It's a looong way to go from Vancouver to Sydney (abt 17hrs flight), but we stopover at Taiwan. We had to wait in Taiwan for at least 7 hrs, so all we could do is explore the airport. We got very little sleep, so after we arrived at home. We all slept 14 hrs straight!! We didnt even got a chance to eat dinner! Haha...that was the longest sleep I ever had!
I was not so ready to go back to Syd yet, but what can I do? Nevertheless mami, papi and I are all happy and satisfied with holidays in Canada and Alaska!
Today is the last day with Charming Tour...=(
All of us went to Fruit Orchard at Okanagan. Just saw trees of cherries, apples, peaches, etc. We tasted Icewine...very sweet and tasty!!! Unfortunately a bottle would cost around 35 bucks...bleh. Haha, I lied that I was 19, so I could taste the wine. The lady told me that I looked so young. Haha.
After that we ate satisfied lunch at Pyramid Summerhill Winery. It was very Hunter Valley-esque.
We arrived at Vancouver at 6pm...
We went to Bow River Almanac, near Banff. The river was famously used as setting for "River of No Return", played by Marilyn Monroe in 1953!!! It was kinda surreal to go there where Monroe had walked before me. Hehe. Actually in the past Queen Elizabeth, Theodore Roosevelt and King George VI all had been to the river!! Yes, the river is extraordinary as it got unbeatable backdrop of glacier mountains.
NExt stop is the most beautiful chateau lake house I've ever seen! It's located riiiight at the end of Lake Louise. THis Chateau is the only only only building that is located at Lake Louise....there are no other building which made it very exclusive and posh. Yes, it would burn your wallet if you stay a night in there. Haha. Lake Louise is surrounded by majestic mountains perfectly. The lake has a deep and pure emerald colour. Imagine if the lake is frozen and you can skate right next to the glacier mountains. How blissful is that? Yes, it would become true during winter, it would become a wonderland of iceskating, ice scultpures and horse drawn sleigh rides!
Let me tell you a bit about the chateau...it's been there since 1890's. Everywhere inside and outside the chateau has old accent; solid wood furniture, swiss influence, chandeliers, animal decorations, etc. The Hotel staffs even wore in Swiss costumes!
For lunch, we got to eat buffet inside the Chateau!!! We were delighted as we got the best table!!! It was facing to the Lake Louise!!! The food was delicious and gourmet! Couldn't be more happier!
After stuffing ourselves with food, dessert and drink, we went to Natural bridge, at Yoho National Park! You see, the bridge is not man made, it's rather made out of rocks. THe rocks acted as bridge over the powerful rushed waterfall. Quite magnificent it is....
Today we went to see Columbia Icefield and passed Rocky mountains.
Inside the bus, I asked my dad "Where's the rocky mountain?" as I expected to see one huge mountain. My dad replied "These are Rocky mountains!". I looked out the window and there were rows and rows of the mountains! They looked very solid and hard, but yet beautifully and majestically stood over us while the bus drove around and around them. Some has pine trees on them. Some has none, showing sharp rocks and crusts. Some has glacier on top of them. Every view I got is like a perfect postcard! All of us sitting on the bus, admiring the unbelievable nature of Canada.
We even spotted a black bear and Caribou (moose) during the bus trip!!! I spotted an eagle just sitting on top of pine tree, where no one saw it! All of us would get excited if there's a wildlife. Haha, there was one time where the bus suddenly stopped which was usually a sign of wildlife. But it turned out to be a desk upside down on the road...=_=''Haha.
Explored Columbia Icefield by snomobile (a huuuuge truck-like coach bus). The funny thing was it broke down in the middle of the trip!!! Because our coach bus also broke down yesterday!!! Two transports broke down in two different days....haha. Thomas, our tour guide couldn't believe this unlucky hit! Haha. This time everyone laughed. In 15 min later, another snomobile picked us up to continue our journey. This snomobile moved very slowly, because we were driving on icefield.
After the Columbia Icefield we passed Banff, a beautiful town and rode on Gondolla to Sulphur Mountain. Up ther we could see everything; vistas of rocky mountains, Banff town, lake and forrest. O yeah, we saw the lazy mountain goats and adorable chipmunk (a kind of squirrel). Sigh...everything is perfect at Rockies!!!!
Today we're goin to Rocky Mountains with Charming tour coach! We're goin with Chinese tour group, because they're soo cheap. Luckily the tour guide, Thomas can speak eng. I found him a striking resemblance to the old Chinese actor who usually played in hilarious chinese movies! I forgot the actor's name!
Anyway, I thought this trip is going to take no more than 4 hours. I realised it's going to take at least 9 hours to get from Vancouver to Rocky Mountains...D'oh.
The trip was going smoothly but just before going through pay toll, the coach bus broke down!!! Its engine spluttered just before the pay toll booth! THere were lots of confusion among the passengers. Apparently from what Thomas told us that it's common to get coach bus broken down...Haha, this is what we get from cheap ticket.
