After the hardships of getting to Winnipeg, the eight hours or so to Moose Jaw were easily weathered and we arrived just in time for a snowstorm to blow in, effectively curtailing most of our tourism options. As well as visiting Amy’s grandparents, we took a walk round the Western Development Museum (full of hundreds of old vehicles connected with Moose Jaw in some way) and made a valiant effort at getting into the Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre (closed for a few weeks). We stopped for a quick photo opportunity at the Mac the Moose sculpture, and then it was time to board our final inter-province bus for the west coast.
The road from the Prairies over to Vancouver goes right through the Canadian Rockies, the majestic beginnings of which I sadly missed due to being asleep. We arrived in Vancouver extremely late (due to an avalanche being cleared on the road ahead of us), having seen huge mountains looming on either side of us for quite a long time, some sheep on the road and lots of intriguing tracks in the snow. The first thing I noticed was the clement temperature (light rain instead of snow), and we spent a pleasant morning waking up and eating food left over from our epic journey.
Rather than trudge around the streets in the increasing rain, we headed out to Surrey to meet Amy’s grandfather and plan our activities for the final few days. Surrey itself turned out to be small and friendly, not unlike seaside towns back home, and we had a long walk around the pier (spotting various gulls eating mussels and locals fishing for crabs) before an even longer walk back through quiet suburban roads. The following day, the green expanses of Stanley Park were our target and (due to poor signage and a lack of paths) we ended up walking a good eight kilometres on the perimeter path (the park is a peninsula) before finding our way inland (where I’d previously seen a bald eagle) and returning through the dense woods to somewhere we recognised. Orientated, we took a brisk stroll around the aquarium (due to our wanderings, we had just over an hour before closing) and marvelled variously at beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), sea otters (Enhydra lutris), archerfish (Toxotes spp.) and even some kind of sloth (in the Amazon section).
After meeting some more of Amy’s relatives (for the amount of time it took them to very kindly give us a lift to the airport), we struggled through check-in (Air Canada refused to let me board without an onward ticket, as I didn’t have my work visa or any paperwork from my university, and I had to quickly print off an e-mail to “prove” I was allowed into the country) and made our flight, which was then delayed for an hour while the crew took parts off another plane to fix the one we were on. Our journey passed refreshingly quickly, despite my in-flight entertainment system breaking down a few hours in, and we stumbled into Yongin at exactly the right time to go to bed (around ten).
The next few days were a whirlwind of activity for me, as I juggled moving into my new apartment, cleaning it, collecting furnishings from people leaving the country (including a giant fridge, which will have to be polystyrene-d to make it more efficient), buying essential items (which I’ll be doing for the next month or so), signing paperwork and doing a little socialising (including a fundraiser for a dog home). Tonight I set sail once again for the shores of Japan, as Immigration did not process my visa particularly quickly and it’s not possible to get one while in the country. With luck, I’ll be back in Korea later in the week, all able to work legally and ready to deliver some lectures.