Monthly Archives: September 2009

Todd Wong nominates The Fraser River for Great Canadian Song Quest

The Great Canadian Song Quest deserves the Fraser River

2009_July_HellsGate_FraserCanyon 038 by you.
I visited Hell's Gate on the Fraser River this year in July – with my friends Dave Samis and Debbie Poon.

CBC Radio 2 has launched The Great Canadian Song Quest.  13 landmarks will be immortalized in song – one from each province and territory.

Todd Wong will
be heard at 3:30pm PST on CBC Radio 2 Drive with Rich Terfry.

I am
nominating the mighty Fraser River for the Great Canadian Song Quest,
to recognize the river's history to First Nations, Scottish and Chinese
pioneers… This is for the Chinese
railroad builders who died 3 at a time for each mile of track in the
Fraser Canyon, and never rated a word in Gordon Lightfoot's Canadian
Railroad Trilogy.

I talked with Rich this morning at 11:20am Pacific Standard Time.  4 hours ahead of the broadcast for Atlantic time, even though he was in a Toronto studio.

“Without the Fraser River there wouldn't be a British Columbia,” I told Rich.  “It was the gold rush that opened up the province.  It was at Ft. Langley that James Douglas pronounced the Colony of BC, 150 years ago.”

“It was in 1867, at Confederation that they decided to build a railroad across Canada.  They brought in Chinese workers to build the toughest part.  Blood, sweat and death went into building the railroad, as 3 workers died per mile.”

There are many things we can say about the Fraser River… that it was navigated 201 years ago by Hudson Bay Company explorer Simon Fraser in 1808.  The river has been used for 8000 years by many First Nations peoples for trade and food and travel.

The largest fishing fleet in the west coast existed until Canadians of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps in 1942, during WWII. 

My cousin Rhonda Larrabee's maternal family lived beside the Fraser River as the Qayqayt First Nations, until their reservation land was taken away from them at New Westminster – the first capital city of BC, which was founded 150 years ago.

Where the Fraser River Flows” is a song written by Joe Hill.  It was written to “aid construction workers laying track for the Canadian
Northern Railroad Company in British Columbia who were striking because
of low pay, unsanitary living conditions, bad food, and hazardous
working conditions.”

2009_July_HellsGate_FraserCanyon 001 by you.

The tram way view down to Hell's Gate…. s-c-a-r-y…..

Check out more of my pictures of Hell's Gate, Fraser and Thompson Canyons at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/53803790@N00/sets/72157621894438194/

This past July, my friends Debbie Poon, Dave Samis and I decided to take the scenic Fraser
Canyon route to Vernon instead of the Coquihalla Hwy.  I hadn't driven up the Fraser since August 82, when my friend Sonny Wong and I drove all the way to the Rocky Mountains and Calgary.  

2009_July_HellsGate_FraserCanyon 034

It was gold mining that drove thousands of gold seekers to the Fraser Canyon, mostly Americans, following the California Gold Rush.  But people came from all around the world.  The first reported Chinese immigrant came to BC, from California in 1858… so say the statistics.

I can also remember
scary driving in a snow storm in the 70's on our way to go skiing in
Vernon. This 2009 trip was wonderful and beautiful. Debbie had never
been to Hell's Gate, so we went. I liked how they integrated lots of
historical elements.  The power of the Fraser is incredible.  About the same equivalent of water passing through Hell's Gate – the narrowest section of the Fraser River – as  goes over Niagra Falls… something like that.

I have paddled canoe, kayak and dragon boat in the Fraser River.  In the 90's my friend Rod and I dropped a canoe into the Coquitlam River, and paddled to New Westminster Quay.  With my friend Wendy, we paddled mini-kayaks from my home on Burnaby Lake, down the Brunette River, into the Fraser River, and out at the Quay.

Every Thanksgiving Saturday, we take the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team to the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta.

2008_Oct 081 by you.

Two Gung Haggis canee teams wait for their runners to finish carrying cranberry juice on their paddle, then jump back into the canoe, and complete the race.

2009_July_Richmond_Dragon 007 by you.

Todd and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team attended the Richmond Dragon Boat Festival on July 18th.  Todd is sitting right side, seat 9, 2nd from left.  The races were held at the UBC Rowing Centre on the middle arm of the Fraser River, near the new Olympic Skating Oval.

Gung Haggis paddlers compete in 2009 UBC Day of the Long Boat race – 2nd in Mixed and Mens Community races.

CONGRATULATIONS to the GUNG HAGGIS FAT CHOY long boat team.

Gung Haggis paddlers came 2nd in both Mixed and Mens Community races.

2009_Sept_UBC_Longboat 002 by you.
Tzhe, Christine, Hillary, Brandi, Karen, Debbie, Walter and Joe of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Community Mixed long boat team – photo Alex Kwok/T. Wong

UBC Long Boat race is a tough challenging race.  Lots of strategy is
important.  Steering plays a big role.  Experience makes a big
difference.

