SNOW FALLING ON AFROS

The world is a troubled place and some of the dangerous locations in which I have previously lived continue the downward slide towards chaos.

I was deeply saddened to hear about the horrific bombing in Abuja, Nigeria this week that killed 71 people. Abuja is another of the dangerous places in which I have lived and I am sorry to see that the troubles in the North of that country have spread to the normally-peaceful capital. It seems to be part of the ongoing tensions that are threatening to break the fragile peace between the Islamic North and the Christian South. Nigeria has a difficult road ahead, I fear.

For the final leg of our great North American expedition, my colleagues and I travelled to Vancouver in British Columbia.

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It was time to farewell Québec and its quirky passion for all things Francophone. It’s the only place where I’ve ever seen an attempt to translate the signage out the front of a Starbucks.

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We bundled everyone into two vans and drove out to Montréal airport in some of the heaviest snow that I have ever seen.

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There’s something unexpected and slightly discordant about seeing snow collect in a Papua New Guinean’s afro.

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The airport was coated in a thick blanket of snow. I tried to remind myself that these people operate aircraft in such conditions every winter so there was no need for alarm.

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The aircraft in which we were supposed to take off was completely covered in snow and ice.

20140328_073825We boarded and made preparations for take off, even though we couldn’t see out of the windows because of the snow. The captain announced that we would have to wait for the de-icing process before we could leave so we sat there for 45 minutes while they removed enough snow for the aircraft to be able to take off. I find it incredible that aircraft can be operated safely in such a climate.

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But take off we did, and I lived to tell the tale. The view of farmland covered in snow could not be more different from what one sees through the aircraft windows when flying into Papua New Guinea.

20140328 - How many PNGs can you fit in a Towncar limousineWe arrived at YVR (Vancouver Airport) and did the maths on transport. It turns out that it’s cheaper to hire a limousine for a large group than multiple taxis.

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So we loaded our luggage into the limo in the rain.

20140328_122253It was the first time in a limousine for both the Papua New Guineans and myself.

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So naturally, the first priority was to snap photos with our phones of us in a limousine.

20140330_223508The spacious interior included a bar – just like in the movies.

20140329_193109We had a layover in Vancouver and took the opportunity to show our foreign guests why the city regularly makes it into the top 5 best places to live in the world.

20140329_191501We went for a meal a the “Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant”.

20140329_191505Like all revolving restaurants, the food is mediocre and overpriced and service appalling but the view is magnificent.

20140329_193207The Burrard Inlet is quite spectacular.

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The port is the busiest in Canada and rail yards next door help to ferry the cargo rapidly to its final destination.

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Cruise ships dock here at Canada Place.

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If one times one’s visit to the revolving restaurant correctly, one can enjoy the view of the city by both day and night.

20140328_223315My colleagues from Papua New Guinea enjoyed sightseeing, but more than anything they were excited about the shopping downtown. It is a reflection of just how limited the shopping options are in Port Moresby. The range is limited and the quality is frequently sub-par in PNG, while prices can be exorbitant, so any chance to shop abroad is a golden opportunity to be seized with both shopping-laden hands.

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One outing that my colleagues agreed to that was not shopping-related was a trip to the “Comedy Mix” stand up comedy club. I have been there a few times before and the standard is always excellent. They enjoyed the show a lot and certainly laughed. However, a couple of the regular church goers complained afterwards about the number of times that the comedians said the “F Word” (as they put it).

20140329_081002  The hotel in which we stayed had a pool in which I enjoyed a swim. However, I was unimpressed by the sign on the wall that claimed that the pool is “Heated to 84 Degrees”. This is Canada, where the Metric system is in force and if the pool were really heated to 84 degrees I wouldn’t have survived to write another blog post.

20140330_220142All too soon, it was time to depart. Trying to organise a large group is challenging at the best of times, but particularly so when travelling internationally.

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We booked another Limousine as everyone enjoyed the trip from the airport so much we figured we’d do the same on the way back to the airport.

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As is my custom, I decided to “Suit Up” for the journey.

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Next stop was Cebu in the Philippines.

20140401_144450We had a few hours to kill so we took a couple of minivans and weaved through the chaotic traffic to spend our time in one of the resorts.

20140401_144148I always find it amusing to see what those crazy Filipinos are loading on to their motorcycles.

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This chap on the left decided that what the world needed to see more of was his beer belly.

20140401_143851I love these thatched-walled buildings too.

20140401_155100The resort was gorgeous and I enjoyed every minute there (that is after negotiating with the inflexible Nazis at the front desk to get tickets for towels and meals and such for everybody).

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I enjoyed shooting an innocent target full of arrows at the archery range.

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They also had a firearms range and a rather impressive collection of guns to shoot. What can I say, I like big guns. So sue me.

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The resort included a huge pool with a restaurant in the middle.

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As the sun set over this little piece of paradise, it was time for us to load up and head back to the airport for our flight to Port Moresby.

 The security at Cebu airport is almost amusingly inadequate. There are literally two security checks one after another. They seem to take the view that the quantity of security checks is the key, not the quality.

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Airport lounges: places where people go to look at their phones for an hour before their flight.

    2014-04-14 - Site Stats - ReadershipI recently looked up the map on the statistics page for “Postcards From Dangerous Places”. I was most surprised to find that beyond my friends in Canada and Australia for whom I began writing the blog, people are tuning in from all over the world.

2014-04-14 - Site Stats - Readership 2 So this post is officially dedicated to my fans from Trinidad and Tobago.

(both of them).

 

Until next postcard…

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