Monthly Archives: February 2010

Gung Haggis dragon boat team paddle on Sunday Feb 7th

Gung Haggis dragon boat team paddles False Creek and takes in pre-Olympic sight-seeing.

We have a dragon boat team of keeners…. who wanted to paddle in February.  It was our first paddling practice since early November, when we had a few practices after paddling in the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta.  Fifteen people jumped into the dragon boat for 11am practice on Sunday Feb 7th,

And… I think… I really needed to paddle to get myself warmed up for paddling in the dragon boat flotilla that will accompany the Olympic Torch Relay on Feb 12th, for when Gold medalist Olympian Hugh Fisher will pass off the Olympic Torch from a dragon boat to Olympian Kamini Jain in a voyageur canoe.

I only paddled for half the practice. if
that… I also coached some of the paddlers a bit for some 1-on-1 coaching  for only half the
time.   I steered for the remaining half, after switching with Stephen Wong, who started off steering for the team.

The team met at the parking lot for False
Creek Yacht Club for 11am, then had a quick warm-up, then headed to the
boat for 11:15am, headed over to Alder Bay to pick up Debbie, then back to
FC Yacht Club to pick up a paddler named Tony who arrived late after his morning meeting.  Next we paddled towards and past the Burrard St. Bridge to show
paddlers where the lights are for the from the
nightly spectacular light show.

I pointed out where the boat launch for the Burrard Marina is, where dragon boat paddlers for the flotilla that will accompany the Olympic Torch Relay will organize.

Next we paddled Eastward to Granville Island to identify the Ferry dock at West Side of Granville Island,
where the torch will be handed to torchbearer Olympian Hugh Fisher.  We looked over at the bright yellow building, formerly known as Bridges Restaurant, that is now being transformed into the Swiss Pavillion.  At the North end of the Granville St. Bridge is a floating hotel lodge that has been towed down from Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) that is normally lodged at Langara Island.

We took a little stretch, then switched sides.  I took a turn at steering, and let veteran paddlers Stephen Wong take his turn for paddling.  Just East of Granville Island is the Spruce Harbour Marina, where nearby, is the area where Hugh will pass the torch to Kamini
Jain in the middle of False Creek.    Hugh will be in the dragon boat, and pass the torch to Kamini in the voyageur canoe.  There are great viewing areas from both the North and South sides of False Creek, so it is perfect for cameras and television crews to set up for a unique photo opportunity.

We spotted the big black
pontoon floats that are being used for security to block off the boat
traffic in the East Bay, that are positioned along Cambie St. Bridge.  We paddled along beside it and waved to the officers in the Police Boat, guarding the perimeter, that includes the Olympic Village.

Next we paddled near the Yaletown ferry dock, where
Kamini will hand the torch to a runner, after she climbs out of the voyageur canoe.   The torch will then proceed up the streets towards Georgia Street, where it will arrive at the First Nations Aboriginal Pavillion where there will be a blessing ceremony.  This will be one of the final stops of the Olympic Torch before it travels to the Opening Ceremonies about 2 blocks down the street to BC Place Stadium, later in the evening.

It was a good paddle, and our paddlers were happy and pleased that I would be a part of the dragon boat flotilla accompanying the Olympic Torch Relay.  But most of all, the paddlers were all happy to be paddling again, and in friendly company.  Many times I heard somebody say, “I'm just here for the social aspects” as we paddled back to FC Yacht
Club…. by about 12:30pm.

The next plan was to have lunch.  I promised that I would treat everybody to dim sum lunch, if they came paddling.

We were at Floata Restaurant for dim sum,
at 1pm, at least my car was.  Other people got re-routed by traffic
diversions.  By the time they arrived, there were lots of dim sum selections on the table.  Haw-gow shrimp dumplings, Siu-mai pork dumplings, Lo-bak-goh pan-fried turnip cake.  We also tried a special appetizer plate that included jelly fish,  crispy pork skin and bbq pork.  There was also shanghai style dumpling with shrimp meat and green vegetable, steamed pork bun, sliced-almond covered shrimp balls, fish cakes, and more!  I also ordered house special chow mein with crispy noodles, and Geurng-chow-ngor-hah flat rice noodles with sliced beef.

