Monthly Archives: August 2008

Gung Haggis dragon boat team performs better than expected, coming 2nd and a close 3rd at Taiwanese Dragon Boat races.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team did really well today at the Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Races, held at Plaza of Nations with the Taiwanese Cultural Festival.

Race 4, aprox. 11am.
Lane – Team
1   Hon's Dragon Bowl   
2   Gung Haggis Fat Choy   
3   ScotiaBank Dragons   
4   Synergy Rice Rockets   
5   Flying Butts  

Ernest Wu is our team captain for these races.  Todd Wong (me) is drummer for our races, Dave Samis is steers, and
Colleen was our flag grabber.  Wendy and Alissa are doing lead stroke.  Hillary and Jane in second seat.  Cindy and Brooke in 3 seat. Rounding out the team is Stephen, Jim, Tony, Jonas, Devon, Sher, Raphael, Stuart, Joe.  Joining us for the day is Judi, Lee (from Sudden Impact Black – who paddled with Dave in Australia last year) + Karl (who is joining us from the Killarney junior team.).

Hon's is a brand new team this year, coached and
drummed by our friend Patrick Couling.  Scotiabank Dragons is a veteran team with lots of experienced paddlers.  Dan Seto paddled with Gung Haggis for 3 years, but he joined Scotiabank this year to push him self more on a competitive team that went to Comp B at the Rio Tinto Alcan dragon boat festival this year.  I know lots of other paddlers on the team such as Elias whom I paddled with in 2001 on the GM team, steers William whom I coached in 2001 for the Civil Serpents team, Connie whom I sometimes work with at the Vancouver Public Library and got to know on the strike line last fall.

For the Taiwanese dragon boat races.  You have to grab the flag before you cross the finish line.  Dragon Boat racing has its origins in  ancient China, in 299 BC, long before there were stop watches.  The early race winners were determined by which team grabbed a flag first.  On our modern day race course in Vancouver's False Creek, there is a strong current and the channel is deep, so exact placement of flags is impossible.  For the Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Races, each team must grab a flag, keep paddling, then cross the finish line, which is approximately at the second set of buoy markers.  The flag can only be grabbed by the designated flag grabber.  If the flag grabber misses the flag, the boat must stop and go back for the flag.  If a paddler grabs the flag, the team can be disqualified. 

As we approached the flag, our designated flag grabber Colleen got ready.  I called a race finish, and Colleen stood up behind the large dragon head that is a feature on these Taiwanese dragon boats.  She guided our steers to the flag by pointing with her outstretched arms.  Dave aimed the dragon boat to the flag.  Colleen is right handed, but instead of bringing the boat to the left of the flag, we were heading to the right side of the flag.  Colleen reached out her left hand and easily grabbed the flag.

Colleen is a rookie dragon boater who joined our team this spring.  She discovered our team through our website when she googled “Vancouver” and “dragon boat”. Her ethnic heritage includes some Scottish ancestry, so she was intrigued.  She was really enjoyed paddling with the team and brought her girlfriend Alissa along with her to our early spring practices in March.  One of Colleen and Alissa's favorite team activities is joining the “Gung Haggis foodie club” after practice and going to replenish carbohydrates at a local restaurant.

Our 2nd place time was about 2:43  –  We had a good start, and quickly
pulled away from Hon's Dragon Bowl beside us.   Their guest steersperson
was Bernie Proetti, who later tshared with me that he had told Hon's that if they beat Gung Haggis,
he would grab my kilt.  Alas… Bernie was actually surprised we pulled
away from them so fast. We came second in our first race at 10am, Scotiabank came first.

12:55 Barrel Race #5.

Soon after 12:55 we did our dragon boat barrel race.  The history of the dragon boat barrel race is recent going back only to 2004.  It was started by the Tacoma Dragon Boat Association on Lake Union in Seattle Washington.  These first races were attended by 6 Gung Haggis paddlers, my girlfriend Deb Martin, coach/steers Bob Brinson, myself, and paddlers Naoko, Nick and Tom

This wekend was the first time
barrel races have been done in Taiwanese boats.  Previous years the smaller teakwood dragon boats were used.  I did some race
commentary telling the spectators about the history of Taiwanese dragon
boats in Vancouver, as I was on the DBA board and race committee when
we launched the inaugural Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat
Races in 2003.

