A Travellerspoint blog

Rainy Day in Montreal

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

rain 15 °C

Hey, so here I am. It's a Thursday night here in Montreal. Thursdays, not Fridays are the big going out evening of the week in the USA and Canada. Today, I feel quiet - I am staying in in the hostel and blogging for you guys cause I miss you and I am sorry to have not been writing more. My only excuse is that I have been in 2 countries and 3 places in 2 weeks, and I have been suffering from jet lag!

I read somewhere that for the body to catch-up on jet lag, it takes 1 day for every hour's time difference. There is a difference of 15 hours between NY/Montreal and Melbourne, so now I have effectively caught up after 2 1/2 weeks!

After landing in NY, I stayed with my cousin in Queens, NY for 4 days. From there, in to Montreal Airport and then directly by bus to Mont Tremblant. Mont Tremblant is America's #1 ski resort - built by the corporation as Whistler. I was there a week, then returned to Montreal to stay a week. So, in 2 days I leave here again for Mont Tremblant.

There have been so many interesting and fun experiences!! In NY, my cousin and I walked into a little liquor store off Park Avenue and met one of the characters from The Godfather. He was selling his own label of wine - branding himself just like Paris Hilton. We went to a Japanese karaoke, and I got very drunk - my cousin had to carry me home. Walked thru Central Park after dark and almost got mugged! Yes, if I wrote a list of my 'Top 100 Things To Do Before I Die' and another list of 'Top 100 Things Least Likely/Never Thought I Would Do In Case I Died' - I am progressively working thru both lists.

Arriving into Montreal was like entering Paradise after NY. NY was grimey, frenetic, stressed. In Montreal, cotton like pollen wafted along sunlit streets with multitudes of people in cafes and laughing with friends on the streets. Houses here are gorgeous, mostly 3-storey with windy staircases out the front leading up to the 2nd floor. People look you in the eye, speak and then SMILE :o) It is a lovely, international, laid back, cultural city. I really love it here. So much so, that I am making plans to move.

I only intended to stay a few days in Mont Tremblant. My original timeframe was a month for this holiday but I have since decided to live out the Summer in Quebec. Why not? There is no Optimus to go back for. Mont Tremblant introduced me to so many lovely people. And gnats ... it was a plague of gnats (black flies) after twilight there. Never in a Vegemite nightmare, did I think innocent looking little black flies could bite, suck your blood, leave red marks which swell and become itchy days later, the marks last for months - they can also give you river blindness and encephilitis. I really enjoyed staying at the hostel there. I always like the intimacy of small hostel. People quickly start to feel like family. Like I have always said, you can live a lifetime thru another person's eyes.

Montreal, what a mecca of culture, shopping, food! Laid back like Australia but truly international. There is no one type of Quebeccan accent. 1/3 of the population speak English, 2/3 speak French. What's interesting, is that the French generally speak much better English (almost perfect in some cases), than the English speak French. Shopping is much cheaper than Australia, and the variety is overwhelming - and I am from an Asian culture. Today, the underground shopping centre I was in, was busier than Sungai Wang Plaza in K.L. So, there is a whole network of underground shopping centres in Montreal. It's to help the locals deal with the huge variance in temperature, from -35C in Winter to 35C in Summer.

Eating out is ridiculously cheap here. Large, healthy, meaty meals can be had in restaurants for $10 before tax and tip. I have had crepes, McDonalds (oily tasting patties, not as good as the USA - but they have double Big Macs with 4 patties), omlettes for brunch, Vietnamese food, cooked my own food (i love that produce here tastes like real food), Ben & Jerry's ice-cream (like our New Zealand Ice-Cream parlours), bubble tea (they make fruit smoothies with the little black balls). I've drunk lots of red wine - red wine not good in supermarkets only from the SAQ. Supermarket wine seems to be shipped in bulk from all over the world and bottled in Quebec. Then 'dry red' or 'dry white' type labelling is used - generally yuk.

My plans for tomorrow, my last day in Montreal until I return for the Jazz Festival in 2 weeks is to shop and see more of the city by foot. I miss you all at home. I hope you all know that. I feel that it is important that I note, that I know my family understand my desire to travel, change, and perhaps to immigrate. I know that you trust me to make the right choices. For that, I am grateful with all my heart.

Posted by mlhooi 16:02 Archived in Canada Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

LAX - Sangria at 5.30am Melbourne time

Los Angeles, California, USA

sunny 24 °C
View USA/Canada 2009 on mlhooi's travel map.

Seriously, I cannot believe I am drinking at 5.30am Melbourne time. It's 12.30pm now and I board for an American Airlines flight to New York in 20 mins. In their Qantas Club/Admirals Club now. F&B are not free of charge! The flight from Melbourne to L.A. was great. I was upgraded to Premium Economy (probably due to my 250K QF points), and sat in the front row. There was over a metre in leg room, which was entirely wasted on me given my 5 3" size. I feel smaller every minute in the States. I swear, the average person here is 10-15% bigger. I remember it's what I thought when I first arrived in Vancouver last year.

I had a couple of epiphanies during my flight. Anyone that knows me, I am famous for these epiphanies which have a life of their own ... they get reincarnated every 6 months or so. OK firstly, Philosophy 101 at Monash University did not prepare students well. Life is unpredictable and paths change every second - with every decision. Now that I am convinced determinism is a fallacy, life's very unpredictability has made it interesting again. I have been BORED for a long time.

Secondly, USA visa maximum is 90 days. I have an idea :o) I will be in touch with everyone to explain!!


Posted by mlhooi 12:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Internal flights - check!

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

overcast 18 °C
View USA/Canada 2009 on mlhooi's travel map.

A friend said on the weekend, "Don't second guess yourself". I really needed to hear that, Mark!

So, I booked made my internal USA - Canada - USA flights this mornings. I won't tell you where/when they are - you'll just have to keep on reading :o)

Someone asked me of last year's trip, "Running to or running from?" It took me a while, but the answer is 'running from'. Yet to leave, but this time - I can't wait to come home!

Posted by mlhooi 10:58 Archived in Australia Tagged transportation Comments (0)

Swine Flu

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

14 °C
View USA/Canada 2009 on mlhooi's travel map.

No more warnings about Swine Flu!!

"However, taking the U.S. as an example, there have only been six deaths in that country from Swine Flu. A little less than 15,000 people die from AIDS each year in the U.S. Seasonal influenza kills about 36,000."
Source: http://seekingalpha.com/article/138389-how-the-u-s-profits-from-swine-flu

The odds of winning Powerball are higher.
Source: http://www.nj.com/parenting/maria_andreu/index.ssf/2009/04/swine_flu_hysteria_are_parents.html

"As of 2007, it [heart disease or cardiopathy] is the leading cause of death in the United States,[1][2] England, Canada and Wales,[3] killing one person every 34 seconds in the United States alone.[4] ... Over 459,000 Americans die of coronary heart disease every year[5]. "
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_disease

Posted by mlhooi 21:08 Archived in Australia Tagged health_and_medicine Comments (0)

Decisions, decisions - decision

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

semi-overcast 15 °C
View USA/Canada 2009 on mlhooi's travel map.

I woke up this morning resolute on a number of items. Despite unbearable night coughs, I will go to the USA/Canada in June.

My appreciation to Tessa, Russell, David du Soleil and Matt for detailed insights into French Canada and the Maritimes.

Time to make bookings!!

I know that going on another trip is the last thing my beloved parents want to hear, but you've always known that this child makes decisions to the beat of her own drum ...


Posted by mlhooi 10:11 Archived in Australia Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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