Richmond – BC Canada 3/5/23

The highlight of my recent trip to Vancouver is to meet Happy Tay in Richmond, BC Canada. I first heard of Happy Tay more than 12 years ago when my brother first migrated there. Happy Tay was Douglas’ comrade in arms during their younger days in the police service. They were buddies working together as detectives in the late 60s and early 70s before Happy Tay migrated over to Richmond. He used to be Freddie’s neighbour living in a house some distance away from Pasir Ris beach. Freddie ever met him once in Richmond when he took a train from Seattle, US to meet with him. Freddie was on a working trip in the US then.

Even though I heard often from Douglas and Freddie about Happy Tay, I never had a chance to meet him in person. When Douglas heard that I would be spending 20 days in Vancouver, he insisted that I meet up with Happy Tay. I got his hp number from Douglas. Imagine after 40 years when they were buddies in the force, they still maintain contacts with Happy Tay making yearly trips to Singapore to catch up with his relatives and friends.

I took a train from my brother’s house at Edmonds station to Waterfront station on the Expo line and changed to another train to Landsdown station on the Canada line. Around 12 stations on each line; more than 20 stations. There are only 3 MRT lines ( they call them sky trains) – Expo Line, Canada Line and Millennium Line. All the trains are driverless. The train fare is much more expensive than our MRT even though ours is much bigger, longer and more high tech not to mention much cleaner. When I took a train to McArthurGlen Designer Outlet at Templeton Station, more than 10 stations from my brother’s place, it cost me $7. Unlike our MRT jam packed most of the time especially during peak hours, there’s always place available in their sky trains.

Anyway, Happy Tay was waiting at Landsdown station at the appointed time in his brand new Hyundai SUV to pick me up. He brought me to a Chinese restaurant in Richmond for Tim Sum. After we exchanged greetings, we had lots of catching up about old frens and happenings back home. Mind you this was the first time we met face to face and still we had lots to talk about. Whenever, we mentioned certain officer(s), we had something to say about them. Most of them already retired and some passed on. Eg he told me that one late CP was his trainee when Happy Tay was a drill instructor in the old Police Academy.

The Chinese restaurant was nearly full capacity with many Hong Kongers and PRCs. I noticed some of them even reading Chinese newspapers whilst sipping their tea. The food was quite alright and every item was served in big portions. Much bigger portions than our Tim Sum here. We talked as we had our food. Happy Tay told me about himself when he first migrated here more than 40 years ago. He told me when Canada hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, he got his chance to join the RMCP – Royal Mounted Canada Police. He was part of a massive recruitment exercise by the Federal Police. He was the person in charge of logistics with hundreds of brand new police vehicles converted for the big event.

Of course, he enquired about my brother and his family. He was asking me how my brother was doing in Vancouver and Burnaby. We also talked about our family and frens back home. The thing that struck me when he said it’s not an easy decision leaving our comfort zone to migrate to another totally different foreign land and start all over again. It takes lots of courage and grit determination to succeed in a foreign land. Not many people could that.

When I called for the bill at the end of the Tim Sum breakfast, Happy Tay refused to let me pay. He said Douglas would “kill” him if he found out that Happy Tay did not treat me. I think the bill came to nearly $100 for 4 items of Tim Sum. In Canada, it’s their culture to tip when you eat in a restaurant. When you pay your bill using your credit card, the amount of tips is stated there starting from 15%, 25% or even 35% etc of the bill. You choose the tip amount and pay the total bill plus 12% GST. If the bill is $100, the minimum tip is $15! My brother used to remind me to tip them or they would not be happy even with Happy Tay around! Takeaways also expect you to tip. When you order food at the Food Court (similar to our Hawker Centre), they also expect tip of at least 10%.

