Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I've been very negligent in my writing. But here's a quick few words to say I'm enjoying life very much here.

Work is wonderful; i love my co-workers, a bunch of fantastic smart witty women.

Vancouver Island is laid-back and beautiful, i'm still trying to get used to the constant rain though.

Our newly-purchased flat is cozy and OURS! I'm enjoying the weekly routine and life in general. It feels right to be here, so what more can i say?

* pic of my commute home from work on Jan 21st which normally takes 25 minutes; usually it's a very pretty drive along the ocean with mountains in the back - not today!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

a welcome addition

I am pleased to introduce our newest member of our family.

She was bigger than we expected and we had to literally squeeze her through the doors and hallways.

But she's here now and has settled in nicely.

A sight for sore eyes and perfect in every way.

Life is good and once again, full of sweet melodies.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Don't rush the unrushable

It's been a month since we arrived in Nanaimo.

All is well, can't complain.

Anxious to move into our new place.

I want to unpack our stuff and feel settled once and for all.

Patience is a virtue (which I sometimes lack).

Monday, September 15, 2008

loving the island-life!

It's been another gorgeous weekend, high 20's with slight breeze.

Everyone is just so happy, and it's contagious.

We are realizing that in today's modern fast-paced world, we both needed some sort of transportation. With me always taking Biggy to town, to interviews, to stores, etc, Matt needed something as well to get around in.

After a few days of humming and hawing about buying an electric bike to scoot around town on, he decided that it just wouldn't cut it. So we went up a notch and got ourselves a Honda Shadow motorcycle, 750cc!

It's a 1995 beauty with only 1100 km! Immaculate condition. We picked it up from the private seller two days ago and went directly to get it insured. No 888 plates available this time though.

It rides beautifully and instead of sorting out our piles of clothes in our bedroom (see pic), we went for a little drive in the forest and its windy roads instead. It will be magnificent to ride when the leaves are changing colours.

Yesterday I had my first session with Arden, a gorgeous 7 year old boy with severe autism. I'll be his Social Intervention Therapist and helping him a few times each week to improve his gross motor, speech, etc..

I met him for the first time yesterday (he was napping when i met his parents for the interview) and at least he didn't run away from me which is a good sign. He is quite a tactile little boy and would immediately feel comfortable sitting close to me, touching me, etc. I have a lot to learn and I'm excited/nervous.

Anyways, Matt came with me to the house, as Will (Arden's father) wanted some help in their backyard setting up a playground for Arden. They are an interesting family and I'm glad they have met Matt and vice-versa. I can tell already that this will be a very rewarding and emotional relationship with Arden and his family.

That afternoon we went house hunting with Ryan, our realtor. See the photos of us going down the steps to the beachside near one of the properties we viewed. See the big Douglas Fir tree? And the people sunbathing on this little sandy island? What a life!

The last property we saw was our favourite and we went back to his office this afternoon to officially put down an offer.

We both don't feel too much attachment to it or anything so if the seller rejects our offer, we will just continue looking. In fact there are several more units in the same building up for sale.

The area is nice, close to shopping, schools, halfway from downtown and from the north end of town, and just a 30 second walk away from a new community centre that has just opened a few months ago!

Equipped with indoor gym space, conference centres and loads of activities, it's fantastic. It's a very good sign too that this sort of thing is springing up closeby, it means the community is a family-oriented one which can only add value to the property.

The building was built in 1980 but just recently went through half a million dollar renovations to the exterior and interior.

Our (look, i'm already calling it OURS!) particular unit was also newly renovated, kitchen, bathroom, new appliances. There is one parking space (outdoors) per unit which we would have to squeeze in Biggy and our new motorbike.

Anyways, we'll know by 5pm tomorrow if the seller accepts our offer. If he does, the real fun begins.

It is an incredible complex process to buy a place but it's all good learning. So far all it has been for is good practice for signing our name.

On Sunday, one of Matt's classmates had a bbq at his parent's place.

Their house is situated right on the bank of the river, a gorgeous lit.tle hideaway. Too bad we didn't bring our bathing suits!

So our weekend could be summed up with: bike, beach, beer, barbeque, bliss.

Friday, September 12, 2008

piece by piece

I'm tired.

If I'm not careful i could burnout. It's been FULL-ON since we arrived less than two weeks ago. But I'm loving it here, the newness, the friendly folk (and boy are they friendly!), the slow island-paced life, and the gorgeous non-stop summery weather.

But I'm tired.

Our stuff arrived today and with 6 young strong guys, they had moved everything from the container to the storage unit in 15 minutes. Fifteen. Amazing. And i'm talking a big 20-foot container! I overpaid them for sure but hey, they are young and they helped me out.

