Friday, September 29, 2006

Over the mountains and the sea...

I've been trying to come up with something to blog about after my 5-month detour-from-life in Ontario and my random excursion to California, but it's been feeling like I've had all the creativity sucked out of me. Oh yah, since I forgot to tell more than half my friends where I was going or what I was doing, I might as well re-cap a little.

I was working in Ontario (East York, Toronto for the most part) doing sales stuff since May. I left Vancouver in April, and then I carpooled with my org to Nashville, Tennessee where we had Sales School for a few days and then carpooled it up to Ontario. I worked in Toronto from May till August, and then I checked-out in Nashville...but instead of going home I got a ride with someone to Southern California to visit Charlie...and then I Greyhounded it to Seattle to stay with my family there for a few days, and then my parents took me back to Surrey. So overall, I passed through 23 states. The states shaded blue are those I've been in.

Two years prior, I went to Québec for and exchange trip. I went by train to Montréal and then to Drummondville. I passed through every single province in Western Canada...which unfortunately included the Prairies. VIA Rail Canada: Le façon humaine de voyager! Subtle advertising. haha. I stayed in Victoriaville with a host family for six weeks and then took the train back. Have fun with another diagram. I've been to all the reddish orange provinces:

I'm no good at math and I'm probably way off but I think I've been to a quarter of North America now...without parental supervision.

After all my travels, I learned a couple of things:
a) Kansas City is the capital of Missouri, not Kansas
b) ALL racial stereotypes are true
c) BC is the most beautiful place in ALL of North America

I decided to make Point C the topic of my yes, the past five minutes of your life have been wasted by my prologue. haha.

British Columbians, don't take your license plates for granted. It says "Beautiful British Columbia" for a reason; it's not just a lack of creativity on ICBC's part (which it probably was). Everything from climate to culture to scenery is superior to the rest of North America.

BC has two features that I honestly have problems living without: the mountains and the sea.

Anyone who's known me since childhood can say that I have a strong affinity with the water. I've loved swimming since before I can remember. I was always more confident in water than anywhere else. I was always proud of being described as matapang sa tubig even when adults meant it in a reprimanding way (I would be a much lesser person today if I actually listened to them). I didn't care how deep the water was. I always thought "If I can float in shallow water, then how is deep water any different? There's more risk but shouldn't it be easier to float?" (you'll have to picture me saying that in a Filipino accent). That mentality stayed with me and continues to influence many of the decisions I make now. A lot of my fondest memories happened either in clubhouse pools or seas, stretching from Boracay to Monterey.

Living away from the water killed me slowly everyday this summer. I grew crazier everyday. How do they live in the Central US? No wonder they vote Republican. BURN! haha. I also think that living near the Pacific produces a laid-back attitude. I saw this trend from Vancouver to Seattle to LA. People were always bitchier the farther east you went. I bike a lot everywhere but nobody in Vancouver ever hit me with a pick-up truck, unlike in Toronto (long story, don't ask).

The Pacific Ocean allows us to have the best climate in ALL of North America. I worked through 50°C weather with about three days of torrential rain in Toronto. It rains a lot in Vancouver but it's mostly mild rain and it keeps the humidity down. And we have comfortably warm winters that can be fixed with a few sweaters. And of course, the water makes everything all pretty.

I also wonder how people can live without mountains? I remember first entering the Prairies in 2004 and I was basically shocked at the absence of sharp peaks in the horizon. This summer, I missed having a ring of mountains around me. In Toronto I would bike east in the morning which meant that the sun would be attempting to take out my eyes. I never realized that the Coast mountains were saving me money on optometrical expenses...oh no wait, they don't, cause I read in the dark and stare at the sun. haha.

I grew up with mountains around me. When I lived in the Philippines, Antipolo was always in the distance, Mount Pinatubo literally blew up when I was 5, and my garbage went to Smokey Mountain every week de facto. I spent every summer with my cousins who lived in the mountains in Batangas, to get away from my progenitors...which naturally meant I had fun. Consequentially, mountains always meant freedom to me. I remember when my plane was landing in Vancouver and I first saw snow-peaked mountains...I was frickin' excited. I was 11 at the time and I had no reason to come to Canada except for the snow. I wasn't thinking about free public education or universal healthcare, but I always fantasized about snow.

The Mountains in BC did not and do not disappoint. I remember making the return trip home from Québec and as we were passing into the Rockies, there were some Torontonians that started crying out of joy. It was flippin' hilarious but at the same time it gave me a sense of pride. "Haha, my province is better than yours!" Sometimes when I'm riding the skytrain to UBC in the morning, I just stare dreamily at the mountains... At night all you can see of the mountains are dark outlines and the electric lights that look like stars come down to rest. I've invented some pretty interesting worlds out of those lights.

The mountains are capped with snow for most of the year and it should stay that way. I've done some pretty exciting things this year. I jumped off of a 50-foot cliff, I watched a green girl fly while belting a high, riffing E note, I got into Richard Nixon's personal helicopter...but the highlight of my year was still snowboarding on Grouse Mountain in March. I still dream about it every now and then...sigh...the view is always beautiful up there...(P.S. Thanks Warren). And apparently Vancouver has strict height restrictions for buildings to allow free viewing of the mountains...nice.

I love know what else I love? Vancouver. I think it should be objectively known as the most beautiful city in North America...Québec City is a very close contender, except that the natural beauty surrounding Vancouver is...more beautiful. haha. Unlike most big cities Vancouver is actually...clean. Even if it isn't, at least it looks clean. There's always something to do, and even if there isn't you can always go exploring and just take pictures of everything. Wikipedia describes Vancouver as having one of the liveliest arts and culture scenes in North America. It's true. Los Angeles didn't even compare and I was too busy hating Torontonians to care about the arts scene. Vancouver has much nicer people too. People smile a lot and everyone's friendly. And the public transit is awesome; you can get anywhere without driving...I generally say that as my excuse for the 4 years of procrastinating on getting my driver's license. Ewww I'm turning 20.

And why else does BC rock? Because UBC is in it. UBC has the most beautiful campus ever. I've been to a lot of campuses throughout North America and no other campus is as perfect. UBC has a very laid-back culture with an arts scene that matches Vancouver. It's weird how you'd be walking down Main Mall and you'd see people walking, then you'd see people biking, and skateboarding...and on occasion you'll see people in large unicycles that look almost fictional. My profs are the most eccentric people I have ever met. The architecture ranges from vine-draped to weird (eg. neon-green glass buildings that imitate the shape of a book). A lot of the movies you've watched were filmed in UBC. Professor Xavier's house is the Chemistry building. Yah that's right, this is where they filmed all three X-Men movies. Haha. And we also have one of the largest clothing-optional (ie. nude) beaches in the world. Wreck Beach is awesome except all the naked people are old and ugly, with traumatising consequences for Crishna, and hilarious reactions from me and Ana. Other than that, we have the highest concentration of Ph.D professors in North America. We're the second-largest campus in Canada and our campus is obviously more beautiful than the University of Toronto's. And in comparison to UBC, SFU feels like a large, grey mental institution. UBC is just way too perfect. I'm in Main Library right now and I'm staring out the window watching the trees around the clocktower change colour. The sun is setting and there's a flash of sunlight streaming through the mountains. God, this place is positively poetic. K. Long story short, I love this place. And I'm glad to be back...

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I'll probably be bored again by next summer and I'll find myself in Egypt or New York or Salzburg or Provence...we'll see. I always end up somewhere.