We left the restaurant and Happy Tay drove me around Richmond district to look at the houses in the neighbourhood. Richmond is a much smaller district than Vancouver in British Columbia. BC is a huge province in Canada. Most Chinese live here and the houses are much bigger and spacious than other districts. Happy Tay eventually brought me to his cosy vintage house with lots of land area in the front and back of the double storey bungalow. He told me he bought it 38 years ago at only $200,000. He has lived in that house for the past 38 years. It’s now worth more than 2 million. BTW, Canadian and Singapore currency are almost on par.

Happy Tay told me that I’m one of his few Singaporean frens ever visited his humble house. I felt so honoured when he made that statement considering the fact that we just met a while ago and he’s treating me as a buddy. It reminds me of a saying that “when men in blues meet, they just click straightaway!” Obviously, they share certain traits or else they would not have donned the blue uniform.

After a short tour of the house. Happy Tay brought me to the nearby Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf. Incidentally, my brother brought me there few days ago. I visited the Cannery Museum where it was once a factory for canned fishes caught from the sea. It’s a beautiful place with lots of restaurants and cafes. Happy Tay likes the place so much as it’s quite near to his house. It’s about 20 minutes walk from his place. He used to go there to buy fresh fishes caught from the coast. He told me that only at Steveston Wharf they sell fresh “spot prawns”. No other places in Canada or elsewhere sell this particular prawn. It’s so sweet and delicious to eat. Only available on certain times of the year. I told him Freddie used to go to Changi Village instead of the wet market to get his fresh supply of fishes brought in by local fishermen on sampans.

Happy Tay’s garden. Back of the house

My impression of the Richmond and Steveston Wharf is that it’s not so crowded and the pace is quite leisurely. There’s no rush or impatient drivers around. All the cars there travel at slow pace and not one speeding incident at all. Happy Tay told me that when he’s back in Singapore, he could see everybody rushing like mad to beat the ERP timing, chaotic morning rush hours and impatient drivers with accidents here and there. It’s totally different lifestyle there. When we were having our coffee by the road side outside a cafe under the cool weather even though the sun was quite strong yet we did not feel the heat or sweat! Like I said, meeting Happy Tay was a highlight of the entire trip. It was unforgettable.

I wish Happy Tay all the best. Till we meet again in Singapore, we still keep in touch via WhatsApp and he’s still following events back home despite the fact he’s already lived there for more than 40 years! No matter how much he likes his current lifestyle, he still can’t change his roots lah – his place of birth.

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Kelowna,BC Wineries & Vineyards dd 22/4/23

On the way back to Vancouver BC from the Rockies Mountains, we decided to visit some of the vineyards in Kelowna. Kelowna is about 400 km or 4 hours drive to Vancouver BC. Link –

Kelowna is a breathtaking city located in the heart of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. Known for its stunning beauty and laid-backvibe, Kelowna is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike.

The city sits on the shores of Okanagan Lake, which stretches for over 110 km with a width of between 3km to 5 km occupying 348 sq km which is almost half of Singapore (710 sq km). It’s a popular spot for water sports, swimming, and fishing. Kelowna is also surrounded by rolling hills and picturesque vineyards, making it a haven for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Map of Kelowna

One particularly notable area along the shores of Okanagan Lake is Boucherie Road. This scenic route winds through rolling hills covered vineyards and orchards, offering breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The road is a popular destination for cyclists and hikers who want to take in the area’s natural beauty and enjoy the stunning views.

In addition to its natural beauty, Boucherie Road is also home to many wineries and vineyards that produce some of the region’s best wines. This is due to the cool temperate climate on the hilly terrain of about 10 to 15 degree and abundance of fresh water in the many smaller lakes besides Okanagan Lake. Visitors can stop at one of the many tasting rooms along the road to sample some of the award-winning wines while taking in the stunning views.

Boucherie Road and the surrounding area also offer a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, including hiking, biking, and even golfing. The area is home to several golf courses, including the famous Quail’s Gate Winery and Golf Course, which offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding vineyards. We visited few vineyards along Boucherie Road. One of them is Volcanic Hills Estate Winery at 2845, Boucherie Road, West Kelowna.