The best news of the day is that my violin is intact and looking beautiful as ever. I was so scared when I opened the case, fearing the worst. I thought the humidity of the cross-ocean voyage would crack the wood. When i held it to my chin, it was like being reunited with a long-lost child.

One more piece of the giant puzzle has come together. Having our stuff here is very reassuring, even if it's only in storage. Opening all of those boxes was like a second Christmas in the summer.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

lucky new wheels

Matt had his first Geology Field Trip today. Their prof took them to a parking lot on a hillside and had to sketch the side of the cutting where the rock was exposed.

Sketching is not exactly his forte and he claims his looked more like a kindergarten sketch, but at least he resisted the urge to draw the individual teeth of a zipper or draw special doors for those going in, out and in or out like he used to do in his camping diaries.

During his break mid-day we went to pick up our newly bought 1994 Nissan Pathfinder. For $3,000, it's quite a bargain as we got it checked by a mechanic and he said it’s in very good shape for its age. Lovely and Lucky (888 plates!!) Check out the racing stripes. Just blending into the crowd here.
This evening we went to play Disc golf. Nanaimo has one of the best courses in Canada in Bowen Park, and it’s just up the road from us and free to the public.

It’s like golf but instead of hitting a ball you throw a Frisbee, avoiding trees along the fairways, and
at the end ‘putt’ it into a basket. Check out: Wiki Disc Golf

Monday, September 08, 2008

The big city of Vancouver

The BC FERRIES ferry which runs Nanaimo-Vancouver is like a cruise ship, un- believable! It runs every couple of hours every day and it's always packed it seems, both ways.

There's an arcade, lots of cafes and shops, a children's play room, business desks to plug your laptop in, a HUGE outdoor deck with tables and chairs and comfy sofa-like chairs in the main deck.

After the 90 minute ferry ride, I caught the express bus to The Border Services in downtown Vancouver, passing the famous Stanley Park and Lions Gate Bridge.

The whole process was easy and efficient. However, our cargo ship still hasn't arrived and will probably only be docking tomorrow at the earliest. Well, at least I could still sign for the cargo, but it looks like we won't get our stuff until the end of the week.

I met up with
Kumpo and Kowgong for lunch. They were so happy to see me but so disappointed Matt wasn't there as well. Next time. We plan to do a Vancouver-weekend sometime soon.

Anyways, we had a nice lunch and then they dropped me off so I could take the bus to Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal (about 40 min away).

Unfortunately I just missed the connection, running furiously with Matt's takeaway crispy fried noodles dripping in the bag!!! The next bus would have arrived at the ferry terminal a few minutes too late, so I hopped into a taxi instead.

I can't help but notice how everyone is so naturally friendly and talkative in Canada. I really notice it coming back this time. I was trying to figure out which bus stop I needed to be at in Vancouver so I asked bus drivers, bar owners,
strangers, anyone really.

And everyone I asked wanted to literally hold my hand and take me there. I am surprised at how shocked I am by this treatment. I wonder if I've become more inconsiderate and impatient since being away ....

It's such a change, this slow-paced island life. A lot of it reminds me of Cornwall (Ontario, that is), the open spaces, the huge roads and sidewalks, the corner shops, the small primary schools... everything minus the mountains and sea of course.

Tomorrow the inspection on the truck will be done and if it passes, we'll go up and pick it up. We were considering buying an electric bike to get around in, but after more deliberation, we opted against it.

We really want a motorbike and I think I will take my lessons in the spring here when we're more settled. There are LOTS of Harley riders here, it's really quite amazing. There was a Hell's Angels group up until last year when the police busted them. But it seems they still are quite active underground.

House-hunting is progressing along nicely. Our realtor has sent us more housing/condo options so we've been looking at some of those online. It's exciting to be looking at houses again but to think it will be to buy this time!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

a busy first weekend

Here are a a few pictures from our first weekend here in Nanaimo.

First off, the weather was absolutely fantastic, couldn't be better.

Hot, but not humid during the day and gorgeous skies and sunsets at night.

I'm still waiting for the miserable wet cold dreary days that the West Coast is famous for, but this will do for now.

Friday night we went to our first (ice) hockey game, the Nanaimo Clippers Game!!

They played against the Victoria Grizzlies and lost terribly.

We sat right up pretty much to the glass so we saw lots of action and body checking and even a few fights, which I thought were pretty lame considering one guy just nudges the other and then suddenly they erupt into war, gloves and masks off.

