chris vs. the arctic

chris: 72 // the arctic: 47

A Quick Update and a Discovery

I started my new job this week. I'm working at the Audit Bureau for the Government of the Northwest Territories. Basically, I'll be assisting on audits. I think it's going to be pretty interesting doing investigations and all that. My office is great too!

My blog entry on the trip is coming along... The bottleneck is my photos. There are too many! Go here to check them out: JANZ (Japan, Australia, and New Zealand).

While I was in Japan, my parents entered me into a raffle at my brother's high school. I won the second prize -- a 20 minute helicopter tour of Yellowknife with 3 friends! Brenna, Christie, Chantelle, and I will be riding in style this Friday afternoon! Look for those pictures soon.

My LSAT is next weekend!! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

Now for the discovery: I just discovered that my grandpa's nickname in the military during WWII was 'Buck'! I have been unwittingly carrying on the tradition!

Here's a photo taken from my back deck the other day:

A Yellowknife Sunset

Contrasting Canada

[This is a bit of an interlude in my blog on my trip. I just had to write this now or everything would slip from my mind.]

My return to Canada, after a two-year absence, has been much smoother than I anticipated. I'm experiencing absolutely no "reverse culture shock" -- as far as I know. Nothing has really changed, and I expected that. However, there are a few subtleties to Canada that only a clean palette could detect:

1) The hot water is HOT. I nearly scalded my hands by running only the hot water tap to wash up. This is true of almost all taps I have used here. I suppose Japan just doesn't heat their water as much. Saves energy.

2) Bread grows mould. Japanese bread doesn't. Don't ask.

3) Canadians really do have an accent. And it's really thick. I have to focus, but I can clearly identify it. My family has a particularly strong variant.

4) The northern lights are really amazing. I have seen them a couple of times since returning to Yellowknife. I forgot how incredible they are!

5) We waste water. (This is more of a contrast to Australia than East Asia.) Just today, I walked into the kitchen to find the tap running with no one around. A few seconds later, my mom returns. I asked who was using the water and left it on, and she said she was letting it heat up. Australians would be horrified.

6) Canadians are more cosmo than I give us credit for. I was shocked at the average level of style in Edmonton and Yellowknife. Granted, it may be the money in these two cities, but it's not the dirty white sneakers and Warner Bros. novelty t-shirts I was expecting.

7) Generally, we're not that polite. I got my fair share of snippiness in Alberta. Again, this may be just Alberta, but I think it's everywhere.

8) Tipping sucks!! Asia and Oceania have it right -- no tipping, please.

9) The Canadian grocery store is a dream come true. I nearly fainted when I realised I could go to my local Extra Foods and buy hummus, old cheddar, plums, sundried tomatoes, steaks, frozen lasagnas, and a variety of leafy greens for cheap! (Now I'm hungry...)

10) Canadian beer can't be beat. High alcohol percentage and high taste. It was recently pointed out to me that there is something gravely wrong about Japanese beer. One pint can get you tipsy. A pint of Canadian beer (with comparable alcohol content) has little to no effect on your sobriety. The only explanation is that the chemicals used to preserve and 'brew' Japanese beer enhance the intoxicating effect. Scary thought.

11) 24-hour bank machines are simply amazing.

12) Debit cards are extremely annoying. (Oh sure, I'd love to wait in line a little longer while you input your pin to pay for that pack of gum...)

13) Completely uninhibited communication is pure joy. Of course, I had communication troubles in Asia, but even Australia and New Zealand held a few surprises. There were several instances where I had absolutely no idea what was being said to me "in English." Inserting subtle humour and sarcasm in a quick conversation with a cashier is priceless.

14) The words uttered from the mouths of Canadians are more often than not dripping with thick sarcasm. I occasionally got myself into hot water with both the Japanese and non-Canadian expats in Japan. Kari has had similar experiences in New Zealand. Oh, as well as Lauren in Australia. I think we all have to collectively tone it down. Yeah, right. (See!)

15) Canada is obsessed with pizza. And I love it!

These were the most apparent differences for me. Perhaps you have some of your own you'd like to share? Just leave a comment below. Thanks!

It'll be nice to return to Asia in a few years and see everything with a fresh perspective. I can't wait!

Post-Japan, Pre-Arctic


I'm finally back in the homeland. Maybe I shouldn't say 'finally.' That would imply that I've been waiting for this moment. I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about moving back to Yellowknife after two years. Would things be the same? Would it be completely unrecognizable? Who would be hanging around the 'Knife? Anyone I know?

My queries were answered this week after my grand arrival from Japan via Australia and New Zealand. (More on that later.) Things are pretty much the same. A few new buildings. Things are shinier and more high tech. The people are the same as well, but that's a huge relief. I'm genuinely excited about meeting up with old friends and hearing all the goss' and stories. It should be an interesting month!

I've been too preoccupied with unpacking, studying for the LSAT, and running tons of errands to notice that I'm jobless. I think that situation will resolve itself soon though... Hopefully.


So now I'm living at home. I always secretly judge people who move back to their parents' house when they're well into their adult years. Now I'm one of them! I have a completely legitimate reason for doing so, so I don't care. Plus, it's very temporary. So... yeah.

I'd like to share with you one of the first things my mom said to me after I arrived. I think it pretty much sums her up. "When we [my family minus me] go to Paris in March, we're going to tour the city on Segways. It's going to be a hoot!" Oh mom. I'm sure it will be a complete and total hoot. ;)

My brothers are in my space, but that's what brothers do, right? All three of them are here, so it's a little crowded. What the F? Get out of the house! You're adults! Oh wait... Yeah... Holding my tongue.


So what did I do between Japan and Canada? Australia and New Zealand! The trip was long and amazing, so here's the low down:

// Tokyo

Kate flew over to Tokyo from Toronto. We visited every single ward of Tokyo over five days, including day trips to Nikko and Yokohama/Kamakura. I'm actually pretty impressed with us. It's not an easy task to tackle Tokyo. But we did it.

TOP SIGHT: The real 'Three Monkeys' (Hear No Evil...) at Nikko.

The Three Monkeys

TOWERS VISITED: The Landmark Tower in Yokohama (including the world's fastest elevator); The Mori Tower; and The Sunshine 60 Building.

Landmark TowerThe Mori Building
Sunshine 60 Building
Never Ending Tokyo be continued.

Visited Countries

Two more countries for the list! Now I've visited 8% of the countries in the world.

Get your own map here.