Last time I visited Vancouver was almost 15 years ago in a former life as an IT professional and part of a weekend trip from Microsoft Redmond country near Seattle. I couldn’t really recall much from that visit aside from the gloomy weather, grey skies with occasional showers, and the surprising number of Hong Kong Chinese everywhere who escaped the handover of Hong Kong from the British to the Chinese. Luckily, this visit to Vancouver around an academic conference was during the summer and so I finally saw Vancouver in full glory. I also got the chance to experience other parts of Vancouver as I was staying with an academic family at the lovely mountainous Simon Fraser University campus, and also visited the mountains north to Vancouver. There’s plenty to do in the area if you have the time, with beautiful easy getaways like Victoria and the islands surrounding Vancouver. As my schedule was packed with meeting academics and attending receptions I only had a taste of the potential, but still, it was easy to see why some think so highly of Vancouver.

Two things I noted. Without doubt, Vancouver has the largest concentration of Hong Kong Chinese I’ve seen outside of Hong Kong, and it’s very noticeable. Some parts of Vancouver, like east and south of the airport, just feel like a large China Town. To me, having lived in Hong Kong a few years, this was a special treat, and I appreciate Vancouver for its diversity, but I’m not sure this is what the average visitor has in mind when flying in. The second is far less positive. Vancouver has a real problem with the homeless and drug addicts, both in numbers and aggressiveness, especially so in the downtown area close to China Town. This makes it rather difficult to enjoy those areas, and my experiences of the conference area and the visit to China Town were generally not pleasant. I’d go as far as recommend staying away from China Town and making sure you know where you’re going and what you’re doing around Gas Town. But other than that, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Vancouver is definitely a city worth visiting.

 

Below are some of my impressions of Vancouver from the little I had time to do while I was there.

 

View of the harbor from the observation deck…

 

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Strolling around the boardwalk in the conference center area….

 

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Making my way to Granville Island

 

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Through Stanley Park

 

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Followed by a visit to the Sun Yat Sen classical Chinese Garden

 

 

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But the highlights were definitely the daytrips.

 

First there was the Capilano Suspension Bridge

 

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and the next day it was Grouse Mountain

 

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More on Vancouver to follow…



Tags: boardwalk; canada; Capilano Suspension Bridge; china town; chinese garden; conference center; Gas Town; Granville Island; Grouse Mountain; harbor; observation deck; Stanley Park; Sun Yat Sen Park; Vancouver;


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