26 September 2005


So who were we going to visit in Fresno? Ed’s mom uncle (Kow Goong), his wife (Kum Paw), and their four children (Wilson, Aileen, Peter, and Lai Ling). I had not met them before and the last time Ed visited them was for Lai Ling’s wedding last Oct 2003.

We stayed at Wilson’s place during our visit. He, his wife Lalia, and son, Elijah live in a beautiful house with big windows, a 20-foot ceiling, and very nice furnishing. It was very well decorated but it wasn’t stuffy. In fact, the house felt very comfortable and welcoming. Wilson and Lalia were very gracious hosts; we really enjoyed their company. And cute Elijah! So adorable.

We got to Fresno on Friday evening and we went out for Japanese food. On Saturday, we hung out at Wilson’s and lounged by the pool. The temperature was around 97 deg F and I found it too hot sitting under the sun. I had to go sit in the shade and that reminded me of when my mom used to always sit in the shade while we kids baked in the sun. ☺
By around 4pm, Wilson’s parents, siblings and their spouses started arriving. Wilson and Lalia had invited everyone over for a BBQ so we can have a chance to spend time with them. Plus it was Lalia’s birthday the previous week so it was a double celebration. It was a good party and I had fun meeting everyone. Everyone was very friendly and it was obvious that the family is quite close. I could tell they genuinely were fond of each other. I love that!

Sunday was our last day in California. We spent the morning chatting with Wilson and Lalia. Then just like that, it was time to head back to San Francisco to catch our flight back to Vancouver. It was a three hour drive from Fresno to the airport and thankfully, the drive was quite uneventful. We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare so we hung out in the food court. Turns out our teammate, Cherize, was on the same flight as us so I asked her to take into Canada the two extra bottles of wine Ed and I had over the allowed limit. It was our lucky day.

We got back to Vancouver safely. Yay. Then Ed got a voicemail that his dad who lives in Trinidad was in town for a day, en route to China. What a surprise! This weekend turned out to be all about family.

It was a very good trip that we had. We had a successful dragon boat festival and an enjoyable visit to the Napa valley and Fresno. It would be great if the team decides to go back next year for the gold medal.

21 September 2005

Thoughts and memories of San Francisco

- Three medals hanging around my neck make a clank-clank sound when I walked. With everyone in the team walking together, we made a lot of clank-clank noise.
- It was cold in SF. I had to buy sweat pants and a jacket in Old Navy since I packed light weight clothing. I was freezing between races.
- The street blocks in SF are big. Walking from Fifth St to Tenth St took 15 minutes.
- Dancing in the Starlight Room to “I Will Survive” and “Last Dance”. And being really tipsy.
- Five gin-and-tonics will make me drunk.
- Dimsum in SF was good but Vancouver dimsum is still better.
- The Container Store is a very cool store. I could spend a lot of money there.
- Alcatraz made me sad. It’s tragic that men had to live there for years and years. But I guess if you commit a crime, that’s what you deserve.
- Best crabs ever - Thanh Long on 46th and Judah. We had the roast crab and tamarind crab. Soooo delicious. Ed and I barely said a word while we were eating.
- Blazing Saddles bike rentals. You can spot the tourists by the black pouch with the rental company’s logo hanging from the bicycle’s handle bar.
- Beautiful paintings in a gallery in Sausalito. I think the painter’s name was Montesino. She was from Mexico.
- Wine we liked the best: Gundlach-Bundschu. Wish we’d bought the Gewürztraminer as well.
- Should have bought a bottle of Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena. It was actually pretty good.
- We bought six bottles of wine and one bottle of Cointreau.
- Tasting fee was $10 in Napa Valley, $5 in Sonoma. Although V. Sattui and Rombauer didn’t charge a fee. We bought wine from both wineries.
- Most expensive was Sterling at $15 a person. That was for the cable car ride and wine tasting.
- Wish we had more time to visit more wineries.
- Found out that Cabernet Sauvignon is *the* wine from Napa Valley region. And the grape grown in an area depends on the soil type and the temperature in that area.
- We ate very well throughout the trip. But after six days of eating out, we were sick of it. So we bought groceries and cooked a simple but delicious dinner in our suite. Felt good.
- Temperature in SF was 72 deg F and in Sonoma it was 92 deg F. A bit of a shock when we stepped out of the car in Sonoma.
- Ed’s cousin-in-law referred to Fresno as the “armpit of California”.
- It was 97 deg F when we were in Fresno. Finally got to use the shorts and tank tops I brought with me.
- Did not see much of Fresno except Ed’s cousin’s house and the supermarket. Ed’s cousin’s house was beautiful and we quite enjoyed hanging out there.

