After an entire day of travelling we arrived at our hotel in Calgary, and our shorts and t-shirts were no use to us in the freezing weather. We spent a couple of days in the city organising our next 5 weeks. Even as I write this I know I can’t post it, not immediately anyway. We were trying to organise visas to enter China with the plan being that we spent a few weeks snowboarding here in Canada and then flying to Hong Kong and Shanghai before surprising everyone back home. This all would have worked fine if the Chinese Consulate would give us visas but because we weren’t Canadians or permanent residents they weren’t able to finalise our visas and then we were left in a bit of a dilemma. What to do? We did a bit of research and decided to take advantage of Shanghai’s visa free stop over policy. This meant though that we needed to fly into Shanghai from one place and fly out to another. We decided to combat this by booking a short stay in Macau. With all of that sorted we had nothing else to do but catch up with our friends and enjoy the snow.
We spent a week in Banff enjoying both Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. The snow was so unbelievably soft that I often just wanted to sit in it and relax. Each day we would wake up, have breakfast and then head to the mountains where I would become increasingly frustrated with myself when I would mess up and feel my progress slipping backwards. I think a part of me was not just nervous about the snowboarding but also nervous about surprising our family and friends back home. It was becoming increasingly difficult to keep it from them. All of a sudden people just wanted to FaceTime us to chat and catch up and one thing we’ve learnt is that people always want to know two things. 1. What we’ve been doing and 2. Where we were off to next. Ordinarily both questions are easy to answer but we didn’t want any possibility of us slipping up so both Mark and I avoided FaceTime with anyone, simply claiming the wifi was no good. That in itself wasn’t a lie because wifi is often terrible where we go but it was still difficult to keep avoiding people.
After our time in Banff we travelled to Kelowna to go to Big White where Mark spent 6 months living and working when he finished high school. It was interesting to hear all of the things he remembered once we got there but the funniest thing was his comment about the changes. After the first day I asked him if it was as he remembered and his response was “Yeah everything seems the same except everyone is so much younger than when I was here.” To which I had to gently remind him that it was 9 years ago and these kids were doing just what he had done although now he was much older. He didn’t really like me pointing this out but it did amuse us for the remainder of our time. The snow at Big White was no where near as good as the snow at Banff which was disappointing but I had finally learn to snowboard so I was happy.
We left Kelowna for Vancouver and when we arrived, piled all of our gear into a tiny cab and set off for our hotel in northern Vancouver. We stayed at this amazing B&B right near Capilano Bridge where we spent an afternoon wandering around and where we bumped into a girl Mark when to school with, it’s such a small world. It was also where we both nearly revealed our surprise plans. After visiting the Capilano Bridge we walked back to our B&B and booked tickets to go watch the Canucks play. I was so excited to watch my first ice hockey game and then we had planned to go and eat dinner afterwards. Things didn’t go to plan as soon as we left the B&B. We were walking down the road to the bus stop and when we turned the corner, saw the bus just up ahead so we ran to get there in time. We jumped on board and then realised that neither of us had actually checked we were on the correct bus. After Mark spoke to the bus driver and we were told this bus would take us to where we wanted to go we relaxed and waited for the drive to be over. When we arrived at the stadium we grabbed ourselves a hot dog and drink because how could I not at my first hockey game? And then we sat down and watched a rather uneventful hockey game and to fill in some time during the breaks we ate more food, although I didn’t eat that much more as I was excited to getting Vietnamese for dinner. Once the game was over (Canucks lost) we left to go get dinner only to be upset when we found all of the restaurants closed and our wandering had led us to a not so inviting part of Vancouver. We quickly grabbed a taxi and made our way back to our B&B.
When we got to the airport the next day we realised we were 10 days from going home but to make sure we kept the surprise Mark sent our parents a message telling them we were travelling up north to the Yukon and we would be without wifi for the week we were there. This was not an unusual message from us so our parents all replied telling us to enjoy and then we turned off our wifi. Our flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was horrendous and possibly one of the worst flights either of us had been on. The man beside Mark was so elderly he didn’t seem to be able to do much on his own without Mark helping him. To repay Mark, he would keep falling asleep and farting. The kids behind us were so loud and Mark discovered a downside to having long hair – when someone in the row behind you pulls on your chair to move and they grab your hair with it. Once the plane landed we ran off and fast as we could to get some space and then got a taxi to the safety of our hotel.