SPECIAL BIG THANKS to TZHE
for organizing and captaining the team for today!

BIG THANKS to our long boat team.
Tzhe in seat 1 – the runner and lead stroke
Hillary and Christine in seat 2
Debbie and Brandi in seat 3
Walter and Karen in seat 4
Joe and Ernest in seat 5
Todd for steering.

Additionally…

Tony had wanted to create a strong mens team to give the visiting
Philippine paddlers a chance to race while they were still in Canada. 
I said let's do it!  UBC Long Boats was the opportunity. After Tony had
also potentially recruited 3 women paddlers, I felt it would be easier
to recruit 2 additional women and create an additional MIXED TEAM, that
I named Gung Haggis FRIENDS.  This allowed paddling friends such as
Carly & Steve – the father daughter duo from Metro Van 44 Cheeks
and Flight Centre to paddle with us. Lisa and Dominic from How Wet Can
You Get and who paddled with us in Richmond, as did Oliver from PCL. 
Carolyn Jeffries from CC Riders joined us, as did her coach Alex Kwok –
paddler for Booze Cruise.  Remus from Dragon Hearts has paddled in
Vernon and Ft. Langley with us – He brought Tricia with him from Dragon
Hearts.  Alison and Wade (on Mens Team) from Sudden Impact joined us. 
They paddled with Dan Seto (loyal Gung Haggis alumni) at the Nationals
in Montreal this year.  Along with Michael Chavez, Philippine paddler
who joined us for Last Gasp – this was the GH FRIENDS team. Almost
nobody had done UBC Long Boat race before… except Tony, Alison,
Tricia and Dan.

GUNG HAGGIS team philosophy has always been to be inclusive, give paddlers opportunities, emphasize friendship and fun. 
I think we all accomplished this today.

There were lots of challenges… many unexpected… some preventable….
I apologize for any mistakes in steering….  I know we could have done better.
Given the circumstances we did our best… and we were competitive.  If
not for us, Scaly Bytes FC didn't have any close competition.

We tried to beat Scaly Bytes FC team in Mixed and Mens categories. 
These are experienced outrigger paddlers used to long distances.  Scaly
Bytes recently competed in the 51km Santa Catalina crossing race in
California.  I have known team organizers Ron Chin, Stuart Higginson
and Sarah Glazzard for many years.  The first time they raced UBC Long
Boat was with a Gung Haggis team back around 2006.

EVERYBODY RACED HARD TODAY…
I SALUTE YOU!

Here's my blog draft about:

RACES TODAY

Strong paddling from everybody today – at points in both races Gung
Haggis Chop Suey MENS team and Gung Haggis FRIENDS were in the lead.

We had strong men in the boat today.  I first met Tony in 2006 when he
paddled on the PYROS team from the Philippines.  He had recruited
former fellow teammate Achilles who had paddled on the Philippine
National team, as had Abu.  Marshall and Michael Chavez had come to
Canada recently as paddlers on the Phillipine Police team for the World
Police and Fire Games.  Remaining paddlers were Wade, Allison and Dan
who had paddled together on the Sudden Impact Team that went to
Montreal Nationals race. Alex Kwok from the Booze Cruise team rounded
out the team.

MENS team had a great start and were leading the 2 team division…. as
well as leading the 2 womens teams.   We had a fast start and reached
the 1st buoy with a great line, maximizing speed.  Scaly Bytes FC Mens
got trapped by the 2 womens teams on either side of them.

Going past the 1st buoy and the Jericho wharf, we were leading by about
5 boat lengths in front of Scaly Bytes FC…. until we got hung up on
the sand bar – forcing Marshall to run from the sandbar, through deep
water, grab the baton and jump back into the boat.

We tried to back off the sand bar, and move left to go pick up
Marshall… but the Scaly Bytes FC Women's team then hit into us, as we
moved left… hitting us into the sand bar again.  Marshall ran hard
through the water to jump back into our boat…

We were able to push away and get going hot on the tail of the Scaly
Bytes FC Mens team, cutting off time with a tighter turn on the 2nd
yellow buoy.  Maybe they were about 3 boat lengths in front of us…   

“We're gaining on them” yelled Tony. We had a chance.

In the long stretch FC Scaly Bytes pulled farther ahead… Both boats
bounced on the waters of English Bay… left… then right…

“Anything can happen!” I yelled… “They could flip… keep paddling” 
I said these words to give our team some hope… knowing that races
could still be won or lost on corners, and in the finish…

Scaly Bytes FC made their tun…. going wide.  We kept paddling… I
took us for a wider turn to keep our speed up… and cut the 3rd and
final buoy sharp.  We practically clipped the buoy.  We had lots of
speed, that took us a bit wide.. but steering corrections brought us
back on track to the finish line. 