We saw some teams attempt the clover-leaf turns, based on “barrel race”
format from Western cowboy rodeos.  The idea is to go around three
buoys, in a left turn, right turn, left turn format, then return to the

These Taiwanese dragon boats are flat bottomed, so they can actually
spin on the surface of the water.  The trick is to turn the boat
around, while keeping a forward momentuum.  Some boats came in tight,
close to the buoy, which made them exit the turn wide.  My choice is to
come in wider, like a skier in slalom gates and cut the exit tighter. 
While the boat is turning, we ask the front inside paddlers to do a 45
degree stroke, along with the back outside paddlers to help facilitate
the turn.  While I felt that the turns weren't tight enough, and our
forward momentuum had pushed us into a bit of boat drift while we
turned.  But several people remarked that we had some nice tight
turns.  I was steersperson for our barrel race, while Dave Samis
steered, and Wendy was our drummer, and Hillary and Colleen did lead

Race 9, aprox. 1:55pm
Lane – Team
1   Elephant & Castle Booze Cruise
2   Flying Butts    
3   Superslim Phat Phish Racing Team
4   Gung Haggis Fat Choy
5   Elephant & Castle Booze Cruise

For our second race, at 12:55. we were second seed.  We were lined up on the dock beside Phat Phish
so we were chatting with their paddler Grace, who is a Gung Haggis alumni paddler.  I was also chatting with one of their paddlers Tori, who used to organize her own team.  As I waved to Grace, I told Tori that we have a secret hand wave with Gung Haggis alumni paddlers, and we have been secretly infiltrating Phat Phish.  Tori's curiosity was piqued.  Then Joanne, Phat Phish paddler and wife of their coach Bernie piped in and said “I paddled with Gung Haggis in the first Taiwanese races!”

“Shhhh…. ” I said, “That's secret information.”

Having friends on different dragon boat friends really adds to the social cameraderie of the dragon boat races.  Bernie, Joanne, Tori and myself have known each other since around 2000 or 2001.  I regard Patrick Couling as one of my early dragon boat mentors who I have known since 1997.  James Yu was steers on my first dragon boat team in 1997, and he first taught me to steer in '98.  James is helping out with the water crew for the race organizing and officiating.

On the water, the kibbitzing stopped as the wind made it challenging to line up the boats for the starting position.  The boats are backed into the Pier north of Science World.  The steersperson grabs a rope tether beneath a lane number.  This is supposed to give each team an aproximate but equal position at the start line.  But the wind was pushing all the teams southward.  If the steers is holding the tether, than it anchors them to the dock and the bow of the boat moves South.  The front right side paddlers have to draw to keep the boat lined up straight.  We were trying to do this, while stay ready for the race start.

“Bang!” the airhorn went off.  We took off at the start.  Phat Phish quickly took off from our right (North side), but we were about half a boat length behind
E&C on our South side.  And we gained steadily on them.  It was a tight race.  Would
we make 2nd place again? 

Stuart Mackinnon was our flag grabber, and he did an excellent job. Stuart joined the Gung Haggis team last year.  He loved dragon boating so much he was inspired to start up the Killarney Cougar Dragons, at Killarney Secondary School where he teaches.  As we approached the finish line, Stuart stood up and reached his arm out for the flag.  Dave steered our boat to the left of the flag, right into Stuart's right hand.  The team kept paddling to the finish line.

E&C prevailed to stay in second place.  They have really improved
this year, as they have been doing lots of outrigger paddling. 

 The team is performing so well, they almost don't need coaching.  Everybody is paddling hard and deep, and getting a good reach.

Our first race is 11am on Sunday….

then we do a fun race at 12 noon Race #19 NOGARD (backward) race lane 5

then we are in the finals….

2:35 Race # 24 Consolation (we won't to be here)
2:55 Race # 25 Group D Medal Final   –  We might be here…
3:15 Race # 26 Group C Medal Final   –   Most likely be here…
3:35 Race # 27 Group B Medal Final   –  We could even be here…
3:55 Race # 28 Group A Medal Final   –   Wow… in our dreams… we aspire to greatness.

You can find our tent by entering the parking lot on the West side of Plaza of Nations…

Walk down to the sea walk.  You will see different small tents by the water…. and big tents set up at Plaza of Nations

We were set up today in the trees straight ahead – south of the porta-potties.

Look for the 4' X 2' sign Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. Red letters on white sign.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat race times at Taiwanese Cultural Festival

TCF2007 VFK_0457.JPG by vfk. Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat drives the paddles deep in the 2007 Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat race – photo VFK

Taiwanese Dragon Boats are beautiful.  Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team's first race is 11am.

There is FREE VIEWING of the Race Finish – along the sea walk. East of Plaza of
Nations. Come to Cooper's Park – West of the Cambie St. Bridge.

