Sunday 24 June 2012

Pacific Spirit Regional Park

The Pacific Spirit Regional Park has over 54 kms of walking or hiking trails. The Park is located in the west of city of Vancouver, British Columbia on the shores of the Georgia Strait in the Pacific Ocean.


The Park is on the University of British Columbia (also known as UBC locally) endowment land. The huge 763 hectare park is the largest in Vancouver.

Georgia Strait

If one does not have time to hit the mountains then it is a nice piece of wilderness within the city.

Park in Winters

One can decide to make ones own trail picking up one and leaving it in between and joining another.

One of the Trails

The Park is a heaven for bird and plant species.

Rejuvenation Cycle in Progress

The Park had several birch trees (photo below) the bark of which in the earlier Indian system was used as a paper for writing before the advent of the modern day paper.

Birch Tree or a Snake?

Inside the forested parts it does not feel cold whereas on the seaside the wind chill factor makes it very cold in winters. But then that is the best weather for jogging!

Wild Mushrooms on Rock

Some of the trees were deciduous while the other were evergreen. Within the Park there were several water channels.

Evergreen Forest

Wild flowers were in bloom even in winters. One could hear and see several birds as well.

Wild Flowers

There are choices of trails whether you want one with steep inclines or whether one prefers trails along the Pacific Ocean front.

Tall Trees

There are sections of the trails that are open to the dogs as well as for horse riding while there are others where only hiking or jogging is allowed.

The Pacific Spirit Regional Park Map

There is no entry fee to the park and one can enter from several points. One can spend either half a day or a full day exploring the various trails depending upon the time available and the energy left. 

Sunday 17 June 2012

Vancouver to Victoria by Ferry

For going to Victoria, capital of British Columbia, from Vancouver there are only two options  - either by air or by sea as Victoria is an island so I decided to take the ferry so that I am able to observe nature on the way.

Dawn on way to Tsawwassen

I started early in the morning from Vancouver and saw the dawn on the way to Tsawwassen. Tsawwassen Terminal, though known to be in Vancouver, is technically in the Delta municipality, south of Richmond and bordering the USA. The Fraser river borders its northern parts.

Tsawwassen Terminal, Vancouver

Because Tsawassen touches a shallow bank the ferry terminal is built at the end of a three kilometer long causeway that juts into the Strait of Georgia.

Cars waiting to board the Ferry at Tsawwassen

It is a huge terminal and the each ferry ship takes several hundred cars besides passengers. The cars in the que above are all waiting for the terminal to open so that they can board the ship.

BC Ferry Ship

The ferry ride from Tsawwassen terminal in Vancouver to Swartz Bay in Victoria covers 24 Nautical miles and takes 1 hour and 35 minutes by the BC Ferries. The first service starts at 7 AM and then there are services till 9 PM either every hour or two hours.

Sea Gull in Flight

During the whole ferry ride the Sea Gulls are your constant companion even when you far from the shore. Maybe they are looking at possibility of getting food from the ship.

Sea Gull getting a free ride!

Besides Sea Gulls and some other birds once can also see dolphins on this route of the ocean. Sometimes the dolphins accompany you for quite some distance and what a sight it is to see them jump high in the air above the water!

Emergency Rubber Boats

Every ship has several rubber boats in case of any emergency. It reminds you of the film Titanic. The anchor of the ship is massive.  It was thicker than a thigh as one can see in the photo above which has been taken from some distance.

Huge Anchors

I stayed very little inside the comforts of the ship and spent most of the time standing on the fore or after deck despite the fact that the winds that you face there are so strong and cold (in winters). Of course, one do have the option to watch from inside also through the glass panes but the feeling is not the same.

Beautiful Island Houses

During the whole journey one comes across several inhabited and uninhabited islands on the way to Victoria. I wished I could stay in one of these beautiful locations for some days.

Sun & Shade

All along the route the sun and clouds played hide and seek and the changing reflections in the ocean were beautiful. In the photo above the cylinders that you see in the bottom right hand corner are also boats that open up in case of emergency (about five to six on one stand - and there were several stands).

Swartz Bay

The photo above is of the Swartz Bay when I was returning from Victoria to Vancouver in the evening. Both the terminals have plenty of eating options as well as shops to buy souvenirs or other stuff.