Scaly Bytes FC ran their boat onto the beach… and their runner jumped
out of the boat… ran up the beach to bang the gong.   We kept
paddling… our  runner Marshall jumped out and ran up the beach…
banging the gong.  What a race…  We had been in the lead, we didn't
go far enough around the corner into the bay.  We hit the sand bar.  We
were behind.  We tried to catch up.  We struggled. We lost.  We had
done our best… but it hadn't been good enough.  We gave high fives to
each other in recognition of our shared experience… of thanks…  but
it did not ring with the joy of exhileration of winning.

IN BETWEEN RACES

To help give more preparation for our Gung Haggis FRIENDS MIXED team,
Michael Chavez and I walked over to watch the next race to see how best
teams can make the turns, follow the course, avoid the sand bar, make
the beach landing… then return around the 2nd buoy, paddle the long
length back to the 3rd buoy, then race to the finish to drop off the
runner and bang the gong.

MIXED TEAM RACE

2009_Sept_UBC_Longboat 015 by you.
Gung Haggis Friends teams pushes off from the start – photo Alex Kwok/T.Wong

At the start… The Gung Haggis Fat Choy Mixed team was on the far
left… and the Gung Haggis FRIENDS MIXED team was on the far right.  I
was to steer Gung Haggis Fat Choy with Scaly Bytes FC on our right. 
The horn sounded… and All the steers people ran to the boats… 
“Go.. Go…” I yelled, as I go to the boat… and the paddlers…
paddled… forward taking off as I tried find my seat and grab my
paddle.  The boat lurched forward, with nobody steering.  I found my
paddle and paddled forward, looking around me to see where I should
steer the boat.  We were ahead of Scaly Bytes FC.  There was open water
to our right.  Surprise!  The left most lane is the hardest because you
have to some how cross every other lane to the right.  With nobody
blocking our way, I turned to the right… cutting off the teams to our
right…. as they had to avoid collisions…

Scaly Bytes FC, had backed off to “avoid the canage” (I talked with
their steersperson after the race), they came around the outside to our
left… but they were behind us. 

A team bumped into us hard from our right. 

Surprise, it was the Gung Haggis FRIENDS team.  They had been in the
inside lane closest to the 1st buoy.  This is a good lane if you are a
fast team.  But it is a tough lane if the other boats force you to the
right, missing the 1st buoy.  They had been in danger of other teams
pushing them over… but Gung Haggis FRIENDS paddled hard, staying on
the outside of the buoy. 

Not backing down to make a sharp turn, Gung Haggis FRIENDS paddled
hard… coming up hard beside Gung Haggis FAT CHOY team.  With two
boats so close beside each other, there was no room for the inside
paddlers to paddle.  This effectively slows both boats down
significantly.  Behind us, Scaly Bytes FC was catching up, avoiding
collisions.  Gung Haggis FAT CHOY and Gung Haggis FRIENDS struggled to
push off from each other… but too late.  Scaly Bytes FC was catching
up.

Gung Haggis FRIENDS took the inside path… I steered Gung Haggis FAT
CHOY to a wider path to the bay where we had to pic up the baton… I
really had to avoid the sandbar that I had steered us into during the
mens race.   Behind us, Scaly Bytes FC tried to pass, but had to steer
further to the outside, trying to avoid colliding with us.

All three teams paddled hard to the beach.  Scaly Bytes FC took a
further line, still paddling when Gung Haggis FRIENDS hit the beach. 
To the left or to the right of them, I had to make a decision.  I
expected the boat to drop off their runner, then keep moving to the
left.  We came in fast, and I kept the boat moving.  But GH FRIENDS had
come into the beach to hard, and beached the front of their boat.  We
hit them hard.

“You rammed us” later said the GH FRIENDS paddlers during our debriefings. 

The GH Friends boat tipped over to the left, from the impact.  Water
started filling into the boat.  They tried to right it fast. 

“Back up!”  I shouted to the GH team.  But we too were now a bit
beached.  Tzhe had already jumped out of the boat, and was running to
grab the baton from the tent.  GH paddlers push backwards against the
sand, backing away from the GH FRIENDS team, who were climbing back
into their boat, now partially filled with water.  They looked
frantically for bailers…

Tzhe jumped into the boat, and we were still backing up.  Remus was the
runner for the GH FRIENDS team, and he too had jumped back into the
boat.  GH Friends was backing up, as we were backing up… we had to
back up even more.

Scaly Bytes FC were now paddling away from further down the beach, having regained their runner.

“Draw Left!” I shouted… as we were finally clear of the GH FRIENDS team.  We struggled to turn the boat away from the beach.

“Paddle Forward!”  we shouted, as we tried to gain some speed to catch up to the rapidly escaping Scaly Bytes FC team.


They turned left at the second buoy, and there were less than boat
lengths between us.  Behind us, another team was behind us by 2 boat
lengths.  We paddled past the 2nd buoy.  There were OC-6 outrigger
canoes stopped to watch the race.  I think they had False Creek Racing
Canoe Club written on their hulls.