There's a women's hockey league too which would be great to see. I'm thinking about joining a league too but don't know how my skating skills are after years of living in hot climates.

Anyway, there are some pics of us wolfing some pre-game food, the obligatory bbq hamburger and 'poutine' (fries, gravy, curds) .. but a very lame excuse for a poutine it was. It should be real St. Albert curds but instead they drip this bright orange hot cheese over the fries.

Still, it was surprisingly tasty.

Here is a picture of us having our first home- cooked meal. For the first week, our stove didn't work so Karen had another one delivered to us on Thursday. We ate our chicken curry and couscous meal sitting floor-style since we didn't have a table. Still, this place feels like a palace after living in Foxy for several months.

On Saturday morning we drove about an hour south to Cobble Hill to visit a used dealership and put an offer in for a Nissan Pathfinder. Pending the mechanic inspection this week, it's pretty much ours.

Then we went to see some houses with our realtor. He took us out to lunch to a British-style pub about 20 min from town. It was unbelievable how authentic the whole thing was. They were even advertising the 2009 Coronation Street calendar just in!

We never managed to get around to having a pub lunch in Jersey, but we definitely didn't think we'd be having one here! It was the 'real stuff' and the freshly-baked blueberry pie was just the right finish. I have to admit I did find myself missing the Jersey cream accompaniment though.

On Sunday I went to my first hot yoga class, a good long SWEATY session. Matt tried out for the Nanaimo soccer team and got short-listed for the team.

I then had lunch with a member of the Multicultural Society of Nanaimo (she does immigrant and settlement work there) and after lunch she took me to introduce me to the President of the Chinese Association of Nanaimo, Angela.

Angela just happened to be hosting a big dumpling making-and-eating party and told me to come along later with Matt.. so we did. We met a lot of interesting people from China, HK, Taiwan, and Canadian-born-Chinese folk.

It was great to practice Mandarin again and eat homemade
jiaozi. Good connections too, which is what small-town living is all about!! :D

Work hunting is going well, I've been meeting a lot of people from different organizations, and making those necessary contacts.

I want to give myself at least another week+ and see what my options are. But so far so good. It is infinitely easier than in Cape Town where I didn't have an official work visa; here I can at least start immediately.

So it's Monday again. I'm going to Vancouver on the 8:30am ferry to see Canada Customs and sign for our shipment. It should be delivered here by mid-week, fingers crossed. We've rented a storage space for now and will just take the necessary boxes into our little apartment here. I'll see my
Kowpo and Kowgong (Dad's aunt and uncle) for lunch too, it's close to Chinatown so I assume another heavy duty dimsum session will be in order! :)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

back to school

Here's Matt on his first day of school - after more than 15 years of being out of the classroom!!

Notice the pants-below-the-waist look.. I wasn't too keen but he

He just wanted to fit in I guess, can't blame the boy.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

welcome home!

We've arrived in sunny Nanaimo!

After leaving Ottawa this morning, we flew the 5 hours to Vancouver and then switched to a small plane to take us to our final destination: Nanaimo.

It was only a 10 minute flight but it was spectacular going across the Straight of Georgia, seeing the little islands and inlets, all waiting to be explored! Can hardly wait!

Karen, our nice landlady, picked us up from the airport and took us to our new home.

The last picture is of Matt being my pack-horse, dutifully carrying all of our bags we brought with us to our new home, from Cape Town to Cairo, from Jersey to Canada.

We made it!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

final leg in Ottawa

Ottawa, a day of relative peace and rest.

A nice walk by the river, a tinkle on the ivory keys, a back-to-school-cut for Matt and a visit to see friends Michael Lloyd Russell and his new bride, Katherine.

They are recent home-owners and have done wonders redecorating and renovating their house.

Made us itchy to buy a place and do the same.

To complete their family,
for now, they have just welcomed adorable 10-week old Luna.

Matt tried on Mike's hockey gear. Well, the helmet and gloves.

The next morning we were flying to our final destination after all these months of being on the road: Nanaimo!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Toronto at its best!

A wonderful day and a half in Toronto with my family doing what we do best: gossip and eat.

A bbq with Uncle Kee, Uncle Hong and Mama.

Every possible family member we could get to come out on a weeknight from both sides of the family for an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner.

See pic of all of us trying to fit into one frame. And one of most of the grandkids on my mom's side... with about a dozen still missing.

A late night Timmy's cappuccino session with Mom, Dad and Sis.

Dimsum with the grand- parents.

Oh, and between sharing stories and showing Africa pictures, we got showered with presents of course!

The fav being the sweaters PoPo knitted, this time one that actually fit Matt!

