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Monday, February 21, 2005

Survivor Series, Vancouver. Part 1

Last Friday, I had drinks at Sound Bar@Liquidroom. I was coming out of the toilet when this cute Chinese lady approached me with a survey. She had an accent which suggests that she is not local and I proceed to ask her about her origin. Shes Canadian, currently on exchange in NUS, residing in Toronto(pronounced as Torono)
Thirty Pounces, I believe is a debater who recently went to Calgary, Canada for a debate competition.
No resemblence between the two, except that I associated both with Canada where I have had memorable experiences. The first place where I had manage to witness falling snow, the first place where I first entered a strip bar and the first place where I found myself in a situation of true fear.
Everytime I think of Canada, I will think of University of British Columbia followed by this incident which I am going to blog about.

WARNING : The remaining material is going to be VERY long, probably tougher to complete when compared with the novel version of LOTR. Brace yourselves.

I was on a Student Exchange Programme. I distinctively remember landing at Vancouver airport on a Saturday noon, around 1300 hr, with my enormous backpack and my buddy Toshiba. After I got past the immigration, I proceed to locate the UBC's Shuttle Service booth without much effort. There I spoke to a Singaporean who was helping out at the booth. I cannot remember his name now, but I vaguely remember he was the President of the Singapore Club in UBC and he gave me his name card. I was beginning to feel comfortable. Fancy making contact with a fellow Singapore within half an hour of your touchdown, that was really relieving. I was told that the next shuttle ride wouldn't be available til an hour plus later so I just lazed around the airport in the meantime.
The transport to campus soon came in the form of a black jeep. There were 4 foreign students in that ride. I got acquainted with a Philipino lady named Maria. She was doing her PhD and was going to be in UBC for a month, just to attend a series of seminars. The ride was short and I soon got to my one-week lodging, Place Varnier before my permanent lodging at Thunderbird Residence would be ready for move-in.
The game started when I was checking in and the lady at the counter, who had no expression on her face, told me that, according to her system, I could only stay at Place Varnier for ONE night. I proceed to correct her,"Sorry, I made reservation for ONE week." She RE-corrected me,"On my system, only ONE day."
Apparently, something went awry in my application for housing. Thunderbird was only meant for Masters and PhD students and these residents are not eligible for "One week temp lodging". I, as an exchange student, should have gone to ANY other housing, so as to be eligible for the one week temp lodging.
I plead with her for help with accomodation as I had just make a 24 hrs trip and I do not know of anyone in this country as yet. She refused to bulged and offered me an advice,"You have to figure a way out yourself."
By now, it was around 1600hrs, nearing sunset and I knew I had to take her advice,
find a way out myself. So I placed my belongings in the room and left in search of alternatives. I walk onto the campus street, it was a ghost town. Not a single soul in sight. I should have known, it was a Saturday evening and the campus was at the edge of Vancouver, nobody would be working at this time. I had no choice, I had to take the chance that someone might be stationed on a 24 hrs basis to aid lost sheeps like me. Nada. I went to the more prominent administrative offices in campus, none were open. I knew I drew my last blank when even the administrative office at Thunderbird Residence was closed.
By now, I was in bad shape. 24 hrs plane ride, 1 hour of waiting for the shuttle, 2 hrs of exploring the campus and I found myself going to be without a shelter for the next day. I wasn't hungry, but I knew I had to get some food for the night. A helpful resident tipped me that the only place to grab food in campus at that unearthly hour was the Student Union Building(SUB)'s pizza parlor, Pie R Squared.
I forced myself to takeaway 2 large slices of pizza when Maria appeared for her dinner. Delighted to see her, I told her about the shit that fell on me. She then suggested that we bring our pizza to the cliff where we can watch the sunset, eat and chat. Yes, UBC is beautifully situated on the edge of the cliff. And, yes, very lomantic idea except that did not appeal to the soon-to-be-homeless kid...

To be continued...


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