20 September 2005

San Francisco

Wow, I’ve been to San Francisco and Kelowna since my last big entry which was a month ago. I have tons to write about! I can’t believe it’s been a month. Time sure flies by.

San Francisco visit

From Aug 26 to 31, we were in San Francisco with our dragon boat team Specialty Subaru. On the 26th, we had a practice at 1pm to familiarize ourselves with the race site and the BUK boats. These boats were nice! They are light and comfortable for the paddler. The SF Dragon Boat Festival was that weekend, Aug 27 to 28, at Treasure Island. We competed in the Open, Women’s, Men’s, and Out-of-Town competitions. Our team joined forces with Roli Canada for the Women’s and Men’s races. We won medals in every competition: gold medals in the Women’s, Men’s, and Out-of-Town competitions, and a silver medal in the Open competition. The team really came together and every race went well. Just small tweaks here and there but overall, we were flying.

Hanging out with my teammates was a hoot. We had a party to celebrate our victories that Sunday night. Mike, Lisa, Kim, Wes, Phil, Ed and I were pretty inebriated even before dinner was done. And it was downhill from there. I gained a new nickname - Lizard Bang. Oh, it was funny. I guess you had to be there. Thanks to Wes and Kim, I got back to our hotel safely. I did pass out on Mike’s bed. Thanks to Ed for taking me back to my own bed.

Needless to say, I was hurting on Monday morning. I was not the only one hurting, mind you. Our team went for dimsum in Chinatown. Congee is good for hangovers. We walked around Chinatown and window shopped downtown. That evening, Ed and I went on the evening tour of Alcatraz. The cells in Alcatraz were smaller than I expected. The self-guided tour was pretty interesting because they had former inmates and guards sharing their experiences. Seeing the prison during and after sunset made the visit more poignant, I think.

Tuesday, Ed and I went on a cycling tour from Fisherman’s Wharf, over the Golden Gate bridge, to Sausalito, then to Tiburon. We took the ferry back from Tiburon to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a 26 km cycling route and I have to say my legs felt like jello at times. I thought I was in good shape! But we rested/stretched here and there along the way and my legs were able to keep going. It was a good way to see the sites. We stopped and meandered when we felt like it which was nice.

Wednesday, we picked up the rental car and drove around SF. Lombard St, the crooked street was fun. Bought chocolates at Ghirardelli, went to the Marin Headlands and took lots of photos. The view was amazing. To the left was the Golden Gate bridge with the city beyond it. To the right was blue ocean until the horizon.

We left San Francisco and headed to Sonoma. Pat, Ed’s boss lent us a book about the wineries in Napa’s backroads. It featured the smaller and privately-owned wineries located away from the main highway. In Sonoma, the recommended winery to visit was Gundlach-Bundschu winery. Ed and I made it to the winery 30 mins before closing time, luckily. The wine was very good and we decided to get a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. We walked around Sonoma town for a little bit then headed to Calistoga where we had planned to stay. Calistoga is a pretty little town at the foot of the mountains. It is known for its spring water and geyser.

The next day was wine tasting day. We visited Sterling winery which was pretty impressive. I wasn’t overly impressed by their wine but the winery itself was first class. We had to take a 3 minute cable car ride to get up to the winery. Then there was a self-guided tour of the facilities. And there is the fabulous view of the valley from the lookout deck. Very nice. We also visited V. Sattui, Beaulieu, and Whitehall Lane wineries. We were wined out by the end of the day. We cooked dinner (our suite has a kitchen) because we were tired of eating out.

Friday, we checked out of Carlin Cottages and proceeded to the winery Chateau Montelena in Calistoga. This winery was also in the backroads wineries book. We then visited Rombauer and Hess Collection (in the book, too) wineries. Then we made our way to Fresno to visit Ed’s relatives.

More on Fresno next time...