She had at least a dozen ones for us to choose from, she is truly amazing with her knitting needles!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why, hello again

Wow, it's been a long time since i've written on this page.

I've become so accustomed to my TravelPod blog but this is nice and familiar, like old slippers.

I've been job hunting today and firing out my CV as fast as possible. I need to keep track of what i've done, who i've called, a to-do list. There are so many opportunities out there for me to uncover, to grab, to strive for. It's overwhelming and what's strange is that this feeling is so familiar, too familiar, if i speak honestly.

That routine, that so-called mundane weekly routine, i want. I want to be part of a team, to be creative and silly in a safe environment where i will be using my skills and learning everyday. I am aiming for that.

And it's the small steps which i must take that will take me to this goal. I must try and enjoy the process as it comes, so they say. So, again, i exhale and sigh and think: maybe this time?

UPDATE (Nov 2019): Travelpod has since been stopped working. But we have saved all our FOXY blog entries here. If you want to read about our African Overland Journey, click here: 


Monday, April 14, 2008

moving sites

I've created a new travel site, much more user friendly for being on the road. It gives a map of our exact location, I can upload pics easily, etc.

Please click on the link above to continue following our travels through Africa.

UPDATE (Nov 2019): Travelpod has since been stopped working. But we have saved all our FOXY blog entries here. If you want to read about our African Overland Journey, click here: 


Sunday, April 06, 2008


This weekend we wanted to try out some 4x4 trails to test out Foxy's new rear diff lock and low range gears, break open our new high-lift jack and try sleeping in our roof-top tent.

So late Saturday afternoon (after another day of running around and preparations), we drove 30 minutes north of Cape Town to Melkbos 4x4.

This place was definitely not one of your usual charming and pretty South African campsites. It looked more like a junkyard with sand and litter and abandoned vehicles everywhere. No wonder there were no pictures on their website.

Upon arriving, we realized our low range gear did not engage properly, and so there was no point in going on the trails. We had to get it fixed first.

Still, wanting to make the best of it, we camped in our roof-top tent for the first time and with friends Maria and Paul joining us, cooked up a delicious braai dinner and sat around a big bonfire. Maria even remarked the "campsite" didn't look so bad in the dark - and after some wine and champagne.

The next morning we woke up to some vicious wind and rain and unanimously decided to head off in search of a warm cozy cafe somewhere to have breakfast.

In a way, the night was a good test to see if the tent could withstand all the wind and rain. I'm happy to report it did, beautifully.

The only slight worry is a small tear forming on the one side of the canvas which will have to be repaired immediately. Another item to add to our ever- growing list!

We found an open cafe (not easy to do on an early Sunday morning) and warmed up with hot coffee and cappuccinos. See pic of us chomping on cinnamon french toast and flapjacks, happy to be somewhere with four walls and a roof.

I think we'll have to develop a bit more tolerance during our overland drive though since there won't be too many opportunities to escape to such comforts. Still.

The day wasn't wasted as we managed to take apart the gear box and fix the low-range gear stick problem!!

Bursting with pride as ad-hoc mechanics, we spent the rest of the day with Matt fixing the console box, amplifier for our sound system, hood latch, etc., and me sorting out all of our gear and equipment in piles.

Our living room floor is bare no more! Now the real challenge lies in trying to strategically pack every single piece of item in Foxy to maximize her space and minimize hassle of finding that item when we desperately need it, like say, in the Serengeti desert.

It's all coming together; i can chart our preparation progress, albeit slower than we want. But soon we shall be on the road, date still undetermined, and we'll know we will have done what we could to prepare for this journey.

Friday, April 04, 2008


My hectic birthday began at 6:30am.

Matt and I spent the day running around with the car, trying to get her little kinks sorted out.

I did manage to sneak in a little ten minute power nap somewhere among the chaos, a little gift to myself.

To celebrate, we spent a lovely evening with friends Gailyn and Craig (and the kids they were looking after) at the local Primi Piatti restaurant.
We ate pizza (again!) and outrageously delicious chocolate brownies.

This time last year i was being pampered at one of Hong Kong's top luxury spas overlooking the spectacular harbour; tonight I'm being cuddled and read to while lying on two foam mattresses on the floor of our very bare house.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Foxy me!

Despite the darkness and a bit of paint spillage, we had a very successful painting-Foxy party tonight with friends.

It's amazing what a little colour and creativity can do!

Thanks Piyali, Gagun, Paul C., Maria, Gemma, Anna, Paul N., Gary, Franzelle and Etienne!

Your beautiful artwork will certainly draw lots of positive attention throughout Africa!

ps. Sorry about the ants in the pizza!