28 Apr 2008 – Royal Ontario Museum ROM

Mon- wind chills and the cold temperatures brought winter back today. Decided to take the street car and subway to ROM Royal Ontario Museum here, not to be confused with ROM in SIN Registry of Marriage there! Even the subway station is unique. The design of the museum has a thoroughly modern glass entrance backed by an Italianate Neo-Romanesque architecture, most unusual. Enjoyed the Glass Paper-weighs section and the Black Star Sapphire from Queensland, Australia. Could only afford a piece of magnificent teal coloured rock at the museum shop!

Yorkville is the upscale district with condos prices starting from 1million +++ and the usual brand name shopping grounds for the rich. The back to back new & old buildings add to an interesting contrast eg. Church of the Redeemer/Renaissance Plaza. Managed to find a small size aluminum flask in this kitchen store at an affordable price. Have been eyeing one of these for a while and saw some in SIN for a much higher price. With all this traveling, it will come in useful.

He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has –
Henry Ward Beecher

City Walks

27 Apr 2008

Sat- Yun and I walked all afternoon to explore the area. It is no wonder that Lock & May bought a condo around St Lawrence Market where the food produce are of fantastic quality. George Brown Culinary School where Minos graduated with other famous sous-chefs is also in the neighbourhood. The financial district with Royal Bank Toronto, a golden skyscraper glittering between the taller skyscrapers contributed to a Kodak moment. Did not even realised that the public transport TTC was on strike until we saw the newspapers’ headlines while walking. No wonder the roads were filled with cars but no street cars or buses in sight.

Sun- visited 5 aunt Kim with Yun & Chai when she said that life was like a faraway dream. Was she having some flash backs with that comment? Chai & I walked to Kensington Market, a very cosmopolitan area with all kinds of street music performance;  thru’ the charming University of Toronto grounds at Hart House where Dike & Mark got married; Queen’s Park where a group of FalunDafa’s brass band  was performing the national anthem with the police on horseback watching! It was good to catch up with news about each other and great to see that he is doing well. The TTC called off the strike but it was too beautiful an afternoon to be on a street car.

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream – Edgar Allen Poe 


25 Apr 2008 – Sumach & Queen St

Wed- Happy Bday Patty, cousin Wilki‘s wife in HNL. Sumach St, very up-coming for the yuppies, where Yun bought her cosy house 30 years ago and now worth at least 10 times more than the original price. She has recently renovated the interior using my favourite light Maple wood for the 2nd level flooring. She also does her own stained glass which are absolutely beautiful, especially when the sun shines on them.

Some of the cousins who I only know by name from my HKG maternal side live in Toronto. If time permits, I will try to locate them. At present the paternal side is an overwhelming size with 33 cousins in my generation’s and that does not even include their spouses. My generation’s age ranges from 74-12. Need to find a system to colour code this family tree to result into a bright colourful one!

Thu & Fri– the car is still rolling on winter wheels, time to change on this beautiful blue sky summer day. The side by side contrast of the Old & New City Hall is quite literally magnificent. Can’t wait to try this new game that I bought for Chai, Wine-opoly, graduating from Monopoloy! No more bankruptcies now that we are of drinking age. We are going into an all night challenge of cork popping fun learning and drinking wine. 🙂

Change is inevitable, growth is intentional – Glenda Cloud


22 Apr 2008 – Toronto

Sun- the airport shuttle was nowhere in sight on this clear blue sky 0700hrs morning. Shared a cab with a couple into town. Have not seen 5 aunt since I left SIN 1965. She is now over 90, in good hands at a private nursing home but one wonders if she recognises or remembers me after 43 years. Cousin Yun’s home is very central and what a wonderful surprise, cousin Lock & his wife May were here on route to Key West. A delicious dinner gathering with their son Minos and his friend Fanula. Where has the time gone? It did not seemed that long ago I changed his diapers in Dublin 1968/69 and now he is going on 40!

Mon- Lock & May are building a new house in Newcastle, 1hr drive from Toronto. It is located by Lake Ontario in a charming little community. Looking forward to the house warming before I leave. Sault Ste Marie where they live at present is 8hrs drive from Toronto. Cousin Chai could not join us for dinner last night as he was away but made it up tonight. We used to play Monopoly all night when our mothers played mahjong in the 1950s. But tonight the scrumptious Surf & Turf was beyond any games- first experience with the yummy Nova Scotia lobster.

