July 2007

Tenielle & Jade Visit Canada

Our Friends Tenielle & Jade are visiting us in Canada! My sister and brother in law were meant to come as well but since she’s pregnant she can’t fly during that time. Can’t wait to see you guys! 

:: Our Own Little Piece Of Australia…

Over the last few weeks Tash and I have been frantically looking at the classifieds and online listings of properties in Perth. We’ve been thinking about where we would like to be when we decide to start a family and we always seemed to come back to the idea of Perth as a safe environment where our kids would have every opportunity available to them. Since Tash and I both spent a great amount of our childhood and teenage life growing up in Perth, we saw it fit to buy a house there.

 

Now don’t get me wrong… we’re still a few years away before we start thinking about kids, but we decided we should start increasing our investments and so we chose a place that we could see ourselves living in if we were to come back to Perth. We found a nice little place in South Lakes that has 3 bedrooms and one bathroom. Its pretty close to my sister’s house too….

As crazy as the prices have been in the Perth market I think we did pretty well in finding our new house. By all means it wasn’t a bargain (and in this property market climate you’d be hard pressed to find one)…. but boy does it look good! When we saw the photos that mom and dad sent us, the first thing that came to mind was “how hell are we going to maintain that garden!!!” The garden is fully landscaped complete with cute little prunned hedges, gazebo, love seat and water features… The previous owners have spent a lot of money maintaining and renovating the house so there’s absolutely nothing that needs to be done to the house for now…

 

Living in an apartment makes you wish for the finer things in life like a backyard so you don’t have to go downstairs to walk the dogs every time they need to go to the toilet! Some days when the sun is out and I’m standing on our balcony I get all nostalgic about having a barbecue in the backyard with a nice cold beer… the great Australian way…

We’re really excited about our latest purchase and can’t wait to see it in the flesh… or should I say brick…. Funny how you get all patriotic when you leave a country…

Finally our own little piece of Australia to call our own…

Garmin Mobile 10 GPS

Living in a new city means being introduced to a whole new learning curve when it comes to finding new restaurants, knowing where shops are like hardware stores, pharmacy’s, grocery stores, etc, etc… In Perth it seemed so easy to find what you were looking for, but I guess it comes down to the fact that we lived there for over 10 years.

So anyway, ever since coming here I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a GPS (Global Positioning System) to help us with directions since Vancouver is so much bigger than Perth… but I never ended up getting one because I couldn’t justify the cost. Most units made by the popular manufacturers like TomTom and Garmin start at about $300 and go up to $2000!!! Ever since I got my Samsung Blackjack I’ve been able to use Google Maps and Windows Live Search, but let’s face it… trying to read a 3.5 Inch screen while driving isn’t really the safest thing to do…

Enter the Garmin Mobile 10 GPS. This GPS receiver is designed to be used with PDA’s, Smartphones and laptops. You install the software onto your device, pair the GPS receiver using Bluetooth and you’re set to go! I couldn’t believe how simple it was to get up and running… and what blew me away was the functionality. The unit has all the premium features of the top of the range dedicated GPS systems that are on the market these days minus text to speech (reading of road names). These features include, a comprehensive Points of Interest database of shops, petrol stations restaurants, trip tracking, live weather, petrol prices and traffic updates etc. In addition to this, it has turn by turn voice navigation so no more concentrating on the screen trying to read the next direction while driving! I typed in the name “Ebi Ten” (our favourite Japanese restaurant located downtown) and within a few seconds I was given vocal instructions on how to get there. I went off route deliberately and the software re-routed the destination and I was back on track again.

Fair enough you have to have either a laptop, PDA or smartphone to run the software with the GPS… but the way I see it, I don’t want to have to worry about getting my car broken into because I forgot to take my GPS console with me when I parked the car. Since its running on my phone I just turn off the receiver and take my phone with me and I’m not stuck with a bulky item to carry around with me… 

Here’s a couple of screen shots of the software and the Garmin Mobile 10 GPS receiver with my Samsung Blackjack:

 

Garmin Mobile 10 GPS receiver

 

Samsung Blackjack running the navigation software – Garmin Mobile XT

 

Map screenshot & Trip Statistics

 

Points of Interest & Live Weather

 

All in all I’m really happy with the GPS setup and I would highly recommend it to anyone that has a smartphone/pda and is on the market for a GPS solution… 

:: Yaletown Park…

After months of waiting and waiting… being told that our apartment was near completion… only to be told the next month that it isn’t ready yet… and after much delay, it’s finally COMPLETED! Six months overdue and we finally signed the dotted line and were handed the keys…