This was Katie's first time having dim sum in Vancouver.  She's originally from Ontario, and only been in Vancouver almost a year…. and somehow never found her way to dim sum yet.

Georgia pronounced that the meal was “heaven”

GREAT LUNCH!!!  and we finished off with Chinese egg tarts for dessert.

Georgia Straight: Todd Wong cancer recovery story in “Traditional Chinese Medicine enters the mainstream”

Todd Wong recounts using complimentary/alternative medicine to battle cancer to Georgia Straight writer Charlie Smith.

It was 21 years ago, when I found himself in emergency at Lion's Gate Hospital.  The first time he heard the word cancer was when he asked the attending specialist what the word “oncology” meant that was stitched on the doctor's white jacket.  5 months of chemotherapy is a long time.  It was certainly made easier by the Reiki and Therapeutic Touch energy work that my mother did on me, and the many visualization exercises that I did each day.  I was way to weak to play accordion – but I did when I was finally strong enough months later.  When I returned to Simon Fraser University, I took as many courses with health and illness themes as possible including: Health and Illness in Sociology, Health Psychology, Women's Health and Health Issues, Psychopathology, and even directed studies courses. 

It was much better than the alternative.

Without treatment, the doctors told me that I might have lasted 2 weeks.  My lungs were half-full of fluid, the tumor was half the width of my chest cavity and pushing on my vital organs.  There was bruising on my chest from internal pressure.

We do what we can, and I am glad to be alive and making my contributions to Society.

Traditional Chinese medicine enters the mainstream

Traditional Chinese medicine enters the mainstream

Chinese medicine expert Karen Lam has felt more acceptance in recent years.

library worker Todd Wong knows better than most that life occasionally
delivers a rude surprise. In 1989, Wong came back from a trip to New
York feeling rundown. At first, his doctor diagnosed a recurrent viral
flu. Only after visiting an oncologist did Wong, then 29 years old,
learn that he had a germ-cell tumour related to testicular cancer. It
required emergency chemotherapy to deal with a growth in his chest the
size of a large grapefruit.

“The first night I’m in the
hospital, the doctor tells my parents, ‘There is a 60-percent chance
your son will survive because we only discovered this very, very late,’
” Wong told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “I was 29 years old, really active, and the doctors never suspected anything.”

a fifth-generation Chinese Canadian, was visited regularly by his
mother, who wanted to give her son therapeutic touching to help him
heal. She asked about doing energy work known as Reiki, because this is
what she had practised at home. “The doctor told her, ‘If you want to
do that, you can take your son out of the hospital,’ ” Wong recalled.

His mother kept
coming to the hospital every night to surreptitiously practise Reiki on
her son, and Wong’s grandmother brought affirmations from a book by
Louise Hay called You Can Heal Your Life. Later, he called a
psychology instructor at Capilano College (now Capilano University) to
learn how to practise visualization. When he was well enough to attend
Simon Fraser University, every course he took had a focus on illness
and health. “I did directed studies on the relationship between stress
and illness,” Wong said. “I learned that psychoneuroimmunology [study
of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and
immune systems] was only coined as a term in 1980.”

decades after Wong’s recovery, he sees much greater cooperation taking
place between allopathic and complementary health practitioners. The
B.C. Cancer Agency is backing a complementary medicine education and
outcomes program, which is examining how to safely combine
complementary approaches with traditional cancer treatments. The team,
led by principal researcher and UBC nursing professor Lynda Balneaves,
is exploring the most effective ways to support cancer patients in
making decisions in this area. In addition, the researchers hope to
enhance health professionals’ understanding of this area.

the U.S.–based National Center for Complementary and Alternative
Medicine, which is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, has
been conducting scientific research on complementary and alternative
healing practices for 10 years. It also trains researchers in this area
and disseminates information to allopathic practitioners. For example,
it has noted that acupuncture has demonstrable therapeutic benefits for
low back pain, and that tai chi may benefit older adults with
osteoarthritis in the knee.