“Power Now!” shouted Ernest from the 5th seat left.  Ernest has done
this race many times.  A few years ago, he had been a runner.  He knew
that the race wasn't over yet.  Anything could happen… at anytime
during a race.  “Power Now… 2, 4, 6, 8, 10” Ernest called, paddling
hard with each stroke in an effort to will the team to catch up.

GH Friends was paddling hard.  Water was still in the boat, surrounding
their feet.  As they paddled, water sloshed in the boat.  As the boat
tipped this way or that, the water in the boat reacted, forcing the
boat to lurch.  But these are all experienced paddlers.  Many of them
paddled now or in the past on competitive teams.  Michael was an
experienced canoe paddler and steers, and has paddled on Phillipine
National teams.

As Scaly Bytes FC turned the last buoy to head to the finish line, we
were now about 5 to 6 boat lengths behind.  The boat behind us was 3
boat lengths behind.

We turned the corner, with the other boat hot on our heels.  Each boat
trying to make the corner tight.  Each boat trying to keep their speed
fast. 

Scaly Bytes FC hit the beach.  Their runner ran up the beach to bang the gong.

We came up to the beach the right of them.  Tzhe jumped out and ran up the beach.

The next team came up close to our boat to the right.  Their runner ran up the beach to hit the gong.

As we started unloading the boat, the 4th place team had rounded the
final buoy and was paddling to the beach.  It was GH FRIENDS paddling
hard.  They came to the left of us.  Remus jumped out as the boat hit
the beach.  He ran up to hit the gong.  We helped each other out of the
boat.  And went to congratulate each other for finishing the race.

High fives… for all paddlers.  It had been an exhilerating finish for all teams. 

Gung Haggis had paddled hard to come 2nd to a much more experienced
team.  We had 3 rookies in the boat.  Karen and Christine had paddled
with us since April, training for the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat
race.  Walter had joined us in May.  We had experienced paddlers Tzhe,
Joe, Ernest, Hillary, Debbie and Brandi.


Gung Haggis FRIENDS was a team who had never ever paddled together
before.  Allison had the most experience, and had paddled the UBC Long
Boat with a Ft. Langley team.  Tricia had paddled Long Boat races 4
times before, but this was her first time as a dragon boater.  Michael
steered the boat, after only having his first Long Boat race as a
paddler 90 minutes earlier while racing with the mens team.  For 7
other paddlers, it was there first time in the UBC Long Boat Race. 
Only Remus, Oliver and Allison had paddled before voyageur canoes
before at the Ft. Langley Cranberry regatta.  For Lisa, Carolyn, Carly,
Steve, Dominic it had been their first time in the 10 person voyageur
canoe.  They had paddled valiantly with maybe and extra 300 pounds of
water in their boat.

Cheers, Everybody…  Todd

New York Times Frugal Traveler comes to Vancouver in search of Asian fusion cuisine and talks with Todd Wong of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

New York Times Frugal Traveler comes to Vancouver in search of Asian fusion cuisine and talks with Todd Wong of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

RL101 by you.

Todd Wong is getting known “the whole world o'er” for creating crazy Asian/Scottish cultural and culinary fusion.Philip
Riddle.  The CEO of VisitScotland, Phillip Riddell had heard about “Toddish McWong's Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner” and tried some of the Haggis Wonton during a visit by the
Scottish Tourism Organisation to Vancouver, B.C., to promote the Year
of Homecoming Scotland 2009, on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

Matt Gross writes his column/blog The Frugal Traveler for The New York Times.  He came through Vancouver back in August 2009, and we connected through email and cell phone, as we found ourselves moving in different directions in the city and across Georgia Straight.

His newest blog/article is about Asian fusion cuisine, titled:
Asian Cuisine As Diverse as Vancouver.
http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/asian-cuisine-as-diverse-as-vancouver/#more-1441

Matt found me through my blog www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com, for which I try to focus on my “Asian Canadian adventure in intercultural Vancouver.”  I even have a category called Food & Restaurants.

Matt quotes me:

“Mixing things just becomes part of everyday life,” said Todd Wong,
a Vancouver arts advocate who during Chinese New Year hosts the annual
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, where Scottish haggis finds its way into
dim sum dumplings. “It’s not ‘Why are they doing this?’ It’s ‘Why not?’ ”

It’s an admirable attitude, and one that is producing some delicious
and affordable cuisines. Over four days, I pursued this accidental
(incidental?) fusion style around Vancouver, and the quest led me down
some strange and tasty paths.

This is from my original email to Matt:

How I wish that McDonald's would serve McRamen like they did in
Hawaii during the days of my youth.

Not really a lot of well-known Odd Asian fusion food – but you know… it happens when you least expect it.  Vancouver has so many restaurants and ethnic groups.  Things just end up mixing by accident
like peanut butter and choclate eg. Reese's peanut butter cups.