We could not enjoy the grapes in the vineyard as it’s not summer. It is the beginning of spring, there are no grapes in the vineyard. If you come in summer, you would see rows and rows of grapes waiting to be harvested for the winery. Anyway, we did taste some of their in-house wines for a small fee of $10 for each person. I bought 3 bottles of wine after some wine tasting.

Overall, Boucherie Road and Okanagan Lake offer an unforgettable experience for visitors looking to explore the natural beauty and vibrant culture of the Okanagan Valley. Whether you’re sampling award-winning wines, hiking through the hills, or simply enjoying the stunning scenery, Boucherie Road and Okanagan Lake are a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to British Columbia.

Canadian and Sing $ almost on par. Actually Sing $ is stronger by few cents!
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Seattle & Portland, USA

From 26 to 29 April 23, I visited Seattle and Portland cities in the United States. My nephew Ben drove us there from Vancouver, BC Canada to spend 2 nights in Seattle and 1 night in Portland. Seattle and Portland are two of the most well-known cities in America’s Pacific Northwest. While they share many similarities, they also have unique characteristics that separate them from one another, making each city an interesting and compelling place to visit or reside.

Seattle is the larger of the two cities, with a population of approximately 725,000 people. Seattle is well known for its coffee culture, with the birthplace of Starbucks located in Pike Place Market. I visited the 1st Starbucks outlet there. There’s always a queue outside the small un-impressive outlet which is said to the the 1st Starbucks outlet before it spread all over the world to become a global brand. There is the Pike market which I enjoyed walking around. It’s quite a big market with 3 levels of fresh produce and also shops selling all kinds of things.

We walked around the Pike market area and came across the famous “Gum Wall”. It’s a wall full of discarded chew gum pasted on the wall instead of throwing it away. Luckily chew gum is banned here and we do not have such problem. Someone said that it’s a disgusting habit.

Another highlight in Seattle that is that we visited legendary Bruce Lee’s grave. I noticed fresh flowers were placed at the tombstone. Occasionally, there were visitors at the cemetery paying respects to the famous actor.

Portland, on the other hand, is a smaller city with a population of around 650,000 people. It shares Seattle’s love of coffee, with some of the best coffee shops in the country located in the city, but it is also known as the “City of Roses” due to its many gardens and parks. We visited the Japanese Gardens in Portland. There are 4 gardens within the park carved out of the mountainous slope. It was such a beautiful park with Japanese bonsai and well manicured plants with spectacular landscaping making use of the natural water falls and hundreds of years old trees. We had to pay to get inside the gardens. It was worth it.

Seattle can be described as a bustling, tech-focused city with a stark juxtaposition of urban development and natural scenery. The architecture of Seattle’s skyscrapers, such as the Space Needle and Columbia Center, create an impressive skyline that is an iconic symbol of the city. On the other hand, Portland is often seen as a more laid-back and eco-conscious city, with a strong commitment to biking, walking, and public transportation. The city is also home to the famous Powell’s City of Books, one of the largest independent bookstores in the world.

Another major difference between the two cities is their weather. Seattle is known for its often-rainy climate, while Portland enjoys a more moderate and dry climate. Portland is not as cold as Seattle with an average temperature of about 25 to 28 degree.

In the United States,, everything is still in miles and pounds. Other than left hand drive (also in Canada), they sell petrol by the gallons instead of litres. One gallon of petrol is about USD4.5 which works out to about S$1.30 per litre? In Canada, the petrol is about S$1.80 which is much cheaper than here when petrol costs about $3 per litre. The other thing I notice in BC, Canada and United States is that there are pockets of homeless pitching up tents here and there even right in the middle of town! If you drive along the expressways, there are even more tents camping below the bridges or overpasses. Here, you may find a couple of homeless at Changi Beach. Definitely not in the CBD or Orchard area.

In conclusion, I would say that Canada is a much better place in terms of the cooler climate and the people there. Canadians are more friendly and polite. They are very patient when driving and don’t horn at all. When you are standing on a road waiting to cross, most likely the cars would stop for you. Most of the places especially outside the Supermarkets n Shopping Malls or restaurants, parking is free. Here, there is no free parking even at the parks!

