Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hope for my Lost Chinese Flight

The Epic of No-China has taken a tentative step in the positive direction.

After calling the helpful people at Southern China Airlines, they informed me that I can only cancel or exchange my now-useless flight to Beijing through the cheap online ticket agency I bought them through. So I called the customer service number, and after many attempts, I got through to a real person.

Turns out that I can cancel my flight, but the company won't give me a refund. What they will do is give me credit with the airline for a future flight. Actually, this is alright. While I won't be able to travel this vacation (it's Chusook - Korean Thanksgiving = too many people traveling = too expensive), I still have 3 months here to use the ticket. I, of course, need to confirm all of this.

So with that sorted, I can choose another destination for later travel. Japan? Tokyo? Singapore? Kuala Lumpor? Hong Kong? Any ideas?

Where do you think I should go?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Big Trouble in Little China

Man, am I frustrated with China.

Long story short, I have been planning to visit Beijing for Chusook (Korean Thanksgiving - Sept. 12 - 15th). I booked the flight form Seoul to Beijing with Southern China Airlines for a great price - about $400. A few weeks later, the airline emailed with a change to the return ticket, to return a day later when I was supposed to be working. This was quickly solved with a short phone call and things were perfect and I was excited.

One tiny detail was missing though - the visa. Little did I know that China needed Canadians to have a valid visa to enter the country. No problem, I though upon learning of this twist. But after searching the web and calling the embassy, there is a problem.

Turns out that people wanting to enter China must have at least 6 months left on their Korean Alien Registration Visa...

... I arrived in December, and my Registration card expires in December - only 4 months left. Shoot, I thought. So today, I made my way to the largest travel agency in Seoul, Hana Tours, and begged them to help me. The lovely girl spent 30 minutes trying. We talked with the Korean visa people because we thought that if I extend my Registration here another 2 months, then China would grant me their visa! We were stunned to hear that you cannot extend your Korean registration until there is 2 months or less left on it.

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! Fuck! (Sorry for the expletive, but I am genuinely angry!!!) So basically, I can't go to China because I have 4 months left and I can't extend my Korean visa because I have 4 months left. (sound of brain exploding over newly-purchaced Lonley Planet Beijing book.)

Ah, burocracy.

So tomorrow, I'll make the call to Southern China Airlines to try to get my flight either (1) changed or (2) refunded. I'll keep you posted...

Way to go China, on the making a good Olympics impression on the World! Uhhh.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life as a Bachelor

Friday, August 15, 2008

Can the Dark Knight win an Oscar?

I have finally seen the Dark Knight (not once, but twice!) and I have to say that it is one the best movies I've seen. Not only is it a great comic book movie and action movie, it is a very exciting and layered crime drama. I believe it transcends the usual light comic book fare and will go on to be nominated as a Best Picture of 2008. Make sure you see it.

Besides the top prize, I feel that the hype over Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is well warranted. He is spectacular and terrifying - actually SCARY. There is a fantastic and gruesome magic trick early on that illustrates this definite difference from Jack Nicholson's Joker - who, let's face it, wasn't really scary. Heath deserves a best supporting actor Oscar.

"Here's my card..." - the Joker

The rest of the cast is on form, with Michael Cane and Morgan Freeman doing their usual good work. Christian Bale seems much more comfortable as the Batman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, while not as pretty as Katie Holms, acts her pants off as Rachel. Gary Oldman gets to act more as Commissioner Gordon. I feel the most underrated but solid performance in the film was by Aaron Eckart, who played district attorney Harvey Dent. He had the most challenging character arc - from Gotham's White Knight to Two-Face (see the movie to figure out what the hell I mean here!) He was great.

The movie is a tragedy and is not very fun. In fact, it is very dark and mean. But that makes it more interesting and it stand out from other comic films, such as Iron Man, the Hulk, and even from it's prequel, Batman Begins. It is not a kids movie. DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHILDREN! Nor is it just another summer blockbuster. It is dark and disturbing, more like Heat, Scarface or the Godfather.

Watching the Dark Knight drains you and leaves you shocked and breathless at the end. It feels like a roller coaster ride that begins fun, then turns a bit scary as drop after drop, climax after climax hits you and you can't move, you just have to bear it, and then it drops you suddenly into a different theme park, punches you in the stomach and gives you ice cream. You leave the theater stunned and wanting to do it all again.

"You either die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain." - Harvey Dent

With such a great complete movie, where does the story go from here? I have no idea. It is wide open. If Chris Nolan* and the cast decide to make one more Batman film, the story could go anywhere. Any of Batman's villains could make an appearance, and rumors are already circulating around the net - Johnny Depp as the Riddler, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin, and Angelina Jolie as the Catwoman. It is way to early to take these casting rumors seriously.

As for my bet on which of Batman's rogues with feature in a third film, I think Catwoman and Talia Al Ghul (Ra's daughter - Ra's Al Ghul was Liam Neeson in Batman Begins). Catwoman would work as a copycat inspired by Batman, and Talia would be seeking revenge on Batman for killing her father. Any more discussion about a future film would cross into spoiler territory. Email me if you want to continue the discussion!

Even if the Dark Knight is nominated for a best picture or best supporting actor Oscar, can it win? I say yes! If we look at the history of the Oscars, one movie was nominated for best picture that didn't fit the standard, such as Titanic, Million Dollar Baby and No Country for Old Men (What was with the end of that movie!? So boring!! Great villain, though.) This one film was a fantasy movie and it still won best picture in 2004 - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King!

If the Lord of the Rings can with the top film prize, then The Dark Knight surely can as well!

Be sure to see the Dark Knight, as it's just a great great movie.

*Chris Nolan is the director of both the Dark Knight and Batman Begins and the man we give credit to for the great realistic interpretation of Batman we have today. Long live Nolan! Please direct one more!

