Mark Tanner - Adventurer, Writer and Amateur Beatboxer



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A Kiwi in Vancouver

29 September 1998


Into my third week in a new hemisphere, and I think it is the longest time that I have ever been further than 50km away from my Mummy and Daddy. Longer than any school camp that I have reposed at. 


I haven't forgotten my roots. I have a big NZ flag hanging from my veranda at home, a fluffy kiwi and silver fern flag (hopefully the new NZ flag soon) on my desk and the wall paper on my screen is a big picture of Wellington Harbour. My woolly bike seat cover also indicates my kiwi origin and further fuels the numerous sheep jokes fired my way, especially from my Australian flatmate.


I am riding to work almost every day, which I am enjoying a lot because I try to take a new route home every day and see some more of the city. On my third ride home, when I was still becoming orientated with my surroundings, I accidentally took a wrong turn somewhere, and ended up doubling my usual 9km journey. In the end, I was pointed in the right direction by a friendly Chinese father of two, in a Mercedes, who looked like he thought that I was going to car-jack him when I knocked on his window for directions. 


Although I was in completely the wrong part of town, I only had to follow one road which took me almost all of the way to my required destination. I found out later that the road, SW Marine Drive, was the flashest part of town. The houses along this long stretch were the most impressive mansions that I have ever seen - and those were the mansions that I could see, apparently the ones hidden behind the huge fences and hedges are even more grandiose. Although this little adventure took well over an hour, my usual time to get to work is decreasing all the time, I have managed to shave over five minutes off my initial trip to work and my PB stands at 23mins 52secs. As I am becoming more confident on this side of the road, I am finding quicker ways to do things - although not without abuse from some of the less polite Canadian drivers.


I am enjoying work more and more as I am becoming more familiar with the company. The atmosphere is really, really good. Every Friday at 2pm we knock off for a few complimentary drinks (I bought some Steinlager on work's account) pizza, chicken, etc, and then play games like pictionary, UNO, which helps everyone get to know everyone else a bit better, although the "techies"(the technical staff) end up organising a game of Quake over the network at about 4pm every Friday.


I am currently in the process of organising a Karaoke afternoon for a future Friday.


One of my tasks here is maintaining the marketing section of the intranet (the in-house internet) which I have 'tweaked' a little and added a bit more colour, including a karaoke page. I have been upgraded from a 14" monitor to a 17" and now have stereo speakers at my desk. The bigger screen is heaps better, and I am sure has made me more productive.


The soft, easy-listening radio station that helps mellow callers waiting on hold while trying to ring Net Nanny is sometimes played in the office through the phones. The girls in the office had entered into a draw to win a free lunch from the station, of which they give one away every day. The boys weren't represented well, so we wrote a poem, which ended up winning us a $50 voucher for Sparks Steak House. The girls are still waiting for their names to be drawn.


I went out to the University of British Columbia last week for the first time. To get an idea of the size of the place, Victoria University would easily fit on the front 9 holes of the University golf course. The rest of the campus was on the same great scale. There are high rise apartments, with sea views, that house 6,000 of the students. I was there for the Friday night of their orientation, which was in a big field, called the beer garden, with a big stage and bars. I had a very good night, teaching some of the locals the kiwi ways. I met a black guy who did some rapping while I did the beat-box.


The weather here has been blue sky, with no wind, just about every day - especially on the weekend. Last weekend, I went roller blading in Stanley Park, a huge park on the water front, with my foreign friends - the Turk, Aussie, German and a Russian. I have never bladed before, as most of the other park visitors soon found out, but I gave all, got some good speed up and only ended up with one face plant into the dirt.


I have been to a few pubs over here. Last weekend I went to Vancouver's answer for Bedrocks, which is pretty close to where I live. I went to a really good Irish bar on the weekend just been, and as Vancouver is the so-called nudey-bar capital of the world, I frequented one establishment just to see if this rumour was deserved. The pubs seem really good over here, but you appreciate Courtney Place when you leave it because, there isn't really an equivalent over here. Also the pubs close at 2am.


I am healthy and eating well. As well as learning a lot about Canada, I am also learning about heaps of different countries because our house is a transit point for many out-of-towners - like an airport. I already have quite a few contacts in quite a few countries that I hope to go and stay with when I finish over here.

Vancouver, Stanley Park








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