Our initial plan was to live in this apartment; but because of the delays in construction we didn’t end up doing it since they couldn’t give us a firm date of completion. This is a 515 sq foot, one bedroom apartment that is situated nice and high up in the tower… Located right in the heart of Yaletown you’re surrounded by trendy boutique shops, cafes and restaurants. The views are amazing and a 5 minute walk away and you’re right on the sea wall waterfront which has lush green parks…

So now for the official tour…

This is the building… The architects have gone for a modern urban concrete style garden… when I first saw it I thought it looked horrible, but now that the trees and vegetation have been put in it has grown on me…

This is the lobby… Still waiting on furnishings… very modern looking… The tower has a dedicated gym and a function room that you can book as well…

This is the kitchen decked out with black appliances such as fridge, stove, oven and microwave…

This is the dining/lounge area…

This is the bathroom…

This is the master bedroom with built in closets… there’s also a small study/home office room next door

And finally… this is the balcony and the view from our apartment… That big dome building is BC Place Stadium… home of the Vancouver Canucks! The big silver ball building is also an icon of the Vancouver skyline; Science World…

You gotta love this city… It’s so beautiful… Anyways, hope you enjoyed the tour of our new investment apartment… let us know what you think! 

:: I Need A Holiday To Recover From Our Holiday…

Seeing we had a long weekend coming up we decided to do a roadtrip to Portland, Oregon. There were a few motives behind this trip… The first; Tash’s old kindergarten friend (Cindy) from Indonesia lives there so she wanted to visit her, and the second (probably the real motive) was the TAX FREE SHOPPING!!! We went with Tash’s sisters’s family and her mom and soon we were crusing the I5…

We set off early Saturday morning and headed over the border and stopped in Tulalip just outside of Seattle. This is where all of the major brands like Banana Republic, Nike, Guess, Sony etc have their factory outlets. The minute we parked in the parking lot I could see the look in Tash’s eyes… She was like a woman possesed hypnotized by the sale sign and promise of retail therapy!

I came across the Ecko Unlimited Outlet factory where I ended up spending most of my time… I’ve always been a fan of the brand Ecko Unlimited which is designed by Marc Ecko. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a hip hop clothing label that was established in 1993 and is renowned for it eye catching graffiti prints and and urban styling. I love the styling and admire the work that goes into each design.

Once we finally managed to drag the ladies away from the shops we made our way through Seattle and finally arrived in Portland. It is a very quaint little city situated on the riverside. Everyone was friendly and I couldn’t believe how tidy the city was. The area we stayed in could be likened to Subiaco with its cafes and restaurants with small boutique stores scattered along the strip.

We spent the day walking up and down the waterfront, and took some time out the have a splash in the water fountain with the kids. Only after we finished playing in the fountain, did we read the warning sign that stated the main jet is strong enough to throw a fully grown man!!! Oooooops…. 

The next highlight of the trip would have to be the Apple store. This weekend, the US saw the launch of Apple’s Iphone. After much hype and endless waiting, the product was finally released and they were selling like hot cakes. Apple has been very smart in their marketing ploy; because if you walk into any of their stores they have about 20 fully functional phones on display for you to play with and experiment. They even have data plans and phone service to trial the quality of their services! While I was mucking around with the phone I decided to try the SMS feature. I hit reply to the last message that was in the phone and typed “are you there yet?”. At this time I didn’t realise that the phone was actually “live” so when I hit the send button I got a reply back:

“Yeah man… I’ve left the country and I’m not coming back until this Iphone BS blows over…”

I found this pretty hilarious because I can imagine how many people are going to get prank calls and bogus sms’s due to the free access that Apple is providing for these demo units.

Everytime we go the US, Nia always tells us to go and try The Cheesecake Factory. So this time we made a special effort to go there. The venue is very glamorous and I would say it is like an upmarket Cactus Club. The food was quite nice, but the cheesecake was definitely the main feature of the whole meal… The variety was endless which made it hard to decide and by the end of it all I decided on a classic… plain New York cheesecake. 

 

The Roadtrip was fun, but I think travelling 600km each way for just a weekend was a bit much… We definitely need to spend more time at the destination because by the end of it all we needed a holiday to recover from our holiday! I learnt two things from this trip…

1. Never travel by car to anywhere that crosses the US border on a weekend where both Canada AND the US are having a public holiday unless you want to spend you weekend sitting in your car while you wait to cross the border… We ended up spending nearly 5 hours on the way home

2. If you’re doing “Tax free shopping”… make sure you buy enough stuff to justify the distance travelled to take advantage of “Tax free shopping”! By the time you calculate how much you save on taxes, and factor in the cost of petrol… make sure you’re saving money by the end of it! I don’t think we did nearly enough shopping to justify the distance travelled!

All in all it was nice to hit the road and see more of this large continent… until next time…

Are we there yet…?