About 15 min or so, another coach bus came in offering their help. Luckily there were enough seats for all of us, so we moved to that bus. Thomas told us that the journey must go on, no matter what! Hehe.
We arrived at a small town to eat Chinese lunch buffet. Then Thomas told us a good news; a coach bus will pick us up at 1.30pm!!
Off we go to Rocky Mountains!
Today is the last day on cruise!! Wah! We'll miss being treated like royalty and eat all we can! Heheh. Tomorrow we'll arrive back at Vancouver.
Yesterday the cruise ship stopped at Ketchikan, another Alaskan city. We only did shopping over there and sightseeing. Bought lots of souvenirs. =)
Last night we had formal dining at Manhattan restaurant inside the cruise ship. It was a first time experience to eat full on eating course; from Appetizer to dessert! Everyone looked stunning and handsome. All the waiters wear sleek and formal suits!
Half an hour after the dinner, everyone were excited to witness the Le Grand Buffet where there were ice sculpture displays, cake decorations and food art!! Everyone's dropped their jaws when they saw a dragon made out of chocolate, swan ice sculpture and windmill made entirely out of bread!!! Everything is perfectly created with such a detail. I apploud to the chefs who made the impossible possible.
Today's destination is the most talked about on the cruise ship, because it's Hubbard Glacier! At around breakfast time, everybody was rushing to get their place out the deck to get ready for a sight of Hubbard Glacier. Each minute go by, more people came out to be on deck. The lucky ones are the ones who already have balcony in their rooms! Meaning they don't have to compete for the best position out the deck, they already got a nice view in their room. Haha.
The cruise ship was moving slowly as not to bump into hazzard iceberg on sea. The deck was filled with hubbub of excitement as the ship creeped toward the hubbard glacier. It is an open calving face over 10 km wide between two mountains. The glacier stretches 122 km to the sea at Yakutat Bay and Disenchantment Bay. I think everyone enjoyed it very much, that all of them take photo of it. Hehe. There were lots of ooh and aah.
Arrived at Skagway, another Alaskan city by cruise. Skagway suprisingly is still old fashioned town. It has the reminiscent of Wild Wild West! It has far less shops than Juneau.
We decided to take White Pass & Yukon Route by vintage steam locomotive. The ticket collector even wore the vintage navy blue suit! We got to experience the breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels and historic sites!! Everything was an inspiration! While seeing the steep rock mountains, I was imagining how challenging it must be for tens of thousands of men in 1898 to build rail roads, tunnels and steel bridge. I read on the pamphlet that back in construction days, the mountain sides were so steep that the men had to be suspended by ropes to prevent them falling off while cutting the grade.
Wow...when we eventually made to the White Pass Summit, the locomotive stopped for all of us to admire the view. It was an absolute stunning view of half frozen lake with backdrop of ice coated mountains. When I looked closely to the water, I could see the splendid mixes of turqoise, light blue and dark blue colours. At that time, it was misty and foggy which created the mystic and alluring mood to it.
In the afternoon, we returned to cruise ship with great content and satisfaction and ready for next destination.....Hubbard Glacier....should be good!
Oh, I forgot to mention that I saw about 4 dolphins jumping out and in the sea, while the cruise ship was moving! I was alone in my room and there I saw them out the window! =D
Am on cruise ship to Alaska!!! Today's 3rd day on the ship. Whoah! Mami, Papi and I were treated like royalty!!! Now it's been 3 days on the Celebrity cruise. I couldn't believe that MANY could fit into the cruise ship! Such as casino, bars, restaurants, swimming pools, gym and many more. Each day there is different activities to do like poker demonstration, cooking demonstration, basketball throw, art bid, bingo game, etc!!! There is even a catholic mass at 8 am! Hehe.
When it come to eating on cruise, we couldn't control our eating!!! It's a buffet from morning to night everyday!!! Crazy! THere's everything you can think of. I mean EVERYTHING! Pizza, salad, ice cream, chinese food, Mexican tacos, sandwich, dessert, etc!!! Now I'm creeping to get sick of eating food....I heard that you can get late night snack till 3 am on cruise!!! Shocking...poor on those staffs. I wonder how on earth there is soo many foods on cruise let alone for 7 nights?! Whoo. Oh I forgot to mention tat we didn't realise there are many Indonesian working on the ship! There are at least 120 Indonesians! It kind of made us proud to see Indonesians working overseas since there are many unemployed people in Indonesia.
Haha, everytime mami, papi or me are talking in Indonesian, we would surely approached by some Indonesian staff and develop into friendly chat.
Yesterday morning, mami saw whale's tail out the window!! Sigh, she didn't wake me up...Mami only saw whale's tail at glimpse moment. Whale never come near to cruise boat, so they can only be seen at far. If you really want to spot a whale, you have to be really really patient. I couldn't....yesterday I sat near the window hoping to get a glimpse and my patience ran out in 5 minutes..haha!!