The Sea Walk is NOT closed. But Plaza of Nations will be gated off.
Taiwanese Cultural Festival is about $10-$12 for admission. It has been voted best cultural festival many times.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is racing:

11am Race #4 – lane 2

12:55 pm Barrel Race # 5  This is where we take the dragon boat for 3 turns with only 10 paddlers.

1:55 Race #9 if we finish 4th or 2nd
2:35 Race #11 if we finish 1st, 3rd or 5th

SUNDAY – dependant upon our Saturday results. We will telll people at end of Saturday and post on

could be any where from 10am to 11:20 Races 13-17

12 noon Race #19 NOGARD (backward) race lane 5

2:35 Race # 24 Consolation (we don't want to be here)
2:55 Race # 25 Group D Medal Final
3:15 Race # 26 Group C Medal Final
3:35 Race # 27 Group B Medal Final
3:55 Race # 28 Group A Medal Final

“Justice Rocks” is highlighting music and social activism at Strathcona Park on Saturday June 30th.

“Justice Rocks” is a FREE one-day concert in East Vancouver's Strathcona Park.

August 30th, 2008
12 noon to 8pm features live music.

This sounds like a pretty cool happening event.  I wish I could be there.  .  I was invited to take part in a presentation of Canta-Storia, which is an interactive activist theatre group that made presentations on the strike line during last fall's Vancouver civic strike.  This event is also sponsored by CUPE BC, and CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Workers – I am a member-at-large on our union executive. Some of my friends who were active in CUPE 391 and CUPE 15 will be there,

From the press release and website:

“We wanted to hold a summer event that brings together music and ideas for social change,” said John Richardson, Executive Director of Pivot. “Justice Rocks is about showing how fun it can be to help make the world a better place .”

Justice Rocks will feature musical programming from noon to 8pm, as well as a variety of tents with displays and activities on the themes of social engagement, highlighting successful and innovative ways to make social change happen. A number of leading social and environmental organizations will showcasing their most innovative ways of using pop-culture to engage and educate the public, and prizes will be awarded for the most effective and thought provoking approaches.Featured musicians include: local indie musicians Choir Practice,
Curtis Santiago, Fur Bearing Animals, Run GMC and more!

Justice Rocks will be a family oriented outdoor event with activities during the day, and will offer a 'Kidz Zone', including a shaded child-oriented rest area, face painting, big bubbles, story-time hosted by children's librarians from the Vancouver Public Library, crafts and cooperative games for children of all ages.

Justice Rocks is a break-even event. All proceeds raised will go exclusively to paying the costs of event production, with any profits going towards the costs of Justice Rocks 2009.
If you have a question regarding Justice Rocks or would like to get involved, give us a shout!

You can call us at Pivot Legal Society at (604) 255-9700.
Ask to speak to Michaela Montaner (ext.105) or John Richardson (ext.110).

For more details check out and stay tuned

Joy in Cambodia: Postcard #2 What does a Canadian do?

Gung Haggis dragon boat paddler Joy Singbeil (Celtic name) is in Cambodia for 2 years:

This is Postcard #2

HPIM2336 by bunnybears.Joy Singbeil (far right) back in June at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival with team mates Joe Easton (left) and Marion Hoy (centre).  But now she is in Cambodia… teaching drama?!?!? photo courtesy of Marion Hoy.

