Thursday, Flying and Food
All we did this weekend was eat. OK, we caught up with friends and did some sightseeing but there was lots of good food involved.
It was Heath’s high school reunion. This group focuses on the Singapore American School classes from the 50s through the 70s but anyone is welcome. I go off and on. I didn’t make the last two as there wasn’t anything I particularly wanted to see or do in Minneapolis (since they took Camp Snoopy out of Mall of America) or San Diego but this year it was in Vancouver and I wanted to go. There was a reunion in Vancouver in 2007 and we all went then. This year it was just Heath and me and Katy stayed home as she had other things to do.
The reunions officially start Friday evening and go through Sunday morning but it’s gotten to be a tradition for a lot of people to arrive on Thursday and make plans to do things on Friday.
We left pretty early Thursday morning and go to the airport with plenty of time to spare. You just never know how long security is going to take these days. We stood in line longer to check in our bags. We flew to Seattle and it was pretty uneventful. I’m loving the movies on Delta. I watched Ralph Wrecks the Internet, which I thought was better than the original, and started The Upside. The young woman sitting next to me was pretty chatty and the three of us talked some. She got this photo of Yellowstone for me.
In Seattle we got off the plane, walked down the concourse and straight onto the next plane, which was up to the general boarding stage. Just barely made it. That was a short 25-minute flight to Vancouver.
Immigration and customs were a breeze. Things really got exciting when we got into the taxi. It was driven by a Sikh whose lime green turban and shirt perfectly matched his lime green car. He clearly went to the Singapore School of Taxi Driving, weaving in and out of traffic and slamming on the brakes at the last second. I had the worst case of motion sickness I’ve has since I was a kid before I got in the taxi. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Wouldn’t have bothered me back in high school, now I can’t take that kind of excitement.
The hotel was in an area outside of Vancouver proper in an area called Metrotown. It was a predominately Asian area. I went down to ask the concierge something and saw he had the SAS website pulled up on his computer. I mentioned we were with the SAS reunion group. Turns out he lived in Singapore from 1982-85. That was first-third grade for him and he went to Dover Court (one of the British schools) as it was “a little cheaper” than SAS. I never did get where his family is originally from. Anyway, he was excited to have us all there and was a great help through the whole weekend.
The hotel was connected to a mall called Crystal Mall, which we all agreed reminded us of Holland Village. We did some wandering around there.
As I mentioned, lots of people come in Thursday for a little pre-reunion reuniting. So we hung out in the lobby to see who was there. Helen Wong and her brother, Ernie, were hosting the event. Helen lives in Vancouver (I think Ernie lives in Toronto) so she knows all the good places to go. She suggested we eat dinner Thursday at a Chinese restaurant around the corner from the hotel.
We filled up four big tables.
The menu was a hardback book with photos of everything. So yummy! What our table did, and I’m sure the others did, too, was everyone picked a different dish and then we shared.
The dishes came in waves so this was some of it. The restaurant’s specialty is soup dumplings (you can see one in the steam basket). I had had them before as I was dumpling shopping at Hmart and came home with them accidentally. So I got to give everyone a tutorial on how to eat them. You put a dumpling in your spoon, poke it with a chopstick so the soup drains into the spoon, slurp up the soup and eat the dumpling. They were really good. I could have eaten a bowl of just the broth.
So after we way overate Helen comes around and wants to know who would be interested in a Indian buffet for lunch the next day. She wanted a headcount to make a reservation. Well, why not!
I headed back to the hotel a little early while Heath and the others wrangled the bill. He ended up joining a group in the hotel bar.
Friday, Jetlag and Catching Up
I was wide awake at 5:30 with the three hour time difference. I hadn’t thought about anything for breakfast in the room and this was a nice hotel so the breakfast buffet was expensive. I ran down and asked the concierge for a good place to go. He said their wasn’t much in the area but there was a Tim Horton’s around the corner.
So we did a Canadian thing and ate there. I’ve since found out Tim Horton’s is in the states but it hasn’t made it this far south. I thought it was like the Canadian Starbucks then someone told me it was more like the Canadian McDonald’s. I think it’s more like a Canadian Dunkin’ Donuts.
It was cheap and fast and that was what we wanted.
The it was back to the hotel lobby to see who else was hanging around and what they were planning. We were going to walk to a nearby park where there were some nice gardens and eco-sculptures (according to the website) but it started raining so we just sat around and visited until it was time for lunch. I’ll spare you more food pictures, I didn’t take any. We had a good crowd at lunch.
One thing that was recommended by Helen and a friend of mine who lives in Vancouver was something called:
It was back to the same friendly concierge to find out how to get there. We took the train, which was new since the last time we visited, to Canada Place. It was nice train ride, lots of scenery, unlike in Atlanta. We bought our tickets for FlyOver Canada and our return time wasn’t for about an hour so we walked down the pier and looked at the cruise ships and float planes. We finally got to a point where we thought we should turn around and head back. If we’d gone 30 more yards and turned the corner we would have seen the Olympic cauldron. Oh, well.