"Why so serious?" - the Joker

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The State of the Nation at 30

(Better late than never! I blame the birthday festivities and liquids for the lateness of this post!)

As I have just turned 30, I feel it is time to sit down and take stock of my life and where I am. A sort of "state of the nation" to consolidate where I've been and where I am going. The State of the Peter, if you will...

What better place to host such an indulgence is there than on this blog. Read it if you want, or skim through all the pictures. It allows me to put it all 'on paper' before jumping into my third decade. So, without further ado, let's begin...

Where I've been.


I have had a privileged life growing up in Vancouver with loving parents and sister. I am what they, and my extended family, have made me. I am also shaped by my friends - from school, university, work - here and abroad. I owe these people everything!

After becoming obsessed with dinosaurs at the age of five, I pursued a career in palaeontology by taking classes in geology and biology at the University of British Columbia. Before graduating with a Geology degree, I realized that a life in science - researching and publishing - was not for me. So with the completion of my science degree and much soul (and career) searching, I decided to become a teacher - elementary and high school.

One year later, I was a qualified teacher and began teaching as a substitute teacher in North Van....

. . .

Hmm..... This is beginning to sound like a job interview. Boo!
Ok, so let's change this up a bit:

In the past 10 years, I have become:
  • a teacher, primary and high school teacher in North Vancouver. Taught all grades, but spent 3 months as a High School Geology teacher.

  • a geologist, qualified but never really practiced. Worked at several museums, including the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

  • a world traveler, been to over 20 countries. Climbed an active volcano (Mt. Etna, Italy), got dirty at La Tomatina and the Mud Festival (Spain and Korea, respectively), been drunk with people from 50 nationalities, hiked through old-growth forest (the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, among others), camped under the stars (many times, but in teepees in the Alberta Badlands), swam in 6 oceans/seas (Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Gulf of Mexico, Yellow Sea, East China Sea), found a mummified cat in Greece (gross!), drove around a country (France), didn't run with the bulls (that's only for crazy people! In Pamplona, Spain), experienced Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany), flew a lot (sorry Earth), ate some crazy food (live octopus in Korea, among others!), walked inside a meteor crater (Arizona), and crept through skull-filled catacombs (Paris).

  • a film maker, Besides shorter travel videos, I wrote and directed two films - Bluebell Woods and its prequel, Tony's Empire. I also co-created a few other projects under the production company Prehistoric Insanity Productions - The Hardcore Apocalypse after Next Tuesday, Action Figure High, and the upcoming Delta Patrol!

  • a tour guide, worked at the Vancouver Lookout and the Royal Tyrrell Museum doing my best to showcase their wonders...

  • an artist, I love painting and drawing, and I'm slowly delving into digital manipulation of images. Created posters and other artwork for local theater productions and a mural for local museums. I also love making music and doing photography.

I love how self-indulgent this post has become. I feel great! Happy Birthday, Pete!

I have also pretended to be a:
  • a palaeontologist, studying and creating art about the subject in my spare time, working at various museums, digging in Alberta!

  • a film actor, worked as an extra in movies and TV - X-Men 3, I.Robot, Catwoman, 88 Minutes, Butterfly on a Wheel, Smallville, Tru Calling, Dead Zone, Killer Instinct...

  • travel writer, this blog!

Where I am now.
  • I am currently teaching English to adults in Seoul, Korea. I am very happy here, but I also miss Vancouver and teaching children.

Where I am going.

  • My contract with my Korean company (YBM) ends at the end of November, and I don't plan to re-sign. This is not because I don't like Korea or I hate the job - no! - In fact, I am having a ball, I just miss Vancouver and look forward to living there again.

  • So after November, I'll be off to Thailand for almost three weeks with Steve and then I'll head home, arriving just before Christmas.

  • My job with the North Vancouver School System is still waiting for me, so once I get back, I'll start subbing again with them. (You have to LOVE the NVSD for keeping my job - What other job lets you come back after two years traveling?)

  • Finding a place to live will be more difficult. I am thinking about lower Lonsdale, but the prices down there are crazy! This will require a thorough search. Living alone or with roommates? Alone is preferred, but I may not be able to afford it - especially in North Van.
  • The only other major set plan I have for the future is visiting England next summer. Another cousin is getting married and I will actually be able to go to this one (No Korean Contract! Teacher summers off! Yeah!) I also have many friends in the UK I need to catch up with...
  • In the next 10 years, I want to:
    • write, illustrate and publish kids books
    • make another movie.
    • get married and have children
    • go shark cage diving (must be a Great White Shark)

Ahhh. Aren't lists great?!! They save the hassle of prose!

The future of this blog is secure - it is a great way to throw my thoughts and photos out there! I am sometimes tempted (by surfing though all the linked blogs I read!) to alter Bond's Blog into something it isn't. It could become a specifically Palaeo-Blog or a Travel-Blog or an Art-Blog or a Teaching-Blog or a Film-making-Blog. But that's not the point of this blog. It is a way of sharing what I think is cool. And, at 30, I still think these things - palaeo/travel/art/teaching/films - are cool!

It is a blog about me, Bond. Bond's Blog.

The State of the blog is good...
And the State of Peter is good too.

Thank you for listening to this completely indulgent rant. Have a piece of cake and a goody bag!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

4 Days before 30

As the title of this post implies, I am turning 30 in four days. August 7th...

Four days until I begin the third decade of my life, but where am I? At twenty, did I expect to be where I am today? What have I done? What have I accomplished?

Time for a self-reflective post at answers these questions - But not yet!

We'll have to wait a few more days... and while we wait, a short video!

(I also have tickets to Wednesday night's opening of The Dark Knight on August 6th. Can't wait!)