Postcard #2
by Joy Singbeil
special to

Aug 28th
Hey Everybody,
Well I got my first paycheque so I feel I am really a  bonafide
Ëxpat”,  And as always here geting things done is not so simple.  It
took 3 weeks to get a bankcard (they have our photos on) but getting a
chequing account is so difficult and requires stamping each and every
cheque so I didn't bother.  There is no limit on what cash you can draw
out in either US dollars or Cambodian Riels.  Each US dollar is worth
4000 riels and you use riels for small transactions.  As a result you
pockets are full of thousands of riels and really it's only worth about
$4.00 bu the locals flip back and forth from one currency to another.
A good description of traffic in Cambodia…..a bit like that opening
scene of Starwars with all the meteorites coming towards you……..I
don't think I will ever stop wincing as the tuktuk driver turns directly
into the oncoming traffic.    So what did I see on  moto this
week……well there are always the balloon merchants who sell down by
the river and pump up all these amazing animals and tie them to poles
and gently waft down the street.  There are the two huge leather
sofas.  There is the framework strapped on to the bike extending all
around the rider and festooned with bananas.  There was one that was
breathtaking………wickerwork shelves piled high and tied one to
another and all around the driver so you could barely see him.  The
winner this week so far has to be the slaughtered pig.  A pretty big
one hanging down on either side of the driver.  I must be getting used
to this dead pig thing as I didn't hear or ignored the pigs being
delivered to the butcher all week.  I tell a lie I saw one thing that
took my breath away.  Little lad on the front then dad driving then Mum
holding the baby and casually nursing it as they whizzed along beside
our tuktuk………very few people have helmets. 
Last weekend I joined my compatriot and went out into the country while
some of the young guys went rock climbing.  Pretty difficult to find a
rock big enough to climb here as it is so flat.  But we did!!” I have
no head for heights so I just watched and we were entertained by all
the local children who came to visit us and helped us cook on our BBQ. 
This was an old part of a bumper, charcoal, and a lovely set
of kebabs(squid,huge shrimp and meat and Veggie) prepared by the girls
who look after our apartment.  They all run out and welcome us home and
try out their English on us.   Sometimes they give us Khmer food which
I can't eat but for the most part food here is great and very cheap.
So what is a usual day.  This morning I woke up to the sounds of the
city waking up and looked over at the breakfast being cooked below me. 
One day I'm going to try that.  A big wok full of boiling oil cooking
on the sidewalk filled with a pastry puffing up golden brown.  A man
has thrown a table top on two saw horses and is busy rolling out the
dough beside it.  When I come home he is the tailor and is measuring
pants.   The driver picks me  and the other 4 from the same building
and drives us to school, thank goodness.  I get to look at all the
sights from relative safety.  At school I like to go over to the
poolside club and get a coffee for a 20 minutes.  Then it is
Homeroom(Gr 9) for 10 minutes and then classes.  One  day I teach 3
classes and one day 1 class(I should each 2 but they forgot to schedule
me in).  I have a Gr 12  AP Lit class of 9 students, a Gr 9 Lit class of
22, a Gr 9/10 Language class of 23 and a Gr 12 Drama Class of 15.  The
students are very ESL but very bright and willing for the most part. 
At the end of the day I try to get a swim and this week I am trying to
jog……I'll see how it goes as it is up in the 30's most of the
time.  It does pour most days and the power goes out more often than
not.  The evening is taken up with errands/sightseeing/food and hanging
out.  Tonight I'm off to see John Mayall playing (on DVD) at a place
called the Meta House which is an Art Galley and a rooftop bar with a
big screen.  It is right beside a Wat(temple)  Happy Hour is incredibly
cheap and you get used to the cascading rain pouring over electrical
Found a great restaurant by accident last night.  I went to phone my mum
from an internet cafe as the skype drops so often.  Across the street
was a Korean restaurant.  Jo, the Australian girl I am sharing with
had been enticed over by being given free treats(again from the bbq on
the sidewalk )and by the time I had finished my phome call she had
ordered dinner.  No one spoke any English but the place was spotless and
they had pictures of the food around the walls.  We had a dish of deep
fried pork bits covered with fresh veggies in a delicious sauce and
then dumplings with chicken and onion.  there were sauces on the side
to dip.  All this and a beer came to $6.00 which was expensive for here
but it was so good.
This weekend I'm off to the beach.  We are all going together(well some
are) and we have a 3 day weekend so I'm looking forward to that.  Did I
mention I have lilac nails with silver sprinkles.  You can get your
nails and toes done here for $8.  So far the reaction I've got is “Oh
lovely” or………..”Well I suppose you are the drama teacher.”  I intend
to get all the colours of the rainbow done before I leave.
If anyone wants to visit us come soon as we may not be in our Penthouse
forever.  As rents go here it is expensive and we may just be forced to
look for another lovely(cheaper) place.
Love to all……….please pass this along to any other interested soul.
Love Joy

Joy in Cambodia: Celtic Canadian in Asia – postcard #1

Joy Singbeil is a Gung Haggis dragon boat team member.  She is in Cambodia for 2 years on teaching assignment.  this is her first travel report.