Mountains across the way.
Lots of float planes.
This was some tall building, we thought the words on it looked neat.
This is as close as we got to a Mountie or a moose.
So after wandering around we went back to FlyOver Canada. It’s one of those things where you sit in a seat and the floor you just walked on retracts and there’s scenery in front, under and around you. The seat moves and you feel like you are hang gliding. I didn’t recognize most of it but we did fly over Niagara Falls. It was really nice, if a little short, and I recommend it. I did wonder if it was such a good idea since everything I got on that weekend that moved made me sick but it was fine.
After that it was back to the hotel. The first official reunion activity is always a reception at the hotel. Once again, more food!
Heath mingling in the lobby. I have no idea who any of these people are.
The SAS alumni office sent us this nice flag. Allan Lundy was tall enough and nice enough to hold it out for me!
Helen (front) and Ernie were our hosts and were handling the welcome area. Every single picture I have seen of Ernie is the back of his head. The quilt in the background is made from vintage batik material and was raffled off. I didn’t win.
While Heath has been to, I think, 17, of these reunions, his sister Lee (class of ’73) has been to none but decided this year to come. It was nice spending time with her. And I know she enjoyed catching up with friends she hasn’t seen since high school.
Heath, Lee and me. Apparently in order of height.
One thing they do on Friday night is get group photos by class. For class of ’74 it was only Heath and Steven Hurst so they decided to skip the photo. Class of 73 had a big crowd. They also decided to take a photo of all the siblings who were there who went to SAS. Lee wandered over to Heath and said “let’s get in the sibling picture” and Heath said “oh. I forgot you were here. ” You can imagine how well that went over.
All of the siblings.
It was a fun evening of catching up. I didn’t make it until midnight, I don’t know when Heath came in.
Saturday, Pirates and a Banana Leaf
Saturday we decided to go to Granville Island. I was hoping to squeeze in that and Stanley Park, both, (I wanted to see the beach) but there wasn’t time. We hopped on the train again to where ever it is you catch the water taxi to Granville Island. This is an island with a big market and lots of little shops, restaurants and tourists.
So you hire a little water taxi and it’s about a 10 minute ride out to the island. We just happened to be there the day of an event called Boats for Hope. Anyone with a boat who wants to participate goes pirate for the day and gives ride to underprivileged children. They cruise around and shoot each other with super soakers. It was a lot of fun to watch. Our water taxi driver on the way back was dressed as a pirate and pulled over and harassed a boatload of female pirates into firing on us.
A few of the pirate ships.
And we had a nice view of the skyline.
There were rooftop and terrace gardens everywhere.
I couldn’t pass up a chance to get my picture taken with a pirate.
The first place we went was the market, which is the big attraction. It was full of tourists but being a Saturday I know there were some local market shoppers, as well. When we went in the main entrance, Heath heard his name right off. Lee and her friends had gotten there ahead of us.
It was fun walking around and looking at all the vendors and yummy things to eat.
I love how they stack the produce.
So we wandered around the island visiting many of the shops and having some lunch.
We had to be back at the hotel early for dinner as it was a 45-minute bus ride to the restaurant where were having the big dinner.
Heath and Lee visiting in the lobby before we boarded the school buses for the field trip to Banana Leaf.
We ate at this restaurant at the 2007 reunion and it’s still good.
Our table and the back of Ernie’s head again! I enjoyed visiting with Ernie. He was telling me how his grandfather and great-uncle both came to North America to work on the railroad. His father went to Toronto and his great uncle to the US, although I don’t remember where. He was born in Macau, though.
This woman is Weilie So. She graduated from SAS in 1962. She started at Rochalie Road and graduated from King’s Road, so she would have been in the very first class to graduate from King’s Road. She told me how as they were preparing to move campuses Mrs. Abraham was sure to tell them they were going to be at a new school and to behave themselves. Mrs. Abraham’s husband was the first local teacher hired at SAS, starting the year the school opened, and Mrs. Abraham came aboard the following year. Both taught at SAS until retiring sometime in the 2000s. They were fixtures at the high school for a long time. It was very interesting talking to Weilie.
And we had food!
We had appetizers, several entrees and two desserts. I was a little worried when the tables around us had satay and we didn’t, but it finally came.
Then the bus ride back. We went through a very Asian part of town and some residential areas. It was fun watching out the window. And listening to the woman across the aisle telling us about the ’75-76 school year (we were there but I was in first grade) when about a hundred students were loaded up at school and taken down to the police station for drug testing and being grilled on their pushers and dealers. She said it made several pages in the year book, along with all the US bicentennial celebrations. I asked my mom about it but she didn’t remember. She had to have known about, though, gossip got around the American community.
Chinese dollar store!
Sunday, Goodbyes and Tall Trees
The reunions always end with a breakfast and planning meeting. If you aren’t there you may find yourself elected to organize the next reunion!
