Tuesday, June 29, 2010

day 1 in prince edward island

i woke up yesterday morning to the sounds of cockatiels musically imitating my cough, the ocean gently lapping against a carcass on the red dirt shores, and the grunts of alpacas grazing on the front lawn. the cottage here seems like it comes out of another world. so much ocean. so much red dirt. and rob's parents' herd of alpacas who just hang out chewing the grass in the field all day. PEI life seems pretty relaxing in general, but i think the alpacas have it best.

we took the alpacas for a hike so i could explore the area, stepping carefully to avoid the slugs lying on the grass after the rain.

this alpaca was not a big fan of Rob.

I, on the other hand, had a special moment with this one.

i found myself interested in the daily concerns of cottage life, which were not too different from back home. Rob's dad showed us the skunk holes that had been filled up but the new holes where a weasel had moved in. The neighbour mentioned how something had killed the fox that the alpacas like to play with, probably a coyote. one problem in particular caught our interest: the big dead seal that had washed up on shore.

that's a pretty big problem....

it's going to be interesting, figuring out how to get rid of it...

in the late afternoon, it was low tide so rob and i went walking along the red sandbars, trying to avoid stepping on the washed up jellyfish (which i have been culturally trained to view as delicious) and the snails (also culturally delicious to a Korean) while trying to throw the dried-up crabs back into the ocean to save them. we were fascinated by the shallow pools formed around the beached seaweed, where hermit crabs and little nymphs like to hide and play and fight, like a natural mini-aquarium. rob and i spent some time throwing the red clay rocks down the cliffs and watching them explode into tiny pieces. when i was little, growing up in rural upstate New York, my sister and i used to play on the dirt hills around our house, smashing rocks against other rocks, where we developed the idea that if you threw a rock and it broke, then it wasn't a real rock. following my childhood rule, none of the rocks here in PEI are real rocks.

low tide.

near Charlottetown we saw a car with a very simple license plate number: 2. i kind of like the pace of the island here. Rob's dad told us how when he was younger here, they erected a streetlamp in Charlottetown which was the first streetlamp in Prince Edward Island, and folks drive in from all over the Island to "try out" the new streetlamp. There's similar excitement going on around here with the new roundabouts that they're installing in Charlottetown. to ensure that people learn how to navigate the roundabout properly, they've set up a fake roundabout in a mall parking lot nearby so people can practice driving through a roundabout, and folks drove in from all over to try it out.

despite being smaller than St. John's, Charlottetown is not as small as you'd think, though. i found a Korean grocery store here, and expect to hit it up sometime in case i get a kimchi ramen noodle craving in the middle of the night.

in the evening, rob and i went to a drive-in movie theatre near Brackley Beach, which we haven't done since we went to that one in Perth a few years ago. the movies we saw (Knight and Day, the A Team) were kind of awful, but awful in a fun way, probably because we were watching them in a car, spilling popcorn on the seats while wrapped up in sleeping bags, kind of like the way our grandparents used to. well, maybe not my grandparents because they were living in pre-industrialized Korea, but someone's grandparents.

today, today we try to get rid of the seal.

Monday, June 28, 2010

road trip, first stop: Quebec City

our first stop on our road trip across Eastern Canada was Quebec City. I suppose our reasoning was that we wanted to get as far away from the chaos of Toronto's G20 as we could, so why not go to the last place the G20 summit was held in Canada? Quebec City was every bit as lovely as the last time i'd seen it. we only had one night to enjoy the city though, so we had to do an express touring of Quebec, distilled to its best things - mainly, walking around the old city and eating yummy carnivorous French food.

Quebec City is really old

people always talk about how Quebec City is great because it's so old and European. I myself never really understood why any European tourist would come to Quebec City to experience Canada. It kind of strikes me as being similar to Chinese people coming to Toronto and hanging out in Chinatown. Yes, there are similarities but I'm sure every European visitor can't shake off the feeling that something is a little off, a little weirder than home. maybe it's the lack of North African vendors selling delicious ethnic food on the streets; maybe it's the way the streets are clean, too clean, except for the VIVE LE QUEBEC LIBRE graffiti scrawled on random stone walls. despite all this though, Quebec City certainly is Canada's most European city and certainly is a lot cheaper to visit if you don't have the money to hop a plane to France.

our favourite part, however, was the food, of course. especially since rob is a French-trained cook.

Quebec: Good at food...okay at wine.

we ate dinner at Aux Anciens Canadiens, a restaurant at the heart of Vieux-Quebec and obviously popular with tourists, given their tourist-rate prices. despite their staggering prices, i appreciated this restaurant because of the menu choices, a veritable Canadian Noah's Ark of wild game. between rob and i, for example, we ate pretty much every animal that could be found in the Quebec wilderness.

PETA's nightmare - on this table you will find: elk, bison, deer, buffalo, caribou, pork knuckles, and some other things that I didn't translate properly from the waitress.

between all that and the bottle of wine (no, we didn't spring for the $5000 bottle), we went to bed early, too stuffed full of meat while anticipating a long drive the next day. we did make sure we stopped by a creperie for breakfast the next morning, however.

Rob and his French toast...or, just toast, as they call it here.

today was spend following the rain make its way across the whole country, as we took on the rest of Quebec, and across the entire New Brunswick to get to Prince Edward Island. Canada is really really big. it was a long drive, getting through New Brunswick, especially when you foolishly decide to take the back roads where the truckers used to go to avoid getting weighed. we passed the time by naming all the animals we saw narrowly escape death under car - shrews, coyotes, crows, chipmunks, porcupines (actually, the three porcupines we saw were already dead). it was a long drive, like i said, and a lot of nature. i was particularly struck by the bright yellow of the canola fields in New Brunswick, which became quite the contrast with the bright red dirt of Prince Edward Island. it was all definitely things that I have not seen before.

eventually we made our way over the glorious Confederation Bridge, the longest bridge in Canada, and into Prince Edward Island, where we only got a little lost. unfortunately, by the time we got to the cottage, it was dark (after eleven hours of driving!) so i haven't had much of a chance to see the Island...but that will all wait for me tomorrow!

obligatory cute couple shot

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Scary Bear in Korea

In case you want a recap of our trip to Korea, here's a horror film i made from Scary Bear's point of view:

Prince Edward Island

Today we're setting off on our summer road trip across Eastern Canada, ending at Rob's family's cottage in Prince Edward Island. Our first stop will be Quebec City tonight. Stay tuned for more updates!