During his recovery, Wong
visited naturopath and acupuncturist Larry Chan, one of the founders of
Integrative Healing Arts on Vancouver’s West Side, who helped him think
“outside the box” about the origins of illness. Wong is convinced that
health is about finding balance and looking at the body system in a
holistic framework rather than focusing exclusively on germs or
viruses. Integrative is one of several facilities—including the
Broadway Wellness Centre, Cross Roads Clinics, and Finlandia Natural
Pharmacy and Health Centre—that offer an interdisciplinary and
complementary approach to health care.

Read the rest of the article here:

Olympic Torch to be carried by dragon boat in its final journey to Opening Ceremonies

Dragon boat to carry the Olympic Torch!

The last day of the Olympic Torch Relay Feb 12th will feature Dragon Boats and Canoes as Olympic gold medalist Hugh Fisher, from a dragonboat, will hand off the torch to Kamini Jain, in a voyageur canoe, in the middle of False Creek.   This event will take place on February 12th in Vancouver BC.  Details and exact times will be released soon.

Fisher won Olympic Gold and Bronze with Kayak partner Alwyn Morris at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.  Kamini Jain competed in K-1 single kayak events in 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games.  Fisher is one of the founders of the False Creek Racing Canoe Club which has helped to shape dragon boat racing in Canada and also influence it's development in North America. 

Kamini is the current head coach of the FCRCC, and took the Mixed team to gold and silver in Sydney Australia for the 2007 IDBF World Championships.  FCRCC-cored Premier Mixed: 2nd at 500m (by 0.51 secs!), 4th at 200, 1st at 2K

It's going to be exciting as 6 dragon boats (20 paddlers) and 6 outrigger canoes (6 paddlers) make up the escort flotilla, that will accompany the torch bearing boats.  It will bring back memories of the torch first arriving in Canada after landing at the airfield, and then arriving to BC's Provincial Legislature Building in Victoria, carried by First Nations cedar canoes.

And I will be one of the paddlers in the flotilla!  Yippee! 

2009_June 060 by you.

Here's the Gung Haggis Fat Choy
dragon boat team at the 2009 Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.  One
of these BuK boats will probably be used to transport the Olympic Torch
in the final legs of the relay to the Opening Ceremonies at BC Place

The six dragon boats and outrigger canoes will be paddled by False Creek Racing Canoe Club, and some other clubs.  I think I will be on a boat where paddlers from different teams have been invited to participate.  I am very excited at being invited. 

Back in the summer, I did a video audition to be a torch bearer for the City of Vancouver, as two library workers would be included amongst the selected workers from police, firemen, city workers and parks workers.  Sadly, I wasn't chosen – but I know our library workers are deserving and wonderful people, especially my friend Judy Caldwell, who is a librarian, and dragon boater.  Judy is one of the founders of the Abreast in a Boat dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors, and we were both awarded the 2008 BC Community Achievement Award.

I've been involved with dragon boats in Vancouver for many years.  I attended the first dragon boat races on False Creek in 1986 during Expo 86.  I joined my first team in 1993.  Soon I was coaching other teams, and competed in Victoria races in 1997 and San Francisco in 1999.  I was invited to join the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival Race Committee in 2000.  In 2003 I helped to found the Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race, as board member of the CCC Dragon Boat Association.  The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team has been active since 2002, and dedicated to promoting multiculturalism through dragon boat paddling.  We have put Taiwanese dragon boats into the St. Patrick's Day parade in 2004 and 2005.  The team has been filmed for tv documentaries for French, German and Canadian television, and also for an upcoming documentary movie.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the Gung Haggis team, at the 2007 Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat race!  Imagine holdin the Olympic Torch from the head of the dragon – but these Taiwanese boats won't be used for the Olympic Torch Relay.