I ducked out of the breakfast for about an hour. I have a friend, Marianne, who lives in Vancouver and we wanted a chance to get together. She is one of my “fake friends” I met online in a parenting forum. This is our third meet-up having attended the Women’s March and meet-up and then the girls’ weekend in New Orleans last fall. She wanted to meet Heath, too, so we went to the banquet room first.
Marianne and Heath.
We went to the coffee shop for a drink and had a great time chatting.
If you don’t take a picture, it didn’t happen! And a bonus photo-bomb by the waiter.
Something kind of funny happened. So much this weekend was prepaid and then I’m so used to Heath taking care of the bill, anyway, that I left without signing the bill. the waiter knew I was with the SAS group and tracked me down the hall. Marianne told me later “Pro tip: If one is going to drink and dash, one should leave the hotel”. I guess she’s done this before?
I was back in time for the meeting. They lucked out this year, someone jumped right up and offered to host. So 2021 in Austin. And in March or April. The last reunion in Austin was in June, I was pregnant with Katy and we all nearly died of heatstroke.
I didn’t get any photos of the breakfast but that room was standing room only by the time I got back.
Someone had neat shoes.
Totally illegal in Singapore. I don’t know where she got them. Actually, I don’t remember whose foot that was!
So this is the goodbye event. Helen had arranged for anyone who wasn’t through reuniting to go on a seven-day Alaskan cruise so a few were headed to the pier. We planned to leave on Monday because it was either miss the breakfast (and possibly get voted to do something) or get back in the middle of the night with the time change. Lee’s husband, Chip, was coming in Sunday evening and they were going to have a few days’ vacation exploring Vancouver, Victoria and other areas. So we spent the day together.
I picked up a brochure on something called Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. It’s a big suspension bridge, tree top walkways and lots of really tall trees. They had some raptors, a guided rainforest hike and some history about the place. We decided to spend the afternoon there. It was really interesting and not terribly crowded, although we certainly didn’t have the place to ourselves.
There were lots of neat totem poles and lots of people taking photos of them.
Lee reading about some of the history of the area.
Then we walked across the bridge.
Heath and Lee on the bridge.
Be sure to look down!
After you got across the bridge there were lots of paths to walk and we went through the tree house areas.
It was really pretty and it was nice weather for it. We didn’t see everything but we were pretty ready to go. I was hungry and hot dogs were $15. So we looked in the gift shop and then got on the shuttle. We walked around Vancouver Place, looked at the ships some more and ate a cheap lunch.
We went back to the hotel to rest up a little then went to dinner. There was a really good Malaysian restaurant in the mall attached to the hotel that several people ate at and raved about but it was closed on Sunday. There was a whole food court there but it didn’t occur to us to go see what else might be there. We went back to Dinesty Dumpling House, the Chinese restaurant from Thursday. Lee hadn’t eaten there since she didn’t come in until Friday.
They had an open kitchen and I just had to get a photo of all the steam baskets piled up.
Monday, Salmon and Customs
Monday morning we woke up early and headed to the airport. Our taxi driver was a little less wild this time. Since you now have to show a passport to travel between the US and Canada they set up U.S. customs and immigration in the Vancouver airport. That way, they can have flights to all kinds of airports that aren’t set up for international travel. I remembered this from our last trip. So we checked in our bags then went through immigration and customs. So if you have something to declare and they need to look at it I guess they take you to find your suitcase. They must put them in a holding area. It’s weird, though. Well, I had bought some shelf-stable smoked salmon to bring back. We checked off “something to declare” at the passport scanning machine. This is entirely on the honor system, although I’m sure the randomly inspect some bags. So as we’re standing in the “something to declare line” I said to Heath “they probably sell this stuff in the gift shops”. We get through customs (it was no problem, just a long line), into the terminal. The concourse is divided in half with a glass partition. One half is US flights and the other is other international destinations. Once you get through immigration you are legally in the US. Those gift shops were full of the that smoked salmon. I could have bought it there and I would have been buying it in the US and it would easily have fit in my carry on. Oh, well.
The flight back was pretty uneventful. I had a window seat from Vanvcouver to Seattle and got some nice photos.
This cute guy was keeping guard.
The mountains were on the other side of the plane and I got this photo across three seats and the aisle.
Volcanoes in Washington.
You know your camera’s zoom is good when you can read the team name on the football field from an airplane. It’s a little fuzzy but is says “Titans”.
We had an actual layover in Seattle this time. At least enough time to eat lunch. The flight back was fine. I finished my movie. The pilot couldn’t remember the flight number. He said “Welcome to Delta flight …. well, it doesn’t matter what the flight number is, we’re all going to to the same place”.
We got in before nine and got home to find the house was still standing. If you noticed Katy wasn’t in this anywhere she stayed home by herself. She had things to do. She found that staying home by yourself really isn’t all that exciting.
(Thanks to Fielden Lundy for a couple of the people photos.)