rasmus time™" in the Rocky Mountains :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Celebration of Light

Every summer the Vancouverites are spoiled with first-class eye candy: The Celebration of Light fireworks show. A three million dollar budget and three competitors: Spain, China and Canada. Four nights of amazing shows of fireworks accompanied by music; one for each country and one final with all three. Tonight's host: Spain. Approximately 300.000 people came to see the show, standing shoulder-to-shoulder all the way around False Creek.

Seth and I randomly discussed how awesome it would be if they used the Star Wars theme, and guess what they used as both intro and outro? All three of us were completely blown away - all 25 minutes of the show was a work of art. I thought I had seen the craziest fireworks ever in Phnom Penh i Cambodia, but I was definitely wrong. 300.000 people stood and stared as if they were hypnotized, taking in every loud boom, every song and every colorful explosion above all the boats in the water.

Check out the videos (and the photos) - the long Enya video and the Grand Finale are the best ones by far:

Star Wars intro (sorry about the shaking, Fallon's unsteady hands were holding the camera :O))

A short and a bit crappy video


Grand finale

This is the first time I'm using YouTube, so please let me know if there's any trouble with the videos. Enjoy.

Here Comes the Sun

As we speak, I am sitting on the beach in English Bay, it's about 25 degrees and the sun is shining from a clear blue sky. Brought my laptop, as I thought it would be nice to write my blog out here :) Some nice or ignorant person even left his/her wireless network open, so I have Internet access as well. Not bad.

The evil dark clouds finally started to retreat on Monday, and we've had glorious weather ever since. Slowly, I have started to understand why people love this city so much. From the beach I'm currently sitting on, I can see both skyscrapers, hundreds of Vancouverites reading, napping or chilling in the sand, the ocean, huge trees and snowy mountains - all at the same time. People here are just like I expected them to be: Extremely down-to-earth, cool and friendly. Vancouver is a very multicultural city - all sorts of people live here. Asians, Greeks, Italians etc. etc. But the interesting thing about it is that the multiculturalism actually works. Unlike at home, each nationality or race is not isolated into it's own little ghetto. The many heritages also gives Vancouver a wide range of delicious foreign food for cheap - not like Australia where could only choose between fish 'n' chips and... fish 'n' chips.

On Monday afternoon Fallon and Seth took me for a ride to Whistler, possibly one of the worlds most popular resort for year-round skiing, mountain biking and other sorts of mountain activities. Sadly the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains were still hidden behind clouds, but no matter, the scenery on the way up there was stunning! After just 20 minutes of driving, we had an awesome view over all the islands in Howe Sound. I kind off see why people compare Canada to New Zealand. The town of Whistler itself was the typical ski resort like we know them in Europe: Lots of overpriced stuff in the usual "we are all here to have fun"-atmosphere. Even though you actually can ski in Whistler during the summer, most people rip around on downhill mountain bikes. From the bottom of the huge mountain bike trail, we saw some pretty talented riders doing back flips and other stunts, quite entertaining to watch. After treating ourselves to a decent dinner and a couple of drinks, we headed back to The Bloody Baron aka Seth's old Pontiac Grand Am (we named it after reading HP7). Now, I should explain that Seth got this car for free from a guy he works with. It has been sitting in a back yard for two years, it's extremely dirty, the engine reeks so much you have to leave the window open in order to be able to breathe, only one of the windows can actually open and you can start the engine without a key. Seth was a bit worried the car couldn't handle two hours of driving up a mountain, with good reason. But it went fine! So no reasons to worry about the car not making it all the way back. Wrong. We got held up by roadwork crews several times for twenty minutes at the time, and when one of them finally let us through after half an hour the stupid car wouldn't start. So Miss Roadwork Crew Supervisor helped us get the car out of the way and told us we might as well call road service since they weren't able to help us out. Luckily, the first passing car we signaled for help pulled over and we got the car started using jumper cables. The car kept going all the way home, but it had started to make a clacking noise which grew louder and louder as we moved on. When we made it back to Vancouver city, four hours after leaving Whistler, the engine was so loud that everyone turned around staring at us :) To no ones big surprise, the car broke down completely when Seth drove it to work on Tuesday. It was towed away to the scrap yard today, so may the Bloody Baron rest in peace.

Tuesday night I met up with Morgan, my faithful travel buddy through Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. Surprisingly, she dared to meet up with me again even though lured her into joining me on the bike trip in Vietnam where she, as she puts it herself, nearly died a couple of times :) Morgan does indoor climbing now and then, so she invited me to come and have a go. Maybe she was planning on cutting the rope while I was hanging 10 metres above the ground...? Anyway, I had superb fun! Might have found myself a new hobby...

To compensate a bit for the exercise I had the night before, I went to Granville Island Brewery with Seth the next day. We took a tour of the so-called micro brewery, were taught about the whole process of brewing. Nice little tour followed by a couple of tasters afterwards. There's nothing like a good local beer...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Wet Coast

The rain has been pouring over Vancouver pretty much constantly ever since I got here. Quite bad luck, considering the fact that they've just had a heat wave for serveral weeks. It was no biggie at first, since all three of us were reading Harry Potter (which by the way, is the most amazingly gripping book ever), but now that we are finished and I'm about to realize that I'm actually in Canada and I should go see something, I wouldn't mind a clear blue sky. Vancouver is not really an indoor city.

More to come when the sun returns. Until then, click the little camera in the corner and check out the few photos I uploaded. This time, I'll try using Google's photo sharing service and see how it goes.

Rasmus out.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I wake suddenly, felling like I've been drooling all over myself in my sleep. My jaw suddenly drops as I take a quick glimpse out the window. Majestic mountains covered in snow, for as far as the eye can see. Must have been sleeping all the way across the Atlantic. The plane is indeed approaching Canada.

Fallon and Seth are picking me up in Vancouver airport. I cross my fingers and hope they are aware of the two-hour delay we had in Heathrow due to a massive amount of traffic. Just finished the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Great book, even when you read it for the second time within a few months. I'm am now ready to line up at the book store with Seth and Fallon, to get our hands our own copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Can't decided what I'm most excited about - getting the book or finally setting foot on Canadian ground. All I know is that it's bound to be an awesome evening. But I've got to wait another hour before we land. Until then, I'll enjoy the sound of Muse in my ears, and the ice cream the stewardess with fake boobs and way too much lipstick just served me.

Another adventure begins.