Day 22
Saturday August 6th

Gastown Storyeum

Jude had picked up a leaflet about a walkthough play charting Canada's history in Gastown Vancouver and we agreed to visit Chinatown the largest one outside of China. We drove in doing a complete loop of Gastown hunting for a parking space until settling on a multi-story carpark.

The storyeum was set underground in a large warehouse. It started in what looked like a large vertical pipe but was in fact a lift which took our whole group of 50 or so. The group walked around together from one set to the next where a series of scenes were played out. The actors had to perform quick changes as they appeared in every other scene.

It started with a couple of young Indian lovers getting married and him becoming chief then moved through the ages. There was a western town, a railroad being built, womens liberation (in which Jude was roped in to wavaing a placard and shouting for women's rights) and ended soldiers returning from the Great War. In all there were seven or eight scenes including one stage which was completely flooded so they could row a boat across.

Getting the best seats became a game of cat and mouse, as you walked in you had to try and figure out where the exit was and make sure you parked youself both near the front and near the exit so you could be first to the next stage. We became quite accomplished at that by the end.



The show was superb and we spent a while afterwards looking at the exhibits in the lobby. Lunch was our traditional Subway which we ate in a small patio area off the main street. We then headed for China town, after two blocks when we were only a block away the others refused to go any further and I was forced to turn back; in a fit of pique I then went straight back to the car and ignored Gastown completely, even though it was menat to be "the" area to go to.

We drove back via Stanley Park, though I was still too annoyed to stop and got caught in the rush hour traffic so ended up having to head back into Vancouver again simply to turn around. Back at Catherines the first question Karim asked was "So what did you think of Chinatown".

Fireworks night

Tonight was the culmination of an international firework competition. Each night this week a different country had put on a firework display to music, all three would reprise the display tonight and the winner announced.

We headed off with Catherine to the Sea Bus, a walk on walk off ferry that held several hundred people at a time. All the doors would open on one side, you'd cross the straits, pull up and exit the other side of the bus. Tonight thousands of people were using it to get to Vancouver for the fireworks. Once on the other side the people split up to head off to their favourite viewing spots. The display was centred on a barge in the bay so it could be seen for miles. We headed towards a bridge which was en route to the planatarium which we intended to go to after the show.

It was a longer walk than I expected across town and the nearer we go to the bridge the more people there were. Traffic was reasonable and the place was crawling with police. I was glad to get to the bridge for a rest so we stopped at the first available free space near the first pier. After a couple of minutes Chris & I decided to see if we could find any more spaces with a better view and there was a better spot 20 yards further up so we all moved. Chris & I then looked again only to find an even better spot, we ended up doing this several times leap, us scouting ahead and then bringing up the rest of the party. By the time we finished we were near the middle of the bridge which was less crowded than the edge. I suspect most people were like us, when they saw the first spectators they assumed that there were no spaces further up.

Underneath the bridge were some water taxis hopping across the river and crowds swarming all along the beach front.

From under the bridge beneath us there came a swarm of little water taxis all in a row looking like they were heading towards the firework barge when the front one peeled off and the others followed in a circle. They then made a figure of 8 criss crossing each other, lines across the river and peeling back in formation. This was the Red Arrows at 3mph. They performed for 15 to 20 minutes to rapturus applause. Yachts coming up behind waited patiently until they could get around the display and many then hanging back so they could enjoy the show as well. All except one idiot which drove right up to a particularly complex intertwining small circle they were doing and tried to barge through. The powerboat shot forward 20 feet into the middle slammed to a stop swerved violently to the left shot forward another 15 feet swerved to the right and carried on like this until it exited the formation leaving behind a huge wake and enormous boos from the crowd.

We watched the fireworks mainly in silence as nobody had brought a radio which could have been tuned into a local radio station broadcasting the music synchronously. This meant we had no idea which display was which unless we overheard some of the crowd nearby chattering.

This display was stunning, if a bit far away. there were at least two knds of firework I'd not seen before, a planet with a ring and a globular explosion where after travelling in a straigt line the flares suddenly started whipping around at crazy angles. With three countries competing the whole thing lasted over an hour.

The firework barge lit up and surrounded by a flotilla

After the show we carried on over the bridge against the flow trying to make the planatarium in time for the last show. Fighting our way past crowds swarming the opposite way and taking shortcuts over the grass areas we made the planetarium with 10minutes to spare only to discover that it had been completely booked by a private party. Unable to get in and bursting for the loo we made our way back to town pausing briefly at gas stations but passing through when we saw the line for the loo was 30 yards. Eventually we found a supermarket open with a cafe where we refreshed ourselves.

Coming out we ran into Riyan going in the opposite direction, somehow he palmed his backpack off on Chris before heading off into the night again. By the time we'd walked back to the sea bus we'd had enough and were glad for the chance to sit down and recover our feet. Ths Sea Bus was full of noisy teenagers and twenty somethings but it was only high spirits.

Fell into bed.


©2005 Rob Hayward