Tue- Yun drove Lock & May to the airport 0600hrs. After dropping them off we chat until we could hardly keep our eyes open. All the delicious food (May‘s cooking is still one of the best ) and lack of sleep was a good excuse for an afternoon siesta. Happy 1st Birthday to Isaac, Lock & May’s 1st grandson who lives in NYC with his parents Dika Lam & Mark Borowsky.

Life brings simple pleasures to us every day. It is up to us to make them wonderful memories – Cathy Allen 

The Canadian Rockies


19 Apr 2008 – Comox & The Rockies

Wed- sightseeing in Courtenay & Comox with aunt Elise. Was so fortunate to view a practise air-show as the CanadianForces’SnowbirdsSquadron was doing their stuns for the ComoxAirShow. The airport reminded me of the one in Tromso/Norway 1968 when I first landed, ie… one cannot get lost there unless you are blind!

Thu- lunched with uncle Cheong & his coffee buddies; played table tennis at the community center with his senior buddies. Wonderful to see such active seniors (70s & 80s) enjoying themselves and beating me in all the games! Walked with aunt Elise around the neighbourhood in the refreshing weather. Thank you for the hospitality and for including me in their lives the past few days. Hope to see them all in SIN Nov for Kat & Greg’s wedding.

Fri & Sat- Greyhound bus from Campbell River to Vancouver and train to Edmonton thru’ the Canadian Rockies. VIA Rail departed 1730hrs, slept thru’ the night. The early morning views in the Rockies with Mt Robson (3,954m/12,972′), the highest point and Moose Lake, the largest in the Canadian Rockies were spectacular. Memories of Norway came to mind again… 1968 train trip from the south to the north Norway after hitching a ride on a coal ship from Dublin/Eire to Brevik/Norway.

Sat- snowed when the train got into Edmonton after 1800hrs. The ride (38km) in the airport shuttle was dramatic with a couple of accidents on the highway and one of the guys refusing to pay at the end… just as well the Toronto flight was not leaving until 0100hrs!

Not all who wander are lost – Tolkien

Vancouver Island

17 Apr 2008 – Horseshoe Bay & Campbell River

Cousin Klaus, 15 uncle’s son was showing me his elastic bow-tie was when I first met him Christmas 1969, he was 8. 15 uncle & his family were then packing to move from England to Canada. Early 2000s- met up with 15 uncle & the rest of his family (aunt Elise, Edith, Susannah & her daughter, Brenna) during their SIN visits & my 2006 visit here but somehow, Klaus was not around those times.

Sun & Mon- Klaus & I  caught up to present time! He is a hiker too. Appreciate his wake-up morning coffees, good company at Port Moody, drive to Horseshoe Bay, car ferry to Vancouver Island landing on Nanaimo & drive to Campbell River. The journey from Port Moody to Campbell River is about 5hrs including the ferry ride. Tue- uncle Cheong & aunt Elise gave me a guided tour around Campbell River, a pleasant walkable town.

Vancouver Island – 32,134 sqkm with a population of 734,864 in contrast to SIN – 704 sqkm and over 4 million people! The space & clean air here are certainly an advantage to healthy living, both physically & mentally. 

There is no foreign land. It is the traveler only who is foreign –
Robert Louis Stevenson


12 Apr 2008 – Vancouver

Thu- appreciation to cousin Edith, 15 uncle’s second daughter who met me and put me up for the evening. She flies for Air Canada and will be heading to London.

Fri & Sat- a wonderful time catching up with cousin Yeng, 13 aunt’s eldest daughter and her delightful family with an exceptionally talented 12 going on to 13 years old daughter Jieqing, whose company is such a pleasure. It has been 17 years ago since I met Yeng & Zhaoming at my father’s 80 Bday in SIN. They have now bought a charming house and doing some work to it. The garage is just the size of a house I would like!

Granville Island, a trendy & artsy place is a colourful & enjoyable experience. Stanley Park- with 1,000acres of scenic views is not possible for me to hike in a day! Thank you for everything Yeng & Zhaoming.

Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye… it also includes the inner picture of the the soul – Edward Munch

Mahalo & Aloha

9 Apr 2008 – HNL

Mon- a pleasant walk to the local Manoa marketplace to lunch with Huang. The outdoor farmers’ market is not opened on Mon but the sweet basil at the supermarket was better than none. The ‘South’ gin from New Zealand is one of the best flavour gin I have tasted- consisting of coriander seeds, lemon, orange, angelica, gentian & orris root, juniper & native manura berries and kawakawa leaves. Wonders how such a clear liquid all the ingredients can produce. Basil chicken with the gin was a yummy dinner.

Tue- a beautiful fragrant ginger flower lei made my day- don’t give me flowers when I am dead, do so when I am alive and can still enjoy them!  Thank you Kim for all the leis and for lunch in your delightful company at the Aloha Tower Marketplace. Across from the Maritime Museum, the Aloha Tower is a symbol of Hawaiian hospitality with trendy eateries & shops, life hula dancing & music in the atrium to attract the tourists.

Wed- appreciation to cousin Wilki for taking me to pay respects to his paternal grandfather Wong On at the Manoa Chinese Cemetery and to our 12 uncle John at the Diamond Head Memorial Park Cemetery. A short hike on the Waahila Ridge Trail on St Louis Heights was refreshing after the rains. Thank you for dinner. I am so blessed to have all my cousins. 

Will be departing tomorrow- how quickly 2 weeks have passed by. If I had booked on Aloha Airlines or American Trans Air, I might be stranded here on paradise (a nice thought!) but Air Canada will be flying me across the ocean and up to Vancouver. Mahalo & aloha to my family and friends in HI, especially cousin David who had to put me up.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened – Dr Seuss


7 Apr 2008 – Haleiwa, Manoa & Kaneohe

Sat- a scenic drive with Mike to visit his relatives at Sunset Beach, Haleiwa. Thank you Jim for the hospitality and for showing me his beautiful woodwork. Trees and the use of their material never fail to catch my attention & interest. Took a wrong turn on the way back to Manoa, apologies to cousin David for the late arrival to his cook-out.

Sun- the background noise of firecrackers from the hills brought back fond memories of the Chinese New Year, except that it is now Ching Ming- meaning clear & bright which is a happy time for Chinese families to get together to visit the ancestors’ graves and show respect for them. Cousins David & Wilki’s paternal grandfather was buried in Manoa.

Magnificent rainbow after the morning rains in Manoa. Besides Aloha & Pineapple, HI is also known as the Rainbow State. The beauty of rainbows seem illusional and can only be seen from a distant, lasting for only a short moment, hmm… sounds abit like love! Appreciation to Wilki & Patty for a panoramic drive and lovely home dinner in Kaneohe with the good company of David, Shelly, Mike & Charles. Safe journeys to Mike who departs for LA tomorrow.

Life is like a rainbow. You need both the sun & the rain to make its colours appear – unknown

I Love You, You’re Pefect, Now Change


4 Apr 2008 – Manoa, Hawaii

Life can be full of surprises. Mike Freed (Loon), an AT fellow hiker and friend is here, on route to Los Angeles. He completed the Pacific Crest Trail, PCT last year, and is the only person I know who has completed the AT & PCT. Very inspiring and admirable to hear his experience and see the pictures. The 2,600mi PCT crosses California, Oregon & Washington. The extreme desert climate, snakes and lack of water source do not appeal to me. Hopefully I can just hike the Washington part (Northern Cascades) someday. This thru-hike is not for me!   

Fri- the neighbourhood theater, Manoa Valley was staging the title entertaining comic musical. The theater is on the grounds of an old cemetery, charming & serene. Love- such extensive definitions & interpretations discourages me to open another can of worms! The endless discussions have yet to produce satisfactory answers. If love exist, it seems complicated & indefinable, thus out of reach for me who prefers the simple and uncomplicated life! Mike, Charles (Nero’s uncle) & I, the baby boomers can probably relate to the intriges. Huang, Nero, Lisa & Adrian, the below 30s, will need to experience their own life journeys. Good luck and thank you for the enlightening company.

True love is like a ghost, everybody talks of it, but few have met it face to face –
Francois de La Rochefoucauld