Monday, April 30, 2007

Hong Kong Wetlands Eco Tours Officially Launched

With my world narrowed down to building supply stores and paint swatches, it was with some delight that I received a notice today that reminded me that a wider world does still exist!

Best of all, this notice was about my favourite city (Hong Kong!!) and better still, it's about one area I have yet to explore -- the Wetlands. After a 6 month trial period, the Hong Kong Nature Kaleidoscope Program has been expanded, with a variety of tours offered daily, some of them free.

Have a look at the official site for
Wetlands Park (a new page will open on the official wetlands site) to see the range of places to explore. The map shows two locations for tours on Lantau Island, including Tai O village (photo).

You can have a look at my Hong Kong photos at or use the search box at the bottom to find more Hong Kong travel info on the blog.

Demo on my new home starts early tomorrow morning, so if you'll excuse me, I must go round up the painting supplies. that wallpaper won't strip itself!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mississauga Day Trips :: Reno Inspired

This Spring, I'm staying close to home, but I'm making a lot of day trips. Nowhere particularly scenic, or a major tourist draw, except for possibly Port Credit. And when the rhododendrons bloom in the aptly though unimaginatively named Rhododendron Park, I shall have a front row seat.

The impetus for this spate of day trips is my impending move almost due south from the Streetsville area of Mississauga to where the Credit River enters Lake Ontario, just across from the aforementioned park.

With the new place needing major renovating before I can move in, my days are spent perusing tile and flooring stores, with side trips to the bathroom fixtures and kitchen departments. Most of the trips are to various branches of the so-called Big Box stores, interspersed with forays to specialty retailers. When I need a break from all this excitment, I get on the phone to coordinate various removalists and demoliton people, switch utilities and internet, and consult my lawyer, personal banker and realtor. Be still my heart!

Not as exciting as climbing the Great Wall, or beachcombing in Queensland, perhaps. But adding up the prices is definitely a heart-stopping experience.

So forgive my sporadic and unexotic destination posts for a few more weeks. After the move,I shall definitely be looking for a fabulous trip to reward myself.

If you'd like to have a look at my current 'village in the city' (Streetsville) or my soon-to-be neighbourhood (Port Credit), pop over to the photos at SnapshotJourneys Mississauga and Streetsville.

I've written a number of articles about fine dining restaurants in Port Credit (including one for the Waterside Inn Breakwater Restaurant) that are posted on Mississauga Ontario Restaurants. After spending so much time down in Port Credit at trendy restaurants and pubs, I decided to move closer to them, and the lake and marinas. Best of all, I won't need a DD (designated driver) ever: I can just walk home!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stormy Weather Disrupts Travel Yet Again

The severe storm that grounded hundreds of flights in eastern North America the past few days illustrates why travelers should always expect the unexpected. And why we should all be concerned.

Such severe weather focuses attention (and rightly so) on the plight of those directly affected by things like power outages, dangerous road conditons, etc., yet there are thousands more around the world who,
though not in immediate danger, are also directly affected. Some of these people are called Those Awaiting Courier Shipments, some are called Businesses Forced to Close, and so on. You get the idea.

And a large number of these people are called Airline Passengers, and they may be halfway around the world from the storm. Yet as their flights to or through the affected area are cancelled, there's a domino effect around the world, and they scramble to make alternate arrangements or sleep in the airport. Lucky ones are given vouchers for meals or hotel rooms.

All these things cost money. They cost the traveler money in additonal travel costs; they cost the airlines more in operating costs: Airlines can only hope to make any money when their planes are in the air. When planes are not in the air, and when the airlines are handing out vouchers to partly compensate delayed passengers, airlines are hemorrahging big bucks. And the additonal operating costs have to come from somewhere. Guess who from? The traveler.

As severe weather seems to becoming the norm, more frequent travel delays have to mean higher travel costs. And recent studies indicate that jet exhaust contributes to global warming and severe weather.

It seems to me that what's needed is a new paradigm for long distance travel. Maybe larger planes are not the answer. Maybe global warming is a vital concern, not just an interesting, though inconvenient, anomaly.