Check out the sushi restaurants…
You've
heard of the BC Roll?  Lots of smoked salmon rolls – sometimes called
Alaska Roll.  But somewhere in Vancouver there is a Maple Leaf roll…
and in the Davie St. Village – homebase to our large Gay population –
there is a Queen's Roll…. and a Princess Roll…. a Snow White
Roll, Rainbow Roll, Canada Roll, Stanley Park Roll, Panda Roll, Flamingo Roll + lots more!
Check out Kadoya on Davie St.

I LOVE HAPA IZAKAYA

while the Robson location is one of Vancouver's hippest restaurants. 
It is still a Japanese style bistro – so you can order a few dishes.  We
feel like we are going out to a hip restaurant, but can keep the bill
small.  We usually go to the Kitsilano location.  Okay – so it's not
odd… but incredibly delicious.  This is the restaurant we take our
out of town friends to. Try the Kabocha – $5.90  Japanese pumpkin, whipped into a light, sweet dip, served with cracker

A lot of traditional Chinese food in North America is really fusion cuisine.  Chop Suey, is supposedly a “made up” dish for “White Americans” from table scraps….

Go to the Foo's Ho Ho restaurant for one of my favorite dishes.  Curried potatoes with beef slices
We always had it in the 1960's.  But now Foo's Ho Ho is the only place
serving authentic “old style” cantonese cuisine in Vancouver.  Think –
Where would you find potatoes in China?  It's very North American!

Similar to Japa Dog – there is a Thai/Malaysian Hot Dog
stand on Broadway – East of Burrard. on the South side, in front of
Future Shop.  The owners have some crazy Malaysian Thai garnishes as
well as the usual.

How about Congee with Ostrich meat
Go to Kwong Chow on 3163 Main St.
or go to Congee House , 141 East Broadway
– Both are after-practice hang-outs for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team (that I founded and coach)

But the Chinese bakeries have these weird combinations.  Almost everybody sells a chinese bun with a hot dog weiner
only $1.45 to $1.95.  It's gotta be the cheapest “hot dog” in town. 
Try the one stuffed with mayonaise.  For some reason Mayonaise is a
“sauce” in Hong Kong.

But… what about
Irish Natchos at Doolin's Irish Pub?
We go to Doolin's every 1st Thursday of each month for Kilts Night.
Wear a kilt – receive a FREE pint of GUINNESS

Go to The Irish Heather.
Famous for their curried potatoe fries
– okay great fries served with a curry sauce.  Lots of other fusion
foods there too.  And the batter-fruied squid rings with chorizo and
sunflower sprouts was VERY COOL and DELICIOUS! http://www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com/blog/_archives/2009/7/22/4264001.html

Dessert Time!!!
Lots of Asians in this city… so green tea or mango ice cream is great.
But how about Durian gelato?
Try out Casa Gelato
Try the black sesame gelato, and a host of other Asian
inspired flavours.
But the Durian gelato still stinks (is smelly).

Deep-Fried Mars Bars…..
at Mr. Pickwick's Fish & Chips
8620 Granville Street
http://ourfaves.com/f/150181/vancouver-deep-fried-mars-bar

Read Matt's blog about Galiano Island
An Island Frozen in Time and Price:
http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/21/an-island-frozen-in-time-and-price/

Kelowna Dragon Boat Festival – Day One


I am paddling in Kelowna with “How Wet Can You Get”

– formerly known as Scotia Dragons for the past decade, they changed their name this year.

I last raced in Kelowna in 2001 with GM Team (also known as Canadian, and later Roli), and in 2002 we raced a Gung Haggis Fat Choy team supplemented by paddlers from the 39th Brigade Army team.

The race site is on Okanagan Lake, just north of the new Bill Bennett Bridge and beside the Grand Hotel.  There is a small beach that is used for the loading and unloading of dragon boats.

There are many people I know and have paddled with over the years o this team.  I was invited by my paddling friend Lisa Venables, who joined the team this year after paddling the previous 8 years with O2P.  Steers William Cheng and I last raced together in 2001 when I coached the Civil Serpents and we brought him on as steers.  Back in 2000, Manley was on Dragon Hearts novice team, when I drummed and coached the Dragon Hearts Rec team.  Cal Kelly joined the Gung Haggis team for the Taiwanese Race 4 years ago.  And Connie Pan works at the Vancouver Public Library with me.

On the first day of this Kelowna Festival, we raced two times, and came 2nd in each race.  Our morning race time was 2:20 – losing by 4 seconds to RGL United

In our afternoon race, with increasing winds and rough water, we raced
2:26 – losing by 10 seconds to Without Warning – where Dan Seto is
paddling.

But… we made it into Diamond Division – the second highest tier – so
we are in the top 20 teams of about 80-100 teams (I don;t know what the
final total is).  We are in lane 1 – so we probably had the slowest
combined time,  (they always seed the fastest team in the middle eg. 3
for 5 teams).