Joy Singbeil wearing her Weslsh dragon hat in Vancouver – photo Marion Hoy 

Postcard #2
by Joy Singbeil
special to

Hi Everyone.
This hopefully will reach you all.  I have sat down numerous times to
write a long missive, only to have the power fail and the internet to
go down all is lost !!   So maybe I will have a better chance to hit
all of you in one lucky go.
So what to say so far…  Today is the 3 week anniversary of my arrival. 
I feel as if every day is weeks long.  There is so much to do and see
and as soon as my eyes and ears light on one thing another takes its
place and I am truly “gobsmacked”
This week's highlights. My first week of school is over.  The school
setting is idyllic.  A green oasis with shrubs and flowers and cool
buildings.  All open air or open to the rains I should say which fall
regularly in varying degrees of deluge quantity every afternoon.  There
is a swimming pool and a “club” beside it.  Yes I could have a beer
between classes.  Northbridge is a real estate chunk for want of a
better word and the school belongs to it rather than the other way
around.  So it is a business and the fees are about 10-15 grand a
year.  Classes are small and I have a drama class of about 15 who are
delighted to do other things than academic.  I had ten to start with
and then word got out and I have all the Gr 12 bar 2  now.  This week
we learned how to do dramatic sword fights as we are doing a brief play
on Romeo and Juliet.  My English Classes Gr 9 and Gr 9/10 are about
22.  My Ap Lit class has 11.  For some reason they forgot to schedule
my fifth class.  Oh Darn!!………So I am enjoying my work life.  I
have plans for a music production and also I am starting up a student
The new staff are great and we have bonded quite a bit as we are all
thrown in together.  So much entertainment is done together and seems
to revolve around eating and drinking.  We had a party at the Penthouse
on Friday.  I along with 2 other girls have managed to score a
wonderful place to live 8 stories up overlooking the city.  We have a
security guard downstairs and the place is lovely with a wide balcony
overlooking all.  From there I can see several “wats” (temples) and the
river in the distance.  Traffic is unbelievable.  I could write a novel
on the kinds of things I have seen transported around the city on the
back of a motor bike.  Every step into the street has an adventure. 
The simplest shopping trips take hours and involve all kinds of

Finding a phone took forever.  If you have a calling
card you might be able to reach me. 
Wireless/internet/electricity here has a life of it's own and sometimes
is on and sometimes off.  For a phone you need to show a contract that
you actually live here and a passport to prove who you are.  Then you
get a sim card and after that you can buy time.  I have tried to Skype
but it drops pretty often.  I think I'm going to stick to Internet
Cafe.  Last time I used one I had to stop as it was raining so hard it
was so noisy I couldn't hear myself or the other person.
Yesterday I went on the Hash House Harriers Run out into the country. 
It deluged and deluged and deluged so much it hurt my eyes.  Needless
to say we were all soaked.  It's not so much a run as a balancing act
as you thread your way through the rice paddies on the top(hopefully)
of the dikes holding back the water.  There are 5 paddy fields of
differing heights of water (which is pretty warm when you slip into
it).   There are villages and people everywhere.  All fascinated by
these strange people running through.  Yesterday they were taking
showers outside and he children ran after us.  We arrive in two cattle
trucks and there is quite a commotion.  We form a circle at the end and
then follows some very old British Public School /Rugby shenanigans
involving quantities of beer and rude songs.  Needless to say they
villagers all crowd around an gawp at the entertainment.  After the breezy ride home we end up in a restaurant and
eat.  The food here is great and amazingly cheap $5 will buy you all
kinds of good food and beer.
Saturday I went to an orphanage.  Well not really an orphanage but a
place where they rescue kids from the dump.  We wound our way down
numerous streets in a tuk tuk. When they opened some metal doors,  inside
there were 93 kids.  They rushed over and grabbed us (gently) what
affection and love.  They made me cry.  They proudly showed us around. 
Bunk beds and 6 to a room.  all very shabby but spotless.  They are
really keen on education as the whole point is to make sure they don't
end up back on the dump.  I have volunteered to go and teach some of
them this Tuesday and then perhaps for a lot longer. 
People here are so forgiving and serene and they just get along!  Even
when your tuk tuk veers into the oncoming traffic(standard practice) 
everyone just moves out of the way.  I havn't seen one incidence of road
rage yet!!
Shopping is amazing and cheap.  It is tiring as it is so hot and
humid.  I have put away two thirds of my clothes as being too hot and
the rest you use up pretty quickly as you get so hot in them.  The guys
at school are having dress pants made for $14 and shirts made for$10 and
shoes are made for $18.  I'm waiting for payday to get some silk things
made up.  Rent is our only really big expense.  This is probably the
only time in my life I will live in a Penthouse.  We call ourselves the
Princesses in the Penthouse (soon to be Paupers in the Penthouse)
The sounds from my apartment will remain with me forever.  Last night I
got home and I went out on the deck.  It was so noisy.  I called the
others and we went out.  It was crickets!!  Last week they came and
took the dead grass away from the flowerbeds and laid in fresh
grass(really different from ours more like ground cover) Then I guess
with all the rain the eggs hatched and there we were 8 stories up and
listening to crickets!!  It even drowns out the squeals from the
piglets as they are hauled out of the truck and literally thrown into
the butcher beside us.  One piglet escaped last week and ran off down the
road and hid under a car.
I'll write more next week  ……….Love to all Joy

3 days until Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat races… Gung Haggis practices in the rain… again…

3 days until Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat races… Gung Haggis practices in the rain… again…

IMG_2727 by you.Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team at last year's Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Races. – photo

The Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Races are one of our team's favorite races.  We have race every year, since the inaugural race in 2003.  It runs in conjunction with the Taiwanese Cultural Festival, which is an amazing festival featuring Taiwanese food, culture, music and arts.  It takes place at Plaza of Nations, August 30, 31 and September 1, over the Labour Day weekend.