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The Rockies Mountains – Alberta, Canada

I spent 3 nights and 4 days (19-21 April 23) in the Rockies Mountains situated in the western part of North America. The Rockies span through the United States and Canada with numerous peaks reaching over 4,000 metres. If you’re a nature lover, then a visit to the Rockies Mountains is an experience you won’t want to miss.

The Rockies are known for their stunning scenery, with towering mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and pristine wilderness areas. Whether you’re an avid hiker, fly fisher, or just enjoy taking in the natural beauty, there’s something for every kind of traveler.

One of the most popular destinations in the Rockies is Banff National Park, located in Alberta, Canada. The latter is next to British Columbia province. With over 10,000 km square metres of protected land, Banff offers a range of activities and stunning sights. Take a hike along Banff’s scenic trails, or soak in the Banff Hot Springs for a refreshing break.

Another must-see destination in the Rockies is Glacier National Park in Jasper or the Athabasca Glacier. Known for its breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife, Glacier National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The Going-to-the-Sun Road, a scenic drive that winds through the park, offers an unparalleled view of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. It’s already spring when I got there and the ice was beginning to melt even though the lakes were still frozen. There’s water everywhere flowing down from those huge Rocky Mountains. Coming from a water scarce city state, it makes me envious and jealous of the clear crystal waterfalls and gushing springs all over the place.

If you’re interested in winter activities, then a visit to the Rockies during the colder months is a must. Resorts such as those at Lake Louise offer world-class skiing and snowboarding, while Banff and Whistler in Canada offer stunning winter landscapes and recreational activities such as snowshoeing and ice skating.

No matter when you visit the Rockies Mountains, you’re sure to be amazed by the beauty and vastness of nature. With its stunning scenery and endless opportunities for adventure, this mountain range is truly a must-see destination for any nature lover.

I have never in my life seen and feel real snow as I live all life in a hot tropical island state. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the sight of snow at minus 2 degree when I visited there on 21 April 2023.

Pictures say a thousand words. I have uploaded lots of pictures of the Rockies. The mountains are so immense and beautiful that words just couldn’t describe the majestic breathtaking landscape which I experienced. The only mountains I ever seen were those in West Malaysia when I drove through the Karak Highway to Genting Highlands and Ipoh. Compared to the Rockies, they are really minuscule and very insignificant.

When you see never ending mountains after mountains on the isolated winding highway to the Rockies you will never forget the experience and the realisation of how tiny and insignificant we as humans in the unspoilt endless splendour of nature that have stood millions of years to this day. We had driven almost 2,000 km to and fro from my brother’s home in Burnaby. This is truly the work of God in the colossal magnificent landscape which makes it a must that we should visit and pay homage in our short lifespan.

George & Alan

My brother James never seems to get tired of visiting the Rockies whenever he got the opportunity. When my son George and I visited him in Burnaby, he organised the 3 nights and 4 days trip for us to experience in his own exact words, “post card scenery” which he always speaks about whenever he comes back home visiting us. Yes, we had a memorable time in the Rockies and I wish I could go there for another visit to experience God’s works millions of years prior the arrival of civilisation. What an incredibly exhilarating experience which I still can’t get over with.

George Tang & James Tang
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No more wheelchair transport operations for now

Today is my last day of service in ABC Company. Before I go in peace, I would like to give my 2 cents’ worth. Let me share my thoughts on wheelchair operations.

On 1 Dec 22, I was deployed to XYZ Elderly Centre for wheelchair shuttle service fetching and sending the elderly. As with XYZ Elderly Centre at Serangoon North, I was the first to be deployed there. I was happily working there until 9 Dec (Fri), when I was shocked to receive a call from Andy that evening. I was told that XYZ Elderly Centre threatened to terminate ABC Company contracts in all their centres due to me. They were not happy with my performance and alleged that I made mistakes. Andy straightaway said sorry to them and said to them to give Alan (me) a chance. The complaint went right up to our top management at ABC Company.