Here is information about viewing the Olympic Torch on False Creek from the False Creek Racing Canoe Club Website:

After covering 45,000 Km across Canada, the Olympic flame will be crossing the waters of False Creek on its final
journey to BC Place for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter
Olympics …

… the next-to-last leg of the Torch Relay, on February 12th, will be from Granville Island to Yaletown!

That a final-day leg is on the water – really, it's a bit odd when you think in terms of Winter in Canada
– is a recognition of the importance which paddle sports have in many
parts of Canada, especially in & around Vancouver and the Lower
Mainland … even in Winter!

That the
leg is on False Creek is recognition of how many people see the Creek
as the central hub of their training & racing & simple
recreational-paddling activites – not just FCRRC, but all the other
clubs & groups & individuals using it too.

And too, of
how much the Creek has changed since it was primarily a very
unfriendly-to-recreation beehive of industrial activities, before Expo 86 –
when the first Dragon Boat events took place there.

Key details (there might be more to come a bit later in the week – stay tuned):

  • on February 12th, departing from the FC Ferry dock at
    the West end of Granville Island, the Torch will be carried in a Dragon
    Boat and a Voyageur Canoe to the Yaletown dock at the Quayside Marina.  Full details & map here, and in the Vancouver2010 Interactive map (go to Day 106 & select Vancouver)
  • Kamini Jain, FCRCC's Head Coach, and Hugh Fisher, one of FCRCC's founders, both of whom have competed in paddling events at the Summer Olympics for Canada, have been honoured by being chosen as Torch Bearers for the False Creek leg

So let's all get out to watch the Torch's voyage, and cheer Kamini & Hugh.

  • Suggested viewing points are Granville Island, the Granville Street
    Bridge, the Seawall either side of David Lam Park and the Cambie Street
  • Eager to absorb all the Olympic spirit of the final day?  Come down
    to Granville Island earlier, and follow the torch as it makes its way
    through the streets before crossing the water (see the map for full
    details of the two days – 105 & 106 – that the Torch is in
    the city)

Two cautions:

  • Boat traffic (including canoes, kayaks, etc.) will be extremely restricted
    during this time!

… taking out your own boat (or one of the Club's OCs or Marathons or K/C-1s) to view the Torch Relay will
likely result in being turned away and missing the view you can get
from on-land viewpoints

  • Make sure you allow yourself lots of time to get there, and don't plan on parking on or anywhere near GI either (see News item for more on those topics)

For more information on the Torch Relay and other Olympic events visit—alternative-modes-of-transportation-in-vancouver_236610kB.html

Did Muk Muk, the Olympic sidekick marmot, see his shadow today on Ground Hog Day?

Ground Hog Day in balmy British Columbia. 
Did Muk Muk see his shadow?

We don't have ground hogs, we have the Vancouver Island Marmot, and are currently over-run with Muk Muks!
January20103 by you.

Muk Muk see his shadow this morning? Ground hogs don't live in
Vancouver or Whistler, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics – but marmots
do. It rained this morning. I doubt that Muk Muk saw his shadow… Too
bad – Vancouver doesn't get 6 more weeks of winter that Eastern North
American will get, as predictedy by Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, Wiarton Willie in Ontario and Shubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia.

We saw a television news story that snow is being trucked to the Cypress Bowl Olympics site for Free style skiing and Snowboarding.  It's coming all the way from Manning Park!  Way past Hope and the Fraser River!  I guess there isn't even any snow at Hemlock Valley!

News results for snow, manning park, olympics
Trucks start moving snow to Cypress Mountain from Manning Park‎ – 9 hours ago

The great Olympic snow job is under way. VANOC to bring in snow by helicopter from elsewhere in the Cypress area and truck in snow from Manning Park.