But we have 5 or 6 “borrowed paddlers” – so with each race the entire
team improves as we learn the race calls, adjust to the stroke and
pace, and help bond as a team.  But the other teams have borrowed
paddlers, and are adjusting too.  Also in Diamond Division are SFU
Scaly Justice Bytes with Stuart Higginson and Ron Chin + Booze Cruise
with mercenary paddlers Manfred Preuss + Carolyn Jeffries & Alex
Kwok from CC Riders.

The weather started off raining this morning… but cleared up for our
first race.  Sunshine actually happened.   But winds blew up after our
2nd race – causing a boat collision – but they kept going.  Sun and
heat arrived in time for beer garden time after the races.

I chatted with lots of dragon boat friends. 
Manfred Preuss is here with his wife Kathy, paddling on Booze Cruise, 
Manfred paddled with Gung Haggis at Rio Tinto Alcan this year.

Carolyn Jeffries from CC Riders and the CC Riders Coach Alex Kwok are also on Booze Cruise.

Maggie and Harvey are racing with Dragon Hearts Beat, as is James Yu (coach of Metro Van 44 Cheeks)

Allison Adachi and Wade who came out to practice with us on Tuesday are here with a mixed Chilliwack team.

Guen from Shaggin' Dragons is wearing her bunny ears on the drummer's seat.

Lee who paddled with us at Taiwanese last year is here with her Sudden Impact team

Lots of paddlers from Kelowna, including the Blazing Paddles who insisted on buying me a beer for steering for them in Vernon.

The Alley Health Fair: How to make the alleys of Main & Hastings safe, fun and educational

2009_Sept_Alley_Health_Fair 057

Main
& Hastings is normally one of the places in Vancouver you always
want to avoid – especially the back alley – because of many issues such
as drug use, homelessness etc. But on today, it was a place of friendship, food, information, education and community.

Wow! Yesterday we saw people selling crack and using hand-held propane heaters….
Today we saw a vibrant community helping each other… and a long line up for great tasting rice and chicken!
Lots of people pitching in to create a very successful 3hour health fair that lasted 4 hours.

I work for the Vancouver Public Library, and about 2 months ago, I answered the call to drive a truck to help the library end of organizing this 2nd annual Alley Health Fair.

http://www2.canada.com/vancouvercourier/news/story.html?id=6e961db2-e7c2-49ed-86f4-df896b06a045

2009_Sept_Alley_Health_Fair 003

This is what the alley looked like this morning, after it had been washed and swept.

2009_Sept_Alley_Health_Fair 064

Soon, it looked like this! Community organizations such as the Aboriginal Front Door Society were each set up at a tent.

2009_Sept_Alley_Health_Fair 076

Mayor Gregor Robertson made an appearance at the “pedal power blender.” This is the man who was behind the Happy Planet juice and smoothie enterprise.

Click this video to see how pedal power makes a smoothie!


See more pictures on my flickr account.

Alley Health Fair - behind Main & Hastings

Alley Health Fair – behind…

Terry Fox Run in Richmond BC – Great weather and community fun!

Terry Fox Run in Richmond BC always has a great community support
2009_Terry_Fox_Run_Richmond 050 by you.

Miss
BC and McNair High School cheerleaders encourage Terry Fox Run
participants and give high-5's as they cross the finish line at the
Richmond run site at Garry Point Park on September 13th, Sunday.

2009_Terry_Fox_Run_Richmond 004

Volunteer Lindsay Pagnucco holds up one of the many Terry Fox Run t-shirts on sale near the registration tent.

2009_Terry_Fox_Run_Richmond 025
Bagpipe Noel Chalmers, Dr. Andrew Wang and Terry's Team member Todd Wong

2009_Terry_Fox_Run_Richmond 011

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie walks with the crowd to the start line.

2009_Terry_Fox_Run_Richmond 035 by you.

Platform party for the 2009 Terry Fox Run in Richmond
BC: Terry's Team member Todd Wong, warm-up leader, Mayor Malcolm
Brodie, John Yap MLA, Dr. Andrew Wang (Terry Fox Lab), Councilor
McNulty, Miss BC Sandra Gin, Noel Chalmers (bagpiper).

2009_Terry_Fox_Run_Richmond 038

Dr.
Andrew Wang of the Terry Fox Lab in Vancouver gave a brief but
excellent talk about how the monies raised are used at the Terry Fox
Lab for cancer research – describing some of the important research
that they do.

3 Days of Accordion Noir Festival – playing circles, films, concerts + more

Accordions, Accordions & more accordions at Accordion Noir Festival – Sept 10,11 & 12.
2009_Sept_Accordion_Noir_Festival 044 by you.
Accordions “Squeeze Box Circle” is led by Rowan Lipkovits (front right with big red accordion) at Spartacus Books.  Usually the 1st Thursday of the month – this session was Sept 10th as a special part of the Accordion Noir Festival. Out-of-towners came from Lasqueti Island BC, and Bellingham WA.  I didn't bring my big Titano accordion – but I did play somebody else's Faoro accordion.