I'm not sure I'm communicating my concerns as effectively as I'd like. I'm not even sure I know precisely what my concerns are. I just know that severe weather is causing me, the intrepid traveler, to arrange my trips to avoid bad weather seasons, and bad weather destinations.

Like the southeastern U.S. from June to Novemeber. Ditto for the Caribbean, and Central America. And Asia. And the list can go on and on.

By choosing to travel mainly from November to early June, I am already altering my lifestyle around the effects of global warming. This parallels my cutbacks on car use as a repsonse to high gas prices; I take fewer road trips. I have to wonder: How long before we are altering our diets, our food supply, our farms and our homes?

Maybe adapting coping strategies vis. global warming should be our only focus. And maybe the world will never be 'normal' again.

Gosh! Not sure where all this came from. Thanks for indulging me.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Travel Advice From Unusual Sources

In the throes of renovating and moving, I find diversion in re-reading favourite books. Right now, I am starting Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. It's set in the 1840s Valparaiso, Chile (photo) to 1853 California. I had been attracted to the book, looking for information on Chile prior to a trip, so I was a little disappointed to see how quickly the setting moved to California. Allende is such a gifted author that I was enthralled nonetheless. The point of this (I do have one) is on page 7 of the paperback edition, one of the characters offers this insight ::
"[John Sommers] . . . "sailed all the seas of the world, and he would vividly describe how the water gathered itself in sepulchral silence and roared back in a single monstrous wave, sweeping away everything before it. Horrible, he maintained, although at least that gave you time to run toward the hills . . ."

Now, this 'sound of silence' from a usually rhythmic ocean strikes me as a useful bit of travel advice. From now on, when I am strolling seaside, or within earshot of the surf, I know I will NOT stop to wonder why the ocean is suddenly silent. I will start running. Once on high ground, there's plenty of time to delve further.

If you're interested in good travel books, the full list of My Favourite Books is posted at and more Valparaiso, Chile photos are at

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Shanghai Travel From Toronto :: New Route in April

Speaking of travel to China (as I was on yesterday's post), Air Canada is launching a new non-stop flight from Toronto to Shanghai on April 12 (see the Air Canada web site for specific times).

While I personally feel AC's domestic service is an absolute deterral to air travel, its international service (Santiago, Chile (Chile photos ) (Chile flights continue on to Buenos Aires) and Hong Kong) is second to none.

Of course, I am talking about service to those of us in the economy (cheap) seats, not, alas, first class or business class. But there are more of us in economy seats than the other two combined, so however they treat the least of their passengers -- me -- I think is a good benchmark of overall service standards.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

May Means Festivals in Hong Kong

I admit it -- I love Hong Kong! It's hard to believe a year has past since I was last winging my way to my favourite city. (By the way, I flew over the Pole from Toronto on Air Canada -- an amazing view of Canada's North!) If you have any vacation time coming up for May, and are looking for a great new destination, then have a look at my photos from this trip and previous trips at Snapshot Journeys Hong Kong to get a feel for the city and outlying islands.

This year, Lord Buddha's birthday is commemorated on May 24, though celebrations run over the course of a week. The main celebrations are at Lantau Island, the largest outlying island. (I have two pages of Lantau Islands photos, including the one on this post).

There's so much of interest to do in Hong Kong -- from Disney to the cable car to Lantau and the ferry to Macau to shopping and dining and Victoria Peak tram rides -- the list goes on and on. Two weeks is barely enough to scratch the surface, and there's something for every age group.

I'd go again myself, but work is keeping me close to home until summer, so someone please go on my behalf, and tell me how it went.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Haiti Youth Education Charity Work

In the course of my travels, I went to Haiti (Haiti photos) a few years back to meet with Sharon Gaskell, who was working with young students in Cap-Haitien. It was one of the most challenging trips I have ever taken, and I still marvel that anyone would choose to spend time there, under difficult conditons.

Since that time, I have been working with her to set up Starthrower Foundation and its web site. The photo here of the Haiti taptap (bus) is one I took on that trip.

On Saturday, the Toronto (Canada) Star printed an article about Sharon and Starthrower Foundation, and as volunteer webmaster for the charity, I have been dealing with the resulting queries for more information.

If you'd like to know more about Starthrower and what you can do to help them help a student in Haiti, drop by the web site.