2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner brings a bit of Scotland back for everybody!

“Bringing back a bit of Scotland for everyone” was how Toddish McWong described the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Throughout the evening, Todd Wong, creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, shared stories of his recent trip to Scotland.  He had gone to Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.for the finale weekend of Scotland Homecoming Year, and wrapped up a long year of Scottish celebrations that had started with the 250th Anniversary of the poet Robbie Burns and finished with a closing reception at Scottish Parliament where a life-size picture of him had been included in the photo exhibit This Is Who We Are: Scots in Canada.  By the end of the evening, Bill Saunders, giver of the Immortal Memory, had received a bow tie in Burns Check brought all the way from Burns Cottage in Alloway, and almost every guest walked home with a lovely Burns 2010 calendar courtesy of Visit Scotland, which had been shipped from Edinburgh specifically for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.

DSC_5209_142727 - GHFC Pipe & Drum Band practising by FlungingPictures

The evening started off soon after 6pm, with a piping in of the head table and performers by the Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums, led by pipe major Bob Wilkins.  All the guests rose to greet the procession, as host Toddish McWong, introduced the band and the performers to the audience.

DSC_5235_142753 - GHFC Pipe & Drums Band by FlungingPictures

DSC_5233_142751 - GHFC Pipe & Drums Band by FlungingPictures

The pipers and the performers stood at the front of the stage. It was an amazing array of colours and costumes as wollen tartan kilts and chinese embroided silk clashed and complimented each other.  

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2010 by Tiny Bites

Co-host Tricia Collins dressed in a Saltire blue Chinese silk top and wore our Fraser
Hunting Tartan mini-kilt from the Gung Haggis dragon boat team. She shared with the audience how her own Irish-Chinese ancestry came to Canada via Guyana (British Honduras), similar to the first governor of Canada, James Douglas, whom she is writing about for her next project.. 

DSC_5262_142780 - Todd, Joy KOGAWA & Tricia by FlungingPictures

Joy Kogawa read the “Selkirk Address” to bless our food and dinner.  In 2006, Joy was our featured author and she read a new work then.  The Historic Joy Kogawa House Society is one of the non-profit organizations that receives monies raised by the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.

DSC_5343_142860 - cutting the haggis by FlungingPictures

Joe McDonald performs “The Rap to the Haggis” as he “cut ye up wi' ready slight.”  Co-host Tricia Collins looks on, as she witnesses this strange ritual for the first time.

DSC_5336_142853 - Addressing the haggis by FlungingPictures

Wong leads a chorus of “Gie her a Haggis” and “Gie Vancouver a Haggis”, as she rouses the finale to this rowdy and interactive version of the sacred Burns poem.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2010 by Tiny Bites

5 “men” were selected to recite the Burns poem “A Man's a Man For All That” included “The Bearded Lady”.  Left to right included a Judge, Parks Commissioner/teacher Stuart Mackinnon, Kilt afficianado and dragon boater Raphael Fang, The Bearded Lady, and a kilted friend from Richmond.  All stout men who gave good readings of the verse, finalizing with Mackinnon singing the last verse.

Throughout the evening, Wong and McDonald led singalongs of “When Asian/Scottish/Chirish Eyes Are Smiling” and “Loch Lomand.”  These singalongs encouraged audience participation and took a warm surprise turn when McDonald had men only singing “Ye take the High Road” chorus of Loch Lomand, immediately followed by an outstanding version of the Women only singers.!  The women were clear winners!

Special poet of the evening was Larissa Lai, who read from her new book of poetry Automaton Biographies.  Each year the Gung Haggis dinner features a different poet.  Larissa also briefly explained how she teaches Burns at University of BC, in her role as an Assistant Professor in the English Department.

Special theatrical performance was done by playwright/actor Marcus Youssef accompanied by writer/comedian Charles Demers.  They did a stage reading of Youssef's critically acclaimed play Ali & Ali and the Axis of Evil.  The segment poked fun at Multiculturalism and Scottish history and culture, to great effect.