Terry Fox Run Sept 13th – Todd Wong will be Terry's Team member cancer survivor at Richmond BC

Terry Fox Run on Sunday, September 13th.

Todd Wong is Terry's Team member for Richmond run site

Terry's Team member Todd Wong, Doug
Alward (Terry Fox's best friend who accompanied him on the Marathon of
Hope) and Terry Fleming (Terry's high school basketball coach), meet at
the 2007 Terry Fox Hometown Run in Coquitlam – photo D. Martin

Every year I speak at a Terry Fox Run site, and elementary schools.  This year I am speaking at the Richmond BC run site.
Garry Pt. Park
9am registration
10am race start

There will be some welcome messages, speeches by dignitaries, bagpiper Noel Chalmers and Taiko drummers!
Here's the message from Richmond run site organizer John Young:

Terry Fox  Community Run/Walk – Garry Point Park – Sunday, September 13 – 10 AM
There is no  pre-registration for this fun event, simply make an on site donation for you and your family.  There will be Terry Fox T-shirts for sale, stickers,  ribbons, certificates and tattoos for the kids.  You can walk or run a 10  Km, 5 Km or 1 Km route or you can simply stay at the park and enjoy the  snacks, music and fun.  There will be a timing clock at the finish line for your personal challenge.  The Richmond Sea Cadet Band, McNair Cheerleaders, Tara Taiko Drummers and Noel Chalmers and his bagpipes will be there to entertain you.  This year our guest speaker, Dr. Andrew Weng, is a senior scientist from The Terry Fox Lab in Vancouver.  Parking is free and plentiful.  Please join us at Garry Point Park on Sunday, September 13,  10 AM for the Terry Fox Run.

It was in 1993, when Darrell Fox, Terry's younger brother, asked me to become a Terry's Team member.  He had heard me speaking about Terry on the radio, when I was interviewed after receiving the SFU Terry Fox Gold Medal.

Since that time, I have spoken at and participated in Terry Fox Runs at Vancouver Stanley Park, Burnaby Central Park, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, North Delta, Richmond, and even in Kelowna BC and in Beijing China!

I have helped to organize Terry Fox events at Simon Fraser University, when we started the inaugural SFU Terry Fox Day and a Terry Fox Run.  Incredibly, a Terry Fox Run had never happened at SFU before. Terry's Family attended the ceremonies and a trophy case featuring Terry's SFU tshirt were unveiled.

Here's a newspaper article featuring Noel Chalmers and his wife Kathleen.

Memory of Terry's run still powerful

Kelowna.com – ‎Sep 11, 2009‎
He has been piping the official start of Richmond's Terry Fox Run for six years now. “I pipe the official party up the hill to start the race and then I


Noel Chalmers leads the platform party for the 2007 Terry Fox Richmond Run site: Councilor Sue Halsy Brant, singer Jack McIntosh and Terry's Team member Todd Wong

There is now a Movement to rename YVR after Terry Fox

Click here to see my blog articles on past Terry Fox Runs and Terry Fox events:
http://www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com/blog?cmd=search&keywords=terry+fox%2C+todd

such as:

2nd Annual Accordion Noir Festival happens this weekend Sept 11,12,13

ACCORDIONS TAKE OVER VANCOUVER for ONE WEEKEND.
It's the 2nd Annual Accordion Noir Festival
September 11,12,13

Poster

Here is information from Rowan Lipkovits

Exhaustive information about all three festival days should be up at http://bit.ly/ANfest , but to summarize:

*
Friday night, Sept 11th, Geoff Berner will be a guest on the Accordion
Noir radio show at CFRO 102.7 fm from 9:30 through 10:30 pm. 

Meanwhile, up Main street at Cafe Montmartre (4362 Main Street), Rowan
will be hosting a varied program of virtuous squeezebox players in
small groups from 8 pm through closing time (after midnight), featuring
the ivory-tickling of Joanna Chapman-Smith, Barbara Adler, Dawn Zoe,
Tina Tew, Andy Fielding, with Mezamazing and the Creaking Planks
closing things out.  By donation.

* Saturday, Sept 12th, at 4
pm, an accordion parade will be departing (weather permitting) from the
southeast corner of Grandview Park (Commercial Drive at Charles Street)
to squeeze along the seven blocks to the day's venue, the WISE Hall
(1882 Adanac Street at Victoria Drive).

45-minute workshops begin at
4:15 pm, starting with an accordion repair and maintenance session led
by Rickey Mann, then an accordion composing session led by Andy
Fielding, and closing with an accordion history talk by Bruce Triggs of
Accordion Noir! 

An accordion film festival of sorts should get
underway around 6:30 pm, and close to 8 pm, we should be beginning the
main evening performances: Story from the Maritimes, Jason Webley of
Washington State (though he does spend a lot of time touring in Russia)
and Vancouver's own Geoff Berner. 