We met at Dragon Zone as usual for our Tuesday 6pm practice.  A few paddlers were standing outside when I arrived, but because it was raining – we went inside the trailer / clubhouse.  Inside we found more team mates. 

We did a briefing there… as we waited for latecomers. Many of the new paddlers hadn't been on a Taiwanese boat before, and they had missed our Sunday practice (because of the rain), so this practice was important to help get our paddlers used to the Taiwanese boats.

we went down to the dock at 6:20, and loaded the boat, as another
paddler came running down the walkway at 6:25.  We left Dragon Zone,
and paddled over to the Taiwanese boats at the DBA dock.  then switched

We paddled over to Science World – north side to simulate a
“tethered race start”, then did a full race piece to Plaza of Nations. 
paddled to the Cambie St. Bridge, and avoided the rain for a bit.  We
practiced switching seats.  then we paddled West, and around the
bridge, over to Plaza of Nations.  We came into the little harbour
beside the Logger's dock, and explained the Barrel race scenario.  Then
we practiced the “clover-leaf turns” for the “barrel race”.

TCF2007 VFK_0150.JPG by vfk. Here's a picture from last year's races during the NOGARD, or “backward race.”  The teams have all paddled past the flag, stopped the boats, and the paddlers have all each turned around in the boat, and are paddling forwards – as the boat goes backwards.  It's much harder to grab the flag this way… as the steering oar will jam in the water, as the boat goes backwards… and the boat will not go where you want it to. photo VFK

Despite the rain, we had fun.  The turns take a lot out of you, and our paddlers were tired.  We returned the Taiwanese boat, climbed back into the Gemini, then returned to Dragon Zone.   But, we did another race start and a short race piece back towards Dragon Zone.

We are hoping the weather will be drier on the weekend.  We managed all spring and summer to have very few rainy practices, and now we are getting drenched every time we go out in a boat.

5 days until Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Races at the Taiwanese Cultural Festival

5 Days until Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Races

Grab the flag – then cross the finish line.  If you miss the flag – go back…

TUESDAY 6pm  – next practice
We would like all Taiwanese rostered paddlers at practice TUESDAY night (except Tzhe in Hong Kong and Dave). 

All paddlers are welcome… hopefully we will have enough for two boats…or at least 18 paddlers for Taiwanese boat.


rented a Taiwanese boat for Sunday's practice… but we almost couldn't
go out because we didn't have enough paddlers show up.

if it rains on race day?  Will people show up?  Ernest and I are deeply
worried about the mental resolve of rain-scaredy paddlers!

souls who showed up were Alissa, Wendy, Brooke, Ernest, Jonas, Stuart,
Steven W, Dave, Devon, Todd and Mary-Lee from G.Force Winds.  Thank
goodness we had the magic number 10 paddlers + steers.

paddled a 6-16 over to DBA to pick up a Taiwanese dragon boat.  Big
beautiful decorated boats made of Alaskan cedar.  They sit higher on
the water so we all had longer 48″ paddles (blue). 

It is a
very different kind of boat to paddle.  You have to really reach
forward and down to get your blade in the water, then drive your top
arm to keep the paddle vertical.

We found that the boat “plows”
the water, so we adjusted our starts to 6-18.  Or maybe with only 10
paddlers we didn't have the strength to make it fly.

practiced switcheroos, turns and starts.  The Taiwanese boat is much
easier to turn because there is no keel.  But there is also no gunwale
either, so paddlers feel a bit exposed to the elements.  The bottom of
the boat is slanted, so footing is awkward.  Very slippery in a wet


9 women paddlers on Saturday  / 10 women on Sunday
11 men paddlers available on both days – (if Karl joins us + 2 more paddlers from Sudden Impact might join us)

roster mixes experience and rookies.  But these rookies have also been
very impressive.  Looks like lots of fun for this coming weekend.

