Vancouver Tourism Challenge

I’ve just had the most amazing weekend, and thought it might be of interest to others living here in Vancouver.

I wasn’t even aware of this until a couple days ago, but there is a great program here called the Vancouver Tourism Challenge, which is available to everyone working or volunteering in the tourism industry in the city. How it works is each spring participants are given a tourism challenge passport, which grants free admission for themselves and a guest to a whole slew of tourist attractions in the city and surrounding areas for the next month. By collecting stamps in the passport at enough of these attractions, they earn free admissions for the entire year, as well as discounts at restaurants, hotels, and being entered to win prizes.

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Books For Kids

Shwe Yone Kalay Store — The Little Golden Rabbit Shop

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Myanmar Books for Myanmar Kids

After a long journey from Yangon to Sittwe and then up the Kaladan river we finally made it to Mrauk-U, Rakhine State, Myanmar. We were heading back to our guest house before the electricity went off we came across the other six tourists who were visiting Mrauk-U which was, at one time, more affluent than London or Amsterdam.

They were discussing what were good things to give to the kids that occasionally hung around the temples. They were worried that simply handing out money would create a situation similar to that in Angkor Wat. They wanted to be able to give them something to help ease their own discomfort at seeing the poverty of these kids-their extended bellies and runny noses. The best they had come up with was pens, coffee-mix (instant coffee with powdered milk and lots of sugar), soap…things along those lines.

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Journey to Kalaw

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It was still misty. The unexpected cyclone in the middle of the winter had caused havoc on the road up the mountains to Kalaw. Twenty miles outside of Kalaw the large air-conditioned bus with it’s frozen passengers came to a halt. Christmas morning was fast approaching and my family was gathering in Kalaw this year, I was anxious to arrive. In the last few minutes before the sun rose I was advised to go to the toilet.

“Why?” I asked, expecting to hear some explanation about how if you pee before the sun comes up it is much better for your body than if you pee once the first rays are shining down on the earth.

“Because once the sun comes up everyone is going to see you, there are trucks backed up all the way around the bend,” came the logical answer.

I quickly went and did my business. As the sun rose I went to have a look at what was holding up the traffic. After passing about fifty huge buses and trucks on their way to Kalaw, Inle and Taunggyi, I finally came to the source of the problem.

A truck overloaded with cabbages had tried to pass another large truck on a corner and the edge of the road had crumbled after the unexpected heavy rain. The truck was lucky to still be on the road, the front left tire hung over a drop that quickly disappeared into the mist.

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