Birds of Paradox is a musical instrumental trio, featuring Lan Tung (erhu), Ron Samworth (electric guitar) and Nealamjit Dhillon.  Their playing was sublime and took turns highlighting each performer.  It was exciting to see the erhu played with soaring passages, trading phrases with the picking and fretwork of the guitar, all accompanied by the polyrhythms of the tabala drums.  Of note, Dhillon had first performed with Joe McDonald at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners in 2001 and 2002 as the musical duo Brave Waves.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2010 by Tiny Bites

Highland Dancing was the surprise hit of the evening performed by Aidan and Alex Huang from Kelowna, sons of drummer Dan Huang.  They are only 6 and 9 years old, but they showed poise and control as the young boys are experienced competitors in Highland Dance competitions.  The boys certainly enjoy their Chinese and Scottish heritage.

Bringing the evening to a more serious tone, Bill Saunders, president of the Vancouver & District Labour Council, gave the Immortal Memory.  He recounted Burns life, from a “ploughman's poet” to the “toast of Scottish high society” in Edinburgh.  He described the values and beliefs of the poet, then went on to postulate what Rabbie would be like today as a poet.  Saunders painted a portrait of a young community activist, fighting for social justice and gender equity, wearing a hoody, criticizing the elite, and protesting against the economic and social conditions that promote and cause homelessness.

Raffle tickets were drawn and the top prizes were quickly given out: Vancouver Opera tickets to Nixon in China, The Monkey King, upcoming productions from Firehall Arts Centre, Neworld Theatre and UBC Opera.  Arsenal Pulp Press and Harbour Publishing had donated books such as Larissal Lai's first novel “When Fox is a Thousand” and Charles Demers' “Vancouver Special” as well as Fiona Tin Wei Lam's “Enter the Chrysanthemum.”

The Gung Haggis Pipes and Drums, performed again, first weaving their way through the audience, easily filling the large restaurant space with the skirl of the pipes and the beats of the drums.  They winded their way to the stage, and performed 3 numbers.  Todd and Tricia thanked the volunteers, production coordinators and the audience before leading a singalong of Auld Lang Syne with the first verse in Mandarin Chinese.

The evening ended with lots of smiles and compliments.  Here are some of the comments:

“Thanks, Todd for another fantastic Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner. ” – Joan Young of Historic Joy Kogawa House Society

“Awesome night, Todd!! Great job. ” – Desmond Rodenbour

“Gung Haggis Fat Choy was just as Amazing as I had always dreamed. You should be very proud of what you've done.” – Lorraine Murphy

“I just wanted to say thanks for your efforts and creativity in bringing
about the Gung Haggis Fat Choy event. I attended tonight for the first
time, along with a mix of Scottish and Chinese friends and we all
enjoyed ourselves and our table-mates.” – Paul

2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner a big success – thank you to our performers, support crew and volunteers… and our audience!!!

for attending
Gung Haggis Fat Choy

44 tables were filled for almost 440 guests at the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Our performers put on a great show, and people were on their feet for the Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums.

Special thanks to co-host Tricia Collins, poet Larissa Lai, musicians Joe McDonald, Birds of Paradox (Lan Tung, Ron Samworth and Nealamjit Dhillon), playwight Marcus Youssef, author/performer Charles Demers, The Bearded Lady (Naomi Singer), Immortal Address given by Bill Saunders.

Making it happen were stage manager Charlie Cho, sound engineer Carl Schmidt, seating and volunteer coordinators Debbie Poon and Dave Samis, Ricepaper editor Patricia Lim, our wonderful volunteers from Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team and Ricepaper Magazine.

More thanks to our prize sponsors… Vancouver Opera, Arsenal Pulp Press, Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts (Four Brothers Entertainment), Firehall Arts Centre, Newworld Theatre, Harbour Publishing + more…

Pictures are being posted up soon…. I will write a review tonight.