June 2018: Explore Canada

Back in June 2018, I’ve taken a very long leave to go for a vacation with my family to Canada. The main purpose was to attend my brother’s PhD convocation, with side purpose of having a well-deserved vacation. I haven’t been taking any week-long leave since January. Even for Chinese New Year, I only took 1 day of leave. So yeah, this time, I took a leave for 3 weeks, encompassing almost the whole month of June. I only had 6 working days in June 2018.

I took EVA Air flight to Taipei, met up with my family, and continued together to Toronto. After attending my brother’s PhD graduation reception and also convocation, we embarked on the journey to explore western part of Canada.

First stop was Jasper, Alberta. We joined a tour and went to explore Maligne valley under a light rain, and then we encountered snow when we arrived at Maligne Lake. We took a boat ride to Spirit Island, but since it was snowing, it was pretty cold and white, and nothing else to view, except the blue-green lake and white sky.

Next stop was Athabasca Glacier. We slept 2 nights at the only visitor center nearby (which has accommodation and restaurants) and had to endure the expensive yet terrible food. Besides that, we experienced a “glacier skywalk” to view the Sunwapta Valley; and the best part: we did a 3-hour hike on the glacier itself. It was cold and windy, and the wind got stronger and stronger when we were there. It was pretty dangerous as there could be hidden crevasses underneath the snow, but since we were guided professionally, everyone stayed safe.

Third stop was Banff, Alberta. At Banff, we experienced crazy weather. We went to Banff Gondola up to the Sulphur Mountain summit, and later hiked up to the peak. We were supposed to experience a vast mountainous Canadian Rockies view,  but alas, it was raining lightly and misty. Those view were hidden by the fogs. Anyway, after that disappointment, we joined a tour and explored landmarks at Banff National Park: we stopped by few times to view Bow River, had a pretty good dinner, enjoyed perfect view of Lake Louise (the weather suddenly became super clear now), and ended with a view of Valley of The Ten Peaks and Moraine Lake.

After Banff, we flew to Vancouver, British Columbia, and my sister departed early to resume her uni study as her recess period has ended. We spent few days here: the first day, we went for food tour and shopping at Granville Island and later walked at Stanley Park; the second day was spent on north Vancouver. We went to Capilano Suspension Bridge park, which is a small forest park with a long suspension bridge; and then up to Grousse Mountain, taking gondola again, but this time under hot summer sky. The view wasn’t great up there, as probably it was too hot and the Vancouver city just looks too blue. So far, Alberta > BC.

After Vancouver, my brother need to leave early, and it was just me with my parents. I got a little bit stressed out as now I had the responsibility to guide for the rest of the trip. We went to Victoria, using a fancy cruise, which was pretty exciting and I saw the “line” on Pacific Ocean where the water-color changes from glacial blue-green to blue-blue.

At Victoria, we went to Butchart Gardens, which was a really good garden, especially for flower lovers. Then, we went to the inner harbour area and explored the parliament house: Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The building itself wasn’t that old anyway, it was just built in that older architecture. We ended Victoria by a visit to Craigdarroch Castle, which was a super fancy residence for a crazy rich family back then. There was so many rooms and every one of them was quite fancy.

Final major stop was Whistler, BC. We stayed at a fancy hotel room that has a full kitchen. We had two full days here at Whistler, and we were quite lucky. The first day was spent fully on Whistler-Blackcomb mountains: in the morning, we took Whistler Village Gondola up to the Whistler Mountain base, and tried hiking up to the peak (as the “Peak Express” gondola was not operational that day). We gave up after reaching “Little Whistler Peak” as it was almost lunch time and I guessed there was still at least an hour away to the true peak. After lunch, we took the impressive “Peak 2 Peak Gondola” connecting from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb Mountain. It was so impressive that a gondola line this long and this high, is only supported by four towers. At Blackcomb, we took the free shuttle bus and took “7th Heaven Express” lift to the 7th Heaven Summit at Blackcomb Mountain. The lift ride was a long one, lasted around 15 minutes, and it lifted us up pretty high. Up there, there were people skiing! After some photos, we were hushed down as it was already closing time (at 3 pm-ish), and we managed to take Peak 2 Peak back to Whistler Mountain, and went down to the village; and it was around 5 pm. The second day was spent on exploring the lakes around Whistler, and we bought a day pass for the bus rides (as it was not weekends). The day was pretty cool as it was cloudy for the whole day (and we couldn’t see those mountains as it was covered in fog). We visited: Green Lake (a long and big green lake) up north, Lost Lake (a small one), Alpha Lake (a pretty Instagrammable lake, with an islet in the middle) and Nita Lake (quite similar to Alpha Lake). After a short detour on Cheakamus Crossing (the Olympic Village for 2010 Winter Olympics activities at Whistler), we headed to Alta Lake, which looks a bit like Lake Toba.

After Whistler, we headed to Richmond, Vancouver, and stayed there for a night. The day was spent only on shopping at Richmond Center, before we headed to the airport. It was the end of the trip. We flew to Taipei, and I continued the journey to Singapore.

So yeah, it doesn’t seem much, but we spent around 3 weeks for this trip. Reflecting back, I guess a lot of days was spent only to wait for transportation from one place to the other place. From my experience, I think Alberta is a really beautiful place, especially those two national parks: Jasper National Park and Banff National Park, which are well maintained. British Columbia, on the other hand, seemed less interesting after visiting Alberta. Whistler was amazing too! There was just so many things left unseen, as we either don’t have the energy to hike or the transportation to reach.

Finally, it was the end of the trip, it was the end of mid 2018, and I guess, this is my highlight of 2018. Time to go back to daily routine.

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