So we’re been in Canada for five days now. After sleeping off the jet lag, loafing, eating, and playing with family that we haven’t seen in two and half years, I’m finally getting around to increasing my so-far meager ESL tutoring workload and cracking the Chinese textbooks we brought with us… after a little blogging, of course.
I’m delighted by all the trees, clean air, dishwashers, real washing machines and dryers, water pressure, counter space, and the customer service. Do you Vancouverites have any idea how unbelievably easy it is to get things done over here? I went to do some banking — they practically fell over themselves trying to serve me; I was almost embarrassed for them. They worship customers here!
Jessica and I were walking home from the store and stopped at a crosswalk, waiting for the signal to change. There weren’t any cars. “Do people really just wait for the signal even when there’s no cars?” I honestly couldn’t remember. Jessica was certain that they did. I’m still not sure. It felt so weird to just stand there, all that open road space in front of us… surely that’s not necessary!
It was a little disappointing to find out that the Asian supermarket up the road uses traditional characters, and I still have to consciously remind myself not put the t.p. in the garbage can. But it’s too early for us to be really annoyed with anything yet.
In honour of Chinese New Year and our temporary return to the Great White North, I’d like to present Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his rather Canadian Chinese New Year greeting to Chinese Canadians, which for some reason made it on CCTV (begins at 1:22):
(Australia’s PM did his video in Mandarin.) There’s apparently a some sort of Chinese New Year’s celebration this coming Saturday in Richmond, Vancouver’s newer Chinese center, and I plan to be there (CNY is on a Monday in Canada, so some festivities are postponed to the weekend, or so I’m told).
Greater Vancouver’s an odd place, though aside from reverse culture stress stuff I don’t plan to blog about it. It’s not particularly Christian or American, but I biked by this sign on the way to the bank. Also, it turns out that just before we arrived, some homeless guys (homeless people have conspicuously strong political advocacy in Vancouver — contrast that with Tianjin!) set fire to the wooden supports for one of the major bridges going into Vancouver, meaning 80,000+ vehicles per day can’t use the bridge for at least a month, turning our whole area into a “traffic nightmare.” Funny thing is, this ‘traffic nightmare’ looks rather quiet, calm, and orderly to me. Only two lines (lines!) of cars where Tianjin would have four abreast plus bikes, and they’re all carrying only one person each! Canadians…