Plenty of eating options on the Ferry

The BC Ferry ship itself also has various lounges for eating as well as shops to buy souvenirs, books etc. The interiors of the BC Ferry are nice and plush and warm. The lower floor is for parking of the cars etc and the upper two floors are for the passengers with nice comfortable seats and views.

Dusk on the Pacific Ocean

I returned back by another BC Ferry in the evening and was greeted by a beautiful dawn sky and the fading lights of first the Swartz Bay and then Victoria and sometimes later houses on the various islands on the way.

Saturday 9 June 2012

Tea in China

Today I was drinking the fruit tea that I had brought from China so decided to write about my experiences of visiting a place that explains the art of drinking tea and the various kinds of teas that are drank in China and the particular benefits of each.

Tea Hostess

I went for tea tasting at Dr. Tea in Beijing. Dr Tea is located on the Min Zu Yuan Road in the Chao Yang district of Beijing. There are tea hostess to explain the whole process and for foreigners there are English speaking hostesses. The hostess started with explaining the different kinds of teas that is drank in China. They have a lot of varieties of teas compared to India. Also most Indians drink their tea with milk (and sugar) and comparatively speaking the Indian tea is much stronger (boiled longer) than the Chinese tea. Several cups of tea is made from the same tea leaves in China as they normally take mild tea.

Explaining the various kinds of tea 

Firstly the hostess explained the various kind of tea leaves along with preparing and giving us to taste the tea and also explaining the various health benefits of each. The types of teas that I tasted were the White Tea supposedly  good for cold, coughs and sore throat; Golden Green Tea also known as the slimming tea or the Wild puer tea supposedly good for regulating blood pressure, lowering of cholesterol and to lose weight.

Fruit Tea in the Jar

Then I was given to taste the Oriental Beauty or the King of Oolong Tea supposedly good for blood circulation and skin. The Jasmine tea was equally good in taste and supposedly good to fight the summer heat and to improve the eyesight. Litchi tea is good for digestion.The Ginseng as well as Tain Qi Flower tea are known to restore your energy and protect your liver and kidney..

There are different ways to hold a tea cup in China depending on the kind of tea you are drinking and also depending on whether you are a male or female!

Tea is considered as a Chinese national drink. The Chinese gulps down N number of tea cups in a day as their teas are very light, The reason for people drinking huge amounts of tea in China is, I think, mainly because China is a very cold and dry country and therefore one needs lots of intake of fluids.

The place has several varieties of teas as well as tea crockery for sale and the hostess at the end was able to sell some tea to me as well despite the fact that by Indian standards the tea was costly!

The best tea I liked was the fruit tea which has several kinds of dried fruits and flowers and after making 2-3 cups from the same lot one can actually eat the fruits and flowers giving the original flavor. It is a real mood relaxer!

Sunday 3 June 2012

Queen Elizabeth Park

The Queen Elizabeth Park is among the most beautiful and well maintained parks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Queen Elizabeth Park

The day I went there it was drizzling so there were few visitors and I had the park more or less to myself! The park is spread over over 130 acres and was so named in July 1940 after the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939.

Water fountain with Bloedel Conservatory 

The triodetic dome of the Bloedel conservatory is filled with exotic plants, flowers, fish and birds. The park is also famous for being the highest point in Vancouver at a height of above 500 ft above sea level!


The two lakes in the park have several Mallards. They have gray body and chestnut brown breast. And as you can see in the photo their heads are green (in the males of the species which as is usual among the birds are more colorful then the females).Their legs and feet are orange in color.

Contrasting Colors

A tree inside the park

Red Berries

Canada is known to have all kinds of berries - be it the blueberry, strawberries, blackberries and the wild berries. 

Japanese Maple 

The park has several varieties of the ubiquitous maple tree. Of course the maple leaf is also the symbol on the national flag of Canada.

View of Park with Lake

A Fountain

As it was raining while I was trekking inside the park I saw that the rain water was forming this fountain.

Reflections in the second lake in the Park

A Stone Sculpture in the Park

Seasons in the Park

One has plenty of dining options within the Park and its restaurant Seasons in the Park is very famous.

Overall I enjoyed the trek inside the park and especially in the winter rains!