The evening promises further
surprises and special guests, but you'll just have to come out to know
for sure what they're going to be!  All-day tickets for Saturday will
be $20 at the door, or $15 for just the closing concert portion.

Foo's Ho Ho is open again… and only Chinese restaurant serving old-style Cantonese food

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 029 by you.

Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant is a landmark in Vancouver Chinatown… and open again!

Where can you get good old-style Cantonese food in
Vancouver?  Today, there are many styles of Chinese food from Hong
Kong, Beijing, Hunan, Shanghai, even Vietnamese, Cambodian, Korean and
Japanese.  The new immigrants that speak mandarin now out-number the
Cantonese speaking pioneer immigrants and their descendants.

Many many years ago, all the best restaurants in
Chintown all had neon lights.  The Ho Ho Restaurant at the corner of
Pender and Columbia St. had a long tall vertical neon sign that
featured a hot steaming bowl of rice

hoho_old.jpg image by flytrap_canada
The Ho Ho Rstaurant displayed a wonderful neon sign from the 50's to the 60's

Keith McKellar's book “Neon Eulogy: Vancouver Cafe and Street” writes and interesting description of the Ho Ho Restaurant. 
photo courtesy of Christian Dahlberg www.vancouverneon.com/

Back in the 1950's, 60's and 70's… Vancouver Chinatown was the place
to go for late night eats, Chinese banquets, and you could see the 5th
Dimension, The Platters and many other great performers at the Marco
Polo Restaurant and Night Club – which was across the street from the
former Ho Ho Restaurant.

I grew up during the late 60's and 70's.  Our family used to sit in the
upstairs window booth seat, where we could look outside at all the
pedestrians.  I remember buying Bruce Lee posters from the many stores
on Pender St.  Sadly, this era of Chinatown is now long gone.  Ethnic
Chinese have moved out to the suburbs and the restaurants and stores
followed them.  New immigrants no longer came to Strathcona or
Chinatown as the first stop, many move straight to Richmond, Coquitlam,
Shaughnessey and even North Vancouver.

Times
changed, and restaurants closed.  The Ho Inn had a fire.  Foo's
Restaurant closed.  The Ho Ho closed. I remember sitting in the The
Marco Polo when owner Victor Louie was closing down and offering my dad
some of pictures on the wall.  My father was a sign writer, and he used
to do all the show cards and other signwork for The Marco Polo.

Awhile
back James Sam, known as “Sam” re-opened the Ho Ho Restaurant site,
renaming it Foo's Ho Ho in recognition of these by-gone restaurants. 
Sam had formerly worked at WK Gardens, Marco Polo
and Best Wun Tun House.  Foo's Ho Ho became the place to go when you
wanted old-style Cantonese cuisine, or to reminesce about the good old
days of Vancouver Chinatown.

I have had many memorable visits to Foo's Ho Ho:

But in July 2009, it was announced that chef Sam was
in the hospital with cancer, and that Foo's Ho Ho would soon close.  My
friend Jim Wong-Chu organized a dinner for a “last night dinner” at
Foo's Ho Ho, and invited lots of our friends who enjoy Chinese Canadian
history, and its food.

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 034

see my July 12th blog story:

Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant to close in Vancouver Chinatown: It's the end of an era for Cantonese restaurants

It
was a great dinner, and good to see old friends and talk about the
foods and dishes that we love to eat. Sam's wife Joanne was in the
kitchen cooking up many of Sam's signature dishes for us.

A week later, Chef Sam, of Foo's Ho Ho, passes on the the Great Kitchen in the Heavens. A memorial was held for Sam on July 30.  After a grieving period, Joanne decided to re-open.

On
August 20th, we were back at Foo's Ho Ho
Restaurant.  Jim Wong-Chu invited some friends to again talk about
food, and how we can highlight it's connections to Vancouver Chinese
history.  The dinner was attended by: Col. Howe Lee and Judy Maxwell of
the Chinese Canadian Military Museum; my mother's cousin Gary Lee –
who's interview for the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy
had been filmed at Foo's Ho Ho; media artist Ray Mah – who had designed
the Saltwater City logos for the 1986 exhibition; and Dr. Jan Walls.

We hope to have more dinners to highlight the food and Vancouver Chinatown history.  Stay tuned…

Oh… but what did we eat?

Feast your eyes on these pictures!

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Free soup that comes with our meal: meat and melon with vegetables

2009_Aug20_FoosHoHo 004

Special order: Garlic Chicken!

2009_Aug20_FoosHoHo 005

My favorite: Chicken stuffed with sticky rice

2009_Aug20_FoosHoHo 007

Egg Foo Yung, a trade

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Bitter Melon with Beef and black bean sauce

2009_Aug20_FoosHoHo 014

Another favorite!  Curried potato slices with beef.

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Taro with pork

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Tofu and Fish!

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Dr. Jan Walls, our chef Joanne, and Jim Wong-Chu

See my pictures:
August Dinner at Foo's Ho Ho

August Dinner at Foo's Ho Ho