Todd 15 /Tzhe 2 /Dave 6- drum/steers/flag

Alissa 1 – Wendy 3
Jane 3 – Hillary 2
Susan Mott 1 – Colleen
Brooke 1 – Cindy 2
Marion 1 – Debbie 4 / Judi 1 (sat only)
Jim 4 – Stephen M. 5
Jonas 3 – Tony 5
Ernest 5 – Devon 1
Raphael 2  – Stuart 1

+ Karl 1 + 2 more paddlers?

In memoriam: Betty Ho goes to that big kitchen in the sky.

Betty May Ho

Rest in Peace


Betty Ho had a love of life that was big.  It was so big, that when she retired – she kept living large.  Betty went to Simon Fraser University. She volunteered at festivals.  And she made big contributions to her church group, Vancouver Chinese Presbyterian Church.

Last year, she joined the Chinese Canadian Historical Society writing workshop last year, facilitated by Brandy Lien-Worrall.  That was how I met her.

Photo Library - 2831 by you.

Betty Ho stands in front with her red jacket at the informal “Writers Launch” of Eating Stories at the Rhizome Cafe.  left to right: George Jung, Betty Ho, Gordie Mark, Todd Wong, Brandy Lien Worrall, Dan Seto, Harley Wylie, Hayne Wai, Henry Yu. – photo Deb Martin

Betty was in the Saturday workshop, while I was in the Wednesday night
workshop.  But our groups would sometimes mix for special events, such
as the initial orientation, book launches, and parties.  Betty always
brought a zest for life to our events, and she wrote about our workshop
experience in an article for a seniors magazine that she regularly
contributed to.

Photo Library - 2838 by you.

Here is our entire writing group at the official book launch at the Vancouver Museum on Nov. 25th.
Betty is standing in the front centre (wearing light mauve top), right beside our esteemed workshop leader Brandy (who is bald because of ongoing chemotherapy treatment) – photo Deb Martin

Betty also had a love for Chinese Canadian history, arts and culture.  Last year I saw her at the book launch of Jade Rubies, written by my cousin Valerie Wong.  The last time I saw Betty was earlier this year when our writing group had an “Iron Chef” styled cook-off between the two writing groups.  Each group was told to cook with yams.  We could make desserts, main courses, appetizers, salads… anything… as long as it contained yams.

Betty really enjoyed the evening.  Each group was invited to have members go up to the microphone and make “verbal contributions.”  Betty sent her son Arnie as her envoy.  Despite her incredible zest of life, and her openness to share her stories through her writing,  she could still be shy.

Here is the book that Betty Ho contributed to:

Eating Stories: A Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Potluck

Here is Brandy's blog article about Betty's passing:
RIP Betty

Here is the e-mail message that went out to our writing group:

Hi Everyone,


Sad news.  Betty passed away Sunday August 10.  A service will be held
Friday August 15 at Ocean View Funeral Home at 1 pm.  At Betty's request, please wear attire to reflect her zest for life (do not wear black).


A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, August 16 2pm at the
Vancouver Chinese Presbyterian Church, 6137 Cambie Street.
 In lieu of
flowers, donations can be made “In Memory of Betty Ho” to the BC Cancer Foundation, Suite 600-686 W. Broadway, Vancouver, B.C.  V5Z 1G1 or to P.W.S. & D, c/o of The Chinese Presbyterian Church.

Here is the obituary that appeared in the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province.

HO Betty May (Louie)May 22, 1936 – August 10, 2008 After a valiant and
inspirational battle with cancer, we sadly announce the passing of
Betty Ho on Sunday, August 10th, 2008. She died peacefully surrounded
by her loving family and friends, and she is now with her Lord and
Saviour, Jesus Christ. Predeceased by her father, Wah Hoy Louie, Betty
was a loving wife to Arthur, a wonderful mother to Betsy (Daisen)
Gee-Wing and Arnie; and a caring grandmother to Kendall and Deanna. She
is also survived by her mother, Theresa Louie, sisters Holly (Eddie)
Siu, Janny (Dave) Poon, Alinda (Bill) Bowden and brother Nick. She also
leaves to mourn her half sister Oy-King Tai, brother in law Ben
(Micheline) Ho and many nieces and nephews. Born in Vancouver,
Betty graduated from King George High School, and then trained as a Lab
Technician at St. Paul's Hospital. After retiring in 1996 as a
Laboratory Manager at St. Vincent's Hospital, Betty found time for a
new hobby – writing. She enrolled in courses at SFU, pursuing her goal
of completing a Liberal Arts Degree. Her most recent writing
accomplishments include: being a contributing writer for the Senior
Living magazine, as well as having her writing published in the book
“Eating Stories: A Chinese Canadian
& Aboriginal Potluck”. Betty loved travel, photography and music.
For many years Betty combined her love of music and helping others by
volunteering at both the Jazz and Folk Festivals. She was faithful servant at The Vancouver Chinese Presbyterian Church.
She contributed her time in many ways to the church, and was elected as
an Elder in 2000, followed by holding the position Clerk of Session
since 2004. A service will be held Friday, August 15th
Ocean View Funeral Home, 4000 Imperial Street, Burnaby. At Betty's
request, please wear attire to reflect her zest for life (do not wear
black). A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, August 16th
2:00pm at The Vancouver Chinese Presbyterian Church (6137 Cambie Street).
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made “In Memory of Betty Ho” to
The B.C. Cancer Foundation, Suite 600 – 686 W. Broadway, Vancouver,
B.C., Canada V5Z 1G1 or to P.W.S & D, c/o of The Vancouver Chinese
Presbyterian Church.

Published in the Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on 8/13/2008



Vancouver Sun: Kerry Jang asks ‘Does housing first’ model make sense?

Condos and townhouses are very tricky to improve. Almost any exterior and structure-changing interior improvements must first be cleared with the homeowner’s association. This may severely limit your opportunity for improvement, but that does not make it impossible. If you are on the need of improving your landscape value without spending a huge budget then you better use artificial turf.

Our top condo improvement tips will help you add value to your condo without killing your wallet.

1. Purchase new appliances

Old appliances can make a beautifully decorated room look archaic. A simple upgrade from old appliances to stainless steel appliances will make your rooms look sleek and modern, which can greatly enhance the perceived value of your condo. Upgrading your appliances can also help you save on your monthly utility bills. One of the best ways to keep your family safe is by using a general building security gate.

2. Re-paint the rooms and re-do floors

Floors, walls and ceilings are the first thing that people notice in a room. Old floors, stained carpeting or cracked walls can be a big turn-off to guests or potential buyers; however, a small investment in paint and flooring can drastically increase the value of your condo.

Before jumping into a project like this, make sure you carefully plan out each room and the condo as a whole. It is important for the colors and flooring of your condo to flow nicely from room to room.

3. Touch up the bathrooms

Condo bathrooms are typically smaller than bathrooms in a house. Since space is limited, each improvement can have significant benefit. If you are working on a very limited budget, simple fixes like touching up the tile or paint can help add value.

After that, bathroom upgrades such as new countertops, tile flooring, light fixtures, showers, toilets, sinks, drawers and cabinets can help boost your condo’s value even more.

Gung Haggis dragon boat team gets ready for Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat races.

6th Annual Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Races is coming up on August 30/31 Labour Day weekend…. and Gung Haggis dragon boat team will be ready!

Gung Haggis dragon boat team grabs the flag during the 2007 Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat races. Emilie grabs the flag, as Todd drums. – photo VFK

It is the last Sunday before Vancouver Taiwanese dragon boat races on August 30/31.
held in conjunction with Taiwanese Cultural Festival held at the Plaza of Nations.

We had a FANTASTIC practice on Tuesday night.

Stephen Mirowski said he hasn't felt power in the boat like this since Vernon.  The boat actually surged during power series.

had a full boat with 14 Gung Haggis paddlers + 5 members of GVRD (GVRD
captain John Tailford + 4 women) + Karl from Killarney (He's going into
Grade 12).

James Yu became our “guest coach/drummer” for the
practice, as I did lead stroke with Wendy, Alissa and Keng backed us up
in the #2 seat. Colleen, Debbie, Jane rounded out the front.   Backs
were led by Stephen Mirowski, Tony Lim and John Tailford, along with
great support by Jonas, Rafael, Steven Wong, – a strong engine room
with good support from Gerard, Karl and Brooke.

James did some exercises to encourage paddlers to get
their blades in the water on the entry – before they pull – hence “the

We did some race pieces + practiced fun race elements such as the “seat switcheroo” for the NOGARD (backward) race + “turns” for the barrel race.

Everybody said it was a good practice.  Only 2 more practices before Taiwanese races… and the pressure to perform is on!

It's always interesting how more focussed the team and practices are just before a race event.

Our roster is still to be settled.  Unfortunately, a number of Gung Haggis paddlers have some vacation and work commitments.

Well maybe… GVRD has usually been James was impressed with Tuesday's boat, and said Gung Haggis should be better than GVRD next year.much stronger than us at practice races prior to Alcan festivals over the past few years.  We finally actually beat them during one practice this year, but lost all others.

Here are pictures of the Gung Haggis team at from last year's Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Races at the Taiwanese Cultural Festival