Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The nice people of Canada

The last couple of days have had slightly mixed weather - sometimes sunny, sometimes foggy, mostly warm, sometimes cold - but today was nothing but warm sunshine and blue skies. We drove into Halifax and breezed through picking up our marriage licence, then spent some time with the wedding photographer and then wandered back into town along the boardwalk.

The direction we took was quite dangerous, as it went past a shop selling whiskey cake, and then a sweet shop stuffed full of chocolate coated ginger, and then a map shop which had a eight-by-ten-foot map of the world glued to the floor, which was awesome to walk across when trying to figure out where Nova Scotia was compared to London. We resisted the temptation to buy every map and every form of confectionary that we could see, and made it back to the car with just a couple of packets of ginger and some disgusting sherbert dip that went straight in the bin.

Despite not buying much, we were warmly welcomed by all the people working in the shops. I kept sneezing (perhaps it was the sunlight, perhaps Halifax is dustier than it should be) and whereas in Hong Kong that would probably lead to a panicked exodus of staff from the shop, in Canada they just offer you a Kleenex for free, and then you can carry on your sneezing. Which was jolly helpful.

Yesterday I'd gone to MEC and bought a replacement pair of polarised sunglasses for the ones that I left in the back of a taxi a few weeks ago, and while I was there I tried on various running shoes that didn't quite leave me ecstatic. Instead of the shop assistant trying to make me buy some, she advised me to head over to a different shop on the other side of the hill, which is where we went today. And now I have another pair of Salomon trail running shoes, which may prove more suitable for Hong Kong than my old ones; most shoes are either padded to insulate against the shock of running on hard surfaces, or have aggressive treads for running off road, but none seem to combine these two, which is a shame, as Hong Kong's trails are all different combinations of concrete paths and jagged rocks, which would really require both a good tread and some shock absorption. Finally, though, I appear to have the holy grail, although it's another two weeks before I get to try them out in Asia.

In the meantime, and because I'm well behind on my running schedule, I took them for a quick run around one of the many lakes in Halifax, and, because I'm an idiot, I wore my black Vancouver Marathon souvenir t-shirt, and ran at 4pm when the sun was still blazing down in the sky. Still, I needed to burn off all that chocolate, and also a disgusting vegetable burger I had at A & W in the mall - a miracle of dehydration, which managed to remove all the moisture from my body as I ate it. My face is still sticking together just thinking about it. Didn't faint or throw up as I ran around Halifax though, which suggests the shoes were Good Value For Money. My fiancee isn't keen on the idea of me going to a race next weekend though - perhaps she thinks that might clash with the wedding, or something...

My family fly in to Canada in a couple of days. It's the first time that my parents have ever crossed the Atlantic Ocean, so I'm hoping they can cope with things like a foreign country where everyone speaks English, although it's hard to see how they could get confused or upset when surrounded by so many polite and considerate Canadians. Then again, they could always meet the Grumpiest Canadian In The World, if she's still at the airport working for Air Canada. Fingers crossed now...

Also, discovered today that Sham Shui Po was where the Japanese kept their prisoners of war when they occupied Hong Kong. So sixty years ago people were being kept crammed together in unhealthy squalor ... and now they're still being kept crammed together, except they're being charged extortionate rent for the privilege. Better paying rent than being bayonetted to death, but I don't think anyone is staying in a cage flat in Sham Shui Po because they're interested in historical re-enactment...


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