Andy did not investigate or bother to check back with me. He did not hear my side of the story. He assumed what XYZ Elderly Centre said was the whole truth. He did not tell them I was the most experienced ABC Company pioneer in wheelchair transport operations. I started MOT wheelchair from 26/2/22(Sat) to 3/4/22(Sun) sending and fetching Covid positive elderly for dialysis treatment. I was the first person deployed at XYZ Elderly Centre Serangoon North from 13/6/22 till 16/8/22. I took the job without any guidance. No understudy for me. That was ABC Company’s first wheelchair contract with XYZ Elderly Centre.

In between when XYZ Elderly Centre needed last minute driver, I was deployed to XYZ Elderly Centre Telok Blangah for 3 days from 6-8/7/22 with Denis taking over Serangoon North when their driver was on MC. I was ever attached to XYZ Elderly Centre Yishun East for a day on last minute notice. From 17/8/22 till 15/11/22, I was attached to XYZ Elderly Centre Yishun.

Prior to joining ABC Company, I spent 6 months (full time) studying Healthcare with site internships at XYZ Elderly Centre Hougang, ECON old folks home at 452 Upp East Coast Rd and also First Ambulance at 340C King George’s Ave. I was awarded Higher Certificate in Healthcare by HMI Institute of Health Sciences.

I shall not go into the nitty gritty details of what actually happened on that fateful day ie 9 Dec at XYZ Elderly Centre when the staff cried and made a big hoo-ha to their management. Suffice for me to say that whatever I was doing at XYZ Elderly Centre from 1 Dec to 9 Dec is the same as what I had done in all the previous XYZ Elderly Centres I ever worked before. I did not deviate from what I was taught and trained by HMI to deal with the elderly. I am as qualified as any of the XYZ Elderly Centre staff if not better.

Until today I did not know exactly what mistake(s) I committed at XYZ Elderly Centre. When the latter threatened to terminate all ABC Company contracts, Andy – as the person in charge of wheelchair operations panicked and shitted in his pants. He did not speak out for me and hear my side of the story. He did not rescue me but left me defenceless waiting to be slaughtered when he told them to give me a “chance”! I was so pissed off that I told him straightaway I would resign after CNY. I’ve lost confidence in his leadership. I felt deeply wronged. My reputation is ruined.

It reminds me of a prison setting where the seniors would bully fresh inmates to show them who is in charge. It’s using raw barbaric force to force newbies into absolute submission and kowtow to the seniors. Likewise, the staff at XYZ Elderly Centre is no different. They tried to show their authority and colour when I was newly posted there on 1 Dec. When they could not get their way, they resorted to malicious allegations and complaints against me escalating to their highest management.

Even though I was taken out of XYZ Elderly Centre after I trained Sono for a week to take over, I still got deployed to XYZ Elderly Centre every now and then eg XYZ Elderly Centre Tampines few times and also since 6 Feb 23 back to XYZ Elderly Centre till 17 Feb 23 when Sono suddenly got warded. I was tasked to train Teo to take over this route eventually. Uncle James offered me night shift work in order for me to get away from wheelchair operations. But my family objected saying night shift could be quite damaging to the body and I’m no longer young.

The only avenue is to leave ABC Company and help my son. My son told me that I could go over to his F&B business any time I wish and there’s always plenty of work to be done!

I shall be leaving with a clear conscience knowing that I’ve done my best for the company and never let ABC Company down on every task assigned to me especially the few ad hoc wheelchair jobs I did. I’m proud of my impeccable record in ABC Company. The best part of my short stay in the company is that I have made new friends such as Denis, Teo, Sono, Hussein(s), Raymond, Victor, Kenny, Richard, Murphy, Loke, Alan Pinoy, old Tan etc etc. Do contact me if you need any help and let’s keep in touch. I’m always there for all of you.

Take care and goodbye for now.

Written on 21 Feb 2023 – last day in ABC Company

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