At around 2 pm, we arrived at our first Alaskan destination, Juneau. It's a capital city of Alaska! It has many souvenir shops and several pubs. Very pretty town. After exploring the small town which only took about 30 min, we went on Salmon hatchery & Mendenhall glacier tour.
Ugh, the salmon hatchery tour was a bore! Okay, move on. Our last spot was Mendenhall glacier! WOWIE! It was just magical and beyond my imagination. It just took my breath away, because I've never seen anything like it before in my life....a massive ice field flowing down the valley that ends at lake's edge. It was as if a fairy pouring ice cream down between two gorgeous mountains...ok ok that's the best description I can tell...haha. Out the lake, I could see icebergs sitting on top of it. It took 200 years for a piece of the iceberg to come out from the glacier and glide out in the lake!!!!! *Whistle*
We returned to cruise waay before 8pm, because we wouldn't like to miss our cruise. Waah, it would be a disaster to be stranded out in Alaska! Heheh. Off we go to next destination, Skagway.
Today Mami, papi and I got a taste of rain forest scenery and crossed the swaying Capilano Suspension bridge. The bridge is made out of cedar plank that hangs 230 feet above the rushing Capilano river and forrest!! I think everyone enjoyed the unsteady swing movement of the bridge, even though they're grabbing the rope. It was funny, because it was like being on a trampoline!
After that we (me, mami, papi, uncle Eddy and aunt Meity) rode on the skyride gondolla up to the peak of Grouse mountain while absorbing the panorama view of the city, sea and mountain vistas. Once at the top we saw grizzly bears, falconry bird demonstrations and lumberjack show. I heard that in the winter you can do sleigh rides, snowshoes, ice skating, etc!! But now there are none, because there are not enough snow. =( Wow even though it's summer season, there's still a bit of snow!
Yay, today we get to go outside Vancouver! Uncle Eddy and aunt Meity kindly took us to Whistler & Blackcomb mountains which are glacier mountains. It only took 2 hours drive.
WOW! We arrived at the Whistler village. It's very switzerland comunity like! It has restaurants, pubs, boutiques and cute resorts! Almost all the buildings have characteristics of German/ Switzerland type of thing. There are even well known fast food selling there e.g. McDonalds, Domino, KFC & Starbucks. Almost everyone at Whistler is doing winter outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding and mountain biking. Everyone seemed pro at it. It's as if they've been to Whistler many times before.
We rode ski lift up up up to the glacier mountain!! The ski lift was pretty open, so we were exposed to extreme cold from the mountain!! At first we got tingling in some parts of our body. As the ski lift progressively went up, our face, hands and feet eventually got frozen. It was like being inside a refrigerator! Haha. But I was not so worried about myself being frozen, because the sight of astounding pure white snow delight me! We could admire the ever so white snow below us during the ski lift. It was as if the icing sugar is being spread gracefully onto the mountain and pine trees. Just magic...
OH! We spotted a black bear while we rode the ski lift! It was on the grassy ground, looking for food. The sight of the bear excite all of us, because we've never seen animals out in public space! I also spotted a deer just behind pine trees!
After one hour riding ski lift, we finally made to the top of the Blackcomb mountain which stood 2,284 metres!!! It was a bit of blizzard up there! It was hilarious...because none of us had goggles and proper winter outfits, so we walked with our eyes closed i.e. walking blindly! Luckily there is Horstman hut where we could sheltered and drink hot chocolate.
When we came down with ski lift, we got gorgeous overview of Whistler's village!! We get to enjoy it through out the whole trip! Luckily the ski lift is moving slowly!
As soon as we arrived back at land, we gorged on Domino's Hawaian Pizzas!! The hot melty pizzas made shiver and frost in our bodies disappear instantly! It was the first time I ate pizzas without guilt!! Haha...
Mami, Papi and I went to Seattle, USA with a small tour group by a small coach. It was 3 hours trip just from Vancouver, Canada to Seattle, USA. It was our first time crossing US border by land!!! Hehe.
Anyway, we toured around University of Washington. The buildings are very Hogwarts school like! Lots of wide grassy space which is perfect for lay down and study.
Then we went to Washington fish ladder to discover all things about salmon's evolution life. The fish ladder is also known as fish steps, which to facilitate salmon's natural migration from lake to ocean or vice versa. The most interesting is that when salmon gets tired, its skin will turn very red. Also when salmon gets married, it will soon die! Poor them....
For lunch, we ate fish&chips at the crowded Ivar's fish bar. It was located at the George Benson waterfront. Yummmm!
We and the tour explored the Seattle city by the coach. I imagined it to be like New York kind of thing. But it turned out to be just like any other city. Strangely it's even more quieter than Sydney...
Then we stopped at Space Needle point to take pictures and take a walk. There were all kinds of rides, food and entertainment surround the Space Needle Point. It's a bit like luna park, but without the clown's face..haha. Lots of families there enjoying the recreations.
Our last destination is Prime Outlet stores, which located between Vancouver and Seattle. There are GAP, Tommy Hilfiger, COACH, etc. Only bought GAP canvas shoes for US$10.