Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mid-Term Break Has Arrived!

Today was day one of a five day weekend - how sweet it is to be back in university! Although I have a fair bit of work to do during this mid-winter break, I decided to take today off and play tourist. The day started off with a hike through Bowring Park. Located just off Topsail Road (about a ten minute drive from MUN), Bowring Park is one of the most scenic parks in St. John's. This was my first time visiting the park, and was surprised to see the number of people out and enjoying the early spring weather - running, walking their dogs, and tobogganing. The park features a garden, playground, bronze statues, some bridges, and an amphitheatre used for special summer events. I will have to come back in the summer since the park also has tennis courts, waterslides, and picnic spots.

From the parking lot, there is a paved walkway that leads down into the park. In the park are many streams and rivers that flow through the valley and into a pond. Today, the pond was full of very friendly ducks. Here are some pictures from Bowring Park...

Walking into Bowring Park.

Panoramic of the duck pond.

Immediately after crouching down to take this picture, all of the ducks started to waddle over expecting to be fed. The pigeons decided to fly overhead - one was even captured in the top left corner of the picture.

I was able to get really close to the ducks. Hmmm... I wonder if this guy knows about the ducks at Burtons Pond?

So after exploring Bowring Park, I decided to head downtown for a walking tour. I realize that this is incredibly nerdy, but I picked up a few free walking brochures at the tourist office, one of which retraced the perimeter of the great fire of 1892. Map in had, I set out for a two hour walk around town. I "saw" pretty much everything. Unfortunately because most everything on the tour was burned to the ground because of the fire, there really wasn't a lot to see. During the tour, I went down to the harbour to check out the action. Today there were two large boats along with a few smaller fishing boats. One of the smaller boats had just come back from a fishing trip and was unloading their haul (not sure if it was shrimp, scallops, or cod) into a truck. Here are some picture from the harbour...

Not warp speed but wharf speed!

The Dorsch and Tuvaq tankers.

One of the smaller boats unloading their haul with Signal Hill and Cabot Tower in the background.

Brightly coloured houses against the dreary grey February skies.

While on the walking tour, I passed by St. Thomas' Anglican Church - the oldest church in St. John's having actually survived the the great fires of 1846 and 1892.

The Roman Catholic Basilica of St. John the Baptist.

Another shot of the Basilica as snow was starting to fall.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Lucia!

Hope you have a wonderful birthday Lucia...

I miss you and can't wait to celebrate when we are together in Hong Kong!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Last night, the MUN Chinese Society hosted a Chinese new year dinner party. We rang in the year of the rat with food and an evening of entertainment. Unfortunately, everyone spoke only in Mandarin, so I had absolutely no clue as to what was being said. Regardless, I think everyone had a good time.

I've attached some pictures of the menu - your guess is as good as mine as to why Mickey Mouse is celebrating along with us.

Sun nien fai lok!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Is It February Already?

How quickly January came and went! We are now well into the winter semester and things are moving along well. Classes this semester are interesting and I am slowly preparing to sit for my CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) exam at the end of March. Otherwise, plans for our trip to Asia in April/May are coming together nicely. We have almost everything planned and organized. It's incredible to think that a 3 star hotel in Hong Kong costs $300 Cdn., while in Siem Reap, Cambodia, a similar hotel would go for $5 Cdn.! So, the plan of attack is to travel modestly in Hong Kong (save for the splurge on the dessert buffet at the Grand Hyatt) and then live it up a little in Vietnam and Cambodia where are travel dollars go much further.

But before I get too deep into talk of our overseas plans, life here in St. John's has developed a bit of a chill. It certainly has been a mild winter (by northern Ontario standards) with many days where the temperature has been +6 degrees Celsius. However, there have been days when the temperature has been much colder and accompanied by blistering winds. I especially dislike the days when I have to make my way to class when the rain, ice pellets, and snow are all coming down at once horizontally. On those days I wish there were MUNnels to Burtons Pond.

Speaking of the Pond, I have snapped a few pictures of the poor ducks that call the area home. They are very docile and show now concern when people walk beside them. I would bet that you could actually pet them, but I wouldn't dare try. The pigeons on the other hand are usually on edge and are best left alone. Whenever I have to walk through a flock of pigeons, I have this reoccurring image of Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "The Birds".

Pictured here is Burtons Pond and the (much blogged about) ducks. As I've mentioned before, the university pumps warm water into the pond to help keep a small portion of the surface free of ice.

"Hey Sid, remind me again why we are sitting on this frozen pond?"

When walking to and from class, I often pass through Paton College. This is MUN's traditional dorm residence geared towards early year students.

Picture left to right are the chemistry building, the Queen Elizabeth II library, the MUN clocktower, and the UC. Prince Phillip Drive passes through the centre of the campus and underneath the UC - very urban! I have no idea where the cars are though. This picture was taken Sunday afternoon at 4:00pm.

Here is where I spend most of my time when in class. The business administration building is only a 10 minute walk from the Pond, and when on the fourth floor, offers amazing